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What’s top of my mind: my health insurance. I am sorry to report this is still not settled. Every time I think ‘it’s done and going” something comes up. The latest matter: getting a prior-authorization for my usual meds under the new insurance. The Good Doctor may not be willing or able to do so with the new insurance. If he can’t/won’t do/get a PA, or I have to scramble to find a new GP ASAP…..

Where I’ve been: The neighborhood. As I am not going to the gym these days, for exercise I do a daily walk around the neighborhood after dinner. First part is a 5-10 minute long leisurely staccato dog-walk. Then I drop her off and I go off on my own a fast trot for a total of 20-30 minutes. At this time of year there isn’t really anything to see. It is also twilight so I stay to the main roads lest I am attacked by javelinas or coyotes (it could happen).

Where I’m going: The Opera. Someone reminds me this weekend we have not one but two operas. The one in the morning is “Rigoletto”* “Live from the Met HD” seen at the AMC . That evening, we see the local production of “Carmen”.** I am dubious to sit through either. The latter requires vaccination cards and masks are obligatory. I plan to bolt if there are any shenanigans – or if the singers are less than stellar. It’s one thing to get covid, but it’s another thing to get covid while suffering through a bad production of ‘Carmen’. I’ve heard both operas countless times and I know every note, every stop along the way. As the singers go at it I compare what I hear to previous productions and recordings in my mind. This is why I prefer going to ‘new’ operas or infrequently performed ones so I have no previous expectations.

What I’m watching: History Matters. There is a clever chap on The Tube of Yous who does 5-10 minute-long cartoon bits answering the questions of history. Sometime they are a bit hard to follow as he talks quickly and the cartoon figures often have humorous contents so it is difficult to focus on the visuals and what’s being said. Here’s a typical one. Spo-fans of the Canadian persuasion can tell me in the comments if it is spot-on or not.

What I’m reading: ‘Witches abroad’. Terry Pratchett, whom you may know by his “Good Omens’ they turned into a TV series, wrote a series of fantasy spoof books called “The Discworld series”. It has a few subsets, one titled ‘The Witches” series. I am reading one now. Here’s a taste of his style and wit:

‘It was one of the weak spots of Granny Weatherwax’s otherwise well-developed character that she’d never bothered to get the hand of steering things. It was alien in her nature. She took the view that it was her job to move and the rest of the world to arrange itself so that she arrived at her destination.’

What I’m listening to: Dean Martin. At Christmas I got a sets of CDs of his music, for I was curious to know more about him after hearing a podcast on his life. “That’s amore’ I recognized right away (and thought of Cher) but that was it; the rest of the songs were new to me. Fascinating! My emotional reaction is these are they sound ‘dated’ and ‘quaint’; they are tunes my grandparents would have enjoyed. Mr. Martin had a nice voice and the songs are done well, but not to contemporary tastes, or at least to mine. There are too many violins for my taste. Curious too to consider singers who were ‘great’ in their day but have sort of faded into one-hit wonders, like “That’s amore”.

What I’m eating: Chili and grapefruit. Last weekend I made a crockpot of chili; it was fair. It had basic ingredients and it wasn’t ‘bad’, just uninteresting. Unfortunately there is a lot of the stuff, so I am looking for clever ways to get rid of it. If anyone knows a very good no-rubbish recipe for chili I would be grateful to hear from you the recipe. As for le pamplemousse, it’s that time of year: everyone’s citrus trees put out tons of fruit and all at once. The house across the street every January they harvest a dozen plastic bags-worth of large yellow grapefruit, which they put out at curbside, for anyone who wants them. I got me a bag, and I eat one each day for small chocolate cone. Alas, the others are already taken, so my ten freebies is all I get this year.

Who needs a good slap: Customer Service. I am dealing with various health insurance matters; the staff at work are trying to renew prior-authorizations for the new year; Someone is trying to get tax forms on one of his pensions. We are all dealing with long holds and when we finally get someone, they often tell us to call someone else, which is repeated and nothing gets accomplished. I try to remember many people are calling at this time of year for the same reasons, and the representatives must but short-staffed and haggard. This empathy isn’t enough (alas) to keep cool and not become frustrated if not cross.

On a 1-5 rating scale, I give Customer Service at Cox 4 slaps and thems at CIGNA 3. On the positive, Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI continues to have a 5-star customer service rating for response, help, and genuine cheerfulness. Sometimes I wonder if I order things just to have a positive customer service experience.

What I’m planning: A medical conference. I’ve decided to put in for time off and put down a deposit for my first conference since 2019. It is in June in Lost Vegas. This has the advantage it is within driving distance, allowing me to any funny business with the airlines. Someone says he will go too, of which I am glad, for I hate being alone in hotels. The conference takes place at some dive called Caesar’s Palace, not that I will see much of it, but Someone has to be entertained while I sit in a conference learning the latest on the treatment of addictions like gambling and shopping. Fingers crossed it will be safe enough to do. I am not a fan of Lost Vegas, for I am not a gambler, but they have some nice eats there and it’s amusing to watch people doing all sorts of shenanigans for a Hershey bar.

What’s making me smile: The humidifier. My state is sad one that ‘what makes me smile’ is an appliance, but there it is. I have a new one that replaces the old one that cracked when I dropped it (oh the horror). It combines the best of the senses: the fine steam that emanates from the top looks like a tea kettle, making billows of moisture that cascade down and disappear into the air. It has a fountain-like gurgle to it, just loud enough to soothe but not too loud to disrupt sleep. The tank has a pale blue nightlight, that I can watch (if I want to) the waterfall. I don’t know if it does any good viz. adding moisture for better breathing, but it is a comfort to have it, and fall asleep to its sonorous sound.

Not quite mine but close to it.

*It ends badly

**It also ends badly.

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January 2022

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