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Archive for September, 2017

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.

Feeling depressed and this post is full of complaints

September 27th, 2017 at 11:56 pm

Eh. I don't know why, but I left work today feeling pretty depressed. It was the end of day 3 at the new job and I guess I'm feeling down because I don't really like the job much, I don't like the other job I interviewed for recently and even with this job it's not doing anything to solve my biggest challenge (health insurance).

Proofing all day long is feeling tedious. An endless number of decks and other materials to look at, and they expect everything to be perfect, becus that is, after all, what they hired you to do: proof (as opposed to copywriting).

I also don't like the work environment, which I didn't say anything about before, other than it's an old house that's been renovated into office space, becus I thought maybe my thoughts would change, but I don't think they will.

There are I guess 6 people in 4 rooms upstairs. 4 SMALL rooms. People have very loud conversations in your room when you're trying to concentrate and I found myself going over the same line again and again, til finally I just silently waited til they were thru talking. The guy in my room routinely shouts over to the guys in one of the adjacent rooms. He sits about 5 feet behind me, so when he shouts, I really hear it.

I'm hardly in a position as a newcomer and a contractor at that to say anything about it, but I find it a difficult environment to work in.

It feels claustrophobic to me. If you go in the tiny bathroom, you don't feel like you have complete privacy because everything is so closed in. I mean, what if i had indigestion or something? I would not feel comfortable using that bathroom.

Directly across the street is the train station with a wire fence keeping people from crossing the tracks. The trains run all day long, and when they approach the station, they lean on the horn to warn any pedestrians in the area. Each time they do this I jump! It's very jarring.

There was one woman who I hadn't met who returned to the office today after being out at a conference. She came up to talk at length with the guy in my room, and I was fully expecting she would see me and introduce herself, but that never happened. In fact she was back in the room a few times and never once said oh hey, my name is so and so, you must be PatientSaver. I found that very odd and disconcerting. Like I'm a nobody. I felt offended. I was going to introduce myself but then decided not to bother.

I really dislike the commute, either via back roads, which I take in the morning, or via the highway, which I take at night becus the highway entry ramp is easy to get to and making a left turn on Rt. 1 to do back roads would be a challenge at rush hour. Even on the interstate, mind you, you will go no faster than 30-something miles per hour becus the traffic is so heavy. Connecticut is infamous for this. Drivers are very aggressive but like me, they all can't wait to get home.

When I do get home at night it's close to 7 and pretty dark. So no time to do any of my normal things at home and I feel so squeezed for time. I know, everyone deals with that.

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't like the job and feel so discouraged becus I feel like I've been job hunting for years nearly non-stop. At this point in my life, I would be perfectly happy to take a low-paying job with an easy commute of 20 minutes or less. And health insurance.

The other job I interviewed for nearby did not sound that easy; in fact, it was clearly a stressful job and I have absolutely no enthusiasm for taking that on.

I suppose I may be coming across as lazy or something. I've worked for 35 years and I'm sick of the long commutes and equally long days. Isn't there a happy balance somehow?

I feel stuck and there's no one to help me but me.

Not a happy camper.

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.

Off color family history and other miscellany

September 22nd, 2017 at 10:07 pm

My knee is feeling much better with each passing day, but I still feel pain when I walk in that knee. The swelling has gone down, though, so at least I am not limping, but gingerly stepping on that foot instead. I can also as of today walk downstairs without a problem.

I hope it continues to heal quickly so I can get back to walking for exercise, especially since I will be sedentary when I start the new job Monday.

The interview for the other job was yesterday. It went fine, but the more I learned about it, the more it sounded like a very stressful job. Indeed the hiring manager told me that several times, almost as if she was trying to talk me out of the job. The benefits are very appealing but do I really need a stressful job at this point in my life?

So I met with 3 people and took an hour long writing and editing test, and I needed every single one of those 60 minutes to do it.

They are early in the process so they will take a few weeks to see other candidates, which works in my favor. The more time the people at job #1 have to see how I work, the better chance I may have to be offered a perm job if I got an offer from the other job. Of course at this point, I may decide against the stressful job but then I'd be throwing away affordable health insurance.

I just hope my options become more clear to me as time goes on.

I lost a lot of time to get stuff done while my leg was healing, so today was a busy day for me:

1. Picked up 2 bags of mulch at Lowes.

2. Macy's, for clothes shopping. I went a little overboard with 4 blouses and 2 pairs of pants (Charter Club) that are pricier than I normally buy.

3. DWS: Bought 2 pairs of flat shoes, tan and navy. Years ago I had a lot of trouble finding navy shoes and make the mistake of spending over $100 on some navy wood clogs, which I NEVER liked wearing. That was a mistake, and I was unsure at time of purchase. Should have listened to my instincts.

4. BJS: got groceries. The woman ahead of me was holding up the line by leafing thru the entire coupon catalog and I was anxious to get home as it was Friday afternoon at the start of early rush hour (4 pm).

5. Filled up the gas tank.

Tomorrow I'm going to the grand opening of a new local Tractor Supply as I want to check out their cat food prices. May hit a tag sale and then off to my friend's place to hang out in his area for a few hours, then back here for dinner with dad.

Dad was able to sell his boat, trailer and motor for full asking price to the 1st guy i scheduled to go look at it the other day. There was interest/questions from 4 other people. One other guy also made an offer but it was below asking price, so I don't really feel bad he didn't get it.

So that was a success, getting rid of it before the closing on his house, but the guy dragged dad to Motor Vehicles twice due to various snafus in transferring title/registration. I believe the buyer is picking it up to take home tomorrow.

Now dad wants my help in getting prices for removing some remaining junk from the house, basement and garage. This after I commented that the $1500 someone else quoted him sounded a little high to me. That person made no bones about planning on selling dad's stuff, so he would profit from it twice and I felt he should really offer some kind of discount on what he was charging my father.

1-800-GOT JUNK charges just $658, HALF the price of the other guy, for a "full" load, which is a space 10 feet long, 8 feet wide and 5 feet high. If dad feels all the junk will fit that space, I don't see the need to shop around further. I will urge him to let me schedule it quickly to secure a day next week as the closing is early October.

I have to start thinking about what to bring for lunch for Monday work. It's been a while since I've had to do that. I have enough to make a fruit salad and will likely do some other kind of cold salad.

Oh! I learned from Ancestry that I can now access the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for free. I went online and searched my mother's maiden name as her father grew up in NYC, as did his 4 brothers.

I came up with 3 very interesting articles about one of his brothers, the father of my cousin M., who had told me earlier her father spent time in prison, and I already knew my grandfather did, for racketeering and who knows what else.

The newspaper had 2 news stories and an editorial, all from 1933, that named my grandpa's brother as having been among those convicted in a case for shaking down the owners of a live poultry business. In fact, one article talked about how three poultry dealers, who were material witnesses and in jail, "balked at leaving their cells when persons unknown to them put up $75,000 bail for their freedom." They asked the judge to recommit them to their cells becus they were afraid they'd be killed before they had a chance to testify, so the judge raised their bail to over $750,000.

After the poultry dealers refused to join a 'protective' organization and rent poultry crates from the racketeers, a group of men including my great uncle broke into the poultry plant early in the morning and wrecked the place will billiard cue butts. Ultimately, the witnesses stayed in jail til the trial, which resulted in their conviction, but a subsequent editorial revealed that their sentences were very light and was critical of that. My grandfather got just 6 months at Elmira State Prison due to his previous record, while the others got less.

The editorial was titled, "Light Sentences for Bronx Gangsters Seen as Detriment to Business Men in Fight on Rackets and Aid to Underworld Chiefs."

Made another micro-loan and another job interview

September 18th, 2017 at 02:34 pm

My initial $100 Kiva loan is being paid back by 5 recipients living in Armenia, Pakistan, Uganda, Moldova and Palestine.

From my one-time $100 donation, I've been able to loan out $175 in micro loans.

Today, enough money was repaid that I could make another $25 loan, this time to a woman from Tajikistan.

There are thousands in need of assistance, but I am partial to 1) single/divorced women on their own, 2) women seeking $$ for their own or their daughters' educations and 3) individual women seeking loans for some sort of green home improvement, such as solar panels. There are filters on the Kiva.org website where you can narrow your search to whatever you want.

It's hard enough in this country for divorced women raising a family, so one can only imagine the obstacles women face in third world countries.

Here's who I lent to today:



"Ganjina is a strong, very kind, and responsible woman. She was born in 1965 and is divorced. She is the caring mother of three children: two daughters and a son.

A cleaner at the railway station, she has been working for 13 years, but her salary is low. With a large family, being a breadwinner is difficult for her.

Ganjina has a daughter who is studying at the National University of Tajikistan at the department of Law. She is a first-year student, studying very hard and earning excellent grades.

Due to her low income, she finds it difficult to pay for her daughter's tuition fee. Therefore, she is requesting a loan of 8,670 Tajikistan somoni (TJS) to pay the tuition.

Ganjina is a returning borrower and has a positive credit history. She is asking for a loan for the third time through Kiva’s field partner IMON International, and she promises to repay it on time. She hopes Kiva lenders will support her and awaits your help and support."

Last week I also made a small donation to a local shelter here in CT who is sending a team of volunteers down to Florida to help rescue animals after Hurricane Irma and bring them back to CT for adoption.

I wish I could do more.

I can barely walk on my leg after yesterday's injury. I have to take teeny baby steps and be careful how I place my foot down. I don't think I slept well last night becus I'm feeling tired this morning. I've alerted the recruiter who got me the job I start on Monday, a week from today. Hopefully things will be back to normal or close to normal by that time, although I'm still a little worried I may not be ready if they want me to come in earlier.

I had all these things I wanted to do this week before starting the new job. Now this has thrown a kink into things. Well, walking on it a lot will probably just slow down the healing process, right? I will try to take it easy today and tomorrow and hope that by end of day tomorrow I see some improvement.

Luckily, I suppose, this injury happened at the tail end of my outdoor work yesterday, which was probably for 2.5 hours. At least I managed to plant my new Hydrangea Ruby Slippers and some allium bulbs before it happened.

I just got a call from the hiring manager for the low-paying but perm job as a corporate writer for a national relocation company in nearby small city. We've scheduled an interview for me for this Thursday. I would have made it earlier in the week to avoid possibly conflicting with an early start to my contract job, which is supposed to start Monday but they had mentioned having me come in a day or two earlier only becus the hiring manager will be traveling when I arrive on Monday.

I don't want to have to hobble into the new interview, so I decided to play it safe and wait til Thursday to schedule it. I told her what had happened, just in case I'm still walking funny when I arrive there.

She told me to plan on being there for 2.5 hours. A half hour with her, an hour with 2 other senior writers and the final hour to do testing of my editing and writing abilities.

Just hope everything works out. My leg, the interview, etc.

Took a bit of a tumble

September 18th, 2017 at 12:24 am

I was weeding a long perennial bed that runs parallel to my driveway. Between the perennial bed and the driveway is a stone wall which at one end is just a foot high and at the other end is about five feet high. I was weeding about in the middle.

I've climbed up and on top of that stone wall many dozens of times to access the perennial bed instead of walking around the wall and onto the grass on the other side of it.

Stupidly, I stood up from weeding and with my back to the wall and driveway, I took a step backward to step down from the top of the wall.

It was a greater step down than I realized (since I didn't turn around) and this, I guess, caused me to lose my balance and fall backwards onto my driveway.

On the way down, my right shoulder took a glancing blow, and then the right side of my right knee. But the biggest hit of all was to my right hip.

Wow. I can't believe how stupid that was.

Now, I am really sore. And I guess the hit to my knee was more serious than I realized, because now it is incredibly stiff from swelling.

I can't believe I did that. I could have broken a hip.

I guess I won't be walking tomorrow.

Goings on in the plant world

September 17th, 2017 at 12:58 pm

This is my last free week before the new job starts and I plan on knocking off as many things on my to-do list as possible.

Today, I'd really like to run up to White Flower Farm, about a 40-minute drive. They have a dwarf hydrangea called Ruby Slippers that I think would really work well in a small spot very close to my front door. It's bare dirt now because I pulled out the invasive sedges I'd planted there.

The Ruby Slippers only reaches 3 to 4 feet in height when maturity. It does well with morning sun and afternoon shade, which is exactly what it would get in front of my house.



I just want to call them to make sure they have it before I leave.

Saturday sundries

September 16th, 2017 at 02:08 pm

I spent hours yesterday helping my dad with his personal affairs. For one thing, he got a replacement credit card in the mail. It's lucky my dad asked me to help him activate it because I noticed the new credit card had a different account number. Which meant there were a pile of auto pay set-ups we needed to update.

Since my dad does't use the computer, we did it over the phone but it took quite a while to update. We were unable to do the lender that takes his truck payments because they are getting inundated with claims made by people who lost their vehicles in Hurricane Irma. We were put on hold for ever, then got disconnected.

My dad said he wasn't going to worry about it becus he's got the truck, but i need to explain to him it will zing his credit, they may issue late payment penalties and I think he wants to buy another truck at some point. So it's worth trying again.

I helped him make more phones to a contractor to do some garage flashing/roof repairs in response to the buyers' inspection report. We also were able to obtain some estimated values for his boat, trailer and the Honda motor, which he plans to sell. Basically, with the sale of his house and disposal of a lot of stuff he's collected over the years, it will make it easier for us kids, although I don't have any idea if he's named an executor who who that would be. He is not aware, for instance, that putting all the proceeds of his home sale in the bank savings account means all of that will be subject to probate. If he put it in a brokerage account, it would bypass probate. I don't feel comfortable bringing this up with him.

He found someone who will clean out all the remaining stuff in the house and garage for $1500, which seems a little high to me, especially since he plans to sell some of dad's stuff and make a further profit. I don't know if it's worth it to help dad shop around since we need to get this stuff done within the next few weeks so we can stick to the early October closing.

To top it off, when he left, he forgot his cell phone here. Frown

This morning, I want to hit a tag sale that advertised "houseplants," stop at the annual town health fair (you can get lots of free pens, toothpaste, toothbrushes, a flu shot, your cholesterol checked, an apple and of course, information from a wide range of healthcare service providers.

I'll also stop at the organic farm.

Yesterday at Lowe's I bought a dwarf variety of Joe Pye Weed, a big butterfly plant that normally gets 8 feet high. This little one will get no bigger than 2 feet tall. I planted it yesterday, and I have a pack of allium bulbs I want to plant too.

Luther has gotten into the new bad habit of climbing into a cabinet above the refrigerator where I keep all my lightbulbs. He can chew through a rubberband keeping the 2 doors closed together.

No Crystal Balls

September 14th, 2017 at 05:19 pm

My thinking continues to evolve.

Not having any crystal balls to see what will happen in the future, and feeling rather exhausted trying to figure out a course of action for various scenarios, my basic strategy will be to:

1. Start the new new contract job soon as scheduled.

2. Continue looking for a perm job.

If I were lucky enough to get an offer at a perm position, I would share the info with my current employer to give them a chance to offer me a perm job with their company first.

Because ideally, assuming the work is as interesting as I think it will be, I would want to get at least a year's experience there so I could leverage it to find similar medical writing/editing jobs in this field, which I think would really broaden my horizons and job opportunities.

If they declined, then my choice would be clear and I would leave the contract job for the new job, while giving 2 weeks notice. Because though my fairly intense research in the last few days showed I would continue to have a $0 copay when choosing a plan from the healthcare exchange, I just feel a whole lot more secure getting employer-sponsored health insurance rather than having to rely on such a politically tenuous position right now.

Not to mention I've been hearing that CT healthcare exchange premium rates are expected to rise about 20% for 2018.

I've begun making a list of things to do before I start the new job in about 2 weeks. (The start date is a little fluid right now as the hiring manager will be traveling when I start and since he doesn't want my first day to be when he's gone, he may have me come in a few days earlier, I'm guessing not for a full day.

I want to do some major grocery shopping so I don't have to think about what I'll have for dinner in the first week or two of starting. I want to hit Ikea, get some pants (using the Macy's gift cards I have) and a haircut and maybe an oil change.

I learned from the agency that while my normal pay will be $32/hr, should I work overtime (and the hiring manager said there could be overtime), the pay rate would be $48/hr. I have not asked about working from home but at some point down the road I would.

I think the hours will suit me very well. He wants me to work 10-6 so that by the time I arrive there will be stuff for me to do. The production team has to do their part first. This sounds great to me since I dislike rushing around in the early morning, using an alarm clock and driving in the dark. At least this way I'd only be doing nighttime driving one way.

I'm wondering if the office space will make me feel a little claustrophobic. It is an old house, probably built in the 1920s, that's been converted into office space and rehabbed. I've worked in this kind of setting before, in a house probably even smaller than this one, and it was the kind of place where if someone coughs on the 2nd floor, you hear it downstairs.

I'm also not crazy about working for very small, family-owned companies because I've seen some unhealthy dynamics, like husband/wife owners arguing and stuff like that. There were only about 8 cars in the parking lot and they seem to use a lot of contractors.

Still, I am grateful to get the job. You never really know what's going to develop and at the least it will be a welcome infusion of cash into the PatientSaver household.

The shocking cost of drugs

September 13th, 2017 at 04:01 pm

Because the job I've just accepted is a contract job, I find myself once again in the position of having to weigh health insurance costs without the usual employer subsidies.

Having MS, the drug costs are especially frightening.

I researched the 7 plans available to me in my state on the healthcare exchange website. Several insurers have pulled out and there are only 2 left. Of these, I looked most closely at the one with the lowest annual deductible of $1,000. The other plans had deductibles of $2,000, $3,000 and up. (I mean, if your deductible is that high, it just results in your not wanting to get ANY kind of healthcare becus you'll be paying 100% of costs. So what good is that?)

Based on a fairly low 2017 income I roughly calculated for this year at about $43,000 tops, I would get the maximum subsidies available, so my monthly premium for this particular plan would be $362, or $163 less than what I'm paying for health insurance now through COBRA. So far, so good.

But then we get into the weeds of "specialty drug" coverage of the Copaxone I take for my MS. I called the health insurance company, ConnectiCare, and asked them what the retail price of this drug would be for me and she said I'd have to call the pharmacy, Accredo. Accredo said they couldn't tell me the retail price of any drug under any plan except the one I'm enrolled in, so I asked her for that just to have a ballpark number to play with.

The plan I'm looking at would require me to pay 50% of the drug cost up to a maximum of $500 a month. However, the drug company that makes Copaxone has a co-pay assistance program for those who need it. They pay up to $2500 a month, up to a maximum of $12,000 annually.

So Accredo told me under my current Cigna plan (not the one I would need to switch to) the Copaxone I take costs $5,283 a month. This is really shocking to me. About 10 years ago, the cost was around $2500.

So half of $5,283 is $2,641 a month ($31,692 a year), which would be my responsibility. Applying the maximum amount of $12,000 the drug maker would chip in, I would still have to pony up $19,692 a year, or $1,641 a month for just this one drug.

This is what the cost looks like with a not very good plan on the healthcare exchange. Employer-sponsored plans are still the gold standard and far superior to anything else. By way of comparison, thru my COBRA Cigna plan with my old employer, I have $0 copays for the drug. I am glad I chose to stick with this plan even tho my monthly premiums seemed a little high.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I don't think I could bring myself to spend nearly $20K on this one drug. All I can do is keep looking for a new job even as I start this contract job, and also do as good a job as I can to optimize my chance of getting a perm offer there.

I have about 6 months of the Copaxone stockpiled for just this kind of situation. So again, worst case scenario, I enroll in the crappy healthcare exchange plan but at least I could avoid having to pay $2,641 a month for 6 months and use my stockpiled meds, buying me more time to change my circumstances.

In some ways, getting this contract job creates more challenges than it solves. Of course it's more money than I'm getting now thru unemployment, but you know, even if they gave me a perm position with benefits, they are a very small company. I'm not sure how good their regular health plan is, to be honest.

Looking at the longer term picture here, I have 7 more years to deal with this kind of garbage until I turn 65 and can get on Medicare.

Aside from high drug costs, the plan seemed okay, although my neurologist (the one I can't see now because his office and my Cigna insurance couldn't agree on a contract) is now out of network, as well as my gynecologist. My primary care doc and ophthalmologist are in network.

Help! Job and health insurance advice needed

September 12th, 2017 at 07:19 pm

I am facing a real dilemma here with health insurance and I welcome your feedback/gut feelings.

Today was my interview for the contract job that "could" go perm. It's with an agency that creates custom training materials for bio pharmaceutical salespeople, to help them improve their clinical knowledge of their employers' drugs, so they can speak more knowledgeably when talking to physicians. A specialized niche to be sure.

I learned today after I got home from the interview that I got the job. All that remains is to fill out all the recruiter agency paperwork and sign the contract. I should start in 2 weeks' time.

However, it's the recruiter agency that will be paying me. The agency offers what appears to be a cheap, sub-par health plan that covers only $600 maximum annually on prescriptions. The insurer is First Health and the pharmacy is thru Caremark (CVS). The medication I'm on for the MS costs well over $600 for just one month, so this clearly wouldn't work.

I know the company that makes my medication offers financial assistance, so I called them for details. They said that I would first have to enroll in the new plan and then they refer you to something called Assist RX. You apply and if approved they cover your meds 100%, 6 months at a time. You have to reapply every 6 months. They do look at your income but nothing else financial as far as I know. I have significant retirement savings I wouldn't want to touch and as far as I can see, they wouldn't look into that.

The whole thing looks very iffy to me becus there is no guarantee Assist RX would approve my application, and if they don't, I'm out of luck and it would be too late to go back to my Cigna COBRA health insurance which at least is good til January.

To complicate things further, when I got home from my interview today, there was a call from an employer about another job I applied for. This job is perm, with substantially lower pay, but it comes with full benefits. We had a good talk on the phone and HR will talk to the hiring manager to try to get me in for an interview ASAP.

I don't know what to do! If I take the pharma agency contract job and keep my current Cigna insurance which will last til January and if the new job ends around that time, I'll have very little time to try to find a new job with new health insurance. The hiring manager indicated there was a chance it could go perm, but didn't want to commit to that until he saw how things went with me for the first few months.

If I take the pharma agency job and switch to the new insurance plan and get approved by Assist RX for them to pick up the tab for my Copaxone, I would basically be resetting the clock as far as COBRA goes, giving my another 18 months of assured coverage, but that's assuming I'm approved by Assist RX for the Copaxone, which is my biggest concern.

And, much as I'd like to pursue the 2nd job I just learned about today, I don't know if I'm going to have time to even interview with them before I get the offer from the 1st job. It probably would not be wise to turn down job #1 without really knowing if I have a serious shot at job #2.

Any ideas??

Hurricanes and insurance strategies

September 10th, 2017 at 04:31 pm

News coming from Florida and Irma are dominating my thoughts. It's all I've been seeing on TV. I hope our Florida SAers stay safe.

I have to wonder how property insurers are going to respond. I hope they come through and honor policyholders' claims. That being said, it might be wise for some living in vulnerable coastal areas to rethink their residency, because I don't think this is the last Category 4-5 storm. Global warming and generally warmer air temps will produce more violent storms. I can imagine that some insurers might simply stop insuring low-lying areas like the Keys or even Miami. Sounds crazy, maybe, but maybe not.

Dad was over this morning as he got a new credit card and needed help activating it. He couldn't read the customer service phone number to call. He wasn't sure why he got the new card, and I wanted to see it for myself to make sure it wasn't some kind of scam. I could see his old card expires soon and this was a replacement, but for some reason the new card had a new account number; usually they would keep the same number. So now he has to contact all the places he does auto bill pays, and I will help him with that next week.

I've been so concerned about the Equifax data breach that I decided to freeze all my accounts, not only with them, but also Experian, TransUnion and Innovis.

Well, I simply cannot get onto the Equifax site; no doubt it is jammed with the millions of others who want to do the same thing. I managed to freeze my accounts at the other 3 bureaus. Experian and TransUnion each charged me $10 to do so. But I feel like I'm still leaving one barn door open until I can close the Equifax account.

It irks me that I will likely have to pay them to freeze my account due to their failure to keep my data safe, when I was given no opportunity to keep them from profiting from my data! Insanity!

Before I froze the accounts, I applied for one last credit card bonus! I got a Barclay's card that pays a $200 bonus after you charge $1,000. I can quickly do this with a single charge when I renew my auto and homeowner's policies in a few weeks' time. So in addition to dropping my collision recently, this $200 credit toward my policies will help me enjoy a significant reduction in insurance costs.

After this, I guess I'll have to limit chasing after credit card bonuses, since having to pay $10 each time to lift the freeze would eat into my profits.
I don't anticipate any need for a home loan, car loan or any other kind of loan any time in the future. If I were to buy another home, I'd pay cash with proceeds from my current home sale, and I generally pay cash for a new vehicle.

Maybe I would still open a new credit card if I came across any that offered a $200 bonus, but probably not for a $100 bonus.

Before I got the Barclay card, I applied for the Chase Freedom card and was rejected! I don't know why as my credit is excellent. They will mail written explanation. Immediately after that I applied for the Barclay card and was approved. I didn't want to delay that application in case the Chase Freedom credit check was recorded in a day or two and hurt my chances for a Barclay approval. So my strategy worked.

I vacuumed the whole house today, both floors. Also changed the hummingbird feeder. The hummers usually stay until late September or even early October. Hopefully by then there will be no hurricanes for the tiny birds to contend with.

Job interview today, and another next week

September 8th, 2017 at 01:35 pm

My interview for corporate communications specialist position at nearby (25 minutes) hospital is today. It's a contract job. I need to find out how long it will last. The agency behind this job only offers health insurance after you've worked 3 months. I may not work there long enough to qualify, and then x number of months would have passed and I'd have little time left to find a job that offered health insurance before the COBRA ends. This could possibly force me to buy from ACA at higher monthly premiums.

The 2nd interview is set for this Tuesday. Also a contract job of unknown duration. It pays a little better but the commute would be about 45 minutes, and if you know anything about me, you know that PatientSaver hates long commutes.

The big advantage here, though, is that I can get on the agency's health insurance plan immediately. I don't have to wait. So I'd work for as long as the contract lasted and when and if the job ended, I could keep the health insurance. It would "reset the clock" on the 18 months of COBRA health insurance you normally get. Right now, my COBRA runs out in January. I'm betting that even paying the higher COBRA rate for premiums would be cheaper than the ACA.

I plan to call both agencies to get more details about costs of their health plans to see if that is indeed the case. I would just rather steer clear of ACA if at all possible as Trump/Republicans could still mess with it, if not dismantle it.

So, right now, knowing next to nothing about either job, my preference is the hospital job because I find healthcare interesting and it's a much shorter drive. But, for reasons stated above, I may have to take the other job. Plus, I'm not sure I'm crazy about working for an agency. My experience: they tend to flog their employees...more late nights...the client is king. Multiple versions of everything you write. Maybe they'd permit some work at home though.

The drive to hospital would be easier, all highway. The drive to the other job would be partly back roads (dicey in winter), partly on a very congested 2 lane highway.

UPDATE: Interview was very easy with a very nice man but he seemed very uncertain about how the job would be structured or whether it would be contract or perm. I came away from it still knowing very little about what exactly I'd be doing, but right now i know they have a staff of 20 spread among 3 different area hospitals and together they handle media relations and marketing work. He let me do most of the talking and I tried to hit all the highlights and walked him thru my hefty portfolio.

The drive there was easy enough but the whole area where the hospital is, on the edge of downtown, is very congested and parking is tight. I had to park in visitors garage. On the way home, unfortunately, with no signage for the interstate, I set off in the wrong direction, directly into downtown, had to circle the block again and go in the direction I came, still didn't see signage and there was massive roadwork going on to boot so in desperation, I decided to take 84-East even though I wanted to go west. I planned to turn around at the next exit but that exit too was all messed up. Finally, about 40 minutes later, I managed to turn around and get back on 84 west.

There were just as many labyrinthine detours INSIDE the hospital as there were outside. I parked on the 3rd level, walked across a "bridge," took an elevator down to the lobby, then took another elevator up to the 2nd floor.

I sent off my thank you note and had a conversation with the other recruiter about the next interview on Tuesday. This next job is with a small agency specializing in creating instructional materials for the bio-pharmaceutical field. They need an editor. I'm amazed I'm even getting in there for an interview as i don't have a life sciences background, but the recruiter/my friend really sold me and my ability to research and learn things quickly and become an SME quickly.

Yesterday I managed to dig up the last of my remaining sedges. They look very attractive, very much like a clumping form of spider plant (without the babies), but they spread and spread and take over and then don't look as tidy, and they are a real pain to dig out.

Uptick in job market activity

September 6th, 2017 at 06:27 pm

In recent weeks it seemed like job prospects for me were dead. Today, all of a sudden, there's been a flurry of activity spurred by 3 different recruiters.

None of them seem spot-on matches to my background, but you never know.

1. Medical editor for a marketing agency with pharma clients. Contract job thru year-end at the least, possibly perm at best. Possible interview for next week set up by recruiter, a friend of mine I used to work very closely with. Low $30s (that's the hourly rate).

I might be eligible to get on the recruiter agency's health plan, which I would do to "reset" the clock so that when the job ended, I'd be able to stay on that plan for an additional 18 months via COBRA. Right now, my current COBRA (from the bank) ends in January, and I think it likely that either my current plan or this new job's health plan would be more affordable then buying health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, if it even exists at that point.

2. Contract copywriter at a local hospital for undetermined duration. Would pay less than #1 above but would have an easier commute of about a half hour. $30/hr

3. Perm job writing for a window/door manufacturer and a commute as long as #1. Lower salary of $50-$55K but then again, I don't need much and would just plow most of it into a 401k. The health insurance would be the big draw here.

So I'm feeling hopeful something will pan out. Recruiters don't always understand the nuances of your job; they just see "copywriter" and assume one copywriter is the same as another, or that you can switch industries easily. I've love to get into the healthcare sector, though. It would definitely widen my opportunities if I had some solid healthcare job on the old resume. Having it reflect only financial jobs, including banking, mutual funds and annuity marketing jobs (and one real estate marketing job) limits me.

It's been a gloomy day but I managed to squeeze in a half hour of walking and also paid my sewer bill in person and saved myself a stamp. (I walk very close to the municipal center, so no extra driving.)

Honestly, these last few weeks I did almost feel "retired," and found that I had no trouble filling my time with fun stuff to do. But I would still like to sock away more money though. Like, having a million would make me feel better. I'm within striking distance and if the stock market cooperated, I could hit that quickly

Next week is shaping up to be a busy week with 3 meals out, a possible job interview and a meeting with the Dept of Labor about my job search. And dad wants me to drive down to his Jersey house next week, which may or may not be possible.

Parades and plants

September 5th, 2017 at 01:40 pm

Yesterday I walked to Main Street (about 15 minutes) to see the Labor Day parade. It went on for 2 hours, and I stood the whole time but didn't really mind.

It seemed like there were as many people IN the parade as those watching it....local and state politicians, including our Senators, every club (like the cute Protect Our Pollinators group in bumblebee costumes), local businesses, school groups, fire and rescue equipment from all 5 of our sections of town, and all kinds of live music on passing floats, including country, polka, Latino, marching bands, Irish music and even an Elvis impersonator.

I wanted to share the pix but my little Canon PowerShot may be kaput. It's had an on again, off again problem when I try to download pix from the camera to the computer. There's a little switch you push on the camera to start that process, and the camera is not recognizing it and keeps telling me communication error.

Usually I've got it working after playing with it a while, but this time, it's just not working. I tried restarting the computer. I want to try reinstalling the software but I can't find the CD where I've always kept it, which is strange.

I do have a memory card in the camera as well. If those are interchangeable, I could possibly get it to work and download from my mother's camera, although as I recall, her camera's recharger was not working properly and I would probably have to call the company. It may be too old to get a new charger, I don't know. In any case, it may be a while before I can actually view these pix on the computer, which is a shame, becus I took so many!

Aside from yesterday's parade, I did vacuum out the car and I was able to get a lot of the dirt out from the passenger side seat! My dad is the only one who sits there, and I'd noticed a little while ago that the seat was getting dirty. I think he's sitting in dirty outdoor chairs and is transferring that dirt to my car seat. Just a simple wet paper towel did the trick, but from now on, I'm putting plastic down.

The nights are getting cooler here so I brought most of my houseplants inside a few nights ago, mainly the cacti/succulents. For now, they're set up in the sun room which has south and west-facing windows, but it also has some screened vents that let in cold air, so probably in October I will need to move them again, this time, I think, to in front of the family room east window, where I expect they will go dormant in the chillier temps of that room, which I close off, unheated, in winter. I think it gets down to the 50s there, which would be perfect for these plants.

Last winter I kept most all the plants in my bathroom, but I was running out of room, plus having them in the closed off family room means the cat can't access them. He doesn't actually swallow leaves, but he does like to bite them and leave his tooth marks.

I'm keeping the alocasia and mistletoe in the upstairs bathroom as they like the added humidity of my showers, and the 2 potted amaryllis will be moved to a dark indoor space (basement) for a while once we get a frost. It's a little complicated figuring out the best summer/winter spaces that are best suited for each plant's needs!

I HAVE killed a few plants, the most recent one being a candelila that is supposed to be easy to grow. I suspect the dead-looking area that slowly spread from the base of the stem up was a fungus (read about it somewhere online) and so, not really my fault. No matter what I did for it (tons of sun, no water, some water), it just never really thrived, and because I learned after buying it that its sap is toxic, I decided it wasn't worth trying to salvage any longer.

A little bit of everything...

September 2nd, 2017 at 07:39 pm

I'm still worried about SecretarySavings. I hope she is okay....

I recently moved a large amount of money...about $95K from two Vanguard funds, a domestic and international equity fund...into my Vanguard money market. I hope I won't regret it. I did it at the urging of a close friend of mine who reminded me that there are many indicators of a sharp correction coming. I've known this all along but had merely increased my bond holdings, even while knowing that bonds got clobbered the last time we had a stock market correction.

Before the transfer, I was holding about 55% equity exposure, which is a bit on the aggressive side for someone in their late 50s. So now I'm at about 45% equity exposure. It gives me some peace of mind of safety in the event of a correction, but of course I'm dealing now with "opportunity risk." Losing out on high market days with that $$ sidelined.

I haven't done much today. I was going to do some much-needed yardwork this afternoon, but then it clouded over (remnants of Harvey coming) and it's so chilly I just lost my enthusiasm for it.

I spent all morning updating my employment history on a state website, which is required of me. I also have to show up for a meeting with them in 2 weeks time with proof of job search activity, etc. I even used my account here to figure out exact start and end dates at various jobs, because while I am accurate on months and years, I don't usually track the exact dates, which many job application forms require.

I managed to save over $500 in August, thanks to living frugally, and $2,000 for the year-to-date ending Aug 31. I really need to watch spending in September as well, as both my car and homeowners insurance bill will come due then. As in the past, I plan to apply for another upfront bonus credit card so I can pay for home/car with that card and earn the $200 or so bonus with a single charge.

I recently went "shopping" for gift cards by redeeming the $200 bonus I earned from using my Wells Fargo credit card. I got gift cards from Amazon, CVS, Lowes, Macys and Staples and they should arrive soon. I earned it 3 months ago but they made only awarded it now.

I watched an interesting b/w film last night on Amazon depicting racism and feminism among Mexican salt miners in New Mexico. Racism against Mexican miners earning less than their white counterparts, and feminism when the Mexican miners fought so hard for their rights without considering the women.

It's been so chilly at night here that I had to take in all my succulents/cacti. I've decided to try overwintering them and inducing dormancy in my unheated family room on a large folding table I got from my mother, placed in front of an east-facing window. But right now, they're in the sun room, to take advantage of south and west-facing windows until it gets too cold at night even in there. It's also unheated but it has some small vents near the ceiling that let in a lot of cold air. I'm not really sure how cold it gets but plan to use the thermometer in the family room to guage temps in there. I think it mostly stays in the 45 to 55 degree range in there (?) which would mostly be okay. (Fifties is probably better.)

My regular houseplants, like the wandering jew I got, will remain in the main part of the house. I have an alocasia and mistletoe that both like humidity and misting, so they'll stay in the upstairs bathroom. And there are other plants scattered around the house. I guess I would have to say that the mistletoe and zebra haworthia are my favorites.

I may start dispensing of my outdoor cucumber plants as they won't grow in this chillier weather. There's still all of September, but they are looking rather spent. The tomatoes won't be far behind. Frown

There's another large paper hornets' nest developing high in the branches of my doublefile viburnum. I did warn my mower about it, even though it's too high up to be jostled, but otherwise will just let it be. It's too bad it wasn't within reach as I have always wanted to collect one (frustrated naturalist) after hard frost.

This past week I was able to scrape, sand, putty, prime and repaint the front part of the little roof held up by 2 columns at my front entry. It was peeling badly and looked like an eyesore (if you happened to glance up). I used the new/used ladder I bought on FB to reach it. It doesn't look perfect, but at least it's not peeling now.

There's one strange section of interior peeling paint on the ceiling at the top of my stairs to 2nd floor. It's the same spot that was peeling roughly 8 years ago. Why this area peels, I don't know. But I want to fix it this fall while I can still air out the house when it's drying. Maybe this week...