Archive | August, 2016

I could just scream.

31 Aug

You probably could have heard the scream.

Through Read for L.I.F.E., I tried to help a student through Algebra II.  The course was completely online and computer scored.  Allegedly an instructor answered questions and provided assistance; however, prompt responses could not be expected.  (It was like walking a tightrope for the first time without a net underneath.)

Algebra II 2

The course required satisfactory completion of each section before moving on to the next.  Algebra II was part of his four-credit math requirement for graduation.

Math 1

Totally lost in the wilderness!

Math 2

It had to be completed by July 31.  He asked for help on July 21.  [Insert another scream here!]

Math 3

Although I didn’t look closely at all the online materials, I could see that there were probably eight categories of Algebra II to be covered.  Each category had approximately fifteen assignments, two quizzes, and a test.  Each assignment contained 25 problems. While I helped, we worked through four assignments on multiplying polynomials and factoring.  It took four hours.  (Those assignments were due June 30.  [Insert another scream here!]  Oh my ….)

During our ten days together I witnessed some understanding in the way he approached the problems.  He grasped the concepts.  However, the clock was against us.  We could worked 24 hours a day from July 21 until July 31 and probably not completed everything in order to unlock the final.

The frustrating part is that success was obtainable had he ask for help earlier!

“Will I this stuff ever be used?”   How can that question be answered?  There were no practical problems presented.  None of the dreaded story problems appeared.  Application seemed to be a non-existent thought for the developers of this course.

He’ll be 18 in two months.  He works as a transmission mechanic but is considering other possibilities — law enforcement and/or the military.  He has begun to entertain thoughts of dropping out of high school and eventually working on his GED.  It’s sad to realize that he has already completed his science graduation requirement and should have no problem with his other subjects.  It’s math that’s going to be the stumbling block.  As difficult as this course is, the belief that GED math is less challenging is a pipe dream plus he’ll have to pass the other components of the GED in order to get that certificate.

Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare applies.  Had he asked for help when the course began, success was indeed possible; however, he failed.

It Looks Like Junk Mail, but It Isn’t

24 Aug

The Post Office provides blue tubs to recycle junk mail.  I watch as other customers search through their mail segregating it into piles: bills, correspondence, solicitations, and “other.”  Sometimes the “other” category includes plain envelopes with no return address. After the sorting the “other” classification may be torn in half and deposited in the blue tub or simply dropped in the recycling bin.  I cringe.

Admittedly, the vast majority of that “other” mail belongs in the junk category.  (There are moments when I believe that the only things keeping the Postal Service afloat are junk mail and advertisements.)  However, there could be a bomb in that “other” mail.


The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, PL 111-203, 124 Stat. 2092 (2010), does not permit a professional debt collector to identify themselves as such on envelopes.  Consequently, you’re not going to see a Debts R Us logo or a person’s silhouette slapping a truncheon in their hand in the upper left hand corner of an envelope.  Typically mail from debt collectors looks just like trash; some might even have a return address so long as it doesn’t imply that debt collection is their business.

If it isn’t opened, no harm no foul, right?  Wrong! (I’ve witnessed too many people adopt this philosophy to their detriment.)

The bomb is on the inside.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, PL 111-203, 124 Stat. 2092 (2010), provides

  • That the validity of the debt or any portion thereof may be disputed;
  • That the dispute must be made in writing;
  • That the dispute must be submitted within 30 days;
  • That any failure to respond leads to the presumption that the debt is valid.


Don’t throw your rights away!  Be proactive!  Exercise your rights! Respond to the debt collector in writing and save a copy!  (I hate dealing with them over the phone.  They will say one thing and then deny it later. With a writing, there is a record.)  Get some legal advice.  (Prepaid legal service plans like LegalZoom and LegalShield offer legal consultations for a year for less than what some attorneys charge for an hour’s consultation.)

Resting on ignorance is detrimental.  At least take a moment to review that junk mail before pitching it in the recycle bin.

The August Full Sturgeon Moon

21 Aug

Was it August’s Full Sturgeon Moon?  It has been a strange week.

  • I gave my daughter some money for a down payment on a house. Her banker has been giving me all kinds of grief.  How do you prove you’re not a drug dealer or a money launderer?
  • My grandson is starting kindergarten.
    • The original plan was open enrollment in a county school. The principal was dynamic. He welcomed all the new Eagles. He talked about how education was a team effort.  He introduced his staff.  He invited all the new Eagles to use the library during the summer. He encouraged the parents to get involved.  Sadly, there were too many kindergartners within the district, and my grandson wasn’t accepted.
    • The fall back plan was the city schools. Total chaos!
      • All questions were deferred until kindergarten orientation.
      • The principal noted that the most important message at the orientation was that “It is district policy that should your child have two unexcused absences that the truant officer will be involved and there WILL be a court hearing.”
      • First my grandson was on the bus route, then he wasn’t.
      • There was no introduction of the elementary staff. The first, second, and third graders were in class. Why should we do that?
      • Since this school has outstanding reputation for fund raising, there will be many opportunities for parents to be involved during the school year.
      • Total failure of communication! (Frankly, I’m concerned about my grandson in this school.)
  • I received a strange phone call early in the week. The caller identified that this was a “confidential” matter.  The caller mentioned a company I did not know.  In order to discuss this “confidential” matter, the caller needed my birthdate.  The caller couldn’t explain what the company did unless I provided my birthdate.  I refused to provide my birthdate until the caller explained the nature of the company. When I requested his supervisor, he hung up.
  • Yesterday I went to lunch down on the farm. I shouldn’t have stayed.
    • The hostess rolled her eyes and looked exasperated when she finally returned to her station and saw the number of people waiting to be seated.
    • She directed me to a distant corner of the dining room.
    • A waitress took my drink and lunch order
    • An assistant manager delivered my lunch.
    • The waitress vanished until I was getting ready to leave.
    • I’ll take the advice of Edgar Allan Poe’s Raven: “Nevermore!”

Now, I’m trying to ascertain whether these things truly occurred or whether this is just my skewed perception because of the August Full Sturgeon Moon.  What do you think?

New Vision Senior Group

19 Aug

On Tuesday, I was invited to speak to the New Vision Senior Group in Meeker, Ohio.  Twenty-nine wonderful folks who wanted to hear about estate planning.

It was an abbreviated estate planning speech.

  • I had everyone raise their hand. I’m pleased to note that you all have a will. When they objected, I pointed out that they either created one or the State of Ohio had written one for them.
  • I talked about the stuff that doesn’t pass by a will and, therefore, avoids probate.
    • Contracts with a beneficiary
      • Life insurance (If you’re someone’s lover, you don’t want to be remembered in his or her will, you want to be named as the beneficiary of your lover’s life insurance.)
      • Retirement accounts
    • Real property held with the right of survivorship
      • It has to say survivorship in the deed.
      • If it doesn’t a portion of the property will pass through probate
    • Paid on death accounts
      • No claim during the lifetime only after death
      • This is different from using “and” or “or” on the account. These folks have access all the time like the lady who put a personal injury settlement in the bank with her daughter, and the daughter used the money for cocaine.
    • Gifts
      • You intend to make a gift and you deliver it to the recipient and they accept.
      • This, however, isn’t a valid gift. A friend called her children together and asked them to identify personal property that they wanted upon her death.  The children put their names on stickers and attached the stickers to the bottom of the property.  At Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other family gatherings the children all played the game of moving the stickers.
    • Everything else passes by either the will you write or by the one written by the State of Ohio (intestacy).
    • Cost
      • purports to do a will for free.
      • Wills at begin at $69
      • Wills are part of the basic package through LegalShield for a monthly fee. I suppose if your fast, you could get a will for one monthly fee plus the initial start-up fee.
      • I don’t know what individual attorneys charge. Frequently it depends upon the complexity of the document being drafted.
    • Other concerns
      • Plan your funeral it eases stress at a critical time
        • My parents did. There was no gathering at the funeral home after they died to select caskets, etc.
        • My brother who died of cancer in the 1990s did not plan his funeral. His wife bought a three-year warranty on his vault that it wouldn’t leak.  There were only two ways of knowing if my brother’s vault leaked: (1) he complained or (2) he was exhumed – neither happened.
      • Living Wills
        • These are directions to your doctor in the event that you become vegetative and are unable to make decisions for yourself.
        • This is separate and distinct from a testamentary will.
      • Healthcare Powers of Attorney appoints someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you can’t
      • Trusts
        • These are private; whereas, wills are public.
        • These do not pass through probate.
        • The person who creates a trust, passes property to a third party (the trustee), and provides instructions on what that third party is supposed to do with it.
          • Give it to charity
          • Give the income to a beneficiary for his or her life and then give it to charity.
          • Give the beneficiary a monthly allowance but allow significant other distributions for special things like buying a house
          • Provide for a child with special needs
          • Provide a means to become Medicaid eligible while protecting some money and/or property
          • Whatever you can imagine
        • It was a wonderful experience.
          • There were occasions when I was stumped for an answer and readily admitted that fact.
          • They seemed especially concerned about my plans for burial at sea.
            • What would happen if I didn’t sink?
            • Would I be in a casket?
            • Does this really happen?
        • I’m eager to do it again!
          • Dealing with Loss is a class at Marion Technical College that addresses many of the issues surrounding end of life decisions. It will be offered spring semester 2017.