Posts Tagged With: Disability

Discarded Obama Campaign Stickers

I was visiting overseas during the U.S. Presidential election, but I tried to stay informed. This was my first time to ever contribute to a Presidential campaign. I was also the first time I was really actively involved in any campaign. The Obama campaign had sent me a few bumper stickers as a thanks for donating and I was so excited that whenever I do get home… I was going to be able to post my Obama stickers on my little OLD truck. But my conservative mother threw them away! No thought given to the idea I may WANT them. No consideration, just trash. Some I had actually purchased. 

This campaign MEANT something to me! I willingly gave up my middle class lifestyle because of my Multiple Sclerosis and I had a tough decision to make – my lifestyle or my health. My health won-out! I gave up living in a nice house with one of my most favorite people in the world as a roommate, driving a BMW convertible and living in the exciting city of Las Vegas for living at home with my parents, with no car, in a small town in Mississippi. Like I said… NOT an easy decision, but a necessary decision. I knew the sacrifices I was going to have to make and I was lucky to have a loving and supportive family to help me.  

I struggled for two years with no healthcare because my M.S. was a pre-existing condition and this was during the time Obama was trying to get what is now labeled Obamacare passed. For the first time I saw something in politics that directly affected me and it was the President leading the cause. My new standing as a poor person with no insurance helped me see a side of this issue like others could not. I was living solely on my social security disability income and living at home, I was still only barely by. Eventually I qualified for Medicare and FINALLY had health coverage.  

My conservative, Republican, Christian family that watched more Fox News than ANY other news outlet, called Obama a socialist and believed all Fox News said, even though I was one of the very people Obama was trying to help with Obamacare – they saw it as evil and bad and so was Obama. This is when a passion for what was going on in politics began to grow IN me. My frustration also grew because I could not get them to see and understand – I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE” Fox News is demeaning! My parents had Social Security & Medicare and others in my family even had Medicaid and they witnessed my struggle with health issues all-the-while I had no health insurance. I began to see “conservative” to equal – I got mine and I do not care about you.

Needless to say this created a struggle for me in relating to my family and even strains our relationship today. I felt like an outsider in my own family.  Church was so important and BEING Christian was even more important. But as the conservatives boasted of their Christianity, I witnessed a great deal of not so Christian actions. Being gay has helped me see “church”, Christians, and even God in a much different light. I saw the principles of the Democrats relate more to Christianity than the “religious right”. I wrote a blog specifically to try to engage people to explain how “conservatives” were Christian (http://wp.me/pKLa8-GU) and e-mailed a blog that asked the same but in a friendlier tone than I had be able to muster! (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/11/time-for-christians-to-make-a-choice/) Republicans extol their Christianity but for me it conflicts with their politics and I feel the Democrats live it by their politics.

I see Jesus as someone that would spend time with gays, having wine and talking with them, not standing in line at Chick-fil-a so the company has more money to prevent gays having equality! I see Jesus touting the GOOD of Obamacare, not worrying how it could affect his personal coverage if the uninsured get access to care! This creates for me my biggest struggle – it makes me see my dearly devoted, Christian mother and others in my family as hypocrites! They already dislike me for being so different in how I think… how could they deal with being viewed as hypocrites? Or possibly even racist because of things they say about Obama? Oh yeah, that is why it was such an internal struggle for me to live that close to them. I hate myself for seeing my family the way I do. We DO love each other… but there is no respect unless there is agreement and I just can’t agree with them. They refuse to listen to my points because I think they do not want to see the hypocrisy. But any attempts I make to talk and try to understand only ends badly! I am a critical-thinker and NEED more than rhetoric and “faith” to understand things! Now I live far away and even at a distance it still hurts me!

My father was diagnosed with Dementia and suddenly Fox News was not on the tv as much (if any actually). A few months later he had a stroke, then 9 days later died. At his funeral, all that spoke (including me) mentioned his trademark little, old, piece of crap Toyota trucks he had over the years.  I did eventually get a little money and had the opportunity to travel to see my friend I call Little Buddy (one of my FAVORITE people in the world) and when I returned from that trip – I bought a little, old, piece of crap Toyota truck like my Dad used to have. I was looking forward to putting my Obama stickers on MY little, old truck, but they were thrown away because no one considered them relevant at that house  – the same as me… discarded without consideration or concern!

P.S. I do love my family and they do love me… like my facebook relationship status says – it’s complicated! My writing is to express feelings I am unable to share otherwise and this is how I feel now.

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This May Be A Revolution!! Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street is becoming an international movement that for some, they will see it as a revolution.  I say, Viva la Revolución!  There are many opinions as to what the Occupy Wall Street movement actually means, but here is how I see it.  Americans are paying too much for the consequences of a corrupt Wall Street and the allegiance to the dollar that controls the elected officials in the U.S. Government.  Since Wall Street controls so much of our nations wealth, our elected officials have sold out to only representing the people with money that contribute to their campaigns.  By some reports, the top 1% wealthiest Americans control more than 42% of all assets in America and take in 1/4 of ALL income annually in the U.S.  This leaves 99% of Americans with little or no voice in how our government controls our economy, while corporate America is able is skip a lot , if not all, of their taxes and it leave 99% also paying for policies that have hurt them and continue to hurt them economically.  I am the 99% and everyone I know is the 99%.

I have tried for more than a year to get my member of the House of Representative and two Senator’s offices to listen to my issue.  The E.R.I.S.A. law (Employees Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) allows for the mistreatment of clients of insurance companies.  The insurance company I am FIGHTING with earned $1,280,000,000 for 2010.  That same year the very same insurance company I am FIGHTING to get less than $900/month in disability income insurance payments from, paid it’s retiring Chairman/CEO $110,000,000 in 2010 – plus he also gets a “healthy” pension plan.  That amount did include his $18,000,000 executive compensation package for 2009.  The ex-Chairman/CEO served those posts for 10 years;  I lived and worked with my MS for 8 years before NEEDING the benefits I PAID for then being denied …. like there had been a cure for Multiple Sclerosis and there is a simple fix MS symptoms now.  E.R.I.S.A. is a federal law and needs to be changed, but I cannot get any of my elected officials (or their staffs) to give me the time to talk about this.  But I sure bet Mr. ex-CEO with a $110 million plus 2010 income for 20o9 would get time and maybe even a personal sit-down with his elected officials!

It takes so much to get the attention of leaders in our government unless you have a fleet of lobbyist or contribute heavily to their campaigns!  So, now this movement is beginning to get the attention of many and I hope it still grows stronger. Maybe it will get the attention of the ones that can actually affect change here in the U.S. and the world and make things more fair for the less fortunate.  There comes a point when being ignored becomes more of a problem than a temporary solution, now the backlash of being ignored so long may actually make this group of 99% impossible to ignore.

I feel great now there is a movement of people that think like me that says we, the 99%, cannot be ignored.  BUT we in the United States are not alone, 951 cities in 82 countries had events planned not only to show support, but to affect change for them as well.  If the wealthy were more socially conscious, the 99% would not be so outraged.  Let’s be honest, the top 53% of the 99% does not care so much because they feel a little uncomfortable or maybe inconvenienced with this economic downturn, so it is really just us bottom 47%  that have gone form discomfort to pain – we are HURTING in this economy!  I do not even have guesses for what the numbers for the rest of the world could be, but on October 15, 2010, more than 100,000 gathered in Rome (where sadly things turned violent) and 60,000 people joined demonstrations in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and 20,000 marched through Seville making it 80,000 (or more) total in Spain.


Billionaire George Soros says, “The rich hurt their own long term interests by their opposition to paying more taxes.” While Warren Buffett (also a billionaire) has been saying for a while that the U.S. tax structure is unfair for middle and low income taxpayers and has said he feels he and billionaires like him should pay more in taxes.  But such public figures that are also billionaires like Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg have remained quite.  How much is enough for these people?  They all “give” to charities but they are their own charitable foundations that also provide BIG tax benefits to protect the obscene amounts they do keep for themselves. 

What is another reason the less fortunate are so angry?  Maybe while so many in the U.S. are losing their homes through foreclosuree we see this numbnuts billionaire, David Tepper who buys a house for $43,500,000 from former Sen./Gov. Jon Corzine.  Ok, I admit a billionaire buying an almost $50 million house may not be a big deal, but he bought it to tear it down to build what he wanted on the piece of land in Sagaponack, Long Island, New York.  This is why we have little sympathy for their having to tighten their belts to pay more in taxes.  Then there is this bonehead that is actually IN Congress, Rep. John Fleming (R) (I do not think I needed to identify him as a Republican) that complains that with $600,000 left after the expenses are paid from $6,300,000 in revenue, it is tough to get by and that after feeding his family he only has $400,000 left!!  LOL (I know it is poor taste to add a “LOL” in an article, but I do laugh out loud every time I watch that video of this man that is IN Congress and has this kind of attitude.  I will go volunteer for ANYONE that runs against him for re-election!  Video is posted below).  By this statement he spends $200,000 a year “feeding his family”…. so I would say his family is eating VERY good!

But just as the Occupy Wall Street movement has now expanded so has the reasons.  Just as we have arrogant billionaires that say and do stupid things, this is the most extravagant, asininething I have seen.  In India, yes the same India as from the movie Slumdog Millionaire comes Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man.  He builds a $1,000,000,000 (no I did not add too many zeros…it is 1 billion) high-rise home that is 27 floors tall, over 400,000 square feet, a 168 space parking garage, pools, health club, private movie theater, 3 helipads, and what every home needs – an ice room to escape the heat (infused with man-made snow flurries) and all of this is for his family of 6!  To make matters even worse – it is ugly!  “None of the top 10 super-rich billionaires of India have given any substantial amount toward any charity or for human welfare the way (Warren) Buffett or (Bill and Melinda) Gates has,” said a recent article in the Hindu newspaper.  He better run to one of his helipads if this movement comes to Mumbia, because he lives in a big target for the 99% of India to find him.

Uncle Ben told Peter Parker/Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”.  I feel the only responsibility most wealthy today feel is protecting and growing their wealth; where as for the less fortunate are growing tired of protecting their little bit of money and assets FROM being taken by the wealthy.  It is going to be interesting to see who proves to use their great power to take responsibility and improve more than their OWN lives with this Occupy Wall Street momentum and improve the world for EVERYONE!!



Reference articles and some related articles:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/20/cigna-gives-1109-million_n_506974.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2049466/Occupy-Wall-Street-protests-New-Yorks-Times-Square-global-day-revolution.html#ixzz1avKurMjt

http://www.newser.com/story/130613/8-out-of-400-billionaires-say-yes-to-higher-taxes.html

http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/06/02/now-you-see-it-now-you-dont-the-43-5-million-teardown/

http://www.angryblacklady.com/2011/09/19/shorter-john-fleming-r-whiner-how-do-i-live-on-400k-a-year-its-class-warfare-waaaah/

http://www.newser.com/story/115778/dear-top-1-payback-is-a.html

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You Won’t Win If You Don’t Play

You won’t win if you don’t play, is an expression I have heard a good bit from people that play the Lotto.  While I do admit to being an occasional Lotto player myself, I am not counting on the Lotto to fund my retirement.  But what I enjoy most most is the time between buying my tickets and checking my numbers…. until those numbers are checked…. it still could be me with the winning number combination!  This possibility of hope is founded as long as I played!

Since I have been on disability, I do not have a lot to hope for day to day other than hoping for a good day, a break from disabling Multiple Sclerosis, or do I?  I have discovered online sweepstakes.  I enter as many as I can.  There are some that require help from friends.  There was one for me to win a new shed, friends could vote that the shed we did have was original and creative – it is a 18-wheeler trailer that Dad took the wheels off of and added a storm door! lol  Instant shed.  At the end of the contest, our shed had the most votes, but we will have to see if the judges agree!  I should know soon if I won.  But like the time between buying a ticket and checking the numbers, so was the anticipation to check each day to see if my vote count had increased, had my friends and family taken the time to “help” me possibly win.

The new sweeps I am asking help with is “about.me”. It is a site that for me is like an online directory. This one site has quick links to all of the other places I “am” on the web – including this blog. It also links my facebook and twitter. As my presence online grows, I will include them on my about.me page (www.about.me/thomasjohnston).  In the about.me contest, the winner will receive a trip to New York City and be featured on a billboard in Times Square. Not since my early 1980s modeling days with Nunnery’s and Our Gang or being photographed by Barry Boyd and Tuminello’s Photography have I been a possible model on a Times Square billboard!! lol (long ago days at that).

After 24 hours in the about.me sweeps, I was in the top 10%…. then 48 hours I was in the top 5%, but now I have stalled in the top 5%.  I have 245 friends on facebook and yet when I post to go vote for me on facebook … I am lucky if 5 go to actually vote. 😦  I have received a few compliments on my writing, but to date – NO ONE has felt the need to used the paypal button to donate and encourage my efforts financially! lol  So I need to find a way to be more persuasive with my writing. I am finding it difficult to get friends to simply click one link then click vote (it does not even require anyone to enter an e-mail lol).  I have had over 8,500 people view my blog in the last year, but only 9 have been persuaded to subscribe to my blog.  So now I will ask the few that read this post to this point to maybe comment on how I may persuade friends to vote, subscribe or possibly even donate.  I NEED a NYC Times Square billboard appearance!  lol  😉

I will anxiously check each day to see how many hits I get for this post, how many votes I get in the sweeps and enjoy the moments of hope that comes with each.  Although it can be discouraging at times it is what keeps me aspiring to be more.  With feedback, help and encouragement from my readers…. I’ll find winning numbers one day!  But it can’t be said I won’t win if I don’t play – I am PLAYING!!

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Road Rage 101: If You Do Not Suffer From Road Rage, You Are One Of The People That Causes Road Rage!

Many people are familiar with road rage. I have long said – If you do not have road rage, then you are one of the people who cause road rage! When us road ragers are off of the road, we still have a lot of rage in our lives. Now I do not have a car to drive…. I have no way to expel the rage! It is growing in me like a tumor! Although I have an upper and lower scope scheduled later this month, it will not find this tumor! But I have found the way I can give it some chemo or at least radiate it – distance!

I have the best friends in the world. They love me just as I am and they have even made the effort to understand me. This does not mean we agree on everything, in fact we more than often disagree. But at the root is a respect for each other. I have learned the hard way that not everyone has that respect for me; to a degree, it is only disrespect they have or show me.  Respect requires listening and there are a lot of people in my life now that are not listening or even trying to listen to me.

One key factor to understanding why someone has rage is seeing “it”, “things” or “situations” from the other person’s point of view. As one of the people who is having severe rage with some people in my life now, they can only see it as I am selfish and self-centered. Aren’t we all if we can be honest with ourselves? But they do not or cannot see things from my perspective, or even listen to how they are treating me makes me feel. I think mostly because they do not care!  I feel In the current “situation”, what I am doing helps them. But because I also ask something of them, they only see that. They begin a negotiation, if this then that. The answer needs to be just YES sometimes! Some things are not requests or favors, somethings are just about showing respect and/or consideration!  Even when someone earns respect, no one is required to return respect!

Not getting respect is like road rage – the other person does not see it as their fault. They think it is ok to drive the speed limit or less in the far left lane (also known as the fast lane!). They are not breaking a law. It is a courtesy for slower traffic to keep in the right lanes on an interstate but not a law. Doing something for someone shows them respect and as a courtesy it is good to show them respect back, but it is not a rule of life for all. For some of us it is something we at least try to do!

There is too much of the acceptance of the attitude of demanding respect and not enough of the giving of respect.  But there are poor slobs like me that feel or think we are showing respect and helping others, but do not seem to get any “earned” or reciprocated respect when we do give respect.  Eventually we reach a breaking point but this breaking point is usually at a point of rage before it gets expressed.  I recently asked for consideration to help me and my requested became a negotiation – this only angered me more.  The next day another request and a flat out no!  I now chose to be selfish and take care of myself – few where I am seem to care. So the treatment is now going to be DISTANCE.


My computer crashed, if you enjoy my blog and would like to contribute for a replacement computer, I would appreciate it! 😉

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Delta Airlines Needs Customer Service Training!

Delta Airlines has been my airline of choice for many years – until now!  I am questioning if I will EVER fly Delta again!  Miss Bass in Claims Services has pretty much ended my great, long time relationship with Delta.  Delta SkyMiles was the very first frequent flier program I joined around 30 years ago.  I even chose SunTrust bank so that my debit card could earn me SkyMiles.  While I have had many enjoyable trips one mistake has now challenged my love and respect for Delta!

My father is dying from Asbestosis and also has Dementia; I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  Friends in Las Vegas used their SkyMiles to get me a ticket to visit so I could have a break from this high stress situation!  While the visit went fine, the return home became much more complicated.  I had a 2 hour layover in Memphis and found the flight was also delayed an additional 2 hours.  Gate agents were able to assist me getting a flight to Jackson, MS with less wait.  This was a relief to my sister/chauffeur and our anxious patient/father.

The flight was fast, no need for beverage service because the 28 passengers did not need a beverage in the 1 hour gate to gate flight.  With my MS being active, I was having to use my crutch and was the very last to arrive at baggage claim.  But as the last passenger left and the baggage carousel stopped, my bag was nowhere to be seen.   The girl at baggage claim told me my bag had gone to Jacksonville, FL instead of Jackson, MS; it would be delivered to me the next day and assigned me a claim number.  This was Saturday.

Late Tuesday afternoon my bag had not arrived and the website showed that it should have already been delivered. I had been quite and patient for these 3 days waiting for the process to take care of itself, but with the website not equaling reality, I made a call.  Miss Bass began as a cooperative person making a call to the delivery company to check on my bag then telling me it was in route and would arrive in minutes.  This is where things turned!  I asked for information about compensation for the inconvenience and she told me to send my receipts somewhere. I told her I did not have receipts because since arriving back in Mississippi I was with my sick father, giving a deposition to my lawyer, and making an 8 hour round trip car ride – all while having the same clothes on (my Mom had washed them at least) and suffering great pains because of my MS. When did I have the time or ability to get new clothes or shop to have receipts for anything?

I then asked Miss Bass to transfer me to customer service.  She then told me she no, she would not.  So I asked for the number, she refused to give it to me.  At this point I was IRATE!  I screamed and hollered and she then told me I could go to the website to report a complaint – and I did! In this position, she should have much better customer service skills or at least have someone to refer an unhappy customer to!  This way someone at Delta does not have to deal with a customer while they are irate, but also the customer also has time to write a blog about it.  Even as much time as this took me because of my MS… I still had time to blog about it and still heard nothing from Delta!!  Solving problems quickly should be a customer service goal.

At the beginning of the call, it said the call may be recorded and I hope it was. Better yet, I hope someone from Delta reads the complaint I did send via the website. Few times in my life have I been treated as callously.  Dismissed with no regard. In my complaint I remarked that they could compensate me something for the inconvenience of my bag being delayed 3 days or just to see a copy of Miss Bass’s termination paperwork would also satisfy me!

If this is the new Delta after the merger with NWA, I will surrender my SkyMiles card and even change banks!  It is time for Delta (and other airlines as well) to acknowledge that inconvenience has a price even without a receipt!  Customer service should be given – not asked for!  If Delta does contact me and finds a resolution for this unhappy – now irate customer, I will blog about that also, but to all my readers, let’s not hold our breath for that blog!  In the mean time, I will avoid any business with Delta until they offer some form of apology, but without Miss Bass’s pink slip, flight vouchers or a check, I will not take them seriously!

CUSTOMER SERVICE IS DEAD!

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