Tuesday, May 6, 2014

After Losing Two Hundred Pounds, He Turns to Writing

"I figured that if I could lose 203 pounds, I could do anything. Back when I was heavy, I used to spend a lot of time plopped on my backside watching TV and reading. I often thought to myself that I could write a nice story but I just didn't have the energy. Not so with the new me. I decided to try my hand at writing and with the help of a friend, Joanne Augello, who kept me on course, I recently finished my first story, a novella entitled Flight from the Wild Side. The process was so much fun, I'm already working on another story."

So declared weight loss inspiration turned writer M. J. Toscano when I spoke to him at Joe Muggs in Port Richey, FL. "I love it here," he said. "I can read, drink coffee and chat with my friends in the friendliest of environments - a bookstore."

We, of course, wish him much success with his writing career. We read Flight from the Wild Side and think it's a great beginning. "Are you afraid that success might lead to increased eating and a weight gain?" we asked. "No, I'm not afraid at all," he responded, adding, "Please pass me another donut."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Art Collection - Desert by S. Mahaney, 1958

This 16 X 20 painting has been in my collection for several years. The photo, unfortunately, does not do it justice. I'm guessing, based on the subject, that S. Mahaney may have been painting in the southwest. Of course, he or she might have been working from a photograph, but the details in the cacti suggest to me first hand knowledge. If you have any information on the artist, I'd appreciate your comment.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Flight from the Wild Side by M.J. Toscano and Joanne Augello

"There was a chill in the air but Trish was sweating, probably from the drugs that lingered in her system. A stranger to the neighborhoods on this side of the bridge, the so-called wild side of town, with its pawn shops, tattoo parlors and bars by the hundreds, she strode on past the hookers, drug dealers and drag queens, suddenly wishing she had parked a block or two closer. What was I thinking, she wondered, as she gathered her hoodie around her face and pushed on, not wanting to be noticed. Focus, girl! No time for second guessing. The worst is behind you—you’re free! The important thing now is to get out of town." ~ an excerpt from Flight from the Wild Side

I met Joanne Augello at Capone's Pool Room (officially known as Capone's Billiard Lounge). Her husband, Nick, just happens to be the legendary pool player Boston Blackie. She writes and I write a little, so, by and by, we decided to collaborate on a little project. Our Romance/Suspense novella is finished now and available on amazon for those who read Kindle ebooks. If you don't have a kindle reader you can still read it on your pc or phone or other device. Get your free app. Here's the blip:

Trish Markland is an ambitious young woman on the rise. Smart and beautiful, men adore her and women envy her. But her never-ending quest for pleasure, along with her reckless lifestyle, leaves her susceptible to a pair of ruthless predators who covet all that she has gained so easily and will do anything to strip her of it. With her charmed existence suddenly headed for a dismal end, and her life hanging in the balance, she decides it's time to reassess her needs and to decide what's really important. She starts a new life, and suddenly gets a taste of real happiness. But just as things start falling into place, her past catches up to her and she’s forced to face the fact that for her happiness may not be in the realm of possibilities.

Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

They’re Back, They’re Back – The Snowbirds Are Back

Roger and I, the management of the Hudson Highlands Mobile Home Park (A 55+ Community), would like to take this opportunity to welcome back all our friends from Canada, Michigan, New York State, Maine, Vermont, etc. It's great to have you all back, but we sincerely hope you didn't bring any of that cold weather with you, brrrr. LOL :)

We are looking forward to the coming winter and Roger thought, to get things off to a good start, we should go over some of our rules pertaining to pets.

First of all, dog owners, remember that when out doors your pet must be on a leash. There are no exceptions. If you are one of the 90% of residents who think that you and your darling pet are exceptions, then the rule applies especially to you because you are apparently so dumb you actually thing that that mutt of yours is somehow special.

Secondly, under no circumstances are you to allow your pet to do its business (pee or poo; whiz or crap; number one or number two; piss or shit) on another resident's lot. These people may not share your perverted obsession for dumb animals and therefore do not deserve to be gifted with your animal's waste products. Besides, your lot would make a perfectly good toilet. When you're away up north, Roger uses it all the time.

Rule number 3: Wherever or whenever your puppy drops his or her little nuggets, you are expected to pick the frigging things up. And this goes for you, too, nameless asshole who ties his dog to his tricycle and then rides around the park without stopping to give his animal the opportunity to assume a proper hunch-backed squat thereby forcing his beloved pet to drop turds here and there along his route where everybody else has to deal with them. Leaving them in the road is extremely inconsiderate to your fellow residents. STOP IT!


Pardon my French.

Rule number 5: This is a new rule made necessary by the fact that some of you dog owners are either too full of yourselves or, as I believe, don't have the sense you were born with. If you walk your dog down the street, you must yield to all traffic, whether it be gas powered, electric or propelled by pedals. Don't make it necessary for these vehicles to go around you thereby putting their drivers in jeopardy by placing them on the wrong side of the street where they could be subject to head-on collisions with those of your brethren who go whipping through stop signs and around corners because, once again, they don't think those signs apply to them.

Rule 6: If the little bastards chase cars or bicycles, don't dare complain when they get run over. You've been warned.

So, once again, welcome back and enjoy your stay.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why Bright House's Bay News 9 Won't Tell You the News About AARP's Medicare Advantage Plan

My wife saw the report first on Bay News 9. It informed that AARP was dropping about a thousand doctors from one of its medicare plans. She told me about it and right away I said, "It must be their Medicare Advantage Plan." She said that's not what the report said. A short while later while I was watching the report aired again. As she said, Medicare Advantage was not mentioned. I then went to my PC and Googled "AARP Drops Doctors" and found a headline which read "Patients scramble after AARP Medicare Advantage plans drop providers." In short, it doesn't effect me. After being advised against such a plan by a doctor and previously seeing the part such a plan had played in the death of a friend of mine, I had sworn off Medicare Advantage plans. But, inadvisable or not, that doesn't stop Bright House from collecting revenue from several companies, each of which is selling their Medicare Advantage Plan through infomercials. Just yesterday afternoon, I noticed such infomercials airing on both NBC and FOX at the same time. I wouldn't watch them but I'm guessing they promote their products as a way to simplify your dealings with Medicare and not as a way for them to increase their profits. Do you really expect insurance companies to be honest?

Anyway, how can you possibly call yourself a news channel when you let your parent company's monetary concerns interfere with your reporting of the news? You can't. In addition, I went to the Bay News 9 website and couldn't find the story listed anywhere. What they won't do for their advertisers.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Obama-care: A Ball of Confusion

So, back in the Springtime, I got a letter, known by diabetics as "The Letter," from the nice folks at Medicare informing that starting July 1, 2013, regardless of who I'd been dealing with previously and regardless of how smooth things had been going up to then, I would have to get my diabetes testing supplies from a vender who was on the new Medicare approved list. They even supplied a url for the web page from which I would be able to launch my search for a new supplier: medicare.gov/SupplierDirectory

Up to now I have been getting my testing supplies in the mail, so, first, I figured I'd try to hook up with another mail order company. I went to the list and started to call the mail order suppliers. Of the venders on the two pages comprising the list, not one supplied the Accu-Chek Softclix Lancets and the Accu-Chek Aviva Plus test strips that I've been using. You might think that someone who was in the business of selling diabetic testing supplies might keep an inventory of a number of different brands, but no, these venders had a very narrow selection to choose from. I'm sort of partial to my Aviva meter because it requires less blood and when I go to my doctor she can plug it into her computer and get a readout of all my tests since the last time she saw me. I don't want to change equipment at this juncture.

In addition, some of the suppliers on the Medicare list informed me that they did not offer diabetic testing supplies and they couldn't imagine how they wound up on the list. I was forced to move on to the local pharmacies.

First, I thought I'd give CVS a try. They were only a mile down the road. I went there with my prescriptions and was immediately told by the young lady working the counter, who was pecking away at her keyboard like one of Skinners pigeons, that I was not eligible for Medicare. I let her know that she and her computer were sadly mistaken since I'd been on Medicare and receiving benefits for more than a year. Nope, she affirmed, I was not qualified.

She sought the help of another worker who determined that she had entered my Medicare account number incorrectly. Finally, we were making progress. Next, she wanted my drug provider's card. I explained that that wasn't necessary because testing supplies were not considered a drug, they were covered under Medicare B the balance to be picked up by my supplemental insurance. No, she wanted my drug card. So, though she didn't really need it, I gave it to her. She was ready to roll.

I watched as she came out from behind the counter went to the shelf where the lancets were kept and pulled out a box of 50. My prescription called for 400, a 90 day supply, but 50's a start. Unfortunately, as I pointed out to her, the lancets she had chosen were not the kind I required. She was under the impression that all lancets were the same. No, I said, not hardly.

I didn't want to sound like a broken record, but I thought it important to convey to these people, and by now I'd drawn the attention of several including the rotund and bespectacled pharmacist that these supplies were covered by Medicare Part B and my supplemental. I did note also that according to the information on the Medicare site CVS accepted the Medicare payment as payment in full so no supplemental would be required. They knew better.

Their lack of understanding about how Medicare worked especially in regard to testing supplies was very frustrating. I couldn't believe they had never had to deal with this issue before, but evidently they hadn't or, if they had, they'd been dealing with it improperly.

Fat boy, the pharmacist, started getting feisty. "Can’t you see?” he sneered. “This takes time.”

"Can’t you see?" I responded. "I want my prescriptions back." They were not quick to comply, forcing me to add, "Now!"

There was a Walgreen's across the street, but fearing that employees there might have succumbed to the same environmental factors that had rendered the CVS crew stupid, I decided to cruise down the road to the Publix where, according to the website, they also accepted the Medicare allotment as payment in full. The girl working the counter at Publix was not appreciably more informed than her counterpart at CVS. Fortunately for me, though, the pharmacist, Adrienne was a gem. What she didn't know already, she took the time to find out and in due course I was phoned a few days later and told that I could pick up my supplies the next day after 2 PM.

I got there around two thirty and saw that Adrienne wasn't on duty. This wasn't immediately alarming, but when the girl asked for my insurance card I knew I was in trouble. Once again I tried to explain to these health professionals, the substitute pharmacist included, that testing supplies were taken care of by Medicare Part B. When they wanted to charge me twenty bucks, I informed them that my supplemental insurance would pick up the balance. They refused to consider this possibility, implying that I was confused. The pharmacist was particularly adamant, insinuating that I didn't know what I was talking about.

So, I paid the money and got out of there with my supplies before they changed their mind. By this time I was almost out of test strips and couldn't start all over again with another drugstore.

Subsequently, I called Medicare, and Florida Blue, my supplemental, and both affirmed that I was right. Big deal, being right hadn't done me much good so far. A rep from Florida Blue called Publix and tried to explain to them how these transactions are supposed to go down with Medicare paying most and my supplemental picking up the rest. I don't know who he talked to, and I don't know if they believed him. But, I'm still waiting to hear back. He suggested that if Publix didn't straighten out the problem and give me my money back, I should seek out another vender. Easier said than done, I say.

Which brings me back to where I started. Why were these changes made? Whose bright idea were they? Why am I now forced to deal with a bunch of people who don't know the first thing about  Medicare, when the people at the mail order house had been thoroughly schooled in the proper procedures? Do any of the geniuses in Washington actually think this is better? For who? That's what I want to know. For who?