Sunday, February 12, 2017

Technology Down!

I've been experiencing Kindle problems for a month or so. Slow to charge, not charging without several tries.

Yesterday, it gave up the ghost - would NOT charge, and wouldn't even flash to indicate that it was alive.

Naturally, I did a search to find the cure for my terminal bookholder. Finally found the answer at Eddie on Everything.

It's not completely up yet, but happily flashing the green light, so I have confidence that it will be usable this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Part-Time Work For Post-Retirement

We've been in touch with an organization that is interested in working with us to put on a workshop for middle school science teachers. We've been asked to put together a proposal, and submit it. They already expressed an interest in the ideas, when I pitched them on it.

This is BIG! It's an activity that my husband and I can pursue even after we leave paid employment, in various parts of the country. I'm working on the proposal, and crossing my fingers that it is accepted for this summer.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Medicare Fraud Crack-Down

Notice, however, this is hitting the people behind the schemes, not the possibly tricked elderly.

Fraud taking money from government programs is a HUGE (YUGE?) thing. They range from doctors billing for non-existent treatment, to over-prescribing drugs for participants, to luring patients in with the promise of FREE stuff (mobility devices for ALL!).

It's not free - it is spending money that taxpayers don't have, to enrich people with no conscience.
With government programs, if you don't pay for something, it's not the same as getting it for FREE!

Someone - perhaps younger or future taxpayers - is paying for it. Free stuff comes at a cost - that money won't be available for other needs - defense of our borders, care for veterans, paying back the money that is already owed (here is a link to the National Debt Clock - the upper left hand corner shows the overall tally - other parts put that figure in context). That's all money SOMEONE has to pay for - and there are not that many rich people who can be forced to pay for it.

Payback will fall to those of us who work and pay taxes. That's about 53% of the population. A little more than 1/2 of Americans are responsible for paying for all of these 'give-aways'.

What can we do about this massive debt?
  • Put a halt to increases in programs. Sort out those who should not be getting money, or who are being overpaid (including government contractors).
  • Put all departments/agencies on an austerity budget - 5% less in their budget this year. They will have to chose which activities are core, and which are fluff.
  • Offer bounties to those who report fraud or abuses of government programs - if their evidence or information leads to a conviction/settlement, they get a cut.
  • If someone takes money they are not entitled to, it comes out of their:
    • Paycheck
    • Income tax refund/credit
    • Social Security check, if they haven't paid it off before they collect one
    • Other sources of income, including Federal/State/Local pension
  • Cut the waste. Stop those end-of-the-year purchases. If the agency/department doesn't spend everything, they return the money. NO bonuses if they spend to the limit. NO raises/promotions until the department's budget is at least 5% less than was budgeted.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I'm Getting Afraid to Answer the Phone

Have you ever experienced a time when seemingly everyone around you is:

  • Sick
  • Unemployed or short of money
  • Experiencing personal traumas
  • One foot in the grave
  • Depressed (often for good reasons - situational, not endemic)
  • And otherwise not in a good place?
That's my situation right now. In my own family, both my brother and sister are not well (my brother is in the hospital), and my husband is slowly recovering from an antibiotic-resistant infection and pneumonia. In my husband's family, most have a variety of long-term illnesses, including the brother nearest in age with congestive heart failure.

My eldest is also experiencing a large number of sick or troubled people in her life, and my youngest grandchild is sick with a virus.

I'm getting afraid to answer the phone, for fear that it will be more bad news.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

My New Schedule for Posts

I've been doing some scheduling for future posts. Rather than just churn out stuff whenever it occurs to me, I've been making a conscious effort to space out my posts on an approximately 2-3 times a week schedule.

I would appreciate your spreading the word about this blog on social media. It's my hope that others might benefit from reading my story of retirement prep, and my experiences once I finally do retire.

I've been discussing this with my husband, and I'm leaning toward plugging the plug at the end of May. I may see if I can set up a part-time gig with a college for extra money. This should leave me relatively free for some travel and kicking back - as well as writing and pursuing my hobbies.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

All That We "Knew" About Aging and Health May be WRONG

Coffee - Bad?

Apparently, NOT.

This process has been going on for many years:

  • Some medical study is made about health.
  • Popularizers exaggerate the effects shown in the study, and inflate the core results into a program to improve/extend healthy lives.
  • Eventually, the government gets on board, and mandates changes to diet, exercise, medication regimens, or medical procedures.
  • After years of pushing the system on the general public, an honest re-evaluation of the effects is made, and - guess what? The advice is found to be completely wrong.
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
Diet advice has gone from:
  • Calorie reduction
  • Exercise
  • Low-fat
  • High-carb
  • Low-carb
At the present, the low-carb forces appear to be on top. Never fear, they'll find out eventually that positive effects have been exaggerated, and the negatives minimized.

Same with exercise. I'm not against regular movement and activity. What I'm against is mandating the same thing for everyone. The down sides include:
  • Strain on joints - The Aerobic workouts were infamous for promoting injuries, using the words, "No Gain Without Pain".
  • Sudden heart attacks in the middle of exercising
  • Body image issues - for women, unhealthy thinness; for men, steroid abuse
  • Failure to modify exercise for difference in body type, physical condition, or disability
During this same time that the federal government has jumped into the Health Promotion Bandwagon, the American population has gone from a relatively healthy condition to overweight, sedentary, and abusing drugs at an ever-increasing rate.

Doesn't seem as though we need the Feds involved. We might do better on our own.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Medicare: Proposed Changes - Part Two

Hoo-Boy! This issue has been called the Third Rail of American Politics, and it surely has that potential to kill political careers.

A large part of the problem is the scare tactics being used by activists. They are playing on the natural desire not to lose a benefit, or to treat any change in a benefit as a personal attack on the individuals who are receiving it.

In the article linked above, the seniors are furious at the idea that the program won't be available, just exactly as it has been in the past. They consider the benefits theirs, by right, and any change as taking away something that is THEIRS.

They don't seem to have heard that old country saying, "Don't count your chickens until they're hatched."

The US Representative holding the meeting, Rosa DeLauro, fed into their fears.
DeLauro, who has a 97-year-old mother, said she's sensitive to cuts that affect seniors. Though she knows that the country needs to cut programs and bring down the deficit, she said she'd rather the country save money in other ways, such as ending subsidies for oil companies. DeLauro said the plan on the table "asks the deepest sacrifice of our seniors and those who have been working and saving in preparation for retirement." The proposed Medicare changes would drastically affect seniors' quality of life, she said, as the payment provided by the government through the plan likely wouldn't be enough to cover their health-care costs.
I do hate to spoil a good rant with the FACTS, but the CURRENT plan is not enough to cover their health-care costs. That's why politicians are trying to change it - because the enormous costs, although not sufficient to pay the providers what it costs to treat seniors, are threatening to take over the ENTIRE budget.

Currently, the Medicare portion of MANDATORY spending is about 23%. Although only 15% of the total budget, it's a part that cannot be reduced, unless the program itself is changed. Currently, Social Security and Medicare together are 37% of the budget.

That would take a LOT of oil company subsidies to make a dent in that number.  For comparison, ALL subsidies for fossil fuels were about 37 billion in 2015, less than 1% of the total budget. But, that number includes IRS rules that reduce taxes - something ALL companies take advantage of. Some of that 'subsidy' is to provide money to low income people for their heating costs - NOT something that the oil companies benefit from.

So, no, there is no magic pot of gold being hogged by the oil companies - or any other business - that would provide money to fix the Medicare problem. And, unless she is delusional, DeLauro knows it. Her words are simply demagoguery.

Another pie-in-the-sky Progressive, had one of the silliest responses to the problem:
Brad Plebani, deputy director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, based in Wallingford, spoke at the town meeting and decried the plan as "the worst I've ever encountered. It's designed to shift the costs (of health care) onto you, the Medicare beneficiaries, or your children or children's children."
Is that not who is supposed to pay for health care? The recipients? If they don't, the cost WILL fall on their children and grandchildren.

There really isn't any alternative, if the current system is to stay in place, other than the so-called Death Panels - as evidenced by the current Progressive Leadership:
The Obama administration plan would keep Medicare a government program, but give a panel of experts the power to force cuts if spending exceeded a certain target. His latest proposal would strengthen cost curbing mechanisms that are already in the new health-care overhaul.
 Those spending cuts mean that the 'experts' will decide that you really didn't need that expensive medicine, or the operation that would let you retain mobility. If you were over a certain age, you might be encouraged to take the 'voluntary' suicide option, thus freeing up resources for those younger.

I'll post more in Part 3.