Archive for March, 2013

Celebrating my Birthday

March 18, 2013

Birthday Celebration

 I got home from the week-long training in LA just after noon yesterday. I had hoped to throw myself a big party to celebrate my 65th birthday, but I couldn’t since I’d been gone the week before. Instead I met friends at a nearby Irish bar, Clancy’s Pub.

Donna had left her ID in her car and they almost didn’t admit her! She finally said to the older bouncer, “Don’t I look at least 18?”

He replied, “19 at the most,” and let him in.

There was a tent set up for the bands and corned beef and cabbage was available as well as green beer.  They ran out of the latter by 4:30.

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I brought my umbrella for shade since my party started at 3:30 and it was more than eighty degrees outside and sunny. Donna, Susan, Karen, Dana, Laura, Dee, Chuck, Ashley and her husband and the twins, Jeannie and her Dana, Marlene, Joe, and Athena joined me in celebrating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first band was great and the lead singer had no illusions about his attractiveness but he boogied and bumped anyway. He went out into the crowd and we sang along with him. The music as Journey, ACDC, etc.

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A bagpipe and drum band gave a short performance. Very traditional and fitting.

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The second band was probably better musically but didn’t inspire the crowd as much.

A fun time was had by all.

 

Cabin Fever

March 15, 2013

Cabin Fever 

It’s Friday and I haven’t been out of the hotel since I arrived early afternoon on Monday. The training sessions are grueling and intense. Every day we go over a part of the assessment  we’ll be administering to second grade students as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. Each assessment will take about an hour but it takes a week to be adept at giving it. Every gesture and word must be performed exactly as scripted to ensure the integrity of the assessment, that all students are given it the same way. Tomorrow real second graders will be brought in to assess so we can be certified. The trainers keep telling us we’re doing well enough to earn the certification but I’m anxious anyway.

Before we got here we did at-home training on computer modules. I couldn’t access the second half of the modules due to a glitch between my internet connection and the company’s system. I’ve tried every night to connect via the hotel, etc. Finally last night, after the eight hour training, one of the company techs set up a special connection in a room next to where we train. I worked for about an hour and a half. when I realized everyone else was gone and the techies were hanging around for me. I felt badly and asked if the connection was available in the lobby of the hotel. They quickly assured me it was so I packed up my computer and manuals and headed there. One of my compadres was sitting at a table in the lobby working on her other job, professional editing, so I joined her. I unpacked and fired up my computer only to realize that the techies had not shared the security password for the connection! I tried to use the free Wi-Fi from the hotel, but couldn’t get onto the site I needed. We was joined by two other trainees who couldn’t connect either. I went to the desk and a very nice hotel employee tried to figure it out. He concluded he had to call their engineers and unblock something for us. Thirty minutes went by. I went into the hotel bar we’d been frequenting and ordered club soda and a humus plate from Jose, “our” waiter.

We finally got connected and I was able to work on the training modules. By this time my brain was fried and my eyes unfocused.  My other compadre, the team leader, came back from an errand to the nearest pharmacy breathless. She’d gotten lost in an unsavory section of town. And still I was jealous that she’d gotten out at all!

At nine I finally finished all the training. I picked up a Twix and a small bag of M & M’s at the hotel store and headed back to my room. When I checked my phone I realized I was still playing phone tag with my mortgage company, trying to set a date for signing my re-fi papers. Such is life.

The Single Senior Goes to Out of Town Training

March 13, 2013

The Single Senior Goes to Out of Town Training

I’m in LA doing a week of out of town training for a new job as a data collector. The company paid for my airfare and hotel. I arrived at 2:30 and the training registration was from 6-8 p.m. the hotel was at the airport, so the area wasn’t conducive to taking a walk. I unpacked and decided to be dutiful and go to the gym.  It had new equipment and was nicely appointed with towels, regular and citrus water, etc.

I knew I was going to have my picture taken for my photo ID so after I showered I dressed in colors that complimented my skin and wore makeup. I read for a while until it was 5 p.m. and went looking for some dinner. It was happy hour in the bar so I had club soda and some inexpensive munchies. Another single woman joined me, also there for the training. She told me a sorrowful story of losing her job of twenty-five years when the company w=she worked for was gobbled up by another company. She hadn’t worked since June and couldn’t make it on her social security check. Remember, Annie, to be grateful for all you have, I reminded myself.

When it was time for registration, she went off to the restroom and I followed the lines to the different stations. The last station in the registration process was where they gave me an envelope of cash to cover dinners and incidentals. I gasped when I counted the bills:  $311. Whoo-ee!

I found my team leader and team mate and joined them for a drink in the sports bar of the hotel. I had a margarita and got to know them better. I think this is called team bonding.

The training sessions are daily from 8:30 (be prompt and have your computer ready!) to 5:30. There were many groups of sixteen to twenty people. In my group there were the usual suspects. Most of the people seemed friendly and as clueless as I was. A few were knowledgeable and nice. A very few were experienced and haughty. The overall supervisor was gruff. Luckily the trainer had a well-modulated voice and maintained an upbeat pace. There were lots of role playing with partners to ensure we could correctly duplicate the tasks. The trainer let us out five minutes early.

The three of us on the team had agreed earlier to join some others in taking the shuttle to Manhattan Beach for dinner, but we were too bushed to embark on that adventure. Instead we rushed to the bar in time for happy hour. We ordered the inexpensive eats. The other women ordered glasses of wine, but I stuck to club soda as I planned on doing some of the at-home modules afterwards. I had trouble getting them to load on my company computer in Scottsdale but the techies here got them to work with no problem. We sat on the bar laughing and telling stories for three hours.

When I got back to my room, I fired up the computer and had the same problem leading the learning modules as I did in Phoenix. So I wrote this blog entry and will read a bit.

I was dreading a week of boring sessions, but I think it will be okay. Especially with my compadres. Tomorrow I’ll be back to drinking with them.

 

Turning Sixty-Five

March 7, 2013

Turning Sixty-Five

Only in America is turning sixty-five a celebration. It means Medicare!

As I prepared to see the tax woman, I added up what I spent in health insurance last year for me and for half the year for my youngest son. Over $10,000! It’s no wonder I’m doing an Irish jig as I turn 65 on St. Patrick’s Day.

There are hassles about Medicare. I was inundated with offers for Medicare supplements. I had no idea how to evaluate them. I went to the seminar about the two supplement choices that the Arizona State Retirement System offers and I decided to go with the less expensive one. I know I can change next year if I don’t like it.

I haven’t switched insurance for a while, so I was taken aback when I tried to log into my gym this morning and found out I was no longer a member. I have to re-up for Silver Sneakers with the Medicare supplement.

I made sure that my primary care physician was in the network, but there’s more to learning the Medicare ropes. I had cataracts taken off both of my eyes last year. When I went to an optometrist for a new prescription, he told me I had developed a cloudy membrane and needed YAG laser surgery. I made the appointment with the cataract surgeon only to be told the day before that my insurance wouldn’t cover the appointment or the surgery because the doctor didn’t accept my new insurance. So I called the new insurance and go three names to look up. I chose one and tried to make an appointment. A referral from the optometrist or my primary care physician was not sufficient. I needed to go to one of the ophthalmologists who referred to their office. It’s a good thing it’s not an emergency.

I was feeling a bit testy about the incident until I got my pension check and it was $500 more since I was on Medicare! Hurray for turning 65!