Thursday, December 21, 2017

Oh, fudge! Politics, my jaw and this tasty box of treats on my dining room table

dantreats

Yesterday was much like any other day—got out of bed, stumbled into the bathroom, plodded into the kitchen, glugged down a glass of water and 2 baby aspirin, made a cup of coffee, came into the livingroom, turned on my tv to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and shook my head in disgust at the latest going ons in Washington.  This was a particularly memorable morning as Joe & company angrily reported the GOP’s tax bill had passed overnight (by a weaselly GOP Senate at 1am no less), just another knife in the back of America—well, every American who isn’t a zillionaire in this perverse, twisted Kingdom of Trump.

As much I wanted to sit here and bask in their outrage, I had to clean myself up and head up the street to my dentist’s office.  I was having a mold taken of my wonky lower jaw for a new oral appliance ($370, not covered by insurance, why not!) as my TMD returned shortly after Thanksgiving.  It’s not quite as bad as last year where I was checking myself into the ER, but it’s still putting a real damper on things.  (For the record, it sorta feels like a couple pennies have been shoved up my nose while I was busy chewing on a couple of roofing nails, pointy side in.)  I’m actually not surprised it returned, given it’s the holiday season—it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  ANYWAY, I got home from the fitting around noon and turned on my tv just in time to see Speaker Paul Ryan talking about Trump’s White House being an “exquisite presidency”.  As I stood there slack-jawed in shock & disbelief—my God, this man didn’t just sell his soul to the devil, he gift-wrapped it!  I heard a loud THUMP at my front door and thought “if that’s a Republican, I’ll kill them.”  

No one was there, but on my doorstep was a package from my sister Donda, all the way from South Carolina, with a holiday tin of homemade fudge & other goodies—cooked up by her happy fudgemaker husband Bobby and my niece Drew.  Thanks very much, guys.  It’s a nice reminder of happier holiday seasons and makes everything happening right now a bit easier to swallow.  Smile


Merry Christmas & God Help Bless Us, Everyone

teepornament

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Obama 1, Trump 0: Happy Thanksgiving from a bit poorer, bit relieved ApacheDug

2018 premiums notice

A few weeks ago (right before my birthday)  I received this ominous letter from my health insurer;  I’d been expecting some bad news, as enrollment time was almost here and the F├╝hrer (a.k.a. Trump) had ended the payouts to health insurance companies.  He claims they were extortion payouts, all I know is 1) he’s full of shit & lies 2) they’ve kept insurance affordable for people like me on silver plans.

Anyway, the letter said that as of January 1, my monthly insurance premium, even after my ACA subsidy, was increasing to 5 times its current amount.  5 times.

I sat on it a few days, not telling anyone but privately panicking inside.  Various news sites reported that on the bright side, silver plans had increased in price so much that for the same money you could now enroll in a gold plan instead.  Big deal!  That’s like telling someone they can now buy a $32,000 Rolex GMT watch for $8,000, the same price as a Rolex Submariner--it doesn’t make either any more affordable!

prem

My 2017 premium is $62.39; effective January 1, it’s $327.86 

So of course I visited the Healthcare.gov site to see what else was available, saw I could get a more affordable bronze plan (if I didn’t mind paying my PCP $100 a visit, $350 for a trip to the ER and shelling $10,000 out-of-pocket before my insurance even kicked in) and decided enough was enough.   I contacted the good folks at Healthcare and I gotta say… I love this agency and no I’m not being a wiseguy.  I’ve always gotten a caring, helpful voice (and they’ve available year round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).  I explained my situation, said I couldn’t risk going with a bronze plan (as I’d spent the last 16 months seeing umpteen doctors & visiting the emergency room 5 times for issues with kidney stones & TMJ) and the woman on the phone said "Douglas… come to one of our offices, let’s get an assistor to help you enroll in a more affordable plan.”  

She gave me 3 locations to pick from:  Christian Health Alliance on the Northside, Planned Parenthood downtown (er….)  and a satellite office near UPMC on Hot Metal Street on the Southside.  What the—when she asked if I was familiar with any of these sites, I sure was.  I’d just been to that UPMC facility in June, for employee orientation for a job I had less than 2 weeks.

I know, I know… I couldn’t help but think if I’d kept that job, I wouldn’t have to worry about any of this right now. 

newid1 (2)“Doug, what happened?  I thought you were anxious to go back to work!”

I thought so too, and was thankful for the opportunity, but it wasn’t an IT position, my heart wasn’t into learning the business side of things and I didn’t want to waste anymore of their time.  If I ever try this again, I’d want something more IT-related for sure.  Well, either that or some stockboy gig Smile

Anyway—long story short—I went back to the Southside the day before yesterday,  met with a wonderful lady named Maya and am now enrolled in a plan for 2018 for around $88.00 a month.  It’s still 25 bucks more than what I’m currently paying, I’m going to have to tighten my money belt some more, but it sure beats $327.00. 

So I’m thankful for that, and a hundred other things of course—I’m just taking things day by day right now, tired of worrying, tired of wondering what tomorrow brings.  I elected not to go anywhere for Thanksgiving this year, in fact was just going to get a pizza--but ran out last night and bought a split turkey breast right before the market closed.  (I’m anxious to know how it turns out, I’m 56 years old and this is my first time cooking this type of bird!)

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written, and even longer since I’ve tried to share anything funny or remotely interesting, I just need to get my groove back.  For now, just thought I’d pop on here & talk a little while waiting for dinner.

Speaking of pops, the red one on my turkey breast just popped—time to eat!  Happy Thanksgiving!

apacheturkey

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dancing with the Devil—it would seem we’re all doing it

devildancin

Y’know what… sometimes I feel like a real hypocrite, playing nice with people who infuritate me and I don’t know what to do about it.  A couple Saturdays ago, I got up, made a cup of coffee, sat down on my sofa with my laptop and did my morning check-in on Facebook.  Maybe I shouldn’t be on there anymore… I haven’t posted a single thing on FB since April, but I suppose I still like to see what others are up to. 

Anyway, I was greeted with this letter below, not once, but 4 times.

I have lived through Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. In my lifetime I have never seen or heard of a President being scrutinized over every word he speaks; humiliated by the public, slandered, ridiculed, insulted, lied about, lied too, threatened to be murdered, threatened to rape our First Lady, and to strive to destroy and threaten and humiliate his children.

I am truly ashamed of the liberals in this country. I am appalled with the ruthless, hateful, cruelty of the Trump haters who have no morals or respect. I am astounded by news reporters who feel they have the right to purposely lie and do the things that represent treason toward nation, just to make a story. Every other President after they were elected and took the oath of office were left alone, they weren't on the news 24/7 being disrespected by every word or action they did, ALWAYS BEING PRESSURED... except for Bill when he was with Monica, and the liberals actually believed he didn't cheat on Hillary.

However, ENOUGH is ENOUGH, LEAVE THE MAN ALONE AND LET HIM DO HIS JOB FOR he does and is representing the United States of America and we should not be the laughing stock of the entire world...

It was written by someone back home whom I didn’t know—but reposted by 4 people back home I DID know.  I sent it to my friend Danielle (a ruthless, immoral liberal like myself) and told her who & where it came from.  Her response was pretty direct:  UNFRIEND THEM!  

Oh I was so mad--I came close!  But I had to stop & think about it.  The people who shared this weren’t just names I knew on the internet or friends of friends, they were people I grew up with, shared a real history with.  I was reminded of something from one year ago, when I was moving back to my hometown (which lasted all of 6 months) and my sister Shawn was up here helping me.  We were standing in front of my apartment building in the city, and she noticed the political signs dotting my neighbors yards.  She said “Aw, look at the nice Hillary signs…”  I said “Don’t you have those election signs back home too?”  She said “Not for Hillary!  You better prepare yourself, you’re moving to Trump Country!”

Well it wasn’t this bad, but it sure felt like it

When I got down there & settled in, and saw what she meant--MAKE AMERICA GREAT signs everywhere—I had to remind myself (over & over) that Trump had a base here for a reason.  This was a county of coal miners and farmers and shirt factory workers, generations of them before the future took its toll, and then along comes Donald with his catchy “I DIG COAL!” slogan and that’s all these folks needed to hear. 

I may be a die-hard Democrat, but I’m not that closed-minded.  In the past I’ve tried to see things from a Conservative viewpoint (even if I think it’s pretty heartless & greed driven) and I hold a grudging respect for Republicans like John Kasich & Mitt Romney.  As for Trump, I assumed anyone with a lick of common sense would’ve seen thru his crazy by now.  

But here we are 7-8 months into this so-called presidency, and for much of Trump’s base the man can still do no wrong. They’re somehow able to look past his… godawful everything, and they believe him when he says it’s the media to blame, the fake news, the Democrats.  And these same people who laugh, complain and point fingers on social media at the “pathetic snowflakes” & “loser liberals” (and know perfectly well I’m one of them) have no problem reaching out to me and writing “Hey Doug, where are you?”

I’m right here—watching you!   Eye rolling smile

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Slow getting back into the swing of things, but such is the life of a turtle


Last Tuesday I noticed things were getting pretty shaggy above my ears, so I crossed my fingers for luck and headed up the street to Lincoln Barber.  (They don’t take appointments, it’s either empty or there’s 10 guys in front of you.)  Still, aside from a couple tryouts from other barbers/stylists over the years, and my recent six month move back to my hometown (where my Aunt Sandy’s sister Sharon cut my hair and did a pretty nice job) Lincoln Barber has been my go-to place for 20+ years.

Anyway, when I walked inside I saw right away this wasn’t happening--there must’ve been 8 guys ahead of me.  Roe (who cuts my hair and takes about 35 minutes to do it) knew I wasn’t about to sit there for 4 hours and said “Sorry Dougie Fresh, try again tomorrow.”  Darn it!  But I know they’re always busy for a reason.  So I waited a couple days, then last Friday I walked back up--and encountered the same busy shop again.  Aargh!  As I headed home feeling more frustrated than ever, I passed The Man Cave (an overpriced barbershop run by 2 girls in halter tops) and saw it was empty, but there’s a reason for that too.  And then I saw a sign in the window of Betty’s Beauty Shop—“MENS HAIRCUTS BY JOE, $12 FRIDAYS ONLY.”  Why not?

JUL062002

Here I am back in 2002, after trying out a pricey men’s salon in downtown Pittsburgh; I liked it, even if they did pile a bunch of product on my head.  What I didn’t like was the $35.00 price tag, not including the tip!  

So in a nutshell—no, turtleshell—I walk into Betty’s Beauty Shop and there’s an old man with a gray buzzcut in one of the chairs, reading a newspaper.  He looks up and says “Here for a haircut?”  My gut told me to get out of there, but I said I guess so.  He stood up and motioned for me to take his chair.  And before I could say “My regular barber uses a No.5 clipper”  I heard what sounded like a high-pitched buzzsaw, felt something hot & biting on my head and a large plop of hair fell in my lap.  I jerked and said “WHOA!  I haven’t even told you what I wanted yet!”  He replied  “Been cuttin’ hair for 45 years, I know what I’m doing”.   After another hard swipe off my noggin,  I said  “Sir—STOP!!  Holy crap, I didn’t want scalped!”   He chuckled, then said “It’ll grow back but you gotta let me finish this now.”   So I sat there, feeling like a hippie in the barber’s chair after being drafted.  When Joe ended his assault, he swung me around to face the mirror (gasp!) then swatted the back of my neck with a wet towel and said “Appreciate your business, come back again soon.”   Soon?!  I stood up, handed him $15 and walked out of there without looking back. 

8 days later, and I know what you’re thinking:  “Oh Doug, it doesn’t look that bad…”  Trust me—you’re just seeing it from a good angle!

As I headed home, my head hunched down and feeling a LOT of breeze up there, I caught a glimpse of myself in the glass of a store-front.  I LOOKED LIKE A TURTLE.  And given the way I’ve been living the last several weeks, hiding out in my shell & slow to doing anything, I was reminded of Don Knotts in “The Incredible Mr. Limpet”.  You think you’re a fish long enough, you become one.  Or in my case, a turtle.

Doug, are you alright?  You haven’t written anything in 3 months!  Are you glad you moved back to Pittsburgh?  How do you like your new place?  Have you got it fixed up yet?  Hey, weren’t you supposed to start a new job?  How’s your TMJ?

These are some of the questions I’ve been asked in the last few weeks, and I have gotten on here several times to share what’s going on or explain recent actions, but frankly I just wondered if it was worth the effort.  Plus with everything going on in the world right now, I’ve been feeling a little self-conscious with my much-ado-about-nothing schtick. 

(It’s not like I’ve ignored my blog entirely though; I’ve added 25 movie reviews to my Movies page in the last month.  Just sayin’!)

So in a real nutshell—yes, I’m VERY glad to be back in my old neighborhood in the city, relieved is more like it.  The new place still needs fixing up, but after the money I’ve spent these past 10 months on moving, medical bills & breaking a lease, I’m just not ready to be spending any more right now.  And I did start that new job, but decided I liked retirement better after all and left after 2 weeks.  (Okay, this one does deserve a lengthier explanation… I’ll save that for next time!)

But all in all, I’m doing just fine.  Well, aside from a butchered head.

green shell turtle

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I’m back in the city, thanks to some very special people… it’s a beautiful thing

 

This past Saturday, with the help of my sister Shawn, brother-in-law Jim and my niece Sophia, I moved back to the city of Pittsburgh.  (Well, about 5-6 miles north if you want to get specific.)  But right now, all I can say is—it’s wonderful to be home again.   And there’s no way I could’ve done it without them, thank you so much guys. 

My sister Shawn also got me this awesome welcome mat for my new front door

So after a busy weekend of unpacking, bright and early Monday morning I headed out of my new apartment building—and walked up the main avenue to my former neighborhood of 22+ years, to drop in on some folks & businesses I haven’t seen since last summer.  I had to laugh when my old friend Tilla at Lincoln Deli exclaimed  “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!”   When I started to reply, she said “YOU MISSED OUR FRUIT PIE SALE LAST WEEK!” 

Anyway, I’m not all moved in just yet so to speak—I still don’t have a couch (it’s on order!) or dining chairs for my new dining table, or anything for the walls—but here’s what I DO have, and for all this I am grateful & happy.

An awesome view out my giant livingroom window—it’s an 8 foot square of new glass that looks down on a tree-lined street in the daytime, and at night I can see the twinkling lights of Mt. Washington in the distance.

elevator

Did I mention my building has an elevator?   (And yes, that’s a bouquet of fake flowers in the former ashtray attached to the wall…)  Now this is city living!

 My new bedroom, with a cool green metal bedframe I bought at IKEA—assembled by my awesome brother-in-law Jim.  

dresser

Here’s my new red dresser, ALSO bought from IKEA, and ALSO assembled by Jim and Sophia.   

tv and table

I had to get a new tv stand (my old one was a corner unit which wouldn’t work here) and also bought this stylish glass-top dining table (sans the chairs).  My sister Shawn found it for me, all I had to do was plunk down my credit card!

kit1

The kitchen is small as they come, but everything is happy, shiny & new; easily the nicest one I’ve ever had, along with the rest of this awesome apartment.

Well, that’s all I have for the moment—I just wanted to get some pics of the new place on here, and again say a big thanks to my family for helping me get back where I belong.   But as glad as I am to be back in the city, I’m very much looking forward to going home again this weekend—and seeing this little handyman for Easter!  Smile

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