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Major health update on DW and Ebay update

May 21st, 2022 at 12:50 am

I haven't blogged for a few weeks with good reason. My wife ended up in the hospital on 4/23 and was there for 19 days. To keep it short, she developed a serious infection in and around her spine and related fluid in her left lung. She had major surgery on her back to clean it out and rebuild and stabilize her spine. She had a total of 3 procedures, 1 minor, 1 intermediate, and finally 1 more extensive to fix the lung issue. Spent 4 days in ICU post-op. Got 3 transfusions. Came home last week with a PICC line and IV antibiotics for a few more weeks.

As you can imagine, it was a major ordeal for all of us. On top of that whole mess, my mom got admitted during that same period for mild heart failure. Same hospital fortunately, so I was constantly going back and forth between their rooms. DW came home on Wednesday. Mom came home on Thursday. So I've been busy coordinating their home care needs since.

Anyway, both are now recovering and doing okay. Both have a visiting nurse and physical therapy at home. In a couple more weeks, DW will likly start outpatient PT for her back rehab.

Incidentally, as of now, the billing for DW's hospitalization stands at around $730,000. Insurance has already taken care of most of that but there is still some stuff that hasn't settled. It's only been a week, though, so I'm hopeful that the remainder will work its way through the system and get paid as well. We may end up owing something but we're hoping it won't be a major amount.

I put my ebay sales on vacation mode for a week when DW was first admitted. Once it became clear that she would be there quite a while, I restarted sales but only listed an item here and there so I was making and shipping sales but wasn't doing much to keep it going until after she got home. There just weren't enough hours in the day.

For the 2nd quarter so far, I have done $1,042.36 in sales and $679.42 in profit. That brings my YTD numbers to $2,657.35 in sales and $1,795.94 in profit. Considering my goal back in January was to average $200/month profit, I certainly can't complain as I'm actually averaging $359/month even with pausing for a few weeks with my wife's illness.

I haven't gotten an official end date for my part time contract at work so I'm still assuming it will be August 6. That means I've got 31 shifts left to work before I change to per diem. With the latest COVID surge hitting full force, I can't wait to cut back to 4-hour shifts. My site saw 69 patients yesterday which is a lot for us. I'm hoping this wave dies down quickly but right now there's no sign of that happening so we're all working our butts off again thanks to elimination of mask mandates and so many people just not caring anymore.

Florida house sold, portfolio update, odds and ends

August 19th, 2021 at 01:13 am

The Florida house did close on 8/10 as scheduled. All went pretty smoothly. I had to run around a bit to get the paperwork notarized and sent back but that was minor.

Final result was me walking away with $477,203.26. It went into the estate account for now. I'll get it once the probate period ends in early October. There's now over $547,000 in that account.

That means that our overall portfolio now stands at over $3.1 million. That's well above where I thought we'd be with the inheritance. I had estimated we'd be around $2.7 or 2.8 million but the inheritance ended up being more than I thought plus the ongoing stock market returns have pushed up the value of what we already had as well as the value of the money I inherited that was invested in equities.

That estate account, however, has pushed our cash allocation to about 23% right now and our stocks down to 51% with the remaining 27% in bonds.

I'm working on fixing that. I can't do anything about the 540K in the estate account yet but I'm reallocating the money that is in our control, namely the inherited traditional IRA. I started moving 10K/week from bonds to stocks but realized that would take forever, so today I moved 50K and will do that every week for the next couple of months. That will get us to about 57% stock. Then the estate account will get distributed to me and I'll be able to invest that to get the asset allocation where I ultimately want it.

No word yet on when my part time status will begin. We're actually short staffed at work right now so it's very possible they will hold me to my contract, meaning I'll remain full time until December 1. I'm hoping they can find a way to get me part time before that but I'm not complaining as I completely understand I'm bound by the contract.

We go to Florida 3 weeks from today for a big fundraising event and convention. We're not thrilled about traveling in the midst of the COVID surge but we've decided we're just going to do it and take precautions as much as possible.

Next chapter of the estate saga

June 13th, 2021 at 12:30 am

I just reread my post from last week saying I was pretty much done with the "debulking" of stuff. Boy was I wrong. A week later and I've put out 3 more bins of paper for recyling and taken 2 carloads of stuff to the thrift shop. I've sold multiple items on Marketplace and have a couple listed on ebay. I have several more that I'll probably list tomorrow. I keep unearthing more stuff. It seems to go in layers - get one layer cleared and discover there's another layer behind it. Just tonight I found that a large box that I thought only held packing material and bubble wrap also contained a nice barstool which will go on Marketplace tomorrow.

The really big news is that I sold the Corvette! My lawyer put me in touch with somebody he has worked with before and not only did they end up buying it but they paid me my full asking price of 45K! Note that that occurred less than 8 hours after some bozo offered me 20K for the car (which I flat out turned down). Selling the Vette was the thing I was most stressed about with the entire estate.

All of the court papers have been filed so I should have the official order naming me executor soon. I need that to take care of the financial stuff and start closing accounts and transferring funds into my own name.

I have started putting myself in as the contact person for the utility bills so that nothing gets missed and everything gets paid on time. There was a minor issue with the most recent electric bill because it was on autopay but the account had gotten frozen before the bill got paid so the payment got rejected. They charged a $30 fee but I called today and got them to waive it and switched the account to our bank so there won't be any more issues.

I need to call a realtor to get an opinion of value on the house to establish my cost basis. The lawyer recommended someone so I'll call him on Monday or Tuesday.

More to come.

Update on settling my cousin's affairs

June 6th, 2021 at 02:05 am

I realized I haven't made a post since I arrived in Florida. I did leave a week ago Tuesday and arrived Wednesday evening. I had a nice drive down and even got to detour in North Carolina to visit my cousins who just moved there a couple weeks earlier from Connecticut. I got to see their new house and have dinner with them.

Since arriving, I've been working every day to clean out the house. I've taken out 7 or 8 bags of trash, about 6 bins of paper for recycling, and packed 10 cartons of documents to be shredded. I've also sold his tool chest, tool boxes, and most of the tools, a mini bike, and just tonight sold his floor jack on Marketplace. Oh and I've taken half a dozen boxes of stuff to the thrift shop along with 6 garbage bags of clothing plus several suits and some assorted loose items.

I think I'm pretty much done with the debulking. I've been through every drawer, cabinet, closet, and file. Although it's been time consuming, that was the relatively easy part as it didn't involve too much in the way of personal or sentimental stuff.

Now I'm getting to the harder part with the more personal items. A lot of that will end up being transported home with me. There are a bunch of things that need to either be sold or donated. I'm sure I'll do a mix of both. I'll need to decide what to do with furniture - sell or donate. I'll probably at least try to sell some of it and if I don't get any bites fairly quickly, I'll give it away. There is a large local thrift shop that will pick it up.

I'm not sure how long I'm staying. I finally got the death certificate on Friday and have an appointment with the lawyer on Monday to start the probate process. I'm not sure all that's involved with that or whether or not I need to physically be here to do anything.

There are 2 cars, one antique and one regular, that need to be sold. I've been doing some word of mouth advertising for the antique but if nothing comes of it in the next couple of days, I need to actually start listing that at a few sites. The regular car will be no problem as I'll probably go to Carmax, Carvana, and the dealership and take the highest offer. I don't want to get rid of the car until we're pretty much done as we may need it to get around if I drive home and fly back.

I guess that pretty much sums it up for now.

Beginning to deal with cousin's estate

May 23rd, 2021 at 07:03 pm

Now that the funeral is behind us, it's time to start dealing with everything needed to settle his estate. I'm expecting to leave for Florida Tuesday morning and get there Wednesday night (I'm driving).

Until I have death certificates, I can't address any of the financial stuff, so I'll start cleaning out the house, getting rid of trash, shredding unneeded papers, donating clothing and other items, etc. Once I have the certificates, I can start closing credit cards and bank accounts and getting assets transferred into my name. I will schedule a meeting with his attorney and give his financial advisor a call. I've already spoken to both of them. The advisor manages his retirement accounts and I'm the beneficiary so that stuff should be simple. No probate needed. Other stuff has to go through probate.

I got the first tiny piece of the inheritance - he had $85 cash in his wallet. Woo hoo.

Also in his wallet are two gift cards that they get as part of their HOA dues in his community. They are good at the clubhouse cafe (which has been closed for COVID) and at one local restaurant. I checked the balances and between the two of them, there's over $190 credit. I guess I know where I'll be eating regularly when I get down there.

I have a lot of work ahead of me and I'm sure some of it will be emotionally difficult, especially dealing with some of the more personal items, but I'll work my way through day by day. I'll be there by myself so I won't really have any distractions. I figure in the mornings, I'll start in the garage and crawlspace before the temperature heats up for the day. Once it's too warm, I'll focus on the inside stuff - clothing, kitchen, home office files, etc. The thrift shop where everything will be donated is just a few minutes away so I'm sure I'll be making multiple trips there. They will pick up but I'll save that for big items like furniture. I'm certainly capable of hauling bags of clothing and small household items over there myself, plus it will give me a reason to get out.

I suspect I'll be blogging more going forward so I'll update as I have new info.

My cousin died today

May 18th, 2021 at 02:10 am

My cousin in Florida who has been dealing with cancer passed away today. My wife and I had gone down to see him about 3 weeks ago. A few days after we got home, she went back and has been there since helping to take care of him. The past 2-3 days he had 24 hr care from hospice along with the home care aide we had hired. I'm sure it was still exhausting for my wife. She'll be flying home tomorrow evening so that will be good.

His funeral will be here in NJ so probably Wednesday morning we'll go over to the funeral home to make all of the arrangements. My mom will probably want to come along for that too.

Obviously I'm deeply saddened by his death as he has always been like a brother to me. That said, I'm also typically the practical one so I'm already working on taking care of business. I called and spoke to his lawyer today to find out what I need to do as I start dealing with the estate. I also chatted with our CPA who will handle that end of things.

The difficult but ultimately silver lining here is that I'll be inheriting somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 million when everything is settled. That will eventually lead to my retirement in the not too distant future. My cousin was a huge proponent of early retirement having retired at 55 himself. I can't think of anything that would please him more than knowing that the money he left me will allow me to do the same, though I'll likely be 58 by the time I get out. I really can't even fully process that end of things quite yet even though I've been running the numbers for months. Much more to come on that but first comes the mourning process and what I'm sure will be several months of working to settle everything, clean out the house, sell the cars, sell the house, transfer all of the accounts, etc. Maybe by the end of 2021 I'll have a pretty good idea of where things stand.

General updates - home, family, work

May 5th, 2021 at 06:49 pm

Home: We haven't needed to do the plumbing repair I mentioned previously. Actually the pipe doesn't seem to be leaking anymore. I know sometimes when you first repair a pipe it takes a couple of days for everything to settle and there can still be a slight drip until it does. So far, so good.

However, we were waiting for a siding contractor to come out and repair a minor issue on the side of our garage. Well, that took a bit too long. Friday night there was a bad windstorm and it ripped about 1/3 of the siding off the wall. We were out of town but I was able to get a friend to come over, clean up the mess, and drive in a few nails to stabilize the remaining siding. Now we're waiting for the siding guy to come out and replace the whole wall.

The reason we were away last week is that we were in Florida visiting/helping my cousin who is dying. He is not doing well and will probably pass relatively soon. We got home care started to go along with hospice which I had set up when I was there in February. We came home on Sunday but we're already talking about having my wife go back down and stay there until the end whenever that may be. Once he dies, I'm going to take a leave of absence for a couple of months to clean out and sell the house and settle his affairs.

Work is going okay. The site where I work is closing at the end of the month and I will be moving to a new location. I'm not thrilled about that but it does have some advantages. The biggest one is that I'll be at a 2 provider site instead of working alone. That will be a nice change. And a lot of days, I'll end up seeing fewer patients. The new site is busier but not more than twice as busy as my current site. So for example, I might see 26 patients in a day while they see 42, meaning each provider sees about 21. And it's just nice to not be alone and actually be able to take a 10 minute break for lunch or dinner instead of having to squeeze something in between patients. I'll start at the new site on May 31.

Not too much else happening. A number of things are kind of in a holding pattern pending my cousin passing. Both personal plans and financial stuff (I'll be getting an inheritance when he dies).

So that's about it for now.

Mid-March check in

March 13th, 2021 at 03:53 pm

We're almost halfway through the month so I thought I'd post a quick update.

Our federal tax refund arrived on Wednesday. $518, so not a huge amount but I'll take it. Our state refund is bigger - $3,000 - but that always takes longer.

We aren't eligible for stimulus money but our daughter is, so that's nice for her. She is also due federal and state refunds. She filed last week so should have that money soon.

I sold the JETS shares I bought after last March's crash. I made an 81% profit which was nice. I'm still holding the AAL I bought but will probably sell it this week. It's at its 52-week high and I want to trim our stock allocation anyway.

DW gets her 2nd vaccine on Tuesday. Once we're both fully vaccinated, we may consider returning to indoor dining. One nice thing is that we will no longer need to wear masks to visit my mom since she had both of her shots already.

My cousin with cancer is doing okay. Things seem stable at the moment. He is on hospice service now which is good since he lives alone and we're 1,200 miles away. We're glad to know someone is checking in on him regularly. He also just started getting Meals on Wheels. He's had a couple of them so far and says they're very good. He really isn't a cook so having those on hand for an easy, balanced, nutritious dinner is great.

I've got PTO coming up starting 3/20. We were supposed to be in Florida that week but the event got cancelled due to COVID. No big plans, though DW and I were talking about tearing up the carpet in our bedroom so we'll probably do that. I'm hoping the floor isn't in too bad of a shape when we do.

The siding on the wall of our garage is coming loose. I contacted a couple of contracters to come out and take a look. Both are backed up for weeks so hopefully it doesn't get worse before one of them is able to get to us.

Otherwise, we're plugging along. I was spending a lot of time playing with retirement calculators and figuring out where we stand. I've pretty much determined that once my cousin is gone and his estate is settled, I should be good to drop down to part time. Right now, I'm figuring on remaining full time through the end of 2022 and maybe transitioning at that point. We shall see how it all plays out. How the market performs is a factor, too.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Dealing with the impending death of a loved one

February 4th, 2021 at 01:59 am

My cousin, who has been like a brother to me, was diagnosed with cancer about 3 years ago. From the start, we knew it was inoperable/incurable. He has done a few rounds of chemo and a course of radiation and he has actually done extremely well... until just recently. His last scan showed that the last chemo just didn't work and the cancer progressed. He still felt fine, though, which was great. However, over the past few weeks, he has started to decline and have obvious symptoms to indicate that the cancer is taking over.

We don't know how much longer he has but I suspect it won't be terribly long. One tough thing is that we're in NJ and he's in FL. That would be hard enough anyway and it's just worsened by the pandemic. It's not so easy to just fly down there to see him for a few days because we really should quarantine for 2 weeks after we get there. I'm already fully vaccinated but that still doesn't mean I couldn't transmit COVID to him. We're still deciding what to do and when. If his condition declines and he needs help, we'll just do what we need to because COVID really won't matter at that point. He's dying anyway.

There is a big financial piece to this story, too. I am the executor and sole beneficiary of his estate. Whenever he does die, I'm going to have to go down there for a while to settle his affairs, sell his cars, clean out and sell his house, etc.

I already notified my lead physician about this and she was super understanding and said not to worry at all about my shifts or coverage issues. She would handle all of that, even if I need to leave with no notice. Today she sent me the link to the leave of absence info for when I need to do that. I have no idea how long it will take to settle everything but I would think at least a month if everything moves quickly.

I reached out to our CPA as well just to give him a heads up that I'd be needing him to handle the estate tax filings. I'm trying to get as many ducks in a row as I can before I actually need them.

The emotional part sucks. The fact that he's going to die before my 90-year-old mother, who considers him like a son to her, really sucks. And she really wishes she could go down there but by her own admission she's really not up to it. We'll probably have to take her down for a few days at least just so she can see him one more time, which is going to be incredibly difficult for everyone. The whole thing just sucks.

Hug your loved ones. But also have a plan. Make sure your family/executor/heirs know what you have and where it is and how to access it. Make sure they know your wishes. My cousin and I sat down about 2 years ago and reviewed his entire situation, every account, the house, his cars, valuables, etc. so at least after he's gone, I won't be trying to piece it all together. I've even already been in touch with his financial adviser just so we could introduce ourselves and share contact info for when I need it.

Not really much else to say at this point.

Hurricane aftermath

August 5th, 2020 at 11:49 pm

Hurricane Isaias came through our area yesterday morning. Heavy rain and high winds. Other than a little water in the basement, we thought we had made out okay. And then around 12:30pm, after the rain had stopped and the sky was actually clearing, the power went out. It's now 7:40pm the next day, so 31 hours later, and the power is still out.

We were able to spend last night at home. Fortunately, it wasn't terribly hot so even without AC, it only got up to about 75 in the house.

Still no power this morning but DD and I both had to work so off we went. DW stayed home except for running out to get some breakfast since there wasn't really anything she could have at home.

When I got home, I picked up some lunch, and we were debating what to do. It was hot today so the temp in the house was up to about 85. We knew we wouldn't be able to stay in the house if the power didn't come back.

Once DD came home, we decided pretty soon after to book a hotel room and head out. There was no sign that the power would be back anytime soon and it was pretty oppressive in the house. DD is also in the middle of a big project that she needs internet access for.

So we're all settled in at the hotel. Lights, AC, Wifi, all the amenities we need. We ordered takeout for dinner. The hotel is right down the street from my office so I'll be at work in 5 minutes in the morning. And it's about the same distance from DD's work as from home so she's fine, too. I booked for 2 nights but can always extend it if necessary. Hopefully by Friday the power will be restored.

Wrapping up July

July 29th, 2020 at 08:26 pm

Another month has passed, just about.

July was fairly calm all around. I was off for most of the first week because I was supposed to be in St. Louis for a conference that didn't happen.

We celebrated our 28th anniversary on the 12th with dinner at a local Italian place we like. They had 2-person tables set up along the sidewalk out front which was nice. Well spaced and the sidewalk is covered. Plus it faces east so by dinner time, it has been in the shade for a while so not terribly hot.

Work has been picking up slightly but still low compared to normal. Not too many COVID suspects but still a handful every week.

Financially, all is well. I just paid 3rd quarter property taxes. I get paid tomorrow and my take home jumped $500 because I maxed out the SS tax for the year. I wasn't expecting that so it was a nice little surprise.

Nothing else too exciting to report. I hope everyone is doing well, staying cool, and staying safe.

The value of a to-do list

June 20th, 2020 at 01:38 am

A few months ago, I made a post asking people how they spend their evenings. And I really didn't just mean evenings but down time in general. More and more often, I was finding myself just sitting on the sofa watching TV or doing nonsense on the computer.

More recently, I've gotten a lot better about keeping a written to-do list. Mine is actually a physical piece of paper (usually the back of some junk mail envelope) that I keep on the kitchen table. Whenever I think of some task that needs doing, I add it to the list. If I think of something while I'm out and about, I'll email myself a reminder and add it to the list when I get home.

Now, when I have some down time and don't just want to be a couch potato, I take a look at the list. The things on there are generally quick little jobs, not big involved things.

For example, today I lubricated the flusher handle on one toilet that had been sticking and I glued back a piece of molding on my car that was peeling off. I also changed the filter on our AC. A few days ago I cleaned the bathtub drain and did a DIY improvement on our bathroom sink to help it drain better.

I have next week off from work so I'm trying to populate the list with as many things as I can think of to help keep me busy and help me accomplish as much as I can while I'm off. One thing I want to do is list a bunch of items on our neighborhood's "Buy Nothing" Facebook group. I've started a separate list of the items to give away through that.

I learned long ago - but sometimes manage to forget - that writing down the things you need to get done greatly increases your odds of actually doing them. I'd encourage everyone to give it a try if you don't already.

Anyone else feeling a bit guilty about doing well right now?

May 30th, 2020 at 03:25 pm

I suppose it's sort of like survivor's guilt. So many people are suffering with so much right now - disease, unemployment, having to home school their kids, having summer camp cancelled, struggling to keep their businesses afloat, and more.

Meanwhile, here we are with me still fully employed earning my normal income. My wife is very happily quarantined and almost couldn't care if things open up again or not. Our daughter is unemployed but fortunately not suffering financially as a result (though it has been hard mentally - she can't wait to get back to work). We do have a couple of friends who have been quite sick from COVID but thankfully haven't lost anyone close to us.

As I've shared before, our spending is actually down by about $1,000/month largely due to COVID. There's nowhere to go and nothing to do that involves spending money. So ultimately, we're going to come out of this whole mess better than when it started. So many millions of people can't say the same.

Not to say, of course, that it hasn't been a challenge. For weeks, the stress level at my job was sky high, the worst I've ever experienced in my 30 years as a doctor. Things were changing daily and we just didn't know what was going to happen, what we were supposed to be doing, how best to protect ourselves. Patient volume plummeted making us all concerned if we would maintain our jobs, especially as we heard more and more stories of healthcare layoffs.

Fortunately, we seem to be past the worst of it now and things have settled down. Work isn't so stressful anymore and we've adjusted to the new procedures. Volume is starting to pick back up also so I think our jobs are safe at this point. Now we're just dreading the fall when we have seasonal flu AND COVID to deal with. That certainly won't be fun.

Anyway, it's just been a little awkward or uncomfortable when we're talking with friends who have it way worse than we do. We're very thankful not to be financially impacted, not to have little kids to deal with, not to have had COVID strike too close to home.

News from Quarantine

April 25th, 2020 at 12:08 am

Well, there's not really much in the way of news but it's been 2 weeks since I posted so figured I'd check in.

Our daughter wasn't eligible for unemployment because her last job was with a non-profit and they don't pay into the system. The look back period ended 9/30/19 and she had only been at her current job about 2 months at that point and needed to have 20 weeks of work history.

There may be a silver lining, though. She got a call from her manager the other day and it sounds like they got money from the payroll protection program as she said they may be able to pay her for 8 weeks worth of income. She's waiting for confirmation and details.

I'm working same as always. Urgent care is still very slow. The hospital census has been gradually increasing but not to a point where they are overwhelmed and calling in more help. I'm hoping that remains the case and they won't need us. I really don't want to go work there.

DW is managing okay. She and her mah jong friends got set up with an online game platform so a couple of times a week they get together virtually and play. They use a 2nd device to Facetime so that they can all see and talk to each other. They'll probably keep using that system even after quarantine ends at least sometimes because it means nobody has to drive around. It will be great if we have bad weather or someone isn't feeling well but can still play without getting others sick.

We've become regular Zoom users, as I'm sure lots of you have. We've had meets with our bourbon club, our Disney friends, family members, and more. What a great resource to stay connected with everyone. I've used it a few times for work also for updates and meetings.

At work, we've been very grateful for some of the community support, mainly in the form of free food. We've gotten lunch from Five Guys and Mission BBQ, free smoothies from Smoothie King, and free donuts from Krispy Kreme among other things.

Financially speaking, the quarantine has really cut down our spending. Less gas, less dining out, less unplanned shopping, no outside entertainment - it's all added up to over $3,000 of reduced spending compared to the first 4 months of 2019.

I hope everyone is hanging in there. Stay safe.

Checking in

April 9th, 2020 at 02:45 pm

It's been 2 weeks since I posted. Things are going reasonably well. Work remains slow but also very stressful. I'm having dreams about work pretty much every night. Several of my coworkers have said the same. Constantly working with the threat of catching COVID from our patients is really taking its toll mentally on all of us.

As part of the Emergency Operations Plan, they have all of us urgent care providers getting oriented in the hospital so that when the surge hits, they can send us there as additional help if needed. I haven't done any inpatient care for just over 20 years so I'm not sure how much help I can be. I did a little orientation yesterday so I at least have a general concept of where things are and what the workflow looks like. But if I actually have to start working there, I'll need a great deal of help and support.

Passover was essentially cancelled thanks to COVID. We always host the seder at our house which obviously didn't happen. My cousins in NYC did a Zoom seder but none of us really felt like participating.

I'm trying my best to exercise regularly which is hard with the gym closed. I have gotten out to walk/jog several times and I've been doing some floor exercises at home with what limited equipment we have. I figure it's all good and better than nothing but I look forward to being able to go to the gym again whenever that happens.

Financially, things are pretty normal since I'm still working full time. Our daughter has been out of work since 3/13 and filed for unemployment. She got the debit card a couple of days ago but hasn't actually gotten her first payment yet. We're hoping that her place is able to reopen and doesn't go out of business. She'll be devastated if it does.

Not much else happening since the world is pretty much all closed. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy at home and being super careful when you must go out.

Just an update

March 26th, 2020 at 12:11 am

I realized I haven't posted for a couple of weeks. Heck, I haven't even been reading anybody else's blog. Obviously, it's been a crazy time, and being a healthcare worker, I'm not on lockdown like so many others including my wife and daughter. I've still got to go to work every day and that's been a whole new level of crazy with the rules and guidelines and policies and procedures changing pretty much daily.

On the plus side, patient volume at urgent care has plummeted. My theory is that with schools closed and so many people working from home, there just isn't that much routine illness going around. Also, with all sports and activities suspended, gyms closed, etc., we're not seeing all of the sports injuries we typically get. So we've been quite slow.

On the other hand, we're on the front lines of the COVID-19 stuff. We are seeing plenty of patients with respiratory symptoms so every person who walks through the door is a potential case and we need to act accordingly. That is quite stressful for all of us.

In addition, because of the decreased volumes overall, we're starting to worry about our jobs. They have already stopped urgent care services at 2 or our 8 sites and reassigned providers to the remaining 6. But we wonder how long that is sustainable when we're seeing about 1/3 of our normal volume. Colleagues across the country are reporting their urgent care clinics are cutting back operating hours or closing sites entirely. Some providers have even been laid off. So obviously that's a huge concern for me.

The "good" thing is that I work for a large hospital system, not an independent urgent care company. If the situation reaches a point where they really feel they don't need some of us in urgent care, they may reassign us to other clinical duties, especially if the hospitals start getting overwhelmed with COVID patients and/or a lot of providers are out because they are infected or at least quarantined due to exposure. So at least right at this moment, I think my job is safe, but I know that could change at any moment.

My daughter's job shut down a week ago Saturday and they were officially laid off a few days later, making her eligible to file for unemployment. She was upset about that and is hoping that her job opens again whenever appropriate. Her manager told her they definitely want her back but there is always that chance that they might trim staff or simply fold if they can't financially stay afloat.

My wife is managing pretty well with the whole situation. She doesn't work outside the home so her routine isn't quite as disrupted as ours, though it's still affected. Other than us taking a couple of family walks, I don't think she's left the house for well over a week. She normally does a weekly volunteer gig packing home meals for the elderly, plays Mah Jong every week, and does another monthly volunteer thing for a blind support group. All of that is gone for now. I know she's also really worried about me, afraid that I'll catch the virus at work.

And of course, we can't ignore the financial impact this whole mess is having. Last time I checked, our portfolio was down about $230,000. I'm sure it recovered a bit yesterday and today but that's still a huge loss on paper. I did do some buying over the last couple of weeks so I'm hoping that will help when the recovery ultimately happens. I got some stuff at pretty rock bottom prices (I hope) so that will goose the returns some when things start going back up.

I guess that's long enough of a post for now. I hope everyone else is holding up okay through all of this. Stay safe. Stay healthy. And STAY HOME!

How do you spend your evenings?

March 5th, 2020 at 01:20 am

This isn't quite a financial topic, though everything is to some extent, but I'm looking for everyone's thoughts.

How do you spend your evenings? After work and dinner, what do you do for the rest of the day?

I've really been struggling with this for a while. I feel like we don't do much of anything except watch some TV and spend time on the computer or our phones.

We do go to the gym regularly, but not at night. My wife does a lot of sewing and quilting, but not typically at night. I really have no hobbies or interests that I engage in anymore.

I don't like shopping unless there is something specific that I need, which is rare. I don't actively collect anything like I used to. I occasionally list some items on ebay but that hasn't been a regular thing for years.

It's a bit easier in the warmer/longer sunshine months because I'll do a little yard work or spend some time cleaning the garage or go for a walk/run, but especially in the winter with the colder weather and shorter daylight hours, I just feel like a slug.

I don't expect anyone to have a magical solution for me but I thought that maybe hearing what everyone else is up to might inspire me.

Won a nice raffle prize

December 21st, 2019 at 02:33 am

I got a voicemail yesterday from a liquor store we frequent saying I had won a gift certificate for a whiskey dinner for 6-8 people. I didn't know exactly what that meant. We took a ride over there today to find out.

It turns out that what I won is a $600 gift card to a very nice local restaurant. There is no official "whiskey dinner" that they do. We can use that gift card however we'd like.

We talked about it a bit and what I think we'll do is invite one couple to join us for dinner one night and invite another couple a different night. Eight meals should pretty well burn through $600. If anything remains after that, my wife and I can just put it toward another meal for the 2 of us.

I was excited to win anything and certainly blown away that I had actually won a $600 prize.