Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for October 2014

Obstreperous October

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It’s been a bumpy ride through this normally pleasant orange-colored time of the Refrigerator_1year, the time we’ve found to be the best time to travel, to get things done, to stretch after the hectic summer and before the stiff winter.
October this year was grueling.
Its began benignly. Bev wanted a new refrigerator. The “old” one wasn’t old. She just didn’t like it. The freezer compartment was on the top and she didn’t like bending down to get into the cooler portion and then bump her head on the freezer door. She began shopping the outlets and online for a refrigerator. It was a project.
As part of the prep work, son Mike ripped out a shelf above the fridge to make room for a larger one. (He does that kind of work. He builds sets for commercials and movie and TV productions as well as doing home remodeling and renovation. He’s currently building the interior of a new restaurant in San Marcos.) Payment for his work here is the fridge we’re replacing, the one with the stainless steel front and freezer compartment at the top.
Then the dryer started acting up. It wouldn’t start when we wanted it to, and would stop when it wanted to. Bev started shopping the outlets and online for a dryer. She thought she might put off the fridge until after she got the dryer. But she kept putting both off.
Bev finally went out and got her fridge. She got a larger fridge with a black front, with the freezer drawer on the bottom. It’s been delivered and looks swell and swanky in the kitchen. Mike now has the “old” one.
She kept putting off the dryer but kept shopping outlets and online. Then the dishwasher went down the road of disrepair. That was more than two weeks ago and we’ve been eating on paper plates since then.
Bev called a repairman who charged us $85 to tell us there’s a water leak and it would cost as much to repair as the price of a new one.
So she shopped outlets and online to determine which model she wanted. We went out and bought a new dishwasher with a black front to match the new fridge. While at the store, I talked her into getting the dryer at the same time. The dishwasher was due for delivery Nov. 4 but, somehow, we were called yesterday and it was delivered today.
The dryer was delivered more than a week ago but — hold on — the installers discovered the “old” dryer had not been vented properly by the crew that delivered it about a decade ago. When the house was remodeled in 1987, the contractor bored a hole in the floor behind the dryer for the flexible 4″ venting tube to run under the house to a hole in the outside wall. When that dryer was replaced, the installers didn’t connect the replacement to the vented tube under the house. They just jammed the venting tube into the hole in the floor without making sure it fit and was attached properly. That contributed to the demise of the dryer we just replaced because the lint and heat kept backing up into the dryer.
So we had a contractor rectify the situation. He switched the dryer and washer positions, moved the dryer closer to the wall in the laundry room and knocked a hole in the wall for venting rather than attempt to repair the stuff under the house. He said he would charge the same either way, but this way, he moved the washer and its splash pan next to the laundry room entrance and the dryer closer to the outside wall and the counter for folding the clothes.
But hold on. When the contractor was here last week to look at the job and give me an estimate — $700 to $800 — he smelled gas from the gas meter just outside the laundry room window. He said a call to SDG&E would get someone out here and, if there was a leak, he (the contractor) could fix it. “It would be handy if we could be here when he comes to check this out.”
He said he could only smell the gas outside and not in the house so there wasn’t a critical need but it should be checked. After recounting this episode to Bev — she who can pick up a scent quicker than a bloodhound — went out and said she couldn’t smell anything. After consulting with Mike and our neighbor, who is a contractor who also does home  remodeling, I sprayed soap and water over the entire apparatus around the gas meter and could spot no sites where bubbles formed — evidence of a gas leak.
So I called SDG&E Tuesday (hoping they’d send someone Thursday) and they said someone would be out immediately and, if there was a problem, they’d shut off the gas. I had a handful of medical appointments (more on THAT later) to get to and said I would be home after 3 p.m. I was told they had to send someone “immediately” and if no one was home they’d leave a “doorhanger.”
As it turned out, the trouble-shooter arrived about 4:15 and begin his processing. (I’ve convinced myself that the nice lady at SDG&E sympathized with my need to get to the doctor and may have passed my predicament on to the trouble-shooter.) He sprayed the apparatus with soap and water, waved a wand-like device over it and the surrounding area, and he sniffed and looked and poked and prodded. Then he leaned over the fence a few times and finally took a long hard look and sniff of the yard next door. He asked if they had dogs. I said yes: a couple of little guys and they’re in the house. He went out to his truck again and returned with long probes that he stuck into several spots in the ground and took readings and did the same in the back yard and other-side yard.
About the same time, he noticed someone next door moving around. It was a cleaning lady in their laundry room, which is right by their gas meter. He asked if she would let him in the yard. She did and he found a small leak in the neighbor’s gas meter and plugged it. No problems on our side of the fence at all. The following morning, another SDG&E gentleman arrived and took some readings around the premises, found nothing and gave us a clean bill.
So all my fretting and sweating about a gas calamity was for nil.
Woven into all this late-breaking good and not-so-bad news is the following medical report.
I got a series of blood tests done a week ago Monday. The main reason was to get readings and followup appointment with my liver specialist regarding a decreased dosage of a steroid (prednisone) I’m taking along with my prescription for handling my autoimmune hepatitis.
This Tuesday, I got pictures taken of my eyes, vision checked and met right after with the eye specialist who took over my case after I had the stroke in my left eye a little more than a year ago. News was mixed. The good news, which I already knew, was that the blot in the lower left quadrant of my left eye (caused by the damage to the optic nerve) is not as large as it was because I have a wider field of vision. I knew that because on an afternoon at home I suddenly could see things more clearly and the size of the blocking blot decreased to that of the end of a Q-Tip from that of my little finger. The unnerving news is that a mesh-like membrane that we knew had grown on the retina of my right eye is growing on my left-eye retina also. They don’t affect my sight but they can affect my ability to focus quickly. The good news is that these membranes can be removed if they become problems.
Then on Wednesday, I met with my ear/nose/throat and liver/hepatitis specialists and results were positive with a couple of hitches. My GP had suggested the former after I complained last summer about a bump on my palate. It had since subsided but I went anyhow, which turned out to be a good idea. The bump is no problem so the doctor decided to check out a few other things since he’d checked out my nose and ears a few years ago. When he shoved the camera up my nose and down my throat, he found esophagus damage from acid reflux and put me on a two-week regimen of no coffee/booze/chocolate and daily Zantac (to be taken as  needed after the two weeks). He also told me, because of my diabetes and stomach issues, to snack during the day instead of settling on just three meals, and to eat and drink nothing for three hours before bedtime from now on. He said the esophagus damage is about 3 on the 1-to-10 scale and should heal fine and disappear within the 2 weeks. How will I know if I need Zantac in the future? I will feel the need to clear my throat, like all ex-smokers do.
My liver-doctor visit was also positive. All the lab numbers are fine (my GP told Bev they were “excellent” during an appointment she had with him last Friday) BUT in light of my esophagus report a few minutes earlier that came up in conversation (and because I have never had one done) he ordered an upper endoscopy to check out my innards. We’re going to do that in January when I go for my semi-annual blood-work and liver sonogram. I’ve already booked Bev as my caregiver/chauffeur that day and a follow-up appointment with the specialist to review results.
I just hope they don’t shove the same tube down my throat that they used for my colonoscopy.


Written by Cecil Scaglione

October 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

Posted in A Musing

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Loan to Family Member Is Money Down the Drain

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Neither a family borrower nor a family lender be, to paraphrase Shakespeare.

The Bard also wrote that lending money to a friend is an excellent means of losing both your friend and your money.

With family, you lose your money but you’re still stuck with the relative.  It’s been estimated that as much as $65 billion is outstanding between family and friends.

Before you dig into your pockets to bail out a relative, ask yourself a few questions. First of all, do you need the money? If you do, how are you going to be able to go after it when your relative shows no sign of repaying you? If the borrower-to-be has a history of overextended credit cards, late rental payments, or job-hopping, what makes you think you’re going to get your money back?

What’s the money going to be used for? If the loan will enable a family member to complete a college education or help elderly parents keep their home,  you might give the matter serious thought.  But making a loan to a grandson and his wife so they can splurge on an anniversary cruise or to a daughter who collects race horses makes much less sense.

Parents have another concern. Lending to one child may spark jealousy in your other

Family and financial experts agree on one major point: worse than the loss of money in any of
these person-to-person transactions is the rupture of the relationship. Putting things in writing can avoid some of the personal pitfalls.

Lender and borrower should agree upon and write down the amount of the loan, interest rate, and payment schedule. It’s a good idea to have the signing of the loan document witnessed or notarized. If you need to run it by an attorney, do so.

If a family member or friend who approaches you for a loan doesn’t want anything in writing, you can explain you need it for tax purposes in case you’re audited, that your accountant or tax preparer requires it.

When you do make a loan, charge some interest because the Internal Revenue Service will assume the loan earns interest and will expect you to declare that as income. And it’s up to you to record every payment made as well as giving the borrower a receipt each time.

It’s a financial transaction so treat it as such. If the person making the request for money doesn’t see it that way, you can suggest bluntly that if he or she wants charity, ask for it.

Incidentally, these suggestions also apply to coworkers, colleagues, neighbors, and anyone else who’s going to be around you for any length of time.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

October 12, 2014 at 8:08 am

Posted in Finance

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