Want some light beach reading that'll keep you laughing? Buy an autographed copy of my book, "My Wife & Times." A mere $15, postpaid.

You gotta have heart!

My left arm hurts.

This could either be a sign of heart trouble, or that I have hurt myself exercising, or that I'm even more neurotic than I had suspected. Anything's possible.

Since I just started exercising my arms (and I'm not sure why, they always worked, what did I think I was going to make them do—bend steel?), it's probably that. But since I don't know, the possibilities are now also making my head hurt.

It's also made me think about mortality, which, let me tell you, is quite time-consuming. Ironic if I really don't have much time left.

Once I got to be a man of a certain age (let's just say "in my 40s" and be done with it), I started start to realize I was going to die. Hopefully not in the near future, but eventually. I am mortal—just like you are. (Unless you are reading this from deep space, in which case I have no idea what you are or how long you will live but that's neither here nor there and I apologize for even going there, please return to your light-speed navigation or whatever you are doing but also please remember to be nice when we get here because we're all worried about dying and you may very well scare us to death). Where was I?

That's right—I am going to die. I don't know when (few do), but I know it will happen. I don't know exactly what will happen once I'm dead (again, so few do), but I am one of those people who believes that energy doesn't stop existing, it just changes form, so I will be around in some way, in some dimension, as light or a lamb or if I have bad karma, perhaps Silly-Putty or a neo-conservative.

But that doesn't really help me now, when my arm is hurting, and I want to figure out why and put off the inevitable, since "inevitable" does not have to mean, "now."

At the same time, I am afraid to mention this to my wife because she already calls me a hypochondriac just because I was brought up to believe that if you had a twinge you should go see a doctor because they might be able to do something to help you. Silly me.

Avoiding doctors so that she wouldn't think I was a hypochondriac has generally not served me well when I actually have been sick, just as it didn't serve her well when she had pneumonia.

Ah, well, we live and learn. Or don't and die.

But what to do now? That's the question. I called my favorite doctor (and I do have one, she's a wonderful doctor I trust with my life—which makes sense, since she did save my life once). She's not in. I e-mailed her (she is a nice doctor who has entrusted me with her e-mail address). She replied and told me if I'm concerned I should get a CT heart scan.

This is what I'd figured out from my web research, but it helps to hear her saying it because then it justifies the expensive test.

And this is where it gets weird and I get stupid (or stupider, depending on your already sinking opinion of moi). The test takes about 10 minutes and costs $500. Yes, this is what medicine is like in the United States. We can spend more on weapons than all other nations combined, but we cannot provide affordable health care like virtually all other industrialized nations. I am not sure how this makes sense, but then again, I was born with good karma this time (though I guess if I'd had better karma I would have been born Canadian).

The test isn't covered by insurance because they don't seem to want to spend $500 in preventative care. Instead, they'd rather pay the $10,000 a day or more it costs to go to the hospital should you have the bad judgment to get sick because they wouldn't pay for a test that could have prevented it.

Now, if I'm going to pay $500 I want something to show for it (at least something akin to the $5,000 images of my colon I posted on my web site—and the heart scan people say I will get pictures so I could just consider it an internal portrait sitting).

Still, the way my mind words, if the test doesn't show something wrong then I have wasted $500.

At least until I return to my senses and realize I don't want it to find anything wrong, and it's better to be healthy and throw away $500 than to have the $500 show you aren't healthy. So I'm paying for peace of mind.

Even if I get peace of mind, I will still feel like an idiot after spending $500 for no good reason other than I am an idiot.

But I'll also feel like an idiot if I don't and there's something wrong with me—actually, I won't feel like an idiot if I'm dead. I'll just have been one. I'll keep you posted, if I'm still around.


Read about my latest movie role (you read that right), here!

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Save Time With Ideabook Templates

Chuck Green is a great designer. I don't say that about many designers and I say that about him. He's also a great teacher—his highly illustrated books are great ways to learn the basics and subtleties of design.

His new line of templates give you a fast, professional-looking starting point. These templates for InDesign, QuarkXPress, and PageMaker are NOT only for beginners or non-designers. Open one and use it as is, or easily customize it to your heart's (or client's) content. No one will know it started as a template. Green offers a diverse collection of 300 templates that will be of interest even to experienced designers. Read all about it here: http://www.ideabook.com/ib.html

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Design Constitution

And there's more from Chuck—If you're a designer or a client, you should read Chuck Green's Design Constitution which provides a clear agreements of how designers and clients should treat each other. http://tinyurl.com/7wjwq - Also see my own "How to work with a designer" http://snipurl.com/designer

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Free Phone Calls To Anywhere In The World (Really)

http://snipurl.com/f884http://snipurl.com/f884 - is an amazingly good web/phone system that actually lets you make a voice call, for free, to anyone else in the world who has the free Skype software. The sound quality is often better than a traditional telephone, and it even works with a dialup connection.

What makes Skype revolutionary is that it works with no technical fussing around. All you need is the free software and a microphone.

I've been using it with people in Denmark, Germany, Australia, and Brazil. It also has a great text chat feature that's simple and elegant. It works with all speakers and mics, though it's best to have a headset (I have a USB from Plantronics).

You can also use Skype to call any regular phones in the world for as little as 2 cents a minute (to anywhere in the US AND Europe). For $4 a month you can buy an extra "in" line with voice mail, so people from regular phones can call you.

It's also private, though "SkypeMe" mode allows you to meet interesting strangers—I've had some fascinating conversations this way.

If you are working with anyone overseas, or just have friends there, I highly recommend it. http://snipurl.com/f884

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Douglas Cohen, a brilliant composer and a new friend, has written a terrific Broadway musical based on the film "The Opposite of S*x" (which I've spelled that way to avoid getting trapped in a spam filter). It's funny, moving—and great theater. It's also headed off-Broadway this Fall and is looking for financial backers. So if you've ever wanted to become a "Broadway Angel" or find yourself humming the song "I Wanna Be a Producer," here's your chance. Call Jack DePalma at NAMCO (212) 575-1044.

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http://www.heifer.org/ You can change lives and bring hope and possibility to the people who need it most by giving the gift of an animal to a needy family. Heifer has helped more than five million families become self-reliant. Gifts start at $20 for chicks. It's a great gift for the person who has everything, for the person who doesn't. http://www.heifer.org/ or call them at 1-800-422-0474.

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One Final Word

Don't worry, I'm fine, really. But if you want to mentally send good thoughts my way, I'll gratefully accept them.



Like the stories? Buy the book!

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.