I’m older and have better insurance

I’m sorry I’m so late today. I don’t imagine there were many of you heartbroken over not being able to share your morning coffee and reading time with me but apologize I will anyway. As much as it may seem these meanderings appear to be quite spur of the moment in composition, grammar, and spelling, I give a lot of thought to them. Sometimes minutes! Often they are ready to post the day before you read them which for today would have been yesterday. Now that I think about it, you could say that about any day that happens to be today. But as luck would have it, and lucky for me that luck was there to have it, yesterday I was busy buying a car.

To buy a car is an event for me. Like the cicadas, there is a long time between my appearances at a car dealership. My last purchase was 7 years ago. Things have changed in seven years! Particularly for confirmed used car buyers like me.  I think perhaps it’s the influence of outfits like Carvana, Car Shop, and CarMax, that for what they lack in company name originality they make up with simplified car shopping. One no longer has to travel from car lot to car lot to explore options. If a local dealer leaves their website incomplete of all offerings thinking the few advertised selections will entice the buyer to visit them personally to see their complete inventory as would they had done in the days of print ads in the Sunday newspaper want ads section, that dealer probably closed up or was absorbed into a mega-dealership shortly after Sunday newspapers joined the endangered species list. No, today, if it’s for sale, it’s online. The only walking necessary while narrowing down the choices is back and forth to the kitchen to refill the ice tea glass and the bridge mix dish. 

thumbnail_IMG_0101 (Just out of curiosity, am I the only person left in the world who keeps a dish of bridge mix on the coffee table?) (Am I the only person who still keeps bridge mix?) (Am I breaking etiquette having bridge mix yet never having played bridge?)  So I did my research, narrowed my choices, and what usually would have taken me 3 to 5 weeks of intense searching took me 3 days.

Now believe it or not, car buying is not the focus of this post. (Meanderings, remember?) It did provide the impetus for it. Naturally when you change vehicles you have to update your insurance. I don’t think of insurance very often. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I had to use my insurance other than to prove I have it so I can register the cars and keep them on the road. And so I can put the new to me one on the road, I had to dig up my insurance information for the transfer. The person handling the paperwork for the registration asked me if I was happy with my current provider and I said they seemed to be fine, they take a little of my money every month and give me a little peace of mind in return, mission accomplished. And she got me wondering if they are taking more than just a little of my money.

It’s been years since I ever considered a different insurance provider. Those of you with the longest memories will remember six years ago plus a couple of months, I wrote a post on how to make money by switching insurance companies. What with all the “rates as low as” and the “save as much as” claims back then, if you were shrewd in your choices and diligent in your switching, you stood to save up to $4000. And that was in 2015 money, who knows what it could be today! (No, don’t try it! It’s satire. But then again…)  Well, they are at it again, and bigger this time! Insurance companies are making claims that make those of a certain recently ousted lying President sound reasonable.

The company with the commercial that features the car with the singing hood ornament opens with a shot of the driver’s phone ostensibly opened to their app proclaiming he saved over $700. I don’t know what he is insuring but I don’t pay that much for a full year and I have as full as coverage can be, right down to rental car reimbursement. All I can take away from that commercial is that if you have a car with a singing hood ornament, the replacement cost must be astronomical! Either that or I’m older and can get better rates.


So that’s my long winded story to get to a rather trivial point. Now aren’t you glad you didn’t hold breakfast for me.

By the way, I’m continuing my experiment on this WordPress/Anchor partnership. They’ve managed to get Don’t Believe Everything You Think on several platforms. With links to the menu page they are:

Spotify BreakerLogo PocketcastsLogo RadioPublicLogo

And of course, at Anchor:


Please let me know what you think. So far I’m still mostly just recording the blog posts but eventually there will be more than that. We might even get into a discussion about how we all got into blogging. 

Under Pressure

May is an interesting month. It starts out somewhat Spring-like with weather in the “Not Too Warm Days, Not Too Cool Nights” range, newly planted gardens beginning to flower and promising what one hopes will be a bountiful harvest, lawns fresh from their first cut already starting to show the unmistakable lushness from the early application of grass food, and energetic people everywhere waiting for the first long bike ride or counting the days until the outdoor pools will again open. And then it ends with hot dry days and hot humid nights, the sun so high you’ve already gone through a year’s allotment of sunscreen, weeds, weeds, weeds and more weeds where you were sure you have planted zucchini, that grass needs cut again(!), the bike rack is still in pieces in the garage and the pool looks more like a mosh pit from an early 80s Slayer concert! Perhaps this explains why May is also National Blood Pressure Month. With escalations like these your blood pressure has a good chance of escalating also.

But May is also a month filled with days dedicated to practicing self-care, self-restraint and self-satisfaction, and keeping that blood pressure in the “Make Your Doctor Happy” zone. Seriously, can you imagine stressing yourself to the point of elevated blood pressure readings on Dance Like a Chicken Day?

May’s earliest days have already gone and we may have missed National Fitness Day or World Laughter Day, but you don’t need a special day to stretch out those winter bound muscles or snicker at a corny knock knock joke. We might have missed Garden Meditation Day but meditating any day will increase your positivity.

I’ve listed some of May’s contributions to keeping your blood pressure down. You can keep this list handy whenever your day starts mounting more pressure on you than you are comfortable with and remind yourself of the many ways a little physical activity or mental and spiritual awareness might ease some of that pressure and lighten your heart. (Warning: Visit Your Relatives Day might have the opposite effect on some!)

I have my favorites that I’m looking forward to. Please join me in a discovery of how you can celebrate National Blood Pressure Month and add to your health – body and soul!

Navy Blue Oranges Squares Weekly Calendar

The Shortest Distance

Let me get my geometry on. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. You can say the same for geography and sometimes interpersonal relationships. Apparently, the shipping magnates of the world have not heard of this concept. Or perhaps what I am about to recount explains the mysterious handling portion of the “shipping and handling” duo.

Last week I found myself with the last straw, the one to break the camel’s back even, on my formerly trusty, old cell phone. It was once smart, but the years have not been kind to it and it was time to send it to a memory care center for phones that have run out of memory. And touchpad sensitivity, And a willingness to connect to voicemail. So I marched myself right over to the New an Improved Smart Phone Store and Service Center and purchased myself a New and Improved Smart Phone. Actually I purchased myself to right to have a New and Improved Smart Phone shipped to me because they were out of the one I wanted.

“No problem, We ship 2 day [company that sounds like MedTex].” That was Friday.

Wednesday the phone arrived. Had it been a steamer trunk in a 1940s musical it would have had a variety of stickers from all the ports of call it visited. It had a wonderful time, wish I was there!

Had I known where it was being shipped from I would have driven out and picked it up. It was only a six hour drive. That would have been better than the six day “2 day” nationwide tour it was on. Observe:

PhoneMapThat’s roughly an 1800 mile trek to go about 310 miles in a straight line. Or at least as straight as the Pennsylvania Turnpike can manage. (If you’re wondering, the Memphis to Pittsburgh leg of the journey itself was a foot or two less than 770 miles.)

I suppose somebody figured that is the most efficient way to ship cargo. Somebody who studied the right classes in college might have even chosen the economies of scale in bulk shipping for a dissertation subject.

I’ve always had a nagging suspicion that we tend to make things more difficult than they have to be. I’ve often wondered if that is because the more difficult we make it the less attractive it will be for somebody to compete with us. The less competition we have the less we have to improve ourselves and the less we have to improve ourselves the less we will improve ourselves. Why else would a couple pound package, no bigger than a cell phone, ride on six trucks and 2 planes when I know I’ve passed [Company that sounds like MedTex] trucks on the Turnpike, driving freight directly across the state.

I’m sure there is a better way, not just to ship phones but to streamline life and still reap the benefits of new and improved when new and improved comes along. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of opening our eyes and being more aware of what is around us, having a firm idea of where we want to go and how to get there without undue stress on ourselves and others. Think the goal, make the plan, then go out and do it. In as straight a line as you can manage.

I think I’ll take my own advice today and, having already failed at making a long story short, stop here. Bon voyage!


Reverse Engineering the National Pastime

If I read all the schedules right and didn’t miss anyplace, by the end of today all of the Major League Baseball teams will have hosted their season home openers. Barring rain delays. Or snow. Or CoViD. Yes, that new wrinkle for this time, game called on account of CoViD is a real thing. Last Thursday while much of the league was holding opening days somewhere, the Washington Nationals 2021 premiere was delayed until Monday, which was then further delayed due to an outbreak of infections on the squad and the ongoing contact tracing. All this was going on while a half of a country away the Texas Rangers were welcoming a sellout crowd of 38,238 people. (I suppose I could also call this post Alternate Facts and the National Pastime. You remember Alternate Facts. The Texas Rangers stadium actually holds 40,518 but according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 38,000 attendance figure was “considered a sellout.” At least it wasn’t described as “the largest crowd to ever witness a baseball game  – period.” ) (Hmm) (Now, where was I?)

The rest of the league is probably hoping for a season somewhere in between. At my local MLB outlet, the ball club is planning to welcome 8,000 to 9,000 fans, representing 25% capacity of its stadium, to a contactless, cashless, experience. (In Pittsburgh in April they should be hoping for a snowless experience also but that’s a post for another day.) Contactless experiences are no longer unexpected. Tickets are electronically delivered and optically scanned using a smart phone app, kiosk type food and souvenir stands will not be present on concourses, and food services including in luxury boxes will eschew buffet and hand packed selections for pre-wrapped and canned beverage choices. That takes care of the contactless, but cashless. Apparently, no outlets in the stadium will accept cash including the parking concessions. To handle the possibility that someone might wonder into the ballpark with a pocketful of bills to trade for hot dogs and pennants there is a solution.

What might be well known to others hit me as a completely new idea – the “Reverse ATM” dispenser. In the event somebody does not have a credit or debit card, machines will be available to accept cash and dispense pre-paid Visa cards.

I’m not too proud to admit my first opening day baseball game was so long ago I also went without a pocketful of bills to trade them for hot dogs and my personal ball game weakness, peanuts. I did have a pocketful of quarters though and I still got change in return.

Reverse ATM machines. I wonder how Leo Durocher would describe them.


From 1919 baseball when ballplayers weren’t so concerned about what they looked like as long as they could play.

Hugging Hope

March 11, 2020: “WHO declares corona virus disease pandemic.” March 11, 2021: “Government says in person nursing home visits OK.” Who would have thought in a year we’d be turning this corner already? That’s who, little letters, not WHO. I don’t know that WHO is that optimistic. The CDC is not that optimistic either if you read beyond the headline. Not unlike another headline from this week, “Fully vaccinated people can have small gatherings indoors.”

It’s been a year. More than a year really as WHO probably should have declared the pandemic a pandemic 2 or 3 or maybe more weeks earlier than it did. People want to return to normal even though many can’t define normal. I will say that we are approaching a point in an exit to the pandemic that I figured we would not have reached until the end of this summer. That’s approaching(!) an exit. But there are many encouraging signs: Three approved vaccines in the US, four in Canada and the EU, twelve different vaccines throughout the world. Export and travel agreements and restrictions minimizing rampant spread. Voluntary mitigation efforts taking place in larger than anticipated numbers when official orders have expired – with some notable exceptions. All that and more is hastening a resolution to the pandemic, not an eradication of the virus and its disease, and a resolution is the best we can hope for against as cunning enemy an enemy as Orthocoronavirinae betacoronavirus-2.

But many people – and most Americans – aren’t good at reading beyond the headlines and that’s why the same papers also are running headlines, “Texas Rangers plan to allow full capacity of fans for 2021 MLB Opening Day,” “Gov. Wolf indicates Pa. restaurants and bars can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” and “Wyoming to lift statewide mask mandate next week.” (If you are wondering, Wyoming will join 16 other states without mask mandates.)

It is a great thing that the fully vaccinated and can re-socialize with other fully vaccinated and low risk individuals (fully vaccinated occurs 2 to 4 weeks after the final shot), and that nursing home residents can enjoy indoor visits with contact (hugs!), but there is more to the guidance beyond the headlines. In the nursing homes contact visits are allowed for residents who have completed their vaccination, precautions such as wearing masks and using hand sanitizer should continue, and outdoor visits are still preferred. When the CDC released new guidelines earlier this week that included, “Fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, and refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic,” the same guidance document recommends,“ it also noted that fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations

20201004_185802We do well to celebrate the approach of near normalcy but approach the celebration cautiously. Otherwise these will be the more representative headlines in the next few weeks: “Brazil hospitals buckle in absence of national virus plan,” “Africa’s new variants are causing growing concern,” and “1 in 5 in US lost someone in pandemic.” You don’t want to be one of the 1s or you may find out “Why the ‘grief pandemic’ might outlast the worst of COVID-19.”


Please Note: All headline quotes are actual headlines from Associated Press, Austin American Statesman, BBC, CBS Sports, CTV News, and the Pittsburgh Press from March 8 through March 11, 2021. CDC Guidance from “Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept. of Health and Human Services, March 8, 2021. Links included in guidance direct to CDC web-site.

And . . .

There’s a new darling of the entertainment world out there.  +  That’s it, just   +  .

+  can mean different things to different people. To a chemist it means that’s a cation, the positively charged ion, the opposite of an anion, that one that travels to the cathode, which an electrician will recognize as the opposite of the anode, the anode being the positively charged electrode possibly symbolized on a schematic as  +  .  A mathematician, not to be confused with an arithmetist, recognizes  +  as an means of identifying any real number greater than zero. An accountant hopes not to find  +  preceding the number on the bottom line of IRS Form 1040 which would indicate outstanding tax due. A doctor ordering blood knows it is important to include  +  after a patient’s blood type if the patient’s blood has the Rh Factor antigen present. A musician sees  +  and knows to raise the fifth note of a major chord by a half tone. (It sounds weird on paper but not so bad in the ear.) Back when you were an itty bitty youngster, even in the age of “new math,” you learned that  +  symbolizes addition, the one of the four basic food groups of math. Just kidding. I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Addition is one of the four basic arithmetical operations of mathematics, the combination of multiple numbers to determine a total or sum value. You know, 2 + 2 = 4.

The “experts” who upsell premium video content have latched on to an old hook that marketers have used for a while. Skip the words, symbols sell. If a picture is worth a thousand words then  +   is worth at least $4.99. That’s how much extra you’ll shell out for discovery+. That’s a bargain in the plus world now crowded with Apple TV+, BET+, Disney+, ESPN+, and Paramount+ .  It’s such a hot commodity even free channels are “adding” it to their names like Documentaries +, Halloween +, and the succinctly named Free TV+ and Free Movies+ channels.

I’m being a bit unfair calling  +  the “new” darling. The French pay TV service Canal+ began broadcasting in 1984. Not television but still screen based (although often much smaller), Google+ was available on line and on phones from 2011-2019. In the non electronic world  +  has occupied a spot in brand names for everything from clothes (Missen+Main) to soap (Etta + Billie) to window treatments (allen + roth). It wasn’t until FX+ was released in 2018 that  +  began a surge in the television industry. (FX+ was shut down when Disney purchased the network the following year.) Oh there were a handful of PLUS appendices but that little  +  kept itself tucked away. Until now. Expect to see more [Fillintheblank]+ not unlike how many cable/streaming services released [Pickyourfavoritechannel]Go in the 2010s. Expect to see  +  more frequently on the smaller screens again also. Apple News+ coming up on its two year launch anniversary. After a slow start subscriptions hit an all time high in the 2020 second quarter.

You might say  +  is multiplying. (A mathematician wouldn’t but there probably aren’t many of them reading this anyway so go ahead and say it!)


It Seemed Like a Good Idea

How many times have you worked up what you were certain was a perfectly good plan, an acceptable idea, a jolly good show, only to find upon execution than what you really discovered was a newer, quicker, better than new and improved way to a folly good show? We all have failures in our back pockets. Some of us consider them learning experiences. Others may try to bury them. Or as one young man recently attempted, to drown his.

Good ideas are hard to come by. When we think we might be on to something the last thing we want to happen is to see somebody else beat us to the patent office with that better mousetrap because we took the time to think things through twice. Now make no mistake about it, the world is indeed still looking for the mousetrap to beat all mousetraps but it ain’t gonna hurt to stop and give that thought a second or third go ‘round through the old noggin.

There are times some of us share our ideas with others before acting on them. The prudent among us at least listen to the advice, consider the advice, perhaps rethink some or all of our thought and then seek again even more advice. And then there are times we don’t even have to consider the advice. If that advice is “heck yeah, that’s amazing!” we probably won’t question our logic. Likewise it the advice is “you’re on really thin ice” we return to the starting point and rethink that whole though. Usually.

Sometimes our plans are so outrageous we disown them. “No, I didn’t do/think/say that!” even coming up with an alternate “plan” when someone suspects we really did do/think/say that. Sometimes, very few times fortunately, we go ahead and do something particularly unthinkable and get caught for all the world to see. And then quite rarely we get caught with such a bad plan someone like me will come along and make sure as much of the world as I can reach gets to see it because, well, because sometimes stupid cries out to be heard or otherwise you just won’t believe people still come up bonehead ideas like this. Like what?

Like this: ↓


If you like you can read the whole story here but the gist of it is that the young man, um, make that the old enough to know better man thought: a) it would be fun to drive across the lake or b) it was a parking lot. Or perhaps c) all the above? since he gave both reasons to the local police.

So remember boys and girls, when you think you have a really good idea, don’t believe everything you think! (Oh, where have I heard that before?)

Sing With Med

I was all set to write a light hearted, much about nothing, give serious the week off type of post when it happened again. I read the headlines. I’ve got to stay away from headlines. They invite animosity and foment divisiveness! What was the headline that’s about to set me on my latest rant? “Are Air Fryers Healthy!”
Ignoring the fact that I like my air fryer and for 50 of my 60-some years I considered the four food groups to be french fries, corn dogs, deep fried Snickers bars, and beer (you have to stay hydrated), the air fryer may be one of the healthiest appliances in your kitchen. Why? Because it’s an oven! Duh
America has to be the only country where we call things anything but what they are and honestly believe that just because we say so, it is so. Just as for instance, the entire world (the entire English speaking world) (and some parts that aren’t) calls the last letter of the English alphabet “zed.” Americans say “zee.” And do you know why? Well, come down memory lane with me.
Back in 1780-somethjng Wolfie Mozart penned a ditty to accompany the words to a French nursery rhyme, “Shall I Tell You Mother?” Of course it sounds better in French. Anyway, unless you are French you probably don’t know the nursery rhyme but you most certainly know the music. It’s the same tune as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and the same tune the Charles Bradlee, American, used as the music for “The Alphabet Song,” a most American phenomenon that taught little Americans their alphabet since 1835. If you’ve never heard it, the words are quite simple, they are basically the alphabet. Unfortunately the alphabet has only 28 syllables (w, remember) and the music had 14 notes remaining. Bradley filled them up with “Now I said my A B Cs, Next time won’t you sing with me.” Perhaps more unfortunately “me” does not rhyme with “zed.” No problem, he just changed the letter to “zee,” copyrighted his new work and Sesame Street had serious competition 76 years before it came to be. And you thought American arrogance was a modern phenomenon.
Now about that air fryer. Yes it and sir frying are healthy, or at least as healthy as baking or roasting. In other words, it, like a fryer, depends on what you put in it.
Tune in next week when we’ll discuss why the Department of the Interior is in charge of everything outdoors.

Found Money

Oh you dear people. Everybody wondering “how much be,” then complaining “it’s not enough,” and now wondering “will there be more?” Well not me. I hit the jackpot! Yes I hit it big! I broke the bank! Citibank that is. I got me me a check from them. Me! A big ole check to start the new year. Yes, me! Do you want to know why? An error was made in my favor and they admitted it. In writing. And sent it to me. In a check. They sent me a check for (are you sitting down?) (you should be sitting down) for thirty-five dollars and no cents. Yep, 35 bucks.
Schmucks. Thirty-five freaking dollars. That would be 44.55 Canadian. Or if you’d rather — 28.58 Euros, 45.40 Australian Dollars, 26.50 Pound Sterling, 349 Venezuelan Bolivar, 2,588.23 Indian Rupees or 2,600.40 Russian Rubles  Thirty-five freaking dollars. Wanna know more of why? They charged me a late fee on a Home Depot credit card account they should not have. In 2014!!!!!!
In July of 2014 they charged me a late fee even though they had credited the payment to my account 3 days before its due date. No explanation why they charged me a late fee when the payment wasn’t late. I saw when it happened six and a half years ago. Actually I saw roughly 30 days after it happened 6-1/2 years ago when I recieved the following month’s statement showing the activity. I brought it to their attention but they couldn’t take my word for it. I referred them to their statement but they wouldn’t take their word for it. I was told they would need the date, amount, and drawing institution of the payment, the confirmation numbers of my on line payment, a copy of the acknowledgement screen or email of that payment, and proof that the payment was actually debited from my bank account and recieved by them. Upon receipt of all that they sent a very nice letter saying they would begin their investigation. And that was the last I heard from them. 
That was that was the last I heard from them until January 2, 2021 when slipped into my mailbox was a letter and an attached check for $35.00. A letter that said there was an error. No explanation. No apology. No word that was even the incident provoking this action. Maybe the whole world is getting 35 bucks and I’m not special at all. No mention they would be notifying the credit bureaus they misinformed them of a late payment 6-1/2 years ago and no freaking interest on my $35.00 that you know darn well they would have charged me had I owed them $35 for 79 months. Just $35.00. 
Hmm. Well, it’s found money. I should splurge with it. $35.00. I’ll get dinner! Take out dinner. Wait. $35.00. Better make that lunch.

Let It Snow

2020 has been a pretty unusual year, virtually. We have all adapted to some pretty unusual circumstances, virtually. And we have had some measure of success in carrying on with our lives, virtually. We are working virtually, worshipping virtually, entertaining virtually, schooling virtually, and yesterday a brand new foray, virtually.
Western Pennsylvania does not do well with snow. I don’t know why. Ski resorts do well but otherwise most people panic at the suggestion there may be a white coating covering their spaces. When the weather nerds forecasted twelve hours of nonstop snow with an accumulation of up to 9 inches of the stuff, not a jug of milk, loaf of bread, or roll of toilet paper was safe on its shelf down at the local market. (See here if I lost you with that one.) One thing Western Pennsylvanians do well on snowy days is “snow days.” Schools, work, and other semi-essential components of life just shut down, or a less dramatic response issue a “delayed opening” or “early dismissal” order. So it wasn’t unexpected with a forecast of snow starting to accumulate in the late morning hours that local school districts would consider an early dismissal. And in fact one did. And with that we entered a new dimension, virtually.
A suburban Pittsburgh district declared an early dismissal for Wednesday due to the impending inclement weather. But the district is on remote learning. It was as far as I have been able to ascertain, the first virtual snow day on record.
It gets better. Not sarcastic better. Seriously better. This was actually a sort of planned “virtual snow day” evidence by the touching letter the district superintendent sent to all the parents Tuesday evening. In it she asked all instruction to stop at 11am and everyone to “let go of the stress and worry of school.” 
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had the opportunity to just let go of stress, to start being happy, to enjoy what we have. Oh wait, we do! It shouldn’t take a snow storm to create happy memories. Two weeks ago I semi-issued a semi-challenge to recall one happy memory from 2020 each day in December as we close in on the end of this virtually unhappy year. I have been and I have been saving them so I when I think nothing good ever happens I can tangibly point to a year’s worth of good in one nobody wants to remember.
So, in the words or my new favorite educator, go make a snow angel, build a fort, or bake cookies. Take time for you and your family and enjoy the wonders of this season. Although I would argue that every season holds wonders.  
Please don’t wait for a snow day to let go of stress and worry.