Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Understanding is sometimes not EZ

This morning, my email included a notification from Medium ( that I have a new "follower." A person with a feminine name, I thought, but not DEFINITIVELY feminine. You know, kind of like "Lynn." Could identify as either gender. Still, a person I've never heard of.

My first thought? Why? Why would she; why would anyone follow my writings?

My second thought: Who is this person. What do they write and publish on Medium? Following the link left by the follower, I found that their description of their work is, "Satire, Surrealism, Poetry..."

Reading a few of the posted articles I learned that "she" is actually a heterosexual "he," or is a VERY good author with the skills of writing in the voice of someone else. Prolific, too; thirty-seven posted articles on Medium since August 2018. That's more than ten times the number of articles I've posted in a similar period. The articles posted under his name are definitely engaging, so I, in turn, "followed" him. I will look forward to seeing new posts in the future.

My next thought: How did he happen to happen upon my writings? A quick look at my Medium stats showed no apparent upsurge. I am grateful for a new follower. How could that not be good news?

I still have no idea why he would want to follow my writings.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Medical Insurance. EZ? I think not!

I recently had a surgical procedure performed. The billing is in. Due to my advanced age, I'm covered by Medicare (primary) and thanks to my career in the military, Tricare (secondary.)

The total billings were:

Billings approved by Medicare were:

Medicare paid:

Tricare paid:

The EOB I received from Tricare says that I'm responsible for:

So here are my not-EZ questions:
1.) If Medicare "approved" $178,825.61, why did they pay only $18,103.84?
2.) What is the status of the remaining $140,812.59?

I don't really want to ask anyone that second question!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Mr and Mrs EZ take flight

“Ladies and Gentlemen, in just a few moments we will begin our descent to Ben Gurion Airport. Please take this opportunity to stow your belongings and prepare for arrival. In just a few moments, we will discontinue the operation of Wi-Fi and other on-board entertainment systems. Your attendants will now be passing through the main cabin to collect any trash or recyclable items you have.”
Blinking my eyes open and stretching, I took stock of the situation. My wife, Glenda, and I were aboard Delta flight 86 from New York’s JFK Airport to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel. We were seated in the Comfort+ section and had two-up seating, row 13, seats A and B, at the main cabin bulkhead on Delta’s long-range Boeing 767-300ER. Glenda had the window seat and I was on the aisle. The air seemed heavy and muggy; my teeth felt fuzzy and my mouth tasted stale. I felt grumpy, stiff, and groggy; just a few dwarves short of a fairy tale. This had been a 12-hour flight and there is a seven-hour time difference between New York and Tel Aviv. We had departed JFK at 11:00 pm local Thursday and would arrive in Tel Aviv at 6:15 local Friday evening.

It had been a long flight, but not horribly bad. The Comfort+ seating did give us a bit more legroom and the two-up seating, which, to me, is a bigger improvement than all the legroom in the world. There’s nothing I hate worse than a middle seat on an airplane. Still, the service was disappointing and other than getting a free $.95 eye-mask indistinguishable from the lowest class of passage. And that in-flight service was certainly nothing to write home about. Meals? Swanson does microwave tray dinners better. Free drinks? This was the day after Thanksgiving in November of 2018. Delta began to offer free drinks for Comfort+ in January 2019. Plus, as we were at the front of the main cabin, but not in a premium class, the ‘heads’ were a long ways away behind us. In the hard airplane seat, even with Comfort+’s extra degree of recline and my trusty neck pillow, it was hard to sleep; just being away from my own bed probably had something to do with that. I was able to read, listen to music, and nap sporadically. Every time I did get to sleep, it seemed it was time for Glenda’s bathroom break. At least every couple of hours I’d gone out of my way to stand, stretch, and walk a bit; I didn’t want to risk a blood clot in my old legs.

I could feel the aircraft slowing and beginning to descend. Additional announcements were made indicating our final approach to the airport and instructing us to complete our preparation for landing. I noted that the lights of the Israeli coast were visible out Glenda’s port-side window. I managed to get my shoes on. I didn’t remember them feeling this tight, before. Our goods were all gathered and stowed. Taking another healthy stretch, telling myself to take a few really deep breaths, I noted an odd smell. To notice an odd smell in an airplane that’s been jammed full of people for 12 hours means that it is a really odd smell.  Wrinkling my nose I thought to myself, “What is that smell? Fishy? Garlic? Urine? It’s acrid, in any case, and it seems to be getting stronger.”

At just that moment, Glenda suddenly leaned forward, unfastened her seat belt and jumped to a standing position, bumping her head on the overhead bin on her way up. I don’t’ recall when I last saw her move so quickly. I immediately thought, “Oh, no! Now the flight attendants are going to reprimand us.”  Her sudden motion distracted me temporarily from the acrid smell. Looking at her concerned face, I asked, “What?”
Glenda declared, “Something is hot. Very hot. It’s burning my behind!”  She’s a very genteel soul. To use any stronger language would have been totally out of character.

What? Hot? Acrid smell? Oh, crap, smoke! That means fire. I reached down over the dividing armrest to feel her seat’s cushion; yes, it was very, very hot. I, too, quickly stood up and pressed the call button. By now, people in the row behind us are murmuring about smelling something. Quickly a flight attendant arrives and I explain to him the situation. He motioned for us to step out of our row into the aisle and when we were clear, he reached into Glenda’s seat.

Pulling back his hand with a cry, he shouts what was either a code word or something other than English to the senior attendant, which I assume was a call for a Halon fire extinguisher and to notify the flight crew of a potential “situation.”  He then yanked up the seat cushion. On the bottom inboard edge, it was smoldering; there was smoke but no visible fire. The attendant pulled a heavy cloth from his pocket and smothered the offending spot. A second attendant had arrived carrying a red fire extinguisher, but the first motioned for him to simply stand by.

Meanwhile, the aircraft continued its steady, droning, descent towards our landing. Once the attendant was sure there was no active fire he shouted, “Clear!” which I assume told the rest of the crew the problem was not serious. Then he again reached down and probed the seat tray under the cushion and pulled up a beat-up-looking old Bic butane-fueled lighter. Testing the business end of the lighter by touching with his thumb, he jerked his thumb back, and said, “It’s been ignited. Is this yours?”

“No!” I said, alarmed. “Neither of us smokes and we don’t carry any lighters.”

Apparently, the lighter had fallen out of someone’s pocket on an earlier flight. Seat cushions are not removed as part of the routine turn process, so it would not have been seen. As Glenda repositioned herself for the landing drill, her weight must have “flicked the BIC” in such a way as to activate it, which ignited the seat cushion. Most furnishings on modern aircraft are fire-resistant, as, thank God, was the seat cushion. Glenda’s ankle-length black polyester blend skirt, not so much. As we all recognized the crisis was averted and we were safe, the attendant replaced the cushion and asked us to quickly resettle so as to be prepared for landing. As we turn in the aisle to reenter our seats, I notice a flash of white at Glenda’s posterior.

“Wait,” I asked her. “Let me look at something.” With my hand on her shoulder, I turned her a bit to her left. Yep, there it was, just to the rear of her right upper thigh – a hole the size of grapefruit melted in her black skirt, allowing the exposure of her white underwear.
We had no changes of clothing in our carry-on bags, but at least she did have a sweater to tie around her waist and cover the view. 

After an otherwise uneventful and safe landing, we claimed our heavy luggage, cleared Customs & Immigration without incident, and got our rental car, a white Fiat sedan. I was exhausted and it was getting late, so we proceeded as quickly as we could to our comfortable Air BnB in Herzliya, along the Mediterranean coast north of Tel Aviv, allowing WAZE to guide us.

Once again, we had cheated death, as I’ve been doing for over 60 years. It easy to see that this situation could have been so much worse. There are not many things more frightening than a fire on an airplane in flight. Maybe Snakes on a Plane would be worse. I know that the movie of that name was painful to watch.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

An EZ 4th of July

We spent the 4th, 5th, and 6th at our sons' cabin in Colcord Cove, which is up in the pines at 6,400' AMSL and about 20 miles east of Payson, AZ, in the Tonto National Forest. The weather was absolutely perfect, about 82 for a high and around 50 (F) for the low each day. For the evening of the 4th, we drove back down into Payson to the small-town America celebration on Green Valley Lake in the city park. A nice respite from the summer heat in Mesa.

We enjoyed food-truck eats, popcorn, and a wonderful fireworks display.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I'm not having an EZ time understanding the Wayfair walkout.

The conditions at the border are horrendous and need to be corrected ASAP regardless of who is in our Federal Administration. But, it strikes me that some of the people who are refusing to sell the mattresses are also the same people complaining the loudest about children sleeping on a hard floor. Maybe the additional visibility will help in the long run? the House passed a funding bill to help. Can we get the Senate to do the same? If not they are willfully complicit in inhumanity if not civil rights violations. What if both House and Senate pony up the money: What, then, do we do if nobody will sell supplies and comfort items for this use? Having said this: We can't take care of the entire world. At some point, we need to reduce this flow to a manageable level. I believe that's going to take many steps, increased border security only one of them. We have made some progress in getting Mexico to cooperate. I think we also need to work closely with the governments of Central America so that people there can have a fair chance to safely stay home and build a life in their own land. Maybe some of our overseas federal aid could be diverted from countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel (and I don't mean abandon them -- just use resources in the best way -- maybe if we stop poking Iran and speak to them as fellow humans Israel could be more secure). Our Democrat representatives (I refuse to call them "leaders") are busy telling us that no one, not even the President is above the law (I agree with them.) So please, Ms. Pelosi, explain to me why the same logic does not apply to immigrants. Humanity first, but we must eventually deal with lawlessness and justice if we are to maintain a Democratic Republic. There is no simple answer. If we can't work together as a nation and as a continent, let alone a world, it won't get solved. Meanwhile we need to make a difference for the "one" if we can. A good mattress might be appreciated by one in the camps.

Here's something to consider:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Some parts of aging actually are EZ.

While sorting 50-years' worth of old family photos I came across my wife's baby book. First seeing it, noticing it was blue and labeled "1950," I got really excited thinking it was mine -- I never knew I had one. I probably didn't. While we never went hungry my parents were dirt poor and a baby book was probably a luxury out of their reach. No worries, I had milk, blankets, and clean nappies. In the section where the parent records baby's notable progress at various stages, there are all the usuals: weight and height, first word, first step, immunizations, first minor injury, and so forth. A notable entry: "Age 2 1/2 favorite toy: She loves to play with Tupperware." So not much has changed. Glenda still loves her Tupperware and I still have milk, blankets, and clean nappies!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Staying current is never EZ...

While I have been doing a fair amount of writing lately, my blogging has certainly been irregular and inconsistent. I feel the need to do some "catch-up" for the record.

About one year ago, our Phoenix-area-based children (Ben, Joel, and Jennifer) ganged up on us and convinced us that it was time for us to downsize from our large San Antonio home and, in the process, relocate to the Phoenix area. We have accomplished that over the past year and now live in Mesa, Arizona, in a 55+ retirement community called Encore. We traveled to Phoenix to shop for a new home and signed a contract on our new-build in July of 2018. I made two more trips from SA to Phoenix over the summer to make final selections for the new home and to move my "classic" car to Arizona. By September, we had our San Antonio home decluttered and staged and on the market. It sold in three days for above our listing price. We closed on that sale at the end of October and over the Hallowe'en weekend we relocated to the Phoenix area driving our Nissan pickup with a U-Haul trailer. We made the trip in two days, with an overnight at Faywood Springs in New Mexico. Selling one house, buying another, and moving was more work than I can describe. I don't know if I'd have undertaken it if I had known how much work it would be.

Arriving in Phoenix, we settled into Jennifer and Bre's guest room where we stayed through Thanksgiving (all of our home furnishings were in two Pods in storage in Chandler, AZ). We had to move out after Thanksgiving because they had other guests coming who would need the guest room. It all worked out, because...

The day after Thanksgiving we left Phoenix for our trip to Israel in celebration of our 50 years of married life together. Originally we had planned to go to Israel as part of an LDS-themed group tour, but looking carefully at the itinerary we decided that it was too intense and too impersonal for our maximum enjoyment. So, we toured Israel pretty much on our own using AirBnB for lodging and a rental car for transport. Thus we toured Tel Aviv, Jaffa (Yafo), Caesarea, Haifa, Nazareth, Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee, and Capernaum over a 10-day period. We had a wonderful time on our own schedule, saw all we wanted, and met some outstanding BnB hosts: Iris in Hertzliyya, Ayal in Haifa, and Anat in Tiberias. We felt very welcomed everywhere we went. Reaching Jerusalem for the last few days of our time in Israel, we took a room in the El Dan Hotel and turned in our rental car, depending on feet and taxis for most of our time in the city. We got to celebrate Hannukah in Jerusalem, and that was very special. I even got to light the Hannukah Menora one evening in our hotel. For our final day, we engaged a local guide, Eldar Rozin. He picked us up at our hotel after breakfast along with our luggage and effects and took us in his luxurious sedan to see Bethlehem and other areas we could not tour on our own. We also were treated to a private tour of the BYU Jerusalem Center to include an organ recital. This, on a day that the BYU Center was closed to tours and to the public. Mr. Rozin, though not LDS, was able to arrange this for us at short notice. One surprise in Israel was how heavily the entire country was decorated in a "Christmas" theme. Angels, stars, and Christmas trees were everywhere! After a full day in Bethlehem and Old Jerusalem, he drove us to the Ben Gurion Airport for our flight home.

On return to Phoenix from Israel, we settled into Joel's guest room in Gilbert, where we laid our heads until our new home was ready at the end of January, 2019.

Except for the week between Christmas and New Years, which we spent with all of the Arizona family gathered at a rental cabin in Forest Lakes, AZ.

The place the family rented was a beautiful, large cabin with all modern conveniences and very nicely decorated for the holidays.

Not all of 2018 was joyful and fun.

In September, we received word that Ronald Estep, who had been my closed friend through High School had passed of a massive heart attack. He and his wife, Sandy, had been serving a mission in Detroit at the time of his passing. Ron shared birthdays with Glenda, and had been born in the same hospital as she, delivered by the same doctor. A true life-time acquaintance.

In November, Sarah Leane, my oldest (and last living) sibling passed away in Blackfoot, ID. She was 87 and had been in ill health for quite some time. Her immediate family decided to postpone her memorial until summer of 2019 to coincide with other family travel when we can all gather in Hagerman where she will be memorialized next to her eternal companion, Aaron Bowen. We plan to travel to Idaho in early August for her memorial and to see other family members.

And on December 5, while we were in Israel, our adopted son, Vincent Marshall, died in San Antonio. I've written about this a bit in an earlier blog post. We have been so very saddened to lose him, but feel so blessed to have had him in our lives for so long. We were able to have one last conversation with him via Skype, before his passing. In years past, one phrase I've used to define our blessings was, "We raised six children and didn't lose any to accident, drugs, or disease!" We can't say that anymore.

Our first night in our new home, at 10445 East Tesla Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85212, was January 31st, 2019. We are very happy in our new home and new neighborhood, but we do certainly miss San Antonio. It's great to be close to Ben, Joel, Jenn (and families), but we miss being close to Derek''s family and Vincent's bereaved family. There is a lot we miss about San Antonio, too.

Today is the second Saturday of June, 2019. Glenda's step-mother, Netta Cardon Giles Baum, passed away this past week. Glenda will be flying home to Idaho for the services to be held on Friday the 14th of June, leaving Phoenix on the 12th and returning on the 17th. I can't go because I have a medical procedure scheduled for Tuesday the 18th, and I have to have a CT done "at least 3 but no more than 5 days prior," so Glenda will fly non-stop Phoenix to Boise where Carolyn and other family will take care of her and get her back to the airport to fly home from Boise on Monday the 17th.

In May, 2019, we got to attend the H.S. graduation of Ben's daughter, Sydney. She was a high school member of the Honor Society and has been accepted to ASU this August. We are so very, very proud of her.

Since our settling in the home in Mesa, I've been participating in the Encore neighborhood writers' group. That work has yielded three pieces of prose I've authored. Two of them are suitable for sharing here, and, in fact, are posted as the two earlier posts to this blog. They have also been published online at

51 Ways. A short story on by Dan Moyes.


The Stump Search. A short story on by Dan Moyes.

One of my works is not yet suitable to share publicly, and may never be. It was written as part of an assignment given me by my mental health counselor with the prostate cancer support group a couple of years ago. I've revised it a few times, and may eventually be comfortable sharing it. Or maybe not.

I recently completed a 4-week course (MOOC), Introduction to Who Wrote Shakesheare, from the University of London. The course was offered through and was completed entirely online. Starting this Monday, I will be working on another Coursera offering, Sit Less, Get Active. It's also a 4-week course and is presented by the University of Edinburgh.