August 14, 2017

Big Ben: Famous Clock Shut Down Four Years for Repairs

Bummer.  The world famous 157-year old Big Ben clock in London will be stopped for 4 years for repairs, beginning August 21.

Yes four years.  Four years without Big Ben's towering 315-feet (96 meters) presence, hourly bong, and quarterly chimes to remind you of the time.

Photo credit:
What an environmental, and perhaps emotional, change for people in London who frequent Big Ben's area:  the silence of this stately and ever-present constant, Big Ben.  Not to hear Big Ben's majestic hourly bong, nor his more delicate quarterly chimes.  Not to see his magnificent hands rotating around his captivating face.  However, Big Ben's chimes will be made available for special events, including New Year's Eve.

Read more about this fascinating restoration project in this Guardian article.

Rest east, Big Ben, and look forward to your full return in 4 years!

Mary Rae Fouts

August 10, 2017

Obamacare: What happens if people have no Obamacare health insurance choices?

Obamacare:  What happens if all insurance companies exit the Obamacare marketplace, and people have no Obamacare health insurance choices?

Good question, given the number of insurance companies fleeing the Obamacare marketplace, including Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.  With Anthem's Nevada exit, 17 Nevada counties currently have no Obamacare health insurance coverage choices for 2018.

And the answer?  Right now, no one knows. The Obamacare law (technically the Affordable Care Act, although the insurance coverage has proven to be anything but affordable for many people) is a mega 961 page document.  But nowhere ... nowhere ... does the law address remedies for consumers who are legally required to purchase Obamacare health insurance coverage, yet cannot do so because no insurance companies offer coverage in their area.

Yes, the politicians who drafted this law thought that scenario would never happen.  They thought insurance companies would be lining up outside the door to provide coverage in the Obamacare insurance exchange, when just the opposite is happening.  And remember, our politicians also assured us that Obamacare consumers would be able to keep their current doctors and health plan, with lower costs to us all.  Turned out to be a bold faced lie.
"If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.  The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold."  -- President Barack Obama, June 6, 2009.
Concerns about Health Insurance or Related Obamacare Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP assists clients throughout the United States who have concerns about insurance, tax, and related financial issues.  For more information about Mary's fee-only Tax, Consulting, and Expert Witness Services visit Fouts Financial Group.  She welcomes your call at (925) 979-9972 or email to

Mary Rae Fouts

August 9, 2017

Anthem pulling out of many Obamacare markets, including the entire state of Nevada.

What a mess.

If you have health insurance coverage through Obamacare (technically the Affordable Care Act), your coverage options continue to decrease, access to doctors and hospitals continues to decrease, while premiums continue to increase.  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (Anthem Blue Cross in California) is fleeing the Obamacare marketplace, leaving some counties with no Obamacare insurance options in 2018.

Consumers deserve much better.  Obamacare is a mess, and has been from the start.

Click on the photo below for more information about Nevada's Obamacare plight.  I welcome your call or email if you have questions about health insurance matters.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 7, 2017

Foxtails can be deadly for dogs ... Here are some safety tips.

Foxtails.  The dangerous, spring-through-autumn threat for our Faithful Canine Companions in the Western part of the United States.

What are foxtails?  They are grasses with seed awns (see photo) capable of boring into a dog's body ... ears, eyes, nose, paws, belly, you name it.  Foxtails can be dangerous for dogs, to the point of deadly.  With the heavy winter rains in the San Francisco Bay Area, foxtails grew with great abundance and are simply terrible this year.

Below is a great article on Canine Foxtail Safety posted by my primary Veterinarian, Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital in Pleasant Hill, California.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 2, 2017

Got Physics? Planetary Protection Officer Position Open at NASA.

Who says science is boring?  If you have an advanced degree in physics, this job just may be for you:  

Planetary Protection Officer at NASA.

Job responsibility?  

To ascertain that Earth's space travel does not contaminate outer space, and conversely to insure any celestial bodies do not contaminate Earth.

How Cool is That?  A real life Defender of Earth!  And a nice six figure salary - up to $287,000 - plus benefits, to boot.

And to think this job was created when the United States ratified the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 ... yes, 50 years ago.  Click on the Business Insider post below for more information.

Mary Rae Fouts