Monday, August 24, 2009

What's News

I passed this exam on June 27th with a fine score. The following week, I did the paperwork for the States of Virginia and Maryland, and the Securities and Exchange Commissions. The following week, my partner and I were asked to resign due to a lack of production. Since I wasn't allowed to solicit clients until registered, they were clearly after my partner. In Financial Services, the most heavily regulated industry in the country, you can't work unless you are working for a broker/dealer or an organization that looks like one that is registered with the S.E.C. Approximately 60% of the industry is now out on the street as a result of this "recession" as the World re-makes itself.

Then the wheels really started coming off the cart. We refinanced the house to bring expenses down. That stretched into three months, and we almost canceled at settlement when they handed us a bill for $909.00. I stopped the settlement and told them there would be no settlement if they thought I was going to come up with that kind of money. The guy doing the settlement wasn't from the mortgage broker, and could have cared less. The salesman wasn't there, so I grabbed a woman walking by who said that she had just arrived at work. I told her I didn't give a hit, the settlement was over if she didn't get someone in there immediately. The owner showed up in 5 minutes, and the bill went away. We settled, and I apologized voluntarily to the girl I terrorized.

A few weeks later, the parents of the twins I tutor came over with papers from their bank. They had a mortgage work out that you may have heard about in the news. What was eye opening was the mortgage they were given when they moved in. The local Methodist Church had bought the house over 20 years ago and their minister had lived there. We were friends with him, and he was a great neighbor. When he retired, the Church decided to sell the property. They used their own people in the Church. The housing decline had started and the only people who came to see the house was a Salvadorean couple who knocked on my door to ask if I knew anyone who spoke Spanish. The people next door to me are from El Salvador, so I hooked them up. The couple made an offer and the Church accepted it, and provided financing. Turns out the mortgage broker gave them a very sophisticate loan used for real estate investors who want to flip a house. It's a 5 year mortgage with a balloon that accelerates in prices every year. It started at $3000 a year, $4000 the next year, then $5000 and after 5 years, the entire mortgage is due. The couple thought they had a $3000 a month fixed rate 30 year mortgage. No one explained it to them at settlement in any language. I wonder who regulates mortgage brokers? My neighbors still don't understand balloons much less hybrid mortgages. Hopefully, they will end up in a nice fixed rate 30 year mortgage.

When things get really nuts, I hide out in Richmond at Wrenn and Elaine Spellbound's home. I typically go for a weekend. We go dancing, we eat, we go to the Hanover Tavern for Brunch, Wrenn and I go to Civil War fields, most notably Cold Harbor.....a completely cathartic weekend of mental health. Elaine was the last nudge saying, "you haven't posted in so long no one is going to remember you".

I haven't wanted to write about the things that have made me mad or the things that have made me so very sad. I had a third of my colon removed in May of 2007 when a diverticulum started bleeding. A diverticulum is when a cut develops in the wall of the intestine and it can fill or become a pocket. I was in the hospital for 17 days. I felt lucky to have escaped. One of these little goober can open and start bleeding, and the medical response is to cut either the diverticulum out during a colonoscopy, or remove the colon if they can locate the bleed. Last March 31, I was told to go to the emergency room because I was blocked up. There were no bowel sounds. The procedure is to first do a CT scan (think X ray) to make sure there is no blockage, then administer an enema. After waiting six (6) I was x-rayed and found to have no blockage. I volunteered to go home and self-administer the enema, as the emergency room's idea of an enema is a soap suds enema. I took Judy to McDonald's for a hamburger because she was starving. I got a stool softener the next day and have been self-administering them since.

And then I started fighting back with the hospital's billing staff. They like to call with an unknown number (they block you seeing their number) and leave a message to call Shady Grove Hospital Special Billing regarding case # xxxxxx. First, they wanted $1250. They raved and ranted about my insurance company. I asked them to wait and called the insurance company. The hospital hadn't submitted the bill. I asked the hospital when they were going to submit the bill to the insurance company? More ranting about the insurance company. I yelled at them that if they didn't submit the bill, they wouldn't get paid and to not call me back, and I hung up. They called me back a month later wanting their $100. I asked what $100? They told me I owed them $100. I told them that I didn't have a bill and I didn't pay bills I didn't have. I then said, if they sent a bill and if it was valid, I'd pay it, otherwise, don't call back. Two weeks later, we got a bill for $100 and paid it. Two weeks later, I got another call, and I ignored it. A month later, I got another call, and I called back a little later. I left a message, I paid your bill on June 12th and there is no reason for you to keep calling me. Have you ever heard of harassment? Three days later, I got a call and I was told they mis-posted my account. I asked for a supervisor. I told the supervisor that they had mis-posted my account and they should fix their own problems. She said that I had failed to put the account number on the payment. I told her that the payment was electronic and there was no place for an account number. She claimed that I had nine accounts. I told her that this wasn't my problem, why would she post money to an account with a zero balance. They were responsible for their systems, not me. They accept no responsiblity at all. I told her that I can't afford to waste my time coming to her hospital again and that I would tell the hospital administrator exactly that.

So last week was pretty bad when I found out that my friend Jack McGeorge had died of complications from open heart surgery. That was last Wednesday. I had planned to go to the funeral Sunday. Jack was four (4) years younger than me and very accomplished and well known. Early Saturday morning, I started bleeding internally. I called the doctor. She recommended I go to the emergency room, and let the hospitalist admit me. I told her I needed an alternative strategy. She told me to go onto a clear liquid diet and to lie down and take it easy. No chores. She went through my meds list, cancelled two meds, and told me if I kept bleeding I'd have to go to the hospital.

I have now lost about 4 pounds and I haven't eaten any food since Friday. I don't know if it is stress, anger, sadness or all of them. I think it best I didn't go to the hospital. By now, they would have wanted a colonoscopy. And you drink a gallon of Go-Lightly and leave the contents in a toxic waste barrel. If I'd have been in the hospital, I'd have taken that barrel to "Special Billing" and turned it over someone's desk by now. See, there's a happy ending!

I'm off to the doctor's to see if I can try eating. Have a nice day, I'll be back at you soon!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I have been studying for an exam for over four months now. I have been missing for over two weeks now, and I mean to tell you that I didn't realize how much stress I have been under. I have not gone to bed before 4:00 am until last night for weeks. No one passed this exam the first time I took it. This was the last time I was taking it, ever. Not that I put pressure on myself.

The exam is put together by lawyers from the staffs of all 50states "Administrators". They like putting on questions that are trick questions for other lawyers. The last few years, fewer and fewer people have passed this particular exam. It represents a secondary license, so you aren't necessarily denied a living, but if you serve communities in more than one state, it makes life simpler to pass the exam.

I expected to have an exam of 110 questions and 180 minutes to take it. I was scheduled to take the exam at 11:00 am in Bethesda. I arrived at 10:30 am. You check in with a picture ID and the official e mail designating you are assigned to this particular center at that time. Your picture is taken and a copy of your photo ID made and sent to the authority governing the exam you're taking as you certify that you are who you say you are and not taking the exam for another person. You empty your pockets into a tray and put the tray into a locker. No watches, no medic ID bracelet, (they did let me keep my belt and shoe laces), all pockets pulled inside out. No one is smiling, and everything is as serious as a heart attack.

I was seated at a computer, went through the tutorial, and was then informed that the exam was 110 questions but only 150 minutes, they had cut out 30 minutes. My allergies were raging and I started the exam, knowing that the washing machine could handle whatever went onto the shirt (no Kleenex allowed in the exam room). I never moved from the computer, wiping eyes and nose throughout, finishing the last question at the three minute warning as it flashed on the screen. The computer informed I had answered all of the questions, and invited me to review or exit. I exited. I was informed I would be notified of my score in 15 seconds, and I wiped my eyes to read the score, not breathing, needing a 70.

Suddenly the screen started scrolling up and I saw a 66, convinced I had failed, I sat back, but couldn't read. So I looked up and leaned forward. Then I saw the small word PASS, and I saw the dual scores 72% and 80%, then final score 72%.

I had killed the Hydra!

I took the OFFICIAL EXAMINATION SCRATCH PAPER and $3 calculator back to the front desk, and the guy at the front shook my hand. I was the first person in over a month to pass the S66 (the 66 on the screen) and that guy got a 70. He hadn't seen a 72 so far this year. I was given a notarized sheet printed from the computer, emptied the locker into my pockets, and floated out of the room, and left the building.

I went to the car, and called Judy from the car. I notified her at the top of my lungs on the phone that I passed. I noticed that my hands were shaking and I couldn't see or get the key into the ignition. Something about stress and adrenaline. I got the car started and headed home, talking to my wife. I think she was just as excited as I was. She decided to meet me at home. I called my brother-in-law and told him the good news. Then I thought I had better concentrate on driving the car because I had no idea how I had gotten that far.

When I got home, Judy had some pizza, and after hugging, kissing, etc., I scarffed some pizza, and fell asleep. I know I have missed a lot of funny, interesting things, but I am still racing along at a bazillion (bz.) miles per second. I'll be normal eventually. Until then, see you soon and, have a good day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chicken Dinner At The Morning Meeting

To finish the Grand Fey Blog Tour, we held a blind drawing of the names submitted to the blog's e mail address for an autographed coy of the blog.

The winner is Elaine Haley!! Congratulations Elaine, I hope you'll enjoy the book as much as I have. I return to studying for my exam on the 26th, and my return to normal blogging!

In the meantime, have a fabulous week!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Fey Blog Tour

The big day has finally arrived! Claudia H. Christian and "The Fey has arrived in Gaithersburg, something I have eagerly awaited. What follows is the result of my reading Claudia's marvelous book, and my interview of the author. She arrived in a black Cadillac Escalade limo with escorts, wearing a Christian Dior gown and Harry Winston diamonds, her blond hair perfect. I was in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. "I think I've lost my sense of humor, Claudia." And that's when she shot me.

Wait, I'm embellishing on the first chapter of the book. But please read on and find out what "The Fey" and Claudia are all about.

The Review

"The Fey" is a thriller featuring a heroine named Alex, who finds and vanquishes threats in the military establishment. En route, the reader gets to enjoy one of the most enjoyable suspense thrillers that winds its way through an enormous amount of information and twists and turns that are unexpected. The story starts with a surprise, and builds to the point where you cannot put the book down. It's worth buying the book to read how it ends.

There is considerable character development and plot development that takes place in "The Fey". These two processes intertwine to provide an intricacy that is wonderful to immerse yourself into. The sex is delicious and realistic. I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK.

The Interview

"The Fey" is a fascinating book, considering it's the first in a series. Is it the first chronologically, or is this like the Star Wars Series were you might be thinking of writing earlier material to explain Alex's earlier life?

The Fey is the first in a chronological series. Learning to Stand begins in the following March, after the Fey. Who I Am takes place the year after. I’m confident the rest of the series will continue in this manner.

There is an entire book about Alex, Max, and John completed. I draw from that book for vignettes in the Fey or side stories, but never intend to publish it. It’s fairly directionless. I wrote this book as a way to learn about the characters.

Can you tell us about any of the following "Fey" books?

There are two sequels in various stages of ‘done.’ Learning to Stand begins where the Fey left off. How will Alex pick up the pieces of her life and start over? Of course, there’s daring adventure and funny antics. Everyone in Alex’s world grows, adjusts, as they begin to take on the new challenge of moving forward.

Along with rip roaring action adventure, Who I Am is a deeply personal look at Alex, her family and friends. As the new team comes together, each person must come to terms with himself or herself.

The forth book, yet unnamed, find the new cohesive Fey team ready to take on whatever is given to them.

Through out each book, the mystery of who killed the original Fey team deepens and unravels. Each book is designed to provide the reader with a thrilling, exciting ride was well as a touching, heart warming story about people who do their best, fail miserably, and get up to try again.

I found the story quite interesting because it was so intricate. Why the military setting for a spy/intelligence/mystery novel? (Or was it because of the huge Air Force presence in the Colorado area???)

These characters are in the military because they are in the military. To me, these characters are separate entities with their own lives, issues, and identities. I experience them as fully formed individuals. Thus, I didn’t choose for them to be in the military, they just happen to be in the military. I see my job as an author as simply to write about them, their lives and their issues. I hope to be clear enough to follow Alex, her friends and family where she wants to go or has gone.

How much did your background as a therapist contribute to the novel? The intricacy and the twists are wonderful. I thoroughly agree with an earlier reviewer who said that this is a thinking person's book.

I have always been fascinated with how people work. I grew up in around a lot of severe mental illness. Non-mentally ill people were fascinating, alluring, and slightly strange to me. I have a set of skills – listening, compassion, focus, and interest – that led me to becoming a therapist.

I believe my fascination with people, and how they work, has led to a better understanding of what motivates these characters. My experience as a therapist taught me that “everyone has a story.” We get a little bit of everyone’s story, and perspective, in The Fey.

It’s a great compliment that you find the Fey to be a ‘thinking person’s book.’ I believe people are tired of the cookie cutter books and movies that are available now. I’m delighted when people enjoy the intricacies of real story telling and life.

Is Alex patterned after you?

No, Alex is her own person. She and I share similarities but only because I am her scribe. She is much more than I am – stronger, funnier, more grounded and tremendously capable.

Can I be a host for the next "Fey" book tour?

Of course, thank you for being willing to host me this time!

The Contest

Claudia, originator of Simply Kind Tuesdays, has kindly offered a signed copy of "The Fey" to the winner of a contest of my choosing. After considering various math challenges, I decided that I would hold a blind drawing of people who e mailed their full name and address to the by midnight EDT June 19th 2009. The drawing will be held the next day, and the winner announced, and their name and address forwarded to Claudia for processing please allow for shipping and handling.

The Discount

There are so many reasons you will want to buy this book. It is perfect for the beach, reading on the patio, ideal at the holidays, a superb surprise to just say something nice to someone you like. One of the things I really like is that you can just sit at your computer and send a gift to someone across the country and have Claudia sign a card for you.

Of course, you can only get that kind of personal service from Claudia's Store. The price there is as inexpensive as it gets, even if you go to that other bookstore named after a South American river.

And to sweeten the deal, readers of this blog will receive a discount of 10%, only at Claudia's Store, and that offer will be good until her next book in the series comes out! Just plug in the following code (It means Monty sent me):


but please remember, it only works at Claudia's Store.

Should you want to find out more about Claudia or "The Fey" simply click on the picture of "The Fey" book tour below and you can see more about the book, the store, Claudia, other sites that either have or will host "The Fey" and a wealth of other information. Any questions or comments will be answered by Claudia in the comments section, or by me if directed to me. As always, have a great day!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Jerry Follow Up

Jerry is now home. He is now upset because they never could do the ablation. I have tried reasoning with Jerry that his new medication was working so well that the surgeons couldn't recreate his malfunction while inside his heart. Wasn't that dandy?

Jerry's worry is that his old medication failed suddenly, and he was lucky that he got to a hospital in time. He reasons that it's possible that he won't be as lucky the next time the new medication fails to be both near a hospital and able to get an ambulance so quickly. Both my brother-in-law and I have gently pointed out that he has based his reasoning on three assumptions, the medication failing, an ambulance not being available, and/or a hospital not being nearby. I pointed out that the odds of any one of them happening were worse than him getting hit by a car crossing the street. All three events happening, given that he had retired and didn't plan on traveling up the Amazon River, had a probability in the neighborhood of being hit by lightning.

I reminded Jerry he is going to teach me to make corned beef. In the meantime,I need to get serious about my exam on the 19th. And I need to clean the house. Because the "Fey Blog Tour" is coming Friday, the 12th! See you there. Have a great day.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Finally, Some Results

Jerry was transferred to Fairfax Hospital two days ago. They promptly took him off of his new cardiac medicaton so that during his operation the surgeons could duplicate the problem in his heart, and burn off the cells that were misfiring. Seems the meds were aimed at keeping the heart beating appropriately.

Skip to today and the circus that actually happened. Jerry was scheduled to go into surgery at 1:00 PM (1300 hours). He was prepped and as ready to go as possible. He was in the twilight from a pre-op shot. Nothing happened. We never found out if there was an emergency, or an operatin ran long, or the surgeons ran late at their golf game. Jerry was wheeled into surgery at 3:00 PM (1500 hours), still in the twilight zone, everyone else very much on edge, either answering or ignoring cell phones wanting to know if the surgery was over.

The surgeons estimated that it would take them anywhere from 1 to 6 hours to complete the operation. The problem was that Jerry had an extra heart beat when his heart malfunctions and it constituted a rarity. They were going to thread a camera and a laser from his groin to his heart and try to cause his hear to malfunction and spot the malfunctioning cells inside his heart and burn them off with the laser. Piece of cake.

In war, it is said that the battle plan goes into the toilet on the field and the troops fight the actual battle with their leaders. It appears the same thing happens to doctors. They do call it the 'practice' of medicine. Two and one half hours into the actual operation, the doctors couldn't re-create the heart malfunction with all the cameras and lasers inside the heart. They were impressed that the new medication, even after it was dis-continued two days earlier, was still effectively keeping Jerry's heart so well regulated. They decided to do no ablation, pulled out their hardware and sewed him up. We found out at 8:00 PM (2000 hours). I consider this a win for the existential fix.

Did you know that lawyers, CPAs, engineers, and newsletter writers need not reister with the state? One of the little facts I memorized in the hospital!

My thanks to Tiffany, who knows more about coronary ablation than you would imagine, and Mel, who knows how to tell you how to distract people who are a bit anxious because they think they are dying.

Please note on your calendar that "The Fey" by Claudia H. Christian will be here on it triumpant Blog Tour on June 12. It's an event you won't want to miss!

Friday, May 29, 2009


Just to let you know, I have been diverted from my normal routine. I started to write about Memorial Day over a week ago. It's not my most pleasant story as I was one of ten who was drafted out of a University as a test case for Viet Nam.

Then, a dear friend Jerry, who had a pacemaker put into his heart last December, suddenly fell ill earlier this week at lunch. He has been a close friend of Judy and her family since she was a teenager. Jerry was told to call 9-1-1 and get an ambulance. He was rushed to Alexandria Hospital and his pacemaker went off in the ambulance. He was put under, and the doctors took a day and a half to get his heart restabilized. He is awake now.

Next week, Jerry will have a procedure done at Fairfax Hospital. It's called an ablasion. They are going to try to get the electrical signal working correctly to his heart. He is scared. The doctors have told him he can go home and report to Fairfax next Wednesday. He declined to leave the hospital. I'm not kidding when I tell you he's terrified.

My brother-in-law Lou and I will be spending a lot of time with Jerry. We both live more than an hour away both hospitals. On the other hand, when a friend needs you this bad, you go and you stay.

I hope you will forgive me if I disappear for a while. I need to study for an exam I must take by June 26th, Jerry is in serious shape as one needs a functioning heart to live, and I seem to be devoid of blogable thoughts. I am taking my books with me, and letting Jake bite me a couple of times before heading out into rush hour. See you as soon as I can! I hope all is well with you!