The plot thickens. After leaving cranky email messages and cranky voice mail messages, I called one last time and talked to a real person (whose accent does not sound Hispanic at all). Apparently she had finally called my wife (which I had urged her to do about forty times).

So I don’t know.

Her accent doesn’t sound Hispanic at all. It sounds Generation X.

Maybe she has a great truck for sale. Maybe she is a terrorist and we will never be seen alive again.

Supposedly she is going to meet with my wife on Monday. (She gets Sunday and Monday off from her frantic retail job.)

Never a dull moment.

I was planning to  pay her the full asking price if my mechanic gives it a clean bill of health.

Now, I think I will take at least $50 off for irritating me. Also, if she is unmarried, I may put up a warning sign outside her apartment, warning potential dates off.

Pass Me Your Medicare Card

November 29, 2008

When I was a kid, my best friends Frankie, Scotty, Kenyon and I would go to the high School football field a few blocks from our homes in the small town of Brea in Orange County, California to play a pickup football game.In our huddle of two, Scotty would say to me, “Hike to me on the count of three, run about five yards and turn to the right.” I would clumsily hike it over Scotty’s head and try to block Frankie. After cursing me for my terrible hike, Scotty would run back and pick up the rolling ball one step ahead of the pursuing Frankie . In the meantime, I would run a few steps forward; Kenyon would bump me to interfere with the pass. As Frankie grabbed him in the backfield, Scotty would desperately hurl the ball in the air in my direction. Kenyon and I would both fight for the wobbly ball and after we both batted the ball around clumsily, we would  we would all fall to the ground without catching the ball.
None of us made the junior high football team. None of us made the senior high football team. I did not make the college football team. I did not become a NFL player; I suspect none of my friends did either.
Not only did I lack the Terminator brawn, speed, and coordination required to be a professional football player, I also lacked the cyborg brain power to understand the complexity of NFL plays. It’s no wonder that scores of NFL football players in their spare time are taking MBA-level business classes at Harvard Business School, Wharton, and similar distinguished university business schools. Anyone who can understand a NFL playbook is probably more than competent to run the typical American investment bank.

As my wife has already stopped working for a paycheck at the age of 62, and as I will retire at the end of January, we are enrolling in Medicare, and making choices for Medicare A (hospital insurance), Medicare B (medical insurance), and deciding whether we want to sign up for Part D, the Medicare prescription drug program. We’re not sure whether there is an advantage to signing up for Part C, the Medicare Advantage plan. There may be a benefit to signing up for my retirement health plan, instead of going to a Medigap program. My wife is considering a Catastrophic Coverage program, but could for more money become a dependant on my retirement program. The above information covers perhaps page 1 of the 30-page handbook we received to help us figure out our choices.

Last night, after a pleasant and healthfully spare Thanksgiving dinner for two of turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, peas grown in our garden, and for dessert, pumpkin pie made from a squash grown in our garden (which this year overran the zucchini from outer space in a one sided triumph of Mothra over Godzilla) , we gave thanks to each other for reaching 43 years of marriage without killing each other. (Monday was the official anniversary day).

Although we have been studying Medicare materials in bewilderment for weeks, after dinner we began reviewing everything one more time to prepare ourselves for a counseling session scheduled for Friday morning (this morning).By the time we went to bed, we were indeed close to killing each other once more.

When we met with Jack, the volunteer for the state who taught the seminar we had already attended and conducted our individual counseling session, we learned that he is neither an NFL player nor a marriage counselor, though he told us the prescriptions that keep him alive cost over $10,000 a year, only a small portion of which is covered by his Medicare drug prescription coverage.

In any case his training as a volunteer seemed equivalent to going through a NFL training camp; his experience as an elderly person who has survived serious illnesses seems equivalent to being a quarterback who has survived blitzes and sacks by NFL linebackers.

As we went through the meeting and listened to his counsel, we concluded that the choices we were making after hours of reading, listening, and study seemed reasonable and affordable (once we get used to our retirement menu of organic carrots and potatoes from the ground, organic apples from our tree, and cat food we sneak from Sylvie’s dish while Random Granddaughter is distracting her) and that the decisions most in dispute seemed headed for peaceful resolution after no more than three or four hundred more phone calls.


I left one last message on Angelica’s voice mail. Since we never seem to get close enough to her to give her any money, I can not figure out how her elusive behavior can be a scam. My conclusion is that she is a flake and that David’s advice (from whichever alter is offering the advice) to kick her to the curb is sensible.

She has until Sunday morning to call us. I fear for the future of Chile and I am sighing at starting over from scratch on Craig’s List.




We are trying to buy a pickup truck over the Internet. Over the years I have bought quite a few things over the Internet. I have used Usenet, also known as Newsgroups, I have used eBay. Most recently, I have started to use Craig’s List. In the past, when purchasing materials goods, I sometimes have had very good luck by placing Item wanted ads instead of searching Items for sale ads, though this method has not brought me invariable success and satisfaction. Still, at times it’s worth a try.

Most of our lives we have gotten along with one vehicle. We have never owned a new vehicle. I am not talented with understanding how cars work, much less fixing them. We did eventually reach the point where we were able to buy fairly recent economy cars from rental car companies. That worked fairly well, though there were some problems.

When we decided to buy acreage on an island, my wife decided we needed a pickup truck. We bought a used pickup truck from a man who had fixed and maintained it himself.  We were rather rushed; I found the process and the seller irritating. However, it worked out reasonably well, though we had to have some of the work he had done on the truck himself done over again by professionals.

My car is running OK, but it is burning oil and is clearly close to worn out. My wife’s truck is running OK, but it is leaking oil and is close to worn out. As soon as we buy a newer and healthier used truck, we are going to sell our close-to-worn-out vehicles. We will tell the purchasers that the truth about the vehicles. The truth is that they will need some fairly extensive work fairly soon and how long they will last is uncertain. The proper purchasers will be people who are skilled at working on their own cars and want to buy them cheaply.

I placed a detailed “pick-up truck wanted” ad on Craig’s List, explaining what we wanted in detail. Some of the features were extended cab (so we can carry groceries and other supplies, and transport Random Granddaughter in her car seat in a back seat), full-length bed, automatic transmission (my wife can drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, but she does not like to). Four-wheel drive is optional. It is useful once in a while, but temperamental and expensive to get fixed. We don’t need “gee-gaws” such as cruise control or an elaborate stereo. My wife is small in stature, so we need a small truck that she feels comfortable driving: a truck in which she can see out the windshield while reaching the pedals, etc. Many pick-up trucks are too large for my wife to drive comfortably.

When we settle on a likely truck for purchase, I will have it inspected by an excellent garage we know. My daughter and her partner have used this business for years; they are demanding customers; they are still happy with X auto repair. X auto repair has reviews on the Internet; the reviews are uniformly positive and happy. My wife and I used them a few times before we moved away. We had no reason to complain. They are skillful, honest, and trustworthy.

I received replies from several sellers with possibly suitable used trucks for sale. At first, the best truck was fancier, was more expensive, and had more gee-gaws than we needed. The owner obviously has a lot of money and a number of vehicles, but he seems honest and straightforward enough. While we were talking to him, we heard from Angelica.

Angelica’s truck seems to fit our needs very well. Angelica seems honest and straightforward. I have yet to talk on the phone to Angelica, much less meet her. She doesn’t always answer her email promptly. This is what I have learned about her so far.

Angelica lives on the mainland, not far from our island. Angelica is from Chile, as her mother, who was the real owner of the truck. She sounds like a Chilean “truck-driving momma.”

 Angelica attended and graduated from the University of Michigan and then moved to Washington where she got a job working in some sort of retail business. The truck belonged to her mother, who lived with Angelica while she was attending the university. Angelica and her mother drove from Michigan to Washington. Angelica is even shorter than my wife. Her truck, like my wife’s truck, is a Ford Ranger, a small “economy” pickup truck. My wife’s truck is a 1992 model and has about 150,000 miles on it. Angelica’s truck is a 1970 and has 70,000 miles on it.

Angelica at one time had a small, economy car but it was destroyed in a wreck. Her mother gave her truck to Angelica, and then returned to Chile. However, Angelica feels more comfortable driving a small car (though she can drive the truck); she wants to sell the truck and buy a car. However, she works long hours at her retail job and is in the midst of Christmas rush, so it has been hard so far for us to get together to even talk on the phone, much less meet and look at the truck, much less get the truck inspected. Evidently, after her job, Angelica is exhausted and goes home and collapses.

I have tried to call Angelica. She never answers her phone. I have asked her to call us. So far she has not done so. Sometimes it takes several days for her to answer an email.

Angelica’s story may all be perfectly true and reasonable. Also, it is possible that Angelica is not telling us something or is hiding something from us. Our experience so far is a little bit like trying to date someone over the internet. I am tempted to say to Angelica,

“For God’s sake, woman. You contacted me first! Now you are being all coy when I ask you to stay in touch. You sent me your phone number, and asked me to call you. Now you never answer your phone or return phone messages. You said, my truck has low mileage and is in very good shape; that is why I am asking the price I do. I said, I will pay the price you ask after my mechanic checks the truck out. I passed an opportunity to buy another very good truck to get your truck. I would like some evidence you are serious about this.

To put it bluntly, Internet dating sucks. I suppose if I press her on following up on her interest, I will be served with a restraining order and told not to harass her any more. I will counter with a breach of promise of promise suit, filed by a transgender attorney.