Friday, December 28, 2012

Walking Away From The Edge

Although my job is very rewarding there is a downside to it that requires a management strategy. I deal with people who are marking the time remaining to them before death knocks at their door. They suffer from various stages of dementia and most have health problems that prevent them from enjoying the time they have left to them. It's stressful in ways I hadn't thought about and ways that others who don't do what I do can't begin to imagine.

I deal with the same issues that are dealt with in nursing homes, including the abandonment issue. In many ways I think it's almost harder for the at home elderly to handle the lack of attention from the family or their friends. At least in an extended care facility there are others visibly dealing with these issues so the sufferer has ample evidence that they aren't alone. I become a surrogate for their family since I am there a few times a week. The other person of importance to them is the one that delivers the Meals On Wheels. For some, we are the only people they see for months on end.

In addition to doing what I can for my clients, Hubby has needed extra attention due to his health issue. He's not working at all so other than my pay and his Social Security, we have no additional income from the business. The boys are handling it so they are the ones being paid from it and not very well I might add. There's been the worry about the bills, a few family problems and over all, I'm dealing with those and not paying attention to myself.I'm getting through the really rough spots by sheer determination, using meditation when I think of it and sometimes just reminding myself to breathe.

I'm a pitcher and I'm pouring out for everyone without refilling myself. I think the reason I haven't bottomed out is because I know I'm loved by those who matter to me. I can draw on that when I need to but the refilling of me has to come from me. Life would be so simple if I was someone who could enjoy soaking in a hot bath, or spending a day at the spa. I need to find something I'd like to do for the fun of it and I can't find anything that really interests me except dance lessons and the doctor said no because of my hip and now my knees. Yoga is acceptable. So is Tai Chi, but I can't find night classes for either here.

I checked with the local Art and Community Center. Right now their "Winter Schedule" is for writers. I'd take a class except it's poetry and I am not interested in poetry. I don't like reading it, why should I learn to write it? Art classes don't begin until Spring. Watercolor painting to be specific. I might sign up for that. I'm always interested in learning new techniques and using new products.

The painting I did for Oldest and his wife was a big hit. First thing Oldest said when he opened it was "It's not signed". It is, but the signature ended up under the matting. Since it was my first attempt at something that could be framed, I learned from it. I learned not to sign so close to the edge. A lesson I believe I need to bring into my walking around life.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Happy Everything

This has to be the first year that I have zero interest in Christmas gift giving or receiving. It's not the lack of money, we never have enough money this time of the year. This year is no different in that regard and I have a lifetime of creative gift giving under my belt. I was brought up to believe it is the thought that counts when choosing a gift, not the price one pays for it. I suppose that makes me out of step with the times, but I have always been that. Why be different now?

I'm not buried in hospital or medical bills. We received financial assistance on those that amounts to 90% of what is owed. Payments are small to all parties concerned and not at all large enough to present any financial difficulty to us. Hubby, while still not released for work, is improving in leaps and bounds. Not even finding it necessary to take medications for his Crohn's Disease. I'm content with life and looking forward to the next chapter, but I simply don't care that it's Christmas.

My first thought was that I might be suffering from depression. I understand that depression interferes with ones ability to be interested in or enjoy anything. I'm not in that frame of mind, I'm interested in just about everything except giving and receiving gifts. When I really stop to think about it, I suppose it's more a matter of not being interested in the receiving part. I have what I need and can't think of anything else I want that money can buy. I also can't make people accept a gift that they don't believe they need.

I can't find anywhere a single person who says they need the gift of kindness, compassion, tolerance or respect towards others. Nor are they offering those gifts to whomever might need them to replenish their own supply so they may give more to others. It seems that giving to others that which they might wish to receive from others has been replaced with a need to own the latest expensive plaything.

There is no amount of money that can buy a gift for someone who is so full of rage that they erupt into violence. No Xbox, no Ipad, no Nook, no Smart Phone or whatever the current popular tech toy is won't make someone feel more loved if those who should be responsible for them are too busy acquiring the money to buy those things. Things can't replace the time, attention and nurturing that children need to grow into responsible, kind, compassionate adults.

I'd say stop giving the gift of greed this Christmas but no one listens to me, so have a merry whatever day you'd like. As for me, I've gone someplace other than the internet looking for my Christmas spirit. I'm sure it's in my heart somewhere.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Maybe We Could Try Learning Tolerance?

Progressive purists with "issue of the week" syndrome are upset with President Obama because at a Memorial Service for dead babies he didn't use the words "GUN CONTROL". What he actually said was "We must change". The reaction to that is pretty much in the same vein as "Yes WE can." He, I believe, isn't using a "royal we" when he says it. However, WE seem to hear he's gonna wave a magic wand and all by himself get things done. Am I oversimplifying the problem? In a society that believes they're making a difference by calling people morons when they don't agree with them? Oversimplifying? Yeah, because that's what we do. And that is part of the WE MUST CHANGE problem.

I don't believe guns belong in the home. I see little evidence that responsible gun ownership is possible. How can it be? We no longer teach respect for the person and property of others. We no longer hold any one accountable for their actions. If I had a penny for every time I've heard "My child wouldn't do that" even when faced with incontrovertible evidence, I'd be rich. We give our children everything they want and let them wait until they're adults to find out life won't do that for them. They have to contribute something in order to receive in return. That makes them unhappy. Which then turns to anger and frustration. THAT is when using a gun to fix the problem happens. I'LL MAKE YOU PAY FOR THAT.

Psychiatrists advance the theory that we are too desensitized to violence. Well, yeah. In a nation of selfish, self centered people who believe they have the right to do whatever they please no matter who gets hurt, what in hell would you expect? The only way to stop these misfits from killing large groups of people simply because they can, is to stop their access to guns completely. That's not going to happen in my lifetime. Simply because it's applying a band aid to an open suppurating wound many times it's size.

We demand simple solutions to complex problems without ever accepting an iota of responsibility for the existence of said problem. We don't want to do the hard work involved in finding true solutions. Instead we want to sit on the internet and if we believe in the right to own any kind of gun we choose, we want to inform others that Liberals kill babies but want to take our guns away from us. If we believe in gun control and responsible ownership we spew hatred at a dead woman for owning 4 guns and teaching her son how to fire them. Did we know her? Of course not, we just know what her actions led to. At least, we like to think she's to blame. Can't be us, now can it?

Mob rule. Online mobs of people screaming at each other via the written word. Bullying. Using words and phrases like morons, whack jobs, right wing nut jobs, libtards, douchebags, douchecanoes, fucktards, sluts, and Cu*t. Oh yeah, we're gonna demonize gun ownership, treat them like outcasts, isolate and degrade them until they give up their guns. We have the First Amendment right to treat you as if you're something that crawled out from under an overturned rock. And in the midst of all this, POTUS said "We must change".

So. We take away gun owner's Second Amendment rights and we think this is the answer. Until someone else finds himself with a boatload of hate, enough money to buy what he needs from the corner gun dealer and another mass shooting takes place.  Then what? Oh. Yeah. "We must change".

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ethical Behavior and The American Dream.

The more time I spend thinking about terms like 'income inequality" the more I conclude that my fellow humans have ethics which are dependent upon their personal view of what constitutes the American Dream. For some, the American Dream is having enough for their needs and maybe a bit left over for a luxury or two. For others, it's having enough to fulfill their desire to own everything they want.

Here in the United States, and quite possibly other parts of the world, we've confused a person's worth as a human being with how much money they can spend to purchase the trappings of success. We don't ever look at how they earn that money, we simply idolize that person because they have it. It should matter to us that they might not have been entirely honest in their quest for success. We should see who they hurt while achieving their gold and ask ourselves if they're worthy of our loyalty because of it.

A case in point would be the owners of the company I work for. During conversations with all but one of them, they brag about what they own and never mention how they've amassed the money to buy it. They've done that by taking things away from their employees.

The company founder appreciated her employees. While she didn't do everything she should have done (more on that later), she paid half of the employees health insurance. She gave raises every year. Sometimes it was just a nickle per hour, but it was a raise and it was there every year. She gave a picnic at a local state park every summer and a Christmas party was held the Friday before Christmas at every office she had open around the state. She didn't give money at Christmas, but she bought gifts for every single employee. She also went to bat for every employee that ran afoul of a County case manager. If a client was unhappy with the employee, she'd change the employee on that case. If the County manager took a dislike to someone, they had to have proof or she'd tell them they couldn't interfere with the employees right to earn a living. If there was a death in the family of an employee, she'd send flowers and a sympathy card and the employee would get 3 days off with pay.

At the time we had long term employees. When I was hired in 1999 some of the employees had been working there right out of high school. In one case it was the only job she'd ever had. As the on-call at the time I could call any employee and ask them to cover a case and they would simply say "Where'm I going"? That became, "No, I'm sorry, I can't" and that was if you could get them to answer the phone at all.

She retired in 2001 and we have since lost every single bit of that evidence that we are appreciated for our efforts on behalf of the company. They've taken away the annual raise, and actually cut our pay. We no longer get Christmas gifts or a party, no summer picnic has been held in 10 years. As a matter of fact, when an employee was killed while driving to her next case, they didn't offer anything to her family except words. Which is how we found out that the company founder had been doing something wrong.

The aide that died in a car crash left a husband to raise a young family alone. Like many young people they had no life insurance and there was a funeral bill to pay that he couldn't afford. He asked for assistance from the company because it occurred on company time and got told no. It seems that the company felt that their time was only the time an employee is actually with a client and not while we were traveling between clients. The husband knew enough labor law to understand that his wife should have been paid travel time between clients because from the time you begin with the first client until the time you leave the last one, you are on company time. So, he got mad and reported it to the Labor Department.

The Labor Department agreed. Which was when "travel time" became something we were paid for. What we didn't know was that in addition to the new pay, the state slapped the company with a stiff fine. Said fine kicked in last year which is why we lost our Christmas party and gifts. In addition to the loss of party and gifts, they have cut our hourly wage and also closed our offices an hour early to cut the coordinators pay by that 5 hours. The time was added to the on-call's duties at no extra pay, of course. Then the owners complain that they can't find good help these days.

Long term employees are few with far too many of them lasting a mere 3 or 4 months. And according to the owners, it's laziness not a lack of appreciation that is the problem. "Nobody wants to work anymore".

From where I sit it seems to me that it wasn't the employees that violated labor laws, it was the company owners. I'm thinking they should be the ones paying the fine out of their own pockets rather than on the backs of their minimum wage employees. However, their American Dream requires a new kitchen remodel in 1 home and the lease is up on the "company vehicle" and a new one was necessary.

The company founder drove a luxury Lexus. Paid for out of her pocketbook from money she made as a salary for shepherding a company to a point where profit was made. She made that profit by appreciating her hard working employees. As a result, her employees thought long and hard about the affect their actions might have on the company. It's called company loyalty and it's really, really hard to find in a company that regularly takes actions which lead those employees to believe they aren't appreciated.

Ah well, I get to retire in 2.5 more years, or sooner if the company goes under.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm Not A Billionaire, I Pay INCOME Tax

Had a conversation with a Conservative the day before elections. I don't know why I bother because the things they believe make me want to bang my head on a wall.

I said I pay income tax. He asked if I didn't mean payroll tax. Don't you love those talking points?

The really strange thing is, they believe payroll tax isn't income tax. I mean seriously believe that. On what planet is money withheld from your payroll that you don't get back at tax time not an income tax? On the Conservative planet where they see Social Security deductions, Medicare deductions and don't see the little goody called FEDERAL WITHHOLDING TAX. Ahem, excuse me for shouting.

Every year between January 1 and April 15, ALL working people file these forms with the Internal Revenue Service and whatever state they reside in. In my case the forms numbers are 1040 and IT-201. The amounts we use to fill in the blanks are based on forms our employers give us which show the amounts of money they withheld from our payroll. In case you missed it, our payroll equals the amount of INCOME we received from them.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I have never received every penny of my Federal Withholding Tax or My NY State Withholding Tax back from either of those two entities. As a matter of fact, due to Hubby's business there have been years in which we have had to pay MORE to both of those entities. As a matter of fact a perusal of 10 years of income tax forms informed me that there were years in which we paid as much as $1500  more in INCOME TAX over what was deducted from my earnings.

Hey! If I was a billionaire Mormon, I could pay 10 times what I make annually to a slick accountant so I only had to pay $0 in INCOME TAX. Unfortunately on an average income of $20,000 give or take a grand or two, I pay 15% of my INCOME back in TAXES and that's BEFORE I add in my deduction for Social Security and Medicare which I may not ever get back because Conservatives believe those two "ENTITLEMENTS" are bankrupting our country.

Uhhh, no. Our country is in debt because people who can afford it most easily have stopped paying their fair share of income taxes. Too many loopholes through which they slide in their efforts to feed their need for greed. They hide their money in Swiss bank accounts or offshore tax havens and then claim that the poorest of this country are standing in line with their hands out to hide their own selfish behavior.

They are why the middle class is disappearing. They make their money and hold onto as much of it as they can by sending jobs overseas where they don't have to pay higher American wages. Then they hold onto more of it by refusing to pay the income tax on their ill gotten gains. Thankfully this past election showed me that not all of my fellow Americans are buying into their claptrap. Now, I'm willing to pay more tax to hold their feet to the fire, so let the Bush Tax Cuts EXPIRE.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Moochers Get All The Free Stuff

With Hubby's illness and the mounting medical bills, there's been a lot of stress in my life. That stress has cost me a long term client, the 93 year old lady that I've been visiting twice a week since 2007. I don't miss her.

She is in a program the state of New York offers to higher income elderly. They have to pay a portion of the bill themselves. The amount depends on how much their income is. It's available only to the elderly who don't qualify for Medicaid, and they may be asked to pay as much as half the bill. This program doesn't qualify the recipient for services like transportation to and from doctors. The aides servicing these cases are allowed to shop only once a month for these clients unless there is no family. Also, since the services rendered to these clients are considered to be largely personal care, chores like taking trash to the curb are the responsibility of the family. Which is where we ran into trouble on this case.

Her trash pick up was happening 15 minutes after I arrived on Mondays so I was taking care of it. Our office replaced my earlier client with one that required longer travel time so I was getting there 10 minutes later than normal which was approved by both client and her family. Then her hauler changed the pick up time for her trash collection and unfortunately it was a full hour before I would get there. I spoke to the client about that change which at the age of 93 went in one ear and out the other so I had our office call the family and explain. She did that, I was there in the office when she called.

Three weeks later when the trash was overflowing in the garage, she asked me why. I reminded her that I don't get there in time to put out her trash and before I could say because her hauler changed the time she exploded. "How DARE you take my time away from me!" As if it's my fault the office gave me a different case. Nothing I said pierced the rage so I went to the office and wrote out a grievance as I'm supposed to. Office called the family who weren't overly helpful. Like a 93 year old woman is capable of carrying the trash out on Monday, let alone if she remembers what day it is. Family is too busy to take care of it even though they drive right by her house on their way to work. Yeah, it really is that hard for them.

They gave the client a new aide and the family was notified that taking the trash to the curb isn't one of our duties. I also notified the office that I wouldn't take any more cases from that particular program. I would prefer the lower income moochers I keep hearing about from the families of the people in this program. They and their families are grateful for what services they receive. Not so the more affluent clients families. They have an over developed sense of entitlement.

I really hadn't thought much about it until this morning while reading the doom and gloom from those Conservatives who are rather rageful that their Boy Romney lost. After the 19th or so time I read a statement along the lines of Obama supporters voting for "that free stuff", I started thinking about the 30 or so clients I have serviced in the past 5 years and the other situations I am aware of with other aide's clients.

Even though these program clients pay for a portion of their services, they still benefit from a partial payment through a state grant. When they don't get a service, they're very vocal about those who do without any acknowledgement of the fact that their monthly income is twice that of the Medicaid clients in the other program.

My stress level is at Defcon 5 over things like:

The 93 year old with the trash problem plus the time her daughter canceled taking her to a doctor's appointment so she could take her dog to the vet.

The 80 year old who got diaper rash because her family couldn't find the time to stop and get her Depends so she ran out of them and couldn't change her undergarment. She reused the same one for 3 days until my day to go there and I went to buy them. Out of my own money because her family hadn't dropped off any cash for me to shop with. Elder abuse task force placed her in a nursing home. Charged her son with neglect.

The 71 year old whose laundry I couldn't do for close to a month because her family couldn't understand that they needed to pick her up and take her to the bank so that she could withdraw the money needed for the machines in her building. A building that limits the use of laundry machines to 2 per tenant at a time. A month's worth of laundry won't fit 2 machines. I'm only there 2 hours a week. Mom failed inspection. Guess who family tried to blame? That failed because our office had placed numerous calls to family explaining that money was needed for laundry.

The 86 year old who had to drive himself to and from the eye doctor and he had to have his eyes dilated at that appointment. When the doctor found out he didn't have transportation, they kept him there for 4 hours until he could see. When the daughter finally panicked because she couldn't find her Dad, all we heard was how "all those welfare bums get rides, why can't her Dad?"

Got a hot flash for her, not all those "welfare bums" get transported. Only those without families locally do. Funny, those families are mostly low income and they manage to take time off to transport Mom or Dad to the doctors. We've never gotten calls from those low income families wondering why we didn't move the furniture to vacuum (not allowed by the state) or why we don't remove all the knick-knacks when we dust (not allowed by the state). They just go and visit and help take care of these things themselves.

The grief we get from the families and in some cases the clients who can afford to pay for services is tied up in their sense that they are entitled to free things simply because the families are too busy, or unwilling to help.  In all but one of my cases from that program the clients and their families are Conservatives. The one client from that program that I still have doesn't have that sense of entitlement plus has assistance with whatever she needs from her daughter and son-in-law. They are Liberals. She never complains that anyone gets more assistance than she does, plus she donates as often as possible to our local Rescue Mission and to the Salvation Army. So people less fortunate than she can be helped. Something my Conservative former clients and families don't do because..."Moochers get enough free stuff".

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rebuilding The Gilded Age

A conversation with my Mom's oldest brother this weekend informed me that I am no longer the lone Democrat in a family of Republicans. Nearly 70 years ago when he registered to vote for the first time, he did so as a Republican. This year he changed his affiliation to the Democratic Party. This information that he shared with me didn't occur during a political conversation. It happened as we were discussing a History Channel program I spent time watching this past week.

"The Men Who Built America", Vanderbilt, Scott, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Frick, Morgan, Ford and Edison. All captains behind the growth of railroads, coal, oil, steel, automobiles, banking and electricity. All grew supremely wealthy at a time when American Workers could be bought for an average of $1.20 a week. If profits were down for the company owners, workers were fired, those duties were added to the remaining worker's day and pay would be cut in half.

There were no regulations, few safety measures and if you were injured beyond the point of ever being able to work again, well, you were on your own. You were fortunate if you had sons of 9 or 10 who could find a 60 hour a week job to support your family. Doubly fortunate if your sons and daughters were old enough to have families of their own and an adult breadwinner who could take on the task of supporting you. This wasn't as much of a burden as it sounds today because life expectancy was considerably less than it is now.

While you were struggling to make ends meet, your employer was attending balls, building block long residences to house their families and their art collections. They were taking cruises, vacationing in the Adirondacks in homes that although used for a few short months a year, were nearly as opulent as their New York residences. For some, philanthropy became an interest, but not until decisions they made caused death and destruction. However many libraries, schools and museums they built, they seemed to ignore the workers upon whose backs these grand edifices were erected.

Never did it occur to them to increase wages, correct safety issues or offer pensions so the elderly or infirm employees were not such a burden to their families when they were used up and incapable of working those 60 hour weeks. This was the topic of conversation when my life long Republican uncle said that he had changed party affiliation because "today's GOP is dangerous".

Rather than accepting that their policies have contributed to the current economic climate, they continue upon a path that benefits the few over the many. Corporations could be said to be people if one factors in the people that work for them, however, the policies of today are intended to benefit the bottom line of the corporate fat cats running them rather than the people who actually do the work.

Policies that strip the elderly, infirm and poor of any benefit they have earned through their labors. Policies that have allowed those at the top of the heap to hang onto and even take more from the pie leaving less to be fed to those below them who actually do the work which allows them to reap the profit. Policies which take from the people to give to the Pentagon so they may wage war on other countries and call it defense of the American Way of Life.

I think he's right, today's GOP really is dangerous and I can't see any way of stopping them unless we vote for humanity and not corporate welfare. The problem is, history isn't popular among the people who really should pay attention to it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rose Gardens, Rainbows and Golden Unicorns

I find myself wondering how the generations of people younger than I am got the idea that life was a piece of cake? That they could be anything they want to be with the least amount of effort on their part? In what alternate universe do people walk out the doors of the institutions of learning into high paying jobs that meet every want without any effort on their part? Boggles the mind. Who are these people anyways?

A few days ago, comic Jamie Kilstein was tweeting his opinion regarding the President's use of drones in the Middle East. He was calling the President a child killer, like no child ever died in the Middle East at any hand other than ours. I proposed that drones used were saving the life of our military men and women since it wasn't their boots on the ground that were being used. I strongly suggested that if Mr. Kilstein was so worried about those drones, he should volunteer to put his boots on the ground instead of running his mouth in Twitter. It wasn't the smartest move I've ever made in my life. Jamie Kilstein has FANS. They did not like my opinion.

Mr Kilstein made one defensive comment to me and then let his fans do his dirty work for him. It might have gotten much worse than it did if I hadn't been clear that my objection to his tweet was that he WASN'T objecting to WAR, just to the use of drones. Somehow, in my mind, calling the President a child killer for using drones against the Taliban isn't objecting to war. Oddly when I pointed out what the Taliban themselves were doing to children, which in the case of Malala was to target a SCHOOL of them to shoot a 14 year old, no one had a single thing to say about that.

It isn't just drones that kill innocent men women and children, it's war. Period.

Unfortunately, we the people with our reverence for Capitalism which few truly understand, we create a climate of war. For the top 10% it means profit. For the other 90% it means death.  As long as we continue to buy into allowing the few to profit on the backs of the many, we are buying into war and the use of drones to kill.

We're a society which believes all good things come to those who exist, simply because. There is no credit given for effort, and there is little effort expended that isn't there because of an expectation of rewards far beyond that which the effort expended deserves.

Then there's the internet. A place where we can sit safely in our homes and offices and pretend to be much more important than we really are.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hubby's Little Bump

It turned out to be fatty tissue that grew over the dissolving sutures. In the area where the bump grew the sutures are close together and quite numerous. This doesn't allow the sutures to dissolve the way they're supposed to and the friction causes fatty tissue to over grow them. The doctor says this happens more often to people that are skinny like Hubby is. Who knew fat prevents more fat from forming over something like this? One would almost think a fat person would grow fatty tissue easier.

No antibiotics, no pus to test for bacteria, NO MRSA. I'm so relieved I'm almost in tears. I couldn't wrap my mind around the possibility of having another MRSA victim in my family. It was scary, believe me.

The good news, if there is such a thing right now is that Hubby told the surgeon that there was no way we'd be able to pay his bill in a timely manner. This is a lot of debt to find yourself in when you're as old as we are.  The surgeon told Hubby not to worry about it, just send whatever we could, even if it was only $5 a month.  The doctor told Hubby that he could see we were working people who took our debts and responsibilities for those debts seriously and would do the best we can to take care of things.  Having something like that said to him right now is equal to the best medicine money can buy.

I have a card with the billing department phone number and will give them a call tomorrow to let them know how Hubby and I decided we'd work this. Everyone is going to get money every month. The smaller bills will get more right now so that we can pay them off and then add that money to the bigger ones.

I've also talked to my doctor about not taking some of the supplements I've been on. Those have gotten very expensive, and I'm going to need some of that money towards the bills. She was great and reduced them to three and gave them priorities so I'd know that if I have a little extra to spend, which ones she'd prefer I spend it on.

So, here I sit with a wounded Hubby, 2 cats I can't afford, a mess of bills I need to pay and a grin on my face. You don't have to be crazy to get through life, it just helps.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Getting Blood From A Stone, The High Cost Of Healthcare

Problem: Undiagnosed Crohn's Disease which caused scar tissue that lead to a small intestine blockage. There were no symptoms prior to the blockage and had Hubby been seeing a physician regularly they never would have diagnosed it. The blockage required a day in the ER followed by surgery plus 3 days in the hospital.

Hospital bill...............................................$32,780.00
Emergency room bill.........................................810.00
Cat Scan..........................................................310.00
Abdominal Xray.................................................82.00
Total debt..................................................$42,948.00 and we are not sure all bills are in.

Also, Hub has developed an infection. It may be MRSA. He has what looks like a boil on the edge of the incision site. We'll know on Tuesday, and then we'll have additional medical bills for more treatment. It was under the steri-strips holding his incision closed so he got it in the hospital. On his first and only stay. At an award winning hospital according to NYS Health Department.

We have no insurance, and thanks to Wall Street and their shenanigans have lived on  $19,000 a year for the past 6 years.

I had planned on giving up our satellite in order to have the money to pay towards the bill, however, NYS now DEMANDS that two of the business taxes must be filed online, and notifications are now emailed. This means I MUST maintain an internet connection. Since Winter is approaching, we are looking at an additional $400 every few weeks to heat our home. So, there is absolutely no way to reduce our living expenses to find enough money to pay any bill with enough money per month to pay it off in a timely manner.

We have requested charitable assistance with the hospital bill. The hospital has offered half off, and we are asking for help with the half we are going to have to pay. My income is presently frozen due to that request. I had lost clients to nursing homes and the company didn't have any new clients to give me. Now they do, and I can't take them until we receive the determination. Then I'm going to have to push for full time instead of the 24 hours I was working.

I'm not even going to look at how Hubby will manage to pay for his Medicare which he will be getting in 2013. Then there will be my Medicare in 2014. Which I will have to pay for out of my work earnings since I can't retire with full benefit until 2015. Heavy sigh.

People who have no idea what medical care costs don't want to pay for health insurance. They have no idea how quickly they could need medical services and how much debt they will incur without it. There's a tremendous rate of inflation going on in the area of medical costs. Our bill, in the year 2012 is higher than the combined costs of ER services, hospital stay and surgery for our youngest son and his wife in 2007. Their bills combined equaled $30,000. He had appendicitis, she had a prolapsed bladder that required surgical repair. She was in the hospital a day longer than Hubby. This means that medical costs have more than doubled in 5 years. Controlling the cost of health insurance isn't going to make much difference if there is no control over how much can be charged for services.

I think that before people claim we have the best healthcare in the world, they need to sit down and research the number of deaths caused by medical mistakes, the number of deadly infections hospital patients acquire and the infant mortality rate here in the US. They might find we are no better than those countries that have single payer systems. Being better doesn't mean being the most expensive.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Best Healthcare In The World, or Just The Most Expensive?

Hubby is improving in leaps and bounds, however, the bills for his care have started rolling in. This week we've had to throw ourselves on the mercy of our hospital administrators and seek relief from some of the bill. We haven't received all of the bills yet and given the amount we do know we owe, the total will run somewhere in the $35,000 range. For those readers who are thinking we should have been paying for health insurance,  our income has dropped so significantly in the past 3 years that we are only $1700 a year over the amount that would have qualified us for full payment of our bill through the charity established by the hospital.

On Tuesday we submitted the paperwork which is based on Hub's projected income and my current income, which is some $200 a month less than it was in June. The county agencies haven't been taking new cases so there has been nothing to replace cases I lost to nursing homes. Once the paperwork has been submitted, our income can't change until after the determination on the amount they're willing to forgive. It's usually half, and then they set up monthly payments. Of course, the way our luck has been going, on Friday I finally got offered new cases and I can't take them. The number of hours offered aren't enough to make much difference in the determination, however, they'd be enough to stop the process so we would have to resubmit the application. I'm not going to say I make this much, increase my income and not report it.

I'm also not going to obsess over what we owe. There are people out there in worse shape than we are. Even people with insurance are on the verge of bankruptcy due to their medical bills.

I was talking to my brother-in-law yesterday. His wife had fallen, shattered her shoulder and needed to have it replaced. The mechanical shoulder parts alone cost $16,000. The surgeon's bill was another $16,000. Assorted other charges, hospital, rehab, etc. came to $53,000+. Total of her bill was over $85,000. They have great insurance which costs them a pretty penny monthly so most of the bill, minus co-pays and deductables got paid.

While they may be in decent shape with their medical bills, there are people out there experiencing the same problems without their great insurance. Even Medicare doesn't pay what people think it pays. Which Hubby will have in 8 more months. I think the "if it weren't for bad luck we'd have no luck at all" idea applies here.

Hubby's stay was at an award winning hospital here in Central NY. They've made significant changes since both my parents acquired MRSA back in the 2005-2006 care years. However, I still saw mistakes which could have had the potential to interfere with the recovery of my husband.

From his time in the ER, there were nurses ignoring the alarms from the IV pump. Every time Hubby moved and he did a lot of that because he was vomiting, the alarm would indicate air in the system. I'd have to open the door to the main room and ask for assistance because it was scaring me. They'd bleed it out and reattach it and then ignore it again. These alarms communicate with the main desks, yet you have to go find someone to care for it.

The day after surgery, Hubby's IV infiltrated. No one noticed it, despite the fact that the patients are supposed to be checked every hour by someone. Usually an infiltrated IV causes a localized swelling and if left untreated will then spread as far as it can. Hubby's spread to his elbow. His hand and arm were swollen to 3 times it's normal size and he was hallucinating from it. I had gone home for a couple of hours and he had to ask his roommate's wife to ring for the nurse because his remote had been placed out of his reach when they took his blood pressure. Seeing a clock and TV on the ceiling scared him. They aren't supposed to move like that, you know?

They brought him towels, wash cloths and clean gowns so he could wash up. Then they didn't disconnect anything so he could get up and use them. He had an IV on his left side, inflatable booties on his legs which were connected at the foot of the bed and an NG tube connected to the wall behind his head on his right side. A nurse came in later in the day and discovered that he hadn't changed and was in the process of speaking to him about his not cooperating with the cleanliness keeps the germs down agenda. I very calmly pointed out that he was hooked to the vacuum on the wall and nobody seemed to grasp that it should be disconnected long enough for him to get up and do so. DUH!

The surgeon ordered the NG tube disconnected around 10 am on Thursday. The order went to the dietician to discuss the low residue diet he needed to be on and she did so at 11 that morning. However, the tube was still in when they sent his lunch up at 12:30. It seems that the floor staff felt that an order for continuing the NG tube post surgically, written on Wednesday and an order to discontinue it written on Thursday were "conflicting orders requiring clarification". The tube came out around 3 that day. First thing he did was head to the patients bathroom to wash up thoroughly and shave. Then he took a walk in the hallway with me. The booties weren't as successful in keeping the edema in his lower legs and feet down simply because he couldn't walk as much as he should have.

Fortunately none of these mistakes interfered with the process of recovery, but every one of them had the potential to do so. Local doctors do everything in their power to either avoid sending patients to the hospital or to get them released as soon as possible. Hubby was released a day early with the advice to go home and shower immediately and wash all clothing that remained in the hospital during his stay. That advice tells me that despite claims to the contrary, superbugs like MRSA or C. dificile are not things of the past. So far, we seem to be clear of both. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, August 31, 2012

When Eating Right Isn't Exactly Healthy

Absolutely nothing puts politics and the internet community into the perspective it deserves like having a loved one experience a life threatening medical emergency. I actually believe I'm incapable of finding the right words to describe the shock I felt over it so I'll just describe what happened.

The call from my office with a request for me to call my daughter-in-law came on Tuesday as I was getting ready to leave my client. It took me three tries before I could get the number written down because I knew something was terribly wrong. I called her, received the news that Hubby was in the ER at our local hospital.

I called Oldest to let him know I was on my way. Hubby's two brothers have had heart attacks and there is that history there so I prayed all the way there that we wouldn't be facing that problem. We weren't, but the one we were facing was just as bad.

He'd been there for about an hour by the time I got there. He was vomiting in a way I've never seen him vomit. He had massive abdominal pain, was shivering so badly I thought he'd fall off the gurney a couple of times. They were focusing on the possibility of food poisoning or due to the area of pain, appendicitis. He had a white blood cell count of 17,000 and normal would be less than 10,000.

The doctor asked the him to put a number between 1 and 10 to his level of pain and while he took a moment to consider it, Oldest said: "He's here, it's a 10". They gave him shots for nausea, more shots for pain and still he would shiver, writhe and vomit. At this point, blood tests, xray and ultrasound weren't disclosing what the problem was. Since treatment wasn't helping they decided to go for a CT scan.

Hubby was a trooper, drank the entire quart of contrast and managed to keep it down long enough for them to find out the problem. When the doctor came back to talk to us it wasn't good news. He had a small bowel blockage. They inserted a nasogastric tube and shipped him up to Med/Surg. The oncall surgeon was notified. He chose to try to move the blockage via fluids keeping him comfortable and eliminating the pain via the NG tube.

He wasn't improved the next morning and when the surgeon talked to him, found out there had never been any kind of surgery to cause scar tissue to form it was bada bing, bada boom into surgery within the hour. Laparoscopic Exploratory Surgery. As Dr. put it, he cut him open and pulled out his small intestines until he found 2 unhappy sections. They are unhappy because of scar tissue not the tumor that he was expecting to find. How he had inflammation in his small intestines bad enough to cause ulcers to form and then heal on their own without any suffering on his part is beyond all of us

Hubby has Crohns Disease. Something he's probably had all of his life, and undiagnosed because other than occasional bouts with gas, he's never had any strong symptoms. While he was in there, he removed the appendix because with Hub's pain where it is, any doctor in any ER will waste time working to rule that out before looking at anything else. He also cut the scar tissue that was constricting the bowel and causing the blockage.

The Mediterranean diet that I've been feeding us is partly to blame for what happened. All those lovely gas producing veggies, the higher fiber and whole grains are totally not what Crohns sufferers should be eating. I'm going to have to cook my meals and something else for him.

I can't get him out of there fast enough to suit me but I also want him capable of staying out of there. He should be coming home tomorrow or Sunday if he continues to improve. With no insurance and a bill that is most likely equal to an entire year of our income, I believe we may be paying for this until we die. Which, hopefully, won't be for quite awhile yet.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Disposable Pets

Back in 1994 the house on the other side of the treeline behind me caught fire. It happened a couple of weeks prior to Christmas and for some unexplained reason the local volunteer fire department inspector deemed it arson. It sat abandoned until 2010 and someone moved onto the property in a travel trailer and started cleaning it up.

The new owner, Dave, did a fairly decent job of cleaning out the inside and working by himself had managed a roof and some new siding. It's been a slow process of improvement since he's been working by himself.

He has this little goofy long haired black and white cat that suddenly started hanging around my place about the middle of July. He's a small cat made smaller by lack of feeding. When I spoke to Dave about it he claimed the cat wouldn't eat the food he bought. Of course, he was lying. The problem was the new girlfriend that wouldn't let the cat into the motor home to eat. When it was just the two of them, the cat was doted on, once there was a female in the picture, cat wasn't that important anymore. So, I started feeding him. I simply couldn't let the little guy starve to death.

Something happened this past week. It involved the sheriff department, the town codes enforcer and a few other legal eagles. Seems the girlfriend left after a fight, had the electricity turned off and then reported that Dave was living on the property. Dave had to find an apartment and his new home doesn't allow pets. He simply moved out last Thursday leaving his little furball behind.

This is an outdoor kinda kitty, and I am an indoor kinda owner. My conscience won't allow me to leave the poor thing outside all the time. I'd suffer through the howling to force it to adapt to indoor living if it weren't for Butterscotch. While the little kitty is used to encountering other cats outdoors, Butterscotch has never been faced with sharing his house with anyone other than people. I'm not even sure he knows this is another cat. I do know he isn't liking this one damn bit. He's scared of the little thing. This cat weighs a whopping 7 pounds. He's half the size of Butterscotch and the orange one is scared of him. Who knew I was raising a wuss?

There's been no unpleasantness due to little kitty's behavior. While he doesn't back down from Butterscotch, he doesn't push the situation either. However, he wants to be let outside more than he wants to be in the house.  He's a neutered male and doesn't really go that far. According to Joyce, one of my other neighbors, he was seen by the vet in the Spring. Joyce provided the transportation so his shots are most likely current. That does relieve my mind somewhat, but there are many, many ways he could get seriously hurt out there. I live on pins and needles until he shows up at the door to be let in.

I did the Advantage for fleas on him last month and again this month so we aren't worried about that. He's started to gain some weight, regular feedings seem to agree with him. There's been no direct contact between him and Butterscotch and he won't use the litter box so I'm not worried about parasite transmission if that's a problem. I won't know until after I take Butterscotch to the vet next month. He'll be next if he survives, maybe I should say if I survive the stress of worrying about him. Did I tell you his name is Precious?

Dave's doing. He, like us with Butterscotch thought he was a female kitten when he got it.  He didn't discover the mistake for a couple of months, the cat was answering to it so, just like us he didn't change the name. Any similarity stops right there since we, Hubby and I would never, ever walk away and leave our Butterscotch behind. He did absolutely nothing towards trying to find a home for the little guy. Just up and moved out.

I'm assuming he'll be coming back to work on the property although this will probably take longer than it would have since he won't be able to use his rent money to buy the materials he needs for repairs and whatever. If he ever manages to move back in, I'll be damned if he'll get his cat back. I'm hoping that once the weather turns ugly this cat will adapt to what he thinks is the not so great indoors. By then, Butterscotch may have figured out this isn't any threat to him and things will settle down to peaceful co-existence. Dave may have named him, but I know what Precious means and he deserves better than he got from Dave.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Penis Is Not A Magic Wand And Rape Is Still Rape

In 1986 an accident took a young woman away from her loved ones. She didn't die, she entered a comatose state and remained there permanently until she drew her final breath some 12 years later. She was placed in a nursing home where her physical needs were adequately cared for, or so everyone assumed. In 1996 staff discovered that her belly was enlarging. Tests were conducted and it was discovered that she was pregnant.

An internal investigation disclosed that a male nurse's assistant had been accused of a prior rape of a resident. It was, at the time, determined that no rape had occurred, it was consensual and he was allowed to continue in his position. Apparently, he decided that his next victim ought not to have the ability to tell anyone. His reason for raping this particular woman was the claim that he thought it would bring her out of the coma. I'm assuming his defense for the first offense was "she was asking for it".

The case made national news because the woman's family were Catholic and opted not to abort the baby. People were seriously divided over the ethics of this situation. She was obviously, as a comatose patient, not able to voice her own opinion, and since this was a groundbreaking event, could her family really have the right to make this decision for her? It also called in to question the decisions made by the management of this nursing home when they didn't terminate the employee after the first accusation. Apparently an employee having on-the-job sex with old ladies was acceptable.

A person is a resident of a nursing home due to diminished abilities both mental and physical. Since consensual sex requires that all parties involved have the mental capacity to make a consent, why was he even employed there after the first time? Another thing occurred to me and that was how does a 51 year old male suddenly take up rape as a hobby? That question was answered during his trial. He had a history of rape which happened in other states and didn't turn up in the local background check.

New York State locked the barn door after the horse got out by instituting fingerprinting as the only acceptable background check if one wants to work in the healthcare or childcare industry. You don't get to have a job in healthcare if you're convicted of a certain class of felony. My problem with this is that only 3% of rapes are ever prosecuted. Which leaves a whopping 97% of rapists who got away with it to exercise their magic penis at will. They are perfectly employable in hospitals, nursing homes, state homes for the mentally disabled and in home care. Not only that, the state also determines that it is discrimination to refuse to hire a qualified person based on his or her gender.

In the beginning of the fingerprinting regulation, the prospective employee could be put to work while the prints were being processed. They, of course, would have to be terminated if the state received detrimental information regarding that person from the FBI. During the time frame that regulation existed a local hospital hired someone, submitted his prints, put him to work and an 87 year old long term female resident was raped by him. Guess who had been accused of rape? He was awaiting trial on his charges.

This all brings me to my problem with all the "Personhood" Amendments that everyone has decided is the Holy Grail in the fight against abortions. In the rush to protect the unborn, they are opening the door to a definition of rape that does not include statutory, that does not include the capacity to give consent, nor will it include incest.

Until our culture understands that No really does mean NO! Until we accept that rape of all kinds is not the subject of a joke. Until we accept that all women have the right to be treated with respect and dignity no matter how they dress or where they are. Unless all men really understand that their penis has no magical powers to turn an act of force into one of pleasure, then we need to leave any attempt to define rape alone.

If the knowledge that elderly women in nursing homes are actually victims of rape doesn't make you understand that rape is a crime of degradation born from hate, then I don't know how to help you become a human being.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dear GOP I Hope You Burn In Hell

I thought that Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert were bad enough with their Muslim Brotherhood crap. As a matter of fact I have a hard time with the entire GOP/TeaParty stupidity. Fox News, Malkin, Coulter, Limbaugh and Beck leave me with a serious need to vomit when I hear anything they have to say. However, I believe I've finally heard what for me is the final straw.

Rep. Todd Akin, from the should be ashamed of itself state of Missouri, has finally made me realize that I can no longer tolerate the inhumane bullshit that passes for "Christian" Conservatism. This Akin douchebag has stated that "legitimate" rape victims cannot become pregnant because their bodies shut down during the rape. That statement is utter and complete bullshit of the worst kind. It places the stigma of being raped, not on the rapist but on the victim. I can't. I just can't.

According to statistics 5% of rape victims become pregnant. This means that of the 683,000 women raped each year 34,150 will face pregnancies. That is 93 women a DAY forced to be a vessel for some criminal's seed. Rape is a crime. Anyone perpetrating said rape is a criminal but thanks to the current Christian  Republican Party, in their total disregard for the loving spirit that is supposed to be a cornerstone for their very existence, some 93 women a day will be raped and bear the stigma of being a liar. According to Rep Todd Akin, if they become pregnant, why they weren't raped at all.

No matter what I or anyone else may say to try to disprove that statement, the current GOP will ignore the facts of the matter and continue to spew their bile. Facts no longer matter. Science doesn't matter. NOTHING matters except their warped view of what's wrong with their world and what needs to be done to fix it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Be Careful What You Ask For

The rallying cry of the GOP, Tea Party and most Libertarians is "We want small government and lower taxes". When pressed for an explanation of what they mean by that statement, it becomes apparent they're thinking only about all those "welfare bums" their taxes support. You ought to see what happens here when the local School Board tries to close a school and transfer it's students elsewhere.

You should have seen what happened in 1994 when a stroke of President Clinton's pen closed an air base and put 5000 LOCAL residents out of jobs, plus moved military families out of the area. In a city consisting of 35,000 residents, putting 5000 of them out of work tends to create more problems.

Businesses which relied on the income generated by the civilian and military residents, closed their doors putting more out of work. Homeowners unable to pay their mortgages or their taxes simply abandoned their properties. Houses owned by the relocating military families were placed under HUD and an attempt was made to sell those at an attractive rate of interest to qualified buyers. You couldn't walk down any street in the city and not see empty rotting homes. They were eventually taken off the tax rolls and torn down. Shrunk the tax base quite a bit and meant a change in services the city could offer.

When I drive into the city for work, the road I must travel on to enter from my side of the county is home to 5 empty commercial buildings. Buildings that once were home to 2 car dealers, a printing operation, a mill, and a Mom and Pop grocer have stood empty since 1997. Can you imagine what the near economic crash of 2008 did to this area?

If residents want to shop someplace other than Walmart, Staples, JC Penney, Marshalls and Lowes, they have to travel to New Hartford to find what they're looking for. There are no small boutiques or gift shops anymore. It's not that bad a drive, but that money spent elsewhere means the little city isn't earning sales tax revenue.  Crafters were even affected since without shoppers, none of the vendors made money and weren't willing to sign up for the local PTO Craft Fairs held for years at the schools. Even the volunteer fire departments in the area along with the churches had to give them up. That's the trickle down effect that the GOP keeps trying to tell us will work so well to fix what's broken.

The GOP has spent years trying and succeeding in convincing this nation that the problems will all go away if only the government which spends so much money becomes smaller. There's a great deal that they aren't telling you when they make that sound so attractive.

Smaller government means less money for firefighting equipment and the manpower to operate it. It means longer response times for medical emergencies in places where firefighters are first responders. In some areas it has meant that fire departments must charge to save your home, if you won't pay it goes up in flames. It means fewer street lights and police patrols in high crime areas. It means larger classrooms and longer bus rides for children transported to schools farther away due to closings of those closest to the neighborhoods.

It effects municipal trash collection, the condition of sewer and water mains. It effects the ability of cities to keep roads open in the winter and safe to drive on because of timely snow plowing and salting or sanding. It affects the ability of municipalities to keep the streets and bridges in a manner safe to walk or drive on.

Since 1994 all of the elementary parochial schools have closed and the children have been consolidated into the one building that used to be the parochial high school. Military residents who no longer are here helped keep those schools open by paying for private schooling. The public school system has closed 2 elementary schools and is using a third empty school building to temporarily house middle school students while their school buildings are being renovated for safety.

Trash collection has been outsourced to a private company who saves the city money by selling it's "approved" collection bins to the homeowners along with the quarterly bill for collection which is paid by all city homeowners. You are allowed to set out the contents of 1 trash can a week without paying more for pick up. You are allowed unlimited recycling in the smaller bins they sell. However, you have to buy enough bins to hold the amount you recycle. The cost for trash collection must be quite high, there seems to be a rash of people dumping trash along the sides of the road in more rural areas. It's becoming quite a problem where I live. My little town is having to dispose of trash from the city to the west of me since we don't want to leave it lying there. It creates a problem with and for our 4 legged residents.

I can't count the number of times I've heard "If I don't use a service I shouldn't have to pay for it". Tell me, what service don't you use? If you've never drawn a glass of water from any source other than a well on your own property. If you've never flushed a toilet, nor taken a shower and allowed water to run down a drain. If you've never put out a single bag of trash. If you've never sent a child of yours to school. If you've never driven to your place of employment on a road maintained by the city, county or state. If you promise to never call an emergency service for your property or for a loved one in distress, or take it upon yourself to never report a crime committed against you then I'll allow you not to have to pay taxes. In the meantime, shut up and think about what it is your asking for because you might just get it and good luck with that.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Even Smart Phones Need Sleep. It's Called Recharging The Battery

My favorite time of the day is the last half hour or so that I spend getting ready for bed. The computer has usually been shut off for an hour or two by that point and I have managed to fill my brain with something other than the political fight of the day. Probably lowering my blood pressure in the process.

The television has been shut off. Time was spent straightening whatever was out of place, checking the doors to make sure they're locked and marveling at the different sounds made by the night critters outside my windows. My favorite is the one that sounds like playing cards clothespinned to a spoke of a moving bicycle tire heard from a distance. I find myself wondering how it, whatever it is, sustains the long drawn out sound it makes when compared to the short chirpy bursts of the others.

Hubby has usually fallen asleep on the couch by this point so Butterscotch and I have temporary use of the whole bed. Since we live in the country there are no streetlights to mar the darkness. Once in awhile a car goes by out on the road. I can't hear it but I can see the brief flicker of headlight as it illuminates the trees. Once I close my eyes and begin to drift towards sleep everything but the sensation of the cat curled up against my stomach is lost.

It is then that I have those ideas for blog posts I should write, which I don't remember the next day when I wake up. I suppose I could sit up, turn on the light and write it down but that act would destroy my relaxation and likely prevent me from falling asleep in a timely manner. I'd rather sleep. It's a lot more necessary to the brain than blogging or internet use is.

I used to believe that regular computer use was good for the brain. Studies are showing that not to be the case. As a matter of fact using the internet is damaging short term memory. The memory of much younger people than I am no longer retains information the way it used to. Today's memory is retaining the knowledge of where to find information rather than the information itself. Being very familiar with how my brain at nearly 63 functions, I find myself wondering what life will be like for today's 23 year old when they get to be my age?

I was in my 50's when I started the walk-into-a-room-and-forgot-why-I-went-there syndrome. The internet equivalent, going-to-a-website-and-forgetting-what-I-wanted, didn't start until I was in my 60's. Plus, I've only done that one twice. At what age will those particular incidents begin for today's younger generation? I suppose I needn't worry too much about that. With today's access to smart phones and the number of people using them who seem to feel they need to do so rather than watch where they're walking or driving, life expectancy might suddenly take a nose dive.

If anyone needed any proof that phones are getting smarter while people are becoming more stupid, they need only look at statistics concerning the number of deaths caused by texting while driving. If they can't remember where those statistics are, they can always turn on the TV to TruTV. I like to call it the stupid people channel, and watch all those videos of people walking while using smart phones and crashing into doors and falling down. I've watched people fall off curbs, fall down stairs and escalators, even fall into manholes. All of this has to hurt, but do they learn anything from it? Uhhhh, NO! They just pick themselves up and keep on trying to prove they really can walk and text at the same time.

At this rate I'm thinking that smart phones of the future may need to have the ability to turn themselves on, connect to their power source for recharging and possibly write their own texts. If the internet usage that I see from today's young people has all ready begun to deteriorate the brain's memory storage, it's a safe bet people of the future may no longer remember how to do the easiest of tasks. Want to tie your shoes, or chew a stick of gum? Can't remember how? Oh well, they'll remember there's an app for that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fanning The Flames Of My Own Disgust

I have a problem with online dialogue regarding tragedies like the Aurora shooting and now the shooting in Wisconsin. My problem is I don't believe these dialogues reflect the true belief of the people involved. I think they have these dialogues for the sheer purpose of getting themselves noticed and gathering a following. The reason I think this is that these dialogues begin with someone posting information about the tragedy that may not be the entire truth and then continuing the embellishment of the truth until they've stirred the outrage of others. Once the inflammatory rhetoric has begun, lines are drawn, sides are taken, follower counts increase and it's ON!

There is a total disconnect, a disregard for the grief experienced by the victims and their loved ones. It's ALL about who has the loudest voice, the most followers and who can be the nastiest in putting down those voices that don't agree with every pearl of wisdom uttered by those at the center of attention. Even those that say they're going to offer a prayer have to follow that statement with an attack on those who don't march in lockstep with their view.

No one on either side ever tries to understand why they hold the views they do. How can someones Second Amendment Rights be so important that they bring a gun into their own home despite the fact that most of these shootings happen with legal guns? Why is it necessary to have the right to own an assault weapon? Why don't they see that gun ownership shouldn't have a basis in fear and anger? Guns are weapons of destruction. They are designed for one purpose, that purpose is to kill. How far from the desire to kill is fear and anger? Evidence suggests those emotions create the desire to kill, and you want the tool by which that can be accomplished in your own home?

None of these questions are ever asked, or answered. There's just the incessant online fighting that lasts for a few days and then is replaced by the next big issue. Aurora got dropped entirely when the Olympics began. Yet these same people who dropped their push to bring gun control in favor of the current topic sat there last night complaining about those who said three weeks ago, less than 24 hours after that shooting, that then was not the time.

I said that they were politicizing the grief of others. I still say that. If they weren't doing so, they would have allowed time for these people to come to grips with the tragedy that occurred in their lives and THEN they would have begun a dialogue. One that included an honest attempt at trying to create a compromise between the opposing sides. See? That's what it's going to take to create gun control. Cooperation and compromise to work out something that can be presented to STATE governments. Oh! But! PRESIDENT OBAMA needs to DEMAND a gun control law.

I live in the real world. In that world I know Conservatives who feel the same way I do about gun control. They believe in it and don't understand why anyone would want a gun in their homes unless they enjoyed hunting and did so to augment the food they feed their families. They don't believe guns belong in public places like restaurants, theaters or churches. They are quite willing to lend their voices to the gun control issue in a positive way. Only, no one has spoken to them and asked them nicely for their support. I wonder why?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Greatness of the American System

So, Senator Harry Reid says that Mitt Romney paid 0 taxes for 10 years. He also commended Mitt's Daddy, George Romney, for his integrity and release of 12 years of his tax records when he ran for President.

The Romney Camp, while rushing to Mitt's defense, attack Sen. Reid for his praise of Mitt's Daddy? However, on the subject of Mitt's financial support of a country he loves so much he wants to be it's President, the Romney Camp roar of protest is just not there. It's there from his loyal supporters, those Conservatives, Republicans, Tea Party and Libertarian people who fail to understand that in life you PAY for what you receive. However, from anyone inside the actual Romney campaign, the tongues are silent.

Back in 2003, we filed our 2002 taxes taking an $1100 deduction that we thought we were entitled to. In April of 2004, the IRS audited us for that year. We wound up paying the $1100 plus another $1800 in penalties and late charges. The reason we thought it a legitimate deduction was because it was the Sales tax amount that would be owed in March of the following year. The IRS determined that any money left in the account at the end of the year was Profit. We now keep sales tax money in a different account with the words Sales Tax in the account name. In NYS Sales Tax is not income. The IRS doesn't agree if that money is in our business account.

In 2002 we paid somewhere between 3 and 4 thousand in income tax, and then paid another $2200, but we never grossed more than $80,000 that year. By the time the allowed deductions took place, our taxable income was less than $25,000. We own a small business which began to shrink once Bush became President. The Bush tax cuts allowed us to get back around $100 a year instead of paying more in, but our income dropped every year by as much as $10,000. We were hurt badly by the economic slide.

By rights, (the "rights" being I paid taxes which HURT) I should be absolutely livid at Mitt Romney for his tax evasion ways. Every single one of us who works hard to eke out a living and pay the taxes we owe should be livid. I don't think it's apathy that I'm not. As a matter of fact, I have a certain sense of pride about the fact that we did pay our taxes. When life has it's moments of struggle, the fact that you can actually scrape up enough to pay for something and on time has it's own rewards.

We didn't seek out a method to avoid paying our share for the programs our government runs to aid those less fortunate. We didn't look for a way to avoid paying for wars from which we were making a profit. We weren't the ones making that profit. We didn't put people out of jobs so we could have another shelter to be used to keep more of our income. We paid what we owed. And for that 1 year we actually paid more than we owed since Sales Tax isn't income. In that case we paid for a lesson learned.

Mitt Romney lives what most people call "The American Dream". In my estimation, even with the struggle life has become, so do I. I live in a way that allows me to pay my bills in full and on time. I don't have to hide anything. I can, with my head held high, say what I believe in this week and know that there is no record anywhere that I said I believed something else entirely 10 years ago. My honesty, my integrity is intact. It's not held hostage by my ambition.

We paid our taxes, and it wasn't easy. There were times when doing so created a hardship. That would not be the case with the potential Republican Candidate for President. However, he apparently thinks he owes this country and it's people nothing. He just wants to be President of a Great American System that he won't support with either his taxes or his integrity.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Education of Imma Foxwatcher

I miss my Dad. Since his death I am the lone Democrat in a sea of Tea. A fact brought home to me for the umpteenth time during a conversation with my stepmother. Something I try not to do too often just might be contagious.

I called her. It's that "respect your elders" kinda thing that my Mom raised me to do. *sigh* During our conversation she made this statement. "Your Brother finally got a job in Louisiana, no thanks to that black bastard and his job killing policies in the White House" Yeah, she actually went there.

Some background here is necessary. My Bro has been out of a job since the BP disaster. He was employed doing maintenance on the platforms until that happened. He was a member of the crew that had been replaced by the guys on the platform when it blew up. He was back on land a whole 3 days when that happened. Since that put the company he was working for out of business, he's been unemployed ever since.

After taking a few deep breaths I asked her what policies she was objecting to and why. Yepper, I really am just that stupid. Of course her reasons were Obamacare and all the jobs it killed. Along with a few other items that are Congressional Bullheadedness that she seems to feel is the Presidents fault. She gets her news from the "number 1" cable news network.

The partial list of things she doesn't know or never heard of is monumental.

1...She didn't know that the mandated "tax" would NOT apply to her because she has Medicare.
2...She didn't know that the ACA CLOSES the donut hole.
3...She didn't know that she wouldn't have to pay, at all, for preventative visits like her mammogram.
4...She didn't know that her copays would be reduced.
5...She believed that the Paul Ryan Budget changes to SS and Medicare were policies CREATED by Pres. Obama.
6...She didn't know that the tax increases that President Obama wants are on people making more than $250,000 a year. She believed the increases would affect my youngest brother's small business.
7...Despite the closing of businesses and the outsourcing of American Jobs while "job creators" were not paying higher taxes, SHE BELIEVES THAT TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS WORKS.
8...She believes that jobs are scarce because of all the undocumented aliens stealing those jobs from American workers.
9...She doesn't understand that the debt ceiling increase is something that happens with no fanfare for every president EXCEPT the one we have now.
10...She also doesn't understand that if we weren't supporting a warfare economy, there would be no need for all these other cuts.

My Dad, who was as liberal as they come, actually married this woman?

If one stops to think about everything she doesn't know, it proves the study conclusion that Fox watchers are the least informed of all Americans. She wasn't the least bit inclined to listen to me until I mentioned to her that Fox can't be broadcasted in Canada. Seems they have a truth in broadcasting rule that eliminates Fox from their airwaves. She didn't really believe me until I suggested my other bro spend some online time away from Texas Holdem and look it up. He did so, only to be able to say I was wrong. I wonder how disappointed that made him?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thank You Captain Kangaroo

If you haven't figured out that I might be crazy, this post should remove all doubt!

I was minding my own business and actually doing some housework when the song "Animal Fair" popped into my head. I'm pretty sure I learned it as a child from the Captain Kangaroo program, but never realized the hidden meaning to the song. Of course the song was written in 1898 and probably had an entirely different meaning then. I might be crazy, but I'm not insane enough to believe that song was prophetic.

Animal Fair! With hidden meaning in parentheses.

" I went to the Animal Fair." (Congress)
"The birds and the beasts were there" (Dems and Repubs)
"The old raccoon, by the light of the moon was combing his auburn hair. ( Time wasting)

"The monkey he got drunk" (John Boehner makes his appearance)
"And sat on the elephant's trunk" (Parked his hiney in the Speaker's Chair)
"The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees, but what became of the monk?" (Lost a re-election?)

And in case we needed a reminder of why the GOP needs to lose, this should do it for normal, sane people.

I know that's not Boehner, but you get the picture.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Miscellanous small items, usually of no large value and too numerous to mention separately. I have a bag of those. None of them important enough to write an entire post about.

Vacation: Week 1 was spent catching up on all those lovely chores that I haven't found the time to do during my work weeks. Our bedroom ceiling needs painting but it's far too hot and humid for me to expend the energy doing it. I'll wait until the weather cools off, sometime in October and maybe I can find the time then.

Cat: My lovely big furry love bug seems to have developed a play aggression problem. He doesn't see it as a problem, but he's not the one wearing scratches on her legs and arms. I think the source of his aggression is the neighbor's cat who appears to have chosen our deck as a great place to hang out on. I have begged and pleaded with this neighbor to keep his cat indoors to no avail. The cat likes it outdoors and goes to great lengths to escape when attempts are made to confine him. In the meantime, I can't safely use my hallway without running the risk of an attack unless I carry something to distract my attacker. Must remember to pick up a battery for the dead laser pointer and remember to carry it with me when I enter the hallway. This morning I managed to grab an empty cardboard toilet paper roll. Now I have to clean the mess up but at least I'm not bleeding anywhere.

Global Warming: Not sure what I believe about it except that I know something has sure changed here. According to our local weatherpeople, New York State has an average of 5 days of temperatures reaching 90 or more degrees during our summers. This year we have all ready surpassed 14 with 2 more to go this week alone. We are also on the verge of drought even though we did get some rain yesterday. Gov. Cuomo has issued a burn ban on outdoor fires for the entire state. Those who make money selling wood for campfires aren't happy, but it beats losing ones home to a forest fire.

Income: Mine has tanked. I gave up 6 hours and lost 10 more to clients going to hospitals and nursing homes. The nursing home issue may be for rehab purposes only which means I'll get the client back. However, my projected number of work hours for next week when I go back to work is 12. I can do fill ins if available, but can't take a new client until the nursing home residency issue is decided. I like to pay bills on time, however, if the temperatures here stay as high as they've been, I might be farther ahead with less work. Rehab stays average 4 to 6 weeks which will take me to cooler weather before I am able to rebuild my client roster.

Health: I am much improved over all. Blood pressure is down, weight is still coming off, although much more slowly than it was. Doctor changed some of my supplements to fit better into my reduced financial situation. However, my concern will be the effect of these high temps and drought conditions on local produce. We just might not be able to purchase enough of the hormone/pesticide free foods to get me through the winter. The income rebuild might not happen until after harvest, and the drought appears to be increasing the price of fresh foods. Always something...right?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

When Our Silence Supports And Condones Bullying, Where Do The Victims Turn?

I used to spend time trying to make people see that when we are online and see people being abused, we need to speak up. I lost a lot of "friends", found myself in the middle of messes that I had no desire to be in. After awhile, I gave it up and turned away from those type of problems. However, today I read something that made me sorry I had changed my ways.

I was reading a post about the bullying of someone and in the comments someone else pointed out the number of teens who are committing suicide due to bullying and the message we are sending them by ignoring their problems. When I was in school, bullying took place in the schoolyard and sometimes at home via the telephone. When it occurred that way, usually we hung up the phone and the victim was left in peace until the next school day. There were friends and loved ones that helped salve the wounds. We could speak to them without the information being spread around the world. Unfortunately thanks to today's social media and the internet, these kids have no place to go to stay away from it unless they don't try to make other friends online.

Everything said to them is pretty visible. Online bullying is VERY visible. So, what do you think these teens are taking away from their situation when all of the people who read these posts don't say a single word? It would seem to me that the deafening silence from every one else would lead them to believe there is no hope of ever finding peace and acceptance.

I wonder what it must feel like to be that victim and witness the total lack of compassion for their plight? The complete absence of a kind word for them or the lack of defense that they must be quietly praying for? No one to stand up and defend them? No one condemns the perpetrators, no one says STOP IT!

So they read between the lines, these victims of an angry, mean society and they decide their situation is hopeless. They're helpless to stop the torment in any other way except the final solution of suicide. Both Facebook and Twitter have Terms of Service that specifically say bullying is not allowed. Yet, when these bullies are brought to the attention of the powers that be, nothing is ever done. It's "Free Speech" and they won't suspend or revoke an account's privilege to post when the Constitution defends our Freedom of Speech. The tormentors are defended, the victims are not.

We are protected by the First Amendment, but are we protected against anything except government interference? Do we have the right to use speech to verbally abuse, harass and bully anyone we choose? I don't believe we do. There comes a point where we have to take responsibility for our actions. We can't pick up a gun or knife and shoot or stab someone without consequences. Why do we have the right to injure someone with words without consequences?

Sadly, until we resolve these issues, and honestly try to stop bullying, our kids will continue to take matters into their own hands and end their misery once and for all. As long as we stand silently by and not defend them, we are condoning their torment. We are almost as bad as the bullies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Reality Check Just Bounced

For the past 10 years he's been taking care of first his Mother, and then his Aunt. He's done so without any help at all from his sisters. Both of them are living in another state. The Aunt is co-owner of the home they all live in BUT, there is a mortgage, paid by him. Remodeling the home to provide additional living space for himself and his wife required money that no one had sitting around in a bank someplace.

The client was able to purchase this home years ago when she moved here at the insistence of her sister. She'd lived in Florida in a modest home that she bought. She sold it and used the proceeds to purchase another modest home in a nice neighborhood here in Central New York. She had fallen, breaking her hip. Since she lived alone, there was no one to call an ambulance. It took her 12 hours to make her way to a phone to call for help. This wasn't acceptable to the sister living here and so she convinced her to move here so she could have someone to help her.

The house was purchased and the two of them lived there until the sister's health deteriorated enough to require someone else to help. There were more falls that broke more bones. And the nephew's Mother developed a heart condition which created more problems. This was when the home was remodeled so that the nephew and his wife could stay and take care of the two ladies. When his Mom was alive the caretaking mostly consisted of making sure they hadn't dropped a lit cigarette someplace where a fire started, and of course, putting out the fires that did start. One bedroom floor required replacing because of that.

In 2007, his Mother died following a heart attack. He promised her he'd take care of his aunt, and that's exactly what he's done. His Aunt, being who she is, has taken full advantage of that. She does nothing for herself that she can get someone else to do for her. Some of that is because of dementia, some of it is just her being willful. She's like a child who doesn't want to do anything except what she likes to do.

She doesn't like eating in a manner that would assist her diabetes to remain under control. She doesn't like taking all those medications for her various illnesses, like colitis, like high blood pressure, like emphysema and renal failure. Had it not been for her nephew's rather firm insistence, she wouldn't do anything except spend her days in front of the TV eating hamburgers and chocolate cake, pie, cookies, ice cream etc. She squirrels her meds in her cheek to be spit out at a later time, IF he'd let her get away with it. He insists that she open her mouth so he can check. She's the only person I know that can drink an entire bottle of water and not swallow a pill.

She developed a UTI. She tends to say she feels fine when she doesn't so, although we had a feeling something wasn't right, there were no symptoms he could call a doctor for. Until she became quite sick, requiring IV antibiotics. Unfortunately, left to her own devices, as hospitals have to do under state regulations, she refused to cooperate with the physical therapist and became so weak that she's in danger from any little infection. The doctor said she's in such bad shape a cold could do her in. So, despite her strenuous objections and those of her nephew, she's in a nursing home for rehabilitation.

One of her nieces spent a day here with her last year. The other one hasn't visited since their Mom died. However, now that Auntie is in a nursing home, even on a temporary basis, they are up in arms. They have informed their brother that they plan to sue him for "custody" of their Aunt. They don't seem to understand that their Aunt requires much more than they will be willing to do for her. They also don't know that Auntie gets care paid for by the state Medicaid system, which she gets because of that mortgage, which has placed her nephew's name on the deed for the house. There is no money in the bank, there is no house for them to sell. This was arranged by my client when she was still in possession of her mental faculties some 7 or 8 years ago.

The nephew has durable power of attorney and is her healthcare proxy. It was not his decision to place her, it was her doctor's decision. They refuse to listen to that, having it in their heads that they might miss out on an inheritance? I can't say that for sure, but from what I've seen, my client thought so. Which is why she made the decision to do what she did.

I've been in that home when he's asked her if she wants to spend some time with either of her nieces. Her answer has always been NO! She never says why because she isn't someone who will say less than flattering things about people. Her only response to his question has been to say that they won't take care of her. I can understand her reluctance because neither of them would take care of their own Mother when she needed help.

They left all the work to their brother, and seem to prefer to meddle in business that they aren't the least bit informed about. That isn't his decision either, since he ASKED them for help when he himself became overly stressed. They allowed her to spend 3 weeks in a nursing home for respite last year. They didn't bother about her then, even though that was a stay not ordered by her doctor. People just annoy me. If it weren't for my knowledge that having those two women take care of my client wouldn't be in her best interest, I'd say let them have her. This is, after all, the client I have that takes the phrase "having a shitty day" to a whole other level. I can't think of a nicer couple of women to wish that on.

In the meantime, I am on vacation. Which will last until the end of next week and then I'm back to working a whole 10 hours a week. I can't take new cases until we know where my client will end up since she's unwilling to be cared for by anyone else. Except her nephew, and he really does need help with her. I can pick up extra hours taking care of other aides clients while they're on vacation so I won't be entirely out of pocket. And it has been a long hot summer so far so the less I have to do, the better I like it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Class Reunion

In 28 days our class reunion will be happening without me. I've never gone to one of those celebrations. Usually because there were other things I had to do on the weekend they took place. I worked 3 to 11 for a lot of years. First at a hospital and then, when I decided I didn't really like that kind of work, I worked at an answering service on that same shift. My work interfered for so long that I just never acquired the habit.

So, for 45 years I've been listed as Missing. Still am, which makes me somewhat amused. See, there are at least 5 members of my graduating class that see me regularly. One of them is a member of the Alumni Association. He knows my married name, and where I live. Yet, I am still listed as Missing.

The other 4 of my former classmates are like me, they haven't attended a reunion since we graduated either. We've never really discussed our reasons, I do know for one of the girls it is entirely because of being bullied. She was unfortunately born with a defect. Some of the fingers on one of her hands are missing. Plus she developed psoriasis on that hand. She always put a brave face on what would occur, but sometimes we'd find her in a bathroom stall crying as if her heart would break. I'm sure it did, more than once.

Some of the poorer kids would get picked on because they didn't have the best clothing, or weren't the best looking. Maybe they weren't the best in gym class either. Life was better if you could make the cheerleading squad. We weren't cheerleading material. I don't know why, but we were more interested in music, dancing and reading books.

Rather than school activities, we were volunteers for the Junior USO. With the exposure to the young adult males that we had the pleasure of spending time with at the USO dances, school kids seemed to be rather juvenile. We thought we were more adult than they were. In some ways we were, and in other ways we were forced to grow up a little faster than we should have. We were there when these 19 and 20 year olds went off to Viet Nam. It changes you to spend time with someone who is facing the unknown experience of war, and the possibility that they might not come back. Many of them didn't, too many.

I went to the website for my graduating class, planning on registering myself for the upcoming reunion. Before I did, I looked around at all the pages the website has. The "Gone but not Forgotten" page was quite a shock to me. Out of my class of close to 600 graduates, 66 of them have passed away. Some familiar faces that I expected to have the pleasure of seeing, won't be there.

 I know Al committed suicide, Mary and Brian died of brain cancer. Tom, Colleen, Keith, Elaine and Raylane were a shock to me, I don't know what took them. Whatever it was, I hope they didn't suffer. And, of course, my beautiful cousin Darlene. They would have been the only classmates I would have cared to see, and since they won't be there, neither will I. Despite being listed on the Missing page, I'm sure no one will really miss me. 

I also looked at the photos from the past 2 reunions and found myself saddened by them. There were well over 100 pictures and all of the graduates in these pictures were the jocks and the cheerleaders. Not one single picture of anyone other than the clique.

I guess some of us spend our lives growing and others reliving the past. I'm more interested in what lies ahead rather than what was behind. Who knows? There will be another reunion in 5 years. I might just go to that one. We'll see.