Frustrations with health insurance

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Greetings, readers. For the past half hour, Rebecca and I have been calling numbers trying to find out information about my soon-to-expire health insurance coverage. The deadline for the marketplace is two days away and I was supposed to get a letter from the state telling me rather I qualify for medical assistance through them or not. I looked in my mailbox today and got all the mail from this last week; no such letter was in the pile.

This brings me to a problem. I cannot proceed on the marketplace website without said information. Sometimes I think the government does this on purpose. Their mission: give Joe grey hair. Just now, Rebecca and I called three separate numbers; two of them were not the department I needed to talk to and one was a non-working number. Thanks Yahoo!, get your information updated please.

With many of my co-workers sick with colds, flu, and such, I feel like I am going to need my health coverage very soon. I’m praying I won’t have a lapse in the coverage, for knowing my luck, that’s when I’ll get double pneumonia.

Yes, it seems the town bug has hit, mainly because of the sudden drop in the temperature. Yesterday morning, I walked from the bus stop into work and said to myself, yep, winter is here alright, even if it isn’t officially here until the 21st of this month. I’ve had to forgo my comfortable hoodie for the bulkier down coat. The pockets are not as deep so I have to my cell phone and keys in my backpack.

On Monday, we’re having a code inspection in the apartment building, starting on my floor around 9am, and the notice said I need to contain any pets. I’ve asked the restaurant manager who hired me if I can work a later shift on that day. I’m hoping she says yes. If not, poor Keekee will either be locked in the bathroom or crated up until I get home. She will not be a happy kitty cat. I used to work the 3pm to 8pm shift, and that wouldn’t be bad. If I was put on the 5pm to 11pm shift … well, let’s just say I’m used to going to sleep at 9:00. My fuel tanks would be running on fumes. I hope to get a response from my manager by this afternoon.

Rebecca is not certain quite yet if she is coming down with something or not. I’m sure she hopes to make it tomorrow but her body might rebel and say no, you need to sleep today. If that is the case, either I will put a blog entry up or Rebecca will from home.

Speaking of the blog, I’ve made an executive decision. Beginning in Feb 2018, I am going to begin to compile blog entries from years two, three, and four for my second blog book. I’ve been meaning to do this for quite a while, and I was going to call it Greetings, Readers 2, but I think I will use my creativity and come up with a different name. My target date to have that out is mid-April. Between the novel and my new blog book, there are many positive achievements for our creative endeavors coming out before I go to camp in August.

Well, that just about does it for today. I’m going to call it an early session and let Rebecca go home and recoup, if she is indeed catching something. I am going to rest my feet most of the time today and tomorrow before I go back to my fast food job for the Friday and Saturday shifts.

So, until next time, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

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From Rebecca: Editing Four’s a Crowd from proofs

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Greetings, Joe’s readers. Joe, my husband Darren, and I are doing the unusual practice of doing heavy edits in the proof copies of Four’s a Crowd. Usually this would be done before the proofreading work, but we got blocked and needed a way to push forward. As regular readers know, Joe wrote a play, Kimberly, which four years ago Darren began adapting into the novel Four’s a Crowd. Darren and Joe would get together every few months and touch base with what Darren was doing with Joe’s characters and plotlines to expand them, and make notes on moving forward.

Darren finished writing the first couple of drafts, then we printed off copies so that the three of us could do edits. We did a couple of rounds of that, in starts and stops, and then sometime in the last year the progress just got stuck. As the three of us worked at different stages, we would think that one of us was doing something with the book, only to find out that the person thought that someone else was doing something, so all three of us would be in waiting patterns. And then nothing moved forward on the project for many months and Darren gave up.

Someone, I think it was me, suggested we just jump to the next step, which was getting proofs, and edit from there. Which we did, and the project is moving rapidly now. We are using the print-on-demand publisher CreateSpace for the novel. Joe had a good experience with them when he published his three books, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories, Beyond North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, and Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger. I downloaded the CreateSpace formatted templet, and started plugging in the content. We had to wait a couple of days for the review, but then we were ready to order proof copies.

For Darren, this was the first time he held a bound book with his name on it as author, and he was pleased. The book is thicker than we imagined, and has a heft to it. We are all really proud of it. We will be changing the front cover photo, we still need to put in author photos, and make a few more cosmetic changes, but it is already an impressive achievement.

We got four of copies for editing, one for Darren, one for Joe, one for me, and one for Darren’s mother who agreed to read it and give us feedback. Darren’s mom read the book in two days and loved it. She pointed out a few things to change that helped a lot. I was going to say that Darren finished his editing yesterday, except he is sitting on the sofa right now with a pencil in his teeth and the book in his hands making more changes. Joe plans to do some editing with his copy today, while he also rests from a very busy week. I am on page number 232 out of 300 in my copy, so I don’t have much left.

Except for Joe who is using a sheet of paper, we are making our changes and suggestions right in the book with pencils. I am not sure why, but it is so satisfying to write directly in the book.┬áThe novel feels so much different in bound form than in loose sheets of typing paper, and editing in that form feels different too. Darren has already put his mother’s changes in his copy, then when I am done he will put my edits in his book too. In early January, Darren and Joe will have a meeting to go over Joe’s changes and put those in Darren’s copy too.

Then we put the edits in the manuscript computer file, upload the book to CreateSpace again, get another proof (which should read a lot smoother and faster), edit and change and upload again, and when we are ready, we will hit the publish button. And then Darren and Joe’s book will be out in the world ready to buy, hopefully by the end of March 2018. We will keep you posted.

Joe will be back next week with a new blog entry. Until then, as he would write, take care, have a great week, and happy reading

Self review of my latest performance at Addison Court

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Greetings, readers. On Friday, December 1st, on my late father’s birthday, I performed my latest show for all my friends at Addison Court Apartments. The Mimic (the persona I use for performances) and friend Mike Weaver rocked out to the Beatles and to some Christmas tunes. I performed the live album The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. Here’s my official review.

I started my show rather oddly with the song I was going to do in the middle of the show. My friend Tasha from work, who had every intention of coming but wasn’t able to, wanted me to sing Luke Bryan’s “Move”. For weeks I struggled with it and wasn’t sure rather or not I was going to be able to learn it in time. But once I put that cowboy hat on and the tape was running, I nailed it to the wall. Tasha watched the video I made of it and was deeply moved.

Then I grabbed my sport jacket and began the first segment of the Beatles show, with “Twist and Shout” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. I know these songs like the back of my hand, so not much practice was needed for those. Then came the bugaboo called “She’s a Woman”, sung by Paul McCartney. Though I’ve heard it many times, I really had to study the lyrics; if you’re not careful it can be a tongue twister. Continuing on with songs such as “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” and “Can’t Buy Me Love”, the show sped along. Before I knew it, it was time for “Roll Over Beethoven”, the last song before my break. Then Mike Weaver took over.

His segment was Christmas carols. My two favorite songs he did were “Jingle Bells” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. He used a small Christmas tree prop and literally walked around it as he performed the song. He also acted out and sang along to “Frosty the Snowman”. (It reminded me of the old 1953 “Frosty the Snowman” short cartoon video from my childhood, which was shown during commercial breaks on my local channel 6 during the Christmas season.) Well done, Mike.

My second Beatles set began with one of my favorite Ringo Starr songs, “Boys”. Not only did I nailed it, I crushed it. I think people could sense that I was really having fun. I followed that with “You Can’t Do That” and later in the set, was a Paul McCartney early classic “All My Loving”. I must admit, I did have a little difficulty with his higher pitch on this song, but I trudged through willingly. Running out of steam, I ended the show with some air drumming and back-up vocals for “Long Tall Sally”. I didn’t quite know all the words because it is a quick song, so I just did the best I could. The response from everyone was quite positive and a couple of people gave me heartfelt compliments on the job I did.

I would have to give myself a solid 8.5 out of 10 for this performance. It was way better than the last one was.

Before I close, within the last week the world lost a dear friend in actor and singer Jim Nabors. I don’t care how many times I watch the Indianapolis 500 from now on, no one will ever be able to duplicate Jim Nabors’ rendition of “(Back Home Again in) Indiana”, which he sang at the beginning of the event for many years. R.I.P to Jim (Gomer Pyle) Nabors.

Rebecca will be blogging tomorrow because I am taking a much needed day off. We’ll be back together next week on our usual Wednesday. So until next time, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

Things in my world today, November 30, 2017

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Greetings, readers. A bizarre thing happened last afternoon and evening that I wish to share with you in case any of you know what it might be and can give me advice in the comment section. I woke up from a nap to find both my hips and lower back stiff as a board. Occasionally I would have a sharp pain on one or both sides. It did not keep me from walking down to my appointment, though I was uncomfortable. Later, when I was watching television, I got a knife jab in my right side that made me consider going to the E.R.

I woke up in the middle of the night to find that the pain was almost gone, much to my relief. I don’t remember making a false move or lifting anything heavy, but obviously I strained something. Thank goodness this morning the pain is gone. I still wish I knew what it was and will it come back. Now on to other news.

Rebecca, Darren, and I are proofreading our copies of Four’s a Crowd. I’ve already found one scene that there is going to be head-butting about. It involves the female lead character saying a word I’m not comfortable with. The question is, with Darren the author of the novel, and me the author of the play it is based on, who should get the final say? Hopefully we can compromise.

More news. My Beatles sing along show is tomorrow, but at 3:30pm, not 1:00. There was a slight mix-up in the entertainment schedule and my show will start after the country line dancers are finished. It should make for a wonderful day’s entertainment. I will be singing along to the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl CD, and my friend Mike Weaver will be singing a few Christmas carols while I take a break between my two sets. I’m a tad worried that Mike and I have not had a practice session yet, but we’re not professions and if a clunker is made, it is okay. I’m sure folks will love the show.

It will be very odd not to go to my other job tomorrow and I do thank my manager Savannah for giving me the day off to do the show. I will work at my fast food job on Saturday, probably have off Sunday, and return to my regular schedule next week.

After Rebecca and I are finished with this blog entry, I am going to go on the Zipcar website and reserve a vehicle for the my Christmas Eve Light Ride. This year I want to book early to make sure I get a vehicle. I believe my other job will be closed that evening, so a work shift should not get in the way.

On a sadder note, I was in a bit of a funk yesterday when I learned about NBC’s Matt Lauer being fired for sexual misconduct. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade has lost its shine for me now. He was the co-host of it for many years and that team was part of my special day. I watched part of it at David’s this year and have it set in my YouTube queue to watch anytime, but will probably not watch it after this. Next year it will be Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie and ?. If the allegations are true, Matt Lauer deserves to be locked up. I guess you never know about people. It is getting harder and harder to trust anyone in this world, but with my jolly personality, I shall try.

Lastly, I’ll be doing my show tomorrow and most likely be doing my own write-up about it for a blog post. Rebecca is unable to attend and if memory serves this will be the first show she has missed since we began working together. I just know that I am going to criticize my every mistake as most artists do. I promise I won’t be too hard on myself and cut myself some slack.

Until next week, which should be a two-day work week for us, have a wonderful weekend, take care, wish me luck on my show, and, as always, happy reading.

Top ten list of things I would have liked to do in life

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Greetings, readers. This is not a list to bash my self-esteem, but it might just serve to open my eyes and let me see some of the jobs or occupations I dreamed about having when I was younger. So here we go, and as always this is not in any particular order, except for #1.

#10. Be a writer with a lot of books and screenplays under my belt. [Over the last fifteen years or so, I’ve had many good starts on writing projects but they all seem to fizzle out quickly. Sometimes it is a problem with the story line, other times people beat me to the good idea, and a lot of times it is my body not cooperating.]

#9. Own my own vehicle again. [After my 2008 crash and other issues I won’t get into, my monetary situation is such that owning a vehicle is impossible. It’s too much money for maintenance, repairs, gas, parking, etc.]

#8. Play sports. [At age 52 and a half, my days of playing a pick-up game of football or softball are long behind me. My legs and knees are stiff and sometimes it is a chore just to jog across the street.]

#7. Have a son to carry on my name. [My plan to have a family young, in my 20s or 30s. is long gone. For me to be a father, I would either have to adopt a child or marry someone young enough to have a child. Most women in the age bracket of 20s or 30s would find it creepy to marry someone in their 50s.]

#6. Be a professional entertainer. [For years I was so shy, I lip-synced in all my musical performances that I did for family, friends, and, later, for my pals in my apartment building. Now that I’ve learned to drop my shields and actually sing, I’ve found out that I am not all that bad. Another chance wasted. I could have been the next member of KISS. Lol.]

#5. Own a house. [Yes, good old pride of ownership. I know it comes with its costs. I’d have to pay property taxes, mow the lawn, and fix the pipes. But I would have loved every minute of it. When I go to visit Dave and family in their house, I feel like I’m home. Here, it just feels like I’m in my apartment.]

#4. Be a TV sports broadcaster. [When I was a child, I loved watching Curt Gowdy call NFL football games. He had a style all his own. Later, there were the teams of Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy, and of course, Dick Enburg and Merlin Olsen. My favorite sportscaster though was the incomparable Howard Cosell. He knew his job inside and out, was incredibly intelligent, and covered every event from football to boxing with style and dignity.]

#3. Be a truck driver. [For a while when I was younger I had the notion of being a truck driver. I would have been able to see the country and do something I love to do; drive. Health reasons killed that idea.]

#2. Be a talk show host or D.J. [When I was a little boy, I had an old-fashioned tape recorder and I would pretend I was a D.J. I would announce the songs and then play them on my record player. It was so much fun. I also loved Johnny Carson of the Tonight Show. I had a fantasy that one day maybe I would have my own talk show or take over for him when he retired.]

#1. Be a pilot [I’ve always been fascinated by aircraft and my dream as an early teen was to be a commercial airline pilot. My health issues at age 16 ended that dream promptly.]

Well, there it is. Again, I’m not trying to throw myself a pity party. I’m just showing you, my readers, and me, my missed opportunities. I’m starting to find my niche in life and it could very well be that I write plays and either adapt them to a novel or give it to someone else to do it. Dialog just seems to be my thing.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Happy Thanksgiving Day 2017

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Greetings, Joe’s readers. I hope you are all having a good holiday. In the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day with food, family, football, and, for some of us, a nap. For those of you not celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you are also having a day of good food, family gatherings, and maybe a nap. May all of us feel blessed.

Joe will be back with new entries next week. Until then, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: The day before Thanksgiving

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Darren and I are going to have his mother over for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and we have a few things to do to get ready. The main thing today is to deep clean the apartment, something we do about every two months. We know we should do it more often, but we just don’t. We keep things clean in general all the time – we do the dishes every day, put things back where they belong so that clutter doesn’t accumulate, and take the trash and recycling out at least once a week. Today, though, we will be cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and running the vacuum. It takes us about 45 minutes to get through it, and having his mother over tomorrow is a good push to do our deep clean.

Joe got on a bus this morning, traveling to visit his buddy-brother David and the family for a long holiday weekend. He has been so excited about seeing family members he only sees a few times a year. Many of them he last saw in August at Bear Spring Camps, but a few of them weren’t there this year, I think. Anyway, I expect he will have a lot of fun and fellowship.

Darren will cook the dinner tomorrow, while I get his mom. We don’t cook a whole turkey, but instead he will bake sliced turkey breast under gravy, and make some mashed potatoes and carrots to go with it. It will be a small family gathering but a good one. I am one of the lucky people in this world to get along with a mother-in-law. I love Mom a lot and she loves me back.

I am grateful for so much in my life; my family, my friends, my books and shows and other entertainments, as much health as I do have, my physical comforts, having a car (Joe’s life would be easier at times owning a car, so I see first-hand what a blessing it is), and my dear husband. I appreciate Thanksgiving day for the yearly reminder to count our blessing and say thanks. It is so easy to focus on what we don’t have, what we wish we had, and how we wish life was different. It is a good thing to be in gratitude.

That is it for today. Tomorrow I will post a quick greeting, then next week Joe will be back, probably with a top ten list. Take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

 

Making plans for a Thanksgiving visit

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Greetings, readers. The bus tickets have been purchased and I am going to be on my way. Dave and family invited me to New Jersey for Thanksgiving weekend and I gleefully accepted. After checking out Zipcar and Hertz I figured out that Megabus was the way to go. For a modest price, I will be able to enjoy a five-day mini-vacation.

I am able to go because of generous friends who offered to take my work shifts on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. Two people offered and I hope my manager doesn’t schedule them both because one will be angry at me. If either one of you is a regular reader, you have just saved my weekend and I owe you a favor.

I’m going to have to look at the Megabus website again to see if I can bring a suitcase and a carry-on. If it is one or the other, the computer will be staying home. In the late evenings at David’s, after our brotherly chats are over, I like to go upstairs to my guest room, crawl under the blankets, and check my email or listen to music. The one thing I am worried about is that my body is programmed to wake up at 4:00am; that will not be happening at David’s house. I will be sleeping in.

I can’t wait to get there and enjoy the family’s hospitality. The Thanksgiving meal itself will be in the dining hall at Geri’s church and it is big enough for the entire family. I will probably ask David if I can say Grace or make a speech, as I always tend to do. I’m looking forward not only to the feast but also to be with family once again. I shall treasure every moment.

What are the things I am thankful for this year? With my life looking up at the moment, here is my brief list: I am thankful for my kitty-cat Keekee, who is in good health, besides perhaps a slight eye issue; she’s doing great for being almost 13 years old. I am thankful for my family and friends and the possibility to travel and see them. I’m also grateful and thankful that my job has worked out and that most managers think I am doing an excellent job … and making a little extra scratch doesn’t hurt either. Lol. Last but not least, I am thankful for Rebecca and Darren for their years of not only friendship but of hard work to help me put these various writing projects together. As I told my friend this morning, I don’t care if Darren’s book doesn’t put me on the map, I’m hoping it will put him on the map. Kimberly was a cute play. Was it polished? Not by any means. Darren took a good solid skeleton with some meat on the bones and turned it into a literary breathing human being.

I wish to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and readers. Your support over the last year has meant so much to me and has kept us going. The recent upswing in view numbers is continuing and we like it.

I said yesterday that this entry would be a top ten list, but other work earlier this morning took time away from our working hours here at the office, so the promised top ten list will come as soon as I come back from vacation. My mistake.

Next week Rebecca will post two blog entries, most likely re-posts of her choosing, as I will be on the bus and in New Jersey, cramming myself with turkey and trimmings.

So until next time, have a wonderful holiday, take care, and happy reading.

A compliment at work yesterday made my day

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Greetings, readers. Yesterday I was on the last day of my five-day work week and feeling a bit worn out and discouraged. I was not ready to quit by any means, but the shine of the job was wearing off. Then it happened. As my boss was working on one of the ordering iPads, we got to talking. One of the employees was sent home early because we were much slower than expected. I told my boss that I knew I was not his fastest cashier and offered in the future to be the one sent home. He then told me that I was one of the nicest and friendliest cashiers he’d seen. He said, “Why would I want to send you home?”

That was exactly the shot in the arm I needed for the rest of the work day. I was on cloud nine, knowing that I was one of their go-to people. Now, believe me, the person sent home is no slouch either; she’s been working with an injured foot in a boot and has done a remarkable job. I truly now feel like I am part of the team. Someone whom they know they can count on when needed.

Am I glad for my two days off, today and tomorrow? Oh, yes. As easy as the cash register job has become now, since I’ve learned where every menu item is, it still puts a strain on my feet. Tomorrow I will be purchasing my new shoes. That should help. But after 50-some years of basically sitting around, any kind of long-term standing begins to hurt me and make me stiff.

At the end of my shift yesterday, I met my friend Jim and one of the things we talked about was the TV show Star Trek: Enterprise, which is currently on Netflix. I did not watch it during its first run, but I am enjoying it now. The whole concept of the era before Captain Kirk, which had less technology but better special effects, somehow initially turned me off to the series. The acting is excellent and all the main characters are strong. It is a pity the show only lasted four seasons.

I am still enjoying Out of the Park Baseball 18 immensely. When I manage a game, I like to see every pitch and every play. (There is a one-pitch per bat mode, where every time you tap it the game shows just the ball that went into play and the play’s outcome. Faster, but not what I want.) When I have the time, I really enjoy the realism of a real-life paced game. I am still trying to create my very own fictitious league; several attempts have failed. I would have to rate this game one of the ten best I’ve ever played.

This is a regular work week for Rebecca and me, where we work today and tomorrow; my days off from my other job. I am planning to do a little bit of laundry, a little bit of shopping, and a lot of time with my feet up. Lol. Tomorrow I will have a top ten list for you, so until then, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Joe is relaxing and resting today

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Joe has worked a lot at his other job this last month and he will work from tomorrow through next Tuesday, before working with me again next Wednesday and Thursday, so he took today for a personal downtime day. And I have to confess, I worked an extra shift for my other job last Saturday, and at the time it didn’t seem to tire me out, but now I am enjoying having an unexpected extra day at home. So far, it has been nice.

After I publish this blog post, my husband Darren and I are going to play a section of a board game called Descent. It is a game he had for a while and we started playing it off and on a few months ago. Darren likes strategy games that are complicated and take many hours to play all the way through, like Axis & Allies, while I like simple games that can be played in less than two hours. It is therefore difficult for us to find games that work for both of us. Descent seems to be a good in-between game. It has sections that can be played in a few hours, and while there is a whole booklet of rules and takes a bit of strategy, playing it was easy for me to learn and is as simple as I need it to be. I play the easier side, the overlord, which helps. Darren plays the two hero adventurers who use weapons and powers to fight my monsters and gather loot. Enough complication for him, while I have enough simplicity with my monsters and their spelled out powers. A nice way to spend the afternoon.

Four’s a Crowd, the novel that Darren adapted from Joe’s play Kimberly, is one step closer to being published. Yesterday I uploaded the file to the CreateSpace site, and later today Joe will look at the interior review page, then click save and continue. He will fill out a few more boxes, then send it to be reviewed by the site, then we can order proofs. We will edit the proofs, make corrections, then do the process again. We expect to have the finished book ready to sell early next year, hopefully by the first of March.

Well, that is my day. I hope you are all having a good time, and that soon you have a chance to step out of routine and refresh too.

Until next week, take care, have a great week, and happy reading.