Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Leavetakings, Part II

In some ways, I'm still having trouble believing that I'm writing such a similar essay just a few months after writing about my mother's death.

Mom had been kind of frail for a long time, was diagnosed with terminal cancer February 2016 and died in late July 2016. During those months, I drove up from Pittsburgh five times to visit her. Would also visit my Dad (they were long divorced but friendly and he lived nearby). He was a little low about my mother's illness and had some minor memory lapses, but still lived on his own and hung out at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he'd worked for many years, as often as he could. Yes, he had a persistent cough but he had some tests and they kept telling him not cancer, which was great news. We spent a few hours together in mid-February just after Boskone, chatting and looking at some old photos.

So as older people often do, he wound up briefly in and out of the hospital a few times. We finally understood there was really nothing that could be done for him. He went to stay in my mother's old apartment (off the back of my brother and sister-in-law's house), where they took care of him. But it didn't sound immediately bad, and we thought he had months left. As sometimes happens with elderly people, even Energizer bunnies (as my other sister-in-law called him), things can go terribly wrong terribly fast. My brother messaged me on a Sunday morning to come up right away. I made the drive in 11 hours and found Dad asleep. I did get to talk to him very briefly Monday morning (and heard one last Tuna-ism "Beggers can't be choosers"), but later that day he slipped into a comatose state. He died early the following Saturday morning. He had amazing care from my brother and sister-in-law and Robin and Melissa and the Worcester Jewish Home Hospice. His body just quit after an interesting and active 87 years.

Other than his brother who's 90, Dad had lived longer that any of his family for at least 4 generations. In many ways he had characteristics of an SF fan - book collector (mostly mysteries but I found a copy of V in his library and he also had the first legit edition of Lord of the Rings published in the US), non-standard dresser (wore the same pair of casual shoes for over 40 years, eschewed shoe laces) and had over 200 t-shirts from various college events. He and Mom were married for 31 years, divorced for 31 years and died 8 months apart. I'd hoped he would die like Dave Kyle, in his 90s after attending one last party. But I'm glad he was playing cards with friends up until about a week ago and he died at home.

Dad, AKA Tuna, was a huge fixture at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The whole community really reached out. Especially on Facebook, people posted pictures and told funny stories. You can check his Facebook page (he last posted there 12 days before his death) - Tuna Trask, or check the support page some students set up for him - Bill "Tuna" Trask - Make him smile! Some students also organized a card signing which were delivered to the house and the family really appreciated all of these things. Over 200 hundred WPI students came to his funeral (which was on April Fool's Day--I suspect he would have been amused by that); the church was SRO. Dad's WPI obituary, and the newspaper obituary I wrote for him.

The best Tuna-ism now: "You only live once and you ain't coming back so you may as well live with all the gusto you have!" And he did.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Remember When 45 Said...

I did not write this, but I completely agree with it. We must keep track.

Remember when 45 said...

  • ...he was going to donate his salary? Well he just accepted his second paycheck
  • ...Mexico was going to pay for the wall? He has asked Congress to appropriate the $25 billion of taxpayer money to cover costs
  • ...he was going to divest from his businesses? Changed his mind
  • ...he was going to release his tax returns? Changed his mind
  • ...he wasn't going to go on vacation or play golf? 5 of the last 7 weekends he went on vacation and played golf, costing taxpayers $11.1 million
  • ...he was going to use American steel to build these dangerous pipelines? Russian steel arrived last week for the Keystone Pipeline XL
  • ...he said would defeat ISIS in 30 days? He still doesn't even have a plan
  • ...he said he was going to appropriate money to HBCUs? He lied to get a photo-op
  • ...he was going to drain the swamp of Washington insiders? His cabinet is filled with lobbyists, oil and Wall Street executives
  • ...he wasn't going to cut social security and Medicare? The Republican bill does just this
  • ...he said that nobody on his campaign has any communications with Russian govt? 7 of his people have now admitted they spoke and/or met with Russian officials, AFTER they lied and got caught
  • ...he said that the Obamacare replacement would cover more people at lower cost? The AHCA that the GOP and 45 are now pushing; they now admit will cover fewer people at a higher cost

Share so everyone can remember what a liar this so-called president (45) truly is. If you agree, please copy and paste this to your timeline or at least link to it.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

My 2017 Oscar Predictions

I'm running very late with this. I have seen most of the nominated movies (except for Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water). I liked many movies I saw this year, but I didn't have the same "This is a classic!" response the way I did when I saw Spotlight last year.

So, quickly:

Film

Will win: LaLaLand
Should win: Moonlight
Winner:

My favorite movie of last year was Arrival, but it may have flown over the heads of many Oscar voters as it's intellectual science fiction. It's a brilliant piece of work, but the nominators also failed to even nominate Amy Adams. LaLaLand was pleasant but not great. Moonlight is an amazingly-good movie that I found quite moving and it just took a bunch of Independent Spirit Awards. I loved Hidden Figures but it may be a bit "movie of the week" to be an Oscar winner. Lion had great photography and a couple of great kid actors. Liked Fences very much. Manchester by the Sea has its moments but also wound up as a very overrated flick. In the "damaged men" trope for this year, Moonlight was the best; it was the movie that MBTS really wanted to be.

Leading Actor

Will win: Casey Affleck
Should win: Viggo Mortensen
Winner:

Viggo was brilliant in Captain Fantastic, and the casting of his kids was outstanding. Casey was good but not quite great. Denzel could also possibly pull this one out as he was very good and didn't get a Best Director nomination for Fences

Leading Actress

Will win: Emma Stone
Should win: Natalie Portman
Winner:
I've loved Emma Stone in almost everything she's done, but feel LaLaLand is quite overrated. Natalie Portman was perfect in Jackie. I did not see Elle.

Supporting Actor

Will win: Mahershala Ali
Should win: Mahershala Ali
Winner:
Ali was brilliant, but Lucas and Dev were also extreme good (didn't see Hell or Nocturnal)

Supporting Actress

Will win: Viola Davis
Should win: Viola Davis
Winner:
The women were great. I wouldn't be surprised if Naomie Harris won.

I don't have time to complete this today. Will be out most of the rest of today. But here's the rest of the list:



ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

=============================

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Arrival

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

=============================

COSTUME DESIGN

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

=============================

DIRECTING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

=============================

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America

13th

=============================

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland

The White Helmets

=============================

FILM EDITING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

=============================

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

=============================

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

Suicide Squad

=============================

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Jackie

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Passengers

=============================

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from La La Land

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

"Can’t Stop The Feeling" from Trolls

Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster

"City Of Stars" from La La Land

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

"The Empty Chair" from Jim: The James Foley Story

Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting

"How Far I’ll Go" from Moana

Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

=============================

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!

La La Land

Passengers

=============================

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

Piper

=============================

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et le TGV

Silent Nights

Sing

Timecode

=============================

SOUND EDITING

Arrival

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

=============================

SOUND MIXING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

=============================

VISUAL EFFECTS

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

=============================

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Arrival

Fences

Hidden Figures

Lion

Moonlight

=============================

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea

20th Century Women

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Year in Statistics and Life Facts

Jim and I have been a couple for over 40 years. Wow, who'd've thought? ;->

We've been parents for 36 years and Leslie finally moved into her own apartment.

I walked 1500 miles (1505 after First Night). Really. I'm particularly proud of that. I've been trying to break walking 1000 miles in a year since 2013 and I finally did it. "House walking" in cold weather has been very helpful.

I lost 19 pounds. That's not a huge amount of weight, but for a post-menopausal woman who stress-eats (and this was an unbelievably stressful year), that's definitely in the right direction, even though I've gained and lost the same 5 pounds about 15 times since last June. Will go back to using the Always Hungry diet soon and hope to lose a little more weight.

I lost my mother, which made it a hard year, but I know I was lucky to have a mother until I was 59. My Aunt Jamen also died.

I lost some friends - David Hartwell, Morris Keesan, Kira Heston, Kate Yule. Also made it a tough year. And the parents of a number of friends died. We're just at that age.

Supported Hillary Clinton and am still a strong supporter of Democratic policies. While I accept the fact that Trump will be our next president, I do not believe he is capable of being president and expect he'll do something impeachable very quickly.

Continued to be the curator for Dead People Server, which was a little tougher this year as so many celebs I liked, like Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Patty Duke, Bill Nunn, Gwenn Ifill died youngish.

I edited the MidAmeriCon II newsletter

Worked on the Nebula Award Weekend which will be in Pittsburgh next May and the Smofcon bid for Boston in 2017 (which won).

Continued to volunteer for Global Links.

Joined the Renaissance City Choir.

Worked a few days as an extra, mostly for Outsiders season 2 which will have its season premiere on WGN starting on Tuesday, January 24.

Spent 7 days as security for the U.S. Open in Oakmont. Kind of fun, lovely weather, got to tell a bunch of people working for Fox Sports "Walk to your left!"

Traveled a lot, mostly between Pittsburgh and Massachusetts (many family trips this year), but also to Kansas City twice, Chicago, DC and North Carolina. Planned trips to New York City and Italy for 2017.

I broke a tooth and finally had the rest of it extracted almost 6 months later.

Still have fairly severe insomnia, but I think I'm finally back over 5 hours of sleep a night after sleeping less than that for much of the year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Carrie Fisher, Patty Duke and Me

I never met these two famous women in my title. However, I really knew both of these talented women better than most.

I absolutely idolized The Patty Duke Show when I was 6. I had an on-going fight with my mother for months as she felt it was on too late for me to see. I think eventually Mom relented as I know I saw most of the shows over the three year run of the show and the afternoon reruns that followed. Patty Duke was very talented, playing two (and sometimes three) characters every week. And around that time I caught The Miracle Worker on TV and was even more impressed, Patty Duke playing a famous person (Helen Keller) I'd also idolized. She could do anything.

I was also aware of Carrie Fisher as a very young child. She was about my age and her mother was a lot like my mother - blonde, perky, a singer. As I learned later, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, had very similar views about sex as my mother had. In the mid-70s, I read a book called The First Time, where celebrities talked about sex and their first time. Debbie Reynolds talked a lot about the importance of pre-marital virginity, how she hoped her daughter would stay a virgin until her marriage, and I nodded a lot as I'd heard that talk quite often, though my mother always concluded that talk with "If you can't be good, be careful." I'm not sure that I ever told my mother "But I am good...and careful" once Jim and I started dating, but...

Carrie Fisher literally burst on the screen in Star Wars which quickly surpassed Jaws, The Sound of Music and Gone with the Wind as the biggest grossing movie ever. I thought she was terrific (though her wavering accent bothered me a bit). She was a strong hero in an adventure movie at a time it was utterly unknown for a woman to do that. She withstood both Imperial torture and helped get "our heroes" out of the prison. After The Empire Strikes Back there were constant arguments about who "The Other" Yoda references could be. I argued for three solid years that it had to be Princess Leia, while many people disagreed with that. I got to say "I told you so" a lot after The Empire Strikes Back came out.

On December 19, I was driving up to Massachusetts and brought Carrie Fisher along with me. I'd gotten the audio book of Princess Diarist and was reliving the spring of 1976 through Carrie Fisher's voice. She was in England making Star Wars and having her first serious affair...with Harrison Ford. Meanwhile, back in Pittsburgh at that time, I was a college freshman who'd fallen for Jim and was doing many of the same things she was doing when she wasn't on set (except for smoking pot as I'd learned in high school it did nothing for me but trigger an asthma attack). But Jim and I were still together 40 years later, and while she was at least still friends with Harrison Ford, her personal life had been radically different. She had many addictions and mental health issues, and my addictions were more for chocolate...and cheese...and champagne.

Patty Duke died fairly suddenly of a ruptured intestine in March at 69. Carrie Fisher died four days after an apparent heart attack this month at 60. I was very much saddened by both women's deaths, as I'd hoped they'd be out and about for years ago come.

What the three of us had in common in spades was manic-depression.

Back in high school in the early 70s, there were a bunch of books about mentally ill teenaged girls (I think it was always girls, I don't think boys, no matter how outrageous their behavior, were ever considered mentally ill). I'd read I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, about a teenaged girl with schizophrenia. I was fascinated by it but I didn't really relate to it. About the same time, I read Lisa, Bright and Dark, about a teenaged girl with manic-depression, and I related to it instantly. That explained so much, the periods of black depression, the bad temper, the very fast talking, the multiple suicide attempts, the feeling of never feeling worthwhile at times, while, at other times, I felt like I could do anything and I was being cheated.

For me, generally, the manic periods were great - I'd get an enormous amount of work done in a very short period of time, but there were times when it did lead to stupid and reckless behavior. The depressive periods were utterly miserable. But I was generally very functional; while I had therapy on and off for a long time and took Prozac on and off, I generally had enough control over myself that I never needed to be hospitalized. My last serious depression ended in 2004, about a year and a half after developing insomnia (the only good part about insomnia, which I still struggle with).

I can't begin to say how much I appreciated both Patty Duke and later Carrie Fisher helping to take mood disorders of all kinds out of the closet. I will miss the courage of both of these women. They will continue to be my role models going forward.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fairness and Donald Trump

Fairness and Donald Trump

On November 10, 2016, the "real" Donald J. Trump tweeted:

Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!

No, these are not professional protesters. These are people who are angry that Donald J. Trump is now the president-elect.

These are people Trump criticized and tried to marginalize.

These are people whom Trump supporters have been harassing, attacking, and vandalizing the cars, houses and businesses of.

And yet, while Trump claimed in his acceptance speech:

"Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."

Thus far, we've seen little evidence of this.

Trump lacks the common decency, the cajones:

  • to acknowledge we live in a country with freedom of the press and free assembly
  • to tell his supporters to stop their harassment of people they've been carefully taught to hate
  • to be truly presidential which means acknowledging Americans have the Constitutional right to protest

Even John McCain, a man I frequently disagree with, had the guts to remind his audiences once the birther movement got started that President Obama was, indeed, born in America. That's something that Trump never had the courage to do in front of one of his screaming crowds.

While Trump is now claiming that he can be a uniter, the fact that he's already talked about bringing very polarizing people into his administration like Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie and Steve Bannon (of Breitbart fame) means his presidency is going to be all about pleasing loud, conservative, old, rich, white guys. More evidence a Trump administration will not be inclusive: The architect of the most racist law in modern American history has been named to Trump's team, Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state. The Trump team is also showing itself to be anti-science with proposal for climate-denying EPA head, Myron Ebell.

It's going to be a long four years. I'm sure I'll be one of those protesters from time to time, and I'm going to go because I have read the Constitution and there are times when I still wonder if Trump has. I will never purchase a Trump-related product, go to a Trump-related property, and generally avoid NBC which helped to make Trump a "star" with his reality show. Being president is not a reality show - it's reality, an ugly reality for those of us who know Trump and his people are going to ruin our country (but hopefully, only for four years).

The Southern Poverty Law Center is collecting reports of hate-incidents in the US. If you see vandalism or hear harassment or attacks, you can report them here: https://www.splcenter.org/reporthate and on Twitter using the #reporthate hashtag. Keep your smartphone camera at the ready - that's our strongest weapon against harassment.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

From Registered Republican to a Registered Democrat

Many women have been writing about how their experiences with misogyny have led them to support Hillary Clinton.

I whole-heartedly agree, though my experiences have been a little different. So I want to talk about my gender issues and how my politics have evolved over time.

I was never a girly girl, I was the classic tomboy. Now, I'd identify myself as "gender queer" - I never had much interest in dressing up or wearing uncomfortable shoes or make-up or pretending to be stupid to satisfy other people's beliefs about what a woman should be.

I was and am loud and fat and I never related well to other kids, got harassed and beaten up but also fought back and stood up for myself. Unlike most kids, I didn't automatically assume I was straight. I thought about it and realized I was straight (on the Kinsey scale, I'm probably more of a 1 than a 0). I wondered if I might be trans as I was a very aggressive girl, but I realized I was comfortable with my physical gender, it was more society's expectation around what a girl was that angered me.

So I was a straight girl interested in boys but they generally weren't interested back, though I've always had male friends. I didn't have the kind of sexual harassment most women report. I was more harassed about my weight and my hypersensitivty (struggled with depression from very early in childhood). But I decided I was going to have an interesting life, and not be afraid to try different things. Loved theater from an early age, sang in groups, loved travel early on, went to the movies a lot, and wasn't afraid to go do things on my own. I had some friends, but kept getting close to girls who would then move out of town. I was isolated much of the time so I read more which led me late in high school to find science fiction and science fiction fandom, a place where loud, fat, smart women were welcome. While there was some sexism in fandom, it wasn't as pervasive as it felt in the culture at large. Men did assume you were more sexually available, but they also seemed much better about taking "No" for an answer, at least from me, as I was never afraid to say "No" until I was damn good and ready to start a sexual relationship. No, I wasn't a romantic but I fell for the right guy anyway, someone who was smart, very independent, geeky and not into rigid gender stereotypes. So I've had a very happy personal life for the last 40 years despite a rather rocky start.

While I haven't had the blatantly sexist experiences that many women have, I've believed women who talked about the harassment and assaults that are all too frequent in this society. While a few women may lie about sexual assault, that pales beside the number of men who lie about sexual assault, or, in the case of Donald Trump, boast about sexual assault and then deny it.

As for politics, I grew up in Massachusetts, always a very liberal state, but my parents were registered Republicans (at least my mother was and I assume my father, who's always been very "don't ask, don't tell" on politics, is as well). So in the late '60s and early '70s, I was one of the few kids in my school who supported the Viet Nam War and Nixon. But, at the same time, I believed adamantly that all people in America deserved equal rights under the law. Scenes on TV of black kids in the south just a little older than me being attacked by whites with water cannons and dogs appalled me. I didn't understand during the '60s and early '70s that Republicans were fighting civil rights, not just "crime" as the law and order types kept insisting.

My first step in getting away from the Republican party was in 1973. I initially believed as my mother kept saying that Nixon was innocent in Watergate. But then I watched the Watergate hearings, and it was clear Nixon was guilty. So, at first, I believed that the corruption in the Republican party was limited to Nixon and some of Nixon's people. In those days, the Republicans, in theory, were pro small-government and pro business. And in those days, you could support the ERA, abortion rights and gay rights and still be a Republican. So when I registered to vote for the first time in early 1975, I registered as a Republican. It's pretty typical for kids to adapt the political party of their parents, and in that way I was quite typical.

In 1976 I voted for Ford over Carter, partially because I was a Republican but also because I felt pardoning Nixon was the right thing to do. Ford was a bit more middle of the road than Nixon was, but, I did another typical thing in college which was to become more liberal and start fighting for the ERA. It was clear that Republicans were not very supportive of the ERA. It turned out Ford was the last Republican presidential candidate I ever voted for, but...during the '70s I just didn't like Carter very much.

My second step away from the Republican party was to not vote for Reagan in 1980. Ford might have been OK politically but Reagan was definitely too far to the right and sounded like a war monger much of the time. I voted for John Anderson, the last time I voted for an Independent for president.

Gradually, I stopped voting for Republicans. I stopped registering Republican and registered as an Independent. Sometimes I'd register as a Democrat to support a Democrat in a primary, but I'd switch back to being an Independent after the primary. I last voted for a Republican at some point in the late '90s, and voted my first straight Democratic ticket in 2000.

My complete disillusionment with the Republican party climaxed during the 2004 election when Kerry lost to Bush. I've been a registered Democrat ever since. The Democrats are the party of the future, and the Republicans are the party of our racist, sexist, homophobic past. The Republicans have done nothing for our country in decades - they voted against the Violence Against Women Act, they voted against the Minimum Wage, they voted against better background checks for guns, they voted for invading Iraq (sadly, they had too much Democratic help there)...I will #NeverVoteRepublican ever again.

I want a government that works for the people. I believe rich people should pay more of their share - not the 90% tax rate on the wealthiest common back in the 1950s and 1960s when the US was economically stable. I believe there should be more of a "windfall profit" tax on people who make over a half million dollars a year. I believe government on all levels needs to be more responsive to the people and less responsive to special interest and themselves. I believe government shutdowns should be illegal.

People like to blame the behavior of Republicans on Donald Trump, but I do not believe that. Trump is just the ultimate Republican - fact free and working only for himself and for the continuing hold on governmental power by white men.

#ImWithHer

2016.11.10: And the results of the election demonstrate how easily led about 25% of the adult population are. Nearly 50% of the possible electorate failed to vote despite the fact that a Trump presidency is likely to lead to war, chaos, evisceration of environmental laws and the Health Care Act and re-normalized bigotry. I despair for our country but I will always fight the bigots and the know-nothings, even though more of them will be in power in the US.

2017.01.25: So far, Trump has been even worse than expected. Usually there are a few people from other parties in the Cabinet, but not Trump, who just selected a Basket of Deplorables for his Cabinet & advisors. And, sadly, it seems like they're all being confirmed.


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

How to Estimate Affordable Care Act Insurance Premiums (AKA Obamacare) Using https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/

How to Estimate Affordable Care Act Insurance Premiums (AKA Obamacare) Using https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/

Remember the initial chaos of the poorly-designed healthcare.gov Website? Well, overall, it is a lot better. But it's also really, really stupid in places.

Not everyone who wants to know how much health insurance will cost is necessarily going to be buying now. And it is now excessively difficult to figure out how to estimate your potential healthcare costs on the site.

There was no link for "estimating costs" so I just went through and opened an account, which was a huge waste of time.

After going through most of the motions, I called their helpline (you can't E-mail their helpline...sigh) and after a 16 minute wait, spoke to a very nice person...who had me make a few searches....none of which found anything helpful about estimating premium costs.

But, luckily, the helpline woman figured out the right URL pretty quickly even if it wasn't findable from search or the home page of healthcare.gov. She provided friendly and fairly fast customer service, but this should have been obvious information for her to have.

Any Website should make it easy to find things. The fact that "estimating premium costs" was not a findable search term on healthcare.gov means the people who developed the Website (which is otherwise pretty good) aren't thinking about search terms and didn't run thorough user testing.

Granted, you can't put every possible task on the top toolbar, but "Estimating Costs" is a very important concept for people looking for insurance.

So if you just want to estimate the cost of an ACA insurance plan for your state and age, go to: https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/. That provides all the information you need, and the information you need to provide is much less than the info for opening an account.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Trump Will Fail Debate - He Can't Get Past These Already Debunked Lies

This was the single most brilliant move by the Clinton campaign - to release a catalog of many (but probably not all) of Trump's lies just before the "debate:" 19 Pages of Trump's Lies, as of September 23, 2016 #ImWithHer #NeverVoteRepublican

Monday, August 08, 2016

Leavetakings - July 2016

July 2016 was a month of leavetakings, the happy and the sad.

We had long encouraged our daughter to move out, but we tried not to nag about it too much. She's 35 and really should be out on her own. Suddenly in June, she said she was starting to look for a place. It turns out she had a good reason for her long delay - she wanted to save at least a year's worth of rent before moving out. Leslie found an apartment that was even closer to her work than we are. So by July 8, she had moved out. She has us out to her place every Sunday night for dinner. So this was a happy leavetaking as we were all ready for her to be out on her own.

And then my mother died on Tuesday, July 26.

This was not unexpected. She was 86, had had breast cancer twice over the last few years, and was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer in February. Mom was an extraordinarily anxious person but took this news with equanimity. Not to say she was never anxious about anything in the intervening months. She had had a stillbirth in about 1961 and had some overpowering episodes of guilt over it this year. It was strange because she'd talked about her miscarriages (she had 3 before me) and the stillbirth pretty matter-of-factly while I was growing up. She talked some to the ministers at her church about it and she wrote a short poem about the baby and had it put in her casket.

My mother had a lot of support over the last few months, from our family (especially my brother Terry and sister-in-law Jess with whom Mom lived), from Jewish Home Hospice, and from the ministers at the First Congregational Church in West Boylston, particularly Steven Small and Chip Hurd. She was able to die at home which had been her hope.

Mom was really the first person I was very close to who's died, which seems like an odd thing to say when you're almost 60. While we visited our grandparents and other older relatives while I was growing up (and even lived with her parents for a few months when I was around three), I really never felt that close to them. But I lived with Mom for 18 years and while we fought we were close. We talked a lot about everything. We were both non-crafty, loved to read and write and really enjoyed food especially really sharp cheddar cheese and chocolate. We preferred comfortable clothes (though when Mom was young, she was thin and dressed more glamorously). We had kind of a morbid sense of humor and sarcasm (though Dad is still very much like that). I last saw her about three weeks before her death and she would still joke "I'm still here..."

She had a few scary health episodes this year, particularly in the last two months of her life. She got a little cold in late May, at a time when Jim and I and my brother Jeff were en route for a planned visit. When we got there she was having trouble breathing and was using a nebulizer. But she rallied; the next day she was feeling better. However, she was then pretty much bed-bound for the rest of her life. I was up visiting in early July and came over to find her napping but breathing very shallowly. Her aide was concerned about that too. But about a half hour later, she gradually woke up, and after about 10 minutes, she became quite alert and we had a wonderful talk. In doing some cleaning, I'd found a trunk of hers we'd been looking for for years. It had a lot of fascinating old family stuff in it, including some photos of her I'd never seen, her stepmother's nursing certificates and a hooked hanging, trim from her grandmother's wedding gown and her father's baby cap. I was so glad to show her a few things that afternoon.

Which turned out to be the last time I ever spoke to her.

Mom had written her own obituary and planned her funeral, so we didn't have to do very much other then be there.

The funeral was on Saturday, July 30. It was a very hot day in Central Massachusetts. Chip, the associate minister, led most of the service, but Steven, the longtime minister, came down from his vacation in New Hampshire to participate as well. Over 200 people came. She had a simple and musical service. While she didn't want a eulogy, Chip gave her a very warm and mostly accurate one (though did skip over her sarcasm, but that had toned down a bit over the last few months).

She was interred in her family's plot in Vermont the following Monday. It was cool and sprinkling early. Her cousins were there, and some of their children, and a few of us had breakfast at her favorite place, the Miss Lyndonville Diner. But it started to rain torentially just before the service. I felt sorry for Steven who wore a full ministerial gown that morning and was drenched despite the tent over the gravesite. She was buried beside her father (whom she outlived by nearly 50 years), mother (outlived by 77 years), step-mother (outlived by nearly 25 years) and other relatives.

We were a little lucky that she died when she did. Despite having bone cancer, she didn't have much pain until the last few weeks. On top of her other health problems, she'd had a very gradual dementia over the last 10 years or so. But she never forgot her family, or close friends, her past, or that she'd lived a pretty interesting life for the classic '50s woman. And I'm glad about that.