Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Medical Care or Medical Carelessness?

On August 1st my father had a stroke. This month has consisted of trips back and forth between NJ and NH along with long hours at the hospital and rehabilitation center. Dad is coming along, but that isn't the reason for this blog. I've been keeping the family apprised of his progress.

Anyone who has had a parent with a life threatening illness understands the stress and pressure it puts on everyone as well as the frustrations of dealing with health care, which IS the reason for this post. If I have one piece of advice for anyone in a similar situation, it would be to keep as informed as possible, research and question if you feel something is wrong or you don't understand something.

The health care workers and doctors we have encountered have been competent, well meaning, very overworked, and all too human. Rather than having a scene that plays out like and episode of house, there have but there have been oversights and minor errors caused by lack of communication. They have been frustrating, if not angering and potentially damaging. I could list each one and what we did to overcome it, but I'm not going to bore or depress you with details that are unique to our case and would do little to assist others. Instead, I'm going to provide you a little story about two musical instruments and a hurricane named Irene that illustrates well the kind of problem that exists.

Dad's stroke was in the cerebellum. He has full mobility and with the exception of some memory loss, he has full cognitive functions. His roommate however, was not as fortunate. His stroke paralyzed his entire right side, a fact this is important to this incident.

During Irene, the rehab center lost power. As a result, all of the patient call buttons were non-functional. In order to remedy that situation, they went to the activity center, gathered up all of the musical instruments and provided each patients with a hand instrument such as a drum, tambourine, cymbals, maracas, etc. that they could use to make noise when assistance was needed.

Here are pictures of the two instruments provided to my father and his roommate. I see some of you smiling already, because you are way ahead of me. Yup, you're right. They gave the maraca to my father and the cymbals to his roommate who has only one functional arm.

'Nuff said?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Salmon Lasagna

Jill and I were on Weight Watchers earlier this year. I found a heart healthy Weight Watchers recipe for Salmon Lasagna. When I tell people about it, an eyebrow or two is usually raise, but believe me it is delicious.

Since going off the strict diet, I've changed the recipe. It isn't quite as heart healthy or low-cal, but it is even more delicious.

Here's the recipe for those of you who have raised an eyebrow or said, "What gives?" Don't judge it until you've tired it.

Salmon Spinach Lasagna

1 oz white wine
5 oz Whole wheat lasagna noodles
3 cup(s) spinach
1 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Cajan spices
1 pound cooked farmed Atlantic salmon fillet
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup onion
6 tsp garlic clove(
15 oz. ricotta
1 1/2 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
6 leaves basil
1/4 cup Kraft Mexican Style Shredded Taco Cheese
2 medium tomatoes sliced
1 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp chives
1 oz Parmesan cheese


Coat salmon medalians with Cajan spices.

In a sauce pan on high heat use 1/2 the oil and add the salmon. Reduce to medium and fry for 2 min on one side. Flip and do other side. Remove salmon and let it rest on a plate.

Return the pan to the stove. Allow to heat for 1 min. Deglaze with wine. After wine has cooked off, add the remaining oil and heat. Add onions and garlic and Cook till translucent, about 7-8 min.

Spray bottom of 10x10 casserole dish.

Add Noodles, 1/2 onions, 1/3 salmon, spinach, 1/2 ricotta, and 1/2 mozzarella.

Next noodles, 1/3 salmon, basil, Mexican cheese.

Next noodles, rest of onions, rest of salmon, rest of spinach, rest of ricotta, and mozzarella.

Next noodles, tomatoes, 2 Tbsp mozzarella, parsley, and chives.

Bake for 30 min @ 375. Let rest 10 min before serving.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Co-existing with Beavers

As many of you know, because of the hard winter and wet spring, we've had a problem with the beavers damming up the culverts that runs between the upper and lower pond. We formed a committee that has been researching and experimenting for about a month.

Eliminating the beavers or the dam was never a consideration. This week we will meet to determine what action to take. I've put together a 5 minute multimedia presentation and a proposed solution to present at the meeting. I've also asked for comments from Mike Callahan's Facebook group. Mike is probably the leading expert in the country on beaver pond flow control and has implemented more than 750 solutions around the country. His group consists of a wide range of nature lovers, naturalists, and experts.

Please click here and take a few minutes to watch the presentation. I'll post more as we move forward.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hampton Beach Sand Sculpture Contest

Last year was our first visit to the Hampton Beach Sand Sculpture Contest, and we plan on making it an annual event. This year we felt that they weren't quite as intricate as they were last year. You can judge for yourself. Below is a video of this year's contest, and this link will take you to last year's video.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

That Answer is NOT Acceptable!

Over the years, just like most of you, I’ve had some frustrating dealings with insurance companies, banks, and big business doing things that weren’t right or just. In my young days, I would stomp, scream, holler, and rant with a result of nothing more than a rise in my blood pressure.

As time passed, my motto became, “Don’t get mad. Get even.” It still caused a rise in blood pressure, but it usually resulted in some other form of justice or satisfaction of having righted a wrong.

I have just today, adopted a new approach. “That answer is not acceptable!” It’s a mellower more mature approach. The getting even part is implied rather than expressed, and perhaps better stated as getting justice, instead of getting even. It might even allow me to resolve problems without a rise in blood pressure!

Let me tell you three short stories of corporate insanity that took place within a one week period that spurred me into action.

Last week, our condo association received a letter from the insurance company’s loss prevention division after a recent visit. They found three fire hazards, offered recommendations, and asked for our response. Two of the recommendations were logical and simple to implement. The first was to test the fire sprinkler system in the clubhouse and the second was to have additional fire extinguishers.

The third recommendation was to not allow grills on or under decks. This recommendation was made despite the fact that there is no prohibition in our policy. The recommendation, in my opinion, is short sighted and would more than likely cost them money and us a lot of aggravation.

Let’s think this threw. If a ban was put in place, there would be only two places for people to grill; the driveway or the commons in back of their house. One look at the backyard commons would makes it obvious that moving a grill through sliders and across ten feet of 1” stone is a piece of cake compared to having to go up and down a flight of stairs a half dozen timed before serving a meal.

Guess what? People will find it MUCH easier to grill in the driveway! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s store explosive propane tanks in an enclosed one car garage a one ton gas powered vehicle and a senior citizen driver!

Now do you want to hear the kicker? It appears that the statute cited by the loss prevention specialist, was improperly applied. It was written for condos composed of MORE than two families and apartment complexes. It does not apply to our two family units.

Our response was to tell them we would comply with the first two items, but we wanted the inspector to review his recommendations and remove the third one entirely.

This week, a letter arrived was on a different topic, made me think that Wall Street, banks, and insurance companies are still conducting “business as usual.”

Someone wants to buy a condo, but the bank said Fanny Mae won’t approve the mortgage unless we raise our dishonest employee coverage to $177,000. That has got to be the height of hypocrisy!

Fanny Mae and others sold bogus mortgages, made huge profits, paid their CEO’s billions, got bailed out by the tax payers for more than $100 billion, continue writing mortgages that tax payers will be on the hook for it buyers default, are still giving big bonuses and making money hand over fist, but are worried about “US” being dishonest. Give me a break!

All I can think of is Arlo Guthrie saying, “Sarge, you’ve gotta lot ‘a damn gall to ask me if I’ve rehabilitated myself. I mean I’m sittin here on the Group W bench ‘cause you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses, children, villages after BEING A LITTTERBUG!!! It’s not at all surprising that Fannie Mae was rated the second biggest corporation in the U.S.

With that fresh on my mind, a visit to TD Bank in Epping, NH, prompted me to say “That answer is not acceptable.”

I wanted to get a Visa gift card. When I requested the card, I found out that I couldn’t get one because I didn’t have an account with them. It didn’t matter that we had a half dozen accounts with them for 20 years before we moved from NJ to NH, or that we still have a mortgage through them. Without an account, there would be no card. That’s just plain wrong! I started walking out the door muttering under my breath and then it hit me. “That is NOT an acceptable answer!”

I turned around, walked back in to customer service and asked if they had any accounts that had no minimum balance and no fees. She told about their holiday savings account. I could put in as much or as little as I wanted, draw on it when I wanted, and they would send me a check in the beginning of October for the amount that was in it.

Perfect! I opened the account and deposited $510. When she came back with the deposit slip, I told her I wanted to take $500 out to purchase a gift card.
When I left the bank, I had the card, a smile on my face and two of their free pens in my back pocket. The bank has a worthless account that cost them time and money to set up, and they turned a satisfied customer into a combatant.

NOTE TO TD BANK: Make it easier for your customers to do what they should be able to do, simply because they are YOUR customers!

Oh, you may be wondering about the extra $10. That’s the “get even” justice part. In October, the bank will have to send me a check for $10. If I had thought about it just a little longer, I would have made the deposit $500.01. Of course, the next time I’m at the bank, I could just withdraw $9.99.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sherwood Samaritans Spring into Action

The Sherwood Samaritans got their first call today, only a few days after the group formed. For those of you reading this who are not part of our condo association, the Sherwood Samaritans is a neighbor helping neighbor organization that offers assistance such as transportation to a doctor's office or other similar appointment, light shopping or house cleaning for someone recuperating, meals for a shut in and even odd jobs and mule work to help the less able.

Today's call was short and simple, but it underscores the need and reason for the organization. Before I tell you about the call, I'll give you the background, which it actually more significant than the call itself.

The day after the meeting, I received an email from Deb, one of our residents. In the beginning of the message, she apologized for missing the meeting, because she did want to participate. She went on to explain that she has just undergone knee surgery, was having difficulty getting around, and couldn’t drive.

She went on to say that she just realized the irony of the situation. She wanted to attend the meeting and needed help, but never thought about asking for a ride until writing the message.

I think that like Deb, many of us are more than willing to give a hand when we see someone who needs help, but are often hesitant or remiss when it comes to asking for it. Having an organization such as the Samaritans visible and available, can help alleviate that problem.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… I started out by saying this was about our first call for help and seemingly wandered off into Deb’s story, but things do come full circle. It was Deb who made the first call.

Deb was having a birthday party for a family member. She and her granddaughter were setting things up and neither one could get the valve open on the helium canister they rented to blow up balloons. It was a simple thing to do. I opened the valve and helped hang a banner. It only took a moment, but it helped a neighbor and made a difference.

She gave me a call, probably not just because of the Sherwood Samaritans, but she was now aware of the organization, because was a neighbor, and she didn’t feel uncomfortable in asking for help. It’s important that Deb and the rest of the residents understand that every member of the Sherwood Samaritans would be just as happy to have come to the rescue. We have contact people on every block and no one should be uncomfortable contacting one of them for help.

For those of you who are members of the condo association and aren’t familiar with the Sherwood Samaritans and how we function, make sure you login to the Members section of for more information and a list of neighborhood contacts.

We all need help at some time or another and the Sherwood Samaritans are there for you. No questions asked!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tai Chi for Health and Fitness

It's not likely any of us will be running in marathons or entering any iron man competitions, but that doesn't mean we can't stay fit. One way to accomplish that is through Tai Chi, a gentle form of exercise that relieves stress, tones the muscles, stretches the tendons, and conditions internal organs while helping align the spine.

In July of 2010 I joined the New England branch of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society. We meet at the Adult Learning Campus in Exeter (the old high school) I began learning the 108 movement form as developed by Master Moy Lin Shin.

Joining the society allows you to attend any of the classes being offered anywhere in the world. By December, I had finished the basics and am now taking ongoing classes to learn the fine points. If I attend frequently enough, I may or may not be completed sometime before I pass on to my next lifetime.

In some ways, Tai Chi is like chess. You can learn the basic moves and get a great deal of enjoyment and stimulation fairly quickly, but to master it can take a lifetime. To accomplish this, a few times a year there are intensive workshops where master teachers offer a full day of training. In March there was an intensive workshop that was followed by a dinner to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, and talent show where members shared their other loves and skills.

In January, our web master moved to Chicago and I volunteered take over. With the help of other dedicated volunteers who supplied the content and planned the structure, the website was rebuilt. Please visit it to find out more.