Category: Consumer matters

Dressing warmly next winter

This winter of record-breaking lows put our cold-weather dressing skills to the test. We all know the drill: layers, hat, scarf, gloves or mittens, insulated boots with good tread. I usually follow it pretty well but still felt cold here and there on exceptionally frigid days.   • If I didn’t wear a scarf over... Read more »

Wandering in the health insurance maze

We all have stories to tell about hassles with medical practitioners and insurance companies. Stop reading if you don’t want to hear someone else’s. Humana Gold Plus, a Medicare Advantage HMO, has mostly served me well. It even paid $2,000 toward hearing aids. Those hearing aids caused a recent annoyance — not with them but... Read more »

Don't tidy your place for me

For the last few of my building’s monthly game nights, only two of us showed up. Before he moved out of town in mid-December, my game-playing partner invited me to his apartment for a meal and a last game of Scrabble. The invitation for that evening was issued spontaneously during his workday, so he had... Read more »
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Give me socks, give me lots of socks

Socks appear on many lists of the most boring gifts, but not for me. Because I always need them, every Christmas season I put crew socks on my wish list for the family gift exchange. It’s not just colorful, patterned socks that I wouldn’t call a boring gift. I ask for white or black so... Read more »

For the elderly, giving effortless food is a winner

Christmas shopping for 90+-year-olds whose home is overflowing with stuff is a challenge. For years I gave my parents gifts from Omaha Steaks, but they still had to cook the meat, along with side dishes. As they’ve gotten older, it seems better to reduce their work. This year I decided to check into whether Omaha... Read more »

Reluctantly, I’m giving up on overwintering tender perennials indoors

By September the sweet potato vines had spilled a foot or two down the sides of the railing planters on my balcony, creating a dense cascade of lime green leaves.  The plants were flourishing too well to let die when cold arrived. Of course I had to bring them inside to overwinter.  “If you have... Read more »
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Are you advising relatives about college applications?

College application season is under way. Though the topic seems ill suited for a blog titled Retired in Chicago, you may have children or grandchildren you’re advising about college.  Having worked at universities for 30 years, and having recently observed my two nieces’ experiences, I have opinions about applying to colleges. (Apologies to my nieces... Read more »

The frustration of proving I’m me to Equifax

You may have heard that as of September 21, the three major credit reporting bureaus are offering free credit freezes. Unless you’re planning to apply for credit in the near future, a freeze is advisable. It makes it harder for identity thieves to open accounts in your name. At the end of September, I started with... Read more »

A struggle to restore a dead smartphone

This is a technology horror story with blame to go around. For the nearly two weeks I was without a working phone, I must have spent half of that time trying to figure out what had happened to my Moto G4 Play and to bring it back to life. The ordeal started on July 4. Sitting... Read more »
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Mock meat has its place — in moderation

A couple of weeks ago, a story in the Chicago Tribune food section about “next-generation veggie burgers” annoyed me. My beef (excuse the pun) wasn’t with the reporting; Nick Kindelsperger did a thorough job of finding restaurants that serve great meatless burgers. It was with the premise that the best veggie burgers are the ones... Read more »