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Start Talking.

I have come to a conclusion today: People do not like conversations.

Like actual conversations, ones that matter and have substance. Not the shitty, empty ones that are about how the latest [insert current popular trendy band/pop-star name here] album is a “religious experience” or how the new [insert name of latest trendy food and/or beverage] at [insert name of eating establishment or franchise here] is “SOOOOO GOOD”, but ones that actually make you think. Ones that challenge you. Ones that actually may make you a little mad; however you still want to hear what the opposing view is because you want to learn.

We had house guests over the other night and a conversation was started. The topic: politics and economics. In a nutshell: How the corporate world would handle it if the US Federal Government would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The conversation never got to an argument, voices may have gotten a bit raised (because people get passionate about these things), but never to the point of yelling (One guy’s voice is just low and booming, not his fault) and the discussion was very intelligent; however it was broken up because others were too uncomfortable and they decided that we should play a game instead.

Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot and isn’t just a one time occurrence.

Today I was watching The Green Party Town Hall that was on CNN last night and there was a comment made that we are afraid to have these type of conversations. I was also watching Chelsea  on Netflix and Zelda Williams was a guest. She also made this comment on how we, as a society, are afraid of having conversations that have differing opinions. How we are afraid of hearing other views that may challenge our own ideologies and actually learning from differing opinions. I am not saying you have to agree with the other person, and their views, but at least listen and maybe understand why they think that way. I have listened to people with theological views, differing political views, differing technological views and even though I don’t agree with them (Hell, some I think are batshit crazy or even fucking stupid), I still listen and give a differing opinion; however when the conversation turns into an argument, that’s when you break out the games, change the subject or tell the person that this topic is escalating and that you no longer want to talk about it.

In my opinion an argument is where the conversation goes from sharing ideas, to forcing ideas upon the other person (ie; here’s what I think  vs. I will make you think like me) and I think that’s what everyone fears. I think we have gotten to the point where we cannot differentiate between the two different forms of communication or we are so afraid of a conversation escalating that we try to stomp out an intelligent conversation because we think it’s an argument waiting to happen. This is something that needs to stop. We need to have these discussions. It’s how we learn and how we grow as a society and it’s how you grow as a person. Again, in my opinion, you can’t grow as a person by talking about the weather, or looking at funny cat videos with people all the damn time, just as you can’t live off of potato chips and twinkies. Eventually, you are going to need to get some real food in you.

I hope that we all overcome this fear soon, because people need to start talking.

Like in real life.

Preferably over coffee, but not Starsucks.

Real coffee. Real conversation.

Actually, at this point it doesn’t matter; just start having intelligent conversations.

Just start talking.

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Treading Water.

Where did I leave off?

Oh yeah, my life is circling the drain, that’s right. How silly of me.

Yet, I continue to swim against the current.

I am still waiting on any word from my appeal from my disability and honestly I am on the verge of giving up ( which is what they want, but whatever) because we can no longer afford to wait for that ship to come in.

We have applied for foodstamps and we are hoping that we get approved so we can stop relying on the handouts from the foodbank because they obviously do not understand what a diabetic is so half of the food we get is complete crap like cakes and snack foods. I fought too damn hard to get my A1C down to a 5.0 and get off the diabetic meds and I don’t plan on going back on them.

The GoFundMe campaign that I set up is turning out to be an epic fail because in two weeks time it has gathered only 20 views and no donations. So, I am chalking that up as me putting my faith in humanity like an idiot and expecting something. Also, I still haven’t sold that goddamn table.

Yet, I continue to swim against the current.

why?

Because my wife is doing better. We have (some) food in the house. We have friends that love us and I know that would help us if they could (and some do what they can). Plus, I know if I stop swimming against the current then I will drown. Its that simple.

I don’t want to drown.

 

 

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Frustration.

I’m not sleeping very well.

My wife is still in a lot of pain and can’t get around well. Money is tight and everything that I try to do to get something going to generate funds just doesn’t seem to be working. Apparently nobody wants the fucking table that I am trying to sell, and what faith I had in humanity is dwindling by the day.

So, I guess maybe my anxiety is up and depression is getting the better of me.

I just need something to give. I need something to just go my fucking way. That’s all I really need at this point is a win. I just need one win to get the wind back in my sails so that I can keep on going.

Because right now I am in the doldrums.

If not sinking.

 

 

The man is begging for money, because of hunger.

Got Any Spare Change?

Things are bad here at the fort.

I don’t know how long my appeal is going to take and if it’s another year, then I fear that it’s going to be our doom. We are doing what we can to survive, but something’s gotta give because we are broke as fuck.

Medical bills are starting to pour in and I honestly have no idea how the hell we are going to pay them. Right now, we can barely afford food and to keep the lights on much less the cost of a surgery and all of the damn ER visits that it took to get to the surgery (Well, minus the one of course).

So, it has come down to this.

I have started a GoFundMe campaign in hopes that people with generous hearts will help me out. The goal on the campaign is high, but honestly I will take what I can get at this point. I just need help.

I am not going to spam this on here. This will be the only time you will see it posted.

https://www.gofundme.com/helpthestarkeys

Like when I filed for disability, there is a feeling of shame with this. I am also stepping outside my comfort zone by “putting myself out there” with this and I would be lying if said it didn’t give me some anxiety. I almost feel like I am scamming people, but this is a legit need. I need help and I am hoping that there are people that are out there that can do just that.

Help me.

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The Quiet Man.

Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.

– John Dryden

If you read my earlier post regarding my wife’s trip to an ER that employed an particularly apathetic doctor that apparently didn’t give any fucks about her patients, you may know that I filed a grievance with the State of Texas and spoke with the Administrator of Emergency Services for that Hospital.

I have since then spoken to the Sr. Administrator of Medical Doctors and the same Administrator of Emergency Services again. To my absolute delight I have been told of two things:

  1. I have no bill at that hospital (Which is fine because I wasn’t going to pay it anyway).
  2. The doctor that mishandled my wife’s care was no longer employed by that hospital.

Now, if the State of Texas will just levy something on her, that will just make my victory even better.

Why am I being so vindictive? So vengeful?

My wife’s condition was made worse by this doctor’s negligence. If this doctor is going to take out their bad day on their patients, then this person shouldn’t be handling people’s lives. So, I spoke up and made my voice heard and apparently it didn’t fall upon deaf ears.

Like the quote says: “Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.”

So, take note:

If you see someone just sitting still and watching you when you are being an asshat bully or a common fuckwit, it doesn’t mean that they are complying to your demands tantrums, or are sitting there and letting whatever dumb thing you’re doing happen. It means that they are observing, learning, noting what you are saying and doing.  Its at that point you shouldn’t be relaxed.

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

-Patrick Rothfuss

You should be terrified.

 

Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

An Ongoing Issue.

I know that I have posted on this subject before and I will keep posting about it because, well this is my blog and I can.

The level of police violence in the U.S. is at a level has been on an increase. It has increased 25% between 1999 and 2008 and I am willing to bet that the number is even higher now. While between 1960 and 2014 our population has almost doubled and crime has been trending down. It seems that the population is getting larger and more civil, while the police, recently, have been getting more violent.

Why?

I had a good discussion with a nurse during one of my wife’s ER visits and he put something into perspective. I mentioned that police had changed in the past 25-30 years and I couldn’t figure out why. He finally gave me the missing piece of the puzzle that I had looked at but didn’t want to acknowledge. A lot of police today are ex-military. He told me that he was a vet and that he almost went into law-enforcement; however he became an RN instead because he had seen enough combat. He talked about that the training that the military provides and that the police training that a lot of vets receive probably doesn’t mesh. In the military, you pull out a gun to kill an enemy. In the police force you use it to enforce compliance. Sometimes, that may get a bit confusing for some vets.

My question is: “When did a gun become a compliance tool?”

When I was growing up, I was always told by the cops at the PD where my mom was an officer that their gun was a last resort. You only pulled it if your life was in danger and you were about to use it. You didn’t pull it to make a point or show dominance.

With this latest shooting of a therapist laying in a submissive position in the middle of the street and now the Dade County Police Benevolent Association explanation of the shooting as “The officer had intended to shoot the patient, whom he thought posed a danger” (Because apparently an autistic man with a toy truck is a menace to society), I have started wondering about this issue again.

So, I started doing some digging and I found that unemployment amongst returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is 7.7% and out of those returning vets, the majority go into the police force because it is viewed as “a marriage of convenience”.  In 2014, the Army alone proposed to cut 80,000 soldiers from its ranks over the next 4 years.  Generally about 20% of returning vets go into law-enforcement. So, that’s 16,000 soldiers going into law-enforcement over the next four years from just the Army. The market is currently flooded with ex-military personnel looking for work and the police force is looking to hire them.

There’s only one problem with this. (source)

Combat veterans seeking police careers may do poorly on entrance exams, they may lack confidence in their skill sets, or they may have had some post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that come out in psychological screenings. Any of these issues can keep returning military personnel from a police job, but all can be remedied. More importantly, there are people and programs in and out of the military that can help.

A lot of vets come home with issues that they need to work through. PTSD is a major mental health issue that affects a large percentage of returning veterans and takes medication and therapy that a lot of vets don’t get or just they only rely on the medication because they believe that the therapy aspect is unneeded or they fear that they will lose some of their rights (mainly gun ownership) if their condition is on record.

…not every veteran returning home from military service has PTSD. Some studies suggest that it affects between 10% and 20% of veterans returning from active duty. …that PTSD is becoming more diagnosed in police officers and some departments are getting the message that the condition doesn’t mean they have to throw away the officer or the officer candidate.

There is evidence that police departments are understanding PTSD better these days, not only in their own ranks, but in the pool of prospective candidates. A recent study conducted by the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control examined law enforcement agencies’ hiring practices regarding PTSD. The study found that a PTSD diagnosis is not necessarily a disqualifier for a police job. Most agencies studied reported that every candidate is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and it depends on the severity of the diagnosis whether PTSD is a disqualifier.

While I agree that PTSD may not be a disqualifier and should be done on a case – by- case basis, the issue is that PTSD leads to other issues such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory, cognition and even other mental health issues. So, if this candidate is getting treatment, on proper medication and this is all being monitored by the agency that they are working for, then I don’t see an issue; however when I looked for this study done mentioned that was done by the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control, I couldn’t find it. I did find these two:

http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/nccosc/healthProfessionalsV2/researchQuarterly/Documents/winter2014ResearchQuarterly.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010956/

Both studies stress that mental health assistance such as medication and therapy in either a one-on-one or group setting is key to treating PTSD and overcoming its effects on the person’s life  & mental well-being.

Now, the majority of these viewpoints were from the law-enforcement community’s side of things. I dug to see what the military and veteran’s take on this was and I was actually surprised by some of what I found.

The gist of what I read was that even though there is a huge comfort level for vets in law-enforcement and many veterans feel that law enforcement is a natural fit, some former service members resent being typecast. Others say the profession is the least suitable career choice for veterans who are still working out emotional issues from deployments. And some veterans only consider a career in law enforcement because they consider it one of the few viable options in a challenging job market. (source)

“I could see how somebody would think that would be an easy transition,” he said at a recent jobs fair at the Concord Hilton. “It’s familiar. I work with guns, I know how to use them, why not get a job that uses the same equipment? But I’ve spoken with vets. And, myself, I think I’ve experienced enough of that, so I wouldn’t want to relive that type of experience.”

“A lot of them get out, they’re intelligent, they use the G.I. Bill to get a degree,” he said. “It’s like, ‘I can do more than pull a trigger.'”

Army veteran Mike Magpusao – Project Hired

What I am seeing between these two articles, the conversation that I have with the ex-vet nurse, and the current events in our country is that our police departments are changing their hiring processes. They are hiring tons of ex-soldiers that are used to dealing with a combative enemy and now trying to train them to deal with a civilian population. We are taking Rangers, SEALS and Marines and asking them to write traffic tickets. This is vastly different from the hiring processes of about 20+ years ago.

A generation or so ago in policing, departments were giving preference to college graduates when looking for qualified officer candidates. Education still remains an important factor for police hiring, but many agencies have learned that the education gained in military service may have a greater value to a police officer than a formal college education.

The soldier has led a squad from point A to point B and had to decide the safest way to get there. The college student has had to complete a class assignment in time to attend a frat party on Friday night. Some departments have recognized this and taken a more global approach to the candidate’s qualifications to be a police officer.

We used to take educated civilians and train them to become police officers. Now we take high school or some college educated ex-military personnel and try to give them additional training to handle a civilian population. Mind you, I am not against hiring veterans, but maybe we should start the old hiring process as well and find a healthy mix. Both for the civilian population and the veterans that are returning from combat.

“You’re going to continue to expose yourself to violence, tension, stress, anxiety. You come back and become a police officer, the potential for retraumatizing is very high.”

– Jason Deitch – Army Ranger who served multiple deployments to Africa and the Middle East.

There is no logical link between the two professions, and he urges caution.

Veterans come home and then go into a career that puts them into almost the same level of anxiety that they just left and in my opinion, law-enforcement agencies are preying on the fact that these men and women are returning home and pushing them towards a career that does feel familiar and that they feel that they can excel in quickly, but will ultimately lead them to the same levels of stress that they just left and cause nothing but harm to themselves or someone else.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police was concerned enough about “transitional obstacles” veterans might face if they pursued a career in law enforcement that three years ago it published guidebooks for veterans and any agencies that might consider hiring them.
But those concerns didn’t stop Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), an office of the Department of Justice, from offering 220 cities $114.6 million in incentive grants to hire post-9/11 veterans to fill 800 law enforcement positions.

With programs like these and the dumping of surplus military equipment into our police agencies hands, it’s no wonder why see small town police departments with APVs and grenade launchers and the people who know how to use them. Our police are becoming a domestic army, a garrison in each town. Not because of some crazy conspiracy involving taking away our guns, Walmart concentration camps for christans, or the illuminati, but because law-enforcement is hiring out of work vets in droves. With incentives and a pension, why wouldn’t you sign up?

streamlining or fast-tracking your applications
waiving education requirements
adding preference points to exam scores
offering incentive pay
offering service credit toward retirement

So, who’s to blame?

Well, not the vets. They need to work just like everyone. You could look at the predatory hiring processes of the law-enforcement agencies around the country and the DOJ for enabling and/or encouraging these processes to continue. You could take a look at the demand that we put on our law-enforcement officers and see that we really put too much on them. There’s a lot of different directions to point fingers. I don’t even know where to start.

I just know that all of this shit needs to stop.

 

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What To Do When You Are Branded.

It’s a widely known fact that I am an asshole.

Hell, I admit to it most of the time and almost wear it as a badge of honor. I do so because it means that people see me as someone who doesn’t take any bullshit and doesn’t get pushed about by this or that seem to fucking care about anything but myself. When you look at it psychologically, it means that I know how to set firm boundaries, be assertive, and I am not afraid to use the word “no”.

Now, here’s my lamentation.

It’s not always easy being an asshole. Sometimes it’s damn well heartbreaking. Because you have to make the choice between helping someone else, or caring for yourself or to continue caring for a person at the same level of quality that you already are or by helping this person it will add to your existing burden and it comes back to the quality of care for others or time to care for yourself issue. You want to do all of these things; however you know that taking on that extra burden just isn’t something you can do. So, you have to own up to being human, set a boundary and then stick to it. If you have enough on your plate and someone else comes along asking for XYZ. You have to just tell them you can’t help them, say “No” and walk away.  Just know, if you do this then you earn your asshole badge and will be forever branded as such.

A lot of people will say “God never puts more on you than you can bear” (Which is a misquote and a misuse of 1 Corinthians 10:13, that phrase is nowhere in the bible). Yeah, he does. That’s why people have fucking migraines, mental illness and nervous breakdowns. That’s why I had a nice church lady in one of my IOPs because she was so damn exhausted and stressed out, yet co-dependant, from “The Lord’s Burden” on her that she was literally being driven out of her fucking mind and had to learn to:

  1. Set Firm Boundaries
  2. Be Assertive
  3. Not be afraid to use the word “No” and walk away.

If g-d is so fucking awesome with his workload management, then why doesn’t he come down and pitch in every once in a fucking while?

Another more logical way to look at things is this:

“Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.”

– Henry Ford

You have to set your own limit and you have to decide what you can bear. It’s up to you and not some imaginary friend that thinks they know global logistics.

But, I am digressing.

The point I am trying to make is that you have the right to say “No” and to not be cursed for it; however it’s going to happen anyway. If someone needs help, then point them in another direction that they can find it; however you are booked. These are the boundaries that I set, and that I use. People may not like it, I generally do not like it, but I am not a superhero and I can’t save everyone. I think that realization and my ability to set and hold onto my boundaries are actually my superpower, and sometimes I feel like the world hates me for it.

Then again, I’m an asshole.

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I Have Been Busy. 

Yeah,  I have been pretty quiet lately.

I have had a lot of things on my plate during the past week or so and a lot has happened.

Grab a snack, kids. This is a long story.

Thursday of last week my wife started having severe abdominal pain. We went to our local ER (Keep count this is ER #1) they did a battery of tests and determined she had an intestinal infection and gave her a bunch of broad spectrum antibiotics and some painkillers and sent her home.

Shit got worse.

A couple of years ago my wife had bariatric surgery. So,  the next night we called them for advice on what to do and they sent us to another ER (ER #2) where their office has admitting privileges. Her surgeon wanted to make sure that this wasn’t a blockage or something worse. This is the point of the story where shit goes sideways.

My mother-in-law and I are in the waiting room. The ER didn’t have a room available so,  my wife was placed on a small bed in the hallway. I get a text from her stating:

“I want to go home”.

Now,  my wife was in a tremendous amount of pain. She now suddenly wants to leave and go home. Something isn’t right here. I replied back asking what was going on and she then tells me that the doctor was “making her feel stupid”  and “not acting like she mattered”.  I explained this to the desk nurse and insisted to be let back to see my wife and talk to the doctor.

My wife explained that the doctor told her that the other ER (ER#1) would have checked for any blockage and that she didn’t understand why she was sent here. I requested to speak with the doctor and while waiting with my wife heard the doctor tell the nurse that mentioned that I wanted to speak with her that she had “already explained everything to the patient”.

Now I understood why my wife was upset.

We get into a room and now my mother-in-law has joined us. After a CT scan and about another couple of hours,  the good doctor finally appears. In a very apathetic tone she explains that everything is normal and that we will need to follow-up with our bariatric surgeon that morning.

My mother-in-law let her have it and I followed up with a brief suggestion about empathy and how she should invest in some. I then stated that we would not get anywhere talking here and that I would handle this through other channels.

We followed up with the bariatric surgeon and he examined my wife for gall stones. Which is what he,  his partner,  and his PA (physicians assistant) all saw that my wife’s pain was presenting as. They were also pissed off at ER#2.

Now,  because our insurance sucks,  we had to contact our Primary Doctor. We sent him all of the test results from ER#1, ER#2 and the Surgeon’s exam. He told us to call new surgeon (surgeon #2) and speak with him. He told us to go to another ER and that both he and our PCP would call ahead and make sure that my wife was admitted because she needed surgery.

So,  we haul ass to ER#3 and my wife is admitted to the hospital.

However…

The next day surgeon #2 has her discharged because he cannot book an OR at that hospital and has me take her to another hospital’s ER (ER#4) and their staff knows about her needing surgery and that she’s to be admitted,  but doesn’t know how to exactly do it. So,  we’re in the waiting room for the ER witnessing a broad spectrum of human existence from convicts being brought in for treatment to privileged white people not wanting to sit next to people of color or listen to instructions from the black desk nurse that is running the show. Finally,  she is taken back into the ER and sat on a portable bed, in a hallway until it’s time for her surgery; however this ER was busy and had actual trauma cases coming in. It really was like the shit you see on TV.

The wife had her surgery and is at home recovering.

The doctor from ER#2 has had a grievance filed with the hospital and with the state. If her attitude would have been less apathetic,  she would have noticed that my wife was presenting with the elementary signs of a gall bladder issue and tested further. Instead her final report showed that no radiating pain was noticed and the CT scan showed no gall stones. So far,  I have spoken with one administrator from the hospital of ER#2 and they are investigating that doctor. I don’t know what the state will be doing,  if anything.

So,  yeah,  been a bit busy and I am tired. I have had friends come and help out. I truly am thankful for each and every one of them. My family has stepped up and helped out,  as well. Now,  I just have to keep fighting the SSA and try to take care of myself here and there.

But,  I love a good fight.

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We want to be Superman…

Today I watched a Q&A with Dallas Police Chief David Brown. He brought up a good point during this broadcast. When we have an issue that we cannot handle, we expect the police to be able to handle it. I watched this on periscope, but it was also covered by the local (and possibly the national) media.

“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country” said Brown.

“Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve” said Brown. He listed mental health, drug addiction, loose dogs, failing schools as problems the public expects ‘cops to solve.’

When he said this part of his speech, it did almost feel like he was going off script. Like he was being frank and candid. I can honestly say that we do expect more from our police than we should. Police shouldn’t have to handle school disciplinary action, they shouldn’t need to worry about addiction and mental health issues, and  honestly we shouldn’t expect them to. We should expect our school administrators to carry out disciplinary actions at our schools and parents should be involved in their kids schools. State and Federal funding should be allocated for mental health and addiction treatment and it made more accessible.  Because making on average of $52,810 really isn’t worth being hated, yelled at or worse… killed. (FYI: I made roughly that amount when I was working for BlackBerry sitting on my ass playing Plants VS. Zombies half the time, you would think that police would make more than a mobile phone/tablet tech.)

Maybe this is why I have the viewpoint that cops aren’t like what they were when I was around them all the time. Maybe it’s because they weren’t having to do as much. Cops now apparently have a lot of things on their plate. None of the cops that I grew up with had to patrol schools, handle mental health calls (they did have to deal with drug related issues), and the only cop that dealt with stray dogs was the animal control officer. Maybe today’s cops are just too damn stressed out.

However, this doesn’t justify the murder of unarmed people that are in their custody, or being detained for questioning, or just being asked for their ID and the acts of a few jackass cops doesn’t give the right to murder anyone wearing a badge. If “An Eye for An Eye” is the law of the land; then we are all eventually going to be blind. Look, I don’t know how to fix the divide between the police and people of color in America. I just know that killing each other isn’t a logical or viable solution.

It rarely ever is.

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In Sporting News:

I am not a sports fan. I don’t follow scores or stats. Hell, I couldn’t tell you who the hell was IN the last Superbowl much less who won. Sometimes, I will catch myself watching a hockey game or a rugby match, but that’s about it; however there is a Sports Journalist that has become a voice of reason here in Texas. That voice is Dale Hansen. He has delivered messages during his “Sports Special” segment that have drawn national attention spanning subjects from his own childhood sexual abuse, to LGBT players in major league sports; however in his broadcast on the Friday after the Dallas Shootings, he again was the voice of reason in Texas. When I watched, and more importantly heard, this video I actually cried. Simply because an old white man, in Texas, was talking to a large audience and actually being logical and reasonable. It gave me hope.

Before I saw this I was going to write about my day that I had and what happened during my therapy session and my further feelings on this subject. Honestly,  my day can wait and Dale says exactly what I am still feeling about Dallas and more:

Watch Here.