Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Horrors of VA Medical Care


My Own Story With the VA – I don’t often talk about it, but I am a disabled veteran.  I developed a service related disability while serving in the United States Air Force.  My military medical file was about eight inches thick.  I was paid $860 per month while serving as an E-5 in Hawaii with a family of four.  Our rent was $800 for a small two bedroom apartment.  My wife had to work for us to have food, clothing and transportation.  When I got out, July 4th, 1989 – oddly enough Independence Day, I filed for my disability claim as encouraged.  Although I had never taken food stamps or other subsidies I was qualified for while serving actively, I wanted to do right by family if my condition worsened.


After eight months and paying three times for medical records to be copied and lost, I was told they lost the originals too.  I could not get an appointment at the Phoenix VA Hospital.  I drove to Palo Alto, California, some nine hours away and waited for two days in the waiting room to be seen and told I had to go back to Arizona.  The military said they lost my DD-214 and records.  I was  a decorated veteran with several medals, awards and accommodations and they acted like I was a pest and didn’t exist.

I was going to give up completely, but my boss at the time happened to hear my tale of woe.  His brother was a high ranking attorney with the VA.  The same week, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) called to help me.  Finally, I got an appointment at the hospital in Phoenix to be evaluated.


I waited for five hours from the time of my appointment before I was seen.  The room was full of older veterans, obviously sick, and many had sat there for a day or more.  One was having severe PTSD and had been brought in a day and a half before by the police for trying to commit suicide.  They had still not seen him.  Growing hungry, he took his last money to the strip bar across the street to eat.  They made him buy two drinks, which led to another attempt to kill himself.  He sat next to me.

The bathroom had at least half an inch of tar like goo on it as if it had not seen a mop since the building was constructed.  The place stank.  Finally, someone who looked 18 came out and she condescendingly led away the older men to get “group counseling” from her.  What could she possibly know about these men?

Another hour passed and I was led to what looked like a closet, but turned out to be my “examination room”.  It had no medical equipment, just a movable bed.  The light was dim and in walked a man who looked Dr. Mengele, the German Prison camp experimenter.  He must have been in his eighties.  He could barely hear a word I said as I tried to catalog my list of medical history to him.  After ten minutes of mumbling, stumbling about, looking in my ears, throat and ears.  He wrote some notes and left.


I waited, trying to find anyone, couldn’t and finally left.  I was approved for my disability and received $94 per month.  I could get all my related medical care from the VA, including pharmacy.  Instead, I bought my own healthcare coverage and pay more in co-pays for medicine than I receive for disability.  In theory, if I get worse, my disability amount could go up to 100%, that is if I could see anyone.  I was afraid to receive care from the VA.  I was afraid they would mess up my medicine and poison me.  I have never gone back to the VA and never will.

When I bought my first house being “compensably disabled” saved me some financing fees, like around $800.  The second house, maybe $1,200.  If I ever want a federal job, I am told my disabled vet status will give me points towards hiring determinations.  No thanks.


Another Story with the VA – My late father-in-law had a great friend that we met a few times.  He was a nuclear engineer and developed early Alzheimers.  Unable to work, his family, wife and kids all, left him.  My father-in-law tried to help him and look after him, but being in the nuclear industry himself, he had to move around a lot.  Finally, this man, in his early fifties, was brought incoherent to a VA hospital.  As a retired veteran, they were to look after him.  He died soon after in the hospital.

The horrifying fact is that he died of dehydration and starvation because because the staff at the hospital forgot he was there.  They never fed him or changed his IV bags.  They stumbled across his body, dead on his VA hospital bed, a day or two after he had died of neglect.


The Phoenix VA Hospital – Now it comes out that at least forty people have died recently because our VA hospital won’t see them.  One was urinating blood.  He died two months later never having even seen a doctor once, despite showing up constantly asking for help.  Apparently, they kept two lists.  You type in your information in the computer, but they print it and don’t save it.  They only enter it in the “official list” if you get an appointment.  Over 1,600 people think they are waiting for appointments and are not even entered.  This according to a doctor whistle-blower.  I can’t begin to express my anger and hatred towards people who bragged earlier this year about their great wait times for care and received bonuses while letting my fellow veterans die.


Throughout history, countries celebrate “their” victories in battle while shunning their troops as outcasts.  Our own Department of Homeland Security calls them domestic terrorist risks.  They go into war torn areas and risk life and limb, but are not allowed to carry weapons and defend themselves on our own bases.  The VA put out a book on how older veterans should consider if they want to extend their lives and be a burden on their family or refuse care and let themselves die.  Veterans are great off fighting wars, but societies do not welcome them back.

It’s time for it to stop.  Our veterans risked all for virtually no compensation.  They gave the best earning years of their lives, sometimes their lives or pieces of their bodies to protect you.  All of us are volunteers.  We did this for you.  Don’t let this happen to our veterans.  Join me in contacting your Senators and Congressman.  If they can waste billions spying on Americans, taking cattle, wire tapping allies and flying the First Family on vacations, just where does basic medical care for our veterans rank?  We can spend trillions on the Affordable Health Care Act but nothing to serve our veterans’ needs?


I was told while I was active duty that I would only get good care while active.  Once retired I was told, they had no use for me and not to count on getting the medical benefits they promised.  The old-timers were certainly right.



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Chunk of Africa found underneath Southeastern US


Chunk of Africa found underneath Southeastern US


This is an aeromagnetic map of the eastern margin of North America showing, among other things, Brunswick magnetic anomaly (BMA) and East Coast magnetic anomaly (ECMA).COURTESY OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

Geoscientists have identified a chunk of Africa stuck onto the southeastern United States.

A long mysterious zone of unusual magnetism that stretches from Alabama through Georgia and offshore to the North Carolina coast appears to be the suture between ancient rocks that formed when parts of Africa and North America were pressed together 250 million years ago. If so, Africa could have left a lot more behind in the American southeast when the conjoined continents rifted apart and formed the Atlantic Ocean.

“There are some large faults in the magnetic data,” said geologist Robert Hatcher of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, regarding what is called the Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly and other magnetic features in the region. “They have not been active for a very long time. They are strike-slip faults like the San Andreas today. But there’s also younger fall with opposite direction.”

The faults appear to be the remains of the collision and then messy divorce of Africa and North America.

“There was an attempt to rip away Florida and southern Georgia,” said Hatcher. “So you have a failed rift there. We know there’s a suture there between African crust and newer crust from the Appalachians. There are pieces of crust that started in Africa.”

A rift is what happens when the crust is pulled apart. When that happened 200 million years ago, 50 million years after African and North America collided, it appears to have started near the old collision zone, but then shifted to weaker crust to the east.

That rift zone split open and caused volcanic eruptions which created new oceanic crust — what is today the crust of the Earth under the Atlantic Ocean. The rifting continues today at what’s called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

“The age of the suture zone is believed to be about 250 million years old, but that’s not very well constrained,” said geologist Elias Parker, Jr., of the University of Georgia in Athens. He published a paper reviewing what’s known about the Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly in the latest issue of GSA Today.

The big challenge in sorting out the history of the southeast U.S. is that there are intriguing magnetic signals, as well as gravimetric measurements, but there is not enough deep borehole studies or seismic data to confirm the faults and the proposed scenarios.

“There are deeper faults and more shallow features,” said Parker. “It makes the interpretation really challenging.”

Among the seismic projects that could help increase the resolution of the structures, said Parker, is the Southeastern Suture of the Appalachian Margin Experiment (SESAME) and the Suwanee Suture and Georgia Rift Basin Experiment.

“This is just the start to understanding the structure of the southeast U.S.,” said Parker. “What I’m trying to do is come up with a simple explanation for this.”

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Psychological Life Hacks That Successful People Use

Brilliant Psychological Life Hacks That Successful People Have Been Using Forever

These 24 psychological life hacks have been practiced by successful people for years, and it’s time you took advantage of these mind tricks that can vastly improve your life. These small shifts will give you greater control of potentially important outcomes, from everyday situations to stressful job interviews. I’ve adapted these awesome pieces of advice from an AskReddit thread on the topic.

1. Primacy and recency: people most remember the first and last things to occur, and barely the middle.

When scheduling an interview, ask what times the employer is interviewing and try to be first or last.RLLRRR

2. If you work in a bar or in customer service of any kind…

…Put a mirror behind you at the counter. This way angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves in the mirror behind you and the chances of them behaving irrationally lowers significantly.iHave1PenisAMA

3. Once you make the sales pitch, don’t say anything else.

This works in sales, but it can also be applied in other ways. My boss at an old job was training me and just giving me pointers. I was working at a gym trying to sell memberships. He told me that once I got all the small talk out of the way and presented the prices, that the first person to talk will lose. It didn’t seem like a big deal but it actually worked. Often there were long periods of awkward silence as the person tried to come up with some excuse, but usually they bought. The Dude K Smooth

5. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait.

If you stay silent and keep eye contact they will usually continue talking.Drink4Pink

6. Chew gum when you’re approaching a situation that would make you nervous like public speaking or bungee jumping.

If we are eating, something in our brain reasons ‘I would not be eating if I were danger. So I’m not in danger’. Has helped calm me a few times.Xcellardoor

8. People will remember not what you said but how you made them feel.

Also most people like talking about themselves so ask lots of questions about them.LibbyLibbyLibby

9. When you’re learning something new, teach a friend about it. Let them ask questions.

If you’re able to teach something well, you understand it.MoreWhiskeyPls

10. If you get yourself to be really happy and excited to see other people, they will react the same to you.

It doesn’t always happen the first time, but it will definitely happen next time.Captain Capybara


11. The physical affects of stress – breathing rate and heart rate – are almost identical to the physical affects of courage.

When your feeling stress from any situation immediately reframe it: your body is getting ready to be courageous, it is NOT feeling stress.EdrawDe

12. Pay attention to people’s feet.

If you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they don’t want you to join in the conversation. Similarly if you are in a conversation with a coworker who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end.-eDgAR-

13. Fake it till you make it; confidence is more important than knowledge.

Don’t be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask.

14. If you pretend to be something for long enough, you will eventually become it.

15. Not to be creepy, but if you want to stare at someone unashamedly, look directly past them and wait for them to try and meet your eyes.

When they fail to do that, they’ll look around (usually nervously for a second) they won’t look at you again for some time. This is your chance to straight up stare at this person for at least 45 seconds.Yorpel_Chinderbapple

16. Build a network.

Become their information source, and let them be yours. Even grabbing a beer with a former colleague once a year will keep you in the loop at the old office. Former coworkers might have gotten a new position in that office you always wanted to work in, great! Go to them for a beer, and ask about the office. It’s all about connections and information.FRIENDLY_CANADIAN

17. If you are angry at the person in front of you driving like a grandmother…

Pretend it is your grandmother, it will significantly reduce your road rage

19. Stand up straight

No slouching, hands out of pockets, and head held up high. It’s not just a cliche — you literally feel better and people around you feel more confident in you.FoolTarot

20. Avoid saying “I think,” and “I believe” unless absolutely necessary.

These are phrases that do not evoke confidence, and will literally do you no good.FoolTarot

21. When feeling anxious, clean up your home or work space.
You will feel happier and more accomplished than before.FoolTarot

23. Always buy the first pitcher or round of drinks.

You’d be surprised how long you can drink on the phrase “I bought the first one.”

24. Going into an interview…be interested in your interviewers.

If you focus on learning about them you seem more interesting and dynamic. (Again, people love to talk about themselves.)Mackin37

25. Pay Attention Parents: Always give your kid a choice that makes them think they are in control.

For instance when I want him to put his shoes on I will say ,”do you want to put your star wars shoes on or your shark shoes on?”

Pro-tip: In some cases, this works on adults. MasterLogician

27. Your action affect your attitudes more than your attitudes affect your actions.

As my former teacher said “you can jump and dance FOR joy, but you can also jump and dance yourself joyful.”Buddhainhair

28. When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to in that group.

29. If you want to build rapport or gain someone’s trust quickly, match their body posture and position.

If someone is sitting with her legs crossed cross your legs. If they’re leaning away from you mean away from them. If they’re leaning towards you, lean towards them. Mirroring and matching body position is a subconscious way to tell if someone trusts you or is comfortable with you. If you’re sitting with your arms crossed and you notice someone else is sitting with her arms crossed, that is a good indicator that you have/are successfully built/building rapport with that person.Chesstarian

Did I miss anything? Leave psychological life hacks you’d recommend in the comments and I’ll be sure to add them. Thanks for reading and sharing.

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Chalk Board Ad Humor

A strange assortment of bar and restaurant humor…

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Strange Epiphanies

I have had countless epiphanies in my life.  Most of them were of great importance, but others were just strange.  I was thinking about some of the strange ones this week and thought I might share them.  Let me know if you have similar ones.

An Epiphany – Any moment of great or sudden revelation.

1)  One of my favorite cereals growing up was those sugar encrusted colorful rings of fruit flavors.  Not Trix, the round balls, but the ones shaped liked Cheerios.  Despite having seen the boxes and read them over and over as a child, I was serving them to my own children when I was in my early thirties when I realized they are not Fruit Loops – but instead are Froot Loops.

For some reason I found it deeply disturbing at an intellectual level to have deliberately misspelled breakfast cereal and to not have noticed for two decades.  I kept holding the box in my hands in disbelief.  I looked them up online.  I quizzed others if this was a recent change.  I even stared at aisles of cereal in the supermarket for weeks in silent despair.  Why such a revelation was so unsettling I don’t know.  It was quite an epiphany though to know that I, spelling bee champion so many times over, could not even notice my second favorite cereal was misspelled.  Yes, I did check my favorite, Lucky Charms, to confirm its spelling immediately… Whew…

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2) Peppermint Patty from Peanuts was Lesbian.  “It’s safe to say that Peppermint Patty’s relationship with “best friend” Marcy is more than a little Sapphic. Nether girl embraced the softer side of the feminine, but Marcy leaves no doubt about their assumed roles by referring to Patty as “Sir.” Couple that with Patty’s tomboy fashion choices and strong athletic ability and you have a girl who definitely lets you know which way she swings.” [SheWired]

I always liked Peppermint Patty, but I never got the Marcy thing or why she called her “Sir.”  As an adult, it now all makes sense.  There are many cartoon characters which were obviously intended to be lesbian, gay, or other sexual preferences.  It doesn’t really bother me at all.  As a kid, you just want to know the show is fun.  Some point to Velma on Scooby Doo as well, or other characters.  The one I can’t take seriously is He-Man from Masters of the Universe.  I watched that show with my kids and thought it was silly.  Now that I see He-Man I can’t believe I missed the obvious portrayal.  Still, those who worry about tele-tubbies and such things are worried about the wrong things.

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3) I lost a bet on this in high school to my friend Mark Tunnell.  Those sweetened candy cherries we all call “Mara-sheeno” cherries are actually pronounced “Mara-skeeno”.  I have found many words since that are pronounced incorrectly, but if you pronounce them the right way people look at you strange.  This is one of them.  If you are good at something, they often say it is your “for-tay” when in reality it is your “fort”, spelled forte.  If you have an entryway, they say it is your “foy-er” but in this case it is your “foy-ay”, spelled foyer.

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At first, met with these revelations, I pronounced things correctly, only to find that people looked at me strangely.  When I explained I was correct, I looked like a smart-ass.  Now I try to avoid the words, or simply pronounce them wrong.  I still have words I read wrong.  For a long time I read “misled” as “mize-uld” instead of “mis-led”, though I have no idea why.

4)  Growing up poor white trash with a family from the South led me to a very strange vocabulary.  A syringe was a “shot giver”, a stream was a “crick” and if someone was fatigued, they were “tarred.”  They used to say strange things.  I still think of all carbonated beverages as Coke.  Even though we drank RC Cola with Moon Pies or Grape Nehi, we were always drinking a Coke.

It took me the better part of forty years to cleanse my vocabulary of words that do not exist in most parts of the United States.  Unfortunately, growing up in California then living in Hawaii, I developed a nasal surfer accent that even at 50 makes me sound like a teenage valley boy about to go boarding.  To some extent, I passed this accent on to my son as well.  So, you can take the vocabulary out of the man, but not the accent.  As a result, I avoid phone calls and have all my message machines recorded by others.  Almost as bad as seeing my own picture is hearing my own voice on a recording.

5)  Back to Scooby Doo – Ok, Preppy guy and gal having sex, Velma of unknown proclivities, and Shaggy stoned all the time giving his dog snacks.  Those meddlesome kids indeed.  Always finding some monster with a mask on and yet I was surprised every time as a kid.  I did wonder why college age kids always seemed to have time to roam around in a van.  Now I realize you had at least one trust fund kid and their fellow bohemians roaming around doing whatever and trespassing everywhere they went.

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6)  HR Puffinstuff.  Loved this show with the Bananamobile, etc.  Even made a model of the vehicle.  How could I, even as a kid, not get that this was a psychedelic hippy drug show?  More obvious than Cheech and Chong, your main character has big dialated eyes, weird colors and calls himself puffing stuff.  The Banana mobile is where they got high on mellow yellow and then had their “adventures.”  I was crushed when it was cancelled and now wonder how they ever got on the air at all.


7)  All those shows we thought were great in the 60s and 70s and so much better than todays, really suck.  The wonder of Netflix is that you can watch an entire season in one day if properly fixed for coffee and you care nothing for your own health.  The downside is they have all those old “great shows” when writers really cared and acting was great.  OMG!  I started watching some old Mission Impossible, Adam-12, Kolchak the Night Stalker, X-Files, etc.  Ok, I remember them being MUCH better.  Watching them now…not so much.

Is it nostalgia that made us think they were so good?  Is it just because I was younger and had a less developed mind?  Who knows, but watching old TV shows really does show you that today’s shows like Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, etc. are really much better.  Will we look back with reverie at these shows now only to watch them twenty years later and grown?  Who knows?

8)  This generation.  Most were not old enough to remember Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan as President.  Most do not remember the Cold War or the explosion of growth and technology in the 1980s.  I grew up freezing water and using an ice pick to get ice for a drink.  We had no cell phones, no pagers, no ATMs, no computers, leaded gasoline for 23 cents a gallon called Ethyl, no microwaves, etc.  The mall was the big invention.  MTV came out when I was in high school and played music videos.  Only the cool kids could stay up to watch Saturday Night Live which was considered evil.

I try to think of how people under thirty view the world.  I keep up on the latest, but their generation lives on the latest.  A recent survey showed that twelve year olds were unable to figure out what a Sony Walkman did.  We laughed at eight track cassettes, but now cassettes, floppy disks, VHS, Beta, records, record stores, everything we knew is gone.  My kids never had to go to the bank with a passbook before 3pm when it closed, and have a teller write their balance in ink, knowing if they lost the book they could not prove they had money in the bank.

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As technology accelerates, one generation has a greater gap than ever from the prior one.  For thousands of years, the next generation could learn lessons and live their lives much as the last.  Now, my early life is like a caveman compared to a Victorian era industrialist.  I don’t think that despite this epiphany, I still REALLY understand just how different this generation is.  I can’t even imagine how different the next will be from the current one.  We are really moving fast in the most rapidly changing culture ever in the history of mankind.

9)  Listening to Jeopardy, I found out that Jackie Gleason considered suing The Flintstones.  Apparently, the cartoon was a total rip-off of the Honeymooners, including plot lines and even copying the voice of Jackie Gleason’s character for Fred.  Wow.  Totally makes sense now, but I had no idea…  In the end, he decided not to sue the cartoon, which went on to be the longest lasting cartoon in history and the first successful one in prime time until The Simpsons.  I wonder whether The Simpsons’ characters are as original as we think…

Those are just some of my revealing thought moments.  What about you?

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Cute Dog Pictures for Your Monday

Cute Dog Pictures for Your Monday

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Why the Big Fight Over the Cattle?

For most people, the whole stand-off over cattle in Nevada does not make much sense.  As a person who grew up in the west, I would like to explain the problem.  When America finished the Civil War, most of the western side of the continent were territories, not states.  Unlike the East, and the Mid-West, the federal government insisted that these Western states turn over most of their land to the federal government in order to become states.

The difference in federal land ownership is amazing, as shown by some following maps.  However, in my state of Arizona, if you add State, City and County property, only about 10% of our state is open to private ownership.  The federal government promised the people living here they could lease the land for various rights, such as grazing, mining, and forestry.  The proceeds were to go for setting up schools and higher education universities.  These promises were not kept on revenues, and increasingly the federal government has restricted usage.

In the case of the recent flare-up, the cattle rancher’s family has lived and grazed on that federal land for over a hundred years.  There was a dispute over money.  So, the federal government went in with military vehicles, SWAT teams and actually stole all his cattle, as well as now putting liens on the land that he owns privately.  The reason?  To protect a desert tortoise.  The same desert tortoise the federal government debated exterminating as a pest less than ten years ago, and for which there is no example of a cow ever stepping on or disturbing one.

The owner of the ranch is misplaced in his arguments, but the outrage that the West is owned by the federal government and we all live subject to their whims is growing.  The embassy in Benghazi, Libya can be attacked, people killed, and have no military response.  The Secretary of State can testify “who cares why it happened?”  But want your cattle back, and you are faced with hundreds of troops in body armor with automatic weapons.  Show up to express your first amendment rights, and they try to huddle you into a square without restroom facilities or water.

The federal government spends more money taking away your freedom, monitoring your life, controlling you and your property and has a larger domestic armed force than our national defense spends on foreign threats.  While the Department of Defense is reducing to 300,000 troops, the lowest since 1940, we have added 120,000 domestic troops armed with the same surplus weaponry for FEMA, game and fish, land bureau, ATF, Park Services, Wildlife services and a host of other agencies that would shock you.

My fear is that the continual federal overreach will spark a violent confrontation similar to Waco where it becomes clear that defying our government will result in armed force.  After such an event, it will be an excuse to further disarm honest citizens and give federal agencies military equipment.  What are the “rules of engagement” for the Land Bureau?  Are we crossing the threshold from freedom to simply doing what the government tells us or face armed force?

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