Saturday, March 26, 2022

I don’t hate Republicans, but when it comes to my health, some do terrify me

Here’s my health insurance bill for the month of April 2022.  My monthly premium is $185.65, with a rate increase of $34.00 in 2022.  You’ll get no complaint from me. 

I’m a 60 year old man, nonsmoker.  A middle-of-the-road Silver insurance plan costs $790.00 a month for someone my age in Allegheny County, without an ACA subsidy.  I could never swing that on my budget.  And if you want the truth, there isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t silently thank President Obama for my reduced premium.

I bring this up because earlier today, I had to sit through the umpteenth airing of two political commercials for the two Republicans running for the one Senate seat in Pennsylvania.  Doctor Oz & The Deer Hunter.

This is Doctor Oz’s platform: 

“The establishment is afraid of me because I’m anti-establishment!  Furthermore, I think kids shouldn’t be forced to wear masks and Dr. Fauci should be fired!”  In other words, he’ll be another Marjorie Taylor Greene. 

But somehow, his Republican challenger is even worse.  He airs commercials with a chorus of voices yelling “Let’s go Brandon!” (a lame-ass Biden slur) or “Oz is a RINO and he supported Obamacare!” 

THAT is what this thug is selling?  Vote for me, I won’t support the Affordable Care Act?  He thinks if you’re a Republican, that’s good enough for you!

Two weeks ago, I was downstairs in my apt building’s fitness room on the treadmill, watching the CBS News stream on the wall tv.  Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was telling a group of reporters (more like promising them) that as soon as the GOP regained control of Congress, they’d finally dismantle Obamacare for good.

(Apparently, he’d been promising this so much lately that the Biden Administration and other Republicans began coming after him.  He soon shut up.)   I don’t know the man, but the term douchebag certainly comes to mind.   

I was instantly reminded of this scene from May 2017.  Remember this?

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives were so flushed with excitement after their vote to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, they walked to the White House, en masse, to kiss Donald Trump’s ass and maybe get a pat on the head.

At the time, I was undergoing some real health crises, with a torn jaw and a couple malfunctioning organs (kidneys & pancreas).  Between 2016 and 2018 I’d be in the hospital 16 times. 

Watching these Republicans do everything in their power to prevent me from having affordable medical care was jarring.  I laid in bed every night for months, terrified—I’m sure the 31 million others on Obamacare did too.

Why are Republican politicians so determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act?  Please don’t answer that question, it’s a rhetorical one. 

They went after Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965, so their efforts with the ACA shouldn’t be a surprise.  It just means they’ve always been scary.  And no good for anyone but themselves.  

Just had to get that off my chest.  Wish I could say I feel better… but I don’t!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Any Blogger bloggers out there who would like some pages too?

Did you know there are 15 pages on my blog?  There’s the “Home” screen where you’re reading my latest jibber-jabber.  Then there’s an Introduction page, a Movies Review page of films I’ve recently seen, 10-11 “Film Genre” pages (where older film reviews are stored by genre, rating & year made) and finally, a page devoted to my dad’s music recordings in his heyday.

(Okay I also have “Page 16”, where I’ve stored several things that I wish to keep hidden until my passing.  Unlike the other pages, there are no links to it on my blog and it can only be accessed if you have the URL.)

That’s not creepy or anything, is it?

Anyway, another blogger I know, Rian of Older but Better? recently asked about adding additional pages to her own blog where she could share some of her other writings.  I thought in the off chance you would like to do the same, but aren’t sure where to begin, I could point you in the right direction.

FYI, this is ONLY for bloggers who use Blogger, aka Blogspot.  (I’m sorry Wordpress & Typepad!)

Okay, here we go!

1.  Make sure you’re logged into Google (or Blogger) and click on the ‘Design’ link in the banner at the top of your blog.



2. On your Blogger’s Design page, click on “Pages” in the lower left sidebar.


3. Click on “NEW PAGE”


4.  It looks like a blank post template.  Enter your new page’s title at the top, I typed “Doug’s Book Reviews”.   Enter your content below and don’t forget to indicate (on the right) whether you want this new page to allow reader comments. 

When done, press the Publish button.


5.  You’re returned to your list of pages.  There’s my new page shown at the top.


6.  However, when I return to my blog it’s not shown with the other pages.  We’ll need to return to the Blog Design page and make it appear manually.


7.  On your Blog Design page, click on Layout in the lower left sidebar


8.  Look for your Pages gadget.  If you have a “Home” link on your blog (right sidebar, under main title, left sidebar) your Pages gadget will be in the same place on your Layout.

(If you can find no Pages gadget, you will need to look for +Add a Gadget in your layout, click on it and add the Pages gadget before continuing.)

Click on Edit below the words Pages gadget.


9.  On the Configure Page List pop-up, click on ADD A NEW ITEM


10.  Click on the line below the words Page name.  No need to type this in, a list of your blog’s pages will appear, including the new one we created earlier. 

I clicked on the one I just created, Doug’s Book Reviews and the pages’s URL automatically filled in on the second line below.

Don’t forget to click SAVE at the bottom to exit your Page gadget.


11.  My new page is now displayed with the others on my blog.  Nerd smile

Finally, I should mention that you don’t have to have your pages in the sidebar, or under your blog title.  You can go on your layout page, click on Pages gadget and DRAG it under your main title if it’s not already there.  Or vice versa to the side.

Also, if you look at No. 9—Configure Page List—you can change the order in which your pages are displayed on your blog by clicking on the up & down arrows beside each page.  I hope this helps someone! 

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Early Eighties, the Chinese girl and the wannabe preppie, among other things

A few days ago, my sister Shawn sent me this photo she’d found in an old wallet, which brought back a flood of memories.  This was the first time I’d seen it in over 35 years.

The picture is from 1984-85.  I was in my early twenties, a couple years after I’d dropped out of college (and a couple years before I’d go back).  It was a time in my life when I did a lot of clubbing, and every weekend I’d go with a couple coworkers or my friend Dan across the state line to Morgantown, West Virginia. 

The Foxes Den, The Chess Box, The Double Decker (with a gay bar in it’s basement) were the clubs we frequented.

They all blared 80’s music, and were filled with people our age wearing pastel sweaters or polo shirts (with the collars turned up) and drinking fuzzy navels or Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers.

I was enamored with a Chinese girl I’d met at one of those clubs, Sue Lin.  Sue was a law intern, very hip, a real knockout.  The first time I asked her to dance, she said “Sorry Nice Guy, I’m on my cycle!”  which took me a full minute to grasp.  I thought it was her way of telling me to scram, until the following week when she approached me and said “Nice Guy, still want to dance?”  Yes!  I even remember the song we danced to, Madonna’s ‘Crazy For You’.

(To be honest, on the rare occasion I hear that song on an oldies station on the radio, I think of Sue.)

We’d sit and talk between songs sometimes, but never exchanged any real information like phone numbers.  I knew better than to ask, I was not in her league.

This went on for several weeks, and then one Saturday night we were laughing and carrying on more than usual, and when my friends said it was time to go, she offered to give me a ride home.  I reminded her I lived across the state line, a 30 minute drive, but she was okay with it. 

On the way to Waynesburg Pa, Sue asked if I had my own place and I said yes and no.  I wasn’t living at home with my parents, but was sharing a place with my sister.  Our grandmother on our mom’s side had recently been placed in a nursing home and we were living in her small home (and barely keeping the lights on with our low paying jobs in retail).

We pulled up in front of the house around 2am, and while I debated inviting her in, she asked if she could come in and use the bathroom.  I said of course, and invited her to crash on the sofa until morning.  I was surprised when she said yes, and she asked if my sister would mind.  I said “Why would she mind?”

So, one thing led to another and she spent the night but didn’t spend it on the couch.  The next thing I know, it was around 8am, and I heard Sue’s voice VERY clearly say “No who are YOU.”  It came from the kitchen, which was right outside my bedroom.  I jumped up from bed, grabbed my robe and rushed in there. 

At the sink stood Sue, wearing nothing but my black t-shirt with the words SUCCESS IS EVERYTHING across the front.  At the doorway which led to the basement was my dad, in his “plastering gear”. 

Dad kept his trowels and plastering supplies in Grandma’s basement, which you could get to from outside.  He stored it there for jobs in town, and would come up the cellar steps to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.  My sister & I didn’t drink the stuff, but Dad kept a jar of Taster’s Choice Instant Coffee in our kitchen cupboard.  It was sitting out, where Sue had awakened before me and decided to fix herself a cup.

I said “Sue, this is my dad, he keeps his plastering stuff downstairs.  Dad, this is a friend of mine, her name is Sue…”   Dad just stood there.  Finally he said “Get her out of here before your sister wakes up” and went back down the cellar steps.  I turned to Sue and said “I am so sorry—he can be pretty old fashioned when it comes to—“ and she said “I just want to get out of here!”  and hurried past me into my room. 

(When she got into her car, I saw she was still wearing my favorite t-shirt.  Darn it!  Oh well, letting her have that shirt was the least I could do.)

After she drove off, I went back into the house, got dressed and sat down at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal.  My dad came back up from the basement at the same time my sister Shawn stumbled into the kitchen rubbing her eyes.  She asked “What’s going on?” and Dad said “When you come home for Thanksgiving next week, I don’t want you bringing him.”  

Shawn looked even more confused and said “Why?  I’m not coming without Doug..”  Dad shook his head and left without saying another word.  Shawn said “What did you do?” 

I honestly can’t remember what I said.

Later on, Mom called and said “Your dad told me what happened.”  I said “Yeah, I think he disowned me.”  Mom said “He says he caught you with one of those geisha girls while your sister was asleep in the next room, what did you expect!  Was she a prostitute?” 

I said “That’s not how it went down, and she wasn’t a geisha girl and she wasn’t a prostitute!”  Mom said “You mind telling me what he got right?”  I said “She works for a law firm in Morgantown, she’s Chinese and Dad saw her in the kitchen.” 

Mom said “Yeah, naked!”  I said “Not totally naked, she was wearing one of my t-shirts!”  Mom said “Jesus, Doug!”

She said “Well you know how he feels about these people, because of Pearl Harbor and the war when he was a boy.  You should write him a letter and tell him how sorry--“   I said “Mom, I’m not apologizing for his racism!”  She said “Fine, you do what you want!  But if he never talks to you again, don’t come crying to me!”

Dad and I weren’t exactly on speaking terms for several weeks, and a couple weeks passed before I saw Sue at the club again.  When I did, I just waved & smiled, and she did the same.  Finally one night I got the chance to tell her how sorry I was for what had happened, and she said “Listen, if my dad thought we were dating it would’ve been sooo much worse!” 

When I asked if it was because I wasn’t Chinese, she said “No because you’re a college dropout!”

Sunday, March 13, 2022

A sudden snowy Saturday calls for some stuffed peppers

Friday was a gorgeous Spring day.  We had temps in the 60s, blue skies and warm breezes.  I got a jump on spring cleaning and washed the windows in my apartment that face the street.  

Then I woke up Sat morning, the wind was shrieking outside with a good 6 inches of snow on the ground and an outside temperature of –10F with the wind chill.  Wow.

Yep, it’s springtime in Pittsburgh!

The important thing is, I knew it was coming so I planned accordingly.  I went food shopping yesterday for some real comfort food, namely stuffed peppers and mashed potatoes.  Let’s get started!

Wait, did I mention I’ve never made stuffed peppers?   Well, there’s a first time for everything and thanks to Google & Betty Crocker…

1. Brown one pound 80% lean hamburger with 2 tablespoons chopped white onion


2. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling water, drop 2-3 bell peppers, halved & hollowed out.  (Betty says to boil them for 2 minutes, but I let them boil for 5, as some of the reviews complained 2 minutes wasn’t enough.) 
3. Behold the blanched peppers.  I put them into an ungreased 9 inch glass baking dish, and preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

4.  I drained the cooked beef, then cooked & added 1 cup Minute Rice, 1 cup of tomato sauce, 1 tsp. minced garlic, a couple dashes Worcestershire sauce, a couple dashes of pepper.

(Betty says to add 1 teaspoon of salt, but with my hypertension that’s not a good idea.  That’s why I used Worcestershire sauce instead.)  Stir up and heat through for 10 minutes.

5.  Pack those blanched peppers!

6.  Drizzle another 4 oz tomato sauce on top of the peppers and cover tight with foil.  Place in oven for 10 minutes.  Then remove the foil and put back into the oven for 15 more minutes.

7. Remove from oven, and top with a little shredded mozzarella cheese.  (If your cheese doesn’t melt, put them back into the oven for 1-2 minutes like I did.) 

8. One side of mashed potato, coming right up!  The stuffed peppers came out great but I wish I had a little more sauce—and it just occurred to me I screwed this up.

Betty said to add 1 cup cooked rice to the beef mixture;  I COOKED 1 cup of rice—which makes 2!  So why did I still have the right amount of filling? 

Well, it would explain why each of these peppers weigh over a pound— I had trouble finishing one serving!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Now playing on a TV near you: The Monster from Russia

A few days ago my sister Shawn sent me an old photo and I thought “Boy do I have a story to go with this” and began typing up my next blog.  Then I looked up and saw the latest going-ons in Ukraine, and my heart sank.  I didn’t feel like writing anymore.

It happened again a couple days later, after I’d picked up some lunch I ordered (I’m getting my senses of smell & taste back) and while taking a couple foodie pictures for my blog, I saw “SPECIAL REPORT” scroll across the bottom of my television.  On the tv was a blue Ukranian church ablaze—no one inside thank goodness, just a cherished holy edifice for some—now gone.  And several minutes later, the explosion of a car parked on the road.  Unlike the church, several people were inside.  A Russian tank blew it to smithereens. 

Um… forget the food blog.

Finally yesterday, I ran into one of my neighbors while on my way downstairs to the exercise room, who shared a story about karma with me that I couldn’t wait to share here; but when I turned on the tv before getting on one of the treadmills, I saw the latest news segment where Russia had just bombed a maternity hospital.  Three women dead as new mothers and other pregnant women spilled out, screaming, crying.  Madness.

For some reason it reminded me of those old monster movies, with Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan.  The innocent people of Ukraine have their own monster, Putin.   He seems unstoppable.

What’s that old saying?  “All’s Fair in Love & War”.   Who came up with that saying?  Probably another monster.

I’m sorry for not having a new blog this week… my heart just isn’t in it right now.  I don't know smile

Friday, March 4, 2022

Una menos preocupaciĆ³n para una de nosotras, al menos

Have you ever had to do something, put it off, then when you finally psych yourself up to do it you can’t?  Over & over??   I bet the Eskimo have a phrase for it.

This is the PennDOT Driver License Center in downtown Pittsburgh, on 708 Smithfield.  (It’s hard to believe I worked downtown for 28 years, on this street alone 10 of those years.)  Anyway, my driver’s license expired November 1, 2021.  I’d been notified over the summer my license was set to expire and to return the enclosed form to get my official camera-card to take to PennDOT to renew.


I’ve got my camera card and I figure as long as I’m down there, I’ll get my “Real ID”.  In a year you won’t be able to enter a federal building or fly on a commercial plane without one.

I gather the documents I’m told I need:  1) Photo ID  2) Social Security card 3) Birth certificate 4) couple items of mail with my name on them, like a utility bill.

I take the bus downtown, go to the DLC, tell the guy in front I’m there to renew my license, told where to sit, when it’s my turn I ask about the Real ID—I’m sent to another group to wait.

THIS IS NOT A BIRTH CERTIFICATE.   Then what the heck is it??


This is just to let you know you DO have one—somewhere!  “Sorry Mr. Morris… you’ll know you have the right document when it has a RAISED seal in the corner.”


I’m placed on new hypertension meds, develop severe edema in both legs.  There’s no way I can walk the 4-6 blocks to PennDOT again from my bus dropoff.


My license has now expired.  Edema is no better.


Legs are better, but I’m busy with holiday stuff!  The license can wait!


Holy smokes, I gotta stop putting this off!  I head back downtown with my documents and real birth certificate.

THIS IS NOT A BIRTH CERTIFICATE.   Then what the hell is it!!!


Record of birth!  Raised seal!  “Sorry Mr. Morris, this is not a state approved birth certificate.”   She tells me where to go for a state approved one.  I’d like to tell her where to—okay Doug, knock it off!


It’s 10 below zero!  The sidewalks are covered in ice!  To hell with PennDOT!  To hell with a new drivers license!  

MARCH 2022

It occurs to me that I never got around to requesting a new birth certificate.  I call the Pa. Dept of Health.  It will take 2-3 weeks to process the request AFTER they get my application. 

“Will I get it by April 1?”  “Hmm, you’re cutting it close.”

If I don’t renew my drivers license by April 1, I WILL HAVE TO TAKE THE WRITTEN EXAM AND DRIVERS TEST ALL OVER AGAIN.

Panic sets in.  Why did I screw around with this??  That woman at the DLC said I must’ve provided a state birth certificate when I applied for my drivers license.

I sold my car a couple years ago, but there’s a bag labeled CAR STUFF in my bedroom closet containing a Garmin GPS, some music cds, a travel mug & assorted papers.  I wonder…

THIS IS AN OFFICIAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE.  It was in the bag of car stuff.


I got up at the crack of dawn yesterday (well, it felt like the crack of dawn), gobbled down a bowl of cereal, fiddled with my hair then ran downstairs to catch the Business Flyer (my former work bus) downtown.  I can’t believe I used to do this 5 days a week.

While waiting my turn for the THIRD time, a woman in the next row was crying and shouting something in Spanish.  When it was my turn, I asked “Is that woman going to be okay?”  The woman at the window shrugged her shoulders and said “She waited too long to renew her license.  We cannot help her.”

Gulp.  I stood there while she went thru all my documents.  After several agonizing minutes she looked up.  “Alright Mr. Morris, your REAL ID stamped license will arrive in the mail in 3 weeks.  Here is your temporary license.  Please head over to the photo section to get your picture taken.  I’d say you have a… 15 minute wait.”

Lady, I’ve got all the time in the world.