Thursday, November 5, 2015

Do Internet Health Forums Ever Help Anyone?

en.wikipedia.org
    For many years I have suffered from breathing problems related to a combination of Chronic sinusitis and GERD. I have even published a couple of articles on HubPages about this. The first one was called "The Scourge of Chronic Sinusitis and GERD Combination"in which I described my symptoms and what medical help I was receiving. Four years later I published another article called "What is Really Wrong With Me?" in which I shared my my thoughts and feelings of not being able to have received any help with these conditions. I really had hoped that by publishing these articles someone would comment about how they had found something to help them, if they were suffering from the same conditions.

    I have seen a number of doctors here in the US and in Malaysia, who had no idea what I was talking about and even shrugged off my complaints.  The only diagnoses I have gotten were either GERD or Chronic Sinusitis with associated asthma symptoms. COPD was ruled out, even though I have been prescribed with COPD medications, which did not help. I have tried every inhaler and nasal spray that is on the market, with no results. Because I could not get any answers from my doctors I began visiting numerous Health Forums related to respiratory or breathing problems. On these forums I found large numbers of people suffering from the same maladies as I have been suffering with.  I have spent hours reading the accounts of their symptoms and what they have done to alleviate them.  Some of them have tried the same medications that I have tried and were helped; while others were not. The consensus was that most, if not all, of these people have been suffering, sometimes for years, but have not gotten any real relief. It is very discouraging for me and I'm sure for everyone else not to be able to get some sort of relief so that we may be able to live a normal life.

    What really makes me mad is that every once and a while a doctor will reply to some of the patients sharing their symptoms, telling them to contact their physician! On some of these health forums the patients actually pay for a online consultation and share the results on the forum. Once again they were told to contact their physicians. What kind of morons are these doctors that they don't listen to what is being said? For years we all have been going to our physicians and hearing the same thing over and over, before we're told to "learn to live with it" or some other asinine excuse for not knowing what is wrong!

    I'm not complaining about these forums, on the contrary, I am grateful to them for the support they offer me and thousands of other people. I just can't understand that after all of the forum posts over a period of years why there has not been one single healthcare professional who has offered some consolation or other ray of hope.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Do you want to get rich quick?


 



A few weeks ago I was thinking about something that I could do to earn a little extra money, while sitting at home. I am retired and I have a good deal of free time to spare, so I thought working online would be a good idea. I searched the internet looking for online jobs to make extra money. There were thousands of sites promising to make me rich. Everything from medical transcription and starting my own business to taking surveys. Many sites required and investment or possession of some sort of certification.
After some consideration I decided upon taking surveys as this did not require any investment or special training. I chose 3 sites to join and proceeded to make my fortune. I found that there are quite a number of surveys out there, but qualifying for them was most difficult. A few times I spent approximately 3 hours searching for surveys and only finding one or two where I was accepted. Many times I would be more than half way through a survey only to be disqualified for no reason. Most of the time spent was for answering questions just to qualify for a survey.
The testimonials on all of these survey sites proudly proclaim incomes in the hundreds of dollars of week for a few hours of work. The average survey I found paid about $.38 to $.50 for a 20 to thirty minute survey. Surveys that paid $1 to $2.00 required a credit card and an investment of money up front. In 7 days time, spending about 40 hours on the computer I made about $20! So if a person were to make say $200 a week, he would have to be qualified for every survey he attempted and successfully complete each of those surveys. The most he would probably earn would be $1 and hour doing 3 twenty minute surveys. He would be working approximately 200 hours to accomplish this goal. This is definitely NOT part time work and definitely NOT a way to get rich quick.The old adage, "if it's too good to be true, isn't" certainly applies here.
It has been a few months since I stopped the nonsense of filling out surveys, but I am still not free from the effects of doing the. For about a month I would receive about 3 to 4 phone calls trying to sell me health products. At first I politely refused and told the caller not to call me again, but the calls continued. Each time a different caller, each with an Indian accent, would call and ask for me as he mispronounced my name. The more calls I received the angrier I would get in telling them not to call. They seemed not to care and continued talking until I hung up. Eventually the frequency of the calls ebbed, until I would receive maybe one call a week. For now they hopefully have stopped. I would strongly recommend to anyone who wanted to make some extra cash by taking surveys that they think twice about it, an definitely do not give out a telephone number, home address or email address.



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why Isn't God Talking With Us Anymore?







    I was raised as a Catholic and attended Catholic schools from elementary through high school. One thing that wasn't really tolerated was questioning the nuns or priests. I guess that is what made me a good Catholic. I was expected, like all good Catholics, to never question the teachings of the Church or anything the nuns or priests said for that matter. After high school and attending a public college I grew up and developed a mind of my own. As I grew older I would often lay awake at night thinking about God or religion in general. I never spoke with anyone about my thoughts and questions, as I was not looking for answers or explanations, especially from the clergy or so called religious Christians who were very public about their beliefs. I have found that many religious people, including priests and other clergy simply accept what they have been taught or told, or what they have read in the Bible and never seriously think about what they are told or read. I simply wanted and still want to explore my thoughts or have an open discussion with like minded people.
One thing I often thought about, and still do, was the number of times God has spoken to us human beings. I continue to particularly think of this as I hear about the violence and terrorism perpetrated in God’s name and wonder why God doesn’t do or say something about this. The only evidence we have that God ever talked to us is taken from the Bible. But we have to realize that the Bible was written by men to be read by people who were both uneducated and superstitious and living in a male dominated society. We also have to realize that the Bible is comprised of just a fraction of the books written and those were chosen by a group of Catholic male officials of the Church who were more interested in maintaining and growing their power than they were in historical accuracy or truthfulness.
    That being said let’s look at the times when God spoke with man. According to the Bible it appears that God spoke with a number of people. He first spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden. Apparently God did not speak to Eve, as in keeping with the times women were not regarded with high with esteem. He spoke with Noah when he told him to build an ark in preparation for the great flood. He spoke with Moses when he gave him the Ten Commandments and then he spoke with Abraham asking him to sacrifice his only son. God also spoke to Cain after Cain killed his only brother Abel. God didn’t speak to Mary, but sent his messenger, Gabriel, to announce to her that she would give birth to Jesus. So God seemed to be quite talkative from the creation of Adam and Eve up to about 2000 years ago. What I don’t get is, why God was so talkative back then and suddenly he became silent. All through our history of wars, killings, and other types of violence he hasn’t said anything.
During the present times tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered in God’s name, but he hasn’t said a word. He hasn’t condemned those killing and perpetuating violence in his name. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in natural disasters and he has said nothing. I don’t understand why God was so verbose thousands of years ago and then suddenly went silent in modern times. Could the writers of the Bible simply be saying that God spoke to certain people in order to add some credulity to what they were teaching ignorant and uneducated people on how to behave? Was it simply a means to control the population? Many people in the present time have said that God has spoken to them, but it is either a case of trying to control people or a mental disorder. Some of our politicians have even resorted to saying that God has spoke to them, presumably to gain support from Christian Conservatives. We all have seen incidences where obviously mentally ill people have believed that God was talking to them and even thought that they were Jesus Christ. Could this be the case with those incidences in the Bible? I don’t believe that mental illness was recognized in Biblical times. I believe that in those times people suffering from mental illness were regarded as being possessed by the devil or as simply sinful.


     I still lie awake at night with the same thoughts and questions. I guess I will never know the answers to my questions. But as I grow older I want to know why God just doesn't come down from heaven in a spectacular event and just tell people to quit killing each other in his name. I don't think that will ever happen and so my questions will continue.



Friday, October 2, 2015

This Time Oregon!






    Well it's happened again! Another mass shooting at a school. This time in Oregon. I wrote a post about a year ago on this very same subject called "Another School Shooting"and there have been several more shooting since them. I have not written posts on the other shootings, even thought I am both saddened and angered, but it seems futile to say anything.  The rest of the world looks upon us as a savage and dangerous country and they are correct. They and the majority of the people living in the US cannot understand why we continue to allow this to happen.

move-us-forward.com
    We are putting billions of dollars into the war on terrorism, but nothing fighting gun violence in this country. Why? Two reasons. The first is that the fighting terrorism is a big business for US companies which supply the military. The second is that these same businesses would lose money if guns were not as available as toys. The NRA owns the majority of Congress, especially Republican Conservatives. There have been measures to control who can purchase a weapon, such as background checks, but they have been defeated by the Republicans every time.

    After every tragedy the Republicans come before the cameras to offer their prayers and say that "this is not the time to discuss gun control". This is bullshit. When is the time? They are so afraid that they will lose their funding and other perks from the NRA that they are willing to let thousand of their fellow citizens, young and old, to die senselessly. It's about time our elected officials grew a set of balls and started working for the American people, instead of the NRA! Over 80% of Americans are in favor of gun control, but the Republicans bow to the NRA.  The NRA should also be labelled a terrorist organization, as it advocates the free use and distribution of the means to kill thousands of people.

    We always hear the arguments from those mental midgets supporting open carry laws and opposing any kind of gun control that the President is trying to take their guns away and we have to support the Second amendment. No one is trying to take their guns away! All we want is for sensible control of who can purchase and use a gun, such as background checks. There are more stringent controls on who can have a driver's license or adopt a pet than there are on who is allowed to own a gun. No other country in the world has this violent problem, even though guns are allowed for hunting and sport or target shooting.  But some people in this country thnk they should be allowed to buy and use assault weapons, whose main intent is to kill as many people as possible.

    I don't think things will change at all in this country, because of the ignorance and paranoia of a minority of the citizenry and the greed and arrogance of the NRA and their bought and paid for politicians.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Francis Visits the US

en.wikipedia.org 

    I am not a religious person, but I do admire Pope Francis and what he stands for. I was baptized a Catholic and attended Catholic elementary and high schools. As I got older I grew away from the Catholic Church over its hypocrisy and refusal to come into the modern world.  To me the Church hierarchy and the clergy  no longer represented the teachings of Christ. To me it was irrelevant.  I felt alienated and unwanted by the Church. Shortly after Pope Francis was elected I could see a change in attitude towards former members of the Church that had previously been chastised. His attitude towards women, gays, the poor and society in general gave me hope that the Church would soon come into the modern world.

   I am amazed to see the throngs showing up to view his motorcade. There are people from all faiths, including Muslims and atheists who have come out to greet him. And then we hear from the American religious right! They are condemning him for speaking out in defense of the poor, the immigrants and the environment. They are condemning him for saying exactly what Jesus Christ would say if he were here today. He is being condemned for what these ignorant right wing bigots should believe if they are truly Christians. One prominent right wing minister even went on CNN to say that Catholics are not Christian and have not been since the middle ages. What rock has he been hiding under? Most of these right wingers forget that Pope Francis is the latest pope in a line of popes that date back to the first century AD. A far cry from some of these storefront churches that were found 20 or 30 years ago!

    The Pope is scheduled to give a speech to a joint session of Congress, which some Republican religious right members have threatened to boycott. They evidently don't like his message of love and peace and taking care of the poor. They would rather sit there and listen to a war monger like Benjamin Netanyahu! Oh how far the GOP has sunk in pandering to their base of religious bigots and their worship of the almighty dollar. Like I said before I am not a religious person, but I am truly ashamed and embarrassed by the actions of our Republican party and  their so called Christian followers.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Does Trump Have a Muslim Problem or Just a Minority Problem?

    Last night at a Town Hall meeting in New Hampshire Donald Trump took a question from a member of the audience, who stated that Obama was a Muslim and not an American.  He also said we have to do something about the "Muslim problem". Trump replied that it was a good question and then went on to say that he had plans to "take care of this".  Are his plans his version of "The Final Solution"?

    It is shocking to see that this audience member was so ignorant in believing that Obama was a Muslim and not even an American citizen, as many Republicans also believe thanks to Fox News.  But what is even more shocking is that Trump did not correct him with the truth, but instead agreed and encouraged him!  Hours after this event Trump has received a lot of criticism, but has not apologized for his remarks.

    This is not only embarrassing, but it is extremely dangerous. Just as Hitler was laughed at before his rise to power, Trump is being laughed at and not being taken that seriously. Hitler blamed the Jew for all of the problems of Germany, just as Trump and his ill informed and ignorant supporters are blaming Muslims and immigrants for all of the problems of the US.  Haven't we learned anything from history?

    Trump is no clown. He is evil. He does not represent the Republican party. He represents racists, bigots, haters and all that is wrong with this county today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My Faith is Stronger than your Faith!

Photo courtesy en.wikipedia.org 

    Even though I am not following the Republican race for the 2016 nomination I can't help but hear some of the crap that is being thrown around, since it is all there is on news programs. I don't really care for Trump, but I think it is both unfair and completely ridiculous that the other candidates, like Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, are accusing him of not having a strong Christian faith. Cable news is constantly talking about how Trump is not talking more about his Christian faith.  This is complete and utter BS. The last time I checked this upcoming election is to elect a new president, not the head of the Christian church in America!

  The fact that the Republican candidates are trying to outdo each other regarding who has the stronger faith is reminiscent of what is going on in the Middle East with the Islamic faith. Both the Taliban and Isis are claiming to represent "true" Islam and Isis is destroying thousands of years old priceless cultural artifacts because they don't fit in with their beliefs. Worse yet, both groups are executing men, women and children who do not adhere to their unique take on Islam!  Conservative Christians are going down the same road, as exemplified in their opposition to evolution, climate change and more recently the circus in Kentucky, regarding the issuance of marriage licenses to same sex couples.  There are already those right wing Christians who advocate executing gays!

    Regardless of what Fox News says or what fundamentalist Christians believe this country was not founded on the Bible or the Christian faith. The Founding Fathers were about as religious as a rowdy bunch of frat boys! If these people would only take the time to actually read the Constitution and the history or our Founding Fathers, instead of blindly following Fox News, they would realize this. Religion, whatever denomination, has absolutely no place in politics or government.  Everyone is free to pray, attend services and practice their religious beliefs, but NOT to force their beliefs on others.
 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Why are Prescription Medications so Expensive?




www.flickr.com



    This is one question I keep asking myself and I am sure I am not the only one doing so, especially retirees and those on a fixed income.  Whenever we bitch and complain to our elected officials we get the same tiring answers. "I feel your pain". "We are working on it". These patronizing answers coming from members of Congress who do not have to worry about paying these high costs with their generous government health plans, do not sit well with me. They have no interest in changing anything because they are bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.

    I am lucky enough not to require numerous expensive prescription drugs, but many seniors do need multiple drugs, which they must pay for on a limited fixed income. Medicare  Part D prescription drug programs help, but the newer drugs are in Tier 3 or 4, which means that they are much more expensive. Those drug plans that do have a lower copay also have a higher premium. So they rob you either way. What really sickens me is the amount of advertising the drug companies do to promote their most popular or newest drugs! How many suffering people watch these ads that offer hope for relieving pain and alleviating symptoms of chronic health problems and feel hopeless because they cannot afford to buy them?

    When I lived in Malaysia I took the same medicines that I take now in the US. I didn't have a drug plan there, but I still paid less than 1/3 of what I do now. Of course the airways and print media did not bombard the public with costly drug ads.  I used to work in the Longwood Medical Area section of Boston, which was a center for healthcare, medical research and education and Harvard Medical School. I can remember constant construction involving the building of numerous multi-million dollar state of the art pharmaceutical research facilities. I could not help thinking that every time I saw a new building go up the cost of prescription drugs would skyrocket!

    I realize that research for new drugs is very expensive and construction is too, but as well as assuring the best of salaries and facilities, the drug companies should also try to assure that their drugs are affordable to all who need them, not just the wealthy. If their drugs are really good and effective,  word of mouth and patient and doctor affirmation will sell them. They don't need billion dollar ad campaigns, which help drive up the costs, for those who need help the most!  I don't feel at all hopeful for the future because I feel the main purpose of the big pharmaceutical companies is to make money, not to alleviate suffering on a wide scale!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I Am So Sick of Donald Trump!

commons.wikimedia.org



There is a whole year until the 2016 presidential election, but I am sick and tired of it already!
Every time I turn on CNN I see the front runner Republican clown, Donald Trump. It seems as though he is being interviewed every few days in a CNN special or his disgusting rants and antics are being discussed on every other CNN news show. I know their rating are bad, but what the hell! Did Trump buy the network? Every time I see the term "Breaking News" it is usually about Trump!

When I go to the other networks for news ( I don't include FOX as a real news organization) I don't find much more news other than Trump.  I know there has to be other things going on in the world, so I have to go to the Internet to find news of the world. Trump should buy his own network and star in a 24/7 reality show based on himself or appear 24/7 on the Comedy Central!

I hope he implodes soon or at least I hope the morons who support him will reach the limit of their attention spans.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Is Kim Davis a religious bigot or just plain ignorant?

Photo courtesy www.queerty.com

    Since the US Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban same sex couples from marrying, Kim Davis, the County Clerk from Rowan County has been refusing to issue ANY marriage licenses because she says her faith condemns same sex marriages. At first her refusal was laughable, but now it is a crime. She has refused to obey the rulings of the Supreme Court and lower courts telling her that she must abide by the law. She has most recently been jailed for contempt of court. Is she a bona fide religious bigot or just a plain ignorant person seeking her 15 minutes of fame and perhaps monetary gain? I think a little of both.

    First of all she refers to her deep religious beliefs, even thought she has been divorced 3 times.  Her deep religious beliefs come not from her affiliation with a mainstream church but from her recent membership in the Apostolic Church, a religious cult or at best a fringe group. Their teachings are not shared by the majority of people calling themselves Christian. She and her supporters often refer to the Bible and the Constitution to prove that she is right and she is being persecuted. They are completely  ignorant when it comes to knowledge of both the Bible and the Constitution. The Bible not once talks about same sex marriage and Jesus never referred to gays. The Constitution strongly affirms that no test of religious belief for public office shall ever be required! She has also taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, not her faith.

    Davis is being represented, free of charge, by lawyers from Liberty Counsel, a hate group pushing their brand of Christianity on the American people. This whole debacle is nothing but free publicity for these religious bigots. Davis' fellow ignorant religious bigots have started online funding sources to support her. She knows the more she fights this futile and asinine battle the richer she will become!

    The state of Kentucky should impeach her as she is now is a criminal and has refused to carry out the duties of her office. If this type of behavior is allowed to continue what comes next? Can Quakers refuse to pay their income tax because part of the money is to support war? Can a policeman refuse to come to the aid of a Black person because he believes Blacks are inferior? Can a firefighter refuse to extinguish a fire in a gay person's home because his faith condemn homosexuality?  Because Jews and Muslims don't eat pork because their faith forbids it, to the rest of us have to stop eating ham on Easter? 

    This country is involved in a war on terror and actively fighting ISIS and the Taliban, in Afghanistan and Iraq because they are trying to force their religious beliefs and their interpretation of Islam on anyone who does not believe as they do. Can't this country see that here at home right wing religious groups are doing the same thing with Christianity? There is no war on Christianity. There is a right wing Christian war on "real"  Christians and anybody who doesn't believe as they do.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Fourth of July

   





    In the past month we have seen a great deal of bigotry and hate unleashed in this country by some of our politicians and a small but boisterous segment of our society mainly directed at Blacks, Hispanics and gay people. Even when the question of same sex marriages was definitely settled by the Supreme Court these same people threatened to defy the Court's ruling and even threaten violence. Racists and bigots have come to rally around the Confederate flag, which has become a symbol of racism and violence while proclaiming  their First Amendment rights.  It is so hypocritical that these hate mongers are crying our for their First Amendment rights, while fighting to deny others their rights, because they are of a different, race, color, religion or sexuality.  Supposed Christians are screaming persecution because they cannot go against everything Jesus taught and have their right to discriminate against whomever they wish.  These poor, ignorant but dangerous people actually believe this country was founded on the Bible and that our forefathers intended the country to be a Christian country. These beliefs mainly stem from the teaching of Fox News.  These people do not know that the Bible has no mention of the Bible, Jesus Christ or homosexuality!  Even if they read the Constitution they still wouldn't believe it.

    While Independence Day is upon us once again, these people will be rallying against Blacks, gays, Hispanics, Muslims or anybody who is not a white so called Christian.  Decent Americans cannot let them be heard any longer. We must all celebrate together this Fourth of July in the style our country's founders intended. That is to include all Americans, regardless of race color, creed or sexual identity because as it says in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal".  We also remember that in order to found this nation of ours, we had to steal it from Native Americans!

    I wish everyone a very safe and happy Fourth of July.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Happy Memorial Day



    I'd like to wish everyone a very Happy Memorial Day. Please remember all of those who have served our county and especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we may have all that we have today. Have a happy and safe holiday.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bruce Jenner is a Conservative Republican?

   


    I am sure by now that most people have heard about, if not seen Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer regarding his transition to a woman.  It was a very interesting and informative interview to say the least, even though ABC peppered it with a million commercials!  I truly believe that he has been going through an agonizing struggle all of his life and I admire him for his courage coming out as a woman now. A lot of people say that he has become a role model for the thousands of transgendered youth who are currently having to deal with this in their everyday lives.  I am not too sure about this though. Coming out now as he is doing is a brave thing to do, but after all he is a very wealthy person who can afford the cost of surgeries, medications and therapies, which the normal high school teenager could never even imagine begin able to afford.  Some have even accused Jenner of staging a huge publicity stunt to improve the ratings of the reality show, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians".  I certainly hope not.  I have a very low opinion of the Kardashians, but I don't think they would allow this to happen. I also doubt the strength of their support for Jenner.

    As I have said before, I found the interview to be very informative, but not shocking, except for one segment. This was one segment of the interview is where I strongly believe Bruce Jenner to be in denial and to have lost touch with reality. This is where Diane Sawyer asked him if he was a Republican and he responded that he was a Conservative Republican! He went on to say that he would expect John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to be very supportive of him and his actions! Wow! The very people who are helping to spearhead the denial of all rights for the LGBT community Jenner thinks are his friends! They might support him until they have taken all of his money, but then they would throw him under the bus.  If Jenner wants to help other transgender people he should help fight the right wing Conservatives who are trying to destroy the transgender community!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is the Wizardry of Dr. Oz Over?

   



    A little over two years ago I decided to try taking raspberry ketone capsules to see if I could lose some weight.  I even wrote a post about  it here in this blog, "I've Joined the Raspberry Ketone Craze".  I usually never fall for these cure all or miracle weight loss gimmicks, but since it was recommended by Dr. Oz I thought I would give it a try. I didn't lose any wight, but I did throw my money away on a snake oil salesman. I knew quite a few people who also, on Dr. Oz's advice, decided to try raspberry ketones. They too got ripped off and didn't lose any weight.

    It seems that in the past few years every time I see a miracle weight loss drug or gimmick, or a new and healthier way of eating or exercising, Dr.Oz's name was somehow connected to them. His name and face were plastered all over TV, the Internet and newspapers and magazines. I often wonder if he really is a good thoracic surgeon, where does he find the time to operate?  He seemed to be selling something all of the time!  After the raspberry ketone and green coffee bean extract scams I lost complete faith in anything Dr. Oz said or did. To me he was just a greedy quack, who gave other hardworking doctors a bad name.   Even the once entertaining and informative show "The Doctors" is following in Dr. Oz's footsteps, selling anything form skin care products to supplement.

    Dr. Oz is fighting back at his many critics, but I wonder if it is more to keep or increase his ratings rather than to protect his professional integrity! I think it is time he decided whether he wants to be a physician or a he wants to be a television celebrity. He can still be a physician and have a TV show where he can offer up to date information on healthcare and medicine, as long as he doesn't take advantage of his viewers trust and try to turn that trust into a financial benefit to himself. Better yet, maybe he should just stick to medicine and give the best patient care he can possibly give.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What do Indiana and ISIS Have in Common?

   

    Lately I have refrained from writing any posts in regards to the escapades of the Tea Party and the
 right wing conservative Republican reprobates, settling instead for just watching them self destruct in the next election.  But the actions of the Christian right in the past few months and especially of Republican Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signing the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law has really got my blood boiling.  This so called religious freedom law actually makes if legal for any business to refuse service to anyone the business owner deems to be in violation of his or her religious beliefs. In other words if you don't fit their model of a "good Christian" you don't get any service. It is quite obvious that this law is actually an anti gay law since it is aimed at the LGBT community.  There are also states like Arkansas and others mainly in the deep South and "Bible belt" in the country that either have similar laws or are about to enact them.  Ordinarily I would not be this upset, as I cannot foresee a visit to such holes as Indiana or Arkansas, which I would akin to a trip back 500 years into the past. But their are are many more implications of these laws that are extremely dangerous to us as a democratic country.

    It is true that the main focus of these laws is to deny rights to the LGBT community and legalize discrimination in dealings with members of the community, but the discrimination will not stop here. The people pushing these laws, Right wing conservative Christian Republicans, argue that their "Christian faith is being attacked by gays and others who are trying to deny them their religious freedoms. They believe that the only religion is their brand of Christianity.  So after it is okay to deny service to gays it will be perfectly legal to do the same for Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and naturally Muslims. Once this is accepted practice they will further hone their discrimination to include Christian sects they do not particularly agree with, such as Catholics, Unitarians, Episcopalians etc.

    These laws are a blatant violation of the doctrine of separation of Church and State and must be addressed by Congress, if they have the guts to go against the religious right and the American people.  The proponents of such laws and a vast majority of Conservatives actually believe that the Constitution established Christianity as the state religion. They believe that our founding fathers intended that the United States be a Christian nation.  They totally refuse to believe any facts presented to them which prove otherwise and they totally deny the separation of Church and State.

    This country is spending millions of dollars a day and sacrificing the lives of our service men and women to fight religious fanatics overseas who are determined to force their religious beliefs of the rest of the world and deny rights to those who disagree or are of other faiths. The US is fighting the implementation of dreaded Sharia Law in societies of our allies in the Middle East, as our friends in the UK and Europe are faced with extremists trying to make Sharia the law of their land.  The most terrifying and dangerous thing that is happening is that the while we are fighting extremists abroad our own religious fanatics here at home are forcing their beliefs on everyone else.  There is absolutely no differences between members of ISIS, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram and members of the fanatic Christian right in the US.  Just as Islam has been hijacked by radicals in their religion, Christianity in this country has been hijacked by radicals promoting their brand of religion and bigotry. If we continue to look the other way or placate the Christian right, as most of our politicians tend to do, we are all in danger of losing our rights as Americans.

   How can we stop this attack on our democratic rights and freedoms?  Well the most important action is to vote? The percentage of the American public who vote in our elections is deplorable. The religious right and Conservative fanatics, such as the Tea Party are able to gain influence because they get out and vote while the rest of us sit on our butts and then complain when it's too late. Another thing that must be done is to take away the tax exempt status from churches. By giving this tax exemption we are enabling churches to preach bigotry and discrimination and the denial of rights to fellow Americans.  While our military is fighting hate abroad, our churches are preaching hate back home! This situation is not just a passing political phenomenon it is a dangerous trend leading to disaster.

   

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why is Dental Care in the US So Very Expensive?

 


 When we lived in Malaysia our home was right across the street from a dental clinic, which was one of many on the island. This clinic was as modern or probably more modern than most I have seen in the US. The equipment was state of the art and the dentists were all trained in Germany or other countries in Europe, as well as the highly rated dental schools in Malaysia. When I knew that we would be soon going to the US to live,  Kevin and I made a trip to our local dentist to get a check up and work done , if needed, as we knew dentistry in the US was expensive. Kevin had 2 wisdom teeth removed and I had a filling and a bridge made. The total cost for the two of us was about 500 US dollars for excellent work.

    Now we live in the US and of course I chipped a couple of teeth and I need a couple of fillings. I knew that it was inevitable that I had to visit the dentist.  I began the process of searching for a dentist, even though I knew there would probably not be too much of a difference in the cost. I asked around and discovered that no one dentist came highly recommended, so I randomly chose one near where we live.

    The dreaded day came when I made my initial visit to the dental office. I must say it was a pleasant experience, as the dentist and his staff were very cordial and explained everything to me. The first day I had an examination and x-rays, which were expected. I was told that a number of teeth would have to have work done on them at some time in the future. Again this was expected. The cost for this visit was a little over $300. The following week received a filling in one of my teeth which was chipped. The cost $495!!!!  At this rate it will cost me thousands to have my teeth taken care of.  In just 2 visits to the dentist in the US I have spend almost as much as 7 years of dental care for both Kevin and myself! As with most people we do not have any dental insurance, which also is quite costly and does not cover much of the dental care. The cost had to go on a credit card, which will probably max out after a few more of the procedures!

    I knew dental care would be expensive here, but I was still shocked to see the exorbitant rates that were charged.  Dental insurance can be much more expensive than medical insurance and it only  covers a certain percentage of the costs.  There are various dental plans which offer discounts on dental work and are more affordable, but the problem is finding a dentist who accepts these plans.
I am sure that there are millions of people, especially seniors and children who go without much needed dental care because they simply cannot afford the outlandish costs. Dental care in the US is more expensive than any other developed country in the world. In Europe no one is denied dental care because of their inability to pay and other countries offer assistance in paying for dental care. When is the US going to wise up and realize that dental health is inextricably linked to overall physical health?  Soon in this country we will be able to ascertain the financial status of a person by looking at their smile!

    Looking at the high cost of dental insurance and dental procedures I have come to the conclusion that it would be cheaper to buy a ticket to Malaysia  and stay a couple of weeks to have our dental work done than to have it done here!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I've Had the Flu Shot and the Flu!




    It seems like every fall the media is bombards uswith public service announcements urging Americans, especially senior citizens to get the flu shot. Like I have done every year, except for the 7 years I lived in Malaysia I got the flu shot. I touted the merits of the flu shot to Kevin, as he never had one in Malaysia, even though it was available, but quite expensive. As a result for first time in his life Kevin also received the flu shot.

    Shortly after we both received our vaccinations FDA announced that the flu shots for the current flu season were only 27% effective! So much for my bragging about American medical technology! Now we only had to hope we would fall within that 27% of the population who would enjoy coverage against the flu.

    Well to make a short story even shorter we both fell ill with the flu. In early February Kevin came down with full blown symptoms of fever, body aches, muscle pain, cough, sneezing and upper respiratory discomfort. Even though he was suffering quite a bit he still managed to make it to school every day. After a couple of weeks he began to recover, as I felt I had been able to fend it off. No such luck. On one Monday morning I woke up with nausea and diarrhea and a sever cough. It lasted 3 days and I felt great. The next Monday it came back  stronger and stayed longer. My cough didn't last but the GI problems lingered for 3 weeks.  I guess we were the unlucky 63% of Americans who did not receive any protection from the vaccination this year.

    Even though we were both quite sick this year, we will continue to receive the flu shots in hopes that they will be more effective. Who knows? Maybe we actually would have had the flu worse this year, if we hadn't got the shots.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Time for Bill O'Reilly to Go!




    For the past few weeks the media have been abuzz with the revelations that Brian Williams of NBC News embellished some of his news stories regarding Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. Facing the allegations of lying he did the manly thing and accepted responsibility for what he had done, apologized to his listeners and stepped down from his position as news anchor until there was a full investigation. This is what would be expected from a decent professional journalist.

    Shortly after these revelations it was discovered that Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly was accused of the same thing by a number of veterans groups.  Instead of acting as a professional journalist, as Williams did, O'Reilly acted as a typical Fox News employee. He attacked the veterans accusing him of the misdeeds, in a vitriol filled tirade of name calling and threats.  Unlike NBC news, which immediately launched an investigation into the accusations against Williams, Fox News offered wholehearted support for O"Reilly.

    This incident involving O'Reilly only strengthens the negative views of Fox News as an organization dedicated to right wings agenda of news fabrication and outright lies. If Fox allows O'Reilly to get out of this unscathed it loses any credibility that it may have had.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Have You Met God's Match for You?

  
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 It seems as though the closer we get to Valentine's Day the more commercials we see for online dating websites.  When I was younger there were only a couple of legitimate sites around, Yahoo Personals and Match.Com. I haven't seen anything about the Yahoo site in years and am not sure if it still exists. It seems like the 2 biggies that are still around are Match.com and Eharmony.  Match.Com TV commercials are actually well done and somewhat entertaining, while those of Eharmony are rather annoying because of the snake oil salesman like founder, who appears in each and every one of the ads. Eharmoney is actually a Christian website in disguise that, after a number of lawsuits, decided to offer an affiliate site for gay people. I would imagine that both of these sites are legitimate upfront dating sites conducted in a very businesslike manner. They don't pretend to be anything other than what they actually are.

    The commercials that really amuse and annoy me are the ones for Christian Mingle.  It doesn't bother me at all that there are sites that appeal to those daters who are looking for someone of the same religion or ethnicity. Those sites make it clear that they are for Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Asian singles. They basically tell you that if you join their site you will have a number of people of the same religion or ethnicity to chose from.  As in all sites you pay a fee and look for someone  whose interests match yours. Not so with Christian Mingle! A computer doesn't find your match. The site doesn't find your match.  God finds your match!

    This to me is not only unethical but fraudulent. Maybe it is just a humorous way to attract possible members, but there are, I am sure, many devout, but naive and ignorant Christians out there who actually believe God will be making the matches. This is just another example of a religion fleecing it's followers.  If indeed the owners and staff of this site firmly believe that God is making the choices, then the services should be free, since, as far as I know God doesn't charge for his services!  I wonder if the relationship doesn't work out who gets the blame. God?

    I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day with their loved ones, regardless of who made the match!



 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Looking for Affordable Car Insurance - Again.


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    One of the painful aspects of returning to the US, in particular New York State, was having to obtain auto insurance and having to start the process of getting a NYS driver's license all over again.  I have been driving for 50 years, both in New York and Massachusetts. Kevin has been driving for 1 year here and 12 years in Malaysia.  When we first arrived back here I searched around for car insurance to cover the both of us. We settled on Geico, as it was the cheapest and offered the best policy. The other nationally known companies, either were way too expensive or refused to even talk to me, as I had lived in Malaysia.

    With the Geico policy we were given a generous amount of time to obtain our New York driver's licenses and to update our policy. In November we took the required 5 hour pre-licensing course and made our appointments to take our road tests. The closest tests were 3 months away in January. The date finally came and went with both of us passing our road test. The next thing to do, as a good customer was to notify the insurance company, by updating our information on their website.  Immediately when I entered the new driver license numbers for Kevin and myself the premium jumped to over $400 a year!

    I contacted the company asking why there was such a big jump in the premium. They informed me that Kevin was classified as an inexperienced driver since he has never had a NYS license. I explained that he has had a Malaysian license for over 12 years and driving in Malaysia takes a lot more skill than driving in the US. They explained that previous driving experience in Europe, South America, Europe, Asia, and North America, except for Canada, is not recognized as driving experience. How arrogant of them!

    They did inform me that "I" could research their main website, not "them". So now I am in the process of the painstaking task of looking for car insurance quotes again.  I don't understand how when Kevin was driving with a Malaysian license he got a lower rate than being a good customer and resident driving with a New York  license.  I guess it's just another example how our insurance companies, whether they be auto or health insurance companies love to put the screws to us!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Should Brian Williams Resign from NBC News?



    In the past few days the media has been abuzz with the Brian Williams story of his lying about an incident in the Iraq war and during his coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Some people are calling for his immediate resignation, while others are willing to forgive and forget. Williams apparently has a strong following of fans who will not abandon him.  He has appeared on his news program and apologized for his deeds, while also taking a leave of absence from the show, while the incidents are being investigated.

  Two incidents are causing all of the furor over his honesty and reliability in reporting the news.  One incident involved his reporting of a story during the Iraq war, where he said he was aboard an aircraft that took enemy fire. He has referred to this a number of times over the years, but apparently no one on that aircraft remembers it as Williams does!  He really didn't give a false impression about the war or the courage and bravery of the service men and women who fought the war. At most I could say he was guilty of a bit of self aggrandizement. The second incident was in regards to a report he made during Hurricane Katrina, where he said he was able to see bodies floating in the streets of the French Quarter.  The truth of the matter was that the flood waters in this location never reached a height where bodies could float, even though this was happening in other areas of the city. Here he was guilty of a little poetic license to emphasize the extent of the tragedy. It didn't minimize or trivialize the depth of suffering of the residents of New Orleans.

    I really don't think a great deal of damage was inflicted upon the American news viewing public. If there was any damage done, it was to Brian Williams' career and reputation.  Instead of reporting the news for the past couple of weeks he has become the subject of the news. He has been humbled and embarrassed by having to apologize on his news program as well as taking a leave of absence.  To me this is one person from a network news program who made a couple of mistakes, as a result of being a bit too eager  or trying to inflate his own importance. On the other hand if you take the entire staff of Fox News, it is a horse of a different color. Fox News consistently lies, embellishes stories or twists the context of news stories to further their extreme conservative agenda, which is to destroy President Obama.  They have lied and given half truths to fan the flames of violence, hatred and racism in order to divide the country. Yet they never apologize, as they don't admit any wrong doing.

    If Brian Williams if forced off the air, then fair play would be for the entire Fox News team to be taken off the air too.  All news programs have embellished the truth on many occasions, I am sure, and it will continue to do so, hopefully rarely though. With Fox News dishonesty in reporting is the entire crux of the show. In my opinion Brian Williams is paying for his mistakes and hopefully he has learned his lesson.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter Storm Marcus - How much Snow Will We Get




    Well in less than 3 weeks another major snowstorm is hitting the Northeast with heavy snow, strong winds and bitter cold temperatures. These storms seem to be hitting here in the Rochester area on Sunday afternoons and strengthening until they die out late on Monday. With the last snowstorm, Linus, we received about 2 feet of blowing and drifting snow. This was nothing compared to what my friends in Boston were greeted with.

    Winter storm Marcus started here in western New York as a mixture of rain and sleet, but has just turned to all snow.  According to the National Weather Service we should receive between 8 and 12 inches of snow, before it is all over late on Monday evening.  This should make for an interesting commute for all of those who work or have to drive to school.

    There are many updates on this and previous snowstorms on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and without exception the comments read about how sick everyone is of winter.  I am originally from Watertown, NY, probably the snow capital of the US, and am quite used to snow and bitter cold. I also lived through many storms and blizzards while working in Boston. However, about 8 years ago I moved to Penang, Malaysia, an island off the west coast of Malaysia, where I experienced constant heat and humidity, 24/7. The coolest it ever got was about 80 degrees. I realized that in Malaysia when it became hotter, there were just so many clothes I could take off without being arrested!

    With every day being oppressive I found my energy was constantly drained from my body.
Being back in New York State, with the  heavy, blowing snow  and bitter cold temperatures, I realized how much I really missed this climate. I missed staying in bed under my down blankets and comforters. I missed having hot chocolate after plowing the driveway or a hot toddy when it was bitterly cold. Now that we have a fireplace it's even more comforting than ever to get warm. 

    Some people love the heat and humidity of tropical beaches and other paradises, but for me they're only for short vacations. I'll take cold and snow anytime!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Make Money Fast Online.

   
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    How often have you seen ads on the internet telling you that you can make fast money online by doing surveys or other menial tasks? How often have you seen testimonials from seemingly  average people like you an me who say they can earn $200, $300 or more a week just taking surveys for a few hours a week? There are probably thousands of sites offering the opportunities for each and everyone of us to make a small fortune.

    Well out of a combination of curiosity and boredom I started to do a little research on ways to make money online.  There seems to be quite a number of legitimate sites where you can make money online by offering a service, writing articles or utilizing a skill you  may have. There are many medical transcription jobs or translation jobs available, where a modest amount of money can be made. These jobs, however, require a certain amount of experience and certification.  There are also many sites that offer training in various types of certification for medical transcription and similar jobs.

    The vast majority of online opportunities involve taking surveys. I looked into a number of these survey sites and found they were basically the same, with a few exceptions. Some of the sites required the use of a credit card or an investment upfront before you can take a survey. I did some quick research involving a few of these sites, eliminating those that required a credit card or investment, other than time. I settled on 3 sites, where I joined the site and actually took surveys and participated in some of the so called money making activities.

    I found that there was no shortage of surveys on each of the 3 sites, but the problem was qualifying for the surveys. I found that in the vast majority of the surveys I did not qualify, presumably because of my age and retired status. Sometimes I would qualify, then be kicked out half way or more through the survey.  Some of the surveys required a telephone number before you can qualify. I tried this on one survey, but quickly stopped doing this after receiving a number of unwanted calls trying to sell me anything and everything. In an average hour attempting to take surveys, I found that I probably actually qualified and finished 2 surveys. Most surveys took 20 or 30 minutes.  The 20 minutes surveys paid about $ .38 and the 30 minutes ones paid may $ .50. Those surveys that paid $1.00 to $2.00 required an invest of much more than the money you would make, but entered you into a sweepstakes..  You can also earn $ .02 for reading every 2 emails sent to your inbox or $ .001 for watching a 5 second ad. I spent about  3 hours each day for 5 days on these activities.  For the work on all 3 sites I earned a whopping $39.58!  I would feel safe to say that if you wanted to earn $200 to $300 dollars a week you would have to spend at least 100 hours a week filling out surveys!

    I know these adds for "getting rich quick" seem enticing, but they definitely are too good to be true.  Even though starting and maintaining a blog will not make me or most people rich, it is much more rewarding and fulfilling than taking surveys for hours and hours on end.  So I have decided to continue writing my blog and writing about what interests or effects me.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Time for a Different Direction?

   


    It has been over a month since anything has been posted to this blog and it isn't because of laziness. I have been thinking a lot about what to do with this blog. When I first began writing Steveso Thinks about 3 years ago, while living in Malaysia, I wanted to share my views and opinions of some political and social issues back in the US. I also wanted to make some money. I initially worked many hours in trying to promote my blog in order to gain readers, who in turn would help generate money by clicking on some of the ads.  I would spend hours and hours trying to increase the number of hits to my blog, but to little or no avail. I originally used AdSense to monetize my blog, but for some reason my account was cancelled and once Google does that there is no getting it back. I have placed affiliate ads and Infolinks on my site in hopes of garnering a little cash.  Since November of 2011 I have made $22! That is an average of 1cent a day!  I will discuss this situation later in the blog.

    When I moved back to the US I planned on spending more time posting to my blog as I would have more time to write, once I got settled in. The whole process of Kevin applying for his green card and finally getting it, took over 6 months. What I didn't expect was that I also had to start over establishing myself as a resident of New York State and the US. I had to apply for a learner's permit, take a driving course and take the road test all over again, just as I had never existed.  I also had to deal with the sticker shock of paying for health insurance and paying outrageous taxes. The cost of living in my new area of residence is quite low, but the taxes are sky high. Finally all of the nitty gritty paperwork and procedures are over and I can look ahead to the future - I think.

    In the time I had been living outside of the US things had changed. The US I had lived in was becoming polarized, socially and politically, but people still acted civilized and polite. Even Fox News was not as venomous, as it is now. The economy was in the toilet and we were involved in 2 unnecessary and unjust wars orchestrated by Bush and Cheney. The middle class, was alive, but just barely hanging on. People disagreed with each other, but remained friends. Things have changed. A Black Democrat was elected President and the Republican party caved in to far right Christian extremists of the Tea Party movement. Moving back to the US I am saddened and amazed at the level of hatred, bigotry and racism that now pervades American society. I am amazed that politicians, public figures and entertainers can call for the assassination of the President of the United States, and nothing happens to them. I am amazed that nothing has happened to Obama in this kind of climate. I am also dismayed and surprised that the FCC has allowed Fox News to deliberately fabricate and change the context of news to smear the President and even his wife and children. I am angered that Fox has fanned the flames of hatred and racism and that they are proud of it. What is really sad is the number of poor, uneducated people who believe the sinister propaganda spewing from this network! During the most recent elections these people were led to vote for the very candidates who would end up legislating against their best interests.

    In the past few weeks I have been debating rather it is worth the time and trouble to maintain this blog and continue to voice my opinions. I used to allow anonymous comments here, but disallowed them after receiving quite a few incoherent and racist tirades and even a couple of threats of physical violence.  Today I have edited the preferences of this blog to allow comments from people who have Google accounts. If I get rants or threats I will simply delete them. I may not answer them as this is really my blog and my opinions.

    At this point I must decide what direction this blog will go in the future.  I really don't think it does any good for me to strongly express my opinions on most of the subjects I write about,  other than raising my blood pressure or that of those who are not in agreement with me.  Unless I miraculously acquire a huge following for this blog I don't think I'll have any influence.  Should I continue what I am doing or should I start publishing posts that are not controversial, but still my opinion? Or should I go in a different direction? Should I completely change the focus of this blog to aim it solely in the direction of making money? I am not sure. I spent the past week searching for ways to utilize my free time and earn some spending money online. I discovered that by utilizing a few survey sites I can spend many hours a day and make pennies. In one week I have earned $40, but haven't actually been paid yet! It's more than earning $.01 a day, but not anywhere as fulfilling.  I guess I have given up on trying to do something I like, while at the same time trying to make a little money.

    In the next few weeks I will decide which direction to take. I really want to make money and I really want to use my brain. I have had many experiences during my lifetime and that makes me an expert in life. I'll keep thinking and keep searching for the right niche for me. I would appreciate any comments, ideas or feedback anyone may have . And thanks to those who actually took the time to read my rambling thoughts.

   

    


Ablog about liberal politics andsocial issues