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.
Archive for October, 2017
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.
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.
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.
...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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.