Saturday, October 24, 2015

60th High School Reunion: Partying With Classmates of the Class of 1955.

  Stoneham High graduates class of 1955 at our 60th reunion. Some  had not seen each other for 60 years!

" Jodgie, Jodgie Pollock (pronounced Poll-ick, sharp Boston accent), I didn't recognize you? -- (while eyeing my bald head that in 1955 had a dark, curly mop) Where the hell you been?"

Leaving out the foul language that routinely went with it, that was the typical greeting I got recently   from former classmates of the class of 1955, Stoneham High School, in Stoneham, Mass. It was our 60th reunion at the Four Points By Sheraton, a luxury hotel and conference center in Wakefield, Mass.

Foul language was how we guys talked as teens oh so long ago and it was great to hear it once again. The name-calling and ribbing was quickly followed by big handshakes, smiles, hugs, and joking about the old days and questions about health and what everybody was doing all these years.

The place was packed with about 60 of us -- talk about an appropriate number! -- who had gone to high school together, sharing all that went with it: classes, sports, dancing to 50's hits, social events like the Carnival Ball, plays like "What a Life," and, most of all, indelible times figuring out life and finding ourselves.

The group photo at the reunion:

Look at all that grey hair or no hair, such as me, front and center in the middle between two pretty girls. From being too shy in high school to even speak to girls, here I was at the reunion chasing after them with the full approval of my wife Barbara who was there with me.

Even though she was not an alumna, Barbara was smiling and chatting the whole time and had a great time -- and I did notice her partying with my old buddies. Here she is cavorting with Phil Corbett:


I could hardly complain since I had grabbed Peggy Thiede and dragged her out onto the dance floor. Peggy lived across the street from me on Park street in Stoneham and knew me as a preteen foster kid.

I should not have been dancing with Peggy, not because my wife Barbara was right there watching, but because I had my left hip replaced three months before. But you know what? I didn't care.

I felt like dancing with my old friend Peggy and I went out there and gave it my all. So did  Peggy. We had a blast. (I know a video was taken of our dance. If anybody has the video, send it to me at pollock.george@gmail.com and I'll share it with the world right here. I'm sure it will go viral.)

Except for you know what, we all had been through the entire life cycle: work and earning a living, marriage and family or going it alone, and all that it takes to build a life. Not to mention all the loss and heartache and health issues that go along with a long life. We're all pushing 80 for God's sake!

So for us -- been there, done that -- if we don't do what we feel like now, when? That was the feeling  in the air, with this reunion possibly being the last. Five years from now, how many of us will be around and up to attending?

Surely, now is the time to follow our bliss.  Judging from all the laughing and incessant raucous chatter at this reunion, the feeling was unanimous. The reunion was a blast with great food, music, dancing, catching up with everybody -- a wonderful trip down memory lane. And, oh what memories!

All the chatter and laughs about our high school days way, way, way back when we were teenyboppers, didn't surprise me one bit. Over the past few years I have attended several Stoneham High class breakfasts of a smaller group, all guys, girls not invited. Every one has been a barrel of laughs with joking around, filthy language, and routine name-calling the norm.

Four years ago, I wrote about my first breakfast meeting with my old buddies from Stoneham High class of 1955 in my blog, patientsprogress.blogspot.com. Here are short excerpts:

Oh, those were the days, in the 1950's, when we guys were kids together at Stoneham High in Massachusetts. We were all about sports, girls, and being "cool" and popular. We ran in packs like wild dogs. We had filthy mouths. We were teens in the fabulous fifties.

With the Korean War recently over, it was a time of Cold War with the U.S. and Russia locked in ideological warfare. With the two superpowers threatening each other with nuclear destruction, the "commie threat" and visions of mushroom clouds hovered over American society.

At Stoneham High, none of this mattered to us kids. Who cared about "commies"? We were into being young. We wanted to hang out, throw off parental controls (parents were to be feared in the fifties), to be good at sports (being a good student was so boring), and, most of all, popular.

A funny thing happened when I went to the first meeting at Brother's in Wakefield. Instead of feeling old, I became young again. Instead of nearly 73, I was 16, my age as a high school senior. I was the second youngest in the class. To my great surprise, I acted and talked the way I did then and so did everybody else.

End blog excerpts. To read the full story, click here.

Now let's go back to the big reunion, girls invited. Being shy with girls no more, with my wife Barbara right there watching, I went on a girl-chasing binge.

Photos from the reunion:


 Larry Weiss, left, of the old Weiss Farm and my reunion girlfriend, Peggy Thiede. I had not seen either of them in 60 years. And boy did we catch up on the good old days and Weiss Farm happenings.

Here I am above with a bunch of pretty girls. I have my right arm around Peggy Thiede and my left around Barbara Smith, who  organized the reunion. In the foreground, left, is Maryann Hefferman Lorance.  To her right is Carol Klamans Greco.

Below,, I'm with a bunch of the guys. From the left are: John Bracciotti, Eddie Newton, me with my paw  on Al Muse's shoulder, and Johnny Lawrence. The head above Al belongs to Bill McLaughlin. No doubt about it, I'm the good looking one. I hear groans from the other guys.  Shut your faces, you assholes!


In the summer of 1956, Eddie Newton, Johnny Lawrence, and I, not knowing what to do with our lives, decided on the spur of the moment to join the U.S. Army. Off we went to Fort Hood, Texas for basic training. We remember it like yesterday. Johnny tells how after a recruit said something I didn't like, I jumped across the table and punched him out. 

So watch what you say to  me!

Seriously, I can't believe I did that. Johnny, are you sure you didn't make that up?

Sadly, many of our classmates from Stoneham High class of 1955 are no longer with us. But with a large display of their high school photos, below, they were very much with us at this reunion. Along with many others, I lingered over these photos, remembering every single classmate. (It helped to have their faces and names right there.) I missed them. I wished  they could have been at this wonderful 60th reunion. On second thought, they were there with us, through their photos and our memories of them.




So long and keep moving.




NOTE:  My latest novel is Something Tells Her.  Go to Amazon. 



Jane is abandoned at birth and then placed in ever-changing, uncaring,  and often abusive foster homes. At age 12, her latest foster father makes a sexual advance on her and, with something telling her this is not right, she runs out the door. On the street, alone, no family, nobody, not even a last name, how is she going to survive? 

Other E-Books by George Pollock

"State Kid: Hero of Literacy" is fiction based on his real-life experiences growing up in foster homes; "Last Laughs," is the true story of how five foster kids (he and four younger siblings) found their way in life and each other. "Killers: Surprises in a Maximum Security Prison," is the story of his being locked up for 23 hours with killers in a maximum security prison; "I, Cadaver" is about his postmortem adventures and mischief in the anatomy lab at UMass Medical School. “A Beautiful Story” demonstrates the art and process of creative writing as a 16-year-old boy goes all out to write a story that literally saves his life. 












































Thursday, September 03, 2015

A Kid in Edmonds, Wash.: I Play With the Grandkids and They See Me as Just Another Kid.


Is that a gorgeous looking young couple at right or what? Are they professional models? They are not.

They are our daughter Misha and her husband Ed on vacation at Redondo Beach, California. Barbara and I were at their home in Edmonds, Washington visiting for a month and watching our four grandchildren while they went away for a few days.

I know what you're thinking. Four kids? They look like they're 22 or 23. How could these two kids have four kids? 

Well, they do. The oldest is Mia at 13. The youngest is Talula, at three. In between are Bella, 12 and Max, 8.

I'm not going to tell you how old their mom and dad are because I want to live. But Misha and Ed are NOT kids. Ed is a senior vice president at LA Fitness responsible for dozens of clubs. Misha is an incredibly talented party designer and planner with a popular website,  A Lovely Design.

Why do Misha and Ed look so young? Over the last several months, Ed has dramatically changed his diet and followed a rigorous exercise program, losing about 45 pounds. Misha has also lost weight, but did not have as much to lose as Ed.

"You think you look good?" I said to Ed. "Wait till you see me this time next year."

He doesn't seem worried.

Misha and Ed are both fully grown up, serious adults, as is my good wife Barbara. Me? I go through the motions of being an adult. Been there. Done that.

At my age -- a number I have trouble wrapping my mind around -- and stage of life, having gone through the entire normal life cycle of career (teaching and publishing as a writer and editor), parenthood and doing all that must be done to build a successful life, I regularly and happily act like a child.

The four kids consider me one of them, though Mia at 13 who often watches her three younger siblings, is not sure of what to think of an old man acting like a child. But sometimes I get a laugh from her and that is good enough for me.

Now photos from our month in Edmonds, of my second childhood and of the remarkable lives of grandkids --  filled with art, music, dance and living the creative life to the fullest.

Above is a scene from the musical Shrek at the outdoor Forest Theater in which Mia, Bella and Max had dancing and singing roles. Mia is in the back at dead center, Bella is far left and front, and Max is the little guy in the far right behind Shrek. 

Mia, right, belting out a song in Shrek
Bella, left, dancing it up in Shrek




Misha prepares the star of the play, Jason Gingold, for his role as Shrek.

The star of Shrek with his designer. Misha designed and sewed most of the costumes.











































One day my fellow kids saw me crying. They asked what was wrong. "I'm tired of being bald," I said. "I want some hair."

They swung into action, below.  Mia, right, did my eyes and eyebrows. Then she and Bella, left, gave me a new head of hair.

The new me. What an improvement!
I was so excited with my new hair that I broke into a dance. It was caught on video  by Mia's friend, Darian, right. (The video is the first on the list at right, IMG--2033.MOV)

It's not enough that the kids sing and dance with top-level theater groups like Kitsap Forest Theater. In between these professional-level performances, they put on impromptu shows -- you're not going to believe this -- in the garage.

They even included me in their act, sitting there as an old fool. Max gave me a new head of hair and a top hat. It was a great impromptu performance, with the exception of my role in the audience. I wish we had gotten the garage play on video. Oh well, maybe next time.



Besides singing and dancing, Max is always drawing something. He did a portrait of me, which he holds up below. I told him I loved it and would have it framed and keep it always.

"It's going to be worth a fortune some day," I said to Max.

No fool, Max gave me a look that said, "yeah, sure."



I'll be back home Sept. 11. I'll try my best to be a grown-up adult, but I know it's going to be hard.

So long and keep moving.

P.S. It's been nearly three months since my left hip replacement.  Yesterday I went out and hit for the first time here at the tennis club in Edmonds.  Though I took it easy, not running, I felt great.  I'll be back playing in a matter of days.  Yes!


NOTE:  My latest novel is Something Tells Her.  Go to Amazon. 



Jane is abandoned at birth and then placed in ever-changing, uncaring,  and often abusive foster homes. At age 12, her latest foster father makes a sexual advance on her and, with something telling her this is not right, she runs out the door. On the street, alone, no family, nobody, not even a last name, how is she going to survive? 

Other E-Books by George Pollock

"State Kid: Hero of Literacy" is fiction based on his real-life experiences growing up in foster homes; "Last Laughs," is the true story of how five foster kids (he and four younger siblings) found their way in life and each other. "Killers: Surprises in a Maximum Security Prison," is the story of his being locked up for 23 hours with killers in a maximum security prison; "I, Cadaver" is about his postmortem adventures and mischief in the anatomy lab at UMass Medical School. “A Beautiful Story” demonstrates the art and process of creative writing as a 16-year-old boy goes all out to write a story that literally saves his life. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hip Replacement: A Storied Surgeon Does It All His Way -- With Remarkable Results.

Twelve years ago with both knees destroyed from years of ice hockey, I was creeping around like an old man. It looked like I was finished with my physically extreme life, such as playing tennis, building stone walls, and walking for miles around strange new residential neighborhoods (and not once arrested).

But then I saw players who had total knee or hip replacements running around the tennis courts on metal knees, with no pain. They played just like before -- and even better. I asked around and the name of the same surgeon kept coming up, Dr. Dennis Burke at Mass General in Boston.

I promptly contacted Dr. Burke, but because he was in great demand, I had to wait many weeks for an appointment. Finally, I got to see him and he eventually replaced both of my knees, though separately. He said that replacing both at once increases the risk unnecessarily.

Of course, I  wrote about that experience and knee replacements in general.

I have been running around the tennis court on those knees for 12 years and they are still going strong.    When Dr. Burke recently looked at x-rays of my titanium knees, he had only one word, "beautiful."

So when the pain in my left hip got worse and worse, and I was limping around and had to stop playing tennis, it was naturally back to Dr. Burke. By now we had come to know each other, joking and kidding around.

When he entered the exam room, we greeted each other with a hearty handshake and big smiles. I put on a serious face and said, "You sure you're not too old to be doing this? How old are you anyway?"

Without missing a beat, he replied, "62."

"Kind of old, but I guess that's okay."

He smiled. 

This is Dr. Burke, a people doctor like no other. But you don't need to take my word for it. Here is how the Orthopedic Journal at Harvard Medical describes him:

"Engaging charm."

"Leaves a patient feeling as if Dennis has just one patient in the world, you."

"If human effort and skill can make the operation succeed, this is the guy who can do it."

"His intelligence is exceeded only by his ingenuity."

"What more could you ask?"

To read  more, click here.

Without a doubt, when I see Dr. Burke I know he is thinking of me and only me. He sat down at his computer and pulled up the x-ray of my left hip. "Bone on bone, no cartilage," he said. The two of us are pictured below, clearly friends, with the x-ray behind us.


"It needs to be replaced?"

He nodded. "But your decision."

"No brainer," I said in one second. "Let's do it."

With Dr. Burke being in huge demand, it was weeks before I could get an appointment for the surgery.  But that day eventually came this past June 8. In this photo, taken by my wife Barbara, Dr. Burke checks my hip and initials it before we go into the operating room.


I have to tell you something else about Dr. Burke. In addition to being a friendly and easygoing guy, he is also a renowned surgeon with a national reputation.

He is Secretary of State John Kerry's surgeon. In fact, John Kerry was in the hospital the same time I was, but neither Dr. Burke nor I mentioned his name.

How did I know John Kerry was at Mass General? I heard his name whispered in the hallways. I also noticed the gaggle of Secret Service agents outside. Naturally, I had to take a photo of them, below. They could have been a little less obvious, don't you think?

When I woke up after the surgery, I asked Dr. Burke if he would have a photo taken of me with the operating room group. "Sure," he said. He took out his phone and snapped the picture. "What's your email address?" he asked. I gave it to him. He tapped his phone and said, "Sent."

Here is that photo taken by Dr. Burke in the recovery room immediately after my hip replacement surgery.


Have you ever heard of a photo like this taken by a surgeon immediately after he had performed major surgery? Neither have I. But then again, there is good reason. It takes a ... er... different patient like me to think of it immediately after waking up from a major operation and a one-of-a-kind surgeon like Dr. Dennis Burke willing to actually take the picture.

But Dr. Burke goes even more off the beaten track. Before the surgery, I mentioned to Dr. Burke that I was interested in seeing what my hip replacement surgery actually looked like. I asked him, "Do you think you could have a video taken of the surgery?"

"Sure," he said.

I thought he was putting me on. Yet after he signed off on me to leave the hospital after three days and we were saying goodbye, he handed me two disks.

"Videos of the surgery," he said.

I was blown away. "Thank you, thank you," I said.

"My pleasure, " Dr. Burke said.

I said goodbye to my main nurse at Mass General who had a non-stop smile as she attended to my every need. She is pictured below with that great smile of hers.

I was sent home in the care of my good wife Barbara who was at my bedside daily during my hospital stay. Now she would be my amazing, nonstop, caretaker for the next several weeks.

I don't know what I would have done without you, dear!

Unexpectedly, the next several days were sheer hell for both of us with two trips to the emergency room at UMass Memorial in Worcester. The first was from a piercing headache with a level of pain that I had never experienced in my long life, followed by another headache two days later.

Emergency room doctors gave me every kind of test in the book and still could not figure out the cause, though they ruled out stroke and blood clot. They gave me a couple of  pain meds through the IV and sent me home.

On my second trip to the ER in two days, one doctor asked if I was a coffee drinker. I said I was, but had not been drinking coffee lately. He told me about his headaches when he didn't get enough caffeine. So he gave me, believe it or not, a caffeine pill.


The two trips to the emergency room were probably from a lack of sleep from going to the bathroom every thirty or forty minutes due to an aggravated prostate problem, not eating much, taking pain meds and difficulty with bowel movements. Here I am at right in the emergency room, waiting for the pain meds to kick in, trying to ignore the pain.

After the second ER visit, doctors sent me home with five different prescriptions for headache pain and bowel problems. My primary care doctor then suggested Flomax for the prostate problem.

After several days of misery, I began sleeping better and spending less time on the toilet. And soon, with physical therapy and working out on my own and Barbara managing medications, I began to feel much better.

Barbara and I would have coffee at Panera in Shrewsbury. I would walk up and down with my walker. When people saw me with the walker, they rushed to get out of the way and open doors for me. I have to be honest with you, I kind of liked all the notice and deference.


Before the hip replacement, I was limping, walking bent over and in pain. Now I was standing and walking straight up, going from two  crutches to only one, having dumped the other one. I felt a couple of inches taller.

Six weeks after the surgery, on July 21, I had my follow-up appointment with Dr. Burke. With both of us looking at the x-rays of my new hip, Dr. Burke pronounced everything as it should be. "Could I have a copy of this x-ray?" I asked.

"Sure," he said and set up his computer and asked my wife Barbara to type in my e-mail and hit send.

She did.

And now ladies and gentlemen, the moment you no doubt have been waiting for: a chance to see my new hip, in the x-ray Dr. Burke had Barbara e-mail me. Drum roll please ... drum roll ... and here it is:

Look at that left hip. Beautiful, don't you think?

Next came exercising at home, and then out-patient therapy three times weekly with professional therapists at Greendale Physical Therapy in Worcester. But I was still limping a little and not progressing as fast as I had hoped. Besides the three sessions a week at Greendale I was also working out twice a day the other four days and also taking thirty minute walks.

When I told my physical therapist Kim at Greendale how much I was working out at home, she gave me a stern look. She let me know in no uncertain terms that I was not superman and that I could be hurting myself. She said I "should back off on the exercise and see if that helps."

I did. The recovery sped up. And I owe that to Kim who put me through new and more challenging exercises as I grew stronger. Thank you, Kim, for putting me in my place!

I now expect to be back on the tennis court in late September or early October. "You should be good for doubles then," Dr. Burke said. Already my crutches and walker are distant memories.

Organized by my good friend Rich Pyle, I recently got together for lunch with some of my tennis friends at the Nu Cafe in Worcester. Below is a photo of the group, with me standing and drawing attention to myself as usual. Rich is at my left elbow, Marty is beside him, Sam is far left, and Jim is at my right elbow. (I use my elbows to keep them in line.)


So guys, sorry to tell you this, but I'm coming back!


P.S.  Later at home, my wife Barbara and I sat down and watched the video of my hip replacement. We were stunned at what we saw: the sliced hip opening; Dr. Burke's hands moving swiftly clearing flesh with one delicate small instrument after another; retrieving and holding my socket in his hand; and, most amazing of all, pounding my new socket into place with a hammer. Unbelievable!

So long and keep moving.


NOTE:  My latest novel is Something Tells Her.  Go to Amazon. 


Jane is abandoned at birth and then placed in ever-changing, uncaring,  and often abusive foster homes. At age 12, her latest foster father makes a sexual advance on her and, with something telling her this is not right, she runs out the door. On the street, alone, no family, nobody, not even a last name, how is she going to survive? 

Other E-Books by George Pollock

"State Kid: Hero of Literacy" is fiction based on his real-life experiences growing up in foster homes; "Last Laughs," is the true story of how five foster kids (he and four younger siblings) found their way in life and each other. "Killers: Surprises in a Maximum Security Prison," is the story of his being locked up for 23 hours with killers in a maximum security prison; "I, Cadaver" is about his postmortem adventures and mischief in the anatomy lab at UMass Medical School. “A Beautiful Story” demonstrates the art and process of creative writing as a 16-year-old boy goes all out to write a story that literally saves his life. 

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Tax Time, Scam Time: Thieves Steal Billions Using Taxpayer Identities.

I know. They stole my identity.

Using Turbo Tax, a leading tax service with millions of customers, thieves filed federal and Massachusetts tax returns under the name of George Pollock -- me -- with my address, social security number, email, and replicating details from my 2013 tax return. 

How did I find out?  Easy.  One day when I was just beginning to think about getting my taxes done, I got an e-mail from Turbo Tax thanking me for using them to file my taxes. OMG! I'm being scammed! I went immediately into panic mode.

I called Turbo Tax. I tried and tried and tried but couldn't get a human being. I replied to their e-mail saying that I "did not file with Turbo Tax and that I am a victim of identity theft and fraud." I demanded that they immediately step in to stop the scam or "you will hear from my attorney."

I got no reply and still have not.

I notified my longtime tax preparer. Fully understanding the seriousness, he urged me to get my tax info to him as fast as possible and he would give it top priority. Working nonstop for two days, hardly sleeping, I got my tax return info together and sent it priority to him. Amazingly, he got it filed, Massachusetts and federal, practically in hours.

I called the IRS and got a recording saying they are too busy during tax season to accept calls.  I started filling out an IRS form reporting the scam but found it very long and complicated. It also asked for personal and tax info that made me nervous putting online. I didn't do it.

I called the Federal Trade Commission and, to my great surprise and relief, got a human being.  It was a no-nonsense woman who patiently and professionally took all the necessary information.  She said that all appropriate state and federal agencies would be alerted. At her suggestion, I also placed a credit freeze on my credit card and and a fraud alert with credit reporting companies.

She also said that it's a good idea to alert local officials and that the best way to do that was through the police department.  So I went down to the Worcester police department and reported the scam.  I was told that an officer would come to our home the next day to take my info.

Sure enough, the next morning  a police cruiser pulled up in front of our home.  A uniformed officer got out, walked up to our front door, and rang the bell.  I opened the door and let him in.  As I did, I imagined  the word sure to go around the close-knit neighborhood:

The old nutcake is in trouble with the cops.  Anyone know what he did?

I led the officer downstairs to my office, which I call my mancave, where he took my information, writing it all down.  He was friendly, easy to talk to, and spoke with a strong Spanish accent.

When he was finished and we began walking out, I put my hand on his shoulder. With a serious face, I said, "You're not an illegal immigrant, I hope?"

We locked eyes. Seeing right through me, the officer smiled. "No."

 "Oh good, I don't have to report you."

The officer chuckled.  I saw him out the front door with a "Thank you officer" and firm handshake. 

Feeling that I had done all that I could, I was able to relax -- until a few days later I received the following email from Turbo Tax:


Where's My Refund? How to Check Your Refund Status
Now that you've filed your tax return, you may be
wondering, "Where's My Refund?" Learn what
happens after you e-file your tax return and
how to check the status of your refund.
Find out more

I shot Turbo Tax the following:

NOTICE: I have NOT filed an income tax form through Turbo Tax!  Any form you have using my name, address,  social security number, and e-mail address is identity theft and fraud.  I notified you of this when I got the first notice from Turbo Tax.  I have now notified local and state authorities and am filing a fraud report with the IRS.  Meanwhile my legitimate state and federal forms are now being filed by my legitimate income tax provider.  A reply would be professional and appreciated.

I got no reply from Turbo Tax.  Again, I tried to talk to a human being at the company.  Couldn't.

A week or so later, the next email from Turbo Tax was this:

Dear george pollock,

Your Tax Return Status: Federal Return Rejected

We want to make sure you file your taxes on time.
Earlier this year, your tax return was rejected, and we've noticed you haven't re-filed it yet.
A rejected return means the return has not been filed with the government. If you've already fixed your return, re-filed and been accepted, or filed by mail, you can ignore this notice.
If you have not fixed your rejected return, you have only until April 20, 2015 to fix and e-file it again.

intuit(R) TurboTax(R)


This was great news.  The scammer's return in my name had been rejected! Yippee! 

Then I got an email from my tax preparer telling me that my Massachusetts and Federal returns had been accepted.

Then I quickly got substantial Massachusetts and Federal tax refunds. The checks are deposited.

Sorry scammers.  You lost!

So long and keep moving.

For More Info

Thousands of other taxpayers won't be so lucky.  With millions of taxpayers working to submit their returns before the April 15 deadline, the IRS is seeing many cases of identity theft and fraud, according to Timothy Camus, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Based on my own experience, if you find yourself the victim of identity fraud, you should contact a human being at the Federal Trade Commission, place a fraud alert with credit reporting companies, and place a credit freeze on your credit card. The FTC website will guide you.

Testifying before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee chaired by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R. Utah, Secretary Camus said that the IRS has identified more than 517,000 suspicious returns and blocked $3.1 billion in fraudulent returns, including some from overseas perpetrators. Sen. Hatch said that the scammers got away with $5.8 billion in 2013, which was a 37% increase in one year. It could be more for 2014 said Sen. Hatch, which was why he was holding hearings on the issue and what can be done.

Narrowly avoiding being an identity theft victim, myself, I watched and listened to every word of the hearings on CNN. I  videoed key testimony by Timothy Camus, below, and also by John Valentine, Utah Tax Commissioner.  You can watch these these short videos on  You Tube.

  
 NOTE:  Read my latest novel, Something Tells Her, for FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Go to Amazon. 



Jane is abandoned at birth and then placed in ever-changing, uncaring,  and often abusive foster homes. At age 12, her latest foster father makes a sexual advance on her and, with something telling her this is not right, she runs out the door. On the street, alone, no family, nobody, not even a last name, how is she going to survive? 

Other E-Books by George Pollock

"State Kid: Hero of Literacy" is fiction based on his real-life experiences growing up in foster homes; "Last Laughs," is the true story of how five foster kids (he and four younger siblings) found their way in life and each other. "Killers: Surprises in a Maximum Security Prison," is the story of his being locked up for 23 hours with killers in a maximum security prison; "I, Cadaver" is about his postmortem adventures and mischief in the anatomy lab at UMass Medical School. “A Beautiful Story” demonstrates the art and process of creative writing as a 16-year-old boy goes all out to write a story that literally saves his life. "Something Tells Her" is the story of a 12 year old foster girl who runs away from her latest abusive foster home.  How on earth is she going to survive? Well, she has ... something. What?

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blizzard of 2015: A Lifelong Snowstorm Playboy Is Forced to Act Like a Grown-up.

All of my long life, snow has meant great natural beauty and fun in a winter wonderland: time off from school or work, making a snowman or two, playing in the snow,  trudging around in it, and soaking it all up. My love for snowstorms has kept me a kid at heart in New England winters.

Up to now. In the last three weeks two ferocious blizzards, serial snowstorms dumping over a hundred inches of snow, below-zero freezing cold of historic proportions, wind gusts of 50 mph with a wind-chill factor of 30 below,  have forced me to be serious and act like an adult. An amazing thought, I know, for anyone who knows me.

Here are couple of views  of our place that I had to take seriously.

What I saw when I opened our garage door after the latest storm.

The scene when I opened the door to look out at our back deck.

Barbara sent these and other photos to our daughter Misha who lives in the Seattle area.  She texted back: "Wow!! That's a lot of snow! Today, we are going to have a picnic at the beach! LOL. Wish you were here! You might want to consider spending your winters in Seattle!"

Then she sent us a photo of flowers she just planted in her yard, below right. "Spring is here!" she wrote. She was right. While Worcester where we live was officially the snowiest city in the entire country, the west coast, and especially Seattle, was enjoying an unseasonably  warm, springlike weather.

Misha didn't need us to tell her about the weather we were having here in New England.  With the story running nonstop on all national TV networks, she could hardly miss it.

For three weeks, the TV networks have been a continuous graphic display and accounting of the storm's impact: the collapse of the "T," the state bus and railway system, stranding thousands of commuters; traffic stalled for two and three hours on snow-packed highways; roads blocked with mountains of snow; collapsed roofs; cars buried in snow.

Our New England storm even made the front page of The New York Times on Wednesday, January 28.  Not only that, it was the lead story.  That is saying something because the Times is an old, storied, and respected newspaper with a worldwide reach and influence. I've been addicted to it for 53 years.

Still, as is my habit, I didn't feel any great need to take this series of powerful storms too seriously. That was for  scaredy cats who never learned to appreciate and enjoy winter. When the first giant storm came, I just went out to have fun  and take some photos.

But within minutes,  powerful wind gusts -- which I later found out had a wind chill factor of 30 degrees below zero -- stopped me cold, literally. Although I was dressed warmly with layers, hat, and gloves, my face was freezing.

In all the years that I have been going out playing in snowstorms, that had never happened.  I later read that wind gusts this cold on exposed skin can cause serious frostbite in ten minutes.  If I had kept walking,  it would have been a big mistake.

I only got one photo, but a very interesting one, at least in my opinion.   First, I noticed the American flag, proud, defiant, rising above the huge snow piles. Then, looking into my camera, I noticed a shadow against a wall of snow. With the sun out behind me, the shadow was me. I took the picture, shown below.

Normally, I love to shovel.  But this snow was several feet high in my driveway, on my roof, and on my back deck.  Also, I have a bone-on-bone arthritic hip that needs replacement, which I expect will be done early in the spring.

Lucky for me, my neighbor Tom knew of my hip problem and came over and snow blowed my front walk and driveway.  Talk about a good neighbor!  Thank you, Tom!

But my roof remained piled high with snow and more and more roofs were collapsing under the weight. What happens is that snow on the roof compacts, freezes, and turns into ice -- which weighs eight times more. Eight pounds of snow becomes 64 pounds of ice, greatly increasing the chance of collapse.

No thanks, I thought. With my hip pain moderate and manageable, I climbed up on the roof and started shoveling. I had been up there only a half hour or so when Tom came running over with a shovel.

"What are you doing up there?" he said, clearly annoyed.

"Look at all that snow on the roof. It's got to get off there."

Shaking his head, Tom climbed up on the roof and we shoveled together for nearly three hours. The photo below shows Tom on my roof working away. Working nonstop, we got a huge amount of snow off the roof, enough to make me feel better.  

Then more snow and more piling on the roof. With the number of collapsed roofs rising, the new snow had to get off.

 "Don't you go up there," Barbara ordered.

"I won't," I said. "Don't worry."

I lied.

I borrowed a roof rake from another good neighbor, Gabe. Standing on a ladder leaning on the roof, I raked huge amounts of snow from the roof.  I also got up on the roof and shoveled.

First there was the standing on the ladder. Then throwing the rake up.  Then dragging the snow off the roof.  It took about five hours over two days.

Barbara caught me on the roof but didn't call me a dirty rotten liar. She was pleased the roof was done. We didn't have to worry about it falling on top of us.
 
I think she was happy I was still alive.  I think anyway.  (Psst, do me a favor:  ask her and let me know. Thanks.) Anyway she took the photo, above, of  her liar husband.

I have no idea why I was able to do all that work with this bad left hip and with hardly noticeable pain. But I got it done.

Yes!

Now I can relax.

OMG! I just heard on the news that a new arctic front is coming this weekend.

Ugh! The winter from Hell!

So long and keep moving.

NOTE:  Read my latest novel, Something Tells Her, for FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Go to Amazon. 


Jane is abandoned at birth and then placed in ever-changing, uncaring,  and often abusive foster homes. At age 12, her latest foster father makes a sexual advance on her and, with something telling her this is not right, she runs out the door. On the street, alone, no family, nobody, not even a last name, how is she going to survive? 

Other E-Books by George Pollock

"State Kid: Hero of Literacy" is fiction based on his real-life experiences growing up in foster homes; "Last Laughs," is the true story of how five foster kids (he and four younger siblings) found their way in life and each other. "Killers: Surprises in a Maximum Security Prison," is the story of his being locked up for 23 hours with killers in a maximum security prison; "I, Cadaver" is about his postmortem adventures and mischief in the anatomy lab at UMass Medical School. “A Beautiful Story” demonstrates the art and process of creative writing as a 16-year-old boy goes all out to write a story that literally saves his life. "Something Tells Her" is the story of a 12 year old foster girl who runs away from her latest abusive foster home.  How on earth is she going to survive? Well, she has ... something. What?

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Blizzard of 2015: Of Course, Yours Truly Goes Out to Play in It -- and Snoop Around.

Whoa, this was one scary blizzard. It battered the Northeast with historic levels of snow and wind.  Worcester, where I live, was hit hardest. We got 34.6 inches of snow and winds seemingly out to teach us who is boss with below below-zero, face-freezing cold.

This is what I saw looking out out from my front portico:


My poor car and shrubbery. However, when I ventured out to survey the damage, I got a couple of pleasant surprises. My two favorite rock balance sculptures were standing tall, defying those fierce winds. Without cement or tape or anything -- honest, I'm not lying -- there they were rising above all that white.




How did they do it? Maybe they were making a statement: Nice try blizzard, but we are, you know, ART. You come and go; we don't. We are for the ages.

Naturally, for me, this storm was an invitation to go out and play as I did  last year and  year after year before that. At its height on Tuesday, I put on boots and layers of clothing and went out to enjoy it while sane people hunkered down in their homes watching nonstop, impending doom TV coverage.

I pushed open my snow-packed front door and stepped onto a snow-piled front porch shown in the photo above. Wow, I thought as I waded through nearly waist-high snow on my front walk, deep!

The wind was ferocious. It was whipping fallen snow everywhere making it difficult to see. The house directly across the street was but a hazy outline. And man was it cold! By the time I got to the street, my face was freezing. 

Hey, I thought, this is not fun. I went back into the house and hunkered down for the rest of the day.  For me, this was history-making: the first big snowstorm that I didn't go right out and play in. 

However, the next day, I did -- and it was wonderful, with natural beauty everywhere. With no traffic except for snowplows and most people staying inside except for hardy souls here and there out shoveling. I pretty much had the streets to myself.

Yes! Playtime!  Following are photos of  day-after-blizzard scenes that caught my eye.


First stop, Donut Cafe, a short walk from my place. When the snow comes, the staff know they will see me, the crazy old guy. I came in expecting to see staff, such as Lisa, who have worked there for years. Instead, the staff was all new and spoke a foreign language.

It turned out that four months before, an Albanian family had bought the place. The mom took orders while one of her sons worked the grill. Nothing stays the same. However, I did ask for and got the VIP table by the window.









A guy out on a stroll? "Nice day," I said. "Yeah, great day for a walk," he replied. I wasn't the only nutcake out there.
I came across only one woman walker.  She happened to be walking by when I was taking a photo of this fellow I had stopped to chat with. "Can I take a photo of the two of you?" I asked her. "Sure," she said instantly.

Above is the photo. After taking it, I said to the guy, "Look at you, having your picture taken with a pretty girl. How lucky can a guy be?" We all laughed. The guy went back to snow blowing. The pretty girl and I walked off -- er, separately.

The only other human beings I came across on my post-blizzard stroll were working to get out from under piles of snow. Here are photos of these folks who, unlike me, are responsible adults taking the aftermath of the great blizzard of 2015 seriously.

Is this an ominous, end-of-the-world sky or what? Well, that's what the sky looked like around noontime during my stroll on the day after the Great Blizzard of 2015. Did it scare moi? No way. I enjoyed every minute of my two-hour winter wonderland adventure.

And to prove it, last and least, here is a selfie of a smirking, self-satisfied guy.  It is my first-ever selfie. And I just know that everybody out there will be calling for more -- I wish.

So long and keep moving.

P.S. You've seen photos of people shoveling themselves out and you've probably done it yourself. I didn't shovel? Right. But I have an excuse: my left hip, severe artheoarthritis. So how could I do all that walking, for a couple of hours? Pain killer. That's my only explanation. But I'll learn more on Feb. 10 when I see the orthopedic surgeon at Mass General who replaced both of my knees with great results. It could be a good story. I see a heading something like "I am Bionic Man: What Are You Doing With Those Silly Human Limbs?" 

Lucky for me, a good friend and neighbor, aware of my hip issue, warned me not to shovel and snowblowed my place. Thank you, Tom!



My Latest Novel:  Something Tells Her. Jane is abandoned at birth and then placed in ever-changing, uncaring, and often abusive foster homes. At age 12, her latest foster father makes a sexual advance on her and, with something telling her this is not right, she runs out the door. On the street, alone, no family, nobody, not even a last name, how is she going to survive?  The E-book is  available on Barnes and Noble and  Amazon. 



Other E-Books by George Pollock

"State Kid: Hero of Literacy" is fiction based on his real-life experiences growing up in foster homes; "Last Laughs," is the true story of how five foster kids (he and four younger siblings) found their way in life and each other. "Killers: Surprises in a Maximum Security Prison," is the story of his being locked up for 23 hours with killers in a maximum security prison; "I, Cadaver" is about his postmortem adventures and mischief in the anatomy lab at UMass Medical School. “A Beautiful Story” demonstrates the art and process of creative writing as a 16-year-old boy goes all out to write a story that literally saves his life. "Unlove Story," is the true story of a husband -- writing anonymously as "Elvis" -- who is dumped after 38 years of marriage and lets it all out on love, marriage, life, everything. A guy doing this? It's unheard of.


















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