If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

 

Video of  Avalanche Creek in Montana’s Glacier National Park by Janson Jones

“Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.” ~ Rumi 

Well, one of the only good things about being bi-polar is that sufferers of this condition have manic bouts in which they become very hyper and have a lot of energy. Granted, I don’t have these bouts of mania the way that I used to, mostly because of my medication, but since I’m not taking my medication as I am supposed to, I am now having these spurts of energy. Did you follow all of that?

Anyway, yesterday I don’t know what got into me, but I cleaned the kitchen and then proceeded to do all of the paperwork that has been backed up, which meant forms to seven pharmaceutical companies requesting participation in their patient assistance programs. In addition to the forms, I had to include supporting documentation showing why I need this assistance. After completing the forms online, I then tried to get all of the packages together but ended up confusing myself, so I enlisted Corey’s help in going through each package to make sure that I had everything.

I also had to do an explanatory cover letter, and a cover letter to my doctor explaining everything that I was trying to do. In addition, I finally got the paperwork together for my student loan requesting forbearance due to poverty, and I completed a form for another withdrawal from my retirement, this time to pay my health insurance premium. At this rate, I will have absolutely no money left in my retirement, well, very little.

But the point is that I got all of this paperwork completed and ready to go to the various places to which it needs to be disbursed; I also filed my copies and filed a pile of other stuff that was cluttering up my desk. Finally. And of course, Corey helped. So a very productive day. Today? Well today my back is killing me and I have a headache—the price for doing too much in one day.

“It is not the perfect who always succeed in life, but those who keep trying even in the face of tremendous hardships . . .” ~ Steven Apel

Termination Dust, Chugach State Park, AK by Janson Jones

The director of the publishing program at George Washington University denied my grade appeal, which I predicted he would do, but at least I finally found out what grade I got on my project for the infrastructure class. He claims that the grade was posted on Blackboard, but it was not posted for the three months that I checked. I got an A on the project, but since the project only counted for 15 percent of the grade, it wasn’t enough to balance my abysmal performance on the midterm or final exam.

Quite frankly, that class was a failure as far as I’m concerned. The professors who were team-teaching did not mesh well. Entirely too much material was presented without there being any type of background preparation. It was a very advanced course without a background course preceding it in the cohort.

A bit of background here: The publishing degree that I completed in the summer of 2008 was set up as a cohort, which meant that everyone took the same classes for the sequence of the degree, with the exception of the concentration classes. I took the e-publishing concentration, which included this computer infrastructure class. However, at no point in the sequence was there a basic HTML course or a course in creating a website. As a result, those of us with little or no HTML backgrounds were completely lost in the infrastructure class.

We were also the second cohort to complete the program, which is now undergoing a complete restructuring. In essence, our cohort, along with the first cohort, were the guinea pigs, the ones they got to experiment on to see what worked and what didn’t work. There was duplication among the courses, and then there was the problem with the e-publishing concentration.

Now I must pause here to say that overall, the instructors in the program were wonderful, with diverse backgrounds in the publishing industry. I learned a great deal, and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. However, I do feel that we were short shrifted in that the kinks in the new program had yet to be finessed. Oh well. Live and learn.

“A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” ~ Henrik Ibsen 

Paint Cans from marthastewart.com

Now that I’ve complete my major paperwork project, I’ve finally gotten Corey to agree to painting the bedroom. I really hope that he comes through this time. Originally the bedroom was supposed to be painted for Mother’s Day . . . 2008! Since it was never done, the new bedroom bureau has been sitting in the living room taking up much-needed space and is part of the reason for the clutter that I go on about so much.

We have all of the supplies to do the bedroom, but it’s such a huge undertaking that we haven’t gotten around to doing it. We have to move furniture out of the room, move things into the middle of the room, removed everything from the walls, spackle, prep, etc.

To be fair, I know personally how hard it is to get motivated for such an undertaking when you just aren’t feeling right. Being out of work for as long as Corey has been has really taken a toll on him emotionally. His self-esteem is shot, and in essence, he cannot really concentrate on anything too big. I know this feeling well.

But Corey’s job with Vane Brothers is fast approaching; his point of contact said the end of December or beginning of January. I can’t believe that it is almost December, but if we can all make it through the upcoming holidays, things should be looking up by 2010. I know that Corey will like being back at work, and I also know that it will greatly improve his state of mind.

Unfortunately, the apprenticeship with the shipyard did not pan out as Corey does not have the required background in advanced math classes, which is a requirement for acceptance. By the time he takes the 12 hours of math and technology, he will have a semester of college completed. The way he looks at it, and I agree, is that if he has to take a semester of college to get into the program, which he would complete with an Associate’s Degree (four to five semesters of work), he might as well go ahead and register for classes and get his Associate’s in his preferred field.

With the upcoming position with Vane Brothers, the disappointment with the apprentice program has been cushioned, and Corey is looking forward to getting back on track professionally.

 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston S. Churchill

As for my own career, who knows? One of the areas that I would like to explore would be book indexing, which is something that I could pursue at home, which would allow me to work at a more comfortable pace without the pressures of a regular schedule. If anyone out there knows or works for someone who is looking for a book indexer, I’m available, and I’m good at it.

However, part of me really wishes that I could go back to a real job, one in which I interact with other grownups, have responsibilities, make a decent living with benefits. The reality is that I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do that again. But I’m not giving up on the idea entirely. I suppose that it’s just one more thing in my life for which I’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.

So other than those tidbits, I don’t have a lot to report, but here are a few thoughts for Friday:

  • How did Heidi Klum manage to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show only six weeks after giving birth to her fourth child? That woman must have incredible elasticity in her skin, that and very good genes.
  • Carol Hannah Design from Project Runway Finale
  • Speaking of Heidi Klum, Project Runway finished last night with Irina being declared the winner. Personally, I liked Carol Hannah, but I knew that Irina would win. That show is one of my guilty pleasures.
  • I read that a man in London has been found not guilty for strangling his wife. Apparently, he has suffered long-term from a sleep disorder and has automatism, a condition in which the sleeping individual has no control over his or her actions. Brian Thomas, the man on trial, strangled his wife because he mistook her for an intruder. Hmm, things that make you go hmm.
  • In Peoria, Arizona, a family’s home was burglarized. The intruders took electronics and a music box containing their deceased baby’s ashes. Man, I’d like to know what kind of person steals ashes.
  • Linday Lohan is upset that she wasn’t allowed to take $15,000 worth of jewelry from an event. She was promised between $1500 and $2,000 of loot for her appearance. Hello? I would show up wearing a gopher suit to get $1500 worth of free loot, and I wouldn’t complain. I mean, I’m a lot funnier than Lohan, whose only claim to fame at the moment is that she does nothing.
  • Hershey Co. is making a bid for Cadbury PLC. This disheartens me. I don’t really like Hershey’s chocolate, but I absolutely love Cadbury as it’s the chocolate that I ate as a child in England. Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bar, Cadbury Caramello. Um Um Good.
  • MSNBC regularly posts photographs of people who have had Ambush Makeovers. These are “Today Show” fans who are grabbed off the street and given a makeover. I wonder if they make house calls . . .
  • Speaking of house calls, I am seriously thinking of submitting our house for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” I know that we don’t have eight children, but geez, does every deserving family have to have a boatload of kids to qualify? What about normal everyday people who have a real need? Maybe they could consider someone like us for a change.
  • And speaking of houses, I’m not liking the current season of “House” that much. I mean, the two-hour season premier was wonderful, but since then, it doesn’t seem to have its usual bite.
  • Dr. Warner (Tamara Tunie) of Law & Order SVU
  • And while I’m on shows that have lost their bite, “Law & Order SVU” might be on its last leg. What makes that particular L&O franchise so good is the interaction with the criminals and the nature of the crimes themselves. This season is spending too much time on the personal lives—a show about Olivia, a show about Elliott, a show about Huang. An episode about ADA Paxton. Get back to the squad room and the victims.
  • The long nightmare is over: Jon & Kate are finally saying buh bye. Never watched the show myself, but am soooo tired of hearing about this two. And what’s with her hair?
  • And finally, an image of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus has appeared on a piece of glass in a church in Latvia. I don’t mean to be mean, but the image that they are showing looks more like the snow suits that Luke and Han wore on the ice planet in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Does that make me a bad person?

Many thanks to my comrade Janson Jones for the inspiring video. More later. Peace.

One of my all-time favorite songs: “Chances Are,” by Bob Seger and Martine McBride from Hope Floats.

 

If It’s Friday, It Must Mean Leftovers . . .

 

Key West lightning by Janson Jones

Key West Lightning by Janson Jones

 

Daniel: Don’t you know anything you can tell me?
Miyagi: Hai. No get hit.

Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance? 
Daniel:  Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?

justdrops by Reys from The Gold Puppy
"Just Drops" from The Gold Puppy

Massive thunderstorms in the area last night. I had to turn off my computer as I did not want to chance another freak power surge like the one that took out half of the house’s electronics a couple of years ago. So unfortunately, I did not get to post.

It was an incredible storm: brilliant flashes of lightning and resounding thunder. I’m glad that none of our current dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. Murphy, our last lab was terrified of storms and fireworks, and it just broke my heart to watch her. Her eyes would get big, and she would try to crawl under any piece of furniture that she could find, which is kind of hard for a lab.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that with Tillie, Alfie or Shakes. I believe they could sleep through just about anything, unless of course air happens to be circulating outside the door, in which case, they must move en masse to the living room and bark hysterically until someone yells at them to shut up. Then they all retreat back to the bedroom and become sleeping lumps again.

Miyagi: [shrugging] … Because sometimes, what heart know, head forget

Well Eamonn penned his first batch of thank you notes today. I was very proud of him; even though I gave him the three basic sentences that any thank you note should have—acknowledgement of being remembered, thanks for specific present, and closing thanks—he took it a step further and personalized all of his notes. How nice.

And he hasn’t given me any grief about imposing the thank you note restriction before he can actually have gift in hand. I thought for sure that he would quibble with me, but he has surprised me, so I need to take back any mean things that I may have been thinking about him, not that I would ever think any mean things about eldest son—after all, I’m his mother, and in my eyes, he can do no wrong . . .

Far North Bicentennial Prk Anchorage by JJ
Far North Bicentennial Park, Anchorage by Janson Jones
Perhaps he is on a new path. We’ll have to wait and see. Let’s move along. Shall we?
 

Daniel: Hey, where did these old cars come from?
Miyagi: Detroit.

The gardenias are in full bloom, and I’m keeping the house full of freshly-cut blooms. The front butterfly garden is starting to come into bloom as well. I’ll try to take some pictures and post them once we begin to attract butterflies.

GardeniasThat’s the highpoint of the summer season for me: watching all of the butterflies and moths dance through the blooms and leaves. I know, small things, but hey, I believe in appreciating beauty wherever I can find it.

About beauty, I’m featuring a few more picture from Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana blog in this post. He has been doling out the photographic gems from his Florida trip in between other posts, and I’m loving all of them.

Miyagi: Daniel-san, never put passion before principle. Even if win, you lose.

Speaking of Janson’s blog, I had to pause when I read his most recent posts on what is going on in Anchorage. Apparently there is a big brouhaha in the Alaskan city over a proposed gay rights ordinance. According to Janson’s post, the protests are over “Anchorage Ordinance Number 64, which is intended to provide extended and protective rights to gays and other minority groups in Anchorage.”

Ordinance 64 anti protest sign2Now let me pause here. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you already know how I feel about this issue. I am completely stupefied that society is still fighting over whether or not the GLBT segment of society deserves to be treated just like everyone else. But after seeing some of the signs being hoisted by the opposition, I must confess that I am beyond stupefied, beyond mortified. I am flapping my gums speechless (well, almost).

As you can see from the smaller sign in the picture on the right, the holder is purporting that “gays recruit children.” I thought that Ellen Degeneres clarified this particular nonsensical position years ago when she made it clear that for every person recruited, said gay person receives a toaster oven. It’s a joke, people. I mean really: “recruits children.” That is just feeble, uninformed, and sadly ignorant.

Or let’s take this sign: 98.5% of America is straight. That one really blew me away. I’m sure that it would shock many of these sign holders to find out just how many people in their lives are gay.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, “Nearly 550 people have signed up to testify on the ordinance, which would add ‘sexual orientation’ to the list of classes protected from discrimination. Classes already protected include race, ethnicity, age, sex, marital status, and others.”  For me, this just seems like a logical addition, an affirmation of civil rights, if you will.

The article continues: “In general, they argue that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be protected because of their immoral lifestyles, or that protection isn’t needed because discrimination doesn’t occur, or that passing the ordinance opens the door to same-sex marriage in Alaska and they don’t want that.”

I had my Irish up (which is pretty hard when you’re Filipino, and I hope that that idiom is not considered derogatory as I’ve used it for years) over the whole situation, but Janson, ever the logical, reminded me that “the fact that there were only three cops (that I saw) standing watch and smiles on most folks’ faces (most, but not all) is a reminder of what we do and can have in this country (violent nut-jobs excepted)—non-violent, peaceful activism, regardless of the merits or rationality of any given side’s actual argument. A few decades ago, rocks would’ve been thrown at the pro gay rights crowd and they wouldn’t have been able to demonstrate side-by-side.”

Janson’s observations were that instead of the opposing sides being physically separate, the pros and the cons were on the same side, mingling, and there didn’t seem to be any hate-speak going on.

Obama signing GBLT memoPersonally, I find that pretty amazing. I know that I fly off the handle pretty quickly when I learn of or see such things, and it’s nice to have a calmer voice reminding me of just how far those of us who believe in equal rights for all people have actually come.

That being said, we still have so far to go. Even President Obama’s recent Presidential Memorandum allowing for some extended benefits, such as visitation or dependent-care rights, to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees seems like a grain of sand in an hourglass that is bypassing the candidate of change.

DADT (don’t ask/don’t tell) was supposed to be repealed. Remember that promise? We’re still waiting . . .

Perhaps Obama plans to mete out change in tiny increments so that he isn’t shoving it down the throats of the Neo-Cons. But geez. DADT seems like such a no-brainer, at least to me.

Daniel: You think you could break a log like that??
Miyagi: Don’t know. Never been attacked by a tree.

Praying Mantis from Natl Geo
Praying Mantis from National Geographic (has nothing to do with this section; I just love the picture)

On to other things . . .

I learned today that the insurance company through which I receive my long-term disability benefits is denying my request for an upgrade of 6 percent as I paid for that option when I was actively employed by The George Washington University. Quelle surprise. The upgrade is supposed to be allowable for any non pre-existing conditions.

Well, my fybromyalgia was not diagnosed until November 26, 2007—after I had already been put on LT disability. However, just as I expected, the company found four pages of reasons as to why I do not qualify for this additional benefit for which I paid. Apparently, the doctor who diagnosed me did not list all of the criteria needed for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia according to the “American College of Rheumatology criteria.”

What is it with insurance companies that they will gladly take your money in premiums, but they will nickle and dime you to death over benefits owed you?

I really hope that Obama’s supposedsocialist health care reforms will somehow trickle down to me because my monthly premium for health care is unbelievably high, and it only covers me, not the rest of my family. Thankfully, the boys are covered by their father’s policy until they are 19 unless they are in college. Corey was covered by his former union, and that’s one of the things that we’re keeping our fingers crossed over until he gets his new job.

Daniel: Wouldn’t a fly swatter be easier?
Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.

I wonder if there is anything else that I can bitch about in this post? Not in the mood to tackle Rush today. That’s usually a post by itself. The situation with the mortgage? Too depressing. The Virginia Gubernatorial race? Not ready for that one yet. The current state of Izzie the Trooper’s health? She’s in the shop now getting an estimate on how many arms and legs they want to make her run again.

I did see something completely sweet today, though. Brett’s two gerbils—Ben and Jerry—were snuggled up in the corner of their home, spooning. It was an aww moment.

Mr Miyagi with Chopsticks
The late Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi

Let me leave you with this tidbit of information: PETA (yes I believe in treating animals well, but these people are way over the top), objects to the way in which President Obama killed the fly that was dive-bombing him during a television interview. If you recall, Obama slapped the fly in a Mr. Miyagi move and nailed it. PETA has sent the President a fly trap that will catch the fly, and then said pest can be released outside.

Okay. I don’t believe in killing crickets or praying mantisssses or ladybugs or similar beautiful insects because it’s bad joss. But flies create maggots. Maggots make me gag. Big time. Flies also transmit diseases. The Black Plague of Europe anyone? Remember rats? Flies? Lots of dead people. Unfunny.

PETA needs to get a grip. The President wasn’t shooting wolves from a helicopter or field dressing a moose in the Rose Garden. Those things are appalling, and we all know of someone who boasted about doing them. Killing a dirty fly that feeds on feces? I’m sorry, but I have to give the Prez a big Miyagi “hai” for that one.

I need to go read and put ice on my head. More later. Peace.

Daniel:You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.
Miyagi: You… pretty okay, too.

Oh yeah. The whole Karate Kid thing? I know. I’m a dork.

                                                                                                          

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Your Call Will Be Answered In The Order In Which It Was Received

Bureacracy and Me: Not a Good Fit

Being On Hold Does Not a Nice Lola Make

Did you know that Glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness in the U.S.? Did you know that exercising in cold weather has its hazards, like icy patches in the road if you are running? Do you know why I know these little tidbits? Because I stayed on hold an inordinate amount of time today trying to get through to the prescription center with whom my insurance is affiliated. It was wonderful. Every few minutes, a nice woman would come on and tell me that I needed to “please continue to hold as [they] were experience heavy call volume and someone would be with [me] soon.”

operatorI thought that that was terribly nice of her, to speak to each and every person on hold, who, if they were anything like me, were approaching the 20 minute wait time. But I really needed to speak to these people. I needed a new card, and I needed to find out how much longer it was going to take for the processing of the prescriptions that my doctor had called in on December 22. Boy was I in for a surprise, and it wasn’t a good one.

Live human being comes on the line, very nice human, only to tell me that there are no prescriptions in process for me. The last thing she has for me was in September. I patiently explain to her that I was standing next to my doctor when he was telling his assistant who was on the phone with my prescription provider at the time as to what to call in, and that was on December 22, the day of my appointment. Sorry, nice human being, apologizes, but we have nothing for you, and as a matter of fact, you account closed on December 31, so we cannot send you a new card or process any more prescriptions . . .

Long pause on my end . . . I’m sorry . . . what did you say?

Your account closed on December 31.

No, that’s not possible.

Still nice human: I understand, but perhaps you need to check with your provider. You can have them call back, and we can expedite your order.

Fine, through clenched teeth, trying to remember that nice human is only doing her job and has in no way caused this situation. I’ll have someone call you back. I hang up the phone and call my health insurance provider. On hold for about 20 seconds. Live human being, also nice asks for my ID number.

I reply, well that’s going to be hard since my wallet was stolen and my card was in it, and I need a new ID.

neon-fuschia-on-hanging-on-the-telephone
Hanging on the Telephone with Neon Fuschia

Oh, how terrible, says Live human, and asks for my birth date, address, all of the info to confirm I am who I say I am and not some nut job wanting an ID from a health insurance company who happens to know all of my bona fides. Oh, happy birthday early, she chimes.

For a moment I don’t know what she is talking about, and then I remember. Oh crap, another birthday, mine, this month. Shit. Great. Moving along.

She tells me I’ll get the card in about 8 to 10 days. I stump her with my next question: So I do have active coverage then?

Um, yes you do.

So I tell her my plight and ask if she’ll call my prescription provider and verify that I have coverage because I’m out of my migraine medicine, and things are getting critical. She tells me that she would if she could, but she can’t as she can only verify that I have health insurance, and I need to have someone else verify prescription insurance. At this point, I am totally lost because I thought that my prescription coverage was part of my health insurance. Obviously, I am mistaken.

So This Much is True

However, since it was a little past 5 and no one at GW main campus stays a second after 5, so my big plans for taking care of all of this unfinished business are screwed. I hate dealing with this stuff, that’s why I’ve put it off for so many days. I did manage to get Brett’s appointment straightened out, call his doctor’s office to get the letter faxed to his school about his absences, reschedule the orthodontist appointments, and find out that I don’t need an appointment for my stretchy/bendy test at the radiologist’s at the hospital. I know that it’s not called a stretchy/bendy test, that there’s some other name for it, but I figure that’s better than calling it a Gumby test. The point is that I have to stretch and bend and they take x-rays.

So tomorrow, I get to deal with GW Human Resources. I can hardly wait. I can’t hardly wait. Which is it? Which one is worse? If you can hardly wait, does that mean that you can wait forever? If you can’t hardly wait does it mean that you cannot wait at all? I’m confusing myself. The point is that a telephone call to GW Human Resources is akin to “Once more into the breach,” and I’m sorry dear Henry, but I just don’t have the stamina to go into the breach with you and on to St. Crispin’s Day.

But Wait, There is Good News After All

concretecherub013But there is some good news: It turns out that my picture of Caitlin, the one that I’ve carried around for 20 years, was not in the wallet that was lost/stolen. It was in my smaller card wallet. I don’t remember putting it there, so I never bothered to look. Imagine what a wonderful surprise it was for me to find it there when I was looking through my card case to see if I had perhaps lost my Social Security card as well (I had not). 

Finding that picture means more to me than I can possible put into words. It’s just a simple snapshot of me holding Caitlin; she is wearing a pink dress, and everything looks absolutely normal. That’s what is so wonderful about it. It’s before we knew that she was sick, before the operations, before the PICU, before all of the tubes, the intubation, the vials and vials of blood, the respiratory therapists, the neurosurgeons, the oncologists, the nights spent on vinyl furniture. Before life turned to hell. Life was still normal, and Caitlin was just my baby girl.

But that snapshot is one-of-a-kind. I don’t have the negative. I don’t have a copy. So whoever took my wallet, a belated Merry Christmas to you. I hope you really needed the money. We needed it, but maybe you needed it more. I got back the one thing that I truly missed, the thing that I thought was gone forever. Everything else can be replaced, even if it means staying on the phone forever listening to recordings and fighting with bureaucracies. You cannot take away the one thing that would mean nothing to anyone else.

And with that, I’ll close for now. More later. Peace.