Why not go to Mount Sinai Miami Beach ER

A few years ago, my wife had to go to the Mount Sinai Aventura ERA. She had no insurance at the time, and upon checking in, the obvious question popped up: how is this bill going to be paid? After a very few minutes, I was offered the option to pay US$ 1,060.00  and no further charges (OF ANY TYPE) would be incurred, and no bills received by us. The Hospital made good on its promise.

Based on such good experience, I went to the ER at Mount Sinai Hospital Miami Beach. I had cough for two weeks, and was running a fever. I have insurance now, but the deductible is a whopping 5,000.00. Before committing to any treatment, I asked the person in charge, first how much would the bill to the insurance company, whether they could tell my insurance would pay for it, and as a last resort, how much I would pay, in the same mold as I did to Mount Sinai Aventura a few years earlier. She could not answer the first questions, however, she told me, matter of factly, not one, not twice, but THREE TIMES, that if I paid US$ 660.00, no further charges OF ANY TYPE would accrue. Then I agreed to treatment.

It turned to be a very simple thing, which the personable Dr. in charge, which I saw for two minutes, told me he “sees every day” and even had a “special Dr X treatment”. He prescribed the medicines. I settled my bill, again asking whether that was it, and I was ensured that it was.

A month or so later, I got a couple of bills, one for 37.00, the other for 47.00. The amounts were not outrageous, however, I do not like being lied to. The person in charge of checking people in, and take their insurance and/or payment information, ASSURED me, in very certain terms, that I would get no further bill.

The biggest surprise came later. The personable, smiling Doctor had some outfit in Colorado send a bill to me, for services provided, in the amount of US$ 1,429.00. Mind you, his name did not even appear on the bill, rather, the name of a company mentioning Miami Beach and Emergency Services, however, located in Dallas, TX.

I called the place, and had a not very friendly exchange with the woman, who had no ears for my story, and was adamant that I had to pay US$ 1,429.00 for the 2-minute exchange I had with the Doctor.   That works out almost US$ 43,000.00 an hour. I think you an get a Kardashian to make an appearance for much less than that…

Anyhow, I know how “the game” is played. The providers send a bill for 1000 bucks, the insurance company “negotiates” the payment, ends up paying 111.00 to the doctor, at best 200 bucks, and you are still responsible for a chunk of it, normally, the percentage based on the original bill amount. Then the insurance company tells you they save you money…

That is not the point. The point is, I was told, before doing the business, that I would pay only US$ 660.00, AND NOTHING ELSE would be charged. So far, I got three bills, one of them of Kardashianesque proportions, and who knows what else is coming.

Either Mount Sinai does  not properly train the people that handle the check-in at its emergency Room (mind you, it was not that late)


How to avoid problems with translations submitted to Immigration

Some people actually get upset when they find out that any document they submit in connection to Immigration proceedings must be translated, but it makes sense and this is how it is done all over the world. So documents which are not written in English must be translated. U.S. bureaucracy is actually not as severe as in other countries, but people like to complain.

This does not mean that you can just translate it yourself, even if you know English like Shakespeare. Call it conflict of interest…

The reality is that people spend thousands of dollars on Immigration attorneys (some of whom often do very little to earn their money) or ill equipped paralegals, but want to save on translations.

First of all, translations must be certified, by that meaning, notarized by a notary public. This does not mean DONE by a notary public. In fact, if a translation is done by a notary public, rather than by a translator AND notarized by a notary public, it will be rejected.

Second, do not buy “template” translations. A lot of unprofessional services and storefronts provide this disservice to the immigrant community, extracting information from personal documents and placing in pre-established templates. These will also be rejected.

If a translation is done abroad, it must be certified by a U.S. consulate or Embassy, or have an apostil attached to it. If not, it might be rejected.

According to translator Carlos de Paula, a professional translator who runs Legal Translation Systems and has 33 years of experience in this field, other problems must be avoided. “A lot of clients get different versions of their personal documents, with different issuing dates and even different pieces of information. When you submit a translation to Immigration, it must be submitted with the document in the original language. In most cases the Immigration officer can tell the issuing date is different and will reject it right on the spot. Originals and translation must match.”

According to De Paula, there are other considerations. “In certain countries, there are legal separations and divorce. Legal separations do not allow one to marry again, under international treaties. And getting a “sympathetic translator” who translates separation as divorce might actually bring more problems than solutions”.

In other words, do not save on the translations. Get it done professionally, by a established translator.

American-excellence.com – READ BEFORE YOU ORDER

I was very sad when I found out that truckstopmodels.com was going to close. The site sold only miniatures in the 1/87 scale, and carried a lot of hard to find brands in the USA, like NEO, at good prices. The only plus was that I was able to squeeze in a last minute order, at 50% savings.

Then I found american-excellence.com. I was thrilled, as I browsed the site, because I found not only the same stuff that truckstopmodels.com carried, but much more, because the site carried lots of different scales. The prices were also very good, with hefty discounts on some models. And the company was located quite close to where I live, which was the only downside to ordering from truckstopmodels.com.

I also found a miniature I could not find for years, and placed a trial order.

I found it strange that I got an order confirmation, which said that UPS would deliver it in 12 days.

Here is the thing. For many years I operated an e-commerce site, and although this was like 4, 5 years ago, I know how long UPS takes to deliver within the contiguous US. Never more than 7 business days.

I also found it strange that the site had no phone number to call, and that the status of the order a actually said SHIPPED, but that UPS had not yet scanned the parcel!

I am not an immediatist. I actually hate it when people think they are the only persons in the world and demand immediate service from me, so I cut them some slack. I waited one week before I wrote. When I did, the reply took a while.

Then I started probing the site, and found something peculiar. The internal links were all in German! Plus, the response I got indicated the email was opened in Germany!

I began to be a little worried, but found the location in Fort Myers is an actual business address. I decided to wait a few more days.

When the status continued unchanged on the site, I wrote again. Then I got the package a couple of days later, by which point almost a month had elapsed.

My conclusion is this. The site is legit, the products excellent, the only flaw is, they fail to tell people that products are being shipped from Germany before they are shipped within the US! THAT IS WHY IT TAKES SO LONG. They probably wait to consolidate orders from a week, then ship to the USA, and when they get here, they are actually shipped on UPS domestic. I have ordered from Germany a few times, and I know how long it takes for products to get stateside. Plus, the packing slip has a stamp in German…

I think it will eventually hurt their business not telling this is how they proceed. It would be better to tell people right off the bat that products are shipped from Germany first, rather than pass the buck to UPS, and say the parcel company has not scanned the parcel yet! People should be aware that their wonderful and nicely priced miniatures will arrive, but they have to be patient.

I dealt with angry customers all the time, whenever they found out that their products were not shipped on the same day the order was sent!! Americans demand this. In fact, I just ordered some coffee on Monday, got it Tuesday!

I do hope they remain in business, but I think they should be more forthcoming with their modus operandi.

Where to buy Tomytec cars in the USA

In a nutshell. Nowhere. I have given up. I love Tomytec cars, buses and trucks for my N scale diorama, yet, have a lot of trouble finding it here.

Newhallstation is a joke. They advertise the product in their site, with eternal zero stock, with the obvious intent of attracting traffic through google. When you contact them, they say, “keep on checking”, but they never add the product. Another site, nscale something, does exact the same thing. Leestrains does have some items in stock, but not much. But whatever they say they have, they have.

Thus, the only alternative is buying elsewhere. Which means, either Asia or Europe.

I tried ordering from a German site for the first time a couple of months ago. I was happy because I got great deals on tons of stuff, no VAT tax 9which is 20 %), however, they had no Tomytec and the shipping through DHL was 35 Euros. So, to compensate, I had to order tons of stuff.

It also took a long while for the shipment to arrive, about three weeks. I don’t know whether Customs held it up, but DHL is supposed to be fast.

So, the other day, I decided to give it a go, ordering from a German site that carries Tomytec. One of them also charged 35 Euros, and DHL. So I decided to go with an alternative.

The site is http://dm-toys.de. They have lots of Tomytec items, in fact they specialized on N scale. They did not have the buses and very few of the trucks, however, they had plenty of cars. They also carry Oxford and other lines.

The good part, the shipping was only 10 Euros, and the package got here faster than DHL!

They also have their site in English, so you don’t need to speak German.

Red Caboose, Manhattan

I don’t mean harm when I report a business for whatever reason on my blog. As consumers, more often than not all we have is each other to rely on.

So here the story goes.

I have been collecting miniatures for a while, but while I was living in New York my interest was on scales equal or larger than 1-43. Time makes us change opinions, and so do our pockets and lack of space, and eventually I took an interest on HO and even N scale vehicles, which I use to populate my sprawling dioramas. So while I lived in the city from 1984 to 2005, I barely ever visited this shop located at 45th Street, a few feet off of 5th Avenue.

On a recent visit to the Big Apple, I decided to go there in the hopes of finding some rare and low priced HO and N scale cars and vehicles.

I guess when you are almost the only game in town, you take some liberties. The Red Caboose is located in a basement (as it has always been), but I don’t remember it being that cluttered, and messy, by the way. I have been to many train shops, and this is by far, the most ill arranged, providing a bad shopping experience. Making matters worse, the heater was full blast, so breathing was difficult.

There were some nice looking large buses, including a Gold Leaf Team Lotus transporter that was screaming to be taken away from the harsher environment. I stood on my purpose, however.

Notwithstanding, I thought I had found what I was looking for. In the racks, there were plenty of Althearns and Model Powers, a bit more expensive than normal, but this is NYC after all. There was, however, a glass cabinet with a whole bunch of HO cars piled up, and that is where I hoped to find treasures.

When I finally got the shop keeper to open the window, so that I could inspect the cars, I was warned that the prices were not the ones on the stickers, which I found a bit unusual. Most of the Herpa, Wiking and Busch miniatures in there seemed very old, actually, some were very broken and tatty. At any rate, I decided to choose a few Herpas, that were priced at $8.95, and a blue, 30’s pick-up truck with no price.

Then I went to pay.

The guy looked studiously at the pick-up truck and gave me some story that it was a special resin model, done by a German guy whose name he forgot, from whom they bought some stuff a few years back. Then he told me it cost 39 bucks!!! The thing was nice, but I was not about to pay almost 40 dollars for an HO miniature. I said I was not taking it.

Then he began looking at a Walthers catalog, to “adjust” the price of the Herpas. And then he laid on me, with no anesthesia, 17 bucks! Well, when he said the prices were different, I could expect a difference of 3 dollars each, but he just doubled the price on me! He used current Herpa prices for cars that he probably paid 4 dollars back in the early 90’s!

I decided to take two anyway, touristas are suckers after all, but I found the commercial tactic a bit awkward.

Who knows how much he would try to charge for the Team Lotus transporter. It may be more expensive than a real Lotus.

No wonder the guy does not sell online!

One of those things…

When you build dioramas, unfortunately, if you see something you like on the internet, better buy it. That is my advice to you.

A little while back I began building an HO scale diorama of a section of a car race track. I had to adapt just about everything, but found a suitable substitute for the pit area. There was a modular garage made by Herpa, which was not only suitable, but inexpensive.

I did not have much room to build the diorama, but now, decided to expand.

Much to my dismay, I have not found the darn thing anywhere, except a site in Holland. Walthers does not have it, the site I bought it from, hobbylinc, does not have it anymore, and I am in trouble. So much for expanding it.

I certainly cannot change the pits, have no found anything good besides the Herpa garage.

Too bad.


In a recent trip to Italy, I got to purchase a structure kit, N Scale, from a company I did not know, Auhagen. For a number of reasons, none of which make much sense, the kit remained boxed, disassembled, for over a year.

One of these days I decided to assemble it. It seemed to have a lot of detail, and it was a bit unusual in that it comprised five different buildings of a clinic.

I mus say I enjoyed the quality and fit, and the only fault was that one of the roofs might have been missing. I say might because I actually opened the box, shift it about a few times, so the roof might have fallen.

The kit was not that expensive, about 30 euros, so I decided to look for them in the USA.

I found quite a few at http://www.eurotrainhobby.com, and have already bought a couple of structures. As I said, they are basically less expensive than Faller, Vollmer and Kibri, for example. It seems they are built in the old East Germany.

Auhagen also builds all types of accessories, including windows, roof, tile, floor sheets, and I suppose, you can actually build quite a few structures using their stuff as the basis.

As for http://www.eurotrainhobby.com he service was very fast. They also stock a lot of stuff not found elsewhere, like Russian and Czech trucks, and other structure manufacturers I never heard of. I was happy with all my purchases.

The only thing I did not like about their site is that they list a lot of stuff they don’t have on stock, which I always find a bit disturbing. At least they tell you it is no available.

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