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A day of progress on generator, big tree take downs

November 20th, 2017 at 02:19 pm

The tree crew has arrived with their big bucket truck to take down 3 approximately 100 foot white pines growing along the roadside. I am very happy they're here . I'm sure it will take at least several days to do the job, and right now I'm hearing the chainsaw but they're probably just using it to get to one of the big white pines; there's a lot of overgrowth in that area.

I spoke briefly to the burly handsome owner. He doubts they could work around a dogwood in the undergrowth which is in the path of where they're working. I can't have everything, I guess.

They will be on my driveway with their heavy truck but will put down some sort of pads that hopefully will protect it, as it was newly paved last year.

I would like to be around to watch the activity, but have to go to work soon.

As for the generator, I have a price for a small, 7500 watt Generac (top brand) that, with all the little incidentals, should come out to about $5,000, but that's not including the work by propane company to install the line to propane tank and the tank itself.

I have the propane guy coming out this Wednesday before I leave for work to give me a price on that.

If I get annual servicing on the generator, I would be paying $353 a year for that; they said some people have servicing twice a year! I don't think it should be needed on a brand new unit, but what do I know.



Another Kiva loan, and another reason not to drive drunk

November 19th, 2017 at 07:08 pm



Enough money was repaid to me in Kiva loans that I was able to make another $25 loan. This will be to a woman in my 7th country, Lebanon.

Fatmeh is a 41-year-old widow who lives in an undeveloped area with her only child. After the death of her husband, she became the sole income provider in the family. She took on all of her husband's responsibilities, and works hard to pay the life expenses. She started her business in selling clothes. She can’t rent a small shop in her town, so she visits her clients in their homes to sell her merchandise. Today, she is requesting a loan from Kiva's field partner Vitas s.a.l. to register her daughter in school and pay the first installment. She said that by contributing to this loan you will surely help this hardworking woman to enhance her way of living.

Other countries I've loaned to include Armenia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Moldova, Palestine, and Uganda. I usually focus on women, either widowed or single parents, those looking to further their education, build a "green" business or improve basic hygiene like putting in a latrine/toilet. I figure these are the people who most need my help.

I went out to lunch with dad yesterday, and the waitress who works there and at another restaurant waited on us. We've seen her many times before. Somehow we got on the subject of my new job and after I mentioned it was "pharma," she mentioned a friend of hers was looking for a job in that field. I gave the waitress my email and said if her friend wanted, she could send me her resume and I could see if they could use anyone like her at my office.

I've traded a few emails with the woman already. She did send me her resume and I will follow through tomorrow and also give it to my friend the recruiter. The woman is single, in her 50s, and confided she can't make her mortgage, has no savings or IRAs and her dog just got diagnosed with cancer. She lives in my town. I was surprised she was having trouble finding work as she has a very solid resume as a project manager.

I felt I was getting drawn into her tale of woe, and I just wanted to make sure her story was legit, so I googled her name. Once I did that, I think I understood why she couldn't find work. Ranking pretty high in the search results was an article in an area paper, dating back to 2010(!) saying she was arrested for DUI.

Employers always do background checks. I don't usually think twice about it since I have nothing to worry about, but I imagine a DUI, even an old one, might give some employers pause. I'm sure she was punished enough by having that go public in the paper, and it appears that was a one-time thing (of course I don't really know). But it's a shame that one bad decision can affect your livelihood for years to come. Of course, if there was someone in my family hit by a drunk driver, I would have no sympathy.

Reprieve

November 18th, 2017 at 01:11 am


Two does and their fawns this morning. Note to self: Finish fencing off rhododendrons and mountain laurels!

I am so happy...I don't have to work on Saturday after all. A client changed course or something. However, I may have to come in to work the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which kind of sucks since I was so looking forward to a long holiday weekend.

Ahhh, the weekend is here. Today was a long day. I prepped all morning for my bank interview. There are certain unexpected questions that have tripped me up in the past. I wanted to be sure I could respond seamlessly.

It was a 2-hour interview with 3 people. I think I did fairly well, no major gaffes, and the job surprisingly seems like a pretty good fit for me. I had initially given myself a 50/50 shot at even getting an interview; now I feel they'd be nuts not to hire me!I have 80% of what they're looking for: outstanding writer, strong background in financial services, even prior banking experience, and tons of experience writing all kinds of print and digital stuff. They're even wanting to start a new corporate blog, which I would own; this is right up my alley. They're also going thru a rebranding, and I also have a lot of experience with branding in my other bank job. So it would see to be a really good fit for me.

I guess we'll see what happens. If I get this job, not only will it get me out of a bad situation at my current job (long hours and work environment similar to a bull pen at the NY Stock Exchange), but it would also get me into a quality, affordable health plan, just in the nick of time (before my COBRA expires). To accomplish all that smack dab during the traditionally slow jobs market during the holidays would be truly awesome.

So I got out of the interview a little after 3 pm, feeling pretty drained, and then I had to drive back to work since I offered to do that. I didn't want to make it obvious I was on a job interview, so I had brought a chance of clothes with me, but I didn't want to waste time running into a fast food place to change, so I just pulled into a parking lot (ironically, it happened to be a branch of the bank where I interviewed), and just changed into my blue jeans in the car, and that was that.

I put in 3.25 hours at the pharma job and then left for home at 6:45 pm, hitting the usual nightmare interstate traffic.

My to do list is not too bad this weekend. I hope to discuss my generator with the electrician; his price, I thought, was reasonable, but I also have to get a plumber to do some work related to it. I have to tally up all the incidental costs and sales tax; it still might add up to about $5,000 when all is said and done.

The fun never stops

November 15th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Now I'm being asked to come in on Saturdays for the next few months. So I just cancel all family/personal plans for the foreseeable future? The owners are happy because they landed a few big accounts/projects. There's a lot of work. Hard to say no when every other employee is coming in. If you refuse, you stand out like a sore thumb.

Sure, they want me to be "flexible," but are there any limits? Does it work both ways?


Meanwhile, another employee went off to an out-of-state wedding over the weekend. She was supposed to return to work yesterday, but word had it that her flight was delayed. Then, when her flight did arrive here, she chose to go home instead of coming directly to the office and decided to spend the rest of the day at home. Others in the office were whispering, she's in deep trouble. (Roll of the eyes.)

My manager told me these are the kind of hours agencies typically work. Um, no, I've worked for 3 agencies before (a marketing agency, a PR agency and a strategic consulting firm), and none of them had hours like this.

Regrettably, I only learned I would be asked to work all day on Saturday AFTER I volunteered (feeling a bit guilty about the job interview) to come to the office after the interview ends Friday afternoon, probably around 4 pm. I would not have chosen to rush over there post-interview if I knew I'd be there Saturday.

What's your home maintenance style?

November 14th, 2017 at 01:23 pm

Is anyone else enjoying "The Durrells" on Masterpiece Theater? Raising your family on a charming Greek island sounds so....idyllic.

Yesterday I finally got the info I needed to dispose safely of the rest of my spent smoke alarms. Most were my mother's. (She kept everything.) They have a small amount of radioactive material in them so they should NOT be thrown in the trash. Nor does my town household hazardous waste event accept them for drop-off.

Each smoke alarm maker only accepts their own brand back for recycling. So I had to track down and call 5 separate companies. So I have 3 packages to mail off today and then I'm done with that particular chore. I wanted to do the right thing and unlike a lot of my mother's stuff, this was one item I knew I could part with.

I also ascertained that my Kidde kitchen fire extinguisher is NOT on the recall list. If you have one, be sure to check their listing of recalled fire extinguishers and/or call them. It applies to extinguishers sold decades ago, so don't think because yours is old that it's not on the recall list.

Yesterday early before work the electrician I use came over to have a look around with the aim of installing a stand-by generator.

I told him I'd calculated wattage of the key items I'd want working during a power outage (furnace, fridge, microwave, TV, computer) and it came to just 5,000 or so kilowatts. I believe the smallest generator they sell is 7500 watts so that's all I think I need and I don't want to pay more for something that's going to deliver 100% power during an outage. However, that's what he initially tried to tell me I should do. Which disappointed me a little because my past impressions have been that he's very honest. I'll be curious about what price he comes up with.

One thing I'm not crazy about is adding yet another "system" that should have annual maintenance. So far I've got the furnace, furnace humidifier and central air now, all of which should be tuned up annually. Actually, I cleaned my humidifier myself and just ordered a replacement filter for it. The problem is, you only look at these things once a year so you tend to forget actually what steps you should take. But I'm trying.

The furnace I can't do myself, of course. I almost always pay for an annual tuneup, my thinking being, i don't want to risk problems in the dead of winter with no heat. But I wonder if everyone does this. I learned my mother never had hers serviced until she had a problem with her heat and it cost over $2,000 in repairs.

I used to do a chimney cleaning every year as well, for similar reasons, even though I have no fireplace here and the chimney is the furnace chimney. Then i got a stainless steel liner in it which in my mind makes it even less likely there'd ever be a fire or creosote buildup, so I've been doing the cleanings every other year. My father doesn't think it's necessary at all, but he's no expert. I've been thinking of calling my local fire department to ask their opinion. Of course the chimney sweeps will tell you it's important because they want the business.

The one I had scheduled to come this past Saturday was a no-show. Well, he eventually arrived about 2 hours late, after I had left to do other things. My weekend time is too precious. I wrote them a bad review on Angie's List. It's Customer Service 101. Show up as scheduled. They never even called me to tell me they'd be late or anything. I just have not heard from them since!

How do you handle household maintenance issues for your furnace, whole house humidifiers, central air and generators, etc? Are you religious about annual servicing or don't you bother?

Spoke too soon...

November 12th, 2017 at 07:55 pm

Meaning, the fleas are still with us. Frustrating. Too soon to give a 3rd dose. Will never use Frontline again.

Here's what I did today:

1. Ran over leaves on the lawn with my mower to mulch them, about 40 minutes.

2. Blew leaves off the driveway, then swept them up in the wheelbarrow and dumped them.

3. Made a tomato vegetable soup and kale salad for the upcoming work week.

4. Determined that my kitchen fire extinguisher is indeed among those recalled; will call Kidde Monday to get a replacement.

5. Gathered up 3 strings of Xmas lights taking up a lot of space. Made sure all were working, then too pix and posted on Facebook for sale; if they don't sell in a week, I'll drop them off at Lowe's for recycling since they're not LEDs.

I'm running out of time now, to do everything I wanted. I guess assembling my portfolio for Friday job interview has to come first since I'm too tired when I get home from work.

Aside from that, I really wanted to go to the Historical Society program this afternoon and/or a one-day showing of Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Steve Martin at the town hall theater. The former starts in 5 minutes and I'm too pooped to run out, so maybe I'll try for the 4 pm movie.

That means I have to put the portfolio together NOW. Now, PS, now! No rest for the weary.

Fewer fleas

November 11th, 2017 at 02:01 pm

I won't say we're flea-free yet, as I'm sure there are some still hiding, but it's getting harder for me to comb out any fleas on Luther. I found one this morning.

I got home at 9 pm from work last night. I've listened in on 6 doctor interviews in the past 2 days, and this last one was 7 pm on a Friday night, and ended at 8.

I was going to talk to my manager, and I did manage to express one thought, that I wanted us to stick to the work schedule he and I agreed on when I was hired, ie, 10:30 am to 6:30 pm. I was going to say more, but it's hard to have a complete conversation there, and we were interrupted.

To my surprise, instead of telling me that simply wouldn't work, my manager looked chagrined and thanked me for my help with the interviews.

It made me feel sort of empowered, that I could stand up for MY needs and discover I wouldn't be quickly axed. No doubt the thought of finding someone new is something he has no time for and thus is reluctant to do, but they do also like my work and I get along with everyone.

The chimney sweep is coming this morning. I have a variety of errands/chores to do this weekend that include recycling 2 boxes of CFL bulbs at Lowes, a dump run, mow-mulching fallen leaves on the north side of the house, getting in touch with FireSentry so I can hopefully recycle their spent smoke detectors by returning them and returning some shoes to QVC. I also have to prep for the bank job interview next Friday.

I would like to treat myself to a Historical Society presentation tomorrow at the library, if I can carve out 2 hours of free time.

I've been trying to find out when this month the tree company hired by the town to take down the 3 giant white pines along the road will perform the work. It's very frustrating when they call you back but don't leave a message! Must we talk in person on this matter? I can't easily take calls on my cell at the office and I have just a single window of time each morning before leaving for work to call them. Doctor's offices tend to do the same thing: they call you and then ask you to call them back, even though I've signed the little forms saying it's ok to leave me a confidential message.



Yabba dabba do

November 10th, 2017 at 10:13 am

Lo and behold, an interview has materialized with the bank that phone-screened me on Tuesday.

I still give myself just a 50/50 chance. But, the phone interviwer told me it would take them 2 weeks to screen the rest of candidates and that I wouldn't hear from them til after that, and then 2 days later, I get word they want me to meet with 3 people, so that's all good.

The interview is next Friday smack dab in the middle of day, so I had to bite the bullet and just tell my boss (via email) at current contract job I couldn't come in that day but could work from home after 4 if he needs me. I will need the time beforehand to prep. I am sure he won't be happy about that. I told the guy who manages the office calendar as well, and his first response was, did you "clear it" with J.? I'm taking that day off come hell or high water.

My boss asked me if I could take some notes of a gastroenterologist being interviewed for market research purposes on his opinions of various bowel prep products used when doing colonoscopies. My firm has been hired to work on some training materials for a specific bowel prep maker, and my notes will be used by the owner of the company to design a workshop.

There's actually a series of physician interviews over several days (they get paid for their feedback) and naturally the ones they want me to listen in on take place first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. So yesterday was a very long, 11-hour+ day for me, from 8:30 am to 8 pm. And it will be the same today, getting home around 9 pm.

I don't like eating such a late dinner. I feel like i have no control over how long my workday is, nor do I like having to "ask permission" to leave each day, and the answer depends on whether they have anything else pressing. It's impossible to plan anything, or count on being able to do anything, cus you just don't know.

They do try to keep the employees happy with Bodega Days on Tuesdays, and on another day you can order whatever you want from Organika Kitchen, and yesterday it was delicious baked goods from a top-notch French bakery.

Working here has probably been a good exercise for me, becus wherever I go after this will feel like a cinch as far as time commitments go! But I need some sense of work/life balance, and this just isn't the place for it. It's a shame, because I find the industry very interesting and could learn a lot, and I almost wish this job came along earlier in my career; at this point, I would like to "wind down," and this job is just the opposite.

If my manager questions me about my taking that day of the interview off, I will just tell him it's an interview. He had said they would make me an offer but I don't have a clear idea of when that will happen, and with my health insurance issues, I ca't afford to wait.

I was chit chatting with another employee there yesterday and learned that everyone gets just 1 week of vacation (!) but yes, they do have a 401k. I'd be curious to know whether bonuses or profit sharing exist. Surely all their employees deserve bonuses for their exceedingly very long workdays. There's one longtime employee who spends 3 hours (RT) daily driving back and forth, gets there around 8:30 am and never has left before me, so that means after 8 pm at night. And that's routine, not a one-time thing. What kind of a life is that?? How do they do it? Why? I really wish I could ask her these questions. Is the paycheck that good? The benefits sure don't seem to be.

I'm beginning to think this company could never match any offer I might get from the bank I'll be interviewing with. So that's why I need to take the upcoming bank interview very seriously, and take the time I need that day to prep even if it makes J. wonder what's going on.

An offer is coming

November 7th, 2017 at 02:22 am

Last week I emailed my boss, asking if we could schedule a meeting to talk. I wanted to tell him that after getting a more precise idea of how expensive my health insurance would be, worst case scenario, on the healthcare exchange in 2018, that if he didn't feel there was a (perm) place for me there, I would have to begin a job search asap since my COBRA runs out in February. (I already have, as you know.)

The little speech I had planned was intended to put a bit of pressure on them since he had left things very open-ended as far as my contract assignment duration, and he didn't know about my health insurance situation.

He didn't respond to my email last week so today I popped my head in the door and asked if he'd gotten the message. (He's very busy and I suspected he just hadn't seen it.)

That was in fact the case and he just said let's talk about it now. Gulp. I didn't get a chance to say I'm going to be looking for another job because when I told him i needed health insurance, he said, well, there are only a few perm employees here and so they never felt the need; they may have to reconsider that, he said. But in lieu of health insurance, what they've done for others is pay about half their insurance costs, meaning, around $4,000. He said he would talk to the company owner and make me an offer, although he also said he wanted me to experience a little of their "busy" season, which should be starting any day now. Basically between now and January.

I also talked to him about the challenging work environment, ie, the noise and distractions. I asked if i could work at home at least part of the time for that reason. He said he would not say no outright, but that he was reluctant to let me since he feels everyone needs to talk to each other, etc., and it's easier to do when everyone's there. He did say I could move my desk to share with a different person than the one I'm with now, who has a booming voice and never tries to lower it when people come in to talk. Sometimes I just have to stop what I'm doing and wait til they're done talking. I said, I can get away with that now becus we're not super busy, but I'm wondering how it'll work when work picks up. (That drew his attention.) In a roughly 12 x 12 room with someone like that 4 feet behind you, it's impossible to concentrate.

I honestly don't think changing to another small room right next door is going to make much difference,a nd I told him so. All the people yell back and forth to each other in the 4 upstairs offices. My boss kind of agreed, but said let's try it first and then if that doesn't work, we may have to think about putting you downstairs with so and so. (Downstairs would probably be quieter.)

So I was really counting on some kind of work at home arrangement to make me feel this job was doable. So I'm very disappointed about that. I'm very concerned about the long hours, but one thing in the back of my mind is that if I really hate it, I can stick it out for just a year or so and then move on. In the past i would have said i could just RETIRE in a year or so but with the cost of health insurance, I don't know.

I'll be quite interested, of course, to see what kind of offer they make me, and you'll be the first to know. They described my job as "Editor/Proofreader." I'm going to ask the title be just "Editor," becus editors do it all while proofers do only proofing, and I'm really doing a lot more than proofing.

I don't think my employer knows what hourly rate the recruiting agency is paying me, and am wondering if they will call them to find out. It would give them something to go on when determining a salary range. But what I'm making now ($32/hr) would be on the very high end for a proofreader, but very low for an editor.

Poor Luther would spend so much time alone if I take this job, with Waldo gone.

Time, and how we use it

November 6th, 2017 at 11:34 am

A comment by Dido on my last post got me thinking more about priorities. Time priorities, that is.

Since returning to f/t work, I watch with dismay as my weekend "to do" list grows longer and longer. Part of what makes it that way, of course, is the fact that I live alone, so things just won't get done unless I do them. I am housekeeper, cook, laundress, a do-it-yourselfer, gardener and more.

I often ponder ways to simplify my life to make things easier. That's the reason I gave up that composter I just bought. It was so in tune with my lifelong interests. For most of my life I've been the "back to the land" homesteader who saw the challenges of solo home ownership as a challenge, not a burden. That is changing, and it makes me a little sad, actually.

For the same reason, when Luther passes, I will not be getting more animals. I grew up with a dog and have had cats all my adult life. I am really sort of looking forward to less spending on cat food supplies and cat litter (not to mention hauling 40 lb boxes of litter and the canned cat food), cleaning up hairball messes on my carpets, battling fleas, the endless vacuuming and hairs all over my clothing, having to be careful about houseplants (they get chewed), not to mention the inability to have my cloth shower curtain hanging down, or long drapes or nice carpets or nice bed comforters because the cat will either claw them, knead them or otherwise destroy them over time. And I'm usually reluctant to take extended overnight trips away because I worry about him.

I have loved each and every one of my animals, but for everything there is a season, and I think it's time to start a new one.

Another thing I've done is given up the lawn mowing. I think this was the 3rd summer where I hired someone to do it. Even then, I find the yardwork in constant need of attention and is never, ever "done." There are all sorts of invasives around here, the worst being bittersweet, which are constantly encroaching on other stuff.

Even in the yard, I've given a lot of thought as to how else I could "simplify," or minimize my work. I've thought about "undoing" certain perennial beds and just turning them over to grass again so I wouldn't have to be weeding and mulching all summer. (And to think there was a time in my 30s when I sought to plant as many beds, shrubs and trees as possible so there'd be less lawn to cut and plus I wanted to live in a forest.)

The back patio is an ongoing problem. It's an old brick patio I had already redone once, and I should have used pavers like the guy urged, but at the time I loved the look of old brick. Well, that old brick does disintegrate over time, and being so small, there are a lot of weeds that come up between them. It looks like a real eyesore; every time it rains, new weeds.

I've thought about having the guy who did my beautiful driveway in pavers come and redo the back patio. He uses some kid of substance between the pavers that hardens when it gets wet and I've had no problems with weeds in either the driveway or my front stoop, which he also did.

However, he's enormous expensive, and I have so much space for gardening and puttering in my "courtyard" driveway, I don't really need a patio in back. But there are plenty of plants and shrubs out there so going back to grass would take some planning. Sigh.

After only recently deciding in sort of a gradual way that I would stay put in my home here, after so many home improvements just the way I like things, I did feel a tinge of maybe wanting to change my mind.

I would feel more "secure" in a condo, becus there would be people around me and no doubt my neighbors would be friends. I'm talking about security during bad weather. Condos and other multiple household dwellings rank higher on the list when the power company is deciding who gets power restored first. And there are some condos around here with underground utilities, which rarely lose power (like my mother's old place).

I'm so happy with my paver driveway and my dining room bookshelves, but truth be told, every time there's a storm here, it's a very scary thing. I worry about huge trees coming down on the house, and this is no idle fear, as off the top of my head, at least 5 have come down over the past 20 years. Five big ones. One giant white pine only 10 or 15 feet from the house would have caused major damage.

These are just some of the random thoughts swirling in my head sometimes.

There are a lot of ways to simplify one's life and chores specifically, but many also cost money. Like, it would be simpler if I paid for garbage pick-up here, but I did that once and found the haulers were so picky about what they took, charged more if you had more than 2 trash bins and if it didn't fit inside the bin, well, you were out of luck.

I'm delving back into the well of combined wisdom here at SA. Do you have any creative ideas for saving time in your life? I'm not willing to eat fast food or stop cooking for myself.

Plenty of doings!

November 5th, 2017 at 09:09 pm

Today, I:

1. Took a bunch of area rugs and seat cushions outside and beat them mightily across a folding table I set up in the driveway to get rid of all the diatemacious earth I'd sprinkled on them 3 weeks ago. Tired of tracking the white powder all over the place and concerned it would fry my vacuum cleaners.

Now I just have the powder on my family room carpet and bedroom carpets, both too large to take outside for a shake. (Not sure exactly how I'll get rid of the powder. I might try a stiff whisk broom and see if I can get some out without creating a dust storm. I have a mask I will wear.)

2. Then I sprayed the upstairs and basement with a flea spray recommended by someone at the animal shelter. It has no odor and you just have to keep pets off it until it dries. Then it kills fleas on contact and lasts for 30 weeks!

I closed off both areas for 2 hours and have just now regained access to my office. I plan to spray the downstairs and lock me and Luther up in the upstairs after dinner.

We may have turned a corner with the 2nd Frontline application this past Wednesday. Today he is not scratching much. I'm amazed.

3. I switched out about 20 CFL bulbs throughout the house with new LED bulbs, including ceiling fixtures and even in the basement. I could use another 10 or so.

I've packed up the CFLs and they're destined for the next household hazardous waste dropoff, probably in the spring.

4. I made a kale salad with orange juice, dried cranberries, scallions, walnuts and raisins for work week lunches.

5. Whipped up a double batch of my granola, which will last about 2 weeks.

6. I drove to neighboring town to return the composter I'd purchased. The woman was supposed to meet me there but she never showed up. She had said she'd already refunded the charge on my credit card. I will continue recycling my kitchen organic waste at the transfer station.

7. I changed the bed sheets.

8. I did 2 loads of laundry.

9. I did an inventory of 5 spent smoke alarms I have (some were my mother's). They're from 5 different companies. I'll have to call the companies tomorrow to see if they'll accept them becus household hazardous waste drop-off does not take them. I've determined that I can throw away one of these in household trash. Hooray for me.

I've decided there are 3 home improvements I'd really like to do in the next 6 months:

1. Get a whole house generator.
2. Beef up my attic insulation.
3. Replace my warped wood garage door with a metal one.

The time to do these is while I'm working.

And the weekend is here!

November 4th, 2017 at 08:52 pm

TGIF. It's been another long week. That being said, the weeks have flown by.

I made it to the dentist during the work week without it really impinging on my work time. I love not having to be at work til 10:30 am. It really helps me get stuff done.

Along the same vein, I realized I could go back to dropping off my trash during the week, avoiding the mad Saturday rush there, by stopping there in the morning and just driving to work via the interstate instead of back roads. Since it's after 9 am, the traffic is just the usual kind of traffic, nothing crazy.

So that will mean one less chore to cram in on my Saturdays and it will be quicker and less stressful to do it this way.

I also decided to see if I could return the $40 composter I bought from an area group, for a refund. A few people were asking if there were anymore to buy at the workshop I went to last weekend, and I began having buyer's remorse after purchasing it, thinking about the mice it would encourage to stick around. It was a difficult decision becus composting is the kind of thing I've been interested in all my life and it aligns with my interest in the environment and being self sufficient and so on, but I began to think that overall, I'm trying to simplify my life a bit, and going out in winter to stir the compost is maybe not what I want to do. I initially jumped at the chance to do this as a way to simplify my life in another way, by avoiding having to make one less stop at the transfer station on Saturdays when it's a zoo there zigging in and out of long lines of cars.

But since I've decided/realized I can go back to weekday drop-offs, dropping off my kitchen organic waste at the special bin reserved for this won't be a big deal. I can still get free compost each spring if I want. I really didn't use the compost I got last spring. I'm doing only container gardening and just didn't need that much.

I have a phone interview scheduled for next week with a well-known Connecticut bank. I think I'm lacking some of the skill sets this particular job (digital content strategist) calls for, but the sheer volume of experience I have working at banks and other financial services companies no doubt made them decide to at least give me a look-see.

Open enrollment started Nov. 1. There are just 2 insurers in CT exchange and bronze plans ONLY. Most affordable one I could find was $765 a month. Scary to think I may have to do that. In any event, there is now a generic Copaxone with a different pharma company, and it's 30% cheaper than Copaxone. I will switch to the generic in any event. This pharma company also offers a patient copay assistance program, so as long as you have private insurance (Medicare doesn't allow discounts) you pay $0 for your copays.

You may think this is a good deal, and while I do benefit personally, discount programs like this one (there are many for the very expensive drugs) don't help the country get a handle on healthcare expenses, becus the patient copay assistance encourages patients to keep using expensive drugs instead of generics. The new generic for my drug just got FDA approval. Meanwhile, the company that makes my Copaxone raised the price of Copaxone 3 times in the past year, simply becus they could get away with it and they knew the generics were coming. I hate corporate greed.

Today I ran a bunch of errands, met dad for lunch, and treated myself to a stop at DSW. Wound up buying a very comfy chair of brown suede shoes. When I got home, I decided to squeeze in a little yardwork, something I've neglected really since 2015. I didn't do that much, just blew the leaves off the driveway, pulled out some bittersweet and put plastic fencing around some rhododendrons so the deer don't eat them this winter. I have one more I forgot about.

Losses

November 1st, 2017 at 12:20 am

I am deeply saddened to learn today of the death of one of my old boyfriends. He's the last person I would think might die early, at age 60, because he led a pretty healthy lifestyle, and in fact taking long walks was one of our shared common interests.

Do you remember the neurologist I dated back in 2008? Those of you who have been reading me for a while may remember. Well, it was him. He had multiple myeloma, which is a relatively rare cancer of the plasma cells.

I only found out today as I was perusing medical news headlines at work, and I came across Pro Publica's doctor database where you can look up how much money they were paid by pharma companies to act basically as a shill. My own neurologist has this down to a science and made something like $80K in 2015 alone speaking to MS patients like me for many different drug companies.

I checked out a few of my other doctors and stopped to think of another one when my old boyfriend B. came to mind. He's also a neurologist. I can't recall my thought process at the time, but something led me to just google his name outside the Pro Publica site, and that's when I got a page of search results with an obituary near the top.

I was so shocked and I still am in disbelief. It said he'd fought the disease for a long time. Half the patients who have it live for 5 years, some longer. It's possible he was diagnosed in the year or two that followed our breakup. Here I thought...assumed...he quickly found someone to replace me. He died a year ago, about a week before Thanksgiving.

I am very sad. He was a good guy. And I remember he worked so hard but like most people had hopes for an enjoyable retirement. It was going to take him a while to get where he wanted to be, financially, because he had to pay his ex-wife hefty alimony, her healthcare til she turned 65, plus the full cost of his two sons' college tuition. One of the sons was still in college at the time of his death. Only after that, he felt, could he really sock away good money for retirement. I hope he got to enjoy some of that earlier.

More credit than I will ever possibly need

October 31st, 2017 at 12:31 am

I have a variety of credit cards that let you see not just your FICO score, but also the % of on-time payments, the length of your credit history and how much cumulative credit you have available to you.

Would you believe that the total credit available on my cards is $88,000? Crazy.

We had a very rainy Sunday all day long, and then the rain got worse and the wind picked up going into the evening. The howling wind kept me up all night. I had power when I went to bed but woke to no power.

I left for work and came home to a dark house tonight but surprisingly not a cold house. It was still 66 degrees in here. After feeding the cat and brushing my teeth and changing into some warm pajamas and throwing an extra quilt on the bed, I sat here in the dark in front of my computer with the cat on my lap, combing out fleas with a flashlight balanced between my chin and my chest.

There was really nothing else to do but go to bed early, when the power magically came back on around 7:30 pm tonight.

So, let's see, I'm guessing i had no refrigeration for about 16 hours. I had made a big pot of meatless chili for my work week lunches on Sunday, but didn't want to open the fridge door to grab some this a.m. so I just ate out for lunch today. And although I think they say fridge food only lasts for 4 hours without power (24 hours for freezers), I am going to eat that chili. It's purely vegetable so I think it's ok.

Today my manager introduced me to a new hire as "Editor Extraordinaire," so I guess I'm doing okay in his eyes. However, this hasn't stopped me from looking elsewhere, and yesterday I applied to an assistant editor position with an arts and antiques weekly paper, affiliated with my hometown weekly newspaper. It would be a very, very low salary, maybe $30K, but if it came with benefits, I would take it.

Don't know if they'll call me as they said it would be a "plus" if you worked for an art gallery or auction house. I did work for an art gallery once on the Cape, but that was over 30 years ago.

A pricey October & office heat strategies

October 28th, 2017 at 11:38 pm

This was the first month of a full-time income again and while I netted $3800 this month, my expenses were higher than usual, including:

1. Car insurance at $545 (I dropped collision)
2. Homeowners insurance $682
3. I topped off the heating oil at $124
4. New tires for the car cost $468.

I hope to get back in saving mode next month. In the meantime, I've only managed to Save $1,770 YTD, which is actually not bad considering I worked full-time for just 5 weeks this year, prior to my current job, at that very lucrative contract job at a different agency.

I called the Frontline company and complained that the med doesn't seem to be working. She assured me that the fleas I'm still combing off Luther daily are newly hatched fleas from eggs the original fleas laid, and so it will take time to break the cycle. I'm not sure I buy that and I'm not sure if I'll stick with the Frontline for month 2 or try the vet's medication, called Revolution.

The woman sounded like she was reading from a script. She did say they would refund my money, but only if I stuck with the Frontline for the 1st 3 months.

I had 3 nights this week when i got home around 8 pm. The guy in my room at work has a thing about always having circulating air, so he has the window by his desk open and a fan blowing. I've been feeling a cold draft on my back. I asked him once to close the window when I couldn't stand it anymore and he only closed it halfway, so it was still cold. I can sense his resistance and am afraid it's going to become a "thing" if I keep asking him to close the window or god forbid, shut off the fan, which is about 12 inch diameter and a foot behind where I sit.

I've been dressing more warmly than I would otherwise, but yesterday I remembered a small "personal space heater" I bought last year that plugs into an outlet. I bought it for my dad, actually, becus with diabetes/neuropathy, his feet/legs are always cold, but he wasn't interested in it. This thing would be perfect for the office! If I could just find it! It's on my list of things to do this weekend. I'm sure my office mate won't like it as I think he also likes cool temps, but c'mon! It gets very chilly in the afternoon, especially when you're sedentary and not moving around. I hope I can find it!

Oh, and I talked to the recruiter and he confirmed my boss really does "sing my praises" and is very glad I am there.

Went out to lunch today with dad and decided to have chocolate mousse for dessert. When I got home, I felt suddenly so very tired and had to lie down for a while. It was the kind of tiredness that happens to me every once in a while, and I had begun to wonder if it was my MS. Fatigue is a nearly universal MS symptom, and probably 80% of MSers experience it, although I hadn't thought I had, until lately. In fact, fatigue is the main reason a lot of MS people go on disability. But today, anyway, I'm fairly sure it was a sugar crash after eating a very sweet dessert.

I didn't get all my errands done today but after lunch, I did go to Kohl's to use a $10 coupon which expired today, and I filled up the gas tank. I also spent the morning at a composting workshop and picked up the composter I purchased. I was even able to put it together before dad arrived for lunch, but before setting it up somewhere, I need to get some very fine wire mesh to attach it somehow to the bottom so mice can't get climb in from the bottom.

Tomorrow's going to be a rainy and very windy day, so I won't get much done.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record....

October 27th, 2017 at 12:56 am

...I DON'T like my job.

The work itself is easy. The people are very nice. Well, what could be wrong, you ask? The irregular hours and unpredictable late nights. Today I performed 2.25 hours of work but sat and twiddled my thumbs from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm, when I left.

The work flow will always be like this, I am told. It's either pretty dead or so busy they spend half the night. And they keep telling me it's going to get very, very busy very soon.

I hate it. You can't try to have a personal life during the work week, at all, because how late you'll be at the office is completely beyond your control. I never know if I'll be leaving the office at 5 pm or 8 pm.

My big game plan to ask for permanent employee status so I could get on on the health plan was probably wishful thinking. I learned through another conversation today with a coworker that most of the people there are "permanent freelancers," I think was the term he used. Meaning, all but possibly 2 people in addition to the owners are perm employees. The rest work as contract workers, like me, except they are paid directly by the employer whereas I'm paid through the recruiting agency that found me.

So is this, then, an illegal business practice? While I know that at least a few of the employees work remotely, others must be at the office becus, according to the same colleague I spoke with about the other stuff, they want a really quick turnaround and feel they can get it faster if you're there then if you're marking up a PDF or PowerPoint deck online and then emailing it. I don't see the difference, but that's what he said.

He also said the proofreader before me brought a book to read there. I will do that tomorrow. I can only check messages on my phone so many times, and scan online news sites.

So if most of them are contract workers, then I guess they don't have health coverage either. Maybe they just hop on their spouse's plan. I don't know.

I'm feeling totally disgusted by the whole thing. I was trying to figure out a way to make this job work, but it seems more than likely it won't, becus if they can't even offer me health insurance, I'll have to go elsewhere. Unless they paid so well it would make it worthwhile enough to just pay the high cost of health insurance thru the healthcare exchange. I'm guessing that would cost me at least $9,000 a year. I'll know in a week when open enrollment starts.

I can't even quit this job if I wanted to, because then I wouldn't qualify for unemployment benefits. I mean, I wouldn't quit anyway, I guess, becus some money coming in is better than no money. (Except that I'd qualify for health exchange benefits if I was making no money, and with this job, I wouldn't get subsidies.)

The whole thing just sucks.

Preparing for winter

October 22nd, 2017 at 11:40 am

I've been doing a variety of things to get ready for the coming winter.

Yesterday I got 4 new Michelin tires for my car. I got them at BJs. I made sure to ask to see the tires before they were put on my vehicle, to check the date of manufacture found on the sidewall, since old tires that have sat around a warehouse for too long just age prematurely, irregardless of how much you drive or don't drive.

I've read that if the tires are over 2 years old that you should ask to get different, newer tires. I was really hoping that wouldn't be the case since I don't have much time these days for a run around, but luckily the date of manufacture was Feb. 2017. DONE.

To kill time while the tires were being done, I walked over to the Kohl's and shopped. Nothing I needed but I wound up buying a nice wine-colored, duck down-filled winter coat for about $55 after coupons. It's super soft, has a hood and lots of pockets, including inside pockets and HOPEFULLY will be warm.

On Friday morning I also got my flu shot. The location was in town, but still 10 minutes out of the way compared to my usual commute route, but I was the first appointment of the day and they took me immediately. DONE

I spent a little time yesterday afternoon putting away the last of my potted plants, which sat baking in the driveway all summer. The cosmos, which I had planted from seed mailed to me by someone on a butterfly propagation Facebook site, were so easy to grow and attracted a lot of pollinators, so I decided I wanted to grow the orange and yellow flowers again next summer. I let everything to go seed and I had plenty of seed heads to cut and crumble. DONE

I am making a list of small jobs for a freelance electrician I know to come and tackle all in one visit. The main thing I want him to do is install a new light timer so my exterior front door lights will be on when I arrive home from work in the dark.

I had one years ago but it broke. Since then, I used solar lights on stakes, but they, too, stopped working after a few years and I found the light too low to the ground to help when I'm fumbling with a key in the door and my hands full of stuff.

And I know they have a lot of products where you can control the lights remotely using your Smartphone, but since I find my smartphone not 100% reliable (and part of that is my novice abilities) I don't want to come to rely on it for too much.

So the list is DONE but I can't call the guy til the flea problem is dealt with. Especially since I'm living with lots of diatemacious earth all over the carpets, seat pads, etc.

Looking forward to ending mowing for the season so I can stop paying for that particular chore. Maybe 2 more weeks to go.

My furnace heat has now been reset as per my new schedule. It's still only been on sporadically. I like to have it kick on about 10 minutes before I have to get out of bed on a chilly morning, and also to have it running when I arrive home from work. However, my arrival home could be anytime between 5:45 pm, if I'm let out of work early, to as late as 9 pm.

I've been fiddling around with a light timer inside the house, again, just to have some light on the house when I arrive home so it's not a completely dark house. I have yet to get it working properly. It's on my list of things to do today.

In other news...
I got my bank statement from old bank and when I balanced, I saw that every check has now been returned/paid out. So I was able to go to the bank yesterday, close out the checking account and get the balance of $3,000-odd dollars in cash (a check would have cost me $10) and then I had to go to new bank to deposit that money. Once it clears the new checking account I will do an online transfer to one of my Barclay's accounts which get better interest.

The teller asked me why I was closing the account. I told her I'd been with them for at least 20 years and after all that time, I still felt completely neutral about the bank. I just felt I should be getting more for being a loyal customer.

It was a hassle setting up the account with all my credit cards and doing micro deposit checks with my brokerage accounts, but I hope it was worth it.

I met dad for lunch yesterday. It's not quite the same as all these many months I've met him for dinner, but I hate driving at night if I can avoid it and I feel I'm doing so much running around on my weekends. It just seems easier to do lunch, but it makes for a more abbreviated visit with dad, and that is what this is all about.

Now that the sale of his house is DONE, and after helping him also sell his boat, motor and trailer, he told me recently he had 3 old ceramic jugs he wanted to sell which he'd bought years ago at an antique store.



I quickly (and amazingly) found a guy on a vintage jug collectors website who especially seeks out jugs imprinted with certain Paterson, NJ businesses, which made the jugs to store olive oil, wine or liquor.

He expressed an interest in seeing dad's jugs, so yesterday I told him let's do lunch in your town so I can take pictures of the jugs, which I did. The collector emailed me back and offered $60 for 2 of them. I had made the mistake of telling dad earlier that my quick research online seemed to indicate they would sell for around $100 each, but I have no idea if that's accurate and of course condition is always a factor. So dad was disappointed with the offer, which I thought he should take anyway since the chance of finding another person with an interest in such a specific thing is negligible.

The collector then offered $70 for the pair but indicated he wouldn't go higher. I'm hoping dad will accept because I am acting as middleman for all these sales and have to take time to relay a lot of back and forth conversations, etc. The collector lives in NJ not far from my half-brother's house and said he would pick up.

Dad has also mentioned he has some sleds he wants to sell and there's still his canoe and kayak, which can wait til the spring. I like helping him, but sometimes I get a little tired of it.

I have come to greatly dislike going to the dump. I liked going during the week when I wasn't working, but now I'm forced to go when everyone else has to go, Saturday mornings. It's always mobbed.

I've always thought the layout of recycling vs organics vs trash was poorly designed becus if you pull over to the right lane to drop off recyclables, when it gets crowded you get boxed in by the left lane of cars going straight toward the trash drop-off.

And since the organics drop-off is in-between recyclables and trash, it means I have to wait to get back in line from recyclables, get out of line for organics, and then wait to cut back into line for the trash. Sound confusing?

It would be better to get there before 9 am, but truth be told, on my precious weekend day I don't like to rush out the door in the morning. It is also slower right before closing time, between 2:30 and 3 pm, but it's harder to organize my schedule to accommodate such a late drop off of trash.

It's bad enough that I decided to purchase a composter for $40 that was offered at a discount, supposedly from $100 by the town, which is offering a 2-hour composting workshop next weekend. I'm surprised any workshop would take 2 hours, but I don't know. I've decided to start using the at-home composter so I can eliminate that particular drop-off when I go the dump Saturday mornings.

I checked the composter online and it does indeed sell for $99 on Amazon, so I think I SCORED on this purchase.

So after 5 months of wrangling with an electricity provider who seemed incapable of actually giving me the kilowatt rate they advertised, I followed through on my warning that I'd complain to the state utility regulator, DPUC. Ten days after they DPUC involved, they told me I should be getting the $50 gift card in the mail (something the electric company offered me for all the hassle but then again failed to deliver on) and a refund of any balance owed from not getting the lower advertised rate. I did get the gift card (if I had gotten it earlier I would not have gone to DPUC, so the electric company really shot themselves in the foot). At this point, I have already chosen another utility provider so even with the gift card and any possible rebate I have taken my business elsewhere. Stupidity on their part.

Finally, the weekend is here

October 21st, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Today I wrapped up Week 4 at the new job. I heard unexpectedly from the recruiter that everytime he talks to my boss that J. "raves about you."

Really??? Cus he hasn't said a word to me about what he thinks! He's very much a closed book, although a few others there have given me positive signals here and there, but nothing major. The recruiter tends to hype things up so I need to find out if J. actually did rave about me or if recruiter is exaggerating.

I'm trying to get more specific information, as this would help me quite a bit as I prepare to talk to him about my status there in about 2 weeks time.

Today I felt thankful to get out of there at 6:15 pm since I had 2 late nights this week when I didn't get home til 8 and 9 pm, respectively. Hate the long hours and I don't want to get run down, which is how I'm feeling now.

In other news, I was able to get my flu shot this morning without being late for work.

My cat has been finding and killing mice each night for the past 4 nights. I think there must've been a nest as they look pretty small, for mice. One I was able to capture alive and release outdoors, but the others I found dead on my carpet. Luther is pleased as can be but I can't stand the thought of mice, dead or alive, running around and touching my carpets or ANYTHING.

I have probably too much diatamacous earth sprinkled around everywhere here. I'm a little reluctant to sweep it up/shake out the rugs/cushions until Luther is flea-free, and I don't think he is yet. But i have to wait at least another 2 weeks before trying a med the vet uses.

Now I understand....

October 18th, 2017 at 12:55 pm

When I interviewed for this job, I was told the previous proofreader had no interest in going from being a contractor to a salaried employee.

Now I understand why.

The salaried employees there routinely work long hours for which they're not compensated. Maybe they're making such a huge salary it kind of makes up for it, but otherwise, I could easily see why a contractor would not want to give up getting paid when she stays there til 8 pm, especially when you get overtime pay after 40 hours.

My manager, at the time this topic came up in the interview, seemed genuinely puzzled. To me it's crystal clear.

So last night all of us in the office stayed late because my manager had a big meeting today, and we were creating the materials he'd be using during his pitch/presentation. I normally leave at 6 pm but he kept me there for an additional 2 hours so I could proof something that took me all of 15 minutes to look at.

Sitting around with nothing to do drives me nuts. He knew I was doing nothing but was ok with that. I can only browse online or look at my phone for so long. This job cries out for being a remote job where I could be on call but at least not be sitting around doing nothing.

I'm going to wait til after Nov. 1, the 1st day of open enrollment on the healthcare exchange, to bring up the subject of my status there, and maybe I'll toss this idea of working remotely out there and gauge his reaction. Especially since my original idea of saying pay me for just a 30-hour week but give me health insurance might not fly since they may argue they need someone more than 30 hours during certain periods.

So I got home last night around 8:50 pm and was kind of disgusted with the job. The work itself is not bad and fairly easy to do but it's the irregular flow of work I don't like I foresee long days at work if I became salaried. Ugh. I'm still looking for perm and aside from one perm position a recruiter has been in touch with me about recently (which I doubt will come to anything since the employer is in a retail business), there is nothing on my horizon and I'm just a few months away from a healthcare crisis implosion.

I've done everything I can to avoid this coming to a head and at the same time, I've tried not to focus on it too much because it just stresses me out. I heard some fleeting reference on the radio that Trump has reached some sort of agreement with the
Dems NOT to get rid of the subsidies, and while I wouldn't be eligible for a subsidy at my pay rate right now anyway, it does offer some relief as doing away with subsidies could ultimately lead to the collapse of the healthcare exchanges. And right now, we need every option available, even if they are very high cost.

Sometimes I feel like a rat in a maze that keeps running up against dead ends as it races to exit.


In other news, today is Phase 2 of my battle against the fleas. The diatamaceous earth I ordered from Amazon arrived yesterday and today I used a screen strainer as a sift to spread it all over my carpets, seat cushions and any kind of fabric that Luther could sit on. This product got very good reviews on Amazon for killing fleas, and the Frontline, once again, killed at most 30% of fleas of the ones I combed off Luther.

The DE has the consistence and color of white flour, so it looks like a very fine dust is over everything. I only hope it doesn't ruin my vacuum cleaner when I go to vacuum it up. I may leave it on for a few days.

Flea progress

October 16th, 2017 at 10:28 am

Another Reader may be right about the Frontline not working. I'm into Day 5 since applying the Frontline and it seems less than effective. I continue to comb Luther daily at least twice a day, and I would estimate the amount of dead fleas I'm combing off is only about 30%. I suppose some dead fleas would just fall off by themselves so what I comb out is what happens to be left, but there are still plenty of live ones biting him.

I wanted to at least give the Frontline a chance, since I'd bought the stuff.

I don't really feel I'm getting the upper hand on the fleas. I only get anywheres from 2 to 8 fleas off each time I comb, but that's becus Luther only tolerates so much combing, and I know the fleas crawl to parts of him I can't access.

Time for the next step. I ordered food-grade diatamaceous earth on Amazon and will get it tomorrow. Since it's not a chemical, it won't be toxic to Luther even if he licked some of it and also since it's not a chemical, fleas can't develop an immunity to it.

So I'm going to sprinkled the diatamacous earth in the carpets and where I see him sleeping, though he changes locations a lot (especially now due to the biting).

If that doesn't work, then I will go to the vet and see if he recommends a different medication though I'm hoping to take care of the problem with the DE.

Me, a whirlwind...

October 15th, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Nothing like a full-time job to make you super efficient in your personal life. Like this weekend, I:

1. Washed 3 windows in the family room, inside and out. They really needed it.

2. I took a walk for a half hour, not as long as I'd like, but at least I squeezed it in.

3. I did grocery shops at BJs, Aldi's and another supermarket. I plan to let the BJs membership lapse, but that won't be til February.

4. I made a batch of granola.

5. I made a big pot of pea soup for the coming work week.

6. I decided to get rid of a a largish white tabletop organizer I got from Pottery Barn years ago (spending quite a lot on it) which I liked because of its many cubby holes and 2 drawers. It sat on my kitchen counter, taking up a lot of room, plus a wet puddle on the counter seeped underneath one end of the cabinet and brought up the white paint on it. So I took then down (maybe my dad would like it) and cleaned up the counter and rearranged where the microwave sits.

6B. I watched a segment on CBS News about a little boy whose dad went to Afghanistan and the thing the little boy missed the most was helping his dad with lawn chores, so he began going to the neighbor's house and asked to help him. The man recognized the little boy needed a father figure while his dad was away, so he spent time doing yard work with the little boy. Every day the little boy knocked on his door, and not a single time did the man refuse him. Finally, the little boy's dad came home and it showed the reunion at the airport. It was such a good story it brought me to tears.

7. A guy randomly inquired about a light stand and a tripod I've had on Facebook for months. He came over and bought them very cheaply, but hey: that's $20 I didn't have before.

8. Dad had mentioned he wants to sell 3 ceramic jugs with a Paterson NJ address stamped on them. I researched them and found the company, in business around 1900-1915, made olive oil, wine and liquor. I also found a NJ old bottle collectors' website and got in touch with someone who collects Paterson, NJ bottles specifically. Maybe he grew up there. Anyway, I'll be taking pix of dad's jugs next weekend and sending them to the guy.

9. In a departure from our usual Saturday night dinners of the past 2 years, I got dad to agree to do Saturday lunches instead now that the days are shorter. It just fits my schedule better and means he can drive over here in the daytime so we can enjoy the better restaurants in my hometown. So yesterday we did lunch at a great new restaurant in town called the Farmhouse. I enjoyed it.

10. I planted about a dozen allium family bulbs.

11. I brought a bench and lawn chairs into the garage for winter storage. Hopefully I'll still be able to fit my car in there.

11. I vacuumed the whole house.

12. I emptied furnishings and plants out of the sun room in preparation for winter.

13. I took pix and posted 2 more items on Facebook.

14. Got more healthy cat food at Your Healthy Pet.

15. I went to the landfill.

16. I got some mail addressed to my mother, an artists' open studio event in northeastern CT. I browsed it and found a guy (with a website) who takes old beat-up antique chairs, refinishes them and paints them wild colors. They become statement pieces, to be sure. I love what he does and am going to buy 1 or 2. I was trading emails with him for details and hope to travel there next Sunday with Dad and he truck. It's an hour-and-a-half out there but it could be fun now that the fall foliage is here. I wish I could do it Saturday but that's when I'm getting the new tires mounted on my car.

Here are chairs I've narrowed my choice down to:


There's another one I really like


They're not cheap, but I like to splurge on myself every now and then.

I've never had a cleaner house

October 14th, 2017 at 10:37 am


Morning glories blooming in October at the Pequot Yacht Club...gorgeous! (Part of my lunch time walk routine).

Since finding Luther has fleas earlier this week, I've been vacuuming every morning before leaving for work. I can do that since I'm not due in the office til 10 a.m. (Something's wrong with this site because my 1st post about his fleas is dated yesterday and I know I discovered them earlier than that.)

I haven't noticed any fleas anywhere but on him, but there could be eggs. I even did a quick vacuum of the basement becus he sometimes sits down there. I also laundered my bed sheets and made sure to empty the vacuum cup outside. And I've been combing Luther for fleas twice daily, once in the a.m. before I leave for work and then again at night.

I noticed him scratching tonight when I came home but could only find 2 fleas on him. I can only search/comb around his head and neck as he doesn't like anything else.

Another Reader said Frontline doesn't work anymore and I did come across an interesting article that addressed that:

From the article:
"“These products don’t work instantaneously,” Dr. Murray said. “When there is a lot of exposure during a flea bloom, people are more likely to see the pests and conclude the product is not working.”

Dr. Murray said owners who have treated their pets properly need to be patient and allow the product time to do its work. If an owner has missed a treatment, it may take longer to rid the pet of fleas.

By the time owners notice fleas on an untreated animal they are probably seeing a second or third generation, Dr. Murray said. “That means by the time you start treating your pet you’ve got this massive amount of flea biomass in your home, flea larvae and pupae,” he said. “It can take as little as three weeks or as long as several months for that to run its course.”

Wrapped up my 3rd week on the new job today. After going home early each day this week (not that I mind at all), I had to stay late tonight, til 7 pm, so didn't get home til close to 8.

I had this great idea of proposing to my manager, assuming he likes me and wants me to stay, of saying, look, I've been working only around 30 hours a week instead of the 35 to 40 you promised. How about you hire me as a perm and I get the health insurance I need, and we negotiate the salary I get, then you can immediately reduce that figure by 25% since I'd be working a strictly 30 hour week.

This would be ideal for me as I don't care about making top dollar but just need the insurance and a decent salary. And I've been told by perm people there they routinely work til 6:30 or 7 pm, sometimes as late as 9 p.m., or even on the weekends. By enticing them with the 25% savings by cutting my pay, I'd hope to limit my hours to 30 hours a week and thereby escape the long hours everyone else there deals with. I mean, this week has been very, very slow and it sure didn't seem like they had enough work to keep my busy for a 40-hour week.

But now I don't think this will fly because they assure me things will get really busy in November. Sigh. If it weren't for the need for health insurance, it would definitely be in my best interest to continue working as a contractor since I get paid by the hour ($32) and could rake in an even higher rate of $40-something an hour once I exceeded 40 hours.



Luther has fleas

October 12th, 2017 at 12:02 am

So for about a week I see Luther scratching furiously. I think to myself, gee, it's almost as if he's getting bitten by fleas. But that couldn't be, I thought, since he's an indoor cat.

It was only when I finally examined his coat closely that I saw a flea! More than one! I was disgusted!

Went to Petco this morning before work and got some Frontline and a flea comb. Vaccumed the downstairs before I left for work.

Can't imagine how he picked them up. My dad sits outside in the grass at my sister's. I haven't even been on my own lawn much since I've been working. Perhaps he had one or two a week or so ago and now it's a full blown infestation.

I applied the Frontline; his hair is so thick. I hope I got enough on the skin. I've been combing fleas out as much as he will tolerate, which is to say, not that much. I got about 20 fleas off from around his neck. I found they can jump from the water's surface, so now I have a little bowl and i put small pieces of torn up paper towel on top of the flea after i flick them in there, so they can't jump and eventually drown.

I changed the bed sheets and threw them in the wash.

I plan to vacuum daily thru Sunday, anyway. I hope I won't have to flea bomb the place. And I do have 3 more months of the Frontline, if needed.

Getting new tires and generic drug price wars, YES!

October 10th, 2017 at 12:23 am

I knew I may need new tires on my 2013 Honda because 1) I still have the original tires on the car and 2) the tires have begun to squeal going around corners at a relatively low rate of speed.

When I spoke to my cousin to wish her a happy birthday, she mentioned she'd just bought new tires for her Ford Escape. She didn't bother to research tires at all but just went with what the shop recommended, which was Michelin. She was able to use a $70 coupon Michelin is currently offering on the purchase of 4 new Michelin tires.

I went to my favorite consumer review site, consumersearch.com, which aggregates reviews by other places like Consumer Reports. Their #1 pick was Michelin Premier (for all season tires), so I checked to see if BJs carried them. They did, and the online purchase and then the online appointment to have them install was very easy. Normally I would shop around for the best price, but I just didn't feel like I have the time, especially if all it saves me is $30 or so. (Not that I know what the potential cost savings could be.)

So I'll have to wait til Oct. 20 for the install since I can't get over there on a week night. They ARE open til 8 pm but I would be too tired.

I also checked the date of manufacture on the tire side since this would indicate how pressing your need for replacement may be, not the mileage as you might suppose. Mine were made in August 2012 so I definitely needed to replace. I am anxious to get it done. They weren't cheap, at over $100 per tire plus cost of install.

I am finding as I chit chat with various people that they all have much longer commutes than I do; one person today told me she drives 1.5 hours one way. It will make it harder to ask to work remotely just because, or when it snows.

I made a tasty lunch for work today: my mother's recipe for cold pea soup, which is a bright green because you don't cook the peas, and my wheat berry salad, which I've been making for so many years I forgot where I got the recipe. Also a bottle of Bai, the only bottled drink I'll consume.

I'm very happy to see that the FDA unexpectedly gave an early green light to the maker of a generic Copaxone at both the 20 and 40 mg dosage. I use the 40 mg dosage, 3x a week, for the MS and the price for this drug has done nothing but increase exponentially. Word on the street is that the generic will be 25 to 30% cheaper and that Teva will respond by lowering its price. These price wars can only benefit consumers.

"In August, a U.S. House of Representatives committee contacted Teva, Novartis and five other makers of multiple sclerosis drugs as part of a drug pricing investigation, saying that some of the dozen drugs used to treat the progressive neurological disease appeared to have lockstep price increases.

The 2017 price for the 40 mg version of Copaxone is $80,000 per year and the 20 mg version is more than $90,000 after having been launched in 1996 at just over $8,000, the House committee said."

Take a minute to read that again: In the span of 20 years, the cost of Copaxone went from $8,000 to $80,000 a year. What is wrong with this picture? GREED.

The people making these decisions may be pharma executives, but to me they're just as evil as Bernie Madoff.

I don't know why the daily injection (20 mg) would be even more expensive than the 40 mg (3x a week) because anyone in their right mind would prefer fewer injections.

Teva's technique to keep up the sale of its drugs is by paying 100% of the co-pays of Copaxone users. Even though Teva has paid my co-pay for years, it's not doing anything to lower the price of drugs overall because this just encourages me to continue using their very high-priced drug.

I can do my part by switching to the generic and I would also like to do that for a degree of peace of mind should I ever get in a jam and need to cover the payment possibly, it would be more doable with the 25-30% discount. I won't do it if Teva lowers their prices.

I don't think I'd try to do this now as I can't see my longtime neurologist since he and Cigna have a contract dispute and he is no longer in their network. He authorizes my prescription a year at a time even though I have to refill each month, and I made a point to have him authorize refills for another year right before the date Cigna told me was the end of their relationship with my doctor. And since my Cigna will run out with my COBRA in January anyway, no use complicating my prescription drug care any more than it generally is.

I'll wait to see what happens with this job. Best case scenario: get a perm job offer that comes with health insurance. It could still be expensive because this is a very small company, but it would have to be better than the healthcare exchange. Worst case scenario: I get stuck on the healthcare exchange with its expected double-digit rate hike in 2018 for people who make too much $$ to qualify for the subsidies. These are the people (like me) who would bear the full brunt of the ridiculous healthcare price increases.

I will take another look at available plans when they become available for viewing Nov 1 and I'm afraid it won't be pretty. But at least I'll know what I'm dealing with.

Sunday Stuff

October 8th, 2017 at 07:02 pm

Dad came over in the a.m. so I could write out a check for him to pay the electrician who did work on the house he's selling. His vision is so bad that it's affected the legibility of his handwriting. The closing is supposed to take place Monday.

After he left, I did a pile of cooking for the coming work week lunches, including a wheat berry salad, a potato salad using purple heirloom potatoes I grew (looks a little wierd, but tastes good) and a cold pea soup.

I was listening to classical music as I cooked but found it was making me depressed becus it reminded me of my mother.

Yesterday I vacuumed and did the food shopping and picked up some grain-free cat food for Luther. He's scratching like crazy (no fleas).

I stopped in at the local bank, intending to enter their raffle. They just opened up a new location as they outgrew the old address on Main Street. But I'd been thinking of switching my checking account over to them, not necessarily today, but that's what I wound up doing.

I've been with my old bank for 20 years and after all that time, my opinion of them is still completely neutral. Meaning, they provided a service that I need (checking) but I otherwise have no real positive feelings about them. The new bank is smaller but has grown quite a bit in the past few years and I like doing business with more local businesses. I did a focus group with them a few months ago and was impressed with all the ideas they were considering doing to attract new customers.

Plus they offer a few more benefits than my old bank in terms of interest paid on checking and the minimum balance being lower (0.08% if you maintain a $2500 balance), a $30 discount off a safe deposit box and stuff like that. The tellers also make a point to greet you by name as you walk in, and I think I'd like that. Smile

Of course, I have a gazillion things to change over, including links to T. Rowe and Vanguard and Barclay's so I can transfer funds, as well as all my credit card bill pay accounts.

They all do those mini "test" deposits to ensure my identity so it will be a pain for a while. I already emailed a voided check to my new employer so they can change my direct deposit.

I spent a lot of time calculating my expected 2017 income this year from a lot of different sources as I felt they were withholding too much from my paycheck, but I think it may be ok as is.

I returned a pair of shoes I bought at DSW for a $65 credit.

Today's been kind of a lazy day so far. Luther really appreciates my presence at home. The weather is humid and overcast with a little rain which we really need. I'd like to squeeze in a walk, a trip to CVS and BJs, but not sure I'll do all 3.

Spoke to my cousin to wish her a happy birthday. I may need to get new car tires soon. I need to get out there with a penny. I still have the original tires on the car and it's a 2013.

The Weekend is Here & Labor Day parade pix

October 6th, 2017 at 10:02 pm

I unexpectedly left work early today at around 2:45 pm. There simply wasn't any work for me to do. He said it doesn't happen that often and I know he was conscious of the fact they promised me a certain number of hours (35 to 40). Still, I wasn't too upset to go home early as I can't stand just sitting around and trying to look busy. I still got in a 34-hour week.

On the way home I began to think about how I might use my precious newfound hours of daylight at home, but truth be told, I suddenly felt exhausted when I got home and I lay down for about a half hour. Then all I did was sit outside on the front stoop and drink a bottle of beer and read my weekly hometown newspaper. So, not terribly productive but enjoyed nonetheless!

I am liking the job more although yesterday I was feeling insecure about my standing there, I guess becus I overheard a phone conversation my manager had with my friend, the recruiter (who he put on speaker phone) talking about some candidates my manager saw as he's looking to fill some other position. The walls are very thin so I could hear the conversation quite clearly! He was talking about how this one or that one had a stronger or dated portfolio, had a "great personality," and so on. So it gave me some insight as to how my manager thinks when reviewing candidates, and so then I wondered how my "personality" came across. It was never my strong point.

For many years, I never considered how employers might consider how I "fit" with the company, believing instead that my ability to do the job, and how well I did it, was all that mattered.

Now I clearly see that's very wrong, that when jobs are offered they definitely consider "personality" or "fit" with existing culture. And people tend to hire those they like.

So this morning I made a strategic move: I left for work early so I'd have time to stop and pick up a dozen croissants, muffins and bagels for everyone. I chose to buy them in the pricey town I work in and was shocked to pay $29 for a dozen of the above! It's just one small thing that can ingratiate you with others and help them feel you "fit in" with the group.

I hope I don't sound too calculating, but that's exactly why I did it, to ingratiate myself, as I now hope and want to be offered a perm job at this company. I'm finding the work fairly easy to do and I've fine tuned my commutes, coming and going, so it's now about 35 to 40 minutes each way.

And I can also easily commute home via back roads, which are far less stressful than the interstate. Initially, i gave up considering doing so because of the difficulty of making a left turn on a certain busy highway, but I have since found a better way to go. I would only take the highway route once it's pitch black at night (too many deer to hit on back roads) or if roads are snowy/icy.

I guess the only thing I don't like is that I've noticed that while my hours are 10 to 6, the others are all there when I arrive (no doubt getting there at 9 or earlier) and they are all still there when I leave! As a contractor, I don't feel bad about leaving at 6 pm although I usually ask "if there's anything else I can do." But as far as I know, they're all on salary and it looks like they work at last 9-10 hours daily, which I would not like!

However, I've also learned through a casual conversation that at least one of the people who is there only very occasionally is not a part-timer, but simply someone who works remotely. So there's hope that perhaps I could do that as well.

I think they like my work so far, and have gotten a few tidbits/comments here and there from various people about certain things I rewrote or things I caught in editing that were good catches.

But anyway, it was a "treat" to get out of there early today, even if I sacrificed, oh, around $100.

I have a pile of stuff to do over the weekend but hope to just relax a little bit and enjoy my free time.

I suspect my 2 withholdings that I'm claiming for this job are not enough, and I calculated that my income for 2017, between unemployment benefits, my work at E. agency last spring, investment income, art sales and my work at this job will be about $44,000. So now I need to figure out how much I've already paid in taxes to determine if I should increase my withholdings. My first paycheck netted just $885 for one week's work. It would be nice, psychologically, if it were at least $1,000.

Oh! So I realized I never got around to posting the pix from my town's Labor Day parade. It's a real "Americana" kind of thing, and I do enjoy going. Here are some random photos I thought you might enjoy.


We had a great turnout and the weather was good.


Antique car lovers


This one looks like the one my family had when I was little. Same color too.


Shriners pipe and drum band


A senior calypso band


Clowns


This one creeps me out a little.


A group that dresses up each year in Colonial garb


This is the 2nd Company Governors Horse Guard, 1 of just 2 left in the state and the stables are right in town. In continuous operation since the 1800s despite regular threats of no money and shutdowns.


Fairfield Gaelic Pipe Band


The first of many tractors


More tractors


Each of our town's 5 neighborhoods - Newtown, Botsford, Sandy Hook, Dodgingtown and Hawleyville - have their own fire departments. But we're all one town. Not sure but the guys on foot may be police.


More firemen


Hawaiian dancers


Local kung fu studio gave a demo as they marched.


Latino dancers


Can't forget the men


Little cheerleaders


More bagpipes


Local bridle association


More cheerleaders


Protect Our Pollinators is a local group that aims to increase awareness about the threat to bees and other pollinators.


Shriners...I heard that one got in an accident during the parade but no one was hurt.


Square dancers swung to polka tunes. Truly a dying dance type, at least around here!


Underwater Search & Rescue


Girl scouts


The Wells Fargo Bank horse and carriage.Don't care much for the bank but I like the horse and carriage.

Feeling better about the job, and cousin troubles

October 4th, 2017 at 12:46 am

I'm feeling better about the job since fine-tuning my commute coming and going. I've got it down to about 35 minutes heading in on back roads and 40 minutes coming home via the highway. The highway drive is still very stressful due to other drivers.

I'm finding the job itself is fairly easy to do. I may have said it was "boring" before, but as long as I have something to do, I'm okay. The people are also pretty nice and no one rushes you to do things very quickly as they often do at other jobs.

But I can't just "relax" into the job since I have no health insurance and just 3.5 months left with COBRA. There hasn't really been much relevant job activity. I can only hope they offer me a perm position toward year's end, but I certainly can't sit back and count on that.

So I hadn't spoken to my 70-year-old cousin for a few months and finally got around to calling him last weekend. The phone number was disconnected. I suspected it had something to do with the continuing trouble he's been having with his teenaged grandson, who he raised for the 1st 10 years of the kid's life. He invited the kid to live with him but the kid dropped out of high school, has no job, does drugs and is a slob. The parents don't provide a very good home environment according to my cousin and have thrown up their hands with him anyway.

Oh, yeah, and I forgot to mention my cousin is a gun collector fanatic with all sorts of semi-automatic weapons, etc in the house with this very troubled kid.

So when I couldn't reach my cousin, I acted on a hunch and searched his name online (which is also the name of his grandson). I found 5 or 6 online news accounts of a shocking incident where the grandson shot 3 times at my cousin: once on either side of his head and once near his kneecaps. Cousin called the cops and he was arrested and has been in jail ever since. Will probably get 8 or 9 months for what he did.

I made contact with cousin via email and offered my support. The newspaper account erroneously reported the kid was out on $5K bail and I was terribly worried for my cousin's safety, so in the email I told him if he wanted to get away from the situation for a while and just clear his head, he could come up here.

He called me last night and explained the kid's in jail and that he regretted calling the cops cus "I put him in jail." I corrected him immediately and said no, HIS ACTIONS put him in jail. He said he was 99% sure the kid wasn't trying to shoot him and this his aim is very good so he wasn't too worried (tho he called the cops all the same).

I had told him months ago he should kick the kid out of his house becus he otherwise had no incentive to do anything to improve his situation but cousin didn't do anything.

He said he might like to take me up on my offer to come up here toward the end of the month, and now I kind of regret making that offer, becus it was made only becus I thought his life was in imminent danger. I didn't intend for it to be a social visit since I'm working the new job and wouldn't want anyone staying over during the week when I was away unless it really was some kind of emergency situation.

Not only this, but learning some really unsavory stuff about cousin's romantic involvement with a much younger woman who was friends with his grand son who has a baby and also no job, no car, does drugs, etc. He said it was a "pay for play" arrangement and does not want a relationship or "dating."

She's also in jail now for sexting an underage person and having sex with that person. You can't make this stuff up.

Anyway, I'm beginning to see that my cousin, who I only recently discovered thru genealogy research a year ago, maybe creates unhealthy life situations himself and really doesn't need "rescuing" by me. I was beginning to realize I was maybe wasting my time feeling concerned about him.

Well, anyway, in other news, I continue to enjoy my half-hour lunchtime walks in the gorgeous Southport neighborhood. Here are some pix I've taken so far:

















My first paycheck is direct deposited this Thursday. I plan to adjust withholding so more money comes to me because I have a feeling too much will be deducted.

Saved $$ on home + auto insurance

October 1st, 2017 at 03:49 pm

I like to focus on saving money on my biggest expenses. That's why I'm happy with my savings on my auto/homeowners insurance policies.

My homeowners did go up $43, but I was able to knock my car insurance down by $288 by dropping collision and the associated rental coverage if I filed an accident claim.

So my homeowners is costing me $682 this year and the car insurance is just $544.50 (for a 2013 Honda)! I'm very happy with that since I ponied up $887 last year.

Plus, since I timed applying for my latest bonus credit card acquisition to just before payment would become due on the car and auto, I will earn a $200 bonus with this one payment, so you might say that would reduce my auto to $344.50. Smile

Last year is when I should have dropped collision since being out of work I wasn't driving much. Now I am commuting, but the car is a year older. I will try not to let the aggressive drivers affect my own driving habits and just be very careful.

Thanks

October 1st, 2017 at 01:29 am

I wanted to thank everyone for their comments, support and ideas on my last post about how I wasn't diggin' the job that much.

You all had something different to say and this is why I like this forum so much. A lot of your remarks hit the spot.

I plan to bring in a Radio Shack radio headphone thing I have; my experience has been that the reception is bad in an office environment with all the electronics, but I will see.

I'm not as down as I was when I wrote that post, and of course it's the weekend so I feel better. Smile I guess I'll just have to give it more time and in any event, I don't have other job offers right now although I am still looking. If I don't hear anything from the other job I interviewed for, I'll assume they weren't interested in me although I don't think I'd accept at job from them anyway.

It was a very long work week.

Today I filled up the gas tank, stopped at Macy's to pick up 2 more pairs of Charter Club skinny pants since I like the first pair so much, so now I have them in brown, black and navy blue. I did my grocery shopping, reset some mouse traps in the garage, blew the leaf litter off the driveway, took in some of the potted plants and generally organized my garage, though more still needs to be done. (Tomorrow?). I bleached/washed a mildewy dish drainer pad and stopped at the pet food place to get Luther some treats as I know he has to deal with long, boring days by himself now. I saw dad for dinner and got him to agree to change our Saturday night dinners to Saturday lunches, as I don't like going out in the dark and in the cold, and those days are coming. Plus I could have him come to my town more, where there are many more great restaurants, and he'd be able to drive himself home in daylight hours. Plus we'd face less crowds. I also did my September expense and investment reports and stopped at the $1 store to get birthday cards for my 2 cousins with October birthdays.Also made a trip to the landfill; no avoiding the Saturday crowds now.

Tomorrow I plan to make a salmon corn chowder I can bring to work, along with an apple crisp and a tofu chocolate pudding. I'll finish painting a small spot that was peeling on the ceiling, continue to organize the garage and call my cousin.

1st day of work

September 26th, 2017 at 01:04 pm

My first day at new contract job went fine, albeit a little slow, but 4 or 5 people are out at a conference so things will probably get busier when they return tomorrow.

Everyone seems very nice. More men than women. It feels a little claustrophobic in this old 1920s house renovated for offices. There are 4 small rooms upstairs with me and another guy in one room (and a 3rd vacant desk) and 2 guys in another room. I was told they used to occupy only the upper floor with some lawyers occupying the downstairs. It's so tight for space it makes me wonder. I imagine the husband/wife owners live in this same exclusive town and that's why they are located here.

The job is more of a proofing job than editing, at least so far. They don't seem to want me to make any major rewrites at this stage, which is fine with me if that's what they want. My strengths are as a writer and editor and I imagine this might get boring. But we'll see.

I took a teesny 15-minute walk yesterday as I know it's a very nice neighborhood. I hope to get out for a half hour today although I know it will be hot and humid again. I really like to get up and do a brief walk at least every 2 hours (every 1 hour is recommended) but at this place everyone will be aware of someone walking around.

I am also VERY thankful my knee heeled up amazingly quickly, becus the staircase at work is the original old and very steep staircase. I could not have managed that just 3 or 4 days ago, especially going down! Definitely not handicapped-accessible.

So I proofed a few decks for a well-known drug-maker's breast cancer drug. I asked to review my edits with the account executive person because she knows the client's style preferences and many of my edits she "stetted." (undid). So it will be a learning experience.

At least I don't have to leave for work til 9:15 am. Though by the time I got home last night, it was dark. I still don't have the best commute figured out and twice now there have been detours on back roads that threw me off. It took me 55 minutes to get home last night when it should only take 40. I have 2 new routes to try today, one will still be back roads as it will be light when i leave, and the way home will be the highway, which i prefer at night and if it's snowy they will be much safer.


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