Xmas Morning

So, it has finally happened.

Remember that Closed Period that I was awarded from Social Security back in September of 2017? I finally got my first payment today! yep, it has finally fucking happened.

Why did it take so long?

Great question.

It seems that back in February, when they tried paying the money to my old bank account, The check wasn’t returned until 5 days after we had updated our payment info. So, the payment center was under the impression that the corrected info was the old info, since it was corrected before the check was returned. After that I re-filed a claim to get my monthly checks.  So, the calls I have made to the dozens of people since February have been confirming my payment info on the new claim, and not the old one that I had yet to be paid on. Until last week, when I called and got someone that actually figured things out instead of just getting me off the damn phone. So, the payment was re-issued, and it took a whole 2 days for me to see my money. So, I got my first payment today and I have 2 more to go.

Hopefully, I will get approved for my monthly payment and things will be smooth sailing from here.

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The Cat and the Cradle or Some Bullshit like that.

Before I start this off, a little back story…

I have never met my father. He and my mother divorced shortly after I was born. My father was in jail and my mother had him sign away his parental rights. He visited once and all I will say about that visit is that he was kicked out by my mother and I never saw him again. I was 4 at the time, now I am 41. He apparently stalked me from afar through my teens and 20s, never telling me who he was.

Now, for the actual post.

My wife was at the food bank yesterday (Friday) and upon signing in was told that she was the 2nd Starkey to sign in. The greeter introduced my wife to an older man that also had the last name of Starkey. He sat by her and asked who her mother-in-law was. She said my mother’s name and it turns out that she was talking to my father. They talked for awhile and he gave her his phone number. Now after over 4 decades of my existence on this planet,   he wants to meet.

I am torn by what to do. I have lived my entire life not knowing or really caring about my father. So, why would I want to meet him now? Part of me is like “if it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it”, but another part of me wonders “what this man is like?”. I am not looking to form a relationship with the guy. I would like to know of any serious health issues that reside on that part of my family. I would like to know his side of the story between him and my mom. At the same time, I really don’t want a relationship with him. I haven’t had him in my life , ever. So, why start now. I feel like an undiscovered tribe in the Amazon that has been discovered and is now having modern medicine and processed sugar introduced to it. Is it hurting or helping me to have my ecosystem changed by introducing this major change?

Besides, I think we are beyond the “let’s have a game of catch” years.

So, this is something that is going to take time to figure out. I honestly don’t know what to do at this point. Meet him, don’t meet him, punch him in the face, it’s almost too much to deal with. I mean what do say? “Where the fuck have you been” seems to be an  appropriate way to start off the conversation. “Why now?” is a close second. What do I tell him about me? Do I be an open book, or play my cards close to my chest? I seriously don’t know what to do here. I am 41 and have never met my father and now the ball is in my court. I see myself holding this ball and just staring at it in confusion. Do I just drop it and walk away or do I run with it?

Seriously, what do I do?

 

Data Mining and the Average Joe.

Let’s talk about Facebook for a second.

The wonderful website where you can share your interests, keep up with family and friends and also exercise some keyboard courage to random people on the internet. What people do not understand about Facebook is that you are the commodity that makes Facebook money.

“If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold”

– blue_beetle

When you give information to sites like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, they build a profile on you based on what products, books, movies, TV shows, political figures … etc that you “like” . This information is used to target ads to your specific profile. This data can also be accessed by other apps that you use and also sold to other data mining firms. So, that awesome “free” game that you used Facebook to log into to get more coins or whatever also has your data. That personality quiz you took on Facebook? Yep, they have it , too.

The issue isn’t that Facebook collects this data, the issue is that you gave them the data and permission to collect and share it. It’s called the Terms of Service agreement. You know, that big long thing that you agree to without reading. Yeah, that one. You entered into an agreement to have your data shared in order to get access to the Facebook site. When you take that quiz to find out what kind of cheese you are, someone is on the other end collecting that data and building a profile based on your Facebook information and your answers. This is how the data firm Cambridge Analytica collected data on over 80 million Facebook users. The very second that you sign in with Facebook to an app, you have handed them all of your data that you supplied on Facebook. Same thing with Google (I’ll get to them in a second).

The apps on Facebook, and the sites that ask that you sign in with facebook, collect your data. They pay Facebook to gain this access. Again, YOU are the product.

So, should you delete your Facebook account and ditch your Gmail account as well? No, the damage has already been done. Maybe just be careful of what apps, games and quizzes you give access to your Facebook account. Also, Facebook owns Instagram. So, if you have those accounts linked; then your data from Insta has also been shared. You may want to unlink those accounts.

OK, now let’s talk about Google.

Google does the same thing as Facebook. You have a profile with Google. It’s called a Gmail account, so when you sign into Chrome/Google with that account they log your data as well. Your searches, your messages, the whole nine, just like Facebook. I give Google a bit of grace though. Simply because I get more with Google. Gmail, Google Maps, Messenger, Android, Google Drive, Google Photos… ect. I know Google is mining my data, they straight up tell you and give you the option to opt out. To me, Google is more Quid Pro Quo about their data mining. I get more out of them for my data. With the Opinions Reward app, I actually get Google Play Credits (Actual Money) for just taking a survey.  You can actually go here and see what data Google has on you. If you use and Android phone and didn’t opt out or you use their apps and didn’t opt out; then it may be a little shocking. Again, if you are not paying for it, then you are the product.

You can also go here to see what Facebook has on you.

Should you be worried about all of this? Not really. Plenty of sites and apps do this (Even this one) to generate revenue. It’s when 3rd parties like Cambridge Analytica abuse and violate the terms of service with these sites that shit goes sideways and there is a congressional hearing. The point that I would take away from all of this is just to be mindful what you give access to sites like Facebook. Is it worth your personal data to find out who your celebrity crush is?

No, not really.

Just be careful out there.

Atypical

I officially turned 41 about 18 days ago.

Yep, I am now IN my 40s instead of being just 40. So, to kick this off I started having chest pains about 2 weeks after my birthday. At first, I just thought that I had an air bubble or something and it would just go away. It bothered me all week, so that Saturday I made a doctor’s appointment.

That Monday I got a call from the doctor’s nurse and she tells me that she would talk to the doctor and call me back. She told me that she guarantees that he will tell me to go to the ER; however no one ever called me back. When I got to the appointment the next morning, I got an ear full from my doctor. Apparently, if you are having chest pains then you get your ass to the emergency room.

Who knew?

So, we go to the ER.  I get blood work done, an EKG, chest X-rays and the like. After 5 hours I was told that everything checks out & I just have “Atypical Chest Pains”.  After pondering what could have caused these, I come to the conclusion of stress. We had a big thing hit us the week that all of this started.

Let me tell you that story now.

On one particular Monday ,on which all of this started, my friend that lives with us got a call from CPS (Child Protective Services) about his daughter, who also lives with us, and that they were going to be at my house that Friday morning to investigate the claims made about his daughter.

Of course I go into full panic mode and start cleaning the house, with my down time spent on who the hell made the call. I was seething with rage because all the claims were out in out lies. So that entire week was spent in a panic to get the house cleaned up and enraged about the entire ordeal.

Friday comes and the investigator goes into details about the complaint. We provide evidence to the contrary and the investigator leaves satisfied that the claims were false. We all breathed a sigh of relief and got on with our lives. Now in an immaculately clean house, I might add.

So ,basically, someone overheard a conversation and took everything out of context and called CPS. This caused me a week long panic attack and lead to me thinking that my heart was giving out. Which is now a thing because I am in my 40s.

People are idiots.

A Slight Disappointment and the Cost of Living.

Most of you may know that I recently had a birthday. Yep, I am now in my 40’s and no longer just 40. So, shit is all downhill from here.

I try and treat my birthday as if it were any other day. That way there are no disappointments because “X” didn’t happen or no one got me “Y”. This year I backslid on that and actually had some expectations for my birthday.

Boy was that a mistake.

Mind you it wasn’t all bad. I got a good deal of people acknowledging my birthday and an awesome Cthulhu painting; however the one thing that I had asked for didn’t happen and the birthday money I had received went to buying dinner for me, my wife, and our two housemates. It was a slightly disappointing day. So I learned my lesson and will go back to having no expectations, thus no disappointments.

Speaking of my housemates…

So, the plan to move in with his girlfriend finally fell through. I had been waiting for that shoe to drop and it finally did. So, now he is planning to move back to the town that he regrets moving to in the first place.

Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity? Yep.

So now, his plan is to work himself to death & save up all his money in order to move back to where he started from. In almost 2 years of living here, he has saved up nothing and when he did come into money, he spent it on other stuff (mind you some of the things were legit) and didn’t save anything. Now he has until the end of April to get his shit together and get out. If he fucks around and doesn’t save up; then he will need to find a new place regardless of his finances.

I am done being nice.

So, so done.

Dammit.

I spoke too soon.

So, apparently, the 3 -5 business days was AFTER the 60 days that it takes to update my direct deposit information. Yep, it takes 2 months to update 2 lines on my profile with a string of about 10 numbers each. Gotta love loathe the federal government and their efficiency.

Not to mention that it took me 4 hours worth of phone calls to even get this information. You see, I called the National Social Security Office and (after an hour on hold) I was told that I needed to call the Local Social Security Office. Problem is that when you call the local office, they send all of their overflow to the national office. So, I just got sent back to where I came from.

Now all of my plans are now on hold until April 27th. And my Amazon basket is going to be full for quite some time. Sorry HUE Smart Lights, you are just going to have to wait. You too tank-less hot water heater and paid off vehicle. We will be together one day.

Probably around the end of April.

FINALLY!

Remember that hearing that I had back in September of 2017?

Well, I have FINALLY got a check!

Yep, I got PAID!

Now, I get to re-file for disability all over with a judgment on file saying that I was previously disabled. So, hopefully, this go around will not take as long. If it does; then I will dig in and fight it out.

Now I get to go and research tankless water heaters.

 

My thoughts on this Whole Keaton Jones thing.

So, I watched this video yesterday about a kid named Keaton Jones being bullied. My initial reaction was “Man, kids are dicks” and I still stand by that opinion. I have a friend that took his kid out of school and started homeschooling him because of bullying. I have another friend who had her daughter bullied because and be the only kid in her class  not invited to a birthday party.  I have seen what bullying can do to a kid and it sucks.

I was bullied in school because I was the fat kid; however, it was the 80s and you could knock a kids teeth out back then without the backlash that kids get today for defending themselves. I became the kid that picked on the bullies.

But I have digressed.

After watching this video, something didn’t sit right with me. I always ask myself when I watch these videos “What did this kid do?”. Call it victim-shaming or whatever, but there are always 3 sides to every story. The Victim’s, The Antagonist’s and what really happened. Call me an asshole, but I think that there may be more to this story than actual bullying.

Now, I am not saying that kids don’t pick on other kids for some stupid reason. I was picked on because I was fat. I have seen kids picked on because they like a particular thing or because they have something that makes them different and unique. Again, kids can be dicks, but sometimes the victim isn’t just a poor little kid. Sometimes, the victim is the instigator and just bit off more than they could chew. I think that this maybe the case here, based on what I have seen and read.

The one thing that strikes me as odd is that this kid didn’t feel comfortable telling a teacher or other school employee, but told his mom. The Mom didn’t go to the school to handle this situation or contact the bullies parents. Instead the mom and the kid felt totally OK with making a video for MILLIONS of people to see and airing their issue online. I don’t know about you, but something about that stinks. I have never heard the phrase “Do you want to make a video about it? Will that make you feel better?” come from a parent. To me, this was just an adult cashing in on the current Anti-Bullying craze that parents,  PTAs and School Administrators are still going nuts for.

Now, the mom is being touted as a racist because of some pictures with the Confederate flag. My thoughts on that are that even if the mom is a racist cunt, it doesn’t mean that her kid wasn’t bullied. Hell, that may have been what he was being bullied for. I don’t think the kid deserved to be bullied because his mom may or may not be a racist; however it goes back to the question: “What did this kid do?”. Did he use the N-Word like some people are saying? Who knows.

The other thing that strikes me as odd is that all of these GoFundMe accounts that are being taken up for this kid. One raised $57, 000 for this kid and his family. It was suspended after the whole “His mom’s a racist” thing started, but still. Why does this family need that kind of cash? Are they hiring a lawyer? Does the kid have medical bills from injuries from the bullying? From what I have read, none of this is the case. Again, I think that the mom is just cashing in on a current trend.

Now, the issue with this is that more people like her may follow. Kids may start creating bullies to get free shit and celebrities to flock to them. My thought is that if your kid is being bullied, handle it with the school and with the bully’s parents, not on Facebook. If you are serious about stopping bullying; then do something about it. Be the change that you want to see. That is what will save other kids from bullying. Not a video on the internet.

Also, maybe parents should teach their little crotchfruits not be assholes.

There’s an idea.

If You Are the Smartest Guy in the Room…

Hope your Thanksgiving was great. We went on a trip to Louisiana to see family the day after Thanks giving.  It was filled with family, and the best food on the planet.

It was also filled with an uncomfortable conversation.

While hanging out with some family members drinking some Jameson and having a good time.When it was just me and one particular family member, I was asked if I was working. Of course I said no and that I was still going for my disability. When pressed, I explained my anxiety, and bipolar disorder and how they affect me.  Then I was pressed further for more of an explanation. I was asked how I could be around people at family gatherings and such, but have anxiety. Then more family came over to talk and the conversation changed.

It puzzles me that people treat mental health issues with such doubt. If I had cancer; then no one would say “But, you had that one good day” and then doubt that I had cancer. Why people do this with mental illness is beyond me.

As the conversation went on it was directed back to the subject of work and how people should pull themselves up and not ask for help. The same family member piped in with a bunch of “If this; Then that” statements on how people should get themselves back to on their feet. Some were valid; however one of these statements was “If it’s mental health; then go get your pills”.  This just proved to me that this particular person was ignorant on the subject of mental health issues.

Pills do not cure mental health issues. They can help manage the symptoms. Pills alone do not help with mental illness. It’s pills and therapy that are the course of action to make mental illness manageable.  Just like some treatments usually don’t work well by themselves, there are tandem treatments that go along with them (Like radiation & chemotherapy).

“Go get your pills” is not a solution for mental health issues.

Especially when you take in the fact that there is a severe lack of mental health services in this country.  In my state alone, there is such a shortage of psychiatrists that there is only 1 Shrink to every 10,000 patients. Yes, this number is offset by the use of Physician’s Assistants; however that is still a large deficit between people who need help and the people that provide help. Then you have to be qualified to receive any form of county, state, or federal assistance. The other option is to have insurance, which most people cannot afford through the Health.gov site, and if they work part-time they are generally disqualified from any form of assistance. So, you would have to work full-time at a job that supplies insurance. Which if everyone could do that; then this entire conversation would be a moot point.

In short, sometimes you simply cannot “go get your pills” to begin with.

I am not even going to go into the fact that sometimes it takes Y E A R S to find a medicinal regiment that will actually work for your symptoms. Sometimes it takes awhile to find out what pills to go get.

I guess the point is this: If you have little or no understanding on a subject; then don’t speak on that subject. It’s really that simple. You are doing nothing but spreading ignorance and perpetuating a stigma.

 

 

 

Battle Royal

Yesterday was terrible.

I had plans to go to the store and run a few other errands; however those plans hit the skids. Apparently, my anxiety has made a new best friend out of my diabetes and yesterday was their first tag team match vs. my normal day activities.

If you have never read any of my posts (or have no idea who I am) then I should tell you that I have severe general anxiety disorder, along with bipolar disorder and OCD.

Yep, you are reading the blog of a crazy person.

So, my anxiety does it’s usual number and it was the typical battle of myself vs. the front door. Usually, I can calm myself and beat the door, but that day Anxiety brought it’s A Game. For almost 3 hours I stared at the front door of my house trying to gather the will to get up and go outside. To get shit done. Finally, I had summoned the will to go get groceries and run my errands and…

My sugar tanked.

So now the will was there, but my body was not able to get up and move. My sugar was low and I had to stop and eat a snack to get it back up. About 30 – 45 minutes later I had that under control and felt like I could move forward; however a new player had entered the tournament…

Depression.

4 hours of my day had been stolen and now, I sat there feeling worthless, feeling broken, and feeling angry with myself. I called no joy and crawled into bed. I talked with my wife, and chanted my mantra “Depression Lies” (Thanks Wil Wheaton) and moved forward. I cooked dinner, and my day returned to as normal as it could be at that moment.

That night I came to terms with something. I will always have to fight. This is a war, not a battle. I have to fight not only my mental health issues, but now my physical health issues as well. It’s a war on many fronts, but one that can be won. I just have to fight. It sucks, but I have to do it. I have the tools, I have the support structure, and I have the drive to persevere. Because if I don’t fight; then like in a real combat situation I will die.

It’s brutal, but it’s the truth.

So today I got up, fixed a healthy breakfast, and ran my errands. I lost yesterday, but today I struck back and I won. I will lose again, but I always have to keep fighting,  celebrate my victories and learn from my loses.

That’s how wars are won.