Category: Miscellany (Page 2 of 4)

Patterns: they rule us, and we rule by them

Reincarnation gone horribly wrong

I’m sure at some point you have looked at a cloud in the sky and said, “That one looks like Mickey Mouse.” You have seen a picture of a famous person on a piece of toast. You have thought the car in front of you looked as if it had a face, and it was smiling at you.

Human beings seek patterns. It’s how we recognize faces, but it’s also how we see faces where there really are none. Continue reading

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Developing the wisdom to know the difference

Serenity prayer

Most people know the Serenity Prayer, at least in its abbreviated form. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” It seems custom-made for printing on 1970s plaster gift plaques and graphics suitable today for Facebook. (This is only the first part, worded slightly differently, of the original version.)

In its simplicity, though, it has a lot of wisdom, not least being the recognition that there is a difference, and also recognizing that, like all wisdom, it’s not immediately obvious. Continue reading

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I hardly have energy to write this


I posted to my friends a little earlier today on Facebook something like this: ‘Feeling very sad today, for no particular reason. Breathing is such an effort.” When I’m like that, it is the hardest for me to write anything. That’s usually when I most need to.

I don’t usually write about depression when I’m depressed, but I’ve learned that I need to take some kind of action, and for me that action often involves writing. About anything. Maybe for the very reason that it is hard for me to write when I’m depressed.

Chances are, many of you deal with depression on some level. We’re not talking about the times of sadness we all go through. We’re especially not talking about the entirely appropriate reactions we all have to sad circumstances–grief, losses, stress, etc. Rather, we’re talking about the kind of depression seems to come for no reason, and when it relents, relents for no reason either.

And I’m trying to do a little something about it. Read on. Continue reading

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We’re going to experiment


I majored in journalism in college for one particular reason: it was the closest I could get to not declaring a major.

See, I was interested in all aspects of human experience. I didn’t want to have to specialize in anything, because I was interested in all of it. But I went to college when the mantra was first started to be repeated that to be successful, you had to specialize (which struck me the same way the famous advice to Benjamin in The Graduate did: “Plastics…. There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.”). Continue reading

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New ebooks on Amazon

ebook covers

Two new ebooks from Yours Truly.

We’ve recently posted a couple of ebooks that, for the time being, are free on Amazon. They will revert to regular price in a few days, though. Grab them while you can, and tell interested friends! Continue reading

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To duck or not to duck challenging viewpoints


It seems like the whole rest of the world is weighing in on the whole Phil Robertson/A&E controversy. I had intended to just duck it (arrrrgh) therefore. But it just keeps coming up, and I just. have. to. say. something.

A few things, in fact. Continue reading

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Getting what you want from Facebook friends

No, this is not about manipulation. A real-life friend was expressing frustration at some of the stuff she has to see from friends on Facebook that make it not as fun as it used to be. She doesn’t want to leave, and doesn’t want to unfriend people over a few posts, but it gets old, doesn’t it?

This isn’t an exhaustive treatment of such things, but here is one way of sort of controlling the flow.

If you hover over a friend’s name in your FB stream, you will get a little window with a couple of buttons associated with your friend. One of them is a drop-down menu labeled “Friends.” Click that.


Then click on the settings link.


You can choose what kind of updates to include. I’m not sure I’m not sure how FB determines “only important,” but it sure cuts down on the posts you see from that person. You can also choose “all updates,” which may change your mix at least to slant toward people who post less irritating material. You can also unclick certain things–I tend to turn off “Games” on everyone, for instance.

You can also use the Social Fixer addon to sort certain friends’ posts into their own tabs. That makes it easier to control–you can read that friend’s posts in a batch when you feel up to it, or just mark all of them “read” without having to actually read them. It has a little higher “geek” factor, though, so I will save that for another post.

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Little differences in words make big differences


Mark Twain once said in a letter to George Bainton, in 1888, “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

As we’ve said here numerous times, it’s not what happens to you but what you think about what happens to you that determines your experience. The different flavors of words shapes the way we think about our world, and therefore shapes our experience.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between being humbled and being humiliated. Continue reading

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Tennessee wants me or my daughter dead


Hannah snoozes, with no idea of the danger she faces.

The state will not be satisfied until either I or my daughter is dead.

That may not be the intent, but that is the effect.

(My apologies that this is not the usual communication-related post. I have decided to go ahead and share through this blog, though, because it helps explain why I didn’t get my usual post up mid-week.)

You see, my nine-year-old daughter is severely disabled. Hannah cannot close her airway (so anything that goes down her throat will go into her lungs), cannot sit up, cannot roll over on her own. She eats through a tube and breathes through a trach, and has to be suctioned every 10 minutes or so to avoid suffocating on her own saliva.

Although our primary insurance would much prefer to pay for home nursing care, since they know it’s cheaper than paying for hospitalizations, the way the policy is written with my employer (which happens to be the state of Tennessee, ironically enough), they cannot pay for it.

During her first four years of life, she was hospitalized 22 times, with the longest stay being 58 days. We did our best to take care of her, but the simple reality is that I cannot work all day and also take care of my daughter 24 hours a day. My wife is partially disabled, and can do little hands-on care for Hannah because of her severe arthritis in her back and hips as well as fibromyalgia. So she was frequently in the hospital with respiratory infections or other challenges.

But when we finally got her on TennCare (Tennessee’s version of Medicaid), which paid for her nursing, she was only hospitalized five times in five years, most of them one-day stays, with the longest being five days. Because the nurses are with her all the time, they have been able to catch issues while they were still small and get them addressed before having to take her to the ER or put her in the hospital.

The state’s other solution would be to take Hannah away from us and put her in a nursing home, and surely no one believes that she would get suctioned there every 10 minutes. She requires meds and breathing treatments around the clock, in patterns that don’t fit the typical schedules of nursing home. She will die in that situation, and it will cost the state much more than what it costs to pay for nursing.

She cannot live without someone with her all the time. She has to have the nursing to live, and obviously home nursing is the cheapest and most effective solution.

But the state has said I make too much money to qualify Hannah for TennCare, and they are going to kick Hannah off. They don’t care that we had to skip meals last month because we ran out of money. They don’t care that I finally sold my high school ring to get enough money to pay for gasoline so I could keep going to my job. If I get a second job, it will bring more money into the household, which will raise the floor for her to get insurance, and it will all go to pay the new uncovered medical bills–in other words, we will go hungry just as often, although I would be working twice as hard.

In light of that situation, it’s easy to understand that we have no savings. If we had savings, the state would have kicked her off sooner, because we had too many “assets.”

The state says that in order to get Hannah back on nursing care, we have to have about $4,000 in unpaid medical expenses. Nursing costs about $1,000 a day (vs. $10,000 a day for a hospital), so we will requalify after only four days, but how can we afford to do that? We don’t have the ability to pay the bill that would follow, so we would be forced into bankruptcy.

Reading between the lines, it seems there is a possibility I could save my life and my daughter’s by divorcing my wife. Then my income would not be a part of the household, and the child support would not be enough to bump her household income above the cutoff.

So I suppose I should add to the first paragraph “or until my family is shattered or we are forced into bankruptcy.”

Most other states have what is called a Katie Beckett Waiver–basically, that means to qualify for Medicaid insurance, you have to show that you would have the required expenses without the Medicaid coverage. Tennessee is one of the few states that does not have such a waiver. The waiver not only would save us the expense, but would also save the state the expense of going through the convoluted process of reapplying for TennCare. But that would be too sensible.

I fear that my daughter will spawn another article like this one and that I will wind up being the one to write, “Tennessee kidnapped and murdered my daughter.”

Insurance is supposed to protect you against catastrophe. Instead, health “insurance” limits care so that everyone can have their doctor visits covered, and so the ones who truly need insurance against catastrophe must go without.

I can’t blame the individuals who have tried to help me through various state agencies. They can’t help it. This is the way the regulations are written.

Is there someone, somewhere, who is able to do something about this situation who gives a damn? Or must we become another in the long list of victims of a bureaucratic, broken system?

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