Wednesday, 30 May 2012 / Published in Accidents, Individual Health Insurance

Accidents happen. And, too often, they are the reason you are using your health insurance.

With clients choosing ever-higher deductibles and co-insurance for their health insurance plans, this means they are paying the medical costs for these accidents out of their own pockets.

But, there is a clever way of avoiding this and possibly saving some premium monies as well.

I often recommend that my clients go with as high a deductible on their health insurance that “they can sleep well at night with.” This keeps the premium as low as possible and, as a deductible is statistically rarely reached, “it is better to keep the money in your pocket each month, than to automatically send it to an insurance company.”

However, to play it safe, I recommend that they buy a separate Accident Only Policy to cover the deductible and co-insurance so that, if the reason they are using the health insurance is for an accident, all the bills they get stuck with, they will send to the accident company for reimbursement and they end paying virtually nothing.

Here is a link to an accident plan offered by WBA (Wholesale Benefits Association) that I often use.

Or, if you’d like to talk to a human about this type of protection, give me a call at 303-541-9533.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 / Published in Personal Interests

The annual Bolder Boulder 10K race will be run through town on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012. This year, as I have done a number of times in the past, I will be participating. In addition to your numbered bib, which you wear pinned to the front of your shirt, you are given the option of placing another treated sheet of paper on your back with the information about some person “I’m running in honor of………” This year I will be honoring my great-uncle, George H. Mallon. He was the brother of my Grandmother Isabela and distinguished himself in France in World War I. Below see his story which I believe was clipped out of a magazine.

Tuesday, 08 May 2012 / Published in Personal Interests

Early in 1966 I had a decision to make; consent to being drafted into the army or accept a last minute invitation to training for a two-year Peace Corps assignment in Venezuela. I had just gotten my Associate of Arts degree after two plus years of junior college and had no immediate plans to attend a four year institution. About a year earlier I had filled out a 16 page application form for the Peace Corps because the romance and adventure of it appealed to me, but had heard nothing from them since, so I had pretty much forgotten about it.

Although the war in Viet Nam was heating up, and going into the army meant very likely ending up there, this was not as easy of a decision as many would think. The Peace Corps was only a deferment of my service obligation and I knew I’d be subject again to conscription upon my return. Also, I had gotten used to the idea of going into the army and had taken some tests that indicated I might be able to get into officer training school.

Ultimately, I decided upon the Peace Corps because it was different from that which my peers were doing and I thought it would look more interesting on a resume one day. So, in March of that year, at 20 years old, I found myself at the University of Arizona in Tucson, along with 60 others from across the country, to begin a three month training course.

We quickly divided up into our natural groups; the drinkers and non-drinkers, idealist and adventure seekers, married and un-married, men and woman, jocks and non-jocks. Ultimately, it seems to me, that the adventure seekers/drinkers had the better experiences and the idealists/non-drinkers had the more difficult.

Our training consisted of intensive Spanish classes and, as our group was focused on “Directed Recreation”, courses in teaching sports. In the beginning we were tested for language skills and assigned to study groups based upon the results. Most days began with two hours of Spanish study, an hour of

The Boys- Peace Corps Training, Tucson, Arizona

recreation and back for two more hours of “Castellano”. Many of us started speaking Spanish in our sleep. Although I worked hard to learn, my ability in Spanish ended up about average for the group. Afternoons were spent learning how to coach sports, often taught by members of the University of Arizona athletic department.

After a couple of months of this we were all sent down to the states of Michoacán and Jalisco in México to spend a couple of weeks in villages where we were to practice our new language skills and experience living in a third world

Peace Corps Training-Pichataro, Michoacan, Mexico 1966

country. It was hoped that this trip would replicate that which awaited us in Venezuela and we, and the Peace Corps management, could determine whether it was appropriate for individuals to move forward.
I was assigned the remote small mountain village of Pichataro in Michoacán. In order to arrive there, I had to take a train, bus and finally hire a horse and young guide for the last, overnight segment of my journey. However, I have always suspected that, had I spoken the local lingo better, I might have found an easier way there. The people were lovely and very hard working. I struggled with communication and the isolation, but look back upon it with fondness. Interestingly, many of the villagers did not speak Spanish well, as Tarascan was the native language.

Many long-term friendships were formed during these three months of training and for me it was one of the best parts of my entire Peace Corps experience. At the end about 10 of us decided not to continue and another 10 were “deselected” by the administration. Several of these “deselections” were very unpopular with the remainder of the group.

So, now there were 40 of us off for the big adventure.

We gathered in Miami with another training group of volunteers for a late night flight south to Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. The pilot initially welcomed us aboard and wished us luck in our new adventure. Later he had to come on the speaker several times with dire threats if we didn’t put away the liquor bottles we had smuggled on the airplane.

Once in Caracas, we spent a number of days sightseeing while the administration got us organized and gave us our site assignments. I was asked to

Some of the regulars at Fe y Alegria playing fields

work in a Catholic run elementary school called Fe y Alegria in Puerto Ordaz, Estado Bolívar. The school had a large fenced-in recreation area that included a couple of basketball courts and a soccer field, ideal for teaching physical education, running after school programs and organizing sports competitions. There had been a couple of volunteers there before I arrived who were well thought of.

At that time Puerto Ordaz had about 100,000 inhabitants, but was growing fast due to the many new jobs on offer. The Venezuelan government was investing a lot of their oil revenue into developing the infrastructure of the area, including massive Guri dam, to exploit the large quantities of mineral deposits found in the vicinity, as well as to support the development of heavy industry. Orinoco Mining Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, was already there, along with a number of American technicians and a country club for management level employees.

Los Bloques-Puerto Ordaz 1966 where I lived the first year

Puerto Ordaz is located about 400 miles to the southwest of Caracas in the middle of their great plains, the llanos. The city is set at the confluence of the Orinoco and Caroni rivers. As it is only 7 degrees north of the equator, the climate is often hot and humid, especially during the rainy season. The new metropolis of Ciudad Guyana was eventually formed by joining Puerto Ordaz with another city across the Rió Caroni, San Feliz. Combined they now have a population approaching one million.

So, for two years I would open the Fe y Alegria playing fields after school for the children and young adults of the

Mi Choza-Puerto Ordaz- my home the second year 1967-68

surrounding barrio to play ball games or just hang out. Occasionally we would have basketball, volleyball and soccer tournaments. We even had a track event. During the day I would teach physically education classes at the primary school and/or walk a mile over to the Escuela Secondaria Catolica and teach a period in third year English. I remember that I would arrive in a sweat for this 8:00 am class, due to the torrid climate.

Evenings would often find me up the hill, towards the center of town, where there were some lighted basketball courts and games usually in progress. Walking home in the evening I would marvel at the stars. With little ambient light to compete, they were brighter and more numerous than I have been able to see in most of my city-based life. At that low latitude, Scorpio and the Southern Cross dominated the constellations in the heavens.

One year I ended up in charge of taking the State of Bolívar’s men’s basketball team up to the national tournament in Caracas. We were hopelessly out-manned and lost all our matches. It didn’t help that I knew little about coaching a real team.

El Barrio-Puerto Ordaz 1967

After I had been in Puerto Ordaz for about 6 months another Volunteer was assigned there with me. Although I was looking forward to the companionship, he and I never bonded. He was very enthusiastic and committed to integrating himself into the community. He was also very Catholic and much of his work was centered around and through the church. I certainly respected the effort he put into being a volunteer, but he and I sort of only co-existed without any significant personal relationship. After the Peace Corps I heard he chose to stay in Venezuela and, according to one source, renounced his United States citizenship.

I suppose the most typical plate of food there was carrajotas negras, arroz con pollo y platinos (black beans, chicken and rice with fried plantains). I had this combination countless meals and enjoyed it every time. The brand of beer I drank was Polar. One custom I always found curious was that working-class men there would stop drinking a bottle of beer once it became less than very cold. So, in a bar you would see a group sitting around a table filled with half drunk bottles, this in a country where every Bolívar was hard to come by?

When I joined the Peace Corps I weighed about 180 lbs. When I returned I tipped the scale at 158. And, I wasn’t the only one, as all the men had a similar experience. I suppose it was a combination of work, more basic foods and, in my case, loss of appetite due to the climate. Interestingly, my son Timothy, who spent two years in Bolivia as a volunteer, had a similar experience.

During my time in Venezuela I was able to do a bit of traveling. Fellow volunteer Bob Buffin and I hitchhiked across the Northwest corner of the country that

Bob Buffin and me in Barquisimeto, Venezuela

Doug Stufflebeam, Delta Amacuro, Venezuela 1968-He saved lives

included the northern most extent of the Andes. I was always a little jealous of the volunteers in these higher-altitude, cooler-temperature cities of Caracas, Maracay, Valencia and Merida. I also was able to travel by motorized launch out into the Orinoco Delta to visit another friend, Doug Stufflebeam, who was saving lives among the Warao Indians with his navy corpsman experience.

I enjoyed a couple of visits north to Playa Colorada on the Caribbean coast where I body surfed and enjoyed oysters for the first time.

Joe Bette was an American working for the Orinoco Mining company in Puerto Ordaz at that time, who had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in India a few years before. He and I flew to Trinidad for Carnival one year. It was one of the great adventures of my life. 40+ years later and I can still hear the steel drum music and taste the dark rum.

I left Venezuela disappointed that I had not put more effort into creating additional activities, programs and events at Fe y Alegria. No excuses, but over time, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, I lost motivation and interest. After the first year, with some exceptions when I would have a spurt of activity, I just went with the flow and did only what was required of me.  Towards the end I was counting the days until the completion of my assignment, as it was important to me to finish my two year commitment. As it was, I got a lot more out of my experience than I believe did the Venezuelans. Of our group of 40, that had arrived “in country” 24 months earlier, about 20 stuck it out to the end. I am proud to have done so.

Additionally, I felt I could have put more effort into learning Spanish. I was “OK” at the end of two years, but it was not until long after that, with some serious study back home, that I ever reached a proficiency with which I was content.

In June of 1968 I completed my service and returned to the U. S. via Bogota, Colombia. My first stop back home was New York City where I visited another returning volunteer from our group, Bart Briefstein, who lived there. We ended up going to an off-Broadway production of a new play everyone was talking about named “Hair.” This was the 60’s, and for the last two years we in Venezuela had been hearing continuous reports about anti-Viet Nam war protesters rioting in the streets of American along with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. I was not sure what to expect when I got home again. I went through quite a return culture shock that evening, watching this new type, counter-culture play with actors appearing nude on stage. Maybe my country had changed in my absence?

It had, and so had I.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012 / Published in Applications, Individual Health Insurance

Most clients originally call me to help them sort through their options for health insurance and come up with some recommendation for the best combination of price and value for them.

However, once this is done, I believe the greatest service I can provide is to help a client fill out an application. It can save you a lot of brain damage. Each year these forms carry more and more obscure legal clauses and terminology, supposedly included to protect the consumer, but mostly it just confuses everyone.

Here are a couple of examples from Anthem and United Healthcare.

The parts of an application that many people stumble on are the federally mandated form:


and the State of Colorado required:


In ten years of doing this, with thousands of applications filled out, not once did these parts of an application help a single person obtain health insurance, but the confusing nature of the questions surely have stopped many of them from finishing the paperwork.

These requirements are prime examples of your government creating road blocks to something that could be easily achieved, all in name of “protecting you from yourself.”

If you need new health insurance and want to avoid the agony or filling out the forms yourself, give me a call at 303-541-9533. It costs no more to work with a broker and, as I said, it saves a lot of brain damage.

Sunday, 25 March 2012 / Published in Personal Interests

Rugby has been a very important part of my life. Most of my friends and many of my adventures in life have come from my participation in this sport. I was never particularly good at it, but as the sport most always assured “anyone who came to practice got a match”, I have probably played 450-500 games in my life. Not bad for someone living in the United States, where Rugby is a “minor sport.”

As I was transferred many times early in my business career, I had the opportunity to play for teams in Los Angeles, Portland, OR, Omaha, Boston, Seattle and Boulder, CO. I usually had no problem starting for the “A” side at fullback, wing or, sometimes fly-half, for the mediocre sides I lined up with, but I had to work hard to stay on the first side for the better teams like Mystic River in Boston.

A wonderful thing happened when I was about 35 years old and living in Seattle; the appearance of “Old Boy” or over 35 Rugby. I believe the Evergreens from Vancouver, British Colombia were a prim mover in this development. The Seattle Old Guard (SOGgies) was soon playing 8-10 matches home and away against old boy teams north of the border. Same rules as the standard game, but with an understanding among all players (well most at least) that play was conducted with a restraint consistent with our ages. Men now play this form of Rugby into their 70’s and beyond. As a wise friend and Rugby sage once put it, “98% of the fun and none of the bull&%$#”. Old Boy Rugby vastly extended my playing career until I finally gave it up a few years ago after turning 60.

There is something special about Rugby and those who participate in it. It is a form of combate on the “pitch” that forms a bond between those who play it. I could go to any Rugby clubhouse in the world (and some are quite nice) and feel welcome as part of the brotherhood.

I started Rugby at California State College Los Angeles after returning from the Peace Corps in 1968. I was looking to take a physical education class along with my other studies as a way of getting in shape. I noticed they had a class in Rugby and remembered someone had once mentioned that I should try the sport. So, I signed up for the course.

First practice and it was love at first sight. I was attracted to the uniforms, constant movement, contact without pads, the importance of kicking the ball ( I fancied myself good at that) and the history and traditions of the sport that included, comradeship, partying and singing with the other team after a match. I was hooked and turned out the next week for the school team.

We CSCLA Diablos had an excellent Rugby team, sort of coached by an ex-NFL defensive back and great guy, John Hurdle. The school football team had been very successful in the previous years and, as many of the players had run out of eligibility for that sport, they turned to the club Rugby team. Of all the years I participated in the sport, this first team had the best athletes. Had we had more knowledgeable coaches, we could have been very good.

As it was, in the two years I played for the team, mostly starting at fullback, we won the Southern California Championship of both college and men’s teams in 1971. We had earlier defeated a combined University of California campuses team that was on its way to Australia where they did very well. One of my best friends from that team, Joe Hendrix, recently passed away after surviving a number of years with a heart transplant.

After graduation I played a year with the Pasadena RFC and went to work for Scott Paper Company in sales. In those days the way to move up in a corporation was not only to work hard, but to be willing to take transfers to new locations for higher level positions. Thus began my odyssey of moving from city to city that I mentioned above.

One of the advantages of playing Rugby in those days for me was that when I moved to a new location, I would show up for practice with the local side and immediately have 30 new friends. Not only friends, but many people who spent their lives in the area and were able to introduce my family and me to local experiences we would not have had elsewise.

Omaha Rugby Club 1976

1969-1972 CSCLA

1973 Pasadena RFC

1973-1974 Portland Oregon RFC

1975-1977 Omaha RFC

1978-1979 Mystic River (Boston) RFC

1980-1991 Seattle RFC

1991-Present Boulder RFC

Another appealing aspect of Rugby is the tradition of “touring” to play matches, often times to foreign countries. It is a wonderful experience to visit strange lands with good friends and team mates.

Some of the tours I have participated in include:

British Colombia (many times), Edmonton, Canada and Acapulco, Mexico with the Seattle RFC

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungry and Chile with the Boulder Old Boys.

I also saw some matches in Ireland, England and Wales for the 1999 World Cup. This is a quad-annual event between the top 20 ranked national teams.

On Tour – Venice, Italy

My friend Dave Cunningham and I try to make it out to the USA 7’s (a fast paced, abbreviated form of the sport with 7 players on a side) each February in Las Vegas. Last year we flew out to Hong Kong for the world renowned Hong Kong 7’s (well worth it).

Injuries? Yes, but not as many as you would expect. Mine have been mostly limited to cuts that needed to be stitched up and a twisted knee that bothered me for a while. My biggest problem over the years has been pulled hamstrings, which seriously limited my availability at times, especially towards the end. But these were small inconveniences compared to the pleasures the game has given me

The Welsh say that “Rugby is the game they play in heaven.”

And I say, “you are never more alive than when you are on the Rugby pitch.”

Dr. Don SchmidtCanyon Chiropractic Center - Boulder, Colorado
Thank you for saving us money on our health insurance! We really appreciated your willingness to 'hand hold' us through the process. It can be a daunting task to choose from all the available insurance plans out there. You made it almost easy!
Don MartingMartin Auctioneering - Longmont, Colorado
I can't thank you enough for helping me and saving me a significant amount of money. I truly believe that you had my best interest at heart.