FINANCE-HIGH DANCE

First let me say that I regret having let you down regarding tax time tips.  That being said, I hope you got your taxes all sent with great relief for another year, no thanks to me.  Although no expert, I did take note from many that the tax rule changes were brutal for 2014.  Hang in there throughout the year, and if I discover tips to help you I will share.

The first item on my list to share today could be used as a Health Blurbs segment or Finance-High Dance; it is about…..

McDonalds

Did you hear that McDonalds is cutting some of their sandwiches?  Seven, in fact.  What with sales declining the last six quarters, Their new chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, not only needs the sales figures to improve, but is being pushed for healthier food.  Menu researcher, Datassential from Los Angeles, says that McDonalds will still have about 40 more items than it did in 2007.  Outcome?  The Deluxe Quarter Pounder was replaced by a similar hamburger with different toppings, Chicken Selects was brought back this year, a new sirloin burger is planned, more tests are being done but, wait for it…….they are testing all-day breakfast at about 94 restaurants in the San Diego area…yay, yay and more yay!!!

APPLE

Old news, but the Apple watch arrived in other stores (not its own) such as in Dover Street Market in Tokyo and London, Maxfield in Los Angeles, Colette in Paris, the Corner in Berlin by the 24th of April, and 10 Corso Como in Milan by May.   Of course, you could have ordered on-line.  Folks were beginning to receive them last Friday.   But if you ordered, just hang, because they say they are behind and, in fact, have back ordered the gold Edition (starting at $10,000).  They do appreciate your patience, though.

GREECE

As you know, Greece is in a little bit of debt, o.k. a lot.  As you might expect, the finger-pointing has gotten tense.  Representing 2% of the eurozone economy, some think Greece’s default would not pose a broad threat, yet bankers and regulators have not forgotten Lehman Brothers in 2008.  Over the last year, investors have been trying to figure what would happen if Greece does not pay.  There does not seem to be any answers so far.  If the debt talks go on and on it is likely that Greece will miss a debt payment (owes about $830 million to the International Monetary Fund) or yield to capital controls to prevent a bank run.  IOU’s have even been considered.  The Finance Minister, Mr. Varoufakis has clashed on several occasions with the Dutch finance minister, Mr. Dijsselbloem, who represents European creditors.  This past Monday, the Greek stock market rallied and bond yields dipped with the anticipation that the finance minister would assume a reduced role in future talks with Greece’s creditors.  Mr. Varoufakis says he is not going anywhere. Senior members of the U.S. worry that Europe may be underplaying the consequences of a Greek default.  Hmmmmmm.

GODADDY

Have a website with GoDaddy?  It has grown up to become a publicly traded company as of this month.  Founded in 1997 by Bob Parsons, the company was known through its risque ads.  However, being purchased by an investment firm in 2011 is  resulting in a remake of its image as well as its business platform. The new version is appealing to investors.  The initial public offering was $20/share, raising $440 million.  The market value is just more than $3 billion.  GoDaddy will trade under the ticker symbol GDDY on the New York Stock Exchange.  Isn’t Mommy’s Day around the corner?  “GMMY”…looks good to me!  Let me know if someone starts it!

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STORYTIME

CABIN WITH A BALCONY

Day 2, Chapter 4

Judy Lane appreciated the beautiful flowers on the tables as she and Betty Lou, along with their “dates” for the evening walked into the low-lit dining room.  It seemed Judy appreciated a lot of things since Bull came along.

“Oh, look Fred, there are Betty Lou and Judy Lane…and they are with those two gentlemen we met today, Ed and what’s the other one? “

“Hmmmm? Oh, I see.  Don’t know Mae.  I’m sure you will find out though.” Fred replied, fussing with an appetizer.

“Wonder if we can get them to sit at our table….YOO HOO…”

Betty Lou said “Oh look Judy Lane, there’s Fred and Mae.  Should we go over there and sit?”

One look from Judy Lane was all Betty Lou needed to immediately point to a table for four and say “Oh, here’s a lovely table; look at the centerpiece!”  As they moved toward the table Mae was disappointed, saying to Fred, “darn, they must have missed us.”

The two couples settled in.  “Oh Bull, this is perfect” cooed Judy Lane.  Betty Lou could tell this was really something special since she had never heard Judy Lane speak to anyone in that tone; well, maybe to her dog.  While the cooing continued, Betty Lou looked sideways at her escort.  He seemed like a nice enough guy, and she thought it would be a good evening, that is, unless Robert is upset…oh pooh, she can explain it to him after the show.  They were to meet again at the Blue Room around 10:00 since Robert is off at 10:15.  Uh, oh…here comes Mae Walker

“Hi everyone…just wanted to say hello.  I tried to get your attention, but you probably didn’t hear me.”  Judy Lane smiled and started to make introductions, but Bull and Bud stood, shook hands with Fred and Mae, and Bull said “Oh, I think we met our first day out…plus didn’t we converse at the pool this afternoon?”

“Oh, yes,” Mae replied.  By her flitting eyes going from one couple to another, she was itching to find out more, much more.

After a few  pleasantries and unanswered questions, Mae, leading Fred, skittered away from the table.  “Wow, she sure gets around good for an older lady” observed Bull.  Several minutes passed while discussion surrounded grandparents, great grandparents, and getting older in general.  Everyone except Judy Lane had Diet Coke, (OMG, he will think I am a lush), dinner was served and Bull asked the girls about their careers.  Both ladies spent dinner expounding on work stories, not realizing that both Bull and Bud hardly uttered a word.  Bud, however, listened intently to Betty Lou’s stories.  She was a lovely gal, with personality to match.  Too bad she was meeting someone else after the show; he somehow wished he could hear her more.  She had such a way with words, he thought, especially the way she made Mae seem like just a sweet little old lady.  He chuckled to himself, thinking that Mae was nobody’s fool, but possibly could be a sweet little old lady.

After dinner, sitting in the balcony of the show was Judy Lane’s idea, and Bud could now understand why she wanted to sit way up; the acrobat extravaganza was comparable to a show he saw in Vegas, and they were tumbling from higher and higher heights.  He was keenly aware of Betty Lou’s perfume and her sweet southern voice emitting “Oohs” and “Ahhs” at the skills of the performers.  He settled in to watch the show, sometimes letting his mind wander.

“Bud”, what a nickname.  How many other people carry that, he wondered.  Born to a middle class family in Fort Wayne, Indiana 34 years ago this May 6, of 2014, he wondered why the rest of his siblings all had normal names; Sally, Robert, and Victor.  As the oldest, his name was Benjamin Reginald Yarburough, III.  The playground group had their own way of bringing him to common ground.  No way could they have called him Ben, or even Reggie.  Anyway, “Bud” stuck, and by the time he was a teen he liked the association with “Bud”weiser.

His siblings also had normal careers.  From Nurse, to CPA to Banker, they followed the norms.  Father was and is a stockbroker who has done very well, even with the ups and downs of the market since ’87.  None of that ordinary work would do for Bud.  No, he wanted excitement, and he wanted to really make a difference in the world.  Watching what happened to his best friend sealed his decision.  Friend Arthur was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy.  Always friendly, always wanting to help others.  When Arthur started seeing a gal who had some, shall we say, undesirable friends, it was like watching a train wreck.  Bud tried to get Arthur to see, but he was too in love to see, and only wanted to please her.  Actually, so much so, that he died for her…of a drug overdose at the tender age of 20.

It was then Bud decided the DEA was where he wanted to be.  He would like to think that he has, indeed, made a difference.  But no matter how much he might pat himself on the back, he will always regret not having saved Arthur.  He replays that time in his life often, wondering what he could have said or done differently.

Betty Lou grabbed his arm and said “Wow, did you see that?”

“Oh,yes, that was something wasn’t it?”  Bud smilingly replied as Betty Lou’s sparkling eyes had already returned to focus on the entertainment.

HEALTH BLURBS

Hello All!

Here we are near Easter again.  The time I was planning on being about 20 pounds lighter.  Same for you?  Well, keep plugging along, and whatever you do, don’t give up.  If you give up bad, bad things will follow.  Let’s keep trying with the yield of healthier bodies.  I am not saying that I could live to be 109, the age at which a lady in Ohio just died, but hey, we all have to have a goal!  After that little soap box, I have a few items you may find interesting.

MEDICARE COVERAGE FOR LUNG CANCER SCREENING  According to sources of the National Cancer Institute, in February of 2015 the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its guidelines for Medicare coverage of low-dose CT screening for lung cancer.  CMS will now cover low-dose CT screening for persons 55 to 77 years old with a 30 or more pack year history of smoking, and are current or former smokers who have quit within the past 15 years. In order to receive coverage of the screening you must participate in a counseling and shared-decision making visit prior to the initial screening.  At this visit benefits and potential of the screening, as well as current and non-smoking abstinence will be discussed.  If you have questions about cancer you may contact the Cancer Information Center at 1-800-422-6237, Monday through Friday 8:00 a,m. to 8:00 p.m. EST to speak with a specialist.  You may also visit the National Cancer Institute’s website http://www.cancer.gov/ to chat with specialists for more information.

ONLINE MEDICAL RECORDS?  Obviously we all have our pros and cons in this regard.  A recent article in the New york Times addresses what we, as patients, can do if we have access to our own medical records.  Some medical centers are making medical information available to patients by online access to physician notes in an initiative called OpenNotes.  In a recent evaluation of the project in three states, more than two thirds of patients reported a better understanding of their health conditions.  Locations who have adopted the OpenNotes concept include medical centers in Boston, Pennsylvania, Seattle, The Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and the Veterans Affairs.  By now, nearly five million folks in American have the access.  Privacy and potential legal issues slow the process.  However, a patient who has benefited states “This is what the next generation, which lives on data, is going to want.”  If you would like to access the article, see New York Times March 31, 2015 article entitled “The Healing Power of Your Own Medical Records” by Steve Lohr. http://nyti.ms/1ywqFDw in print on April 1, 2015, page B1 with the headline “Healed by His Own Data”.

ARIZONA’S LAW REQUIRING DOCTORS TO ADVISE ABORTION DRUGS MAY BE REVERSIBLE  Another NYT article, by Rick Rojas dated March 31, 2015 entitled “Arizona Orders Doctors to Say Abortions With Drugs May Be Reversible”.  The article points out both sides of the abortion issue, and that once again Arizona finds itself on the border of anti-abortion legislation with a law passed late Monday. (March 30, 2015).  The docs must advise women who receive abortion drugs that their procedure may be reversible.   A primary argument seems to be that there is no scientific data behind the effectiveness of this method.  Some believe that given the information it may encourage ladies to change their minds,.  The article appears on the April 1 edition, page A11.