A Troublesome Discharge


I was discharged from the Air Force in 1971. I was stationed in San Angelo, TX and decided to stay in Texas for the then foreseeable future. We had friends living in San Antonio and I was trying to see if I could get employment there. I finally landed a job working with Tobin Research creating maps from aerial photographs. We had a very odd work schedule, we worked nights for one week then switch to days the following week which gave us a long weekend every other week, from 3 o’clock on Friday until 3 o’clock on Monday. So I would stay in San Antonio, working until Friday afternoon. As I left the car with my wife in San Angelo, it required me hitchhiking or taking the bus the approximately 250 miles from San Antonio San Angelo. I would get to San Angelo sometime Friday night and turnaround Saturday morning and drive myself, my wife, and our one-year-old infant son back to San Antonio to look for an apartment. On Sunday we would drive back to San Angelo and, either Sunday night or Monday, I would hitchhike back to San Antonio, logging about 1000 miles per weekend.


It was an interesting period and I got to see much of Texas especially the Permian basin. We finally relocated to San Antonio in the following fall and I started a course in Architecture at San Antonio College where I spent the next two years. Having just spent nine months studying Serbo-Croatian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey CA where we had six hours a day of classes and four hours of homework. I knew how to study!


We spent a lot of time visiting Austin, San Marcos and much of the hill country. I then got a job with Dow Chemical writing a newsletter for their Styrene Division in Lake Jackson TX. We spent an interesting seven years down there including having a second child and having the opportunity to fire Dr. Ron Paul (yes the Ron Paul) for his callous attitude towards his patients. He seemed more interested in making money than performing a service but that’s another story.


I worked as a model builder designing chemical plants and one week we decided to take a vacation in Mexico city. We didn’t realize that it was Holy Week and the city was quite shut down which probably made for a nicer stay. I tried looking for work down there for the next year and, after having given up and devoting my time to the house, a friend placed an ad from the newspaper on my desk:


Model Builders wanted for Mexico City contract. And the phone number.


Two weeks after that day, I stepped foot in Mexico City to start my new job. We had rented out the house, sold one of the cars and put all of our furniture in storage. When we told Adrian’s teachers we were going the Mexico City one of them told us he would get more education living in a foreign country then he would out of third grade in Texas.


After a year in Mexico City which we tried to extend, we returned to Texas in the Houston area where I worked for several years for CE Lummus, a major engineering firm, again building models of chemical plants, the job I truly enjoyed.

What I Believe


I was brought up Catholic; first Baptism, then Communion, finally Confirmation, the whole 9 yards… Or is that just the first three? Anyway, I found that defending my Catholicism was tough work but I did it through high school and then; I got to college.

In my first weeks and months of a required Civilization course, I began to realize there were a lot of religions out there; some saying the same things, some different things, than what I had been taught. Being an impetuous 19 year old, I basically rejected everything I’d been taught about religion and discarded the concept completely… For a long while. Then I discovered the “Scientific Method” and started all over.

Now, when I say “Scientific Method” I don’t mean science per se but a rigorous methodology that I apply to everything. This basically has three components. Every time I run across a new concept, I apply these three rules.

Does it violate anything I know to be “true?”

Does it add any detail not previously considered?

Can it be used to predict something not previously predictable?

If the concept meets these criteria, I add it to the “New Theories” and keep testing it. The more it’s tested, and the more it stands up to the testing, the more likely I am to accept it as a “Rule.”

I spent a good portion of my life applying this “methodology” to the concept of religion and here’s what I’ve gotten so far:

I believe that we choose to come into this physical reality, our three-dimensional world, if you will, to experience “Life.” To experience pain and suffering, loss and gain, love, materialism, poverty, all aspects of living. This is how we develop as individuals.

Now, we choose this existence from a “higher-level”; a greater dimension which we can’t comprehend but, where we experience all of the “lives” we have chosen to live. You may call it; Heaven, or God or Nirvana. At such a point that we are satisfied, we may choose to stay in this higher realm as fully developed “souls.” This soul is the continuous part of our existence and keeps evolving over time, or at least what we perceive as time.

I don’t need commandments handed to me on a stone tablet.  I believe we develop all of our moral rules based on our experiences. But, then again, if that image helps you understand our universe better, who am I to contradict you? And, I would hope you pay me the same courtesy.

As I progress through the last third of my life, I find that this concept helps me greatly when I think about crossing that “Final Threshold.” I see this as the final test as I predict my return to a higher dimension.

I’ll try to get back to you on that.

Angry Rant-Finale


At last, we have reached the final resolution to this rant.


I woke up Tuesday morning fully convinced that we didn’t have a ride to VA. Stephanie, my social worker through Home-Based Healthcare, was the only one to call back and she said she would try to get something done but, would not be in the office on Tuesday. Transportation said we were not on the schedule so Jenn and I decided to venture out and take the train. The mile or so trip across South campus might present quite a challenge. Even though it’s all very wheelchair friendly it’s sometimes difficult to know the routes the first time. We even speculated that the van may show up at 12 o’ clock but, we had to leave by 11:30 if we were going to make it by train.


The chair did okay down Allen Street albeit a bit rough, and just as we were about to get into the subway tunnel we got a call from Adrian; sure enough the van had shown up at the house. We told the guy where we were and he picked us up at the entrance to the station and got us to VA about 12:30; plenty of time for our 1 o’clock appointment. The doctor didn’t show up until 1:30 and we had a great talk. We talked about some realistic goals but, when Jenn asked about a follow-up appointment he told us he was booked up for six months! I noticed he didn’t have any form of ID. The only reference I had for him came from the woman at the front desk who I’ve known for several years who said, ” ‘Dat Dr. Lecter, he da bes’.” He may have been a janitor but, he had an English accent; I always believe anybody with an English accent.


I also got to the optometrist; a necessary and fruitful stop, and got my glasses adjusted. Seems to be working. We did, however, manage to miss the Barber when we found out at 2:15 PM that our 2:30 PM appointment for an SCI follow-up had been confirmed by mistake and really had been canceled. Yeah, you’re probably as confused as I was. So, after optometry we got to the Barber at 2:58 PM to be greeted by a sign saying the hours were till 3 PM. Go figure!


We managed to get a relatively quick van ride back to the house but there were two of us in wheelchairs and I was in an uncomfortable position which I was unable to correct easily. Every time we had a major bump I felt like I was getting thrown out of the chair and bounced on my tailbone!


All in all it was a great trip and answered several questions. I’m sure the next trip will be much easier. We’ll see.

Angry rant-continued


So, here we go again!

Remember the appointment I have with the neurologist? The one I’ve been waiting for, for a year? Well, I decided to call this morning, the morning before the day of the appointment, to check that arrangements for transportation had been made. Now, keep in mind the process for the last four or five visits has been; that the department making the appointment would arrange with transportation to have me picked up. But now, since I am part of the Home-Based Healthcare System, when they make an appointment they don’t have anything to do with transportation and I appear to be on my own. By the way, did I mention that I’m not going to be able make arrangements to make it to the appointment? Of course, with the VA in Buffalo I was told to call 24 hours beforehand because that’s when the schedules were made. And, I also just found out that there are two separate transportation areas within VA one dealing with wheelchair based vans and another for non-wheelchairs which requires explaining the story twice. Apparently, both transportation centers are completely booked up for tomorrow. I’m about to give up on VA or, is that what they want?

What can this be like for a vet returning from Iraq or Afghanistan with PTSD and without the support system that I have from friends and family? You got us into this Mr. Bush and now you, Cheney, and the gang, have left behind a huge mess and, rather than contribute to the cleanup, you’re bitching about how the other guy is doing it and cheering on the tea baggers as they do everything they can to prevent Obama from getting any successes, including blocking of funding.

Now, there’s integrity for ya!

Angry rant


With many thanks to my benefactor, Richard Ball, I am enjoying my new desktop computer. A perfect mix between laptop and tablet. A touchscreen desktop with Windows 8 and Dragon Naturally Speaking 12.5. This is a $1500 laptop with eight gig of memory. It’s a refurbished Dell we got for $700.

The 18 inch screen makes me feel like I’m in an IMAX! The on-screen keyboard is by far the biggest and easiest to use that I’ve had. I can already see how much better Dragon is working on this computer. Other than to get the font to remain from paragraph to paragraph, I have not had to make a correction yet. If I’m watching something on Netflix I can kick back and watch it from 3 feet away. Multiple screens make it much easier for me to watch what I’m writing and to still have the help guide open on the screen. I have been using it for less than a half-hour and I think I’m in love!

Was actually out in the sun today and yesterday for a total of about two or three hours. I needed that! Had my shirt off and everything. I’ll take what I can get. I have had so many ideas churning around in my head that I hardly know where to start but I’ll give it a shot.

The Issues with the Veterans Administration have become very clear to me and I will devote an essay to them in the near future if for no other reason than to not have to repeat it endlessly to bureaucrat after bureaucrat. I am dealing with five or six different agencies and about 15 people. I sometimes wonder if there not all sitting in one room and saying to each other, “Who should we pass him to next?” with chuckling in the background.

Our most urgent need though, is for Adrian’s back pay. My son Adrian was told that the VA would pay him $210 a week for taking care of me and for which he has been submitting time cards for the last seven months. After wrangling for six months with the VA pay office, we were told the money has been grabbed by Sallie Mae, the federal student loan gang. Of course, Sallie Mae is only supposed to take 15% of wages, which these were, but since it was a lump sum, retroactive payment, they may have thought it was an IRS refund. Well, guess who’s screwed? The VA now owes Adrian over $7000, which would more than catch us up with all of our debt issues, including a pending foreclosure notice on the home I was counting on for my “old age”. And I find it fascinating, in a very macabre fashion, when I hear billionaires complaining when the $100 million dollars they pass to their kids is reduced by $30 million in taxes. I am empathic to a fault but, I have trouble relating.

I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist last month but someone forgot to put in a request for transportation so we missed the appointment. I am trying to ensure that the same doesn’t happen for my appointment with a neurologist on July 15. I’ve been waiting over a year for this one. In all this time I have never spoken to a neurologist or received a prognosis other than vague generalities.

After stumbling along for a year with the Paralyzed Veterans of America, we have determined that my DD 214 discharge papers have been lost by the National Archives and my claim has been denied. So, now we have to submit another lengthy questionnaire to try to ascertain the location of my records.

My application for paratransit services, to be able to get reasonably priced van trips, has been denied because my occupational therapist accidentally put 53 inches for the depth of my chair (it’s really 48) but I have to get another occupational therapist to fill out the same application again! Are we sensing a pattern here?

Now, each of these organizations has several layers of bureaucracy; many of them have social workers within their own organizations and numerous representatives and secretaries none of whom call back!

At the moment, I have the house listed with a realtor. I’m going to see if I can sell it and get back down to Costa Rica, ASAP. Let’s see what happens.

I am very encouraged by this new computer and the way Dragon is working. I’m looking forward to getting out some more material soon. I can’t help but wonder why VA doesn’t have decent IT people to help make the best use of the technology we have available. I am very fortunate to have a good level of IT skills, myself, and Adrian is very well-versed in computer technology. For me it’s a doorway I can pass through and leave my body behind.

Thank you, Richard!

Journal

Talk about up-and-down! Spent the last few days trying to get caught up on miscellaneous nonsense. On the upside, I finally got the accounting taken care of between the kids and me, I think. At least we’re making progress.

On the downside, I talked to Mike at PVA today. You know, the guy who told me 4 months ago that his organization’s request for my discharge papers wasn’t anything to worry about. I explained to him that I had gotten a letter from them saying they could not find any record of my DD-214. Great! So now my claim has been denied. So now I have to fill out some more paperwork to see if they can find that a paperwork! This is getting tiring.

We still haven’t gotten Adrian’s money and we still don’t know where to send the paperwork to correct the fact that the occupational therapist accidentally put down 53 inches instead of 48 inches for the size my wheelchair in the Paratransit application. Application denied! Does it ever end?

Did I mention I still don’t have an appointment with a neurologist? I haven’t talked to one in a year… Spinal cord injury… Go figure.

Journal


So here I am at 2 o’clock in the afternoon sitting in bed waiting to get transferred to the chair, to get back into bed 6 hours later. Such is my life!

I have a tendency to lean to the right side, in bed, as the day goes on. Much of it due to my own effort to keep my body moving and upright. I’m not doing much of any kind of exercise other than the things that accomplish what I’m trying to do i.e. get my thoughts out of my head and onto the machine. It’s been a rough fight. My hands are starting to lock into the shapes I use to tap a surface or a keyboard. And yet, in the year that I’ve been here. No one seems to be able to figure out that this is my motivation. Thank you, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, but, so far, I have serious reason to question your advice. Virtually nothing you have told me has come about, and you have not told me anything in terms of the prognosis. What gives?

We’re not waiting for technology, it’s already here! We are paying billions for this equipment!

Oh, you say there aren’t enough doctors. Maybe, they can make a lot more money working for the private hospitals because the VA is constantly being squeezed budget wise by Conservatives who consider this an entitlement. Kind of tripping on your own balls there fellas!

That being said, the individuals I have worked with in Syracuse and Buffalo VA’s have been great to work with, if sometimes overtaxed. Syracuse is a very new facility and needs to work out some major issues. I was about to say, “The whole system should be scrapped and reworked”, but what do I know about hospitals and treating thousands of vets. But it sure becomes obvious if a hospital is well run or not. And so far, of the ones I’ve been in, I’m not impressed

On a lighter note… shit, there is no lighter note!

Starting Model

I just finished watching Robert Reisch’s film, Inequality for All, and I highly recommend it. It’s available on Netflix. It gives a wonderful insight into the issue of inequality, that is, the disparity between what the lowest and highest employees are paid. Interestingly, the only conclusion he comes to is that the system is really messed up and it’s going to take some real innovative thinking to correct, or perhaps, reinvent it. My fear is that the whole thing will collapse before there’s an opportunity to showcase what we’re trying to do. That’s why I’m thinking of trying this in Costa Rica, away from the divisiveness and political climate that’s appearing in the United States.

I’m finding the works of Reed Kinney and Thomas Greco are providing excellent guidelines in community building and economics, with many examples of successes and failures. So, let’s start building a model!

Decentralized Economic Social Organization …DESO Okay, now I see it! So here’s a fictional layout of the basic concepts:

Our landlord, Douglas, is a well-known restauranteur who, due to a drop in global tourism, was forced close his downtown restaurant. He has a beautiful piece of property comprising: several cabinas and multifamily apartments, a swimming pool/bar, a soccer field, several tilapia ponds, a conference area, and several citrus and banana plants. In addition, we have restaurant gear: refrigerators, freezers, tables and chairs, cooking grills, sandwich presses. This property is located near to a major city, and on several bus routes. What Douglas needs is capital.

Our first level comprises my landlord, myself and any other of the 5 or 6 residents of our compound who are interested. We can provide food, entertainment, meeting space, and the physical focus of a node. For we residents, it is the epicenter. We all have immediate contact with one another. Virtually everything we do impacts all of the other members of the family. Therefore, anything we do should benefit all members while disenfranchising none and, everything we do must be completely transparent!

For services we can provide the following:

  • Catering
  • Assisted Living
  • Convention Facilities
  •  Design/Build Services

We would like to get 10 investors at $10,000 each for a $100,000 base.

Proposals might include:

  • Production of All-Terrain Wheelchair
  • 3-D Printing Facility
  • Cabinetry Shop
  • Restaurant/catering facility

We ought to develop a type of pamphlet, if you will, to show clearly what we are trying to accomplish. The advantages and responsibilities must be clearly shown. We must also make clear that the process of “dialogue” is not simply complaining nor is it strictly majority rules. It is more an effort to find and fund projects which are to everyone’s advantage. I can see developing an app for use on cell phones, which could display the activity of the community as a whole.

Locally, Suzanne Smith (large family farm), Dr. Laura (Dentist/Cattle), Douglas’s brother (an Attorney), Betsy (Registered Nurse), Russ and Sherry, Sheila Rogers are all potential nodes. Each has their own extended family and desire to be free of centralized government and usury based monetary systems. I think we could easily build to 150 nodes within our region of Costa Rica. Additionally, if the first experimental projects proved successful, it could very easily spread throughout the country. A key feature of Costa Rica being the lack of expense of the standing Army, the government focuses more on keeping people employed. Much of the maintenance of infrastructure is still done by hand, including roadbuilding, plowing of mountainside fields, etc.

Other big advantages are a large, central downtown farmer’s market, adequate Internet/DSL, excellent medical system available to everyone and, an educational system capable of turning out qualified workers at all levels.

Next, we’ll consider the economic structure and see if we can’t extricate our local economy from the grips of an increasingly oppressive international banking system. Stay tuned!

Peeking out of the shell

Spending a year up here in the frozen North has given me a new perspective (like I really needed another one). Basically I’m confined to a powered wheelchair with limited use of my arms and hands which makes working a computer quite a challenge. 

It has given me a lot of time to think, and I’ve been inventorying my assets and trying to determine the direction I need to take moving forward.

I have finally gotten Dragon NaturallySpeaking (speech to text software) installed on a computer that appears to be working. My brain has been impacted for a year and Dragon is the dig-stim, if you catch my drift. Don’t stand too close!

Now, one of the things I would like to accomplish is the establishment of A Center for Synergetic Development; a node on a network, in order for us to proceed further with our exploration into the evolution of our species and our Universe. So far, I’ve found the perfect place and, after a brief respite, I am eager to get started. I’ve been living in Costa Rica for the past two years and have found what appears to be the perfect combination of resources, climate, culture, attitude and community. Hey, it’s not for everybody but it’s perfect for me. And in today’s electronic era, location is becoming less and less important. Having spent a real nasty winter in Buffalo New York, I’m ready for the tropics. Unfortunately, I have to be set up a little better before I can return. I suspect I’ll see a lot more progress once warm weather gets here… If it gets here!

Now, during this little hiatus, I did a good bit of reading and studying and, through a mutual friend, I got interested in the work of Thomas H Greco, a proponent of cashless societies and a real visionary when it comes to the state of money in the world. His latest book The End of Money and the Future of Civilization was nothing less than inspirational and, in light of some of the latest news from around the globe, it appears to be just in time.

Hopefully, I’ll get more proficient with this software  (it took me  16  hours get this post up). I also hope to spend some time getting the site organized a little better. Any feedback would be appreciated. I haven’t quite figured out how to get the slider working properly on the home page, still working on it. Maybe we can shed light on the question, “Who is John Galt?” And where is Galt’s Gulch anyway?