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Delia Wilson, Writer Posts

Health Insurance, Medicare & Self-Employment, Oh My!

When I awoke at 5 am this morning, I found myself unable to go back to sleep. When I got up, I realized I was on the verge of crying. It took a while before I realized why.  Today is the day I pay full price for my most expensive medication.

The path to my state of no health insurance is a bit bizarre but does highlight some of what’s wrong with health insurance in America today. Couple that with my husband’s Medicare and disability status and I have a tale to tell.

I’ve tried to keep this blog on business matters this year but I have to take a break and write for my sanity!

The path.  Um, well, it starts like many of us out there with the recession.

I moved to Charlottesville in 2009 to take a job in order to survive the recession.  My health insurance (I was self-employed then) had risen to heights that made it obvious that I was going to have to start choosing whether to pay the insurance or the house payment.  So I took a job and moved 500 miles to this wonderful town.

I don’t regret the move at all but the job ended abruptly some months later and I went on COBRA.  Self-employment seemed to be my best choice at the time so I forged on.  The COBRA payments were reduced due to federal intervention. 18 months later it ended on Oct. 1.

Now in Georgia when this happened to me 13 years ago, I was able to convert my group policy to an individual policy and life went on. Here in Virginia the state has not made such advances.

I had to apply for insurance.  My former workplace suggested that I use their insurance broker to navigate the waters. And so my saga really begins.

The broker provided a web link so that I could apply on line, thank heavens.  There’s no way I could have physically completed that many page application with my arthritic fingers! So application to Anthem done.  Check.

Mistake number 1:  for some reason that I cannot remember now, I actually applied for the best policy available, i.e., the most expensive.

The broker informed me that while the policy was still in underwriting (before acceptance) that I could call and change to the less expensive policy.

Mistake number 2: I spent my time trying to find cheaper insurance, applying for an AARP policy. I did not call Anthem to change my policy.

AARP turned me down flat – I guess you have to be an extremely healthy old person to get that one.

So the Anthem policy was in place but I did change the start date to a month later since I incurred no health expenses in October. (Thinking ahead I got 3 months of each medication in September through mail order – a normal way to get and save money on most group policies.)

But then I tried to get Anthem to change my policy. The more expensive policy was $1600 a month.  The next policy was only $800 a month.  The broker sent me a letter to sign and return to get that done.

Weeks later in November, I received an email from the broker saying that Anthem needed the request done differently so I immediately completed and returned the attached form via email.  Well, time went on and I’m being dunned for $1600 a month. I finally called Anthem to find out why and they said they had not received any request to change that.

Mistake number 3: leaving the situation in the hands of the broker who assured me it was okay.

Well, I was getting worried about being canceled to lack of payment so I paid $1600 which should have been for 2 months, Nov. and Dec.  Right before Christmas I found that not only had the broker not filed the form but also I had passed through the “look up” period.

I could no longer change the policy.

So a wonderful Anthem customer service representative dug in and started working on it.  The broker assured me they were working on it.

I took the Anthem rep’s advice and filed for a new policy.  I did not follow the broker’s advice – pay to keep the expensive policy in force. I couldn’t afford to pay another $1600.

So last week they canceled my insurance.  I am now uninsured – hopefully temporarily. But today I plunk out the big bucks for a med.

And I wait to see if Anthem will approve the new policy.

On to the next insanity: Medicare and my disabled husband.

He was fortunate not to have to wait too many years to get on disability, but one does have to wait for 18 months for Medicare to kick in. That happened last March. Yippee!

And oops, since he’s under 65 (which means everyone on disability), he cannot buy a Medicare supplemental policy.  So, friends, all disability recipients in this state (maybe in the nation) are under insured.

Then the next reality hit home.  Yes, the big drugs that are what he is supposed to be on have a copay of $250 a month on Medicare. (That’s with some discounting taking place, folks.)

And then, one company says they provide free drugs for 6 months. Yippee!  Oops, but not if you are on Medicare.  Medicare recipients are prevented by federal law from receiving free anything.  I guess that’s for his protection?  So he’s opted to not take the drugs.

Obamacare?

It obviously does not go far enough. I’m sure it’s adding more layers of this convoluted thinking and may not help us as a married couple at all.

Being self-employed?

Highest income I”ve ever had.

Being an insured self-employed person?

Still can’t afford the insurance if I actually want to have money left over at the end of the month for saving or putting towards that retirement that is never going to happen.

That policy I’m dying to get?

The worst insurance I’ve ever had.  I’ll not be able to afford continuing the treatments for my disintegrating spine that I need to stay at a pain level that allows me to work. Why?  Because of the total cost of the policy and copays for my meds is so high and the deductible a major hurdle.

And now?

Now that I”ve vented, I’ll dig in and get to work to make more money in the insane hope that this will all work out to the good in the end. Have a nice day!

UPDATE, February 27, 2011

I ended up denied health insurance since my HIPPA eligibility had expired. So I had gotten bad advice from the Anthem customer representative.

I asked the sales representative if that meant I was screwed due to no fault of my own.  She said yes.

She also contacted her supervisor and several hours later, they reinstated and changed my policy as I had requested in November.

So now I am insured with a policy that is expensive and has a high deductible which means I can’t afford to use the policy. Go figure.

Charlottesville Running Company: my favorite walk

The Charlottesville Running Company is running a weekly contest between now and Christmas. The following is my entry:

My favorite walk is down at Riverview Park.  This section of the Rivanna trail has everything from the roar of traffic to the almost quiet of the forest to the sounds of the river. Between the birds (including a flock of geese),  cicadas and the regular deep croak of a bullfrog, it’s never a quiet place, especially in the summer. The views are astounding: glimpses of the river, flowering undergrowth coupled with the rear entrances of businesses and derelict panel trucks that stare right at you. All of that is forgotten when you enter into the unusual sounds and sight of the 250 bridge.  Best of all I love the bit of that “runners high” I get towards the end,  an end that always feels like the beginning of something new and refreshed.

Exercising – Okinawan Style

Note: this was originally written in May of 1978 while in Japan.  Interestingly enough, it works for here and today. Enjoy!

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After several months’ observation of the exercise habits of Okinawans, American and native, I’ve come up with a list of do’s and don’ts for the partici­pants and the spectators:

The primary rule-ichiban-is to ignore the weather, especially the rain. All sports can and do continue when the rain begins no matter what the temperature.

(1)  If flooding should occur, joggers stop only if you can’t swim.   Beware of lighting, use of which to dry off can curb exercising.

(2)  Bicycling fans always take care in passing minicars too closely.  One loosely thrown arm from the car can inflict major damage to your bicycle and or body.

(3)  Never whistle, yell or otherwise harass an exerciser even if she’s good looking, well-built or you’re desperate.    This kind of activity ruins concentration and presents danger to the athlete.  (She might fall into a ditch or run into a car trying to see who’s “bothering” her.)

(4) Girls, search sporting goods store for the cutest, briefest sweatsuit ever.  Speed always improves while being chased.

(5)  Bicyclers ride with traffic. However, be careful not to run red lights, hedge on yellow lights or even be too free on green lights.  Most drivers will run over you if they get a chance.  Joggers also beware – some drivers seem to be drawn to such targets.

(6) Runners do not need instructions from the passerby. If the athlete wants to kill himself/herself, he/she can do it easily without assistance.

(7) When jogging or cycling, keep one eye out for dogs. These friends of man can lead to a shot of adrenalin causing short, erratic bursts of speed.  Such incautious actions can land oneself in a ditch, hole or hospital.

(8) By all means, women, enroll in an exercise class.  This unrestrained activity can improve body tone and mental outlook.   Sore muscles are an added pleasure.

(9) After these exercise sessions, don’t forget to gather at the nearest bakery, dinner, chow hall, etc., to recover.

(10)  Exercise hardest during water rationing.  The resulting wetness does delude some into thinking they’ve been bathing.

(11) Stay a breathing space away from those who exercise during water rationing.

(12)  If the sweat reminds you of a dung hole instead of a bath, exercise only at gyms with showers during water rationing

(13)  Girls, be sure to frequent the gym weight room for a work out. In addition
to the general companionship of men, you just might find “the man of your
dreams.”  If you can stand within breathing distance of him there, a marriage
on Okinawa might work.

(14)  Equipment should always include a sweatband for one’s forehead.  Sweat is a blinding agent, comparable only to typhoon rains.

Last but not least;   always overdo it – puffing chests, red faces,   sweaty T-shirts, pants, and shorts are definitely in fashion on Okinawa.

Sayonara from the wet paradise.

deedee

I’m already late and other thoughts

Well, despite my best intentions, I’ve already fallen down on my blogging activity.  I have several topics chosen and one partially written in my head.  After a long week of work last week, I just am having trouble getting back into a productive groove.

I did want to mention that I’m seeing real estate moving and more job openings locally.  We’re on the way up economically – no matter that it might be a fitful recovery.  I graduated in the recession of the 70’s. Returned to the states from overseas during the recession of the 80’s and then became jobless despite the best planning possible in this recession.  I think I’ll sit out the next one, thank you!

Which brings me to my dilemma: whether to remain self-employed or take a permanent position somewhere.  Don’t know the answer and am having trouble letting the future plan itself.  Accepting what comes is not only easiest but healthiest, this I know from experience.  Though I saw the recession coming, my decision to take a job to weather it didn’t exactly go the way I planned, so my planning is now rife with indecision.

We love living in Charlottesville and I know we made the right decision to target the area in my job hunt. It’s definitely opened up new possibilities for work and play (I promise my next post will be about Socializing Delia). Now that we have a contract on our GA house, I feel more confident about being able to settle in here perhaps even with a local home purchase. I’m enjoying my new friends and the social media outlets that have delivered them into my house!

After making the move, taking the risks and having to readjust to self-employment, however,  I’m having some difficulty settling into my new life. Kinda like, oh, gee, am I going to get to stay here?  Well, I stopped applying for D.C. jobs after one afternoon trip to D.C. (Ever wondered what a third world country is like? Just visit our nation’s capital!) I’m no longer looking at Charlotte job openings with the same scrutiny that I was last month.

So yeah I probably can stay here. So do I jump into the marketing mode for my business?  Yuck.  Well, how about dipping my toe in.  I RSVP’d for the COC after hours next week down at Lake Monticello.  I may take the day off completely because the Women’s Round Table Lunch is also that day as well as another crucial appointment.  Maybe I should dress up and hit the streets that morning. Let’s see: wearing not so comfortable clothes to meet and greet or working a making money?  Guess what my druthers are!

Well, off to work for now.  Definitely a decision is not on my to-do list today!

On the Path

I got an early start this morning when Sissy (the 15 lb min pin) decided enough was enough – sleep that is. So we were on the trail by 7 this morning. The Rivanna River Trail, that is. Just one part of my path here in C’ville.

We left Athens last fall, me after 27 total years there and Tommy after an whole lifetime.  The newness of C’ville is not wearing off or wearing thin still today.  Back some time ago I checked out meetup.com in an effort to meet people here.  That led me to a walking group on Monday nights. The first night I showed up, at the Charlottesville Running Company, Marty says, “We’re doing 3 miles tonight; can you do it?”

I blithely replied, “Sure, I can do that.” Well, it was the hottest and muggiest day in C’ville so far this summer.  And… walking downtown C’ville off the mall is hilly.  I did make it but it was really rough!

The next week I took the 2 little dogs.  A couple of weeks later we walked down at Riverview park and the path has gone from there. We meet Marty for the Monday night walk and this week did the Thursday morning walk.  Weekends I head for the park and do over 3 miles there as well. So next week I’ll be up to 9 miles a week. Wow.

I’ve always said I don’t like to sweat and that is a very true statement.  The good news is that it is cooler and less muggy here than Georgia so it’s not as bad as it would be down south.  I used to remodel houses for exercise as I’ve never been a believer in exercising for exercising’s sake. Time moves on and now I can’t physically work on houses.  There’s still a lot I can’t do because of continuing physical problems, but by golly, I can walk!

Riverview Park is a nice little park that leads into the Rivanna River Trail which runs around C’ville.  Almost 2 miles are paved leading out of the park and all of it lies along the river.  There are spots where you can go down to the river’s edge so the doggies can drink. (They are then required to pull me back up to the trail, such good sled dogs!) There are spots where you don’t realize the river is there.

The path winds along in back backyards of homes and businesses. There’s a back hum of traffic, sometimes near and sometimes very distant.  Between the birds (recently including a flock of geese),  cicadas and the regular deep croak of a bullfrog. it’s never a quiet place.  Sometimes the rushing water can drown out everything else – oh, heavenly!

The sights are so varied! Sometimes you are in wilderness and then you come face to face with hulks of panel trucks parked in the back of an auto repair shop. Walking under the 250 bridge has become a soothing comfort for me – dampening the noise from above.  Sitting in the car on top was scary before since you can feel the bridge move.  Underneath, though, that is all a distant memory.

Everybody says hi as they pass and occasionally we stop to greet other dog visitors.  Mostly we stand to the side while I hold my dogs tightly and the passing pooches react or sometimes don’t react to the presence of my pair. This morning some sort of hound started hallooing immediately on spotting us.  He was still giving voice long after we went by.

The folks can be interesting to watch. Today I spotted a guy again who happened to end up in one of my pictures.  He talks on the phone his whole walk, making business calls and sweating.  Huh?  Another morning I passed a fellow who was creepily scurrying along with some sort of satchel.  Reminded me of that innocuous serial killer who’s always “such a nice, quiet fellow”.  Also seen and heard today was a real runner – no flat-footed jogger, was he.  (and really skinny, too; either obsessive or a competitor).

On my path in C’ville, just enjoying the variety and monotony of walking with my dogs.

View today’s photos below or  at http://deliawilson.tumblr.com

Blogging.

I am a writer first and foremost.  Then I’m a web and graphic designer. I am the “web guru” to my customers and friends. Due to my varied background and my big mouth, this blog has a threefold, oops fourfold, purpose:

1) Imparting information to my web design & hosting clients as well as anyone who is interested in web issues

2) Giving me a platform for the humor and opinion pieces I’m famous for. (I’ve incorporated my columns from the weekly Oglethorpe Echo and will be adding in my humor pieces from Okinawa, Japan’s Entertainment Weekly as I scan them in)

3)  Trying to get my Georgia friends and relatives to come visit or move to Charlottesville (hereafter referred to only as C’ville)

4) Communicating to prospective clients and/or employers who I am and what I believe in. (Yup, I want you to know me)

Guys and Beasties

What is it with guys and those living creatures we gals aren’t fond of? Perhaps my view on this is restricted by the circles I now live in, but I think it has wider implications.

I was fortunate that my son wasn’t too interested in the bugs and beasts, so I escaped the type of episode my brother subjected my mother to when he was about 12. He had developed an interest in biology, of which we all, of course, were very supportive. Finally, little Bro was developing some type of academic leanings. Our support, however, led us into new territory when Bro arrived home with a dog carcass he had obtained from the local vet. His autopsy efforts kept all of us out of the basement for days! Well, at least he didn’t bring home bugs or snakes.

It’s not that I am particularly afraid or repulsed by bugs and snakes. I’m not like my daughter-in-law who freaks at the sight of a spider or wasp. I consider myself pretty grownup about such things. Being a military wife and later a single parent for years has instilled in me a streak of self-reliance and practicability that many men and women may lack.

I mean, after all those gigantic flying cockroaches and lizard-infested rooms on Okinawa, Japan, how could I be too squeamish?   Well, I’m not, but, guys, you do astound me sometimes!>

For example, we have three entomologists at our karate school. Not one, three!. One showed up at my Christmas party 2 years ago with chocolate chirp cookies.   The chirp means the crunch in those tasty treats was crickets, not nuts.   The cookies were better than your usual run of chocolate chip though that was probably due to a good recipe and not the inclusion of the crickets.   What was funny that night were the numbers of folks (men) who refused to even try them! There were leftovers.

This summer our pool party featured deviled eggs with bug parts.   I did not ask what bugs.   I did not need to know that piece of information. They were quite tasty with a little added crunch. The party hostess reached the buffet as I was taking the last one. She exclaimed, “Oh, they’re all gone. Too bad.” Her face fell when I offered her half of mine. She accepted and slunk off to the side.

Yep, the plate was clean. The past years had instituted a dare system with both entomologists harking their wares. No one dared not to try those eggs!

Now I find these guys are swapping recipes. I’m not sure whether to fear or anticipate the next party.

Now, if that isn’t bad enough, there is my husband. I won’t tell you about his phobia. His fear of one specific member of the insect world simply doesn’t compute when you discover his interest in snakes and other creepy crawly things. He loves snakes and turtles and all sorts of other living things. And what does he do? As if he were my young son, as if he were still a boy, he brings them home.

First, snakes. He had one when we married. I believe it was a king snake. That aquarium went into my teenage son’s room. Eventually my son let it lose. Nowadays, my husband is constantly reporting to me what snake he’s found, how he moved it off the road, you know, like pygmy rattlers and copperheads. I was relieved when he didn’t bring them home.

But now, our neighboring entomologist has requested a rattler. He said to bring it home for him! Boys will be boys, I guess.

My hunter husband is always relaying bits of data to me about the animal kingdom. I know an incredible amount about deer, bears and other denizens of the forest. Last night we even watched a national geographic special on snakes. He is forever turning to the discover channel to watch informative, yet boring, programs on fierce, poisonous or weird things.

I must admit, though, that a baby box turtle turned out to be an episode to cherish. He found one the other morning during his jog and, of course, brought it home. It wasn’t the first turtle he had walked in with, for he seems to have a particular fondness for them. He announced he was going to keep it. I took the 4 inch beastie from him all the while wondering did we still have an aquarium?

A moment later he changed his mind and said he would let it go instead. Feeling fonder of the critter at that point, I was letting it roam around my hands. It wasn’t as shy or scared as the ones I’ve handled before.

I looked down to see my dog, Micky, the basset/golden retriever mix (yeah, I know that’s weird). Micky was very interested in my little friend. She has a wonderfully large heart and loves everything and everybody and was interested in either gaining a new friend or eating it. I leaned over to let Micky sniff the turtle. She really didn’t know what to make of it. Then the dangedest thing happened. That little 4 inch turtle bit Micky’s nose!

Micky’s offense was noticeable. She withdrew. Our delight in our turtle friend’s self-assertion has not faded even today, a week later.

Ah, yes, memories to cherish. So what if it’s the grownup and not the kid who furnishes them? Yep, boys will be boys–and they will be men, too.

My Car

Riding home last week I decided to use the time to plan my column. It was raining a little and the 5:30 traffic was pretty heavy. Naturally my mind centered on cars as a topic. Once again my changing priorities became the obvious theme.

In the past I’ve always tried to have new or nearly new vehicles for several reasons. First, because affording a car payment and repairs has been difficult. Second, because my choice of older, used cars just seems to create mechanical problems—I specialize in lemons. Third, because dependability has always been important and fourth, because they look so pretty! So I own Toyotas and, usually, not very old Toyotas.

Much has been made of the American love affair with automobiles and I am no different than most. A sparkling new car says I am mainstream America, that I, though not affluent, own a piece of that American dream. To be able to drive off the car lot with a new car with my name on the license plate (such is the cost of vanity at $25 per year)… I think some of my happiest moments have been just that.

Oh, and that new car smell! We Americans are really stuck on deodorizing our lives. My sojourn in Germany back in the eighties made me realize how very stuck on smells and or the lack of smells we Americans are. The Germans are some of the most civilized folks on earth. The countryside was so clean and they had no obvious ghettos back then. They, however, like so many Europeans just aren’t so deodorant dependent as we Americans are.

One of the reasons why that new car smell is so treasured by us car-crazy Americans is obvious during muggy weather like we’ve had recently. If you drive an older vehicle, then every spill, every dog passenger, every mold spore carried on one’s shoes, every bit of odor history is obvious to the nose. It’s no longer antiseptic; it doesn’t seem clean no matter how much effort I put into interior cleaning which I admit isn’t much effort at all!

And that new car smell also has such good memories attached to it. I’ll bet you remember that first new car and the overwhelming excitement and pride of that first day. I sure do. Every new car smell brings back that first one, in my case the year was 1974 and the car was—now don’t laugh—a Gremlin, a golden-colored, weird-looking mechanical contraption with the most uncomfortable backseat known to man (or woman).

I was so proud. That was such an exciting year. A move across country. A new baby. And that new car. What great memories to be triggered by only a smell!

One of the other great things about owning a new car is brought home to me every time I wash my present car. Now you must understand this is something I don’t do very often. I live on a dirt road and car washing has never been a priority for me. But, it’s gotten so bad, that a visit to my son’s home always gets an announcement from the two-year-old grandson. He makes horrible noises and points to my filthy car. “Ooooo, Nana, ooooo.” My son and his brother are always after me to wash it and they actually will do that for me occasionally!

But if you wash it, you reveal that great metallic black paint job with every ding and scratch that normally hides under the mud. It’s just not so pretty any more.

So my priorities have changed since my move to the country. I now own an aging Corolla that due to costs cannot be traded in any time soon. I keep checking every 6 months or so but the ever increasing mileage keeps depreciating that poor old car faster than I could ever pay for it.

I’ve finally had to accept the fact that I may keep this dependable, black (I didn’t want a black or white car!) old thing. After all, I now live on a dirt road. As fast as a new car depreciates, driving a brand new car out here doesn’t make sense unless it’s a big pickup or something similar, and I leave the truck stuff to my husband.

I can just see it now. Driving along and a big piece of gravel gets thrown into the shiny paint job or meeting a logging truck and getting so close to the edge that branches scrape the sides. Not to mention those commuting miles. It just wouldn’t be so practical to get a new car, right?

Not only that, but I am remembering those lemons I have owned and I am grateful for my trusty, aging Toyota. It may not be as pretty as a new car but it is mechanically sound and very trustworthy.

So there I was, moving with traffic, thinking all these practical thoughts, feeling pretty good about how I had talked myself into accepting ownership of an older model car and accepting the fact that I can’t trade it in. I’m bouncing to the music and moving with the traffic. The road was wet but I was several car lengths behind a Jeep SUV when someone hit their brakes unexpectedly in front of the Jeep. I ended up getting intimately acquainted with the granddaughter of a Maxeys’ friend and her step-dad. Nice folks who felt very badly that the Jeep wasn’t even scratched.

That was last week. This week I’m driving a rental (new, pretty, good-smelling) waiting on the body shop to fix my crunched front end. I’m enjoying the attractive, clean car. I keep noticing how much better it accelerates and how much lower the hood is so this short person can see better.

But, this week I am grateful for car insurance and looking forward to getting my washed, scratch-free front-ended car back. It is truly amazing how sometimes life hands you what you wish for and for a lot less money!

Outsiders

How is it that you, as Oglethorpe County citizens, want to be known? By the outside world, that is–by our neighbors in the surrounding counties, by the rest of Georgia, by others from farther away than that?

Southerners have long been known across this nation for being friendly and polite. This I have heard often as I have traveled all over the world.

So I ask it again: how do you want to be known?

Another Oglethorpe County resident once told me that she had been informed she was an outsider. She had responded to such name-calling with the news that she had been born here. She received the response from a prominent Oglethorpe resident “Well, your grandparents weren’t!” Even though those words were not delivered in anger and might even have carried some jest with them, my acquaintance was–to say the least–taken aback.

No, this isn’t a response to Louise Griffith’s recent letter-I know how nice she’s been to me! She certainly wasn’t talking about this outsider in her letter.

Okay, let’s get something straight. I really am an outsider. I wasn’t born here but I was born in Gainesville. (That makes me less of an outsider than some of those that come from other states or countries, doesn’t it?)

Oops, but my family! Momma’s side is pretty strongly Southern and have been here for generations. But Daddy! Talking about outsiders! Sheesh, the man was from New Jersey. His grandparents were from Poland and Ireland! Oh, dear, oh dear!
Not only that but Daddy’s family was (and is) majorly Catholic. Gasp!

It’s true that many of us can trace our American family roots back to previous centuries; it’s just as true that all of us have family members that may not be that recently American or Southern. Many folks in the Athens area are also fond of talking about their Native American roots (I never heard that in Gainesville). Nope, we are all more than just Southern or even American.

I’m really, truly proud to say I come from a melting pot of people. Traveling abroad was, yes, broadening. It’s a wonder to me how other countries have such personalities. The Germans were truly an engineering marvel–sticklers for rules. To live there you meet a people, not just many people. I found that to be true of other nations as well.

My son is a great example of the melting pot phenomenon. Not only is he of Southern, anglo-saxon descent; not only is he descended from those Irish-Polish Yankees but he also is Spanish in name and in blood! Ask him what he is and he’ll probably tell you American.

We all come from immigrants, outsiders here in America. And our immigrant population continues to grow. We’ve had a large influx of Hispanic immigrants in past years and Atlanta’s and Athens’ intercultural influences continue to make this state’s population more diversified.

It’s another one of those truisms I’m fond of spouting: ‘Change is constant’. I am one many ‘outsiders’ that change has brought here to Oglethorpe County. It was only on my husband’s instigation that I even considered moving to such a rural area.
Not only that, but now I find I like it here! Why? I like the rural nature of the county and I like the people. I have found most folks to be friendly and welcoming.

But I simply want to remind you. Not everyone in Oglethorpe County is white or black-we got all shades of colors here. Not everyone is of the Christian or Jewish faiths-there are Muslims, Buddhists, and even atheists. Not everyone is heterosexual.

We are a microcosm of American society and of the American people. A little bit of everything and everyone. That’s one of those things that make this county great-that’s one of those things that make this country great.

How do you want to be known? As a community that recognizes our differences? Or the alternative? Outsiders beware: acceptance is only offered after 3 successive generations?

I do not glory in my ‘outsider’ status; in fact, I frequently forget that fact. I feel welcome here (though I’m fond of saying y’all may run me out of town when you really get to know me!)

Please extend that welcome to any of the others who may be different. Let us be known by our friendliness and by our civility. And most importantly, by our recognition of and acceptance of difference. Ah, yes, it does take all kinds…

Computers

Now I’m warning you up front. I’m writing about computers this week, but I’m going to try to make this understandable for those of you, like my husband, who aren’t very knowledgeable. (He’s computer illiterate and proud of it!)

My odyssey started with the very difficult decision to purchase a new computer and network it with my old computer (tie them together). I reasoned that if I go ahead and commit myself to such an expense that I would be sure to get off my duff and start marketing my services and therefore make money at home.

OK, that works in theory. Now for the reality.

I checked out prices at several locations around Athens first. I discussed possible computer components with friends, store clerks and computer professionals. I did some deep soul searching and finally decided to let my friends at Cuby Systems put some components together and I would use parts of the 3 extra outdated computers I already own to complete the setup.

I figured that I could get a faster, larger machine this way for less money than an already assembled computer. Well, I was right on that, but the problems brought me to tears and in the end cost me a lot more money than I expected.

I picked up the computer on a Thursday. It started up so quickly! I installed an old 3 ½” floppy drive (that opening where you put in the little square things) and an old CD-ROM (the opening for the round things). I started the computer. Nope. I restarted the computer. Nope. I checked the connections. Nope. I changed the connections. Nope. I disconnected the connections. It started.

I took it back to Cuby Systems. Tony reports the CD-ROM won’t work without the sound card that came with it (the thing that allows music and sound to be played on a computer). I already knew that sound card wouldn’t fit in the slots provided for it.

I went to Best Buy and chuckled, resignedly, as I bought a brand-new CD-ROM Writer. “Oh, woe is me! I have to buy that great component I really wanted in the first place!) A writer lets you make the disks as well as play them.

I went home and installed the CD-ROM Writer. Oh, rephrase that. I tried to install the thing. I discovered that this particular writer couldn’t be installed unless Windows (that basic operating systems so cleverly marketed by Bill Gates) was already installed. Well, you have to have a CD-ROM to install Windows. I had no CD-ROM installed. I had no Windows installed.

I took it back to Cuby Systems. I purchased a new Windows upgrade and paid Tony and John to “get it running” on the express orders of my husband who didn’t really want me buying this thing in the first place.

I went home and installed the network card on my old computer (this will allow the 2 computers to “talk” to each other). I connected the cable. No network. I spent hours last Saturday trying to get it to work.

Sunday I called Kirk Thomas of Wilderness Kennels in Paoli and a present computer employee of my last employer. He says, “Get a hub. I know it’s supposed to work without one but get a hub.” (hub, a small box to make a computer network work)

I bought a hub. I installed it and turned on the computer. The network worked. But now odd things were happening—something about hardware conflicts, which I knew about but had never experienced. And then all of sudden-ERROR! ERROR! ERROR!

I shut down the computer and started it in “safe mode” which is supposed to let you troubleshoot problems. It wouldn’t start.

First thing Monday morning I called Tony at Cuby Systems to let him know I was coming in again. I told him that I wished I had bought a ready-made system. He tells me that I would still have these problems.

I called another computer-savvy friend to set up lunch. He tells me to bring the computer by his house first and let him look at it.

I go to Athens, computer and all pieces in tow. He reformats the computer (wiped it clean inside). He reinstalls the basic software. He decides that my graphics card is the problem (graphics card does something to make the pretty pictures appear faster and prettier). He installs one of his collection of graphics cards (a much better-and expensive-card). Voila! It works!!!!!!

I go home. It’s now Tuesday and everything is set up and working fine. I’ve installed most of the necessary software. I’ve proven that I can reproduce the work at home that I’ve been traveling to do. I’m marveling at how fast this machine is. I feel professional.

But am I finished? Nope. I have to change out the floppy drive for the square disks and put in a better one. I have to install the new sound card so I can hear my machine talking to me and so that I will soon be able to talk to it instead of typing (anything to cut down on my legendary tendonitis of the wrists and arms). I need to delve into the old computer to adjust some hardware oops that I created but aren’t very important. I have to disconnect stuff and install stuff.

And I am terrified! I must jeopardize the working computer. Do I risk it? Do I let it ride for a while? Tune in next week for the next installment of “Days of Our Lives, Computer-Style”.