Each year I get later in writing my Christmas newsletter, last year I uploaded it on Christmas Day, the latest I had done that so far, and this year, 2018, I am even later by uploading it after Christmas. This December I have been very busy working on my pensions, which will be explained below, and have been a major issue in 2018.
In my 2017 newsletter I mentioned that I was viciously attacked earlier in the year. Only in late 2017 did I learn that since the attack he was arrested on a felony firearms charge and was held on remand for this offense. The case came to court early in January, and I faced my attacker via a video link from jail in a courtroom. In the circumstance there was no point in me taking any civil action.
From the time I returned from a visit to the UK in November 2017 I was staying in very temporary accommodation, and moved into my present apartment at the beginning of February 2018, which is a two bedroom unit. The complex has a swimming pool, which cannot be used during the winter months as it is unheated. Over a period from late January to the second half of February I moved my personal effects from storage into my new apartment, then with a lot of help from some kind people who had a couple of pick-up trucks, all the remaining stuff in storage was moved out in a couple of hours one Saturday morning. Nearly all the stuff in storage had been there since August 2012, and included some important documents necessary for applying for some of my pensions; more about that later.
I had two adjacent storage units, each one about the size of a small garage, with both packed nearly to the ceiling, so most of my stuff was inaccessible. I spent a lot of time unpacking, and discovered many items that I had forgotten about, including lots of clothing. I am often reluctant to discard anything, but did spent some time later in the spring discarding old medical receipts and other similar items that were redundant. This was time consuming as I had to make sure that I did not discard any important financial documents etc. that I needed later. Even now I am not fully unpacked and there are still many items to sort through.
Also in February I received a summons to serve as a juror in a court case in Pima County in March. Although I had previously received jury summons, I was never asked to serve, but in that case I did. It was a three day criminal drug trial and was quite interesting, as well as amusing in some ways. A couple of years previously some police officers posed as drug dealers, and offered to purchase Chrystal meth, which is a particularly nasty drug. The police made recordings of the deals, and apparently contacted the defendant 6 times and purchased drugs, then on the 6th time he was arrested. Various video and audio recordings were played in court, together with transcripts. During jury deliberations the evidence was so overwhelming that we reached a unanimous verdict of guilty in a short period of time. Anyway the defendantís attorney had a weak case. In the jury room were several bags of Chrystal meth as evidence.
As mentioned in my previous newsletter, the Cinco de Mayo (5th May) is a big Mexican-American celebration, and as usual this was celebrated at St. Philips Church. The summer months were hot as normal, with temperatures often reaching above 40oC in late June through to August. However, most unusually we had some cool wet weather near the middle June, and below average temperatures during this period are always welcomed. With the hot weather I had hoped to make extensive use of the pool. Unfortunately several times the filtration and/or the chlorination system failed and the pool was closed for extensive periods. I complained several times to the landlord, and on several occasions the problem was fixed, only to reoccur. Often an unheated pool can be used into early October, however, this year October was unusually cool and wet.
Being diabetic, exercise and diet are important. So not being able to use the pool was a disadvantage. My health insurance gives me unlimited free access to several gyms around Tucson, which in some cases include pools. I signed up for one in early January and used the facilities, then I came down with a form of flu, even though having had a flu shot, so curtailed its use. This was followed by moving, jury duty, paperwork for my pensions etc., and lost the momentum. My resolution for 2019 is to find time to visit some gyms.
During the summer I resurrected some Java code I had written a couple of years earlier that calculates the relative power generated by solar panels at any location on the earth, for any date, even inside the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, provided that the sun is visible for at least part of 24 hours. This was a console application, and has been rewritten as a Java EE applications that displays graphics, and hope to put it online as soon as possible.
In November Thanksgiving came and went, and as usual St. Philips Church put on a service followed by an excellent meal. In December I organized a star party at a community center for a group of mostly disabled people. Tucson Amateur Astronomical Association provided 5 telescopes with members to operate them, one of which was equipped with a camera and monitor so that many people at once could see what the telescope was pointing to without having to squint through an eyepiece. This was particularly important for at least one person who was visually impaired.
Christmas has just passed, and I put up some decorations, including a tree with its lights that had been in storage since 2012, and I may have last put it up with its lights and decorations in the 1986 when working at Los Alamos. After over 30 years the lights still work, at least so far!
Sorting out my French and German pensions has been a major issue in 2018. When in the UK in late 2017 I submitted the paperwork for my British State pension. This was resolved very quickly and backdated, and I started receiving the full pension in January. While in the UK I also made use of the EU pension regulations to submit the initial paperwork through the UK authorities for my French and German pensions, as I worked in Germany in the 1980s, and in France on many occasions, most recently in 2014. My requests were then forwarded to the respective authorities in France and Germany. These authorities then contacted me directly after some delays. I had a large number of forms to complete and the process was very slow and dragged on for many month. Eventually I finally started receiving my German pension in October and my French pension in November.
My French pension also has three supplements associated with it. One came through in August, with the other two only last week. There is also a supplement to my German pension which has just been submitted but yet to be processed. These supplements required me to dig through boxes and find old salary statements from the 1980s and 1990s in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. This all took a lot of time, and is one of the main reasons I got behind in writing my newsletter. For the same reason no pictures are included and I am back to using HTML 5 rather than Adobeís InDesign to generate it in pdf format. I hope that I will be better organized in 2019.
I wish everybody a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy 2019.
Christopher M. Sharp (December 27, 2018)