Nobody’s Pefect

By Larry Teren

Some say that the most famous last line in movie history is from 1959’s Some Like It Hot when Joe E. Brown says to Jack Lemmon “nobody’s perfect!” on a motor boat as they speed away under the THE END credit. Lemmon is dressed in drag as the character he plays is hiding out from the Mob who want to kill him for witnessing the famous St. Valentine Day Massacre. Up until the very end of the film, the viewer is not sure if Brown ever realizes the folly of having the hots for a cross dresser whom he thinks is an attractive female. Brown’s retort is in response to Lemmon exasperatingly telling Brown that his charade is finally over. “But, I’m a man!” he shouts. It seems as if Brown doesn’t care. Continue reading “Nobody’s Pefect”

A Walk in the Park

By Larry Teren

baberuthIt was the last baseball game of the Babe’s career. Now about 50 pounds overweight, his swung gulped hard like a whirling dervish and missed on the first pitch at his first appearance at the plate that day. He ended awkward lying flat on the ground, spitting blood down his cheek, needing help to get back up to his feet. The pitcher was that fellow who three years earlier in the World Series the Babe had mocked by first pointing to the right center-field bleachers and then stroking a mammoth home run to that exact location. Now this same hurler was mocking and taunting him with sadistic pleasure as Ruth stood helplessly at the plate waiting to continue his at-bat.

Continue reading “A Walk in the Park”

Red Dots

By Larry Teren

I see red dots everywhere. No, I don’t hallucinate about the chewy candy eaten while watching a movie at a theater. Nor do I dream of playing in a fast pitch 12 inch softball tournament that uses red dot tightly wound balls.
reddotsoftball In fact, until I was about 20, I thought small softballs were for girls and sissies. Real men played 16 inch softball without gloves in Chicago. A couple of broken fingers later, I resolved who were the true idiots. No, these red dots are the ubiquitous LED lights that glow in the dark. Continue reading “Red Dots”

A Swank Life

By Larry Teren


“Relief recipients were warned yesterday that they must get rid of television sets, telephones, and other ‘luxury’ items in their homes or face being dropped from relief rolls.” So began the newspaper article on September 25, 1962.

At that time, Harold Swank was the executive secretary of the Public Aid commission. He ordered his staff to begin canvassing their clients for failure to comply. He also told them to warn the Public Aid beneficiaries that if they did not sell all such items within the month, the relief checks would stop.

An exception was made for telephones if needed for health reasons or to help get a job. “Luxury” items would be allowed to be kept if purchased before the person went on relief or were received as gifts.  But, the aid recipient must be able to prove this. Continue reading “A Swank Life”

“Give An Inch, Take A Mile” is Idiomatic

By Larry Teren


“Give an inch and take a mile” is one of those common phrases found in a dictionary of idioms. It very well expresses the disparity found in situations where someone is getting taken advantage of (usually me). One must speak it in frustration sprinkled with a dash of sarcasm.


For example-you can pretty much tell what takes up much of my mind- let’s say you are driving your car on a major road and are behind three others as the light turns red. As the drivers ahead of you quickly slow down and put on the brakes, so do you. There is a hamburger drive-thru joint at that corner and while you have been sitting there for thirty seconds wondering when the cross light is going to warn the intersecting traffic with a yellow signal, all of a sudden a car inches up to the exit area of the drive-thru. The driver lets his foot off the brake gently so he can move his car off the driveway closer to the street. This is universal way of letting the car that is on the street know that when the light turns green, the car yearning to get out of the drive-thru is going to attempt a mad dash into traffic. No harm, no foul- maybe. Traffic in our direction wasn’t moving anyway.   Continue reading ““Give An Inch, Take A Mile” is Idiomatic”

“Hello, My name is Vishnu- Do You Mind Taking a Survey?…….”

By Larry Teren


The phone rang and woke me out of a dream while taking an afternoon nap. (The nap, not the dream is one of the perks of working at home. In the interest of fair reporting, I split up the day so that a good portion of the work I do is in the evening hours when it is convenient to remote in to clients’ computers without interfering with their processing.)

I picked up the phone on the nightstand to the left of the bed and answered the call.

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Hello, this is Vishnu. I am calling on behalf your health insurance company. They want to know if you are willing to take a three to four minute survey on the quality of the customer service they recently provided to you.”

Me: “Sure, if it is not going to take more than three or four minutes.” Like I was otherwise busy, huh?

Caller: “Yes, it will not take more than three of four minutes. Let us begin…” Continue reading ““Hello, My name is Vishnu- Do You Mind Taking a Survey?…….””

Is College Necessary?

Is going to college for four years still worth the investment? Let’s see what it cost forty years ago (yikes!) when I went to school compared to what it costs now to go to the same college and its relationship to the cost of living.

Northeastern Illinois University

1970 Two trimesters – a total of $195
2012 Freshman Fall 2011, Spring and Summer- $5255.80*

* see

In all fairness of reporting, the last time I set foot on campus at Northeastern Illinois University was the Spring of 1974. In those days, the school was on a trimester schedule. If you were full time, you took at least two trimesters. If you were looking to graduate a little early, like I did, you accelerated the process by going during the summer as well.

During the Spring of 1970 while in the last throes of high school, I already knew I was going to NEIU. In those days, it was still called Northeastern Illinois State College. The name change came around the end of my sophomore year along with expansion of the campus physical structure and course options.

I knew by the very beginning of that first summer of freedom from going to mandatory schooling where you were treated like a baby (deservedly, of course) two important facts that blended together:
1) My parents (led by Dad) were not going to pay for any more schooling. They had spent hard earned money putting me through private education from kindergarten to graduating high school.
2) The first year’s tuition at Northeastern was $97.50 per trimester.

The dollar amount was a lot to me. I had done a couple of odd jobs while a senior in high school that allowed me to put away a couple of hundred dollars for spending money but it was not enough because I needed to also buy text books and take the bus daily to school.

Ma’s brother was a labor lawyer and was kind enough to convince a client to hire me at their factory for the summer. In those days this country still had manufacturers that hired American born eager-to-work laborers. The company made notebooks and I was assigned to the heat seal department where the company logo was stamped on the inside of each notebook. The machines had to be kept hot. There was no air conditioning allowed in the area. One day I had to take five salt tablets when it got close to 95 degrees. The salt helped me retain the tremendous amount of water I was sweating off.

I unhappily got used to getting up early to make sure I punched in on time. I also got used to watching the clock and taking a lot of harassment from the veterans who thought I had no business working there. It was supposed to be an eight week summer opportunity but I quit after seven of them. I had to join a union so that my pay rate after one month jumped from 1.60 (the minimum) to 1.80 an hour. I probably put away about $300 to be used towards tuition and other school-related expense.

I knew that this was not enough to carry me over for an extended time. Luckily, I was able to get a part time job that gave me $25 a week. This may seem like a pittance now but it went a long way then for a guy who was living at home and did not as of yet drive a car. Bus fare was probably 25 to 35 cents each way and I did not have classes scheduled for all five days a week. As a sophomore and junior in college I was lucky to work at a department store for as much as fifteen hours a week and more during the summer. So, I managed college expenses without a problem.

A neighbor across the street- who incidentally more than 40 years later still lives across from Ma- told her about something called an Illinois State Scholarship Grant and that I should apply for it. I kind of shrugged and said that there was no way I would get it. At the time, I was still under the naive notion that scholarships were only based on academic achievement. I soon found out that it didn’t matter if you were an Einstein or not. The point was did you need assistance? Of course I did. So, I applied and was accepted but not to begin until the following year. Each subsequent year I had very little paperwork to fill out to keep extending the largesse.

The one fly in the ointment would be whether Dad would cooperate and provide his financial information to the State of Illinois in order to be judged if our family was deserving of this assistance. Usually he was loathe to share private information. He had begged off from providing me assistance as he still had three other kids to put through private school as well as an oldest child going to Roosevelt College who had earned an academic scholarship. But, he knew instinctively that the State of Illinois would come through and he gave the info.

I never saw any of Dad’s tax returns but in his later years when I had to help Ma file the 1040’s while he was in a nursing home, I learned how much he earned. I can only surmise that in the early 1970’s, he was making about $20,000 a year from the main source and other side work he did.

The point of all this is that depending on how you want to interpret what a full time course load costs
now at NEIU, it is at least twenty-five times as much as it was in 1970. Dad would have to be making about a half million dollars to compare to what he made then. Clearly, the average breadwinner does not make this amount. In 1970, going to a reasonably priced state college would have been 1% of Dad’s yearly income.

The question is what has happened in the past forty or more years that a state college education needs to cost on an annual basis 5 to 10% of income? Was tuition too cheap back then? Was the education being delivered not as good as now? Does spending more than $30,000 on four years of college result in a person getting a good job or help him figure out how to make a good living?

A study done by an educational research group found that in 2009-2010, 74% of students had financial aid of some type while 55% had Grants. The amount of the grant covered roughly half the tuition fee. Needless to say, back in 1970, the Grant covered the entire amount of my $97.50 per trimester tuition. By the time I graduated in 1974, the fee had gone up to $200 per trimester. The State of Illinois was still paying 100 percent of the fee.

Are there too many students going to college? 58% of the students are female which is about the average nationwide. Less men are going for higher education or is it that colleges prefer to accept women?

I have one nephew who never stepped foot in college. In fact, he never finished high school. I’m not sure he even has a G.E.D. But, he makes a living offering financial services to businesses.

Another nephew went to Law school and spent several years being the first one out the door because he was the last one hired as firms downsized. Hopefully, now he has found his niche.

College taught me to think, analyze, and communicate both verbally and in writing. What I do for a living I learned after my four year degree by taking a couple of courses in computers. I spent a few years in the minors- so to speak- going from job to job gaining experience for the right opportunity to put up my own shingle. Without college, I never would have been smart enough to process in my head all the things that happened and to gain from them.

Tell me what you think.

Medicareless Rehab Billing Practices

By Larry Teren

Okay, you want to know why Medicare is going bankrupt? Because of policy-making decisions such as the following that recently happened to Ma. Continue reading “Medicareless Rehab Billing Practices”