Until We Meet Again….

In the past, I have not notified my blogging community when I decide to go A.W.O.L., mainly, because I thought it not necessary.  However, because of all you awesome and wonderful bloggy fellows out there, I have, in the past,  been the recipient of emails when I go too quiet, for too long:

“Checking in to see if you’re still alive, or sick, or what – Are you okay?”

The first time it happened, I was speechless with gratitude and warmed by the caring of this community.  When it happened again during my month hiatus this summer, working myself to death on landscaping projects, I decided it was only thoughtful to let you know when I’ll be absent –

My dear old computer has died and I hate trying to wax eloquent on my smartphone, because I make a lot of FFMs (fat finger mistakes) trying to deal with those tiny little screen keyboards.  My smart phone is also not smart enough to understand when I say “Piece of Crap” I mean it – not “Peace off Crap” – so I rarely use the voice recognition, either.

So while I will enjoy reading all your Fantabulous works, and the phone app does provide me a big, fat “Like” button that my fingers can manage to push, and I can blunder through typing a comment, because after all, you know what I meant to say – I will be rather silent until I either rebuild Frankenstein (yes, I do believe it’s the motherboard) or bite the bullet and search high & low for a computer with Windows 7 on it that I can afford – –

Until we meet again, take care and thinking of you.

P.S. I awoke to snow on the ground – and am excitedly thinking about curling up into my couch corner and crocheting all day.  Winter has arrived, whether the calendar says so or not.

P.S.P.S.  For those of you kind enough to pre-purchase Inheritances, I wanted to report I am still on track for it being published in November – Yay!

Why Hope is Never Far Away

An exchange of comments with Linda G. Hill today made me once more examine my own motivations and inspirations – one more attempt at communicating my oft-labeled tendency to skirt from one passion to another, with none seemingly important enough (at least to me) to dedicate  my entire being to.

Our exchange made me realize on a very conscious level,  I never fail to be amazed by the heights to which the human spirit aspires, even under the most dire circumstance.

And how very often shocked I am, by the depths of depravity we can descend to.

I rarely examine or comment on any issue without trying to better understand the system or organization humans have put in place that provided the time and space for such triumphs or catastrophes to occur in.

I’m a life-long & dedicated observer of human nature and the systems we create to distract us from, tranquilize us or otherwise subdue the awful terror we feel in the face of our own mortality combined with the often chaotic and uncontrollable environment we strive to survive in.

While I may flit from subject to subject – much as a hummingbird glides and dips from flower to flower, to drink in first here, then there – my desire to discover, design or participate in whatever I can that I believe will allow the best of us to shine through more often than not, is, in actuality, the driving force of my life.

And, I would venture to say, the driving force of most of us.  Agreeing on what these systems are, is, another matter altogether.

From which venue I choose to address such desires and dreams seems not to matter so much.  I shall never become a dedicated healer, advocate, producer of specialty products nor expert author in a narrowly divined niche –

But the attempt to understand human nature and the systems we create is my life’s work.   It is the unifying glue that holds me together and allows me to travel down paths I never otherwise  would deign to visit.

It drives my every inquiry – my every striving – my every day of being.

It feels good to finally identify that thing  to which I can dedicate myself – without feeling I have tied myself down to one and only one, path.

Thanks, Linda, for inspiring me today!

😀

I changed my mind… I’m Frickin’ Pissed

Obviously, celebratory beers for finishing my manuscript today were not in order – the longer I think about things and the more my ‘follow-societal-protocols-filter’ is lowered by 6% proof alcohol, the more pissed I become.

For the record, as an unemployed, recovering-from-a-stroke 43 year-old, I was awarded $1,000/month in child support for one child left at home after 16 years of marriage, in 2012.

I actually come out better many months, because I’m blessed with an ex that doesn’t mind sharing the benefits of his overtime earning opportunities when they arise and sometimes, I manage to get work I’m capable of completing in a manner acceptable to those signing the checks.

*********

Sure, if I could have purchased a good attorney, I probably could have gotten alimony too – but alas, after multiple calls, and getting a loan on my truck to pay a a $2,500 retainer check to an attorney whose paralegal swore they would take the case at a lower fee, but admitted after my ‘free consultation” I would need to sign a contract promising $4,000 total due to complete the divorce and if the money ran out before settlement was obtained, well, if they aren’t paid, they don’t work –

I decided not, but not before I wracked up some charges.

Not only did they cash the check before the next banking day, (and my consultation occurred at 4pm), but the attorney charged me for paralegal time and $60 for each email correspondence, as the following illustrates:

Me: “I hand delivered to you a cashiers check in the amount of $2,500 and all the information needed to fill out initial filing paperwork and the best information I had access to regarding my future ex-husband and I’s assets.  I have received paperwork that is worthless. (Your firm emailed me falsified forms and notified me of the charge for some paralegal to incorrectly fill out a state judicial form I already filled out with the correct information and submitted to you in .docx, .txt  and .pdf form for your e-submission or copy & paste ease.)  Your paralegal’s typing mistakes are as follows:

  1. My future ex-husband is not in the military – did you even read what I gave you?
  2. I am not a victim of domestic violence – he went off on a mid-life crisis and talked me into believing  it was my fault there was no money in the bank, food in the house or funds to pay for basic utilities, but he never, never, once hit me.  (Yes, Yes, I could lie, saying he beat me continually, sexually abused our kids and numerous neighbor kids and I could actually get some help out of this hell-hole I’ve so stupidly placed myself in by marrying poorly complicated by not having the good judgement to have an attorney on retainer, but it’s really against my principals to do bear false witness against another.)
  3. I have one son, who is 13 years old – not 2, and no, his name is not “Alexander”.
  4. Did you even glance at the hand written paperwork you made me fill out, in addition to the correct judiciary forms I provided you in digital form?  (I wasn’t a Civil Process Administrator for years for nothing.)
  5. Did you even read the handwritten, paper wasting forms you had me fill out at your office, when I had provided all my basic contact info via your website form?
  6. I picked you because your website convinced me you were probably somewhat in the know on efficiency of business operations!  Dammit!

Okay – you get the idea.   Yes, I’m a rube – I paid and did not complain to the Bar Association or the Gods of Justice about the $256 charged me in less than 14 hours from the time of my ‘free consultation’,  for paralegal time filling out (incorrectly) initial filing forms nor the two emails my attorney exchanged with me, which basically amounted to:

Me:

I think your fees and incompentency are ridiculous. I provided in both multiple digital files and hand-filled-out forms my basic information and you could not even convert that information into correct documents ready for court filling. Do not spend any further time on my case.  I will seek other assistance.   Do not allow you or your paralegal one more minute of wasted billing time on my case.”

Her:

“Form email, Blah, blah, blah, we’re so happy to have you for a customer, blah, blah, blah.  Please do not hesitate to contact us regarding anything, blah, blah, form letter, blah.  We are here to work for you. Blah, Blah, Blah

Are you saying you do not wish me to represent you?”

Me:

Apparently, English is your second language.  YOU ARE FIRED.  IF you engage on any further work regarding this case and bill me for it, I will work till the end of my days to not only financially destroy you through civil litigation, but I will do my best to ensure you can’t get a job as a manure shoveler before I quit.   STOP!  NOW!  DO NO FURTHER WORK ON ANYTHING THAT MAY REMOTELY PERTAIN TO ME, INCLUDING RESEARCH ON MY ANCESTORS FROM 3,400 B.C.”

***********

Yes, I’m not kidding – I managed, through numerous phone calls to find and fall for the (hopefully only) single female attorney in a 100 mile radius that would have the balls to charge me $60 per email for reading and replying to email to confirm I’m really firing her.

I know, you weep for my gullibility.

***********

Lessons learned, I found a good ole, (albeit male) attorney and his paralegal who are willing to give me legal representation for my divorce (if me and the spouse agree on everything) for $800 and they actually ended up only charging me $500.  The paralegal thanked me for doing most of the work when I asked what the final bill was.

Spouse offered $150 more per month than the state maximum of $850, because he is, after all, a nice guy.

I end up with a settlement from the retirement fund of approximately $728 dollars payment for each year of being a wife, worker and mother.  A tad lower once the state punishes me for daring to earn more than $21,000 per year, but count your blessings is what I’ve been taught to do.

I’m given a share in the PERA retirement fund that means I’ll get $1,500/month if I live to see 65 years of age and my spouse doesn’t mess up before his retirement is legit.  This settlement is not negotiable due to hardship, medical crisis, disability or pure dumb luck.

Hell, I’m lucky I actually got a check from the 401(k), 457 plans.

I filled out the required forms, but the state only accepts their forms for electronic filing- not what independent investment firms require

– and the forms PERA insists on me using are not Certified by the State Judicial system as worthy of being filed electronically.

PERA won’t pay unless the judge signs the form they’ve approved as valid for use.

(It all turned out okay – eventually –  I’m sure somewhere along the line someone in the vast labyrinth of social justice said, “Yeah, I know, but she’s a nice kid, doesn’t flip her lid if you drop the F-bomb and there’s a bottle of Scotch in it for ya~  Whaddya say?”)

That’s okay – I came out with more than most.  I’m lucky,

I’m Lucky…

And I will repeat this mantra until I believe it.

My divorce settlement allows me to pay back-rent to my mother for the past year of not only housing me, but also worrying over whether I’ll ever recover from my stroke.

Okay, this might not sound like a lot, but truly, my mom can wrack up the annual national debt in one second of her brand of worrying.

I also pay off my outstanding medical bills, (some from three years before I even separated from the spouse) get a secured credit card because I’m unemployed and divorced from a man who actually managed to throw away our family’s life, but not his career or available resources, and I am borne into a new life with some semblance of minor security and  $1,100 dollars left over.

************

On the day of my divorce, the judge wants to know why $1,000 per month?

I tell him the ex offered & I accepted.

The white, male, has-a-job-with-benefits judge decides not to belabor the point, and wishes me “Good Luck” before he pronounces me single.

I won’t hold a grudge – It’ll be fine – soon I’ll be well and back to work.

***********

If you’ve read anything here at BallyBin, you know I walked out of that courtroom in June of 2012 and I’m still struggling to do more than 2 hours labor at one time without a break.   Too bad – since the tests the insurance company would approve to be taken don’t show where, exactly, the damage in my brain is, I do not qualify for Disability from the Social Security I’ve paid into for every year but 3 between 1984 and 2011.  But its 2013 now, and according to their calculations, I have not logged enough credits to qualify.

My new doctor has treated my non-functioning thyroid and he’s certain if I just give up gluten, I’ll quit talking like Porky Pig, a computer or Elmer Fudd when the work day stretches long and my body says, “Yeah – no more talkie”

Gluten affects your brain waves, he informs me and I just need to push through my self-imposed limitations and get on with life.  Since there is no diagnostic evidence of an actual stroke, who’s to say what really happened, he says.   I just need to buck up and push through any physical symptoms like racing heart, blurred vision or that dull head pressure that my stroke experience indicates I may just drop dead any moment.

My neurologist in charge of my stroke care changed offices and insurance plans months ago – I hold not hope for that.

Okay.

I show my new doctor the pictures of the manual labor I’ve performed since last spring, to protect the structural integrity of my house and to build a garden of paradise with my own two hands – moment by moment, piece by piece.

Great!   He no longer insists that I’m depressed and need to take pills designed to keep me awake for 36 hours straight.

But I still need to guard against not trying hard enough, he declares.

I give up.

************

My Liberal and Democratic friends think I should get aide – My Republican friends understand I never will (and probably hope so, for the nation’s financial sake.)  no matter how much they think I may deserve a little extra help.

They do encourage me to take advantage of the local church sponsored food-bank.

I do not – for these reasons:

  1. I’m fully aware there are folks worse off than me.   I do not deny this and I hate to take things others need more than I.
  2. I feel funny taking food from folks who should know, by now, I do not believe in Hell after death.   (on Earth, yeah, after death, not so much)  Is it even proper to accept gifts from those you think hold rather odd ideas?
  3. Food banks are often supported by commodity enterprises, and quite frankly, I believe the health of my household to be better served by trading sporadic and break-laden labor, gladly given to much kinder bosses than I’ve known in years of corporate/government service,  in exchange for  locally grown food, than the stuff I’ll get at the Food Bank (I could be wrong, I’ve never visited the local food bank – but my neighbors, animals & plants seem to love when I manage to be there at just the right time)
  4. I’d really like to purchase my tranquilizers of choice (nicotine and alcohol) without having to suffer the slights incurred should I be silly enough to visit the locally owned & operated liquor store and charity food bank on the same day.  (I swear, I’ve tried to become a socially acceptable prescription pill popper, shop-aholic, critic of everyone who doesn’t think just like me & chocolate consumer, but these socially acceptable coping mechanisms just don’t calm me.)

***********

When I was 16, my Dad and I compared my lifestyle/paycheck with his lifestyle/paycheck of 30 years before.

I made $2.16/hour plus tips, for 35-40 hours a week in a restaurant.   He had earned $1.15/hour, no tips, 40 hours a week and an occasional Saturday morning thrown in, as a stocker at the local grocery store.

I lived at home, made car & maintenance payments, earned my own clothing and spending allowance & pitched in for brother’s necessities or fun luxuries for the family when offered.  I could not have afforded to stay in the worst, flea bitten hotel located in the town where I worked on the wage I earned, even if necessity demanded it.

Dad, by contrast, owned his own mobile home, new Ford truck and a Harley Davidson motorcycle and could have fun tooling around the county attending races, dances, pool halls, and eating out every weekend, on his lesser wage.

In fact, that’s how he met my Mom – at the races – beer in each hand – cigs rolled up in the sleeve of his white t-shirt –

The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

When we had this conversation, my dad was gone from home all week and sometimes didn’t make it home for the weekend.   He had quit working his own business to go to work for a big company that had building contracts in multiple states and promised steady work.  My dad often brought home paychecks our local bank said weren’t any good.  He used his reputation as an honest man who paid his debts as collateral for a interest bearing loan to take care of the necessities.

That fall day, when we sat at the kitchen table, in the house I grew up,  I’ll never forget what he sadly informed me of –  the days of working hard, giving the best you’ve got to provide what is needed & valued by your community, were long gone.  That  Social Security, the government and insurance companies were the new Mafia and unless you had the clout or money to get a good attorney, you’ll never survive this new race for survival of the fittest.

I didn’t want to believe him.  And I refused to hear his wisdom for nearly 25 years.

But I understand now.   It does not matter how hard you work, or for how many years you pay your dues.

It does not matter that you’ve abided by the law, dealt honestly by your neighbor, took care of your family and friends to spare the government or insurance companies the burden of taking care of those they have pre-billed for the help they promised – the help  that will, in actuality, never be provided;

The Republican party believes I have been lazy and irresponsible – the Democratic party believes I’m not quite yet poor enough to actually need help.

I register as an Independent voter, so I’m the recipient of phone calls and emails from everyone – hopeful I fall off my fence and into their corral.

It no longer matters or has any meaning – unless I am willing to build my success upon the death or destruction of another (or countless others), I will, eventually, be weeded out.

I now know my Dad didn’t die in 2007 – he died in 1984 –  from a broken heart.

Wow, Really?!?

This blog is for entertainment purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the opinions held by WordPress, Bill Gates, Dell Computer, the local electrical or internet companies, the guy who built the house this article was created in ( who is either over 113 years old or dead), nor any of the multitude of ensuing remodel and maintenance contractors over the past 100 years, local waste management personnel  or even, the author of said blog.

I’m absolutely loving the freedom from litigation fears by  including disclaimers instead of the costly and tiring processes of  either incorporating myself, keeping attorneys on $10,000,000 per month retainers, hiring lobbyists or running for public office.  Why, oh why did I not think of this sooner? And did I cover all the bases?

**********

Yes, I know, I was going to dive back in and get manuscript 2 ready to deliver next week as well.   No, the dishes are still sitting in the sink with now-lukewarm soapy water soaking them (a little while longer and I shan’t have to scrub loose congealed ketchup at all!).

I did run downtown to check the mail and pick up a six-pack of Miller Lite because I want to celebrate having completed my first manuscript – at least until the beta-readers and proofreader laugh and say, “Really? You really think you’re done?  Amazing!”

I did not shower, but I did doff a pair of jeans instead of sweatpants – best to re-enter the world of reality a step at a time, says I.

Good News at the Post Office!  My Jerusalem Artichokes arrived for fall planting.

Less than good news – My current insurance provider has sent me information…

***********

Yes, yes, we’ll get to the artichokes here in a minute.

In January of this year, I received notice that the organization through which I purchase my insurance, in fact, the only place I could even get insurance through after my stroke and divorce (thanks, Colorado, for being proactive with your implementation of Affordable Healthcare and allowing me to not burden my child, my mother, brother or the guy I shagged in 1989 with anything more than, say, $30,000 – $100,000 debt, should I suddenly die from a precise strike of lightening from above and be tended to by those who choose to ignore the DNR I have tattooed on my chest – yes, that’s Do Not Resuscitate), sent me a notice that insurance premiums would not be increasing this upcoming fiscal year, which starts on July 1, 2013.

(State budgets have been allowed to change their fiscal years to run from July 1st – June 30th and federal budgets from October 1st – September 30th – however, my local utility providers and bank do not like it when I try to move my ‘monthly obligations’ out by even 3 days, because I’ve run out of money before the end of the month – where, oh where is the justice?

I also recently asked if I could just not pay my bills for awhile, because I’m filled with doubt over how well currently passed legislation is really going to serve the nation and consider it my patriotic duty to renege on said obligations – a standoff which will magically result in me knowing all and figuring out the mathematical formula that explains the entire frickin’ universe and will result in Utopia!  Take that, Einstein!

Sadly, they didn’t buy in and support that story either.)

Back to the original story – sorry about that….

January 2013 – “Good News!  No increase in premiums to the only health insurance you qualify for”.

(Ladies, and perhaps gents too,  if ever you go through a divorce, make sure not to have a stroke until after you’ve been kicked off your spouse’s policy and your new one has been in effect for 100 years or more – this gives technology upgrades time to erase your pre-existing condition and every statistician who knew of your bad behavior time to die, leaving you golden..)

August 2013 Financial records account reconciliation – “Hey, DumbArse – you’re off by $34.98!   Scratch “CPA” from your possible careers list.”

HA, In Your Face, software!!  Not my fault – my insurance premium EFT went from $154.76 to $189.74  (and before you start thinking about how lucky I am – this coverage carries a $10,000.00 deductible and while I can go to the doctor and pay $25 for an appointment to see what’s wrong, it does not cover any of the blood labs or other expensive tests needed by the doctor to guess at what’s wrong….Happily, my doctor agreed to see me sans insurance if I just pay him $70 cash per visit – If I can keep some semblance of healthy, his deal is a better one than the insurance companies…)

The following is a paraphrase of actual communication – I can do this because I placed the disclaimer at the top of the page and if you skipped it and read the rest, not my problem.

Me:

Dear Insurance Company – I received notice earlier this year there was not going to be any raise in premiums, and yet your recent EFT draft reflects a $34.98 change in price – an EFT you demanded could only come from my personal checking account, not a credit card where I could actually cancel my subscription and have some actual rights regarding a disagreement in charges and contracts – while I realize this may seem not that big a deal, it is severely testing my budget and combined with electrical usage to keep fans running so my house is a comfortable 96 degrees instead of 120 this past month, I’m struggling to cover all bases.  Can you please advise if this is a mistake (yes, please say it’s a mistake and you’re returning that $35 dollars immediately) or explain why the increase?

Their reply:

If you would have fully read your 4pt sized font manual regarding your coverage, you would have realized that now that you are 45 years old, you are much, much more unhealthy and thus a higher risk for us, which means we can legally deduct electronically from your checking account any durn amount we want, because we warned you and quite frankly, now that you’re over the hill and not likely to snare a billionaire playboy for a husband, you’re lucky we charged you only $34.98 extra.  (Where is the gratitude these days?)

It does not count that you’ve already had a stroke and no explanation given as to why and for all we know, you might just drop dead (after $237,000 worth of intervention care trying to keep your worthless carcass alive, of course) at any moment – the fact remains, because you will be 45 years old for approximately 18 days this month, we can now charge you $34.98 more for this month and every month following.

Me:

Thank you for the information.   Alas, I cannot go into further debt and realize that though I’m too late to cancel my coverage in the manner you require (30+ days notice) for the month of September, which I pre-pay you for the end of August, please cancel my insurance, effective for the first of October.

And the waiting for the cancellation letter began.

*********

September 30th – the insurance company attempts an EFT for the premium of insurance I cancelled over 40+ days ago.    I pay the stop payment fee to the bank.   I use the extra money saved to catch up on my utility bills and buy better food for consumption.

I take full responsibility for spending days writing, in some small attempt to put some product into our capitalistic society that is worth something to another consumer.  I confess to using a portion of my grocery budget to purchasing dirt and seeds to grow a garden at some point in time and to willfully wasting $84 on booze and nicotine to calm my stressed nerves.  I figure it’s cheaper, in the long run, than storming a local business that receives government funding, and really, wouldn’t you agree,  bullets are so expensive these days….

October 1st – I try to see what insurance I can get now – If I am truthful about my monthly income, I’m directed to another website to apply for Medicaid.   If I lie and buy insurance, will they cancel it because I lied about how much I make?

I decide not to risk it.

I apply for Medicaid via another website and check the “Food Stamps” and “Back to work Assistance” program for the hell of it.   Heck, aren’t all my Liberal, Democrat, Republican, Protestant, Catholic, Agnostic friends urging me to take advantage of tax-based benefits I’ve worked for many years to support?

Funny how friendship and knowing someone’s story crosses every political and religious divide….

I decide to apply for everything and let the chips fall where they may.

I find out, once I’ve submitted my application and am now actually allowed to view the secret caverns that tell you what the Poverty Line is and what actual income qualifies you for what, that the Return to Work Program only applies to anyone making less than $248 per month.   Hmmm…don’t want them to think I’m some deadbeat trying to work the system (exactly, how many workable hours a day do these deadbeats have to work this system?   I’m worn out already….)

I try to amend my application and have crashed the system. 

I call to confess my sins…

“Please, please, just let me get good enough health coverage to protect my family from my sins and give me enough money to hire an attorney to draft a request that will stand up in court stating, “I’m no longer of use to the common good.   Please, please, just let me die – preferably by an injection that allows me to float on the magic carpet ride – do not make me die of slow starvation.”

That is all I ask for.   The Social Services lady is not impressed.   She sternly warns me of the implications of trying to get more than is my due.   I’m instructed to amend my application.

Hey!  I can log in now!   Apparently, the state has used WordPress and W3 Total Word Cache and forgot to set caching from 3,000,000 years to 15 minutes –

Yep…um…no… still not letting me change my application to just those things I qualify for – Medicaid –  and I’ll have to prove that in my best month for the last year, I’ve sustained my household of 2 housed in something other than a card board box under a bridge on around $1,300/month – The New Medicaid charts say I can actually make double that for a household of one – Nearly Quadruple that for a household of two – but, alas, $1,000/month is my only guaranteed income for the forseeable future and I don’t qualify for much beyond Medicaid and some politician with a vacation home and the means to take a frickin’ vacation has put my friends out of work in order to deny me the privilege of allowing my family to stay out of debt and the option of blowing me away, because ya know, every life is precious…

Today – I receive a notice from what I consider my previous insurance company, informing me that I really ought to make sure my cancellation request is submitted by December 10th, to ensure I will not be required to fulfill 2 deductibles in 2014.

Wait – –

You’re no longer providing coverage as of January 1st, 2014 – at midnight.   For months you’ve informed me of this.   But if your records do not indicate that I’ve submitted a cancellation prior to December 10th, 2013, I will need to fulfill the deductible requirements for my new insurance plan AND the deductible of the plan that is no longer serviced or even in business come Jan. 1st?

I don’t get it.

True, I’ve had a stroke.

True, I’m somewhat an activist who just waits for the powers that be to say something stupid or illogical or irrational in order to point out to them how ridiculous they are being.

True, I’m sometimes biased and blinded by my own beliefs and perspectives.

Still – I didn’t say “Wow” or “Really” upon reading the latest missive –

I just took a chug of my celebratory beer and mumbled, “WTF?”

😀

P.S.  The Jerusalem artichokes, dutifully purchased out of my grocery budget will be planted Sunday,  I’m thinking – cuz tomorrow, I’m volunteering my time for the benefit of a local organization that benefits our local community – – The ‘chokes are purported to not be too fussy regarding growing environment, should not get me in too much trouble with my local water provider – can double for potatoes or water chestnuts depending on how you consume them (raw or cooked), are a starch that is so miraculous, my diabetic neighbors can eat them without fear and will put up tall stalks of sunflowery looking greenery to hide my recycled tire walls from the offended glare of my affluent neighbor (who actually lives far from me, but owns a business lot one block north of me that doesn’t actually hold a business that benefits the well-being of our community in way I can see – but what do I know? )  He also, supposedly, was considered a hard working, stand up guy by my Dad – but I’m thinking probably not so much anymore.  I hope his sanctimonious ways lands him in heaven – so my Dad can kick his ass….

There – I think this little tirade is complete…

Summer Break

Well, no, it’s not really summer break but after engaging in marathon days of working on the final, yes final! manuscript for Inheritances, I needed a break.

The manuscript is to be placed in the hands of my beta-readers this coming week. Yay!

In the face of a government shutdown, some uncertainty on whether I will be allowed to even view, much less apply for different health insurance options without lying about my income (I can go no further in the process if I tell the truth –  I’m shot over to the site to apply for Medicaid and the company I am currently with shuts its doors for business on December 31st. and yes, I filled out my application on the 1st),  research done that revealed of the numerous doctors within a 50 mile radius of me who are listed as taking Medicaid/Medicare patients, many, including the first 34 ones I called, are not taking new patients, and my current doctor does not take it either,  as I follow the news and ponder the long-term ramifications of this dangerous game our elected officials charged with running the country are playing… Well, I REALLY needed  a break…

So I’ve been watching documentaries, reading and pondering.

Here’s the highlights:

  1. The right to counsel, to have an attorney appointed should I be unable to afford one, only became a RIGHT in 1963 – I thought it dated back to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but no, it actually traced back to the 14th amendment portion regarding due process and was not rigorously engaged in by any amount of consistency from state to state until decades later.  The original interpretation pretty much left to the states to do as they pleased until Mr. Gideon, sent to prison in Florida and a poor, drifter who had been charged with crimes before (an unlikely citizen rights hero)  hand-wrote a plea to the Supreme Court, on lined prison stationary, informing them he had been denied counsel.  And Justice Hugo Black had to wait 20 years for his dissenting opinion regarding the 1942 Betts vs. Brady case to become the unanimous decision by all 9 justices in Gideon vs. Wainwright.  Full Scoop
  2. Had Harry S. Truman stopped talking after informing the American people via television he was going to seize steel manufacturing facilities and place them under the charge of the Secretary of Commerce to avoid shutdowns due to labor disputes, because the very lives our wonderful lads overseas in the Korean Conflict depended upon steel production continuing, he may actually have gotten away with it.   But no, he had to get worked up and spout off about the greediness and overall hatefulness of the steel barons and gave them the additional support of the American people to come out fighting for their rights, for, they argued, if he can take our steel mills today, what will stop him from taking your house tomorrow?    Morals of the story: Stop talking when you’re ahead and never believe that just because you appoint someone to the Supreme Court and play poker with them, they will always be on your side.
  3. Corporations are, by law, required to put the profits of their stakeholders first – if they do otherwise, they are, in fact, breaking the law.  In the face of this, I better understand massive layoffs, refusal to cooperate and engage in activities to benefit the laborers who create their wealth, the environment or much of anything other than making a few rich folks richer.   Interestingly, the wide sweeping changes that turned corporations from strictly defined and restricted entities governed by carefully worded state charters into entities with the rights of a person, but without a soul to feel guilt or a body to incarcerate, are also traced back to decisions by the Supreme court on cases brought before them under the 14th amendment.   See a timeline here
  4. That if you put the Disclaimer, “This video is for entertainment purposes only and the opinions expressed are not necessarily what anyone who had anything to do with making this video thinks is true” and offering those you are bad-mouthing the chance to make a response or decline to, keeps Monsanto, Tyson, the Beef Association and Dairy Council from suing the pants off you when you and 50 or so others talk about shady business practices.  I’m going to put up this disclaimer on my blog, in case those in power actually ever read my blog – Because I don’t think Gideon vs. Wainwright applies to civil litigation….
  5. I’ve decided one of the screening procedures for possible new friends or relationships is asking, “How do you feel about the following quote:”?

    “Is it ethical? I don’t know, but I did the job I was paid millions to do and I feel good about it.  This is how we make capitalism work.”

  6. I’ve also seen that if I intend to carry through on my intent to not pay taxes this coming year, as a gesture of civil disobedience towards a complex system I believe in need of change, it’s best if I start broadcasting my intent now.   To allow my side to be stated before being whisked away in the middle of the night in a caravan of black SUVs because I’m a threat to the nation and held in a secret location where I’m unable to log into WordPress and tell you why I haven’t blogged in over a month.
  7. I thought about transferring over  the $13.57 in my checking account to a bank in  Switzerland, renting an alley garbage can in San Francisco for my manufacturing headquarters and hiring a board of directors to hold company meetings wherever the rich of the neighborhood make .03 cents per week – all so I could avoid paying taxes legally, due to various national laws regarding such things but, then, where’s the disobedience in that plan?  Plus, the Swiss and Off-shore bankers hung up on me when I told them the balance I would like to transfer over.   I also really felt awful only paying .03 per week to my board of directors.   And since there were only going to be 3, I really couldn’t find an affordable way to give them healthcare benefits, either.  So I scrapped my plan for joining the big boys and fighting injustice from inside the system.
  8. I laughed at the old documentary that showcased the technological breakthrough of Pink Slime, and the factory manager who said they hoped to someday corner 90% of the market in the fight for ending hunger – – Pink Slime, I believe, has been removed from fast food chains and Congressional dinners – – the large inventory has been shipped to our nation’s schools via the Commodities free/low cost subsidizing of School Lunch programs, or so it was reported some months ago, and now that I have my disclaimer, I don’t actually have to research the current status, do I?  (My deep reluctance to engage in the relentless & never ending research in quest for the facts and truth is why I decline to be an investigative reporter – and probably, would actually make a A-1 politician)
  9. I watched Michael Moore interviews and wondered if now that I’ve put on some weight from sitting writing all day instead lugging heavy landscaping materials around, wear my pajamas 24/7, don’t do my hair or make-up so there is that much more time to write and watch documentaries, if he’d want to date me?   And how Howard Zinn only looked that unkempt during his civil disobedient crusades, because the local powers that be had drug him through some mud and street debris on his way to the paddy-wagon – – Just Saying….
  10. I’ve once again marveled at the claim that 55 men convened for more than 6 months to design an entirely new form of government,  argued, debated and insulted each other to the extreme, yet all kept their initial promise to not breathe a word outside the walls in which they convened about what they were doing,  Really?   55 people kept a secret for 6 months? – Amazing.

Sated and re-inspired by the history of both our mistakes and our triumphs, fresh in the knowledge that sometimes our collective conscience and the wheels of democracy do manage to move somewhat faster than receding glaciers, I’m ready to dive back into editing – yes, I have 3 other books that have sat for years.

But before I start, I’m thinking maybe I should do the dishes and take a shower – maybe don some street clothes and run errands in something other than my bedroom slippers, sweats and a t-shirt –  – before I dive back into the La-La land of my own design.

Then again, maybe I can deliver 2 manuscripts next week, not just one…

Wishing you a happy and wonderful Summer Weekend Break.

An Open Letter to the People in Charge

Right on the Money!

You Monsters Are People.

Dear Oligarchy,

It’s been a long time coming but I think people are finally starting to catch on to all of your bullshit. The public trust in you is beginning to collapse like those cheap umbrellas you produce in China for pennies and then sell here for eight dollars when it rains and I’m forced to buy it because didn’t have the foresight to bring my own. One more strong gust of lucidity and I’m convinced the traditional belief that you know best is going to flip inside out.

We are learning that simply being in charge doesn’t necessarily qualify you to make the best decisions. In fact you’ve made a lot of really poor choices throughout history. Even though you tried to blame things like the Crusades and the Holocaust on a few bad apples, we know that it takes a lot of cooperation to accomplish nightmares of such…

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Those Pesky Little Acronyms

A post over at My Brand of Genius this morning regarding medical/insurance woes, tossed me back into my lovely little world of acronyms and reminded me that often, acronyms reveal what those who wish to murky the waters are trying to disguise –

From this post came the following revelation:

“We just received our Revised Aetna Policy Exclusions (R.A.P.E.) today. ” Read the Full Story Here

I read this and wondered who over at Aetna would ultimately get fired for letting such a titled brochure with the bad-for-image resulting acronym out the door and into the world.

Wonder if we’ll ever know?

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Some few years ago, I built the website for a local political candidate – and did the artwork.    His platform was Leadership, Integrity and Experience…

L.I.E.

So we mixed up the words to create

L.E.I.

Which, while maybe not serious enough for a political campaign, did help voters to envision a vacation in Paradise if only they chose correctly –

Hey!  Hey!  I never said I was a marketing guru!   🙂

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Even further back in my work history, I worked for a place where my ‘new-hire-orientation’ packet contained a page (or two, can’t quite remember now) of two column, small font-sized acronyms to learn, so I could quickly and concisely communicate with my new co-workers.

Over the months, I learned that most new hires must not be memorizing those lists and the old war horses apparently didn’t know half of the acronyms either – so I started inserting my own acronyms during team meetings and project updates to see who would notice…

F.F.M’s

(Fat Finger Mistakes)

H.U.A.

(Head up Ass)

R.W.M.

(Returns on Wasted Money)

P.S.G.B.

(Pot-stirring Gold Bricker)

I only got caught on the one I freely confessed – FFM.

I once even slid a couple of WTFs into my presentation and no one even noticed – you too, can do this.  The trick is to say it with calm clarity, no pause and continue on as if nothing untoward has happened…

Try it sometime, it’s loads of fun.

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Turn the clock back even further and you would have found me recently stationed at a new dispatch center – one surrounded by other agencies that had decided to use “Clear Speech” instead of the antiquated 10 code (10-4 = Okay,  10-50PI – Traffic Accident with Injuries, etc.)

My first night, I receive a call from the local sheriff’s office informing me of a TA on north I-25.

“Isn’t that yours?” I inquire, because  my mind, used to “10-50”, translated TA into Tits and Ass – a streaker.   I knew State Patrol did not cover streakers and was wondering just  why the sheriff’s office was calling me.  And a little stunned at the vulgarity of relaying calls, but figured maybe the night shift was a tad lax here.

After a brief huff & discussion over jurisdictional lines and areas of expertise, my mind finally translated TA into “traffic accident” – I shared my inner thoughts with the somewhat disgruntled dispatcher on the other end of the phone line and a wonderful new working relationship was formed over my lack of acronym deciphering abilities.

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I think of the cruelty of elementary and junior high children who make up acronyms to keep secrets from those not in their ‘group’.  Or to make fun of others.

And the acronyms thrown around when your parents don’t want you to know what they’re talking about.

Oh, wait, they were probably actually spelling real words….

But safe to say, we simply are hard wired to love and use acronyms –

And if we aren’t careful, acronyms can tell the truths our pompous sounding phrases are trying to hide…