Showing posts with label TuesdayRant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TuesdayRant. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Why Landlord and Tenants Can Never Be Friends

I know there are people who own lots of rental property and think it is a good way to make a living. I am not one of them. I have one house - an old farmstead my mother left me - and it is nothing but a curse.

People do not take care of places they rent. We install folks into a cleanly-painted, decent-looking place, and then they leave it looking like a trash pit.

Here is the most recent example.

This is what the place looked like before we turned it over.

Paneling and brown cabinets.

Freshly painted walls.

Fireplace with paneling. Nice floors.

Kitchen again.

Fresh paint. Nice floors.
And here is what it looks like a few days after my latest tenant vacated the premises:

Unauthorized painting of the paneling, and what the hell did they do the ceiling? And what's that black stuff on the walls? (See that one white ceiling tile? That's one I gave them to replace one that they said needed to be replaced because of a small leak. No one said a word about the whole ceiling being covered with … something. And the floors? Not so nice now.
They are so sticky you can't walk on them.

Unauthorized painting of cabinets. And again, what is that black stuff?

Did they sit around letting off smoke bombs? What?

Every room has black all over the walls.

My personal home hasn't been painted in years and if you took a picture from the wall you wouldn't be able to tell where it had been. WTF?

I certainly can't explain it.

Oh yes, let's just tear away the drywall in the bathroom while we're at it.

No clue what caused this. None at all.
And this, my children, is why landlords and tenants almost always have issues. Because the landlord expects the tenant to not live like a pig and smoke up the place and use incense or whatever went on here.

I couldn't make this much mess in three years if I tried. WTH is wrong with people?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

It is Who We Are

*Update* The news is reporting this morning (06/20/2018) that we have withdrawn from the U.N. Human Rights Council. The people running the country now are inhumane and isolationism is not the answer in a global economy. The more I read about this, the more I despise the current administration.

Written 06/19/2018

My Facebook page is littered with images and comments about the issue of the current administration's stringent policy of separating children from their parents at the border. Since I mostly only see liberal writings on Facebook, there is a lot of hand-wringing and cries of, "this is not who we are."

There are also commentaries from my non-liberal acquaintances, who, as best I can tell, think anyone who doesn't look like them is a little beast that deserves to be locked up. Those commenters are, I suppose, part of the 35% who agree with President Trump regardless of what he does. (At the moment about 65% of people don't like the separation of children and parents policy, 35% approve.)

I have refrained from commenting or posting about this issue not because I don't care about it (I certainly do) but because I tend not to have knee-jerk reactions to things and prefer to figure out what is really going on before I do make a declaration.

At the end of this piece, you'll see a list of recommended reading and you will find links within this blog post. These are resources I have looked at this morning in an effort to better understand this particular issue. You will note that I went outside of the US for some of my information, and some of it comes from senate hearings on immigration issues, and yes, even Fox News. (I will read stuff from Fox News but I am not fond of their website, which is full of video. I don't want to watch my news unless it is the local stations. I don't watch videos from many news organization. I prefer to read my news. And unfortunately the commentary from Fox News anchors is incredibly biased. They shouldn't be offering any commentary at all and simply let the issues speak for themselves. I don't care if you agree with me on that or not, that is real journalism and the commentary from Fox entertainers (I can't really call them journalists) makes me shudder.)

For the record, as a moral stance, I don't think parents and children who are having to wait for any length of time for a hearing on their immigration status should be separated. If you can warehouse children in a former Walmart building, you can warehouse the whole family there. I would think it would be cheaper to keep them all together.

I also fear that this type of action serves only to create hostility towards the US and that somewhere among the thousands of children currently not with their parents we are creating little terrorists who will one day blow something up, or the parents will do rash things to try to get their children back. We have already read of one man who killed himself after being separated from his wife and child. Love is a strong force and not to be underestimated.

But this issue, like any issue with the government, is complicated. For one thing, this does not all lay at Mr. Trump's feet (though much of it does). As much as I would like to place it there, because I do not like the man, as a former journalist I simply cannot do that.

The government has struggled with immigration policy for decades - or, if you really care to go back into history - for as long as the USA has existed. We are, after all, a people who separated native- born Americans from their parents and sent them to boarding schools to assimilate them.

We are also a people who put Japanese families into interment camps during World War II.

We're a people who hated Irish immigrants in the 19th century and didn't really care if they had no potatoes.

So to cry about current policies is a bit hypocritical if you haven't had the issue on your radar before now. If you're only upset about it because you dislike Mr. Trump, then I suggest you go find a corner and think about what it is you're really protesting. President Obama struggled with this. Presidents Bush and Clinton struggled with this. All administrations have.

As best I can tell, the current situation has been ramped up by a zero-tolerance policy enacted by the Trump Administration earlier this year. Over the last 20 years, the system of immigration has evolved and stems from at least three things: (1) a ruling known as the Flores Settlement Agreement (1997), which ensures that children who are removed from parents are treated humanly and given "food and drink, emergency medical assistance, toilets and sinks, adequate temperature control and ventilation, adequate supervision, and separation from unrelated adults whenever possible;" (2) the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and (3) The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.

The 1997 act came about as a result of a legal settlement and thus did not go through Congress - it is a ruling of law and Congress has not changed it. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 went through Congress and was signed by President George W. Bush. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, (which renewed a similar law from 2000) also went through Congress and was also signed by President Bush just prior to his leaving office a month later.

I do believe that the current reading and understanding of the Flores settlement which requires "separation from unknown adults" may be giving rise to some of this, and gives Mr. Trump's efforts to double down hard a semblance of legitimacy even though congressional leaders this morning are saying it is merely administrative policy pushing this. (Update: Here is a Snopes article claiming that the Flores settlement has no role in the current situation, meaning it is the current administration that is solely responsible for the "break up" of families. Also, here's a Washington Post article that discusses how this is Mr. Trump's policy, not a matter of law.) 

One of the most alarming items among the many things I read this morning was a statement given before the Senate Committee that Mr. Trump is seeking to undo the Flores agreement, meaning, I suppose, that children would not have food and drink, etc. What does he expect to do with them, then, if you do not treat them humanely? Does he plan to put them in hot abandoned Walmart structures and let them die? This perplexes me and I'm not sure why one would seek to undo something that ensures appropriate care of children.

A major question I have, not that it matters from a moral stance, is whether these are all people who are trying to cross the border illegally and sneak in or whether some of these separations are between people who are going through the process legitimately only to see their children removed from them. Nothing I have read this morning actually clears this question up for me. I suppose for some people any person who is not a US citizen who steps foot on US soil is an illegal immigrant even if they are standing in line to go through the appropriate hearings and processing. It doesn't really matter; I don't believe this separation of families is defensible regardless of the situation.

There is speculation that this policy has been enacted to force financing of the border wall, a big expensive structure that would cut across the borders between Mexico and the United States. (I have to wonder, given Mr. Trump's disgruntlement with Canada, if building a wall there won't be next.)

I don't believe in walls. They didn't work in Germany and they aren't going to work here. I see it as a big waste of money to assuage the ego of bigots and racists who prefer lily white subdivisions and who don't want to hear foreign languages spoken when they are shopping at Sam's Clubs. I would rather the money go to social programs that would make these same people, many of whom are on disability or living off of Social Security, feel a little more secure in their life. It is hard to feel secure if you're living on Social Security and the government, as it has for about 20 years, constantly says Social Security is broken and must end. But giving these folks some sense of security isn't going to happen. A fearful populace is easier to lead around by the nose.

The point of this little article is get to some version of truth of the matter (and offer a little opinion along the way - it is a blog, after all, not a newspaper.). The truth as best I can determine is that (a) Mr. Trump has escalated an already-existing issue to prove some point or to get something, or to rile up his base because it makes them happy to see others suffer or for other unknown reasons, (b) some of his administration believe we are a country ruled by the Bible and not the U.S. Constitution and law, which somehow justifies doing things that Jesus Christ himself would abhor, and (c) for me personally I find the separation of immigrant families an abhorrent abuse of power but, having not taken notice of it in the past, I really have no standing to raise my fist about it. I can say I don't like it but I also have to acknowledge that ultimately, this is merely a reflection of who we are.

I also don't like the changes to other immigration programs, the one that means children of illegal immigrants can be sent to countries they've never seen, and I don't like the fact that such enforcement has increased exponentially since Mr. Trump came into power. As The Guardian puts it:

When it comes to the undocumented population living in the US, in the administration’s eyes, there appears no longer to be any distinction between violent criminals and people who have been living quietly without legal status for decades.
From October 2016 to September 2017, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) said, it had apprehended nearly 38,000 individuals who had no criminal convictions – a 146% increase from the previous year.

I freely admit that I dislike the current administration and its policies. I do not like Mr. Trump as a person, and I do not like the people he surrounds himself with. I am not defending him here, (though I am afraid it might sound like it) but I am trying to understand a difficult subject with some objectivity.

The fact is, Americans are not nice people. We never have been. We like power, we despise change, and we all want to be rich. Not a bit of that is good. None of it is Christian. It may be a stereotype, and I know there are many exceptions, but the exceptions are not the rule.

Our current leader and his policies are a reflection of that.

Recommended reading:

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

Yesterday and today both should have been filled with solemn discussions about the content of Oprah Winfrey's great speech at the Golden Globe Awards Sunday.

Conversation should have centered around why so many women wore black, in a show of solidarity.

The topics on FB should have been discussions of ways to improve the lot of women in all facets of life, from being the drudge at home, where many husbands think they are guests and that their underwear magically finds its way into the washer and dryer and back into their dressers, to how to protect themselves from harassment and unwanted advancements in the workplace.

We should have been discussing boundaries, and what it means for each person to have a sacred space that we all respect and do not intrude upon without permission.

And what are we discussing?

Whether or not Oprah Winfrey should run for president.

:::face palm:::

I don't know where that came from. I imagine it went like this:

Powerful man #1: OMG! Oprah just said I can't touch my secretary's boobs! What do we do?
Powerful man #2: Deflect! Deflect!
Sheeple:  Oprah is going to run for president!

Are we really so downtrodden in the political sphere that one great speech is enough to bring out vast choruses of "run for the highest office in the land," or was this, as I believe, a media reaction to the content of Winfrey's speech, a reaction swallowed by all who regularly drink the Kool-Aid no matter its content, in order to create the atmosphere we have now, which is one not focused on the issues but instead a discussion of whether or not Winfrey should run for office.

Just another day at the circus that has become this country.

For the record, I heard nothing in Winfrey's speech that said she wanted to run for president. Nothing Winfrey has said or done makes me think she wants to be in politics.

So now instead of talking about something really important, everyone is talking about a supposition that is unlikely.

We have at our disposal social media outlets that could create intelligent, comprehensive dialogue that would create change and influence millions, if we would only use it that way. But what do we do? We put up cat videos and then make giant buttons that react to whatever the media wants us to react to, because again, we drank the Kool-Aid.

Why must people drink the damn Kool-Aid? Can they not think for themselves? Can they not see how they are being led around by the nose by the media, how the oligarchs who are in charge are simply playing with their strings and making them dance like little marionettes?

Have they all lost their minds?

If Oprah announces a run for president, then we can discuss it. Until then, we should ignore all the BS and get back to her speech and the topic she addressed. We should address this issue and other issues without all of this orchestration that surrounds every little thing. I feel like I am a tiny wee mouse in a corner with horns blasting at me from all directions, and behind every loud horn is a great big fool full of Kool-Aid. They are so loud I can't hear myself think. Not only that, they're all spitting on me and I don't like it. I can only take so much stupidity.

Jesus Christ, people. What is wrong with you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When Girls Go Missing

I am saddened that it seems like every time I turn on the TV, another girl has gone missing.

This is not just in my state, my little corner of the world, where girls go missing.

Lots of girls go missing every day. Why do girls go missing?

The most recent girl to go missing is another UVA student, up in Charlottesville, where it appears something is very wrong. Five women have gone missing in that area in the last five years. I have found references to girls going missing as far back as 1996 on the Internet. The Route 29 Stalker, some articles call it.
What frustrates me, though, is the "blame the victim" mentality. Why shouldn't a young woman be able to walk safely from one area of a city to another? Not just Charlottesville or Roanoke, but any city?

What gives anyone the right to touch some other human being, to reach into that personal space and cause physical harm, defilement, or death? What gives them the right?

They have no right. It doesn't matter if the girl has been drinking, what she was wearing, or how she was acting. That doesn't give anyone the right to harm another. It simply doesn't.

And yet the first thing I heard was "she'd been drinking" or "look at what she was wearing" or "why was she walking alone at 1 a.m." As if it is her fault. As if she is "asking for it" - why?

Why are the standards so different?

I am old enough now that I am always careful. But young people are not careful. When I was an older student at Hollins, the young girls had no qualms about running around a dimly lit campus without a care. Those of us who were a little older always made sure we had somebody with us when we walked to our cars. The young girls worried us then and that was 25 years ago.

So I am angry. I am angry that a young girl can't do what she wants and live her life as she wishes without doing it in fear. Because fear is what it is to be a woman in today's society. Fear of being alone with a stranger in a parking lot. Fear of going to the mall after dark. Fear of hurt, fear of pain, fear of drawing attention to yourself so that someone takes notice, and hurts you.

I am disappointed in the double standard. Why do we not have the righteous indignation that we should against these men who hurt women? Aren't they raised better? Are men really that primitive, that they can't control those urges, can't master their feelings, can't be human beings long enough to leave someone else alone? If that is the case, shouldn't they all be locked up somewhere, in zoos like animals? Doesn't the problem rest with them?

Why don't we ask those questions? Can someone tell me that? What is it always that poor missing girl's fault?

I consider myself a feminist, and as a feminist, this reaction angers me. If a young man was out running around shirtless at 1 a.m. and he went missing, would we ask the same questions? What was he doing out in the street without a shirt? Why was he drunk at 1 a.m.? No, we wouldn't ask these questions. They wouldn't even come up in the conversation.

There are facts, sure. The latest missing girl was wearing a crop top at a party. She'd been drinking. She was walking alone. But do those facts mean that she is to blame if she was assaulted, kidnapped, or killed?

Why do we blame the victim? In any assault, absolutely any assault, whether it's a mugging or a rape, a kidnapping or murder, it is not the victim's fault. The person at fault is the one who committed the crime. Always. Every time. Regardless of circumstance. Nobody "asks for it" or deserves it.

Just because I am female doesn't make it my responsibility to ensure I live. That is a societal responsibility. But I have a young niece to worry about, and she needs to be taught to be careful, to be alert, to be, I'm afraid, fearful of the world around her.

Because the truth of the matter is everyone make a mistake, and there is always some jerk out there waiting to take advantage of someone he considers "less than." And in today's world, in today's political climate, a lot of men think of women as "less than."

The media and the political arena have ensured that women are nothing more than political toys and they persist in dehumanizing females, from the abstract way they discuss our "lady parts" in the political sphere to the way they sell automobiles on television.

In an ideal world, no woman would have to worry about rape or murder. But we don’t live in that world. The best we can do is try to create that world. But does anyone really want that world?

Wouldn't there be more outspokenness, more objections, more efforts, if this type of activity were really unacceptable?

I am disgusted. I'm fed up with the media, with politics, with the whole damn patriarchal system that insists that I am less than human because I don't have a penis. What I want to know is, are you disgusted, too?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why Isn't This Fraud?

Having a medical condition that has forced me to delve into the recesses of the health care system has left me perplexed.

I have to wonder why the insurance companies, hospitals, medical device providers, and pharmaceutical companies, aren't all being charged with massive fraud.

"Free market" I guess is the answer, but if so, it is a sucky one and one that I do not accept. Because what is going on in the system in this country is, to be perfectly frank, wrong.

I am going to give you two examples from my own recent history.

In September, I received a CT Scan at one of the local hospitals. My insurance was billed $10,582.80 by the hospital for the procedure (this did not include ER or other tests, this was the CT scan only). The insurance company "allowed" $3,472.13, and that is what they paid as I had already met my out-of-pocket deductibles. (For my readers outside of the US, that is a cap the insurance companies place on policies. Once you pay X amount out of your pocket, then the insurance pays 100 percent of its allowable costs. It's very confusing.)

In April I had another CT scan at an affiliated satellite location with the same hospital. The charge for that scan was $7,949.00. The insurance company "allowed" $2,276.48, and I had to pay 20 percent of that "allowable" cost because I had not yet met my out-of-pocket deductible for this year.

When I go to my insurance company's website and look at their "estimate the costs" link for procedures, the cost for a CT scan of the abdomen with and without contrast (which is what I had), is less than $1,000. Good thing I wasn't depending on that to be right, huh?

How is this possible, you ask? Here's my understanding of it. The hospital "contracts" with the insurance companies and they make agreements about what is acceptable. You and I have no say in this matter. Neither does the government, except with government-paid policies (Medicare/Medicaid).

Obviously the hospital can afford to do a CT Scan for $2,276, the lowest price my insurance company "allowed," and not $10,582, the highest price the health care facility billed.

Read the comments on this website about the costs of CT Scans. One commenter claims to have been charged $252,000 for a CT Scan! Public bilking, anyone?

Here's the second example:

My doctor prescribed a TENS unit to help me with pain and so that I am not taking so many pain killers. A TENS unit sends electrical shocks into your muscles to trick your brain into thinking the spasms and pain aren't there. It helps.

The bill for the TENS was $795.00. The insurance company "allowed" $185, and I will have to pay 20 percent of that amount. The rest of the cost vanishes into thin air.

Last week I received a notice from the TENS unit company that it was time to get new electrodes (little pads that attach to your skin so that the electric current can go into your body). My insurance supposedly will pay 80 percent of the "allowable cost" for these supplies. This is my first time ordering them.

However, because of the "contract" with the company, and what may or may not be allowed, no one can tell me what my cost will be. I will be paying 20 percent of whatever the insurance company allows, as I understand it.

So I could be paying $2 or $200.

The company that sells the electrodes told me over the phone that they could sell them to me at the "out of pocket" cost (i.e., the cost without going through insurance), for $21.60 a pack. A pack, by the way, should last me 10 days. That is a lot of money.

What do you bet they charge the insurance company about three times that amount? And then the insurance company "allows" so much - but will it be less than $21.60 or more? I don't know.

So I asked my physical therapist today if they sell the electrodes by the pack. Why sure they do! For $9 a pack.

Will my 20 percent share on my insurance be more or less than $9 a pack? I don't know.

How am I supposed to make any kind of an informed decision about purchasing these items? How do you work that kind of thing into your budget when you don't know the amounts?

Tell me, somebody please, how all of this - this making up amounts and back-door dealing - isn't one great big fraud being perpetuated upon the American public. We Americans think we have the greatest health care system in the world when it really ranks 38th, right under the health care of Costa Rica and just slightly better than that of Slovenia! Slovenia, for Christ's sake. We are not number one. That would be France. Yes, France.

Health care should be regulated. Free market my ass. F--k capitalism and the so-called Free Market. This is nothing but a rape of the sick, who generally are too ill to fight and advocate for themselves. The greedy shysters in the industry know they can easily take sick people's savings, cars, homes, and lives. What a distasteful and immoral system we have, one that allows such devils to prey upon the weak. Blood sucking leeches, every last one of them, and they all should be behind bars serving time in jail.

This is why we need real health care reform, one with regulations, checks and balances, and oversight that keeps people who are ill from having to grow even sicker trying to figure out how to keep food on the table and the lights on.

Unfortunately, fraud is legal in US health care, where only dollar bills count and people are just so much chum in the ocean filled with sharks.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Put the Love Back

It will surprise no one that my Tuesday rant today will talk about the health business.

I'm not talking specifics, I'm talking about the state of the whole affair. Because our "health care" is no longer about HEALTH CARE. It's about money.

Anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves. Of course there are individual doctors out there who care very much about their patients, and who are working diligently to help. But they also see that the system is broken. I know this because some of them have told me so. That's one of the good things about being a reporter; you hear stuff. I know how to ask the right questions.

Wellness models would work much better, and that is what we should be working towards. We need more dieticians, nutritionists, and mental health therapists. We need folks who make calls and check up on people.

We need to put the love back in the system, and take out the greed.

I have tried many different ways to take care of myself. Some of those are non-western medicinal modes, such as acupuncture, Reiki, and Tai-Chi. I also like physical therapy (western style) and chiropractic care as healing modalities. I have found some benefit from all of them at various times. I prefer all of these to a traditional doctor's visit at a big facility (I do like my independent and feisty primary care doctor). However, western medicine has its place and can be useful. You can't heal a broken leg with acupuncture, after all, though you can certainly help it heal better.

The problem is, those types of healing modalities aren't quick fixes. We all want to be better in the next minute. We can't miss a day of work, after all (gosh, there's that money thing again). Hence the "pop a pill" mentality. Or the "blast it with chemo" mentality. Sure, these might work, but I have to wonder at what cost - not monetarily, but health-wise. What are we doing to ourselves?

I think diet changes would fix a lot of health problems, not just for me, but for the large majority of the population. If we have to have a nanny state to bring people back to good health, I don't have a problem with that. Outlaw big milkshakes and force the food suppliers to come up with safe ways to preserve products. Make sure every single additive in a food source has been tested, and not by the company that wants to use it, but by an independent laboratory. Our food should not be poison. I suspect a lot of it is.

When I was having a major surgery a year there for six years, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I found the best health care came not from the actual surgery, but from the healing hands of the nurses who soothed my brow and encouraged me to get out of bed by holding my hand, putting an arm around me, or gently touching my knee on their way out the door.

Touch is, I think, one of the most underrated healing modalities out there. We all need more of it. Go get a massage!

I am quite concerned by the lack of follow-up from western medicinal facilities. I have a friend with breast cancer who stopped going to her oncologist and switched her care to her breast surgeon (the oncologist office made her cry every time!). But the oncologist's office never once bothered to call and see if she was okay, if she was receiving treatment, etc. I know people have the right to refuse care, even to chose to die from what is ailing them, but somebody ought to at least make a phone call.

This cold callousness is going to be the death knell of the health business in the U.S. I predict people will turn more and more to alternative methods - and unfortunately to some of the quackery things that were predominate in the 19th and early 20th century (which will only make things worse) - if the health business in the US doesn't actually become true HEALTH CARE.*

*This has absolutely nothing to do with the Affordable Health Care Act. Health care had become a health business long before that became law. Just so you know.*