Writer (Novels), Poet, Writer's Club Company Name: TO THE WRITER PO BOX 6111 Miramar Beach, Fl 32550 www.ToTheWriter.com


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!


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. 


Chapter Five, Cruise day 3

Captain David Sven Rogers tapped his pen in a brisk rat-a-tat on the paper he had been working on.  He was extremely annoyed.  Not only was he sitting here waiting with their other partner, but Goulet was late!  The captain made a mental note to meet with Goulet alone at a later date to make sure he understood just who was in charge.

He hated to make this meeting during the day when anyone could stop by his office, and he had pulled Wilbur from his navigation duties to attend, using the excuse of needing him to help order some new equipment.  There was nothing else he could do.  It was time to plan the move.  It had to happen right after Cozumel, and there must be no screw-ups.

The door opened, and Robert arrived.

“Well, Mr. Goulet, what a pleasure”, the captain stated.

“Sorry, Cap, I was detained on duty”.  Robert nodded hello to Wilbur.  Wilbur looked like a scared little kid, but was probably somewhere around 35.  His red hair sticking up in the back crown like he had a bad night and clothes looking like he tried to clean up and look good but missed the mark, led Robert to doubt the old man’s mental capacity in selecting him.

“Did your ‘duty’ involve a certain dark-haired young lady you’ve been seen escorting around the ship?”  The sarcasm dripped from the Captain’s lips, and his eyes spoke volumes to Robert.

Robert returned the look, saying curtly, “I was off duty.  Let’s get on with this.”

Captain Rogers decided now was not the time; they would deal with the situation when Wilbur leaves the room. “All right Robert, what do you have for us?”

“As usual, I will pick up the shipment at the Sundown bar scheduled at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, one hour after we arrive in Cozumel, and drop it off in Wilbur’s room.  It will be incorporated into the wooden transfer coffin base by Wilbur sometime around midnight.  As we already decided, Wilbur will fake a drunken fall in the Blue Room around 1:00 a.m. in front of several witnesses; I will help him to his cabin.  Our doctor will be in his usual drug and alcohol-induced stupor, but with his altered nightcap, he will be unable to awaken.  Around 6:00 a.m. I will transfer Wilbur’s ‘body’ to the refrigerated storage area, awaiting the doctor to sign the cause of death certificate.  Questions?”

“Well, what if you have questions from people?” asked Wilbur.

“I know you are new at this Wilbur, but trust me, no one will ask questions as long as we all do our jobs properly.  If really pushed, we will say that we cannot discuss other passenger issues”,  Robert explained.

“Will the doctor sign a death certificate when I am not dead?” asked a concerned-looking Wilbur.

                                                                                              Look for the next “STORYTIME” segment to learn more!


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…..


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!!!


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.


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.


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!



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.


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.



Chapter 2 Day 2 Tuesday

“Don’t you think it sounds marvelous?”  Betty Lou asked, starry-eyed.

“No.  I think you are wasting your time with Mr. Sinister shyster.  Should I ask if this romance was consummated?”

By the look on her fallen face, I may have gone too far.  Betty Lou went into her pouting mode.  I tried to improve the situation.

“Well, let’s just see how it goes.  Don’t you want to hear about ‘Bull’?”

That worked.  After a few minutes of general chit chat about last evening, she reluctantly asked me to tell her about Bull.  I shared with her that his name is Ferdinand Edward West, and that, naturally, his nickname of “Bull” is easy to understand. “He and his co-worker won a sales contest, and this cruise was their prize!” I gushed, ” They sold more copiers than any other partner team in the last six months!  They are both cute and so cool.  Actually, I couldn’t wait to tell you that I agreed we would meet them for dinner tonight..I hope that’s alright?”  Before she could speak  I moved on, ” Now, don’t be mad Betty Lou.  I didn’t know you and Mr. Sinister were an item when I agreed to dinner.  Please don’t let me down in this…I will owe you for the rest of my life!”  I was watching Betty Lou’s face closely, and I could see her wheels turning.  “I reallllly like Bull and want your opinion of him, plus he will be happy that his friend has someone for a dinner partner.  PLEASE!”

“The things I do for you, Judy Lane!  What will Robert think?”

“Oh, you can meet him after the dinner and show and explain,” I reasoned.

“So, ” she asked, “was your romance consummated?

My eyebrows did one of those double lifts.

“O.K.”  Betty Lou smiled, “Details later?  I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours!  Let’s get some sun…wait, what show?”

Chapter 3, Day 2

At the FBI office in Tampa, two gentlemen were looking at a computer screen.  The scene happened to be the Princess of the Ocean.  The encrypted message they just received creates an exchange between them.

“Do you think things are going O.K.?” asked the bald, chubby man, while sipping his coffee.

“Couldn’t be better,” said the other, “Fish are biting reads the translation..we have three people on board, nothing can stop us now.  What does DEA say?”

“Says when the Eagle lands, they are ready.”

“Bull never stops, does he?” asked one.

“Nope” said the other.

The ringing phone forced the bald man to put down his coffee, slowly amble to the desk and pick up the phone.  “Eagle Angle”, he answered.  “Yes, we just checked.  No, we see no reason to delay.”  Hanging up the phone he ambled back to the computer, picked up his coffee and said, “Well, looks like we are on.”

At poolside Bull and Bud are enjoying the sun.  Bull waved.  Bud asked, “Who are you waving to?”

After looking around to see who might be listening, Bull replied “To Pete and Eddie.”

“Who?” asked Bud.

“The guys at the Tampa office.”

“They can’t see you.”

“Sure they can; how do you think they know where and how we are?”

“Duh, you send them messages.”

“Yes, but our satellite is taking in the sun, us and the Princess of the Ocean.”

“What did you say? asked Mae.

“Oh, hello Mrs. Walker.  I just mentioned how I like taking in the sun with my friend on the Princess of the Ocean”, Bull smoothly responded.

Mae and Fred Walker had traveled a lot since he retired.  He had plenty to travel with; Walker Feed and Seed, Ohio statewide, had provided.  Growing up within a mile of each other they had gone all through school, college, three children, one grandchild and a successful business.   Now it was time to relax and enjoy themselves.

They had been at the dinner table last night and enjoyed the company of two lovely ladies from Kentucky.  Mae was the type of woman who, when experiencing the lives of others, liked to make their business her business.  An endearing quality, actually, although those in her ladies church group implied she is a little too nosy.

Mae always makes sure she introduces herself and her husband to everyone within a two feet area.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it gentlemen?” Mae asked.

“Certainly is”, Bull replied as he and Bud collected their beach towels to leave.  “Have a good one”  Bull threw the words casually over his shoulder as they departed.

Bud said, “Gee that was a little abrupt, don’t ya think??”

“Don’t worry, Mae is immune to abrupt.”

Bud shook his head and smiled as he looked back to see Mae already chatting with other folks at the pool.




As the rays of the morning sun flickered over my face, I awoke with my friend, Anxiety.  At first I did not know why.  Suddenly I remembered that Betty Lou had not been here last night.  I had tried to stay awake the night before, but could not.  I quickly sat up and looked around.  There she was, sleeping soundly.  With a sigh of anxiety-loss, I got up and went to the bathroom.  I decided to go ahead and shower.  I made sure I had on the “patch”, took a much-needed aspirin, and emerged.

Betty Lou was sitting up and smiling with the look that I must have had when I got back last night.  “What? What?  Tell me!” I demanded.

Over breakfast in the ship’s dining room I heard most of the rest of the story.  It seems that when Betty Lou was sitting alone at the dance Mr. Sinister came over, brought her a drink “on the house”, and asked her to go for a walk, as he was off duty soon.  Well, you know Betty Lou.

“So…what happened next?”  I personally felt she was lucky she had not had to walk the plank into the ocean.

“Well,” she said, “We walked around the deck, stopping sometimes to look at the stars…”  My eyebrows were, I believe, into my hairline at this point.  Only my jaw was still in place.

“Stop!  What caused the big switcheroo?  First he is not allowed to talk to guests, and the next he is buying you drinks and dragging you off for a walk!”  I’m sure I must have sounded a lot like a wild woman, or a loudly screaming Eagle.

“O.K. Here’s the deal.  He said that he didn’t think it was right that he could not personally talk with the guests, and that he has given notice to leave his position.  See?  I told you me may be having a bad day.  He says I have made him realize the life he is missing, and that he would like us to have a real relationship.”  Oh my.

“He said all that at once?!  Why didn’t he say something to you in the Blue Room when he came to our table?  And does Mr. Sinister have a name??”

“Well, he said all that over the course of the evening.  His name is Robert AND his middle name is ‘Lou’ , too.  Isn’t that sweet?  He said he got cold feet when he came up to us because he thinks you don’t like him.”

“Oh, Betty Lou.  He thinks right.  I don’t like him, and I hope this whatever-it-is goes away so you can finally see the guy that I see.  Does he also have a last name?”

“Oh yes, Goulet.  And Judy Lane, don’t worry.  I know you will learn to like him when you get to know him better.  He is really sweet, kind, sensitive and thoughtful.”

“Wait, Goulet.  Robert Goulet?  Good grief, Betty Lou.  Does he sing, too?”

“What do you mean by that?  He’s French.  That’s a French name!”

“Well, unless I am wrong, my grandmother used to play some of his recordings.”

“Well, Judy Lane, I am sure it is simply a coincidence.  I think it is a fine name, and sounds sooooo good with mine.”

I was entertained for a moment or two while Betty Lou repeated her name over and over with “Goulet” last.

“Don’t you think it sounds marvelous?”  Betty Lou asked, starry-eyed.



IT HAS BEEN SOME TIME SINCE WE LAST DISCUSSED money.  No one really wants to talk about it, anyway.

Sometimes it is a necessary evil, and sometimes it is a delightful experience.   At this time of year it is a necessary evil, plus in our last FINANCE HIGH-DANCE post we talked about doing ourselves a personal financial statement.  Hopefully you have completed one in preparation for your future financial planning.  If you have put it off like a New Year’s Resolution, let me help you get it started by telling you about an ideal template you can use.  It is free at pdffiller.com, and you can download it, fax it, e-mail it or fill online.  Tell yourself you cannot give this up for Lent, and promise yourself you will have it done before April 16, just so you have a goal.

Once you actually begin to put in your numbers you will see it is not as bad as you thought.  Remember, just put in what it asks.  You will see the logic when you finish; and you will actually know your financial worth!  If you are in doubt about any entry you can find out your answers through any number of avenues, but if all else fails, send me your questions.  I am not an expert by any means, but I have years of experience and background to support my recommendations.

Now, once you get that done, your next challenge will be to mark your calendar for updates.  It is your call as to when, because you may or may not need to run to the nearest bank for a home, car, or personal loan right away.  If you have plans to do something soon I would go ahead and update monthly, if not, quarterly will suffice.

Next, I would recommend that you go on a free site to check your credit score.  Ideally, everyone would like over 800, but I discovered that no matter how well you keep your payments up-to-date your score is affected by how many credit cards you have.  My score is less than hubby’s; I pay all the bills, credit cards paid off end of each billing month, etc., but I am the one who goes for that extra credit card when I am about to save 20 % on a purchase (you gals know exactly what I mean).  So, do as I say and not as I do, and do not collect credit cards.  Your score will be better.  And ALWAYS pay cards off monthly…that interest rate will devour you and make that debt hole deeper and deeper.  Just have a plan to pay it off, too.  Anyway, you want to know your score if and when you march in to the bank for that loan.  Have you seen the commercial where the couple are at the bank?  The lady knew her credit score, and was less than ladylike in her strong arm approach (flinging feet up on the banker’s desk) with her banker, but the point is well-made that we can do this.  I recommend you be polite and knowledgeable while keeping your feet on the floor:)

OK; that is enough rambling for today.  Work on your personal financial statement, check your credit score, and I will be back to you before April 16 with any suggestions I have.  Remember, we have to get to a point where we want to grow our monies for lots of reasons…children’s college, family vacations and the delightful, yet dreaded retirement…to mention a few.

CABIN WITH A BALCONY (Day One, Page 2) w/correction

Later, as our “sinister” waiter returned, Betty Lou, in her sweetest Southern accent asked “How long have you been working on the ship?”  He slid his sinister-looking eyes to hers and replied “We are not allowed to discuss personal matters with guests..would you like another drink?”

Here’s where I slide MY sinister-looking eyes to him and replied, “no, I believe we have had enough!”  To which he dropped his eyes, made a slight bow, and said “I will bring your check.”

“Wow!   I thought bartenders were supposed  to be friendly!”  This from Betty Lou.

“Well, for one he isn’t a bartender, he is a waiter, but his tip will reflect his attitude in my book!”

Betty Lou, always the peacemaker said “Well, maybe he is having a bad day.  Do you really think they are not allowed to talk personally with the passengers?”

“I don’t know, but there surely is a better response for questions like yours without being rude.  Let’s  go.”

As we left the lounge, I felt his eyes boring through us.  Wow, some waiters take offense when tips are low.

We spent the rest of the day lying in the sun until time to prepare for dinner.  Dinner was all  it could be, with wine or champagne offered.  Betty Lou was afraid if we accepted any alcohol it would be charged  to our cabin.  I tried to explain to  her that they do not know which room we are in, but to no avail.  I had wine, Betty Lou had diet coke. We met several fellow  travelers and sat with a lovely, older couple.  Mae, I believe her  name was, chatted the whole dinner through, leaving no challenge for  us to carry the table conversation.  Yay.  Fred, her husband, looked like he felt the same  way.

I yawned as we left the dining room and told Betty Lou I was going to turn in..  “No, we have to provide any and all opportunities to meet someone!  They are dancing in the Blue Room.  Let’s go in there just for a little bit!”

As we stepped  into the Blue Room, it was a beautiful sight.  Those little lights that go around a ballroom were accompanied by “Once, Twice, Three Time a Lady” being played by a wonderful band.  The crooner was not Lionel Ritchie, but..ah romance.  Both of us tried to look around, but those little lights don’t show much. (Which can be an advantage sometimes).  We sat down at a tiny table, and who should appear but Mr. Sinister, himself.  He saw us and started to turn away, but changed his mind and asked if we wanted a drink.  “No, thank you” we replied in unison.  He made that slight bow again and left.  “What are we going to do now?”  asked Betty Lou, “You have made us look stupid!”

“I beg your pardon?  Did I not also hear you say no thank you?”

“Yes, but I only said that because I know how you feel about him.  Anyway, what are we going to do now?”

At that moment a very nice gentleman leaned over my shoulder.  “Would you care to dance?”  As I  looked up at his Bruce-Willis-when-he-was-younger face, my heart did a flip-flop.  “k”, I said as I rose and took his arm.  I looked back and saw Betty Lou with both arms out, palms up, raised  eyebrows as if to say what the hell?  I could not be responsible for myself at that moment, and certainly not responsible for Betty Lou.

I did look over another time and saw that she had a drink, which was good.  Later, she tapped me on the arm and said “bye”.  I figured she was turning in.  Poor Betty Lou.

When I finally went to my cabin,  floating along the hallway with a smile on my face, I couldn’t wait to tell Betty Lou all about “Bull”.  But I  couldn’t tell her anything.  She was not there.


“Wash your hands”…our mothers told us, our teachers told us, nowadays insurance companies and a whole slew of others have decided it was good advice!  O.K. so we are trying to do that, but while that was going on we looked over our shoulder and heard much talk about health care coverage.

From what I can gather, but I am no expert, we have a lot of changes coming that will challenge us in keeping our hands clean.  Minds turn to issues and forget the immediate.  This is why, especially if you are hovering around the age of 50, that you eat too much and forget to wash your hands, too!

However, it looks as though most companies will not stop providing health insurance, but plan to worry about it nearer to 2018 when a 40% excise tax on “high value” health plans is slated to begin.  Whew, so we have a little time to work on this? Not necessarily. “High value” is explained in a recent article as high-risk professions or for employers with many older employees.  Companies do not want to upset the apple cart by refusing to provide health care because the benefit allows the employer to draw workers.  Starting this year, wellness bonuses or awards, and even penalties,  are a hopeful for many employers in order to help keep the costs low.

Not covered at work?  The deadline is pretty close; Feb. 15, 2015.  Those who do not purchase may receive fines of $325 per adult or 2% of family income, whichever is higher. Some could qualify for a hardship exemption.  Do not wait until Feb. 14 to look into these matters.  See your accountant or your tax preparer soon!

I think I will go wash my hands.