I bet a dime on Muhammad Ail. Not ten dollars. Not ten thousand. A dime. And he wasn’t Muhammad Ali at the time. He was Cassius Clay and he was fighting Sonny Liston. The big fight was a major topic of discussion on the bus ride to Hebrew School each afternoon. One of the older boys, a fifth grader, was the boxing maven and he declared Liston the winner weeks before the fight. He offered to cover any bet. I knew nothing about boxing, but I recognized intelligence and bravado. Clay amazed me. What the hell. I had a dime. I bet it. And the following week I had two dimes.
The sixties were a time of fear. The older generation was so afraid of nuclear war that they built bomb shelters, talked about it incessantly, and even had us hiding under our desks during drills. They were afraid of racial unrest. They were afraid that the war in Southeast Asia might not be so good an idea. But what they were really afraid of was change.
Muhammad Ali epitomized change. He was loud. He was Black, very Black with no interest in pretending to be White. He abandoned Christianity and embraced Islam. And in the end, he rejected the war and the values that war represented.
As a kid I wanted to understand why the adults were afraid of Ali, The Beatles, and anti-war protestors. I watched Hugh Downs, host of the Today Show, look into the camera and warn America about the new Beatles album. So I found it and listened. The police riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention energized me. And then THEY arrested Ali.
The adults played the game differently. Sure there were real patriots, like my dad and baseball great Bob Feller, who actually enlisted in the military and fought in World War II. But by the mid-sixties it was pretty much forgotten that the super patriots of the day never really served, they just played the parts of soldiers in the movies. Even Elvis did his two years in uniform. Ali’s refusal to be cannon fodder in Vietnam divided the country. You were either with him or against him. I was already with him. This sealed the deal.
We lost Ali last night. We lost the Champ.
“How are you?”
How many times are you asked that question each day? They are meaningless words thoughtlessly tumbling from someone’s mouth as you meet them in public or talk with them on the phone. I have always responded in kind. “Fine. Thanks. How you doin’?”
But that all changed this year. There are people who really are inquiring about my health. They know that I have had some medical issues this year and they want to know my status. To them I answer truthfully that I am feeling stronger every day. Here is the challenge – how do can you tell the difference? Who is being polite and who is concerned? Who knows about this year’s adventure and who doesn’t, but should?
I was talking with Rachel on Tuesday. She works for a brokerage house that services a few of my clients. She asked me how I was and I replied, “Fine”. She then asked again. “No, how are YOU?” I got it. We actually talked for a few minutes before we got back to business. Sadly that is the exception, not the rule.
Frank, my rep with a well-known insurer, personally invited me to a lunch presentation in mid-May. The email invite arrived at the end of April. I let him know that I hoped to attend. “I will have to play it by ear. I’m up to ½ days now. The blog post dealing with this is Shedding Pounds By Shedding Organs.” A few weeks later, I made it to his meeting. He asked me how I was. I said, “Stronger every day”. And he said, “Why? Have you been sick?”
I just looked at him and said, “You didn’t read the blog”.
I don’t expect everyone in the world to read Health Insurance Issues With Dave. I am shocked and gratified that hundreds of people do read these posts (thank you Google Analytics!). And I’m also aware that my readers come and go. But, if I personally email you a link to a post about shedding organs, I would think you might find a couple of minutes.
Agitated? I had someone say to me that he saw the link but didn’t feel like reading it. “I’m here. Tell me all about it.”
I went to a presentation from a 9 / 11 survivor. This is his job. Fifteen years later he is making a living by traveling around the country and retelling his story of America’s darkest hours. He gets paid to relive the pain and horror. That ain’t me!
I externalize my pain, my grief, my negatives. I get it onto paper and out of my system. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. Visiting a post is like visiting my old house in Shaker Hts. It was mine. It isn’t now. And you don’t need me to be with you when you drive past it.
I have had this prostate issue for almost two years. I kept waiting for it to turn out to be nothing. I wrote several introductions to the blog post that would detail the false alarm. But that never happened. I had more than enough time to write, edit, and re-edit this story while I was flat on my back in the darkness of that hospital room. And when I wrote it, a few days after my discharge, I had to fight the lingering fog of the general anesthetics to get that story out of my system. I couldn’t sleep. I had to get this story out of me so that I could get better.
And once the piece was written and the post was published, I was done. And I do mean DONE. I don’t want to be dragged back to that hospital room. When someone insists that I retell my adventure of April 13th to 20th, they are asking me to relive it. Blessed with an excellent memory, I can recall the claustrophobic room where I almost bled to death. I slept with earplugs but I can still hear the alarms that shattered my sleep. And I remember being alone, in the dark, connected to those machines, and willing confidence and never letting doubt enter my room. Why the Hell would I want to go through this again?
I had a successful trip to the hospital. If you get to go home in a car, it is a successful trip. My interest is strictly in the future. If someone really has a sincere interest in my health, there is a quick, comprehensive, and mildly entertaining answer. Just read the damn blog.
The beacon cut through the Cleveland gloom. There, high in the sky, in lights, was the familiar picture of a guy talking on the phone. The call had gone out for Cunix. Where the Hell is Cunix? Truth, I was M.I.A. More specifically, I was taking a nap.
A nap! I don’t nap. I don’t know that I napped when I was a little kid. Up until a month ago I viewed sleep as something you did when you ran out of good things to do. I normally went to bed after midnight and got up at 5:30 or 6 each morning. Now I drag myself out of bed sometime before 8 and try to find time to rest or nap every afternoon.
These are the adjustments one must make. There is a constant struggle between doing too little and doing too much. I need to build stamina, but if I push too far I am whipped the next day or two. So I tend to err on the side of too much. Because that’s me and because I want to get back to normal.
My favorite nurse checks in almost daily. And not just to scold me! She monitors my water intake, walking, and rest. And one day I am going to give her the right answers.
So turn off the beacon and kill the lights. If can’t find me, I’m probably taking a nap. Or trying hard not to…
I’ve had way too much time on my hands lately. This has led to way too much TV. FOX, MSNBC, and CNN kept me company in the hospital and now at home. Truth, I deserved better.
The frontrunner, the leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination, is imitating the pancake eating habits of one of his opponents. It looks like a Saturday Night Live skit. Does the Leader of the Free World need the bullying skills of a 10 year old? I’m shocked. And if you are reading this, you are probably shocked, too.
So before this goes any further and everyone digs in for the final fight, I have a quick question:
What if it had been the other way?
Do my Republican friends wish that Donald Trump had hijacked the Democratic Party? He could have. His positions (go ahead, detail them) could just as easily have been presented as D’s. We could have Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders fighting for the Democratic nomination. And Jeb Bush could be just about ready to eliminate Scott Walker.
In that universe my Republican friends might sleep easily with either of their potential nominees, Bush or Walker? Would they be praying for Trump to polish off Clinton and Sanders? Would either of their guys beat Trump head-to-head?
Please list the top 5 reasons why the Democrats should be ashamed of a Trump ticket. Bet it would be easy. But you are here, so what are you going to do in November?
And my Dem friends shouldn’t get too smug. It could have been us. I would not vote for Donald Trump, period. This time I will have an easy choice. What about next time?
There is no escape to a parallel universe. We, as a country, need to start now to groom the candidates of 2020 and 2024.
We lowered the average age of this building to near death when we bought our condo in 2012. Sadly, several of our neighbors have died in the last few years. Most of our newer neighbors have been younger, but not all. We have had the middle aged and elderly replaced by the old and the congratulations on still living on your own. One of our most senior neighbors has converted our building’s lobby into G-d’s waiting room. There are stacks of old magazines and day old newspapers on the end table. A plate of cookies or leftover pastry may be found on the coffee table. I’ve been tempted to leave some funeral home brochures, but I don’t want to make anyone nervous.
The road from Youngstown to Phoenix was nice and flat much of the way. But there were mountains and my under-powered Chevy Chevette had a lot of trouble getting up what seemed to be the nearly vertical highway. The year was 1976. There were times when the Chevette struggled to maintain even 30 mph. I wasn’t alone. Other cars and 18 wheelers stayed in the far right lane as Lincolns, Cadillacs, and big Chryslers passed us by.
While pushing and cajoling my car to the top, I never said, “L-rd, bestow ten more horsepower to your servant and his undeserving vehicle.” I may have briefly thought about the Little Engine That Could. I cheered the car on as we reached the summit. Win or lose, it never occurred to me to discuss the matter with G-d.
Some of my readers are non-believers. Talking, petitioning, or even thanking a Supreme Being is irrelevant to them. The rest of us wrestle with this issue. I have never had that kind of relationship with G-d. I never thought to ask the Almighty for help on a math test, assistance with a foul shot, or even a solution to our current Presidential election debacle. You might to talking to the L-rd on a daily basis. That’s fine as long as you don’t hear Him calling you.
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I would like to wish a happy and meaningful Easter to those friends celebrating Easter today. Not all of my friends are celebrating today. Some are Jewish, Muslim, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and Hindus. They obviously aren’t participating. I also have friends and clients who are Greek Orthodox who will be celebrating Easter a month from now. Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses are also commemorating the death of Jesus on a different day.
There are so many religions, and each religion has its fair share of sub-groups and sects. Our news is filled with stories about Muslims, as if all Muslims are the same. Of course they aren’t, just as all Christians aren’t the same. Even the day Easter is celebrated is subject to debate. There are so many ways to seek for the ultimate Truth. We struggle with this much the way my Chevette struggled to climb the mountain freeway in Arizona. And one day this may all be revealed to us. But until then we all hang around here in G-d’s waiting room.
Business or pleasure? Shuhei was nearly packed. Surveying the room I could see several parties of six to eight office workers, a few people out for some special sushi, and a lot of intense business lunches. I was there with my favorite life insurance client, my daughter Jennifer.
This being primary Election Day, politics were being discussed at almost every table. Politics, and Donald Trump in particular, was the topic of discussion at the next table over from us.
An Asian woman of a certain age was holding forth. Judging by the way the rest of the table deferred to her, I can only surmise that the ink wasn’t try yet on some contract. In a voice just loud enough to be heard ten or fifteen feet away, she informed her audience that the Trump candidacy was a sham, a hoax. She went on to explain that the media, all of the media, are controlled by liberals. The liberals want Hillary Clinton elected President. So the liberals got Trump to run so that Hillary would be elected.
These printed words cannot convey the contempt she voiced as she expressed these thoughts. She then proceeded to say that people should vote for Donald Trump just to defeat the liberal media.
Overhearing only part of the commentary, another patron left her table and approached the political analyst. “You aren’t really going to vote for Trump, are you?” Stranger stared at stranger for a moment and the interloper returned to her seat.
I saw no reason to provide my opinion. That decision was rewarded moments later when she admitted to her captive audience that she wouldn’t be voting today. She couldn’t. She wasn’t a citizen.
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Do these jeans make me look fat?
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The Rabbi, the cancer patient, and the insurance agent were having coffee. The cancer patient said that he had news.
“Good news”, the agent asked hopefully.
“No, just news. While running a test last week they found a mass on my kidney. The doctors aren’t sure if it is a cyst or cancer.”
The Rabbi told him not to worry. It is just a cyst.
Now you may ask yourself how the Rabbi knows that this mass on his friend’s kidney is a cyst and not cancer. The Rabbi is correct either way. If it turns out to be only a common cyst, then the Rabbi KNEW, he just KNEW, while others were unsure. And if it is cancer? Well, sharing hope and a positive message can never be wrong.
The cancer patient turned to the insurance agent and asked for his opinion. The insurance agent was smart enough to never disagree with the Rabbi.
Joan Rivers looked into the camera and asked us a question. She wanted to know how many times we had said that we would drop AT&T long distance in 30 seconds if we only had the chance. Then she told us that we now had a choice – MCI. And we still had 20 seconds.
The message was simple and to the point. We all hated AT&T. Who was MCI? Who cares? MCI wasn’t AT&T and that was all we needed to know.
Neither MCI nor Joan Rivers are still with us. Worse AT&T still is. So is the concept that some choices are positive and some are negative. We are forced, at times, to pick the other option.
Nowhere is that more obvious than in this year’s presidential election.
Regular viewers of FOX are constantly reminded that Senator Bernie Sanders is a democratic SOCIALIST. And Secretary Clinton? OY. Teetotalers could participate in a FOX drinking game that has the participants downing a shot of vodka every time FOX mentions Mrs. Clinton and doesn’t also include a reference to emails. Viewers may be confused about who (other than Trump) is running as a Republican, but they are fully versed on all of the Dem’s negatives.
MSNBC offers the mirror image. Want to know which racist, white supremacist groups, or reprehensible preachers have endorsed Senator Cruz? MSNBC’s got you covered. Senator Rubio’s latest flub? Rachel Maddow has it in slow-mo. And if Governor Kasich is ever deemed a worthy opponent, we’ll be treated to his innumerable detractors here in Ohio.
It would be difficult to find a reason to vote for someone. We just know who we don’t want. And the political attack ads will be wall to wall on TV once we get closer to next month’s primary.
I’ve talked to my Republican friends. Asked about Cruz and they immediately tell you how much they hate Clinton. They only have one word if you mention Trump, Benghazi. Pressed, they may also add Socialist. That’s it. In their minds the Dems are disqualified so they will vote for whichever Republican survives the ongoing cage match.
Many of my Democratic friends are just as frustrated with their options. Talking with a self-identifying Dem, they admit their reticence about a Clinton candidacy. But what choice do they have? Cruz? Rubio? Seriously? Trump? C’mon! They don’t like Bush or Christie, but they understand the attraction. How can the Republicans nominate Cruz the Canadian or Rubio the unprepared after seven years of Obama-bashing and birthers?
Sure there are some enthusiastic Sanders’ supporters. Trump, too. They look and sound surprisingly alike.
It turned out that MCI was a miserable choice. It would be a couple of years before service and reception equaled AT&T’s. What we learned was just how bad our choices were. Kind of like today.
Anger. Resentment. Righteous Indignation. Henry (name changed) had it all. But mostly anger. And he was sharing it with me. His voice, both pitch and volume, got higher as his rant went on. Every once in a while he stopped and made sure that I understood that this had nothing to do with me. He wasn’t blaming me. And then the phone call continued where he had left off.
As you may have guessed, Henry was angry about his health insurance premium. He was sure that he was being punished. He and his family are too healthy, too middle class, too responsible. He wondered how many families his excessive premiums were supporting.
This is where I could insert little factoids such as that Henry and his family pay less under the new law. Or I could shock you with his significant income. And by the way, his premium for a couple in their 50’s with a college aged daughter was a touch under $1,000 per month. But none of that really matters.
$1,000 for health insurance is $1,000 too much.
Henry isn’t alone. I regularly encounter people who are “Otherwise Responsible”. They are doctors, attorneys, dentists, etc… with mortgages and all of the normal trappings of the upper middle class, but they either don’t carry health insurance or they complain incessantly about it. Waste of money! They would rather spend the money elsewhere, such as on vacations or at the mall.
And the speech is always the same. They tell me about the indigent person who got first class care at The Cleveland Clinic. There was an uninsured neighbor or co-worker who was treated at University Hospital for cancer, FOR FREE! “Why should I buy insurance?” Why indeed.
I used to try to appeal to their better angels. I used to remind them that being indigent and dependent upon society shouldn’t be a life goal. Now? Now I just remind them that they are collectable. That always shuts them up.
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We’ve been going through a lot of tissues in my office. I wish my awful cold was the main reason.
It has been a tough eight weeks. Several clients have passed away. Another in the last few days. I won’t pretend that every client is a close personal friend, but the vast majority have spent time in my office and talked about more than just their aversion to needles or their frustration with the Browns. And some, like two of the clients who recently succumbed to major illnesses, had been friends for years.
I had two emergency appointments this past week. One was a widow. The other was a widower. Both had lost his/her spouse in the last 10 days. And now, in the middle of mourning, they were forced to meet with an agent to resolve their health insurance prior to February 1st. They didn’t know each other and I hadn’t met either of them prior to our appointments. Their friends had given them my name and number.
I was struck by the similarity of the conversations that I had with the two of them. Both the widow and the widower were grateful. They were grateful for the time that they had had with their spouse. They appreciated the care that their loved ones had received, even though a cure had not been possible. They were grateful for the access that they had had to a system that couldn’t guarantee a positive outcome, just a fair chance of success.
The widow and the widower weren’t the only recent visitors thankful for that box of tissue. It was that kind of week. A week of balancing the resentful with the grateful and the entitled with those who would give everything they possess for just five more minutes.