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Today’s Birthdays!


August 1, 2012 by admin

August 1

It’s a new month, filled with many new birthdays.  If your birthday is today, check out who shares it with you – there are quite a few prominent ones today!

  • Francis Scott Key – creator of the “Star-Spangled Banner”
  • Yves Saint Laurent – fashion designer
  • Herman Melville – author
  • Jerry Garcia – rock musician
  • Jack Kramer – tennis player

Francis Scott Key

Yves Saint Laurent

Herman Melville

Jerry Garcia

Jack Kramer

National Institute on Aging: Texas Doctor with a Strong Family History of Alzheimer’s Becomes Advocate for Research


July 27, 2012 by admin

This is the story of Dr. Dewayne Nash.  Nash has a strong family history of Alzheimer’s disease and he’s always known that it could be in his future. So, he decided to volunteer for a study at UT Southwestern’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center where he could contribute to research efforts and be monitored for signs of cognitive impairment. His decision to volunteer changed his life and set him on a new course.

Start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London!


July 27, 2012 by admin

London 2012 logo

It’s been 4 years since the last Summer Olympics.  Fortunately, tonight is this year’s opening ceremony!  London 2012 runs from today, July 27, to August 12.

Here’s a recent update about the Olympic Flame’s journey on the Thames River, courtesy of the official London 2012 website:

Olympian Matthew Pinsent carries the Flame at Hampton Court Palace

Four-time Olympic Rowing gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent stands in front of the Great Gate at Hampton Court Palace, holding the Olympic Flame during the final day of the Olympic Torch Relay.

Starting from Hampton Court Palace, Olympic Rowing gold medallist Matthew Pinsent will carry the Flame on to the Royal rowbarge, the Gloriana, named by Her Majesty as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Journey on the River Thames for the Olympic Flame

The cauldron for the Olympic Flame on the Royal rowbarge Gloriana as it makes it way down the River Thames towards Tower Bridge on its final day.

The rowbarge will be rowed down the Thames to Tower Bridge by 16 oarsmen and women including Olympic Rowers James Cracknell and Jonny Searle.

Once on board, Pinsent will light a ceremonial cauldron, which will be used to light the Torches of seven young Torchbearers, in turn, who will carry the Flame as it travels down the river.

One of the Torchbearers aboard will be Amber Charles, 22, from Newham, who played a key role in London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games seven years ago, presenting London’s proposal to stage the Games to members of the IOC at Lausanne in 2004.

As the last Torchbearer on the Thames, Amber will carry the Flame to City Hall. The Flame will then remain out of public view until it appears at the Opening Ceremony.

Over the past 70 days, more than 13 million people have lined the streets of the UK to show their support for the Torch Relay. LOCOG Chair Seb Coe said: ‘Thank you to each and every person for giving the Olympic Flame such a magnificent welcome and celebrating the best of the UK with us. Together we have given the London 2012 Games the best possible start.’

The Flame will arrive at the Olympic Stadium this evening for the Opening Ceremony, where the Olympic Cauldron will be lit and stay alight until it is extinguished on the final day of the Games.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Survey: Seniors Happy on Medicare


July 27, 2012 by admin

By: Times-Dispatch Staff | McClatchy-Tribune
Published: July 19, 2012
WASHINGTON–Elderly Americans on Medicare are substantially happier with their insurance coverage than their younger counterparts who rely on commercial insurance, according to a new national survey.

Only 8 percent of Medicare beneficiaries 65 or over rated their coverage “fair” or “poor,” the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found.

By comparison, 20 percent of those with employer-based coverage gave their insurance plan low marks. And 33 percent of people who bought insurance on their own reported unhappiness with their coverage.

“There are a lot of myths out there,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis, the lead author of the report published in the journal Health Affairs. “It is important to remember how well Medicare performs.”

The findings come as Washington policymakers prepare for a renewed debate, probably early next year, over the future of the massive entitlement program that covers about 50 million elderly and disabled Americans.

Republicans, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, want to convert Medicare into what they call a “premium support” program that gives beneficiaries vouchers to buy a private insurance plan of their choosing.

“Choice and competition remain the only means by which costs can be brought under control without sacrificing quality,” House Budget Committee chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said in a recent interview with the conservative newspaper Human Events.

Those on Medicare also are more likely to rate the quality of their care as excellent and less likely to report problems paying their medical bills or accessing needed care because of cost, though Medicare beneficiaries who are disabled report less satisfaction than elderly beneficiaries.

The Commonwealth Fund researchers found more mixed results comparing the attitudes of seniors in traditional Medicare with those in Medicare Advantage who have signed up for a private health insurance plan to administer their Medicare benefits. Only 6 percent of those in traditional Medicare rated their insurance “fair” or “poor,” while 15 percent gave their Medicare Advantage plan that assessment.

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Honoring Sherman Hemsley


July 25, 2012 by admin

As you probably heard, Sherman Hemsley – the actor who played George Jefferson on All in the Family and The Jeffersons – passed away yesterday, July 24 in El Paso, Texas.

File:The Jeffersons Sanford Hemsley Evans 1974.jpg

Publicity photo of American actors Isabel Sanford, Sherman Hemsley and Mike Evans promoting the upcoming January 18, 1975 premiere of the television series The Jeffersons.

Though George Jefferson, as a character, was often arrogant, Hemsley made him endearing and loveable, which is why the show had show much success.  In addition to his talented acting, Hemsley was known for his kindness and generosity.  He will be dearly missed.

Picture/information sources:

  • Picture –
  • Info –

An Afternoon With Jimmy Tsamouras, Owner of Dots Back Inn


July 24, 2012 by admin

This past week, My Medicare Planner interviewed Jimmy Tsamouras, owner and operator of Dots Back Inn, and also son to one of our clients.  Tsamouras and I talked about various subjects – from his cooking background, to the restaurant’s unique history, to his spot on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives in 2007.  Through it all, Tsamouras has sought to maintain a friendly, neighborhood atmosphere in his restaurant.  After spending an afternoon there, I’m happy to attest that Dots Back Inn definitely achieves that.

Q: How did you come to own and run a restaurant?  Was cooking/restaurant management something you always had an interest in?

A: Food is something I was doing since I was a little kid.  With my father – grilling, cooking out.  Basically I was a latchkey kid, so I would come home from school – I had two older brothers and an older sister – and cook at home.  Older brother, older sister – they’d be out doing things, so I’d cook myself, you know, make up meals.  When I was 15, my family bought a restaurant in Williamsburg and I started working there.  After I graduated from high school, I took few years off and then my dad told me about culinary school.  I never even knew it existed.  And so I went to culinary school – to the Culinary Institute of America in New York.  It was a great experience.  I’ve lived in New York, I’ve lived in Hilton Head, I’ve lived in Hawaii, I’ve lived in Scottsdale, Arizona and Phoenix.  It’s been a great thing.  Then I came back to Richmond – back home.

Q: I read on your website about who “Dot” is.  Can you elaborate a little more on that and the origin of the restaurant’s name?

A: Well, the original owner of Dots was Cookie Giannini.  She was a starter of a lot of restaurants in Richmond.  3rd Street Diner – back in the early 80s.  When her and her husband and other partner split, she went looking for a place and she found this place here and she bought it.  Cookie is a very women’s rights pro-activist.  So Dot was Cookie’s aunt who worked in the restaurant business all her life and never owned or had the opportunity to own her own restaurant.  So Dots is a tribute to all the people who have worked in the restaurant business all their lives and never had an opportunity to own their own restaurants.  That’s where that comes from.  And that’s a picture of Dot right there – with her feet up, her rubbing her feet right there.

Dot herself.

Q: Yeah, one of the things I noticed when looking at your site is all the vintage art.  I really like that.  You kind of explained that, but is there any more about the reason you chose that?

A: I went along with it, and I mean I think it’s a great feel – it’s very kitschy.  See that picture right there of Rosie the Riveter?  That’s a customers mom.  If you go back by the women’s bathroom, you’re going to see the actual photos of her, you know, instead of her foot being on whatever it is – a plane, or a hill, or a piece of cargo – she actually has her foot on a wooden box while they took the picture.  So his mom is essentially Rosie the Riveter.  She came in for her 92nd – I wanna say – birthday, and I had her sign the pictures.

Q: So was she someone who lived in the area – from the Richmond area?

A: Yeah.  [That customer's] father grew up here – he was an airplane pilot.  So a lot of the airplane pictures you see – like this picture here says “Dixie Daredevil.”  Those are pictures of his squadron, you know, his buddies flying their planes.  And they all had little names and would right things on the planes.  They would write on the bombs, you know, “Hello, Hiroshima, here we come.”  Or “Merry Christmas!”  So if you look around, his dad was a bomber pilot and she (Dot) was back home.  He usually comes in about two times a week.  He’s in about his early, mid-sixties.

Q: You have quite a mixture of different cultures in your menu – as diners often do – but your flavor choices/combinations are really different and interesting compared to most.  Can you tell us about some of the inspiration behind that?  You said you traveled, so that kind of makes sense.

A: Yeah, I traveled around a lot.  When I went to the Culinary Institute of America, I came from a place that was a pizza/sub shop, so I didn’t know a lot about food.  So I kind of took everything they taught me and used it.

Q: So yeah, I know you’re Greek in heritage.  Was there a reason you chose to make your restaurant not focus on Greek food?

A: Because I know so much more than just Greek food.  I know Italian, I know Russian, Southern, Northern, Asian, Polynesian.  I’ve done a lot of different foods, so I hate to kind of limit myself to one type of food.  Even if I were to open up another restaurant – which I may do – I wouldn’t try to just categorize one type of food.  There’s a big movement now for gastropubs.  Gastropub originally comes from Great Britain, and the idea behind the gastropub is that it’s a place where you go and get a really nice beer and some food.  But now they’re kicking the food up a lot, so they’re making it more what they call “snout to tail,” where they try to use every part of the animal, they try to make everything there themselves.  That seems to be a big movement now.  More like Pasture and The Blue Goat.  A lot of small local beers – everything local.  Support local, buy local, do local, spend local.  We’re trying to use all of our Hanover farms.  This time of year, we’ll have farmers come and sell us tomatoes, pepper, squash, onions, cabbage.  Everything we can we try to buy local, so long as it’s in our price range.  One of the big things at Dots is we always try to remain a neighbor restaurant.  We always try to maintain a good value for what you get.  Our burgers start at six bucks, and they top out at like nine.  Most places start at nine and top out at twelve.  We see ourselves as what we would want to pay for.  We may not make money off every individual person, but we’ll make money off of you coming back three times.  If people keep coming back and they’re happy, that’s when I start making money.  I’m not going to make ten dollars on you once, I’m going to make two dollars on you five times.

Q: When we first sat down, we talked a little about Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  So what was that whole experience like?  How did you get on the show?  What was it like when he Guy Fieri was here?

A: One of my friends who used to come into Dots – who still comes into Dots – she found that that I bought Dots.  She was lying in bed one night watching the TV show; and it used to be at the end of the show, they would say “Hey, if you have a place for us to visit, email us.”  So that’s what she did.  Then, then interviewed me on the phone – that was on a Monday.  Then they called me back on Tuesday, and once they found I was a graduate of the Culinary Institute, they said, “Ok, we’re going to come to your restaurant.  The producer will call you on Thursday.”  So I talked to the producer on Thursday – that’s Thanksgiving day.  After I talked to the producer, I was laying in bed – this was ten o’clock in the morning, you know, I close at twelve, I go to bed at two, ten o’clock I’m still usually in bed, except now I got a baby – I’m sitting there laying in bed and I’m thinking, “What is this, some sort of joke?”  So I called the person back and I said, “Is this a joke?  Is this for real?”  She was like, “Yes, it’s for real.  We will be there Sunday, and we will start recording Sunday.  Is this a problem?”  And I said, “No, there’s no problem.  I’d be happy to do it.  Sounds great.”  And I’d never seen the show before either.  So Thanksgiving day, they were showing episodes of it in a row, so I got to watch the show and see what it’s about.  And I was just like, “How are they gonna come in here and do this?”  Cause my kitchen, I mean – that’s my kitchen right there.  When I tell you you’re looking at my kitchen, I mean that’s my whole kitchen.  For us to be back there, it was like the camera guy was closest to us, Guy Fieri, and then me in the corner.

He’s really a super, super nice person.  Just like he is on TV.  Very genuine, very down to earth.  Will talk to you, have a good time.  Just very cool – off the camera, same way.  He’s Italian, my wife is Italian.  I’m making Italian jokes, they’re making Greek jokes.  We had a really good time.  But when he left, he was like, “I really have to go, but I really had a good time talking with you guys and hanging out with you, I wish I didn’t have to go.  But I gotta leave on this flight.”  He really enjoyed it so much, he put us in his cookbook.

Tsamouras and his wife with Guy Fieri in the DDD Cookbook.

Q: Wow, what did he put in there?

A: Chunky Monkey Pancakes.  This is the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives cookbook.  [Jimmy showed us the DDD cookbook.]  That’s my wife and me.  These are all the places that he visited.  So when people come in here, I have them sign it.  So I have people from all over the country – and the world – come in, sign it, say that they were here, and enjoyed it and loved it.  And I have a whole other one that’s full too.  I’ve had every state come in here.  Alaska, Hawaii.  It aired in April of ’08, and it was August of ’08 that I had Alaska.  Yeah, I thought Alaska would be the last ones.  The last states were Montana and South Dakota and Nebraska.

Q: Once the episode aired was there a huge buzz and tons of people coming in?

A: Within the first year, there was probably about a thirty percent increase, the next year about a fifteen percent, and my business is growing every year since.  Yeah, we had to turn away a bus of 78 people who wanted to come in.  I had to tell them, “Look, my restaurant only holds 50 people.  I don’t want you to come in and have a bad time.  We want to have you, we just can’t do it.”

Q: Which dishes did you have on the show?

A: One of them is called the Chicken MacArthur.  That’s the pasta aglio olio with with feta, tomatoes, chicken, artichoke hearts, and onions.  Then we had the Mediterranean Pie, which is like a pita pizza with pesto, feta cheese, and chopped tomatoes baked in the oven.  Jambalaya.  Black Bean Corn Cakes, which are corn pancakes with black beans, cheese, tomatoes, onions, and peppers served with salsa and sour cream.  Sailor Sandwich – the classic grilled rye, with knockwurst, pastrami, Dijon, and Swiss.  It’s really kind of hard for me to remember because we cooked everything.  We cooked everything on the menu three times.

They come in and record the show in two days – one day with [Guy] and one day without him.  For me, the first day was without him.  They came in and kind of talked to people.  Like when you see a person just talking with a camera one-on-one, that’s the day he’s not there.  When he’s sitting down and talking to them, that’s the second day when he’s there.  So the next day when we recorded, we had to look the same – make sure you’re watch was on the same hand, you were wearing your wedding band if you were the first day.  Everything had to be the same; it had to look like it was one day.  But it wasn’t.  They recorded ten and a half, eleven hours to do six minutes of film.  But it was great.  I’ve given culinary classes and stuff, so I’m good with interacting with people and talking with people.  When he came in, we had a very good report.  We were almost like brothers.  We had a good time.  If you go back to those shows in 2007, 2008, 2009, they’re scared.  They don’t know how to act.  So when he came in, he truly had a good time.  He felt comfortable, I felt comfortable.  There was a point where we were screwing around a lot, and the producer got mad.  She took her headphones off and came back and started yelling at us.  And everyone out here was laughing. ~~

After leaving Dots and ending my afternoon with Jimmy Tsamouras, I went home and ate a wonderful felafel gyro that I had gotten to go.  It was scrumptious.  I definitely recommend it – and pretty much everything else Dots offers.  My Medicare Planner thanks Jimmy Tsamouras and all the great staff at Dots Back Inn for their hospitality and amazing food!

6 Convincing Reasons You Should Keep Carbs in Your Diet


July 24, 2012 by admin

By Brierley Wright, courtesy of Life Line Screening

I’m not naming any names, but I have a family member who rarely eats carbs. The reasoning? In their words, not mine, “they make you fat.” (And chances are, thanks to the Atkins craze, you too know at least one of these no-carb eaters.)

It makes no difference to me that this person avoids carbs, but what does bother me is the misinformation “carbohydrates make you fat.” They don’t. Sure, if eaten in unnecessarily large quantities they could contribute to weight gain, but, then again, so could too much of any food. In fact, carbohydrates are a healthy addition to your diet.

Here are 6 reasons to keep carbs in your diet:

  • Carbs can help boost your mood. Researchers suspect that carbs promote the production of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical. In a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who followed a very low carbohydrate diet for a year—which allowed only 20 to 40 grams of carbs daily, about the amount in just 1⁄2 cup of rice plus one piece of bread—experienced more depression, anxiety and anger than those assigned to a low-fat, high-carb diet that focused on low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruit and beans.
  • Carbs can help prevent weight gain—and even promote weight loss. Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah followed the eating habits of middle-aged women for nearly two years and found that those who increased their fiber intake generally lost weight. Women who decreased the fiber in their diets gained. Many carbohydrates contain dietary fiber, which is actually an indigestible complex carbohydrate.
  • Carbs are good for your heart. Research suggests that increasing your soluble-fiber intake (a type of fiber found in carb-rich foods like oatmeal and beans) by 5 to 10 grams each day could result in a 5 percent drop in “bad” LDL cholesterol. Similarly, people who eat more whole grains (think brown rice, bulgur, quinoa) also tend to have lower LDL cholesterol and higher “good” HDL cholesterol.
  • Carbs will help you trim your waistline. Swapping refined grains for whole grains may help reduce total body fat and belly fat, according to new research in the Journal of Nutrition. In the study, adults who ate about 3 servings of whole grains a day had about 2.4 percent less body fat and 3.6 percent less abdominal fat than those who ate less than a quarter of a serving.
  • Carbs will keep your memory sharp. After overweight women followed a “low-carbohydrate” diet for a week (they were told to completely eliminate carbohydrates from their diets) they did worse on tests of working memory (i.e., why did I walk into this room?) and visuospatial memory (remembering locations on a map) than their counterparts who followed a “low-calorie” diet, based on American Dietetic Association guidelines, in a study from Tufts University.
  • Carbs will help you blast fat. Eating a breakfast made with “slow-release” carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or bran cereal, 3 hours before exercise may help burn more fat, according to a recent study from the Journal of Nutrition. Here’s why: in the study, eating “slow-release” carbohydrates didn’t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates, such as white toast. In turn, insulin levels didn’t spike as high and because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower levels may help you burn fat.

Picture source:

Our Office Manager, Jamie, in Rome!


July 23, 2012 by admin

Jamie is in Italy for 3 weeks.  This weekend, she visited Rome!  She sent us a few pictures of the sites – check them out!


Richmond Times-Dispatch: Businesses look for health care answers


July 20, 2012 by admin


Bernard Robinson addresses employees on a company issue at Network Technologies and Support, in the company’s configuration room, July 13, 2012. The company most likely will not drop its current health coverage for employees, even though it would have the option of dropping it under the Affordable Care Act.

By Michael Martz
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Businesses in the Richmond area are still waiting for answers about what federal health care reforms will mean to them.

For the big questions, they’ll have to wait until after the presidential election in November.

That’s the ultimate conclusion of a panel of experts on the law that met Thursday with members of the Greater Richmond Chamber at the corporate headquarters of Virginia’s biggest insurer.

“Whatever I tell you, don’t memorize it,” said Susan Maley Rash, vice president at BB&T Benefit Consultants of Virginia. “Things could change. The election could change things.”

Gov. Bob McDonnell already has slowed big decisions about Medicaid expansion and creation of a health benefits exchange until after the Nov. 6 election, which also will feature two former governors battling for a U.S. Senate seat.

And then there’s the 2013 gubernatorial contest, in which two Republican candidates already have declared their opposition to Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Health care reform is the most political thing on earth,” said Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans.

But many provisions of the law already have taken effect and insurers have made big investments to carry them out, Gray said. “All of the big changes are not going to go away as the result of politics.”

For example, Anthem and some other health insurers in Virginia are currently mailing rebate checks to customers for not spending enough of health premiums on medical costs under some health plans.

Anthem exceeded the so-called medical loss ratio in its individual and small group PPO health plans. Its large group PPO and its HMO plans were not affected.

For Anthem alone, the rebates total about $16 million. For customers, that means about $10 for each of the 240,000 individuals and about $800 each for each small group.

“That’s less than one half of one penny for every premium dollar we collect,” said Scott Golden, spokesman for Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Virginia, which co-sponsored the chamber forum with BB&T.

The rebates to businesses require careful handling, Rash warned, because they have to be distributed as taxable income to employees who paid a portion of the premiums in pre-tax dollars.

Other big issues for businesses in the law include:

Fees and taxes, which include a Medicare payroll tax increase that takes effect next year, a tax on unearned income for high-income individuals and couples; and a fee on health insurers that they will pass on to customers who aren’t self-insured, such as small and medium-size businesses.

Penalties on medium and large employers that either don’t offer health care coverage to workers in 2014 or whose insurance does not meet the law’s tests for affordability, which could affect low-cost plans with high deductibles.

Tax credits for small businesses and, to a lesser degree, nonprofit organizations. The credits currently total as much as 35 percent of the businesses’ health premiums, increasing to 50 percent in 2014.

For insurers, the political uncertainty surrounding the law makes it tougher to prepare for big deadlines looming at the end of 2013 to offer qualified health plans through a health exchange that still has not been created.

“We have to deal with it,” Gray said. “It’s on the books. It’s the law of the land, and we have to prepare as if it were going forward.”

Our Office Manager, Jamie, In Europe


July 20, 2012 by admin

For the past two weeks, Jamie, our office manager here at My Medicare Planner, has been in Italy!  She’s sent us a few pictures from here trip, and we’d like to share them with you.  She took these while on a gondola in Venice.

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