Thursday, 24 January 2013

07:42 – Barbara’s sister, Frances, took their mom to the neurologist appointment yesterday morning. He changed her medication, which they’re hoping will help their mom’s mental state. Then, yesterday afternoon, Barbara took her mom and dad to the audiologist appointment to get their hearing aids cleaned and tweaked and then went out to dinner with them. A few minutes ago, Barbara’s dad called to say that Sankie wouldn’t get out of bed and said she needed to go to the hospital. Barbara assured her dad that the new medication would take some time to kick in, and that Sankie didn’t need to go to the hospital. As Barbara just commented to me, “At least with your parents it was just one at a time.” She just left to head over to her parents’ place on the way to work.


10:08 – There were a couple of interesting articles on the front page of the paper this morning, one about charter schools and one about state income taxes. North Carolina is now a purely red state, with a Republican governor and Republicans controlling both sides of the legislature. They’ll use that clout to try to get a lot of bad laws passed, but along the way they’re also trying to get some Good Things done.

Donny Lambeth, who led the Forsyth County school board for 18 years and is now a state representative, is championing a law that will allow the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system to go 100% charter. Don Martin, the current superintendent of schools, is trying to keep that from happening. Almost 100% of the public school teachers and administrators are against it, of course, because that means they’ll no longer be government employees. They’d be employed by the individual charter schools, which would be non-profits. Like nearly all public school systems, ours pays much, much higher salaries and benefits than most teachers and administrators could ever hope to earn in the private sector. They also have almost absolute job security. If WSFC Schools transitions to 100% charter, all of that goes away. Of course, that’d be a very good thing for taxpayers and the children, but it gores the ox of the teachers and administrators so you can bet they’ll fight to the death to stop it from happening. Let’s hope they fail and we end up 100% charter. Hell, let’s hope we end up 100% voucher. Let the schools compete for students, and let the teachers compete for jobs.

As to the state personal and corporate income taxes, the governor and many in the legislature want to eliminate them entirely and make up the difference by extending the sales tax to apply to services. That might increase the current sales tax by a couple of percentage points. The liberals are howling about “regressive taxation”, of course, but the truth is that shifting to a sales tax to raise state revenues would be much fairer than what we have now. The US has the most “progressive” income tax in the developed world. The poorest 50% of our population pay next to nothing. In fact, many of them actually have negative income taxes; the government “refunds” income taxes to them that they never paid in the first place. The middle class pays about half the income taxes collected, and the wealthy pay the other half. North Carolina is even worse for the middle class. Our highest personal income tax rate is 7.75%, and even those who are just barely middle class pay high rates on most of their income.


11:14 – How could I have forgotten? The first real web browser, NCSA Mosaic, was released 20 years ago today. I downloaded and installed it immediately, and started browsing the web, such as it was. Back then, my co-worker John Mikol and I were the only people I knew who had full-time Internet access at home. We both had dedicated telephone lines at home that dialed into a modem rack at work. We dialed in and stayed connected 24×7, although that term was not yet common. Our nailed-up dial-up connections did drop once in a great while, but I think my all-time record length for one phone call was something like 18 months. John and I did a lot of neat stuff together. I remember the first time we burned a CD-R disc. At the time, almost no one had CD burners. I forget what the burner itself cost, but the discs were $50 each. John and I watched one as it burned. The burn failed, and John invented a new term that became part of technology jargon. “Well,” he said, “that’s a $50 coaster.”

Oh, yeah, John and I are among a very small group for another reason. We both finished the world-wide web. That is, when we installed Mosaic, we both followed every link on every page that was then up on the web.

49 thoughts on “Thursday, 24 January 2013”

  1. Here’s hoping.

    Yeah, we had one at a time, too; dealing with both must be horrific. Not my biz but caregivers under a lotta strain and stress might could use a bit of pharmacy help, too.

    Regards and thoughts.

  2. Yeah, I’m really worried about Barbara’s well-being, but I can’t say anything because that would just add to her stress.

    When they were looking into facilities for her parents a few months ago, Barbara said there were three levels: independent living, assisted living, and nursing home. They considered only the first, which in my opinion was much too low a level of care. I argued that, given her parents’ then-current health status, they should be looking at at least assisted living, if not a nursing home. Barbara got mad at me for suggesting it, and they settled on an independent living facility.

    Unfortunately, Creekside offers only independent living. Some of the other facilities offered two or all three levels, and I argued in favor of one of those. But Barbara and her sister insisted on independent living, so if things continue to go downhill they may have to move their parents to a facility with a higher level of care.

    So for now Barbara and her sister are making up the difference, and that’s just not sustainable. Fortunately, Barbara’s mom has a long-term care insurance policy, which may give them some additional options when the time comes.

  3. I’ve had a hard time dealing with moving my mom to an assisted living place. I can only imagine what Barbara is going through dealing with both parents health problems at the same time.

  4. Fortunately, Barbara’s mom has a long-term care insurance policy

    Check the policy. Most will only pay for 5 years which is basically the look back period for Medicaid. If they have to go into a care facility such as assisted living many policies will generally not cover that type of care. Most only cover nursing homes. The policies are to protect any inheritance, hence the 5 year time limit. Hope they have a better policy.

    If the parents do go into a nursing you should immediately transfer ALL assets (house, bank accounts, certificates, stocks) out of their name. Get their name off any and all items of any value. Let the policy pay for the 5 years (if it requires that long) and then apply for Medicaid.

    It my aunts case it was a little over 10 years of care, 6 years in assisted living then 4.5 years in a nursing home. If she did not have funds she would have been in a nursing home for 10.5 years. As it was the assisted living facility took all her money and when she ran out we put her in a nursing home. Burned all my inheritance but it was her money so it was spent on her care.

    The assisted living was a better place in which to place my aunt. A nursing home is a higher level of care, but a much lower level of care at the same time. Odd it seems but nursing homes are really designed for people that need skilled nursing care hence the higher level of caring. There is no incentive to make the residents move around, participate in activities, be social hence the lower level of care (caring might be a better word).

    Avoid the nursing home as long as possible. Use their funds to pay for the assisted living unless the insurance policy will pay. But if the nursing home is chosen resolve the asset issue as quickly as you can.

    I know I have said it before but it is worth repeating. If they go into a nursing home or assisted living apply to the VA as the VA will contribute about $1k a month for the cost. Even if the veteran passes the spouse is still eligible. The VA may even cover independent living so it would be worth checking with the VA now. That $1K a month (tax free) will go a long ways toward keeping them out of a nursing home.

  5. I’ve had a hard time dealing with moving my mom to an assisted living place.

    It is never easy. You have to remove the emotion from the decision and do what is best for them regardless of how they feel. This is not a case of someone just dumping them but of real concern for their well being. The parents will not like the decision and Barbara will have to suffer through significant abuse and anger. I did with my aunt. Shrug it off, you have to.

    My aunt would never have gone willingly into assisted living. We tricked her. Went to WA and brought her back for a “visit”. She stayed one night in our house. Then we told her that she had a stroke and needed to be watched for a few days to make sure everything was OK. She needed to stay in a special facility to be watched. We took her to the assisted living.

    About a week later once she figured out what we had done we were subject to some of the most hateful comments, letters and anger from her. We knew it was the correct decision, her doctors applauded our decision, her former neighbors applauded our decision, her friends applauded our decision. It was the right thing to do. But the abuse we received for a couple of years was significant.

  6. It is never easy. You have to remove the emotion from the decision and do what is best for them regardless of how they feel.

    Thanks, Ray. You don’t know how much hearing your story of dealing with your aunt has helped me in dealing with my mother. I wound up “tricking” my mom as well. It was the only thing to do. I think my mom now realizes she is where she needs to be. She is concerned about running out of money. For my mom, that won’t happen in the assisted living place. My mom is spending more money every month than she takes in, and she might run out of money in about 15 years, but in 10 years, her assets will drop to the point where she will qualify for the VA benefit you mentioned, significantly extending the time before her money runs out. If my mom burns through her money, it will be in a nursing home.

  7. but in 10 years, her assets will drop to the point where she will qualify for the VA benefit you mentioned

    I am not aware of asset limits for the VA money. In my aunt’s case nothing was mentioned about asset limits. I don’t even remember providing that information to the VA. I just applied for the benefits and they were granted.

  8. I am not aware of asset limits for the VA money. In my aunt’s case nothing was mentioned about asset limits. I don’t even remember providing that information to the VA. I just applied for the benefits and they were granted.

    I’ll double check, but I think you have to have less than $80,000 in assets to qualify.

  9. I believe you are correct Dave. I did some research and found this link.

    http://www.veteranaid.org/docs/income.pdf

    They do mention the $80,000. Perhaps I did provide that information to the VA. It has been so long ago that I very could have forgotten the information.

    I found this which states that any veteran over the age of 65 is considered totally disabled and is eligible for a pension.

    http://www.veteranaid.org/improved_pension.php

    That seems odd but is something that I will have to do more research about as I turn 65 in about 3 years. My countable assets will be much higher than $80K but if they should drop that pension may help a lot. Especially with my plan to give everything to my son when I get to be about 75. I want to be penniless when I have to go in a nursing home.

    One of the VA counselors stated that every veteran should apply for benefits whether they will get them or not. There are hidden, not well advertised, benefits available to veterans and their spouses.

  10. “There are hidden, not well advertised, benefits available to veterans and their spouses.”

    When we say “hidden,” does that mean they do not appear in any of the printed VA publications and/or their online information/documents? And if that is the case, is it deliberate? This would not surprise me at all, for reasons anyone here might imagine, knowing me and my well-tended stock of well-earned cynicism.

    My own experience has been thusly: the local VA hospital took care of me very well several years ago and I have zero complaints about them. Nationally, however, I note that though unwritten and unmentioned, there seems to be a policy of just barely being able to cover current returning vets from the Sandbox, the Suck and elsewhere, only to the point that they absolutely have to, possibly in the face of bad publicity as was the case with McClean in Mordor. If something can be denied or blown off, it is, particularly with regard to PTSD cases.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that claims, attention, whatever, due veterans of the Korean, Vietnam and Cambodian wars are fading fast, with the evident hope? resignation? that we’re all aging out of the system and dying. A couple of my recently deceased older vet relatives of this period had their families hustling fruitlessly even to get a flag or grave marker. And when we do put in a claim for whatever, particularly disability that would involve payments, the backlog is years long and again the attitude seems to be that they’ll take care of the current incoming vets and wait for the rest of us to die off.

  11. I mention all this because Mrs. OFD evidently thinks that I can just apply for disability and other stuff, and based on anecdotal evidence she tells me that is many years old and from around her travels in the country, the VA will just start shelling out thousands to us. I figure she might have gotten a clue when she saw how long it took and what a tremendous hassle it was constantly to go through the VA loan guarantee process for our house last year. It was brutal. Because years earlier they handed out these things like penny candy to one and all and there was no oversight or accountability. Then things blew up along with the rest of the housing market. Now, when a couple of hardworking solid American citizens, one of whom is a veteran, come along for a VA-guaranteed loan, every “t” must be crossed and every “i” dotted and it takes forever.

  12. No surprise there. The government treated WWII and Korea vets pretty well, as they do the vets of recent conflicts. The Viet Nam vets have been screwed from the day they arrived home, and the screwing just keeps on coming.

    It’s a shame, but public opinion seems to have affected the government’s behavior. WWII and Korea vets returned as heroes. Vets from the various middle-east conflict aren’t always treated by the public as well as those of WWII and Korea, but at least they’re not spit upon. Unfortunately, you Viet Nam era vets have had to pay the price for being thrown into an unpopular war. As if you had a choice.

  13. I had another post here and when I clicked “Post Comment” it disappeared. Ironically the post was about surveillance and being silenced by the State, etc.

  14. We are heading towards 80 F today in the Land of Sugar. Maybe we will get some rain instead. We’ve dried up from the last rain and my gravel driveway is really pulling a good dust trail now.

    I can’t feel too sorry for the people in Oz hitting 116 F last week. We’ve done that several times here in the Land of Sugar. My son was in Iraq in 2005 when they had an official temperature of 134 F (57 C) in their base camp. He maintains that their FOB had a temperature of 140 F (60 C). He was sitting in an armored un-airconditioned humvee that day on the bank of the Ephrates river guarding a bridge for 12 hours outside Al Qa’im. With three other Marines and no openable windows. He says it was a little pungent. He later got the privilege of blowing up the bridge so he got his revenge on it.

  15. Gotta say; I woulda been more tempted and gotten more satisfaction from blowing up whichever officers’ residence that had us out there in those conditions. But I am a mean and cynical bastard even more now than I was forty years ago for stuff like that.

    Typical mil-spec b.s., though; have some guys suffer in those conditions guarding something and then later just blow it up. As old as war itself, I’m afraid.

  16. OFD I am a recipient of the VA programs having served my time during the Viet Nam era and the customary cursing and being spit upon by others. I am getting disability for which I applied and received. I was due this disability for 20 years before I applied but was lied to by the folks during my separation from uncle sam’s calling.

    It took me about eight months to get my claim processed and awarded. Now that I am in the system it is somewhat easier to get attention.

  17. Ray, was your disability paid out retroactively? One of wife’s anecdotes involved a combat nurse who’d really been through the mill over there and it took her ages to get it but when she did it was retroactive and many tens of thousands; evidently got 100%.

    I’ve been told that the stuff I had wrong with me has now been treated and I’m all set now and any aches, pains or other crap is henceforth a function of my aging. I tend to agree with them on this, especially when I see some of the guys coming back now all fucked up, but Mrs. OFD periodically gets on me to apply, re-apply, etc. I find it more trouble than it would be worth to us, however. And it opens up a bunch of shit I would just as soon not dwell on anymore.

    Gee, I missed the cursing and spitting routines; I was routed, deliberately, through all military facilities on my multiple comings and goings between the States and SEA. What I got was massive indifference. And couldn’t talk much about anything because, yeah, I know how it sounds, but it was classified. My mom can attest to this; we had a visit not long after my return from an armed Army CID agent at our house to make sure I shut the fuck up.

  18. My father in law is a 100% disabled vet now. He was 90% and they recently took him to 100%. He is 80 years old and hanging in there. He uses the VA hospital in South Dallas for everything even though it is 45 miles away from his house. And he has his home financed with a VA mortgage that he got all of his fees paid for by the VA. In fact, he is refinancing to get a lower interest rate. The amount of VA benefits that he gets is breathtaking. Yet, he badmouths them constantly which is very irritating to me.

  19. I don’t get a lot of the bennies others get, but you won’t hear me badmouth the VA. They saved my life, literally. And I have seen how they take care of returning vets.

  20. Ray, was your disability paid out retroactively?

    Oh hell no. I only got the payments going back to when I applied. That is all the further the VA will go back. The fact that I was lied to by the separation cretin was not a factor. I lost 20 years of benefits and there is not thing one I could do about it.

  21. The staff at the VA hospitals and facilities are actually pretty good at what they do most of the time. There was that one time I was sent to the VA hospital in Houston while I was on active duty as that was the closest military medical facility. Had some heart issues and the hospital in Lake City was significantly concerned. Nothing became of it. Those people at the VA facility were jerks. Wanted to keep me overnight and I said NFW.

    100% disability comes with significant benefits from the VA. I only get a measly 20% disability and in a couple of years I will try to have that upped to 30%. I need to stoop more and limp at the exam. I do have pain, discomfort and some limited motion but apparently that does not qualify to 30%. At 30% my wife would continue to get some reduced benefits if I should pass on before her. Also the rates start jumping substantially at 30% and higher.

    I know a couple of people in my neck of the woods that are getting 100% disability and they are really quite functional. They are claiming PTSD which is mental and hard to disprove. Claim they have nightmares, cold sweats and other ailments. I refuse to go down that path as I don’t want to be known as a mental case.

  22. My boss and I were the tenders of the Usenet feed for a certain government space agency site in the Houston area. We also downloaded Mosaic and installed it on our Sun workstations when it became available. I remember getting the “What’s New on the Web” email each day and looking over the couple of new sites that sprang up, every morning with my AM Diet Coke. We also set up the first web site at that space agency, showing off the work we were doing in AI and robotics. Did it all with only casual permission from our civil service work order monitor. Today there are all kinds of reviews and hoops you have to jump through.

  23. “100% disability and they are really quite functional. They are claiming PTSD which is mental and hard to disprove. Claim they have nightmares, cold sweats and other ailments. I refuse to go down that path as I don’t want to be known as a mental case.”

    Roger that. I actually had that stuff for the first year I was back and drank a case of beer a night just to try to get some fitful sleep. This did not bode well for later massive recreational use of alcohol. Since I quit I haven’t had any of that stuff at all, ironically. And with age, the formerly annoying PTSD symptoms have faded considerably, even allowing for the years of street cop work in crummy ‘hoods, a totally thankless and stressful job.

    So I would just as soon let sleeping dogs lie and I also don’t want some evaluation by a shrink or counselor type somewhere to get me labelled as a head case; that would be all the excuse someone might need to further infringe on what civil liberties I have left to me in this dark age. (I can easily picture State goons running around and taking away the firearms from PTSD veterans, for example.)

    So the upshot here on mil-spec lying is that they do it when you sign up, they do it throughout your penal servitude, oh whoops, I meant honorable and heroic service for The Nation, and they lie again as they see you off.

  24. I gotta remember to scroll back up and read Bob’s additional notes of a day.

    Agreed 200% on changing the publik skool system like that, whether in the Carolinas or wherever. Not a chance up here, where Horace Mann and Dewey and Freud and Marx and the unions are as deities. And the sheeple, quite frankly, use the skool systems in this country as a baby-sitting and warehousing service, because they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid that it is vitally necessary for both parents/spouses to work. And if the kiddies come home reeking of PC bullshit and “self-esteem” but woefully ignorant of even rudimentary reading, writing and arithmetic skillz, who cares? Mention STEM to these yokels and their eyes glaze over. I at least know the errors of my ways back in the day.

    Pioneering web usage; IIRC I also used Mosaic and then Netscape around the time I got my third PC, running Windows 3.1 on pitiful RAM and just red, green and blue on the monitor. First two PCs were a DEC Rainbow and an HP Touchscreen, the former of which I used in the mid- to late-80s to connect to the VAX/VMS machines at work when I was at DEC. I definitely recall, however, that among the first web sites up and running were some sexually explicit ones.

  25. Ray, was your disability paid out retroactively?

    Oh hell no. I only got the payments going back to when I applied. That is all the further the VA will go back. The fact that I was lied to by the separation cretin was not a factor. I lost 20 years of benefits and there is not thing one I could do about it.

    Same experience here. I am 10% disabled for some minor hearing loss from my time in the USAF. I separated in 1999, but did not apply until 2012. So, I only get reimbursed from my application date forward. Probably my own fault as I should have gotten off my butt and applied sooner, but the hearing loss has been around for 13 years, so I really should be paid for those 13 years. :/

  26. I have hearing loss diagnosed from years of close exposure to small arms fire, artillery, bombing, other explosives, etc. , known as tinnitus. Worse in my right ear, and I can also toss in the years of loud-ass rock concerts I went to as a teenager and into my early twenties. And I have minor scarring from shrapnel punctures and lacerations. They will give me zip for a disability. Tough shit is the deal here. They can cram it; there’s guys far worse off that can use the dough; I’m still standing tall above the grass, and the less on-record or that can be used against me later somehow, the better.

  27. Here’s our reality-challenged Veep:

    “http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/biden-so-you-want-keep-people-away-earthquake-buy-some-shotgun-shells_697650.html

    OK, Joe; that’s pretty good, yeah, I agree, having a shotgun, preferably 12-gauge, with the right shells is an excellent family- and home-defense tool.

    But how about letting US make the choice, dude. What if armed assailants are caving in our front door for looting, pillaging, raping and murdering purposes after an earthquake? The shotgun will do a nice job on the first one or two goblins, but what if there are six more or ten more? Then a nice little semi-auto or selective-fire rifle comes in mighty handy. You might not know that, Joe, but you could check in with your son because he probably does know.

    Do that next time before you go running off at the mouth, bro.

  28. In my opinion, the VA does a good job of taking care of my FIL. They move at glacier speed until a crisis happens and then swarm the problem. He had a lung mass that they were watching every six month suddenly start growing. They had him on the table in a couple of weeks and cut that lobe out. He healed up very quickly with their ministrations which is always a sign of good care for a now 80 year old guy. He has survived stage 1 lung cancer for 4 years now with no recurrence so far. They are watching another spot now but have told him that if they remove that lobe that they will probably kill him on the table. And the chemo doc at the VA said the same thing. But this mass is very slow growing if at all.

  29. I don’t think either Joe or Lady MacBeth of Little Rock will have a decent shot at it in 2016. The Dems will have to find somebody else, maybe a gay Hispanic Buddhist with a transgendered Asian female Wiccan quadriplegic. The Repubs will gin up their usual parade of carny freaks, wack job fascist theologians, and country-club CEO types with no clue or connection about or to us Mundanes whatsoever.

    The burgeoning gimme-gimme free-lunch electorate will of course elect the Dems, and our precipitous slide down the toilet will continue apace.

  30. I hate to say this, but we may be needful of a do-over in the House, Senate and White House. I have no idea how to accomplish this short of an active revolution (Tom Clancy turned over the House and Senate with a 747 in capital hill while they were in session). The people there seem to have no connection with reality.

    The Texas habit of only letting the State Legislature meet once every two years for five months seems wiser and wiser the older that I get. Lock up your daughters, the legislature is in session used to be emblazoned on the front page of the Austin Statesmen every other Jan 2. Those people back in the 1800s were so smart! Makes us in the 2000s look like idiots.

  31. I think that we will elect in 2016 whoever appeals most to the low information voters. It will be a Barack Hussein Obama lookalike in principals, education, ideology and giveaways. It will not be Mrs. Clinton.

  32. “I hate to say this…”

    Why? Of course we need to clean house. Drastically. In draconian fashion. We must be…

    ….RUTHLESS.

    “…Those people back in the 1800s were so smart! Makes us in the 2000s look like idiots…”

    That may be overstating it a tad, but I do not ever, ever, underestimate the intelligence, fortitude, courage and wit of our forebears, not only in this country but throughout recorded human history. But we are living now in an ahistorical age, where past and future do not exist; only the Eternal Present, where everything is always all about ME, ME, ME.

  33. Why? Of course we need to clean house. Drastically. In draconian fashion. We must be…

    ….RUTHLESS.

    I am afraid of that. Revolutions have consequences. Sometimes you get an awesome federal government for 200+ years that is a partner rather than a master. Sometimes you get the guillotine.

    Usually the guillotine.

  34. As to the state personal and corporate income taxes, the governor and many in the legislature want to eliminate them entirely and make up the difference by extending the sales tax to apply to services. That might increase the current sales tax by a couple of percentage points.

    Good luck! We have state sales tax (6.25%) and local sales tax (2%) here in the Great State of Texas. We also have local property taxes usually in the amount of 2% to 3% of your assessed property value. No income on individuals. We also have a 0.5% to 1.0% state franchise tax on the gross receipts of businesses that many get out of and many claim is a backdoor business income tax.

    I vote less paperwork for all! My business has to file and pay the sales tax monthly. Via wire transfer also, no checks accepted. I cannot imagine filling out a personal state income tax, what a pain!

    Do it for the children!

  35. “Usually the guillotine.”

    Which I would prefer to other means of execution, given a choice. One of several good things the French have given us, in addition to baguettes and Brigitte Bardot.

  36. Good luck! We have state sales tax (6.25%) and local sales tax (2%) here in the Great State of Texas.

    Having lived in Texas for 15 years I know about the taxing situation. Moving to TN I was greeted with quite a shock. TN, like TX has no income tax (except for that nasty hall tax on interest and dividends). However our state tax rate is 7.75% and the local rate is 2.0%. I was also shocked to learn that unlike TX, TN taxes groceries. Got here and went to buy a gallon of milk for $1.99 and was suprised that I had to pay $2.27.

    To me the taxing of groceries is very regressive on the low income people. They buy about the same amount in groceries as the higher income people. They effectively pay a much higher tax rate because a higher percentage of their income goes to food than someone like myself.

    Except of course for those loser leaches that depend on others for all of their needs. Their shopping cart at the local Food City has better food than I can afford. Steaks (good cuts), packaged meat, gourmet items, cut and sliced cheese, ice cream (Blue Bell), Dorittos etc. in one cart for which they pay with a state issued debit card. The second cart contains their beer for which they pay cash while talking on their new IPhone 5 before going to parking lot (parked in a fire lane naturally) and getting into their brand new Mustang.

  37. Which I would prefer to other means of execution, given a choice.

    You do realize that for a few seconds your brain is fully concious. You get to watch your own head rolling into the basket from the head’s view. Give me lethal injection.

  38. No thank you. I refuse to be killed like a pig in a slaughterhouse. I’ll kill my would-be killers, thank you very much, and then go after whoever sent them.

    Yah, to some extent that’s braggadocio; probably if a full SWAT roll-out, complete with armored vehicles, comes up to my house for a pre-dawn raid, I won’t be able to kill them all. On the other hand, I’m tough and have proved resourceful in a pinch, so I’d be willing to place a large bet on myself if someone was offering good odds. (And of course it would be a sure thing from my side: if they manage to kill me, just try to collect!)

  39. “…shopping cart at the local Food City has better food than I can afford. ”

    Huh. The only Food City store that I ever heard of or knew of is the one two miles up the road from us here at our new digs in fah northern Vermont. Owned and managed by the butcher, and they do have nice cuts of meat at reasonable prices. I call it our retro market, because they carry stuff I last saw as a kid growing up in small-town Maffachufetts in the 50s and 60s. It is evidently considered among the high-falutin’ middle-class types around here as a cut below the Price Chopper, itself a cut below the Shaw’s, which is a cut below the Hannaford’s and the pricey co-op stores down in our so-called Queen City, Burlington, thirty-five miles south of here. It’s a “city” because it has 50k people, a big medical center, and the state university.

    So if you were lurking in the parking lot at the Food City here, you’d see me coming out hanging onto four or five plastic bags filled with food staples, mostly, and humping it out to my 17-year-old Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck, which looks right now about like it rolled through a dust storm. Which it sorta has, mainly snow, ice, road salt, dirt, sand, dust, etc., just on the regular commutes. You will never see me pahked in a fire lane or HP slot; in fact, I pahk quite a distance from the front entrances and in my own space.

    “…watch your own head rolling into the basket from the head’s view.”

    I’ve heard stories about that sorta thing over the years but they seem to be a kind of ‘urban legend.’ Eyes that stay open and blink, mouths that keep speaking, etc. So you’d actually be watching the drop into the basket and then the inside of the basket for a second or two, not looking at your own head, other than maybe your nose.

    Also heard that lethal injection don’t always work so great; hit the wrong veins, or the chemical mix is off, or the dude is in some way physiologically resistant to it, etc., and then thrashes around and yells and so forth, taking much longer to croak than expected. Other methods also have their drawbacks like this; but the guillotine is very quick and the pain must last all of a nanosecond. And I’ve never heard of any malfunctions, though I suppose the worst one that could occur would be the blade stopping only partway through one’s neck or something. Still, much more certain than the ax or sword; they made a real mess when they whacked Thomas Cromwell.

  40. “…a full SWAT roll-out, complete with armored vehicles, comes up to my house for a pre-dawn raid, I won’t be able to kill them all. ”

    I do not intend to be led to slaughter like a pig or cow, either. But rest assured, if a full-bore SWAT or Marine platoon rolls up at O-Dark-Thirty with their armor plates, crew-served weapons systems, explosives, and close-air support from Apaches, Blackhawks, or Spectre, my old friend, then chances are real good they will send my tired old ass off to Purgatorio PDQ.

    Chances are also pretty good that some of them will be coming along for the ride. Uncle trained me up real good.

  41. but the guillotine is very quick and the pain must last all of a nanosecond

    Well at least no one would hear you scream.

    Also heard that lethal injection don’t always work so great

    Having growed up on a farm, and dispatched many large animals out of necessity, I have never seen one that took more than a few seconds to just pass out and die. If they can kill 1500 pound animals they certainly should be able to dispose of a 220 pound human just as quickly.

    The quickest I ever saw was when the neighbor had a steer butchered. A .22 long rifle shell to the middle of the head and the animal dropped immediately in it’s bucket of oats. Time had to be sub millisecond. So I guess they could feed me oats and put a shell in my brain.

    I know the stuff they gave me when I had my 50 year old+ plus anal snake probe I have no memory of any of that process. They could just give me some of that stuff, but just in a large quantity.

  42. Oh sure, best way is to fall asleep with or without aid of whatever meds and not wake up but just imagine the theater and drama involved with a nice guillotining!

    Or we can plan on going out like SteveF and me; in a hail of bullets and explosions. Eventually.

    Though to be honest, if someone wants to take either one of us out, all they really gotta do is set up their little hide within a reasonable range and pop us with a decent scoped rifle. No fuss, no muss. Catch me walking out to my truck in the morning for work, or arriving in the parking lot at work, either place within good range of a dense tree line.

  43. probably if a full SWAT roll-out, complete with armored vehicles, comes up to my house for a pre-dawn raid

    That is what it would take to seize the guns in the Great State of Texas. They better bring an armored car and a lot of body bags when they start going door to door. Where can I buy an RPG at?

    Though to be honest, if someone wants to take either one of us out, all they really gotta do is set up their little hide within a reasonable range and pop us with a decent scoped rifle. No fuss, no muss.

    The Marines will do you at 2am with night vision. My son says that it is amazing to watch people start freaking out when the bullets start going through things and they cannot see anything. He lost count after 60 homes in Iraq that they visited at 1am.

  44. Build yer own RPG; git a 3D printer and crank ’em out, homes!

    A lotta private citizens also have night vision devices nowadays, too. And quite a few are combat veterans, whether of the Marines or some other branch. It ain’t just a bunch of hadji rag-heads flopped out on their prayer rugs. Plus…they’re fellow Americans out here.

    But of course someone can always be found to take the King’s shilling and put a round right through OFD’s noggin whenever. OFD has three brothers, though, of his same ilk, and a bunch of other people who would be a bit annoyed and might retaliate.

  45. I got a shock on Wednesday. My uncle, who had bronchitis for a week, and then started getting worse, decided he needed to see a doctor pronto, as he was finding it difficult to breathe. He called me while I was in transit to my doctor, and asked if I could help him get to his–or any–doctor.

    Having told him I was about to step into my doctor’s office, I said I would check for him. Asked the girls at the check-in and found out something very strange. We have been talking here about people using the emergency room like a doctor’s office. Hell, that is exactly what they WANT you to do!

    I knew my uncle’s doctor’s name, and knew he worked for the same practice group as my doctor. Only problem, he was in another office clear across town, where they have another building of doctors. I asked the woman checking me in, what to do for my uncle. She said, “Send him to the emergency room at the hospital, and call his doctor and tell him he is there.” She further said the ER is a “primary care facility”. So, when you are really sick and in need of seeing a doctor—at least around here—you are SUPPOSED to go to the ER. It turned out they admitted my uncle for an overnight and a day of bronchial therapy.

    Wow, this is all news to me. No wonder I could not get in to see a doctor a month or so ago when I had stomach pains. First appointment they would give me was in 5 days. I had been getting worse for 3 days. Turned out to be an intestinal infection that my body cured before the 5 days arrived. Next time I will know to go to the ER, instead of waiting on a doctor who apparently does not care how sick I am. Big change from when I was a kid, and the doc came to the house whenever my fever was over 101.

  46. Chuck, if it is at all life threatening you want to arrive at the ER by ambulance. That gets you immediate attention, bypassing the waiting room that can be full of everyone else seeking attention in less than five days. Having your doctor call ahead to tell them he is sending you might make a difference depending on the hospital (and the doctor).

    Because our daughter is the office manager at the primary care group we use we manage to make same-day office visits when we really need them. The one time I needed one, after examining me the doctor gave me a choice of calling an ambulance or having my daughter drive me, but in any case I was going to the hospital for tests and absolutely was not driving myself. Turned out I had a thrown a pulmonary embolism; I spent a week in the damned place until they could get my coumadin dose vs blood numbers settled down.

  47. I think my uncle has turned the corner. My view is that all this could have been avoided had he been given antibiotics to deal with the bronchitis a week before he did. Not sure who to blame for that one, but maybe my cousin and I were at fault. When you are 90, I think whenever you get sick, you need immediate attention, and continuing supervision until the difficulty is over. It takes about 4 days for the antibiotics to take hold. My uncle was in such bad shape that he continued to get worse even after starting the antibiotics, but is now making a comeback.

    He did take an ambulance to the hospital both times, but he was mobile both times and not suffering from anything like a heart condition. I have been in the waiting room for ER at the Tiny Town hospital (owned by the big Catholic hospital in Indy) when someone came in complaining of chest pains. They asked a couple pointed questions; the patient responded with answers that got him 2 nurses, a doctor, and a stretcher in less than a minute. So I think in most hospitals (around here at least) you can get just as fast attention as an ambulance delivering you. Obviously, if it is life-threatening, ambulances now have life-support and diagnostic equipment that can give the hospital crucial advance information that could get essential treatment started the instant you hit the hospital door.

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