Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Unsure About Insurance

I paid my monthly insurance fee today and it reminded me that I wrote a little piece about my insurance adventures when I first got here. I didn't post it right away since I was kind of not really at my happiest at the moment and didn't want to post anything that would sound bitter. I wanted to wait a couple of days and as you know it turned into a couple of weeks and so on, but here you have it anyway (or what's happened so far at least):

Before I came here I knew that I needed to have an insurance while here. It is one of the requirements in my DS-2019, which is the paper that allows my stay in the US. (No, my visa is not THE paper, the DS-2019 is. Not kidding.)

I knew that I needed to have an insurance. And I knew that it needed to be comparable to the University of Michigan Health Insurance Plan. Otherwise I'd have to enroll in the U-M Helth Insurance Plan. Which is not overly cheap.

Now, normally I'd be covered by an insurance from my work place: the University of Helsinki. But this year as it happens I'm not really working at my work place, I'm on a scholarship. So I'm not insured. Well, of course Kari is nice and promises that my insurance costs will be covered by some project or another. However, this is not actually possible since it is not techically possible to put insurance bills to the Travel Expences Report in our new WebTraveller Software since all the employees of the University on Helsinki are already covered by the university's own insurance. Except for me and a couple of thousand other people on scholarships of course.

So I set out to acquire my own private insurance. I already have one normal travel insurance (my union insurance) in Pohjola, so I call to Pohjola. There is a very nice and helpful lady on the other line. She starts by selling me a new travel luggage insurance which she says would be much more profitable - "Sinun kannattaa ehdottomasti vaihtaa tähän toiseen" - for me (I later realize that it is actually much more expensive).

She also sells me an extension to my old insurance. The old insurance namely only covers trips shorter than three months. I of course ask her if it will be good enough for the University of Michigan and I explain my situation. She says that there couldn't possibly be anything more that they could ask for. My insurance has no upper limits for any coverage and it quite simply is the best insurance one could buy. I don't really feel reassured but I also really don't have any time to explore the situation further so I buy the insurance and hope for the best.

Now you've of course already guessed that everything didn't quite go as planned. After my mandatory Check In Program in the University of Michigan I have a chance to go and see the Health Insurance Coordinator in the International Office and present all the documents that I have brought with me. I have copies of my insurance card, the official Certificate of Insurance in English from Pohjola, for which I paid 5 euros to get, and a form from the International Office which I have carefully filled out. I'm certain that this is not all that will be needed and say as much to the officer, who is very nice and asks to see what I do have.

He looks at my Certificate of Insurance. And as he reads along, he comments on it: “Well, I'm pretty sure this will not be good enough for us but let's see anyway”, “We would require more on this point here”, “Hhmm, I'm not happy about this point here where it says...”, “Well, we don't mind there being...”, “Now, I would need more specific information about this part here”, and so on. He is really helpful. He explains all the points for which he'd need specification. He says that I should sent their form to be filled out by my insurance company. He wonders weather I'm not already paying more than what their insurance would cost for all this.

So the next day I call to Pohjola again. The answer is firm: Pohjola does not sing forms from other companies. They'd never know what they are signing into. I also ask about the details. It turns out that it wouldn't be possible to buy such an insurance from Finland. As an example the U-M Insurance Plan requires coverange for pregnancy. But my insurance only covers complications in pregnancy. You see, pragnancy is not an accident. Apparently. And a travel insurance only covers accidents. And that's it.

Well, technically I'm not really being fair here. The U-M doesn't really need Pohjola to fill in their form, a letter stating all the points in the form would suffice. But one can kind of guess what that letter would lead into. There would be again some wording which would be ambiguous and they'd need confirmation on that and it would go on forever.

So I gave up. And now I have two insurances. Why didn't I cancel my Finnish one then? I could have done it. But the thing is that my Finnish insurance is actually way better in many ways. For example there are no upper limits for anything. And there are upper limits in the U-M one. Basically, if you get a small bill or a really huge bill, they'll pay it but of an average bill you have to pay a big chunk.

And now I'm braking the basic rule of insuring that I learned from my friend just before I came here: Never have two insurances for the same thing at the same time. Because in the end if something happens, you'll never see any money since the insurance companies will fight till the end of the world for who really has to pay the bill.

And let's hope that's all the whining you'll get.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Getting tea

I think the happiest one can possibly be is while stepping out of the west doors of the math department and feeling the warm sunlight on your face and hopping down the stairs and down to Espresso Royale to get a mug of China Gray.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The New Control Manual for Manual Control

So I thought that my MP3 Player had died. But it's not quite so.

I bought it from Clas Ohlson a year ago and it wasn't very expensive so it's life expectancy was never very long. It never worked perfectly really, and I guess Agit Prop was finally the last straw for it. It started it's own revolution. But I figured it out and can now make it play music.

Once turned on it keeps scrolling all the tracks. The trick is to push down the Menu Button and then double click the Volume Up Button. It then scrolls the Menu Options. It is possible to navigate in the Menu by pushing down the Menu Button right when the desired option is in the screen and then double clicking the Volume Up Button. To listen to music one needs to get into the folders, navigate to the desired track and double click again the Volume Up Button. Easy.

The downside is that I haven't yet found out which buttons serve as volume control in the new regime. The Volume Up Button has clearly an other function and I haven't yet found out what the function of the Volume Down Button is. It clearly has nothing to do with volume.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Perfect Day (Posted Too Late)

Yesterday (the day before yesterday) was a perfect day. When I left to work the sun was shining and there was snow on the ground. Enough snow to be registered as snow in the Finnish scale. (The schools were cancelled.)

We found with Juha (or at least we thought we found it) an example that answers a question that arose a year ago. And then I was hyperactive for the rest of the day.

I also got so many mails from my friends that I didn't have time to read them all carefully (because I was so busy being hyperactive). Thanks!

And then we went to Canada and I got the chance to visit my childhood. And I was able to come back.

(Well, the picture was taken today (yesterday) not yesterday (the day before yesterday). There was more snow then, and there was even snow on the pavement, it had not yet melted away from all the salt.

And of course I realized today (yesterday) that our example doesn't really work the way we thought it would, but I think it can be fixed with some weights.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

weather vs. Weather

My dance class was cancelled today because of a winter storm. I have to admit that I wouldn't have noticed the storm if it wasn't for all the fuss about it.

Typically the weather here is so pathetically nice that you can't really call it weather at all. Today there was Weather outside and it actually made me happy. A good Weather always makes me feel energised and strong.

But if this kind of weather would cause cancellations in Finland, we wouldn't have to do anything for months. I guess everything is proportional to what you are prepared for, though. A typical Michigan student looks like the guy in the picture.

If they would just put more clothes on, they wouldn't necessarily feel so cold.

Monday, February 12, 2007

About math, happiness and cabaret costumes

This week I've been so happy happy happy happy happy to be here. Please, go ahead and read this as: the math is going fine. It's sometimes disturbing how the accuracy of a few lemmas can channel your hole well-being.

Also: the sun has been shining the hole week, I've made some new friends and the old ones are still as great as before, and I got myself a costume for next weeks shows, which was a pure miracle. And Marie was here for a couple of days. It was so nice to see you again Marie, I hope you're well there in Houston! We should start planning the Party for your next visit soon...

And I have been fixing my costume all nights long and not getting enough sleep, when I instead should have been blogging all nights long and not getting enough sleep. My apologies!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Summary of the first how many weeks?

I realized I don't know how long I've been here and calculated that the right answer is two weeks and two days. Here's a summary of what's happened in that time:

I've been to Brown Jug twice,
to No Thai! way too many times,
started my second punch card in Espresso Royale,
been grocery shopping in People's Food Co-op three times,
have texed almost one lemma for my Licentiate Thesis,
sat through 6 seminar talks and 4 lectures,
have changed my mind about whether a theorem goes through or not approximately five times,
had three ideas for research without looking into them,
and most importantly: found my new favourite chocolate

I've also (on the boring side):

attended my Check In Program,
paid my rent for four months,
paid my insurance for January and
got my yellow M-Card and thus (quoting Pekka) received humanity

My own assessment is that I've been doing way too little math and way too much other useless things (like writing my blog). There are mainly two reasons. The first is that I've acquired too many friends. Last time I was here I was able to work on my own for full days. Now I'm constantly disturbed by lunches, coffees, beers and just plain discussions without any food, coffee or beer.

The second reason is that I've been dancing way too much: the latest practices lasting on Saturday 3 hours, on Sunday 4 hours, on Monday 2 hours, on Tuesday 2 hours and on Wednesday 3 hours. Now I really think I actually succeeded in being careful not to overdo it by taking only two one hour classes per week. How this happened I'm not really sure.

This week I've felt that I could much easier be a dancer than a mathematician. I realize that this is just an illusion, though. The less you know about something, the easier it feels.