Regarding: 2017

With Xmas behind us and NYE in sight, I keep reading articles and such regarding what 2017 will bring. With all of the celebrity deaths that have happened this year and major events that shocked the world, like the Brexit and Trump winning the election, people seem to have a “it can’t get any worse” attitude. I don’t see it that way. I see it getting “worse” because we will see the fruition of all of these bad decisions coming to light; however it is through pressure that change is made.

Sure, pressure sucks ass, but it leads to change.

I see the next year as a year of learning. I see liberals learning to be a bit more conservative and conservatives learning to be more liberal. I see the political landscape of the US changing, because Trump is going to be a learning opportunity for a lot of people (myself included). I see change in this next year and a lot of it; however not all change is good. I feel that some things will change for the worse and some will change for the better. I know that’s a broad statement; however I am not psychic.

I am not Nostradamus for fuck’s sake.

I think that people are going to lose things, mainly ideologies that they thought were sacred and have to re-think a lot of things. I see this next year as both a “dark-age” and a “renaissance”  all wrapped up in one. Meaning I think that some changes are going to be stifled and some changes are going to flourish. I think people are going to wake-up this coming year and start to think about things differently.

I see the new political climate changing things as well. I see it destroying progress while creating new progress in other areas. I see people fighting to make progress in areas that the new administrations isn’t and I see somethings progressing forward despite being denied or spoken against. I see a change in American democracy and politics in general.

I see conflict and I see change.

However, these are not necessarily bad things. I actually have a sense of hope for 2017. I think things will be hard on us, but we will see better days ahead. Believe it or not this is optimism you are reading, not my normal pessimistic musings. I think we are in for massive changes this coming year, and it may be a few changes for the better.

Or the world is going to end; however I doubt it.

Advertisements

Giving Up & Giving In.

I have made a decision.

After talking with my therapist, I have decided to give up on my disability claim.

Why, you ask?

Because, apparently,  I do not have the evidence to prove that I am disabled as far as hospitalizations, and medical records go. Especially since most doctors and facilities do not keep medical records past 5 years. My hearing has yet to be scheduled and is probably a year away. Plus, with the incoming GOP administration, I doubt that I could be approved anyway.

So, I am going back to work and looking for something that is preferably remote/telecommute so that I do not have a day’s worth of panic attacks; however I am willing to take whatever I can get.

So, the SSA wins.

Now, I am looking for a job and I have launched multiple applications out with my resume attached. Hopefully I will find something soon.

I have learned something though.

When you have a mental illness, don’t “Man-Up”, you give in to that shit. Go to the hospital, see a shrink, and get all the help you need. If it  all comes to a point where you cannot work after you bottled it up and you try to get assistance from the US Government, you are fucked; however if you seek treatment and have a shitload of medical records, then you may have a shot.

Hopefully, I can return to the workforce and not lose my fucking mind (But, if I do, I am getting help and starting a paper trail a mile wide).

Now, I have to get a haircut.

Back on Drugs.

Good News! I am seeing a psychiatrist and getting back on my meds and having a few changes done to my typical regiment. I am no longer on “rescue” anxiety meds but on a medication that is supposed to control my anxiety throughout the day. I am getting back on one of my mood stabilizers and I have a sleep-aid again. Soon I will be on my other mood stabilizer and things should be back to what I consider “normal”.

Bad News.I went from a “great” two or three week manic episode to hitting a brick fucking wall. I have been unstable (mood-wise), groggy, and just plain feeling like shit. Imagine drinking a lot of coffee or Red Bull and getting in your car to start going at 100 MPH (161 KPH) and suddenly just slamming on the brakes while downing a bottle of NyQuil. You skid, spin and flip the car multiple times while being extremely tired and sleepy. That’s as best that I can describe it.

Other than saying that it SUCKS BALLS!

The new anxiety medication makes me dream; which is something that I do not normally do. And not just dreams, but odd ones. Dreams that you wake up from and are questioning the fundamentals of life as you know it. Some I remember, some I do not, other than one word or scene from the dream sticking in my mind. I have had dreams about:

Lithuanian Fruit Bats.

Being in a shopping mall that is also a hospital, and a spaceship.

Being in a large building that changes/rearranges rooms & floors because it is alive.

My mother being a professional “Rascal” racer.

Being attacked by sharks.

Being in the soap opera “General Hospital” and knowing that it is a TV show.

If this keeps up I may start keeping a dream journal, just because drug induced dreams can be hilarious…except when they involve sharks. Fuck that and fuck sharks.

The shitty thing is that I have been getting easily annoyed and even filled with rage over nothing. Literally nothing. Like I will just be sitting there and suddenly I feel anger to a level that just makes me want to break shit. I have also been having a lot of “fight” anxiety attacks that have left me with just a feeling of rage and anger that I honestly do not like. I have been experiencing a lot of spontaneous laughter as well. It’s like someone else has the remote control to my brain and is just randomly switching through channels.

And this is only the first week.

Eventually I will be back on my medication at full dosage and things will be all good; however I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy being off of them and just being “crazy” for awhile. It felt amazing. Which reminded me of the real danger of being bipolar. You feel AMAZING when you are just hypomanic. You can do anything, and you have all of the energy and joy in the world. That is, until you hit a depressive episode and then the world is a vile place and just shitty or you have a full-blown manic episode and end up hurting yourself or getting into real trouble (like the kind that involves handcuffs and a taser) because you had “a great idea” that you just had to do at that moment.

Although I hate this feeling that I get when I have to get back on my medication, I know it’s good for me. I know what it feels like to be stable and even though being stable is “boring” it is also safe.

Safe is always a great place to be.

 

 

Bad Words.

So, let’s talk about Political Correctness and mainly how it is absurd.

 

Still reading? OK, good.

 

I think people have blurred the line between “Being PC” and being a decent human being. I believe that we as a people have to get back to the point of “being decent” instead of being politically correct.

I hear people say this phrase all the time:

“You can’t say that!”

And, frankly, yes I can. I believe that a person can say whatever they want; however that doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to applaud whatever comes out of your mouth. I believe that we need to focus on what we say. We need to weigh our words. To quote my mother: “Think before you speak”; however people should do this out of their own free will and not some form of social dogma, then the world would be a better place.

Who am I to say this? I am someone who (usually) thinks before they speak. I also keep two quotes in my mind at all times:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

– Evelyn Beatrice Hall

“No one has the right not to be offended. Just because you’re offended, it doesn’t mean you’re in the right.”

–  Ricky Gervais

If everyone just thought about what they were about to say before they said it, we wouldn’t have the issue of “Political Correctness”. We would just have people thinking, and showing genuine concern about what they say. We would also probably have a lot more silence.

But wait! Aren’t you a liberal/progressive/democrat? 

Well, yes to 2 of those things. I am liberal/progressive when it comes to most social issues and I feel that humanity should be open to new ideas and we should be moving to improve our society rather than stagnate in tradition. We need to constantly be reforming the way we act and think towards ourselves, each other and the world around us. If we just keep doing “the same old shit” then we will stop growing as a race (by race I mean humanity) and we will eventually die off. I do not consider myself a democrat, however. I don’t really see eye to eye with any political party. So, two out of 3 aint bad.

One point to note is that the term “politically correct” is actually a Communist term.

According to the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Kremlin advisers were the first to widely use the term. They did so without a trace of irony. Calling someone “politically correct” in Soviet Russia meant they toed the party line.

Now days it just means that we should not use words because of their effect on people or it’s a pejorative term that means policies or ideas are excessive. The term was used in the 90s as a pejorative term that basically meant censorship and today it is a label that conservatives like to use as a pejorative against liberals and liberal policies as an excuse to say things that are offensive. So, again it’s a blurred line of manners vs. political correctness.

And being politically correct, or promoting political correctness,  is just that: censorship.

An article by NPR had a good explanation of why “being PC” is just the wrong way to think about things.

The danger inherent in attempting to speak in a “politically correct” manner, is that in an effort to avoid offending the most sensitive members of our society or audience, we ban the use of perfectly good, accurate descriptive phrases for fear of running afoul of a small group of people with a political agenda. Hence the phrase “politically correct.”
At its worst, political correctness can be a form of Orwellian newspeak in which non-pejorative descriptions that accurately convey clear unambiguous thoughts are demonized, and banned in favor of bland replacements. A “war-lord” becomes a “faction leader.” Words are drained of their meanings.

– NPR newscaster Jamie McIntyre

So, we should be ANTI-Politically Correct then! Right?

Nope.

People that are Anti-PC (generally conservatives) find that being Anti-PC means you can say whatever hate-fueled garbage comes out of your mouth and people have to like it because of free-speech and it isn’t PC, so it’s cool if they say it (Again, manners vs. political correctness); however, like I said in the beginning: “…a person can say whatever they want; however that doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to applaud whatever comes out of your mouth”. If you go around saying hateful & hurtful things, someone is eventually going to to tell you to shut the fuck up. Either in a polite respectful way, or with a punch to the face. So, go ahead and be “anti-PC” just don’t be anti-manners and expect everyone to like it.

So, what do we do?

Think before you speak, weigh your words and have some empathy; however don’t just say and think things because they are (or aren’t) politically correct. I am not PC, but I believe in things like LGBTQ+ rights, the disuse of fossil fuels, (actual) science being taught to our children in public schools, feminism, and equality. Not because it’s politically correct, but because they are good ideas. They progress us as a species and add to our general wellbeing.

Also, because I am not an asshole…Well, that big of one anyway.

I believe that a person can say or think whatever they want. That is a right that we all (should) have and no one should be able to force a way of thought or morality on you. It is my hope that one day we will all use empathy and understanding to choose our words, thoughts and actions because it is the right thing to do and not the politically correct thing to do.

I’m not going to hold my breath, however.

 

 

 

Baggage.

Now that Trump is the President-Elect, we need to look at who he is bringing with him into the White House. One of the names that has sparked a lot of controversy is his Chief Strategist:  Stephen Bannon. Mainly due to his ties with White Nationalism and the “Alt-Right”.  His publication “The Breitbart News” has been labeled as being racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and bigoted towards the LGBTQ community. After reading some of their headlines and articles, I can absolutely see why one would say that.

When you publish or say things like:

…the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.

or

There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women In Tech, They Just Suck At Interviews.

or

Gay rights have made us dumber, it’s time to get back in the closet.

or

Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.

or

Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage.

and also

The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: Women should log off.

It’s easily seen why you and your “news” site can be considered nothing but racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and bigoted garbage. You are not printing news, you are printing your opinions and trying to back them up as facts by giving skewed data from legitimate sources.

The man himself is noted for being a fighter and a strategist. He is quoted as saying: “Fear is a good thing. Fear is going to lead you to take action.” and that is exactly how he ran the Trump campaign. He tapped into the fear and resentment of the so-called “Alt-Right” and other conservative type groups and motivated them. Now he is the power behind the throne, so-to-speak, in the oval office. His views aren’t that of the GOP and he is actually quoted as claiming to be a Leninist. He goes on to say:

Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.

To quote Lenin:

The art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive.

VLADIMIR LENIN

This is the man now advising Trump on his presidency. His “alt-right“, white nationalist views are going to be what drives and guides Trump. The Tea-Party insurgency into the GOP has finally won.

IMO this campaign, lead by this man, has confused the term “Nationalist” with “Patriot”. A nationalist is someone that is proud of his country no matter what it does and a patriot is proud of his country for what it does. If that is the case, there are a lot of nationalists around the GOP, and not a lot of patriots; however it’s the kind of nationalists that surround the GOP and the soon-to-be administration that concern me and that is the White Nationalist. No race is superior to another, period.

This shift in nationalism vs. patriotism is what is currently fueling the civil unrest in our country and what will ultimately lead to more upheaval. We should be united because we are Americans that want to see equality and liberty spread through our nation, not because we are simply all born in the same place. If we are going to embrace nationalism, then we need to be embracing Civic-Nationalism and not the current views of White or Ethnic Nationalism that are circulating in our country.  My ultimate fear is that the views that Stephen Bannon has, along with the Communist propaganda tactics he uses, and the fear and anger it generates that do motivate groups like The KKK, neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates will plunge this country back into a Jim Crow like era for both people of color and the LGBTQ community.  Maybe I am just looking at this is a pessimistic way, but (with everything that I have seen and read about the guy) it’s hard to see the silver lining. (Especially when the other guy that is in a place of power is a radicalized christian that has almost ruined the state the he was governor.)

But, what do I know. I am just some “libtard” with a blog that a handful of people read.

 

Let’s Get This Out of the Way.

Now that I am done with being depressed and anxiety ridden, let’s talk about Trump and this election outcome.

Grab a snack and soda, this may take a minute.

First, let me be clear, I didn’t vote for the guy. My initial support was with Bernie Sanders but the DNC decided to anoint a different candidate for the primary. I did flirt with voting 3rd party but decided to choose the more logical choice of backing the candidate that had a shot at actually winning (Sorry, but until 50% or more decides to become a Libertarian or a Green; they just aren’t going to win).

Now, the biggest issue with him winning is “what now?”. The Republican Party platform is filled with horrible ideas and policies that they are wanting to make into law. The NY Times has called it “The Most Extreme Republican Platform in Memory” because it includes such things as:

making no exceptions for rape or women’s health in cases of abortion

requiring the Bible to be taught in public high schools

selling coal as a “clean” energy source

demanding a return of federal lands to the states

insisting that legislators use religion as a guide in lawmaking

appointing “family values” judges

barring female soldiers from combat

rejecting the need for stronger gun controls

The platform also wants to gut Medicare. Instead of having Medicare done at the federal level, each state will receive a “block grant” and the State’s will decide on what to do with Medicare. And the entire platform is heavily Anti-LGBTQ and was even called so their own party’s LGBTQ community, The Log Cabin Republicans. Of course there are promises of walls and deportations as well. The platform also wants to make Christianity the official US Religion and English the official language, along with a few other shitty Tea-Party wish list items.

This platform and the election along with the appointment of a known “white nationalist” as an advisor and a evangelical zealot as the VP has spurned not only protests across the country (Even some here in the “deep red” state of Texas) but a rise in hate crimes not seen since the day after 9/11. To prove my point, the KKK has planned a “Trump Victory Parade”.  Now on top of all of this, you have his VP that is so radicalized by his faith that he caused a major HIV outbreak in his home state when he was the governor. He let this happen due to his “moral stance” on needle exchange programs. When he quit funding and took those programs away, the use of opioids and heroin didn’t stop as he thought they would, but the sharing of dirty needles started. It wasn’t until the caseload reached outbreak proportions and that there was so much pressure from local and national agencies (including members of his own party) that he “prayed about it” and let the program continue in affected areas. On top of this he has been quoted as saying:

“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Now, Pence has never come out and said “I support Gay Conversion Therapy” but that is pretty much what he just defined in the quote above.  Remember, Mike Pence is the same governor that signed the 2015 Religious Freedom Act into law for the state of Indiana that started the whole “Religious Liberties” debate across the nation and almost cost Indiana thousands of jobs and millions in revenue due to boycotts and relocation threats from companies and groups like Angie’s List and The NBA. That same year, the following month actually,  a bill was passed that gave protections to LGBTQ  “customers, employees and tenants” but the original bill still stands as law in Indiana.

So, the separation of Church and State is a little foggy with VP Pence.

We also have another election that was fucked up due to our voting system. The Electoral College is outdated and needs to be abolished. It’s overdue and the system isn’t needed anymore due to the increased population and expansion across the country and also the fact we have forms of  communication that our forefathers never dreamed of. These advances in technology and social evolution have made the Electoral College irrelevant.  Even Trump says that the popular vote should prevail in his recent 60 Minutes interview when asked about the Electoral System:

“I would rather see it where you went with simple votes,” he said. “You know, you got 100 million votes, someone else gets 90 million votes…”

– President-Elect Donald J. Trump

[NOTE: To be fair, he later tried to CYA and add that he “respected the current system”, since it won him the presidency and all.]

But let’s talk about election influence.

The Trump campaign had/has ties to the Russian Government. It was found that Trump has a “secret server” of his own that was in communication with a Russian business called “Alfa Bank”. The server was shut down when investigated and then re-activated under a different server name a short time after it was found.  Now this has been “unproven”, but is still a bit sketchy since it is known that Trump has done business in Russia and has business ties to them; however, server or not, when a Russian Diplomat states that his government has been in contact with the Trump campaign, that should be a huge red flag (no pun intended), but the Russian Foreign Ministry cleared things up (or performed CYA) and stated that they:

 “…had been referring to American politicians and supporters of Mr. Trump, not members of his campaign staff.”

The FBI stated that they found no evidence of “hacking” or any “financial connections” between Russia and Trump.

Speaking of the FBI. Let’s talk about their influence on this campaign.

Director James Comey needs to be fired, at the very least. His action violated FBI Protocol and The Hatch Act. The “new evidence” found was nothing more than CC & BCC emails from the original investigation that was concluded. That should have been investigated thoroughly before making any form of an announcement. The FBI doesn’t have to give Congress updates regarding ongoing investigations. He used his position to influence this election and this was found to have seriously impacted the Clinton campaign. Don’t get me wrong, she made the mistake of setting up a private email server all for the reason of not carrying two phones and basically being lazy. This was a bad judgment call on her part. I didn’t see it as a “crisis” or anything, but it did call into question her work ethic; however I will take a person that finds ways to work smarter that maybe a bit sketchy that someone that drags a radicalized theist into one of the most powerful offices in the US and spouts off nothing but hate and ignorance on Twitter every 5 seconds any day of the week.

But now we come back to my original question: “What Now?”.

Now we let the guy try to be president. We hope that he goes with what he said in 1998 ( Not the Republicans are dumb thing, he apparently never said that) but that he was liberal on social issues. If that’s true; then when something that he doesn’t agree with comes across his desk, he should veto it.

We progressives/liberals/democrats (or whatever we are) also have to organize. We have midterm elections in 2 years. That means we have to get out and vote. We have to talk (constructively) about politics in with people that don’t agree with us. We have to find commonality with “the other side” and try to spread reason.

“But I got out and voted!”

Yeah, a little over half of us did; however the other 45% of us stayed at home and even some of the 55% that did vote jerked-off their vote and did some form of write-in or voted for a political party that no one has even heard of (and no, I am not talking about The Green or Libertarian parties); however it is up to the Electoral College to actually elect the president and not us. So, we ALL need to get organized and go vote this midterm. Why the midterm? Because enough seats for both the House and the Senate come up for grabs and we can get those put in more progressive hands. We can get more Democrats (and if you want to try to get a few Greens or Libertarians that’s fine too) in the Senate and the House that can affect policy and legislation.

For the most part, I say we see what the GOP can do and when (or if) they fail miserably then I think everyone will have learned their lesson. Right now, they have no Democrats to blame as opposition. They control the whole show.  So the what now is plan to vote in mass for the midterms and hope for the best.

Right now, I am now going to sit back and watch  “America Become Great Again”; because that’s really all I can do at this point.

 

 

(And if you didn’t vote at all, then you don’t get to say shit. STFU)

 

Stay Tuned for Our Halloween Special.

If you have ever read this blog you know my feelings on religion and you know that I “did time” in the church. One of the things that I would do usually for the church happened around this time of year.

Before I was “saved” I was a witch.  I practiced Wicca. A fun religion built on Welsh, Irish, British and other European pagan traditions that involves a lot of accessories and the delusion of the supernatural. Because I was a witch turned christian, I was always asked to speak out against Halloween & because I was a good little christian soldier, I always did (I now feel shame for it to be honest).

However…

I fucking loved Halloween and I still do!!

I loved the costumes, the pranks, the scary movies, and the whole idea of halloween! I know that Halloween comes from pagan roots, ALL OF OUR HOLIDAYS DO; however it isn’t satan’s night or the night where kids are sacrificed in some pagan rite. It’s a night where kids do more cardio than they do all year and get more candy than their parents know what to do with so they take it to the office the next day and all of their co-workers get to trick-or-treat throughout their cubicles (Adulting is awesome).

But, to keep with my old tradition of speaking out against things that occur on Halloween, I do want to go on a bit of a rant about some practices that do occur on this most awesome of nights.

Stop with this fucking Trunk or Treat bullshit! If you don’t know what this is, it is a stupid ploy to “make Halloween safe for kids” by having people come to church (sometimes a school, but usually a church) parking lots and open up their trunks and have kids just wander around the church parking lot and get candy. Of course there is also a catch at the church based ones:

 Churches are expanding on the original idea of trunk or treat by adding food, music, games, and rides. Their goal is to reach more of the community with an alternative to trick or treat. It not only has become a way to provide an alternative for children in the church but to the entire community. They have also found that it opens up opportunities to invite parents and children to other events or services going on at the church. To this end, some church groups hand out tracts or other information on the church at a Trunk-or-Treat.

Now I get it in the rural based communities where neighbors are 20 miles apart, but in my town there are suburban communities everywhere. We also have 30 churches that are in the 10 sq miles that make up our city limits (Welcome to Texas) and they all do the trunk-or-treat thing. The past 2-3 years that I have carved a jack-o-lantern, left the porch light on, signed my house up as a designated trick-or-treat house, I have gotten less than 5 trick-or-treaters in all 3 years combined. Its heartbreaking to see this tradition go away.

But, I would gladly let it die if it meant that a swift death would come to the other tradition that the church has on Halloween.

Every year almost every church puts on a spectacle called a “Hell House“.  They are like haunted houses you see pop-up around Halloween, but based on “sin” and “hell”.  They show melodramatic scenes of teen drug use, domestic violence, suicide, abortion, and homosexuality (amongst other evangelical christian issues). Now some of these things are serious topics, but the hyperbole comes in because the scenes are all caused by demonic influence. Yep, satan and his minion caused the depression that led that (always female actress) teen to suicide. Satan caused that girl (it’s usually always the same actress as the suicide teen) to go out to that party and get raped (notice there wasn’t any demonic influence over the guys that did the actual rape), and abortion is always caused by the devil; however at the end of the trip through this christian psychological shit-show, Jesus (or sometimes an angel if no one in the church looks like Jesus) pops in like a superhero and saves the day by leading the tour group out of hell and into heaven; however sometimes there’s a twist and not everyone gets in and you end up back in hell.

Here take a look, there was actually a documentary done about these a few years back:

 

In these attractions, you are basically subjected to psychological torture (Almost like Alex in “A Clockwork Orange”). You are made to see horrific images played out with sounds and lights (sometimes smells) to give a further discomforting augmentation to a distorted reality  and then given an out: Salvation through Jesus. At the end of these you are given a chance to pray with members of the church and be “saved” (and also join the church mailing list of course). Like the kid in the video, I would have given them the finger as well.

Truth of the matter is, I have only been through one Hell House (and that was enough). It was more horrific, and unsettling than any actual haunted house that I have been to. Mind you,  I have been to a haunted house as a kid/teen where the group was chased by a dude with a chainsaw. AN ACTUAL FUCKING CHAINSAW (sans the chain on the blade of course) and that was less horrifying and damaging than the 1 hell house that I visited in my 20s as a “saved christian”.  Honestly, I laughed at the chainsaw guy. I loved every minute of the normal haunted house. Because they are there for entertainment. Hell Houses are there to subject you to a psychological torment, distort your thinking, and then convert you you at the end. Basically, you are herded like cattle through this “morality play” and processed at the end.

And of course it’s all for your own good.

Richard Dawkins, noted atheist, has condemned Hell Houses, saying that using fear to convert children is child abuse, and that the children only leave with nightmares and soiled underpants.

My largest problem is that these are aimed at kids. They will usually let children as young as 12 into these psychological slaughterhouses and that is one of the most frightening things I find about them. That and the number of them. There is one, or more, in every town and usually the ticket prices are cheap. So, instead of going to an actual haunted house a few towns over or in the nearest metropolitan city, kids will usually end up at these. Plus, they are ran by a church.

Nothing could possibly be that scary to the kids at a church, right?

classroom-shooting

Nope. Go on and take the kids, be sure to hit the Trunk-Or-Treat afterwards.

 

Happy Halloween.

 

Salt In The Wound.

Fun tidbit.

After talking with my caseworker new caseworker about my case, it turns out that I could have been actually working a part-time job this whole time and earning some form of income. As long as:

  1. It wasn’t more than 20 hours per week.
  2. I didn’t make more than $1100 per month.

So, now I am livid that I could have been trying to bring in some form of income this entire time instead of having to scrape by like we have been.

Needless to say, I have started looking for some form of work that I feel that I can do that I also believe that I could generate income by doing.

So, I am polishing up my resume` and searching the internet for part-time work. I have some prospects and I have also started a side business that I hope will take off. I am hustling to get something going so that we can get our heads above water and not drown. If anything I will go jockey a register at a gas station, like Dante in “Clerks”.

1277483-9

Hell, I am over-qualified for all of the jobs that I have applied for, so why not be a clerk at a gas station.

At least then we wouldn’t be dodging collection calls and wondering how we are going to pay all of the bills each month.

Maybe, I could even get employee of the month?

Denied: The Sequel.

So, I received my 2nd denial letter from The Social Security Administration on Friday. Despite evidence of my mental health degrading, a personal letter from my therapist, and a 3rd party account of my condition, I am still considered “fit for work” and can be “retrained in another field” due to my young age. Now, my option is a hearing before a judge.

The issue with that is the hearing wouldn’t happen for about another year.

I have already been through hell this year with trying to get this done. We are now at an all time low. Something is going to have to change. If I continue with my disability claim it may ruin us. If I go back to work, it may just break me. So, either way I am screwed. Right now I am just stuck at a crossroads and I don’t know where to go.

If I believed in the devil, I would probably sell my soul right about now.

So, I have to make a decision. I have to either keep fighting a system that is supposed to help me or I have to bend and find something to do that won’t break me.

Thankfully I have a therapist appointment this Saturday.

FINALLY!

If you are an avid reader of this blog (like me!) then you probably have learned at least two things:

  1. I have mental health issues.
  2. I am an atheist. 

You may have also picked up that I am also a geek due to the science and technology bits in my posts and also the references to 80s cartoons and movies. There’s also probably a few Star Wars and sci fi references sprinkled in these posts, too. 

Well, I recently downloaded and tried out Google’s new messaging app “Allo“.  Now what sets this app apart from WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Kik, Facebook Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger is that:

  1. IT’S MADE BY GOOGLE!
  2. That’s it.

Out of the 3-4 messaging apps listed above that people actually use, Allo does have some features that do make it stand out; however it is lacking some features that the majority of the more popular messaging apps have had for some time, but it brings some things to the table that all of the other apps just don’t have. 

ALLO DOES SOME COOL SHIT! 

Smart Reply
Respond to messages without typing a single word. Smart Reply learns over time and suggests responses to text and photos, in your style.

There are some conversations that I have had without having to tying a word. Google Assistant learns your communication style and adapts your smart replies. If you also have a keyboard with predictive text; then you seriously almost never have to type anything out again. 

Ink
Get creative with the photos you send by doodling on them or adding text.

Almost all apps can do this, but the camera functionality in this app makes it easier to actually do (see below). 

Stickers
Say it all with the perfect sticker. Stickers in Google Allo are designed by independent artists and studios from around the world.

Some of them are even animated! However, there are only like 4 packs that are any good right now (If stickers are your thing).

SHOUT or whisper
No more typing in ALL CAPS to get your point across. Say it louder or quieter by changing the size of your text with a quick swipe.

This sounds dumb, but is actually cool as hell. 

Meet your personal Google Assistant
Google Allo brings you the Google Assistant, preview edition. Find restaurants nearby, share videos to watch, and get answers, right in your conversation with friends. Add @google to your group conversation or chat one-on-one with your Assistant. It’s your own personal Google, always ready to help.

Probably the coolest feature. You can bring Google into the conversation. In an argument about who that guy was that was in that movie you all saw that one time? Now you can end that shit quick. Everyone trying to decide on a restaurant? Now you can all look at what’s available in the chat. It’s pretty damn cool. 

Incognito mode
Send messages with end-to-end encryption, use private notifications to help keep your chats more discreet, and control how long your messages stick around with expiring chats.

One of my gripes and the huge flaw of this app. Due to Google Assistant and it’s learning capabilities, it has to scan your messages in order to learn how you communicate (Insert conspiracy theories here). So, end to end encryption cannot be enabled by default. I do believe that Google Assistant should be an Opt In feature and E2E Encryption should be the default. 

The other mentions that I want to make about this app are that it does support .GIF files, can send pics, video, & voice messages. Plus, if you do turn on the camera it only takes up 1/2 the screen so you do not exit the chat. That was a HUGE thing for me. EVERY OTHER APP takes you out of the app and engages the entire screen when accessing the camera. Not this one. It also supports BitMoji ( like SnapChat) and has an awesome location sending feature based on Google Maps (of course). You can assign individuals their own notification tones; however you cannot change the background color/wallpaper in the chats or the bubble colors. And yes, of course, there are group chats. 

One key feature that some say that this app is missing is SMS integration. If you used Hangouts, you remember (or know if you are still using it) that you could message people that either had Hangouts or didn’t have Hangouts because it did both Messaging and SMS; however it was confusing as hell. Because half the time you didn’t know if you sent out a mass text, a group chat or a mix of both. I still use Hangouts on my tablet and desktop to make and receive calls and texts from my Google Voice number. Honestly, I don’t see the need for SMS integration. To me these are two separate things that I like on two separate apps. I guess I am old and set in my ways. 

The true uphill battle with this app (or any messaging app) is this: Your friends have to install it in order to actually use it. This is the flaw in the concept of messaging apps. If you have never tried getting your friends to install a completely free application onto their phone and take the 2-3 minutes to set it up; then let me tell you what you are in store for. Your friends will suddenly hate you for instigating change in their lives, they will turn into 4 year old children and begin to cry while throwing a tantrum, they will then question you about everything regarding  this application (and your 10+ years working in the IT industry with a focus on mobile devices/applications) as if you coded it yourself just last night. Then you will in turn start to question why you are trying to make communicating with this group of thankless assholes easier and more enjoyable. Then once they do install it, of course they think it’s fun and awesome*. 

(*Results may vary.Because there’s always that “one”.)

Right now, the majority of my friends are on Telegram. Mainly because it has a desktop client, awesome stickers, integrated Gify.com search, sticker bots that will allow you to make your own stickers, awesome pre-made sticker packs, and it’s encryption is top-notch; however there are two things that make me want to migrate from it. 

  1. There has been little to no development on this application since August and even that was a bug fix. The only major improvements are usually sticker or bot related. 
  2. This application is the #1 messaging app choice of terrorists! It has also drawn the attention of government entities all across the globe. Which means possible lawsuits, investigations, and lack of funding for development.

What’s awesome about this app is that it’s free , Open Source,and it’s funded by a couple of Russian brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov that sound like awesome guys; however the app generates no income. Once it , or the Durov brothers, run out of funds; then it will require donations or a subscription. Also, this app was HUGE until WhatsApp introduced End to End encryption by default and Voice Calls. Since then the user base and the development has slowed considerably. 

Speaking of WhatsApp.

I do have a couple of friends overseas that use it. So, I also have it installed. WhatsApp is has no stickers ( if that’s your thing), it does do .GIFs, pics (no drawing/Ink though), video  and does voice messages. You can also make calls with it. It also has a desktop client (that is a complete pain in the ass to use). It used to be a pretty good app, until Facebook bought it. Now, WhatsApp shares your information with your Facebook account to show you better ads; however you can OptOut of this, if you know how. Even though the CEO of WhatsApp always said that WhatsApp would never be used to sell ads ( Even quotes Fight Club). Now you can also totally piss off your friends in WhatsApp by tagging them ( Like on FaceBook) in a conversation that they don’t even want to be in. So, you can see why we all migrated from this app. 

As far as the others go, I don’t use FB Messenger, because I am not on FaceBook. I don’t use Kik because it is a pointless, shitty app. I don’t use BlackBerry Messenger anymore because: 

  1. I don’t work for them anymore. 
  2. It’s not 2004. 

Yahoo Messenger hasn’t been used since 1996, and Viber sounds like a sex toy. 

So, Allo is starting strong IMO. I think that if people will give it a shot and Google keeps up with development that it will be a strong contender. Now I just have to get my lazy ass friends to install it and quit bitching about having to install a free fucking app on their damn phone. 

I may need to start drinking again. 

Wish me luck.