STORYTIME

For those of you new to my continuing segments, you may go back to the January 18, 2015 post to read from the beginning; to those of you following my story, welcome back!  Feedbacks are always encouraged. 

CABIN WITH A BALCONY 

Chapter 5, Cruise Day 3 Continued

“Our ship’s doctor will not sign because we will have told him he already had.  Unfortunately, he won’t remember..and yes, we will have a forged document”, replied Robert.

Turning to the captain, Robert said “Your job,Captain, is to announce how sorry you are to give notice of an on-board death of one of the passengers and that a helicopter will be picking up the remains as requested by the family,” Robert continued,  “Also, you will provide the contact information for ordering the helicopter to the radio crew, confirming, and I mean confirming, they will meet us at 9:00 a.m. when we have sailed and cleared the coastal waters of Cozumel.”

“Do I have to stay in the refrigerated area until 9:00?” asked Wilbur.

Slowly and painstakingly Robert responded, “Wilbur, you are an inquisitive guy, aren’t you?  Your answer is yes and no, but you will be put in the wooden coffin, and it will be nailed shut.  The coffin and any other items that need to be transferred will be in the helicopter landing area.  We will have a few boxes there, just to look as if they might be your personal items.  Look, Wilbur, don’t worry.  We have done this many times before, it is no big deal; you won’t freeze.  We still have a couple of days to plan, but Captain Rogers here has some kind of perfection phobia which drives many people crazy, including the guy before you.  The good news, Wilbur, is that you get your cut.  Why, Cap, did you not explain all this ahead of time to Wilbur?”

“I expect Wilbur to do as he is told.  I want no more questions; just finish your plan so we can get on with this.  I want more meetings before the shipment is picked up.  This is Wednesday; we meet tomorrow, same time, and 8:00 a.m. Friday to go over and over this again and again; ON time, same place, or as many times as it takes for me to know you are absolutely sure of no holes in your plan.”  Captain Rogers breathlessly ended.

Wilbur held up his hand.  Captain Rogers looked incredulously at him.  “This is not school, Wilbur.  What do you want, now?”

“I just want to know when I get out of the box, sir.” Wilbur almost whispered.

Quietly speaking while leaning toward Wilbur, Captain Rogers explained, “When you get to shore, Wilbur, our team will open the box, let you out and remove the shipment from the base.  Parties will be present to take over the shipment; monies will be received.  After the parties leave you will receive your cut.”  Captain Roger’s voice began raising, “Robert and I have to wait for our cut until we dock again.  Does that tell you everything you need to know?” Captain Rogers ended in a near shout.

Quietly Wilbur replied, “Yes sir.  Thank you, sir.”

Robert looked at his watch.  ” I have to get to work at the lounge; see you tomorrow.”

“Wait, I need to speak with you Robert,” looking at Wilbur, Captain said “You may leave now Wilbur.”

“Thank you, sir,” replied Wilbur, not moving.

“GO NOW WILBUR!”  Rogers shouted.  Wilbur hustled out the door.

Captain Rogers turned to Robert and said, “Robert, this may be your last trip.  I will not stand for your disrespect, even in front of a goon like Wilbur.  Do you understand that I am the one who brought you into this opportunity?  Don’t answer that…let’s just say that you know too much for this to be your last trip.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, very clear, and I agree your opportunity allows me to orchestrate all the movements and plan the cut.  All the players work with me and have for some time.  I have done all your dirty work, including the poor slob who preceded Wilbur, and let me tell you something you may not know.  I have never once enjoyed my job.  I have asked myself repeatedly why I do this, and I know it is for the money, but I have recently begun to realize that money isn’t everything.  You didn’t believe me, but I meant it when I told you that I am resigning after this trip.  Any with that, let me say that it may be you who doesn’t know enough, and just for the record, I believe my father would never have called you friend had he really known the kind of man you are.”  With that, Robert exited, leaving Captain Rogers wondering what happened.  Captain Rogers knew things were changing, and that he had better be ready.

Stay tuned for the next segment of Cabin with a Balcony!

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FINANCE-HIGHDANCE

RETIREMENT

I should have printed that in red.  It is on a lot of minds right now.  Just think of the Boomers retiring left and right, day and night!  I found a few pearls of wisdom, one entitled “How You Could Retire Comfortably on Half of Your Income” by Matthew Frankel, and felt compelled to share:

Oh wait, it is advising some smart planning in my pre-retirement years.  Who has that much time?  Something about the 80% rule, or the assumption that your postretirement expenses will be close to your pre-retirement ones.  You will still be paying for the same utilities, etc. as before, but the only thing you “save” is the amount you had been putting aside for retirement.  Granted, good point.  A pre-retirement suggestion, next, was to see if you can “up” your payment on one of your debts prior to retirement, so you get to keep, or spend, that amount along with what you were saving to spend.  Make sense so far?

Basically, try to get rid of a major debt (like car or home) prior to the milestone moment.  If you are fairly young enough to get this plan going, the article makes a few suggestions to get you started:

Use a biweekly payment plan to pay off your mortgage…pays off sooner and saves interest.

Take any tax refund each year and put it on the mortgage

Trade down to a less expensive car (what?) that you can pay for in full.

Seriously, this plan is not a bad one, (check out Fool.com) and there are many ways to save for retirement as in CD’s instead of bank savings accounts, market trading, financial investor (be careful; as Suzi Ormon directs…stay away from Annuities!),and many types of investments.  It reminds me of the old saying..”Gee, if I had known I would live this long I would have taken better care of myself!”  I always thought it meant health:)

You cannot go forward without a plan.  As I mentioned before (and I know you did it) you have your personal financial statement, your credit score, and now you can crunch some numbers.  You have to sit down and figure out exactly what your expenses are, then you need to know exactly what your annual social security will be (remember those letters we receive once in awhile that you put somewhere?), and pensions or any other passive income you have.  If you are still working and you are, let’s say, over 40, you will need to try to put away $18,000 a year (Government limit in 401K for 2015) and any other monies in any form you choose, savings accounts, etc.   Now, and beside the point, the Social Security check will vary, depending on what part B Supplement plan you buy that is deducted from your check, or you can have an increase, but the important thing right now is to GET A PLAN.  We will discuss Medicare and Supplemental Insurance in another segment when you have figured out where you really are and how you got, or will get there.

Stay wise, my friends!

HEALTH BLURBS

Hello All!  Ok, Ok, I know I have not written any health information since around Easter.  I hear and feel your pain, no pun intended.  Although things have been pretty busy in the Herman household, I am making a commitment here and now that at least once per month you will get a blog in the areas of health, finance and storytelling.  The poetry sessions will be thrown in from time to time for good measure.  (Hmmmm, been quite a while on that one, so no promises there.)

Today, I want to share with you some information I read in the AARP magazine.  Some of you will remember that you already read it, but since we can’t all look at everything, and if we do read AARP, my bet will be that we meant to remember, but forgot:)

Following are the highlights of a section entitled “Healthy You”:

1.  It seems that you can safely watch 2 hours of TV per day; more than that increases the concentration of triglycerides in your blood and lowers HDL.

2.  A new study finds that a gain of just 10 beats per minute over normal increases your risk of dying from heart disease by 10 to 18 percent.  (What does this mean?  Maybe I shouldn’t do all that exercise!)

3.  I know you have been having at least your 5 servings of fruits and veggies, but if you can go on up to 7+ your risk of an early death can be reduced by 42 percent (per a British study).

4.  Love this one!  A study of more than 21,000 healthy adults who slept five or fewer hours per night were 50 percent more likely to become obese.  Based on this study, I should probably be skinny.  Not.

This in within the last month from the New York Times journalist, Andrew Pollack:

Discussions at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology included–

New class of meds may unleash the body’s immune system to attack tumors, prolonging the lives of people with the most common form of lung cancer.   In a separate study, researchers say they found that a particular genetic signature in the tumor can help predict which patients could benefit from the immune-boosting drugs.   Wow…we may be getting somewhere!

If you have the signature you should be treated with checkpoint inhibitors.  They work by releasing molecular brakes, or checkpoints, that prevent the body’s immune system from attacking the tumor.  The products on the market so far are Keytruda (Merck) and Opdivo and Yervoy (Bristol-Myers Squibb).  All three drugs are approved to treat melanoma; Opdivo was also approved in March to treat the so-called squamous-cell form of non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for about one-quarter of the lung cancer cases.

Opdivo also prolongs survival for those with non-squamous cell lung cancer.  Patients who received Opdivo lived a median of 12.2 months compared with 9.4months for those treated with the chemo drug docetaxel.  Opdivo, also known as nivolumab, had far fewer side effects.  The randomized trial, paid for by Bristol-Myers, involved 582 patients with advanced cancer who had already had treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.  This summer, Bristol intends to apply to have Opdivo approved to treat non-squamous lung cancer, the majority of lung cancer cases.  It has my vote!

To review more, a version of this article appears in print on the May 30, 2015, page B3 of the New York Times edition, with the headline “New Promise in New Class of Drugs for Cancer”.

Stay healthy, my friends!