<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: October, 2017
 

Archive for October, 2017

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.