Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for December 31st, 2022

More takes on icicles

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Icicles and I had something in common for nearly four hours on the morning of December 25th: we met at a cliff along the main creek in Great Hills Park. As the day advanced, I swapped my heavy winter jacket for a lighter one and took off my gloves. The icicles, clad in nothing, had only parts of themselves to shed, which at first they barely and then more noticeably did.

I took hundreds and hundreds of pictures as I tried different ways of portraying the icicles. Sometimes I used flash, as above, where the nether ends of the icicles merged with ice that had formed when dripping water froze on a stone slope.



At other times I went without flash. After I noticed the still-low sun intermittently peeking through far branches and close icicles pendant from a rock overhang, I exposed for the bright light, knowing the rest of the image would remain, and wanting it to remain, largely dark. Aiming into the sun produced two artifacts. One, expected, is the sunburst. As for the other, serendipitous and pareidolic, I’ll leave it to you to see whether your imagination works the same way mine does.

Also without flash, and much farther from my subject, is the view below showing tiers of icicles adjacent to southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris. From what I’ve read, the brown fern leaves were dead, even as the plants they were on might have been merely dormant.





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The other day I complained about Congress passing an “omnibus” bill filled with many wasteful and frivolous things that will cause us, the taxpayers, to borrow another $1.67 trillion at increasingly high interest rates. Not only doesn’t Congress rein in profligate spending, our government doesn’t seem duly concerned about stopping fraud. Here’s a case in point.

As someone of a certain age, I’m on Medicare, which is a government health program for old folks. My December Medicare statement showed two unauthorized charges, one for August 26, 2022, and the other for September 26, 2022. In each case the biller was West Lake RX LLC, at 1255 SW Loop, Suite 120, San Antonio, TX 78227-1666, with phone number 210-851-8448. The billing in the amount of $351.90 on each of those two dates was for “1 Supply allowance for therapeutic continuous glucose monitor (cgm), includes all supplies and acces[s]o[ries] (K0553-KXCG).” The doctor who supposedly prescribed this, Laeeq Butt, is unknown to me, but when I searched online I found he practices telemedicine in Florida. I have never had any medical condition that requires glucose monitoring. When I called Medicare to report the unauthorized billings I was told that this is a known fraud and constitutes criminal activity because Medicare paid the company $183.93 each time. West Lake RX LLC doesn’t seem to have a website of its own, but at Yelp I found many people reporting similar fraudulent billing from the company.

Human nature being what it is, we expect some people to commit fraud. We also expect our government employees, of whom there are millions, to do something about it. Alas, the agent I spoke with at Medicare when I reported the unauthorized billing told me Medicare has no mechanism to flag fraudulent claims on people’s accounts. That seems to mean criminal companies will keep billing Medicare, and Medicare will keep using our tax money to pay the fraudulent claims. Outrageous, isn’t it? It’s also outrageous, since this is a known fraud, that the Federal District Attorney in San Antonio hasn’t filed charges against the company and had the police arrest the people committing the fraud.

I’ve reported all the details of my fraudulent billing not only to Medicare but also, as the Medicare agent instructed me to do, to the Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Trade Commission. Whether it will do any good remains to be seen.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 31, 2022 at 4:27 AM

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