Thursday, January 30, 2014

Emergency Preparedness

After asking the editor permission, which I don't normally do, and assuring her that my feelings would not be hurt if she said no, I told her for my column I wanted to write about going to the ER from a hotel room and how I relinguished my own judgment way too soon. In somewhat a surprise  response, she loved the idea. Prior to this, I have thought about what I would take if I had to evacuate my apartment in a hurry. My computer is first WITH power chord. Then I start in on clothes -- how many underpants and the problem of having enough withou feeliing I need a truck to carry them arouned.

This week, Marilynn told me a crane collapsed on her street and hit a gas main and they had to leave quickly. They decided to go to her grown daughter's apartment with a husband and two kids in tow. She said it never occured to her to bring clothes. What? Luckily, they were able to get back in the next day.

Give some thought to what you'd take and where it is in your place in case an emergency comes calling. Here's the house on Marilyn's street wih the crane.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I dodged two big-time bullets today, and I am so grateful.

First, I splashed club soda on my keyboard... not two drops, not one dtop -- but enough so that a napkin I grabbed was soaked. Two hours later: absolutely no damage to the keyboard. I really can't believe it.

Then I interview this guy. He's squished me into his schedule and we do a formal interview for about 35 minutes. We hang up. I go to close the file. What am I thinking?? I happily click on "don't save" -- I don't know what the ef I was thinking! I'm crafting in my head how I explain my stupidity, not to mention having to redo the interview. It was semi-technical so I really couldn't fake it.

I had a vague memory of having done this before on a newer computer -- and played around just trying anything... then I see something like "versions" and the last version of this file was closed, but not saved, at 3:37 pm... then those blessed words, "Do you want to restore this document?" and I click on yes, and there it was in all its glory.

Only problm was it was a weird format -- columns, but I didn't give a damn... the words were there. I carefully saved it and when I went to reopen it, it was formatted normally. I feel incredibly lucky today.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Two Language Gripes

Here are two misuse of language which bother me more than they should.

The first is "The proof is in the pudding." NO, no, no. The line is "The proof of the pudding is in the tasting" and it's degenerated into the proof is in the pudding and it annoys me every time.

Believe it or not, I heard this one twice today: It's a doggy dog world. No, no, no. It's a dog eat dog world.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Two Observations

It's so cold that the city has had to bring in icebreakers to keep the Husdon River open.

I have zero interest in Justin Bieber; however I heard a celebrity say recently that if you are a celebrity having your mugshot taken you should always smile. This guy was saying how a mugshot will survive forever and be shown forever. Thought that was interesting -- and true. Justin must have been given that same advice because he looks like one happy kid in that mugshot.


I am turning into a bear. All  I want to do is hiberante. The cold, cold weather has no end in sight, and we're supposed to get more snow. Weather guys aren't saying how much yet. As for work, it's rolling along.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snowing on the Upper West Side

via Barb shooting out to Columbus Avenue

More Snow Day Photos

I had to add one of my own -- and I opened the garden door and stuck my hand out. This is at 8:06pm and I thought the snow had stopped, but it's still coming down hard.

and staying in New York, we/ll go from the East Side to the West Side where Barb is out for a stroll so Boopers can do his bidness:
Below is the block by the Museum of Natural HIstory:

You can barely see Boopers in his little blue sweater right in front.

And now back to DC where Mary's screened in porch is being snowed on. I know all of the furtniture is indoor/outdoor, but I think of it more as another room, not part of the outside

What's this you ask? Well, Mary claims she did a snow angel and if we would only study this picture, we'd see it. As for me, I give her full props for getting down and doing an angel. I'd get down and I don't know if I'd make it up without a crane.

It's a Snow Day!

It's just past 2 pm and we have about two inches of snow which is supposed to start in earnest around 4. Here are some snow day photos...First, from Barb, not Barbara, who took this in Chelsea this morning;

 Now to DC where Mary says: I put some stale bread out on my table for the birds but I wasn't quick enough to get a picture of them going after it. This shot is some of the birds eating the leftovers under the table.
And here's a difference two hours of snow makes... Photo 1 was taken at 10 am of Mary's yard and Photo 2 was taken at 12 noon.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Fran says Valentino is "up to no good" as he "digs in his garden."

Another DC Sunset

Fran says:
A beautiful dc sky at 526pm, to welcome tomorrow's snowstorm ;-) had to take it through the screened window so it looks a bit like a needlepoint.
Pat adds: We're supposed to get snow as well -- 5 to 8 inches in the city, temps in the teens. Glad all I have to do is work safe and sound inside.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Scattered Thoughts

Nothing much going on.

Last night I was tearing a piece of aluminum foil and realized, once again, that the box had fallen apart. Am I too hard on aluminum foil boxes or does yours fall apart too?

My significant accomplishment today was to clear a horizontal surface about five inches high of paper, paid bills, etc. I can look at it, fascinated, for weeks. I equate it to a mini-hoard. I took everything off this table and sorted it -- recycling, paid bills, shred, keep and it probably took me under 10 minutes. I still haven't tackled the paper monster yet.

In fact, I was reading an article about just that topic and it said your first step is to stop the paper from even coming in by getting all your bills electronically. I love paying bills on line, but I also sorta kinda want that paper bill too.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Taking Care of Business

I often marvel at how much energy it takes just to stay in place. Took care of -- well, initiated work on -- three different things today.

First, back to the Affordable Care Act -- i got not one, but two late notices that I hadn't paid my premium. The invoice was mailed on January 2, and one of the reminders was 'printed' on January 3. The other one was a few days later. So I called and was reassured, once again, that I had paid.

Next, I had gotten a Netflix a few days before New Year's Eve that I know arrived. I had it in my hand in my living room, then took it downstairs to my bedroom where the TV is where it disappeared into thin air. At this point, all i can think of is that I accidentally threw it away. But of course I held out hope that I'd find it and finally gave up. Went to Netflix site to 'report a problem' and one of the choices was that 'I lost or damaged a disc and want to pay for it." It really is fair that I pay for it as I lost it. So I click that on, am told my credit card would be charged $14 which I thought was fair and was told that if I find the disc my money will be refunded. Fair enough. This whole process took (literally) five seconds and nobody yelled at me or scolded me and I didn't have to describe the layout of my apartment or tell someone my life story. I know, I know -- should have done it sooner.

Then I got my annual bill for my co-op insurance which goes up, up, up every year. The insurance is through Travelers and since I had the exact numbers in front of me I actually shopped it. I don't have that many choices as many companies won't do co-ops. So i called Geico which was about $30 less and I thought not worth changing for and then I called State Farm and it was about $300 cheaper so I'm going to call State Farm tomorrow to make sure I am getting the exact coverage.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lunch Ladies

The other common ground Louisa and I had was the weirdness of the lunch ladies -- how they get crabby, really don't like kids and how some can be downright weird. Louisa told me about one who she saw put both hands in her hair and then fluffed up the salad with the same hands. I was thinking it would be a funny Twilight Zone kind of thing if it were the same lunch ladies from 50 years ago -- they don't age; they live forever.

One thing that surprised me is that the price of a hot lunch is $3.75. And you have a debit card and your parents put money on your account to pay for lunch. My earliest memory of school lunch costs for a hot lunch was 20 cents. That would be circa 1956. Then it went to 25, then to 35, then to 50. I think when I graduated from high school, it was 60 cents. My sister (Louisa's mother) said she remembers her final price as $1.20. When I was in elementary school, the little carton of milk was 2 cents; ice cream pops were 5 cents. The other stray memory I have sounds really ancient now... my good friend from elementary school Hester would bring her lunch money (two dimes) wrapped up in a cloth handkerchief... remember when women had pretty handkerchiefs? And I can still picture her unwrapping the handkerchief to pay with those two dimes. I don't remember where I kept my money. I don't think I had a purse, or even a change purse -- probably in my coat pocket.

Teen Talk

Had a long talk with my 7th grade niece Louisa today -- somehow we got on the topic of recognizing birthdays and I told her about birthday corsages with the bubble gum and dog biscuits and sugar cubes. I felt like i was telling her how I crossed the prairie in a covered wagon.

It's not surprising that corsages are long gone. In their place, you decorate the person's locker and you give out your locker combination and your friends put little gifts inside your locker for you.

We had a few places of common ground -- we did go to the same physical buildings for school -- and I asked her if they still had locker clean out day and she said yes, and described the same scene of 40 years ago -- total chaos with tons of garbage and the janitors trying to madly stuff it into garbage bags. Some things never change.

Louisa had wanted me to tell her this story about something that had happened and I was telling her and she very sweetly said, 'I'm going to press your PAUSE button for a moment' and she added her two cents to what I'd said and then she said, 'ok, go ahead...' It was fun talking to her.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Criminal Cats

As you can see in Fran's comment in the Milo/purse story, she claims that cats have secret criminal lives and offers this as proof of where they take their stolen merchandise;

More Milo

Mary thinks Milo is after her money, but I think he's guarding her money for her.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


What's that you ask?

Amy called me, having seen the green leaves from the flowers she sent me on the blog and I said they are still going strong -- she looked up on the website where she bought the flowers and said they are called Ruscus -- never heard of it. As it turns out, it's actually an evergreen.

here's a description taken from a wholesale florist site...                                                              

Israeli Ruscus Green Filler Flower

A fresh bulk green, Israeli Ruscus serves as wonderful decorative filler and is also know as "butcher's broom". Our foliage is known for its award winning premium quality and long lasting vase life. Use Israeli Ruscus by itself or combine it with any of our bulk flowers to create unique and romantic wedding bouquets, table centerpieces or flower arrangements.

My Obamacare Story

Despite being assured if we like our health insurance we can keep it, my entire policy (not just me) was canceled as of January 1. That happened around September. Lucky for me, New York is one of the few states that had a good website.

The deadline was December 23 (later changed to December 24) and I would periodically go to the New York site and nose around at the plans. It makes your head spin. Finally as the day drew nearer, I figured I better get going.

First you have to register and be approved as the person you claim you are. I found that similar to when you get your credit rating on line. It all happened within five minutes and then I was directed to pick my plan. You could do all sorts of filters such as certain doctors, certain companies, premium price etc . I left it all wide open. The policies are divided on a national basis into four metals, with platinum being the highest level.

I had been paying $1100 a month. The one platinum plan was $889 a month so I just went with the most expensive, figuring it was still less than what I was paying. I also wanted to go with a "name" insurance company and my plan is United Health. I did study the plans, and finally just picked this one.

The website told me that I'd be contacted "soon" about paying the premium and I expected to get a quick email since the plan went into effect on January 1. Didn't come, didn't come and I started making some phone calls to the most annoying phone trees ever wanting to get an invoice or way to pay. No luck.

The web site showed me as registered for this particular plan and I'd go and check to make sure. In the long run I decided to Let go and Let God figuring I'd done what I could to pay. In the meantime I had talked to Lane who signed up for Romneycare when she lived in Massachusetts and she told me that her first invoice came much later than she thought.

Yesterday I got a letter from New York state saying I was signed up for this particular plan so I was glad I had something in writing.

Today I got a phone call from United Health since they said I hadn't paid the premium. I told them I am very anxious to pay the premium but had not gotten a bill. He said it was mailed December 30th but as of today it didn't arrive. I could either set up an automatic payment or pay by credit card on line. I asked him if he would stay with me if I paid on line and he said yes. This was Larry and I have to say he was very very nice.

So he walks me through the process, and everything works fine -- I could have done it on my own but I didn't trust the process. He also took down the confirmation number -- Oh, I didn't mention that the first premium is due January 10 -- and put it in my "record."

The February invoice will mail January 20 and I think I'll continue to pay online and I was thinking as long as it's going on a credit card I'll pay it the day it arrives.

Larry also gave me my ID # and group # now that I've paid and I'm glad to have those in case of an emergency before I get my packet of stuff with the insurance card.

So that's my experience -- if I weren't a worrywart about paying it would have been an incredibly easy process, but I do have this fear that I'm hit by a truck the day I have no insurance. On January 1, I felt vulnerable so now I'm set.

I can also save several hundred dollars more in that I won't have to belong to the National Writers Union. Other than being part of their group insurance plan, I have to say I see no other benefit from belonging.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Let's Eat

I was just thinking about doing something for dinner prior to Downton Abbey coming on, and thought I'd check out the offerings from that pie restaurant in Fond du Lac to get my juices flowing.

Here are the entries, followed by the pies:

  • Our popular Sunday feature...BUTTER BAKED CHICKEN
  • Lightly Hand-Breaded HADDOCK FILLETS
  • BEEF STROGANOFF on Noodles
  • Golden Fried SCALLOPS
I've got to go with the Butter Baked Chicken since I've had it and it is just so damn good, but the stuffed pork chops have my attention too. Is it old fashioned to skip seafood when you're away from the ocean? Or is that a thing of the past?    Don't skimp on the mashed potatoes with that butter baked chicken and could you bring those yeasty hot rolls now?

And for dessert, I'll take.... Hmmmm.... blueberry with the thinnest sliver of pumpkin on the side.
  • DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CREME PIE with Freshly Whipped Cream
  • HOT MINCE PIE with Rum Sauce
and you?

Back to Complaining

I was awakened to the sound of heavy rain this morning, and it took me a while to figure out that it's not rain, but a broken pipe -- luckily OUTSIDE my building. This is a pipe that leads from the basement to my garden and I guess the super never turned off the water. I can't find the super's number, but I remembered that the management company had an emergency number on their voice mail so I called that -- no such luck. No emergency number, just an annoying phone tree. I even tried pressing the code for "operator" and what I heard was pitiful... you know how you hear in the person's voice "JOE BLOW isn't available right now." and the name is in the guy's voice and "isn't available now" in the operator;s voice"?

Well, with this voice mail, it said GENERAL MAILBOX isn't available... Maybe General Mailbox is a retired military man???

So I went to the website for the management company and the "contact us" has no emergency number and the only way you can contact them is to fill out one of those annoying forms. I looked at the FAQ and lo and behold there's an emergency number. Tried it three times -- two times it rings and rings and then just stops, one time it rings and rings and then gives a busy signal.

 Back to the telephone number, and I pressed #3 for property managers, then pressed whatever number for the guy who is mine. Left him a voice mail about the spewing water as well as telling him that evidently the emergency number needs to be updated. I hate the waste of water but I feel I have now done my bit and that's all I can do.

15 minutes later: OK, I'm impressed. The water has been turned off. No more spewing water. Either he called his voice mail just at the right moment or it's sent to his smart phone. At one of my clients where I have an extension, they upgraded the system and now rather than having to check that voice mail box, the voice mail goes to my computer. Great system.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Pleasurable Christmas Leftovers

Three things remain to remind me of Christmas. First there is the leftover from a bouquet of flowers Amy sent me. The flowers were a beautiful lemon yellow -- sort of like flat roses if that makes sense --- and I put them in this purple vase with the greens that came with it. The flowers are gone -- but the greens remain. I have always loved that combination of kelly green and deep purple. I heard this past week that in feng shui you have to have something that's alive and I do notice that this vase of leaves brings a nice energy.

In addition to some soup making materials, Michelle sent me a copy of Double Down, which is the book about the 2012 election written by two MSNBC pundits. When I opened the present from Michelle, I didn't notice the inscription until a few days later when I picked the book up and was shocked and pleased by it. It reads, "To Pat-- MSNBC junkie and great American - All the best" with the authors' signatures. I am very impressed with this personal inscription as many authors won't do special ones so Michelle must be a good persuader.

And I don't know how this happened, but I totally forgot about those little chocolates that Barbara gave me sitting in their little box. These are salt caramels -- so good. When you put one in your mouth, you taste the few grains of salt and then take a bite and the chocolate and caramel mix with the salt. What a delicious combination.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Let It Snow!

I am unnaturally thrilled -- meaning more than I should be -- that I am at home, safe and sound, not having to travel, fly, drive, hail a cab -- nothing! with the impending snow. I don't care when it starts, when it stops or how much accumulates. I have groceries, milk, eggs, bread, and I started today with a healthy bowl of high-fiber oatmeal! I really am grateful to not be checking the weather every 15 minutes and then going to the airline website or looking at a map. No place like home!


A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend who I shall protect by not naming names who said that she had come upon some teenage writing. One piece was a journal she kept when her aunt took her to Italy and Greece, and she wondered what her teenage self thought of all the monuments and culture. Reading it, she was mortified by her own shallowness and rather than talking about the sights, she would talk about the cute boys.

I told her I had a similar experience many years ago when I came upon a stenographer's notebook that I used as a journal in high school. I didn't realize I had kept it, and when I started reading I was likewise mortified. The one passage I remember (as I remember this in real life) is being on the morning school bus and at one stop this boy I had a crush on would get on the bus. I would sit there all perky trying to catch his eye in the hope that he would acknowledge my existence. Really, that's how low the bar was. On the days he would nod or grunt my way, I was thrilled. I ended up throwing the notebook away -- this was pre-shredder days, but I wished I could have shredded it.

However I may have acted too soon. I just read about a new reality TV show called "Mortified" which consists of grown people reading aloud their high school diaries. If money is involved, I'd be willing to humiliate myself by reading the school bus incident.

I felt even more mortified when I saw Carol King at the White House as part of a Library of Congress award ceremony on PBS with various singers doing her music. As it turns out, Carol King wrote one of my favorite songs -- Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? -- when she was 17 years old. Really remarkable.

Tonight you're mine completely... oh yeah.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


My wish is that we all come through this year as unscathed as possible. I'm sure the world will bump into us one way or another, but here's to its being little bumps with soft landings.