Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A Few Things About Dying

Hubby's sister is on life support and they were supposed to take her off life support this morning as there really isn't any hope for recovery.  However another sister just arrived at the hospital this morning from another part of the country and when the doctor came in to have the final discussion, this sister wanted to wait a few more days (she is the spiritual sister who is convinced God will intervene and her sister will be miraculously saved).  

Cue another zoom call with the dying sister's kids and all of her siblings debating her fate.  The doctor was really good, laying out the options--everything from taking her off life support today and she would most likely pass immediately, to waiting a few more days, to aggressive treatment that will keep her alive, via machines, for the undetermined future.  He pointed out it should be a group decision instead of putting all of the pressure on her kids to decide.  Then he kind of waited while a lively discussion ensued, in three languages, by the people with her in her hospital room and several people online.  The consensus was to wait one more day then take her off life support tomorrow.

So the few things I learned about dying today are: have a will, a living will, and medical power of attorney so your life, or lack thereof, doesn't come down to a debate between family members, and make your wishes clearly known to your family members while you are still of sound mind and body.  The debate today was "what would she want done in a situation like this?" and since she didn't have a living will and had never mentioned what her final wishes would be, the suggestions ranged from take her off life support now since there is no hope of recovery so why make her suffer longer, to wait several days to see if her health somehow improves (very unlikely).  No one wants to make a decision like this for their loved one (what if we pull the plug too soon and she could have lived longer? what if we wait too long and she suffers needlessly?) so it's important to make these decisions for yourself so no one feels guilty for the rest of their life because they had to make a choice between life and death for anther person.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

And The Hits Keep Coming

Moving into week two of everything going wrong and stuff just keeps happening!

  • We got the paint (under $100 so that was good) and painted the living room before thinking it looks really really lite compared to the old color.  Hubby likes the old color better so we stopped after painting the living room and will wait until the floor is installed to see if we want to switch colors back and hire a PROFESSIONAL to do the painting.  I suck at painting (it's a good thing the flooring is getting replaced because I got paint everywhere) and I suck at picking colors (I don't have an artistic bone in my body!).  ayayay
  • The relative who bought an airline ticket last week to come visit us next month (hubby's sister) that I mentioned in my last post, and who we thought her health was too poor to have her traveling anywhere let alone across the country, is now on life support which will probably be discontinued this evening.  It is a sad thing all the way around.  Hubby doesn't travel anymore so we will watch the last rites via FB messenger this evening.  Another sister flew across the country to see her yesterday and promptly got sick upon arrival and tested positive for covid so not only can she not see her sister for the last time, she is now isolated in another family member's house by herself until she gets better.
  • My friend called this morning and her furnace died (she lives in a very cold climate) and now she needs to replace the entire system.
  • Hubby's fish that he has had for about 8 years suddenly died (and this fish seemed like it actually had a personality!).
  • I got a notice on FB that an old friend that I hadn't seen in years just had a heart attack and died (and he is  my age--only mid 50s!).
  • Another friend called and told me her dad had a heart attack last Saturday but the cardiologist didn't come in until Monday to treat him (what kind of major hospital doesn't have 24/7 cardiology coverage???).
  • Randomly, this movie showed up on my YouTube feed a couple days ago.  It features a friend of mine, Helene, who is continuing to fight her own battle with cancer.
  • Finally yesterday, we heard a big bang upstairs, went up to look and didn't find anything wrong, then later that night we saw that a big, heavy piece of artwork that we had on the wall just fell off the wall for no reason!

I'm hoping Murphy moves along soon...

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

When Everything Happens All At Once

It's been...a week.  So far...

  • We filed our taxes already and will be getting a nice refund but with the current debt ceiling mess, I'm hoping we get our return promptly (and hubby's military pension...and Social Security...and VA disability payments)  eeekkk
  • We will use our tax return to pay for all new flooring in our house.  I would have tried to do the flooring myself but I don't know how to take out the old flooring (it's glued down to the slab foundation), get rid of the old flooring, and cut the new flooring accurately.  In this case, I think it is better to let the professionals do it.
  • And since I don't want to take every single item out of each room twice, I decided we will also paint the entire house as the flooring is being done.  Hubby is not happy about this since he is old and crunchy but I like painting and it will save us a lot of money over hiring professionals to do this.  I am old and crunchy too so while I've painted the interiors of several houses, I haven't done this in more than a decade!  Wish me luck!
  • We went to Costco yesterday and they didn't have a single egg to sell!  I don't really eat eggs but all of the baking I do for friends and family requires eggs so I am pretty bummed about this.  We will also be having about a dozen relatives come to visit in March so I would like to be able to make them breakfast everyday which requires...eggs.  :/
  • One of the relatives that is coming to visit is in such poor health I have been asking the other relatives to try talking her out of visiting.  The last time she came to visit we had a trip to the hospital, a $100 fee to overnight her necessary medications here because she forgot to pack them, and she took a tumble down one stair and ended up black and blue from head to toe!  She is currently in the ICU with a long list of serious medical issues but she is still insisting on visiting (even though the medical services in my city are God-awful compared to New England where she lives).  ayayay
  • I am still babying the washing machine along.  I don't really want to spend $1200+ for a new washing machine right now with so many other things happening but then again, laundry for a dozen visitors may require this.  When it rains, it pours!
  • Also this week, the electric in hubby's bathroom went out.  Hubby and a friend changed out the breaker and the GFCI (which somehow fixed a couple of issues we had with the outside outlets) but the light and fan still won't work so we will need to call a real electrician.  I called to get estimates for a real electrician to come over to check out the problem and for someone just to show up it is $150 to $190!
  • Finally, I got a reminder from my dentist a few days ago about my upcoming appointment to get my teeth cleaned this week which was great--my dentist and his entire staff are awesome so I always look forward to going to the dentist.  Then yesterday some guy called and said my appointment was cancelled as my dentist sold his practice to a corporate chain of dentists which has pretty terrible reviews, a bunch of complaints on the BBB website, and some specific notes on local bulletin boards to "avoid this chain at all costs!!!".  Needless to say, I need a new dentist.  Of everything that happened this week, this is the things I am most disappointed about :(
  • Oh, and last but not least...within 24 hours, two old Asian guys killed more than a dozen people in California.  My peer group is old Asian guys and this is unheard of in this cohort.  WTF is wrong with people lately?????

Sunday, January 22, 2023

10 Great Deals for Veterans, the Elderly, Etc

I was reading Lorraine's blog where she detailed the process of getting a great deal on a new roof (info here and here) and it made me think about other great deals people can qualify for.  Often these deals are based on where you live, your income, your age, your veteran status, etc.  Here are some of my favorite deals:

  1. National Park Passes.  These can be free or highly discounted depending on which pass you qualify for.
  2. State Park passes.  This is an example for my state.  Many state park systems offer free or discounted passes that people can qualify for.
  3. Tax exemption programs.  We enjoy a huge tax exemption on both our cars and house through a county program for disabled veterans.  Many cities and counties around the country offer similar programs.
  4. Movie discounts.  Hubby and I enjoy going to the movies at a local theater for only $4 each on senior days.  This is less than half the price of a regular movie ticket!
  5. Utility rebates.  Many local utilities (water, gas, electricity) offer discounts and rebates on a range of things.  Our local water company offers landscaping rebates as well as car wash coupons, our local electric company offers a bunch of rebates and freebies, and our natural gas company also offers several rebates and freebies.  I believe all of these companies also offer payment assistance for low income folks if they need help paying their bills.  Also, energy star rebates are available all over the country.  Check the websites of your local utilities and see what you might qualify for!
  6. If you are a senior, here is a huge list of senior discounts.  And vets/active duty military can enjoy a similarly long list of discounts and freebies.  Ditto if you are a student.
  7. Depending on where you live, there may be grants/discounts/freebies based on local needs.  This is the program Lorraine used for her roof (which makes sense as the area is prone to hurricane-force winds and having a sturdy roof is important).  In California, earthquakes are the problem so they have programs to help retrofit homes to make them safer during an earthquake.  Here is another kind of grant in my state to help low income people make needed repairs to their homes.  Basically Google your local area plus the type of help you need to see what is available.
  8. Here are a bunch of states that provide free college to students (I WISH they had such programs when I was a student!).
  9. The federal government also offers a huge list of grants to individuals, non profits, government agencies, and NGOs for a wide range of programs and needs.  I used to write these grants and got everything from firefighter turn-out gear and medical supplies to shooting range mitigation products and food for distribution just by filling out a simple application (and sometimes 90-page not so simple applications).
  10. Finally, here is a list of freebies and grants that many people can qualify for.  These types of programs can change frequently so it pays to Google whatever kind of discount of help you are looking for just to see what pops up!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

20 Places We Buy Food And Other Things

With food costs skyrocketing, we are definitely pulling out all the stops to buy our food and save money at the same time.  Here are the places we shop for food (note we live in a big city so your options may vary):

  1. Costco.  We have a membership at this store and sometimes buy food in bulk here but most often we shop at...
  2. Sam's Club.  We also have a membership at this store and since it is closer to where we live, we most often shop here when buying food in bulk.  Of course, we compare prices here to what we would pay in other stores and only buy items here when it is a good deal.
  3. Albertsons.  This is a chain grocery store and we always buy food that is on sale on their app, in their sales flyer, or from the bakery and meat bargain bins.  It's rare we buy anything full price here because their prices--other than sale items--seem kind of high.
  4. Smiths.  Another chain grocery store where we also shop app and sales flyer sales.  Again, we rarely buy anything at full price here because other than sales and loss leaders, their regular prices also seem high.  Of note, we often fill our 5 gallon water jugs here because it is a dollar cheaper to fill them here than at Albertsons.
  5. Dollar Tree.  Occasionally when walking through their food aisles we will find super cheap items like the random boxes of couscous, gnocchi, or bags of grains or other food items that appear to be overstock and closeout items from other stores.
  6. 99 Cent Store.  Unfortunately this chain is no longer "everything for 99 cents" like it used to be but we can still find good deals on produce and other food items which, again, appear to be closeouts and over-runs from other grocery stores (recently we found mayonnaise here for 99 cents when the same item would be $4.99 at other stores!).
  7. Ross.  See photo above...they have a very random assortment of food items here so I always check the food shelves just to see if there are any good deals.  Once I found a giant jar or ground ginger for around $3 which was very cheap compared to other stores.
  8. TJ Maxx.  Same idea...lots of random food items, often "high brow" stuff, and prices that range from still expensive to awesome deals so whenever I am at this store I make a quick run through their food aisles just to see if I can find any great deals.
  9. Asian grocery stores.  There are several Asian grocery store chains in my city and we randomly visit them when we need to stock up on Asian food items.  Again, we only buy things that are on sale or that we can't find anywhere else.
  10. Hispanic grocery stores.  We also have several Hispanic grocery store chains in my city and their stores are huge (like Albertsons and other chain grocery stores).  We always buy produce at these stores because the prices are incredibly low (not sure how they accomplish this but most produce they offer is well below the prices for the same items at other stores).  We also like their meat departments (they have actual butchers that break down whole animals in the back and you can find every part of the animal at these stores as well as goat and other game meat that is hard to find elsewhere).  Their bakeries are also pretty good too!
  11. International Marketplace.  This is one huge store that offers food items from all parts of the world so I can get cheap prices here on Indian food, Asian food, Hispanic food, European food, etc. as well as buy all kinds of fish and seafood products at reasonable prices.
  12. Military commissary.  We live far from the military base but when we do go there, we usually go to the commissary and see what they have.  Years ago, military commissaries offered the same groceries we find in the regular stores for half price or less but something happened and now their prices are comparable to outside stores so there isn't a lot of cost saving there but sometime we can find great sales and then we really stock up (a while back we saw they had cans of condensed milk for 75 cents a can which is unheard of in regular stores as the price is more like $2.50 a can so we bought a dozen cans at once).
  13. Walmart.  Walmart seems to have pretty good prices on many food staples so we shop here occasionally.  I'm not a fan of shopping at Walmart (too many shoppers, pretty meh service) but when I have a lot of random food items we need to buy, we will stop by and pick up what we need.  
  14. Farmers markets.  Our city has many farmers markets in the spring and fall and occasionally we will visit these places more for entertainment than anything else and buy things if they have good prices.
  15. Swap meets.  Kind of the same as farmer's markets, these places are very entertaining and often have booths selling local produce and other food (the Mexican swap meets are the best).  This isn't a regular place we buy food but sometimes we come upon great deals like during the last hours of the markets on a Sunday afternoon where the vendors just want stuff gone so offer huge discounts.
  16. U-pick places.  We used to go to these places a lot when we lived in Washington.  In Las Vegas there is only one u-pick farm that I know of and, as entertainment, we sometimes go there just to see what is growing and pick some produce for ourselves just for the fun of it.
  17. Discount grocers.  We have a Trader's Joes here which we rarely go to because it is so crowded, we don't have an Aldis which people often rave about for their low prices, and we do have a WinCo which is all the way across town so we rarely shop there but according to others, these are great places to stretch your food dollar.
  18. Grocery Outlet.  We don't have one of these stores here but I often shopped at this store in previous cities.  This is a scratch and dent/overruns/etc kind of stores which offers good prices on groceries but the selection can be very hit or miss.
  19. Restaurant supply places.  In our previous city, there were a few places to shop for groceries which were restaurant supply places that allowed the public to shop there too.  It was a good place to shop in bulk but you had to compare prices because sometimes things were a good deal and other times the cost was actually more than in regular grocery stores.
  20. Online.  I have bought food items on Amazon because the prices were so good and I got free shipping.  I have also looked at other online places but if they didn't offer free shipping, the price would have been more than buying the item locally (I wanted a big bag of buckwheat flour but the shipping alone was more than the bag of flour!).  This is also a good option for buying hard to find items (I just ordered a box of Japanese Kit Kat bars from Amazon which are cheaper than buying the same item in local Asian stores...I can't wait until they arrive!).

On a side note, here are some random interesting links...

Saturday, January 14, 2023

A Bunch of Consumer Rants

Either I am getting old and crotchety or the whole consumer situation is getting more and more annoying...

It seems like retail hours have been cut significantly over the past few years.  Best Buy used to be open from 9am to 9pm everyday but I was surprised to see that on Sunday their hours are 11am to 7pm.

And when did paint cost more than $250 for a five gallon pail of paint???


The GFCI switch in one of the bathrooms stopped working so I went to buy a new one which I thought would be around $5 but now the cheapest one is $20?!?

A week ago I bought a new cell phone.  It is super cute but after using it for a few days the folding it and unfolding it every time I wanted to use the phone became annoying so I went and bought a new basic phone.  I used to be able to return a cell phone if I didn't like it, now they charge a $45 "restocking fee".

I won't rehash the price of eggs as I have already covered this in previous posts but when I went to buy a gallon of bleach, it costs around $5!  This used to cost $1!  On a good note, gas prices are down over $1 per gallon; we now pay $3.59 instead of $4.99 per gallon.

Healthcare is similarly circling the drain.  I watch this lady's YouTube channel and she noted how when she called an ambulance because she thought she had really hurt herself, they told her they could drop her off at the hospital but it could be a 12 hour or more wait.  Meanwhile, one of our local hospitals just laid off 970 employees even though staffing at hospitals here and across the US are at critically low levels.

Finally, our weekly grocery store ads seem to have fewer and fewer great deals, just kind of meh deals and the produce section isn't looking all that great either.  

That's enough rantyness for one day...

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

A Bunch of Links from This Week

In no particular order... 

  • It is still stormy here but nowhere near as bad as in California!
  • Our library has always been amazing but now they have added another great feature--we can now check out day passes to our state parks!  While I don't mind paying for the annual senior pass (an inexpensive $30), for years that we don't go to many parks, free is definitely a great option!
  • Speaking of parks, all National Parks offer free entry day next Monday for MLK Jr Day.
  • We finally got our natural gas bill and it is a good $40 over the normal price we have been paying for years.  We use natural gas for our stove, hot water heater, dryer, and furnace so I guess we will try to cut back on using these appliances as much as possible.  That is a huge increase!  :(
  • January 26th is the annual point-in-time homeless count.  This is a national event and I am thinking about volunteering to do this in our city.  While I have done these counts many times in our previous city, homeless people here seem particularly shooty and stabby so I'm not sure if I will do this or not...
  • I finally got a new cell phone and I think I will be keeping it.  I've had the Galaxy S10 for a few years so I figured it was time to upgrade.  I tried the S 22+ and it was big and clunky and not even as clear, screen and photo-wise, as my S 10.  I then tried the S 22 Ultra and while it took amazing pictures, it too was big and clunky.  I really like the small folding form factor of the Z Flip 4 that I picked up yesterday at Best Buy (they even matched the price I found on Amazon for the phone so I saved an additional $150 and I will check to see if the price drops any more for the next two weeks because they also do price adjustments!).
  • If you like skywatching, you should be able to see the first green comet near our planet in more than 50,000 years this month!
  • Finally, I just ran across an offer from our local electric utility company for free things like dryers and refrigerators!  After I do our taxes next month I will see if we qualify, income-wise, and if so we will definitely sign up for this program!  Note that many utility companies offer similar programs across the nation.