Lydster: Learning from my daughter


Maxwell Frost
Maxwell Frost

There are always things I’m learning from my daughter.

She has been following online Maxwell Frost, the newly-elected member of Congress from Florida. I knew who he was because I had been getting contribution requests from his campaign.

He was supposed to be sworn in on January 3. So he wrote about that the day before. But as the drama over selecting a Speaker of the House of Representatives dragged on, no one could be sworn in. So Frost reposted  that January 2 post, followed by the word “SIKE!”

Quickly, he was scolded by some folks who thought a Member of Congress should know how to spell Psych! But, as my daughter noted, people of her generation have been spelling it as SIKE forever.

Did I mention that Frost is the first  Gen Z Congressperson? “At 25, [he] will be the youngest member of Congress. He’s also in debt after maxing out credit cards to win Florida’s 10th Congressional District seat.”


My daughter told me that Andrew Tate was arrested. I said, “Who’s that?” “He’s a former kickboxer and TikTok influencer.” I muttered, “I don’t care about some social media influencer.”

But a couple of days later, after I read about him on Reuters and other mainstream sources,  I knew WAY more about him than I wanted. He is a brutal misogynist. The  Romanian anti-organized crime agency DIICOT alleges he created with his brother and others “an organized crime group in early 2021 ‘with the purpose of recruiting, housing, and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialized websites for a cost.'”

His feud with Greta Thunberg revealed that he was in Romania when a box from Jerry’s Pizza, a Romanian chain, was in his video response to her, which facilitated his arrest.

So my daughter, once again, was ahead of my curve.

Dick Wolf

During her winter break, my daughter watched a bit of television. Two shows were in the Dick Wolf franchise, Chicago Fire and FBI International. She seems to like to watch and dissect them.

In the one episode I watched, Chicago Fire had characters lying for no good reason. For instance, one firefighter tells a pregnant woman married to another firefighter that she’s “fine” seconds before she is rushed to the hospital. In another scene, the woman in a couple avoids telling her Significant Other she’s buying a door with another firefighter, which becomes obvious two scenes later.

The FBI scene involves the officers coming up to a suspect and saying, from ten feet away, “FBI.” The suspect runs away and eludes capture. Now I know what “hate-watching” is because my daughter does it.

I love learning how my daughter’s mind works.

Lydster: Back to college

Power Dad

College AheadThis is a day or so in the life story of my daughter’s return back to college after Thanksgiving.

My wife and I bolted home after an unusually long church service, only to find that our daughter was not at home. It turned out that she had gone to Dunkin’ to see a friend. When she returned, my wife gave my daughter the treats she had purchased for her. We got started about 45 minutes after our 12:30 pm estimated time of departure.

The skies were overcast, but the roads were dry when we arrived at the second rest stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike at Blandford. They were right; it was a heavy-duty travel day, with more cars than parking spaces. I got a couple of sandwiches at McDonald’s; there was no other choice of restaurant. Despite the heavy flow of people, Mickey D’s staff was amazingly efficient with no terrible wait.

The wait came as we tried to get back on the highway. It was a parking lot. We went about three miles in the first 30 minutes. I don’t know if there was an accident; no road construction explained our lack of progress.

Then the rains came. Do you know how many people rag on the National Weather Service when their forecasts aren’t entirely accurate? This one was dead on. It was pouring when traffic recommenced and all the way back to the college.

I schlepped my daughter’s suitcase up a flight of stairs; no elevator. I don’t know why it was so heavy for a five-day weekend. Did she bring home her laundry? Fortunately, Power Dad… could… handle… it.

One more meal

She suggested that we pick her up for dinner. Well, we DO have to eat. So we went to a nearby hotel, checked in, unpacked, rested for about a half hour, and then went back to the college, picked up our daughter, and went to a local Panera.

When we dropped our daughter at college in September, we accidentally left my wife’s rewards card with our daughter. We told her she could use it, and she had. She has mastered the display terminal the restaurant wants customers to use rather than having a human take the order.

Finally, the final goodbyes at college. “I love you, ” I say. “I know,” she replies.

The next morning, my wife and I went down to breakfast. A guy was making a waffle and then pouring on various condiments. He said, “I’m making it for my teenager. It has to be just so.” And a few minutes later, as I saw his daughter’s sullen face buried in her phone, I laughed just a little. Not that my daughter is like that…

Lydster: the college semester

Facebook Meet

I take it that my daughter mostly likes her first college semester. Frankly, I feared that her school experience might have been marred because of her delayed start due to COVID. That was my projection based on an experience I had.

Specifically, two days before I went to grad school at the University at Albany in 1979 in Public Administration, I got a small infection in my toe. By the time I had to register for classes, I was in dire pain. Right after I completed the process, I limped over to the infirmary. They put me in bed immediately for the next six days. The staff feared that the infection running up my leg would run up to my heart and kill me.

(This is, BTW, one of the reasons I worried about my wife when she had HER infection in October and why I, long before any of her doctors mentioned it, insisted that she keep her leg elevated.)

The result for me was that I felt behind in my classwork. After a year, I dropped out and instead worked at a comic book store for 8.5 years.


But my daughter was fine. She eventually figured out where the cafeteria was and found her classes. She made a couple of friends in her dorms, and all in all, she’s doing pretty well.

Well, except in one of her courses. The class breaks up into teams of six, and they are supposed to put together a coherent PowerPoint-type presentation with each team member contributing just one or two slides. But one of her colleagues both overproduced and added indefensible opinions. Her team never met when everyone was present.

So I got a text from my daughter asking if we could talk on Facebook Meet. For 2.5 hours, we talked mainly about that topic, and I recommended sources to look at. But we also spoke about the school, her mom’s condition, and people asking about her at church. This was very nice.

Just maybe I miss her a little.

Two hospital visits on the same day

transthoracic echocardiogram

hospitalHow I had two hospital visits on the same day. Well, of a sort.

Monday, October 10: Leslie and I return to Albany, stopping to pick up a lot of Italian food. My wife also wanted us to pick up her prescription pain medication, but it wasn’t there. Her doctor’s office had failed to send the info either that day or the following morning. She increasingly needed pain relief, particularly from the inflammation of her left foot. Finally, it was filled, and I retrieved it.

Moreover, in addition to the infection of her ankle, a blister developed on her left shin. When I think of a blister, I think of a tiny, though irritated, area. This was considerably larger. As my wife later suggested, it was also appropriate for the holiday season because it like as though it was from a zombie.

Leslie and I saw my daughter before she left the next morning with about a third of the food, which was fine.

Tuesday, October 11: We were going to go to a timeshare in the Berkshires, but my wife couldn’t stand the pain of being in the car for an hour. Plan B:  After we put the one cat in the basement, Leslie came over and washed the dishes while I attempted to straighten up the house and tend to my wife.

Wednesday, October 12: Leslie and I went to the rental car place to return the vehicle. She Ubered to the airport, and I took the bus home. I certainly didn’t mind taking care of my wife, but it ate into most of my time for food prep and just helping her to get from one point to another.

The day without end

Thursday, October 13: My wife and I had separate medical visits. I went to the cardio section of St. Peter’s Hospital to get a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE). What is THAT? It is “a test that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to create images of your heart. TTE can determine how well your heart is functioning and identify causes of cardiac-related symptoms.”

I’m getting this test because of this. I used to get one annually, but then my cardiologist retired, and no one in the office followed up. So I had to get my primary care physician (PCP) to contact another practice in Schenectady, who I had seen a couple of weeks earlier. BTW, the Ellis Hospital main phone line sucks. I was in phone hell for ten minutes before abandoning it, Googling the directish number I needed, and calling that.

Part 2

So after the test, I went home, ate lunch, and watched a recorded episode of JEOPARDY. But before I could finish it, my wife called and said that HER PCP was displeased with the progress of her leg. The antibiotics should have done more. She should go to the emergency room and be admitted. I was to meet there, at St. Peter’s, where I had just come from.

We both arrived around 2:30 p.m.; she’d gotten a ride from the church friend who had taken her to the doctor. After two hours, she was called to the triage office, which involved her using her crutches to hobble there. Yes, the nurse there said my wife should be admitted. She finally got a wheelchair.

Around 6, I went home to take the trash to the curb, feed the cats, and, most importantly, make my wife a sandwich. The selection of graham crackers, saltine crackers, and Lorna Doones has dissipated over time. The bottled water is gone, with just some ginger ale cans.

Finally, my wife gets to go to a bed attached to the ER. I go in about a half hour later as it becomes obvious that she won’t see anyone for a while. At about 11 pm, I go home.


Friday, October 14: She tells me that several medical folks saw her overnight, some of which involved doctors waking her in the middle of the night. Around noon, she’s on the fifth floor. But she doesn’t have a room yet. And she hasn’t eaten or even drunk water since 8 pm the night before because the vascular surgeon was supposed to see her.

I arrive on the 5th floor at about 1:45 pm and find my wife, who doesn’t yet have a room. She’s on the floor, with some partitions providing a modicum of privacy. Then I got a call maybe 10 minutes after I arrived. It was my MIL wanting to know how her daughter was doing; I hadn’t spoken to her since we were still in the ER.

Finally, at about 2 pm, my wife gets a room. More importantly, since it was established that the vascular guy WOULDN’T see her that day, she got some food!

I was very distressed by all of this. It was my impression that her PCP could call the hospital and bypass the hours of waiting. I figured it would be like my last ER visit in August. Of course, that was a perceived heart thing in a less busy hospital. One of the medical professionals we spoke with subsequently said that’s just how health care is, especially in the last three years.

Insurance stress: CDPHP, St. Peter’s

health insurance

CDPHPI am experiencing some insurance stress based on two pieces of mail my wife and daughter received the same day last week. If you want to write a blues song after reading this, feel free.

The letter was from St. Peter’s Health Partners. It runs most of the city’s hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices that aren’t part of the Albany Medical Center. All of our primary care physicians are part of SPHP.

“Our records show that at the time of your last visit…, you… receive your health through a CDPHP commercial health plan.” CDPHP is the Capital District Community Health Plan. “Please be aware that [SPHP] has engaged in negotiations with CDPHP for a more equitable agreement to ensure we can continue to deliver high-quality, community-based care.”

Didn’t we do this dance a few years ago, which got resolved at the 11th hour?

In bold: “Our current agreement is set to expire effective January 1, 2023; meaning some patients may have increased financial responsibility when seeking care from [SPHP] in 2023 because CDPHP no longer includes the following facilities in its network.” Over a dozen facilities, including St. Peter’s Hospital, Samaritan Hospital, and five Eddy facilities, are on the list. Interestingly, no related mail from CDPHP has arrived.

On the coverage

Meanwhile, my wife and my daughter also received a Benefits Bulletin from my former employer, the Research Foundation for The State University of New York, or SUNY RF. “If you are a retiree or an eligible dependent of a retiree and you are not eligible for Medicare, your current RF benefits will continue for 2023 unless you make changes during open enrollment.” That window is November 1-30.

Just in case we need to make a change, I went to the SUNY RF portal to see if I could find the forms to change their coverage, but none of them seemed appropriate. Some were for the retiree (me), while some were for the retiree and dependents. I am on a different plan for administrative reasons.

So I called the SUNY RF number on Monday and then a different one on Wednesday. I was offered the same form to make changes, even though it didn’t make sense to me. If I change my wife and daughter to a Blue Cross program, I hope SUNY RF does not muck it up.


Meanwhile, a good friend of mine writes on Facebook: “We’ve…just been notified by [CDPHP] that CVS will no longer take our prescription insurance effective 1/1/2023… This is very upsetting because CVS is very convenient to where we live, has a drive-through, and the closest to our house is one of the only 24-hour pharmacies in the Capital District.” We got no such letter from CDPHP.

I called my local CVS pharmacist. They said that CVS has declined to take the CDPHP price schedule, so it may very well cost more to fill prescriptions there, but they won’t really know until they start filling them next year.

This issue will be a primary concern of mine this month because I can’t wait until the CDPHP/SPHP issue gets resolved in December if, in fact, it does.

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