Car update . . .

We had another idea – a repair shop we’d previously taken the car to for an oil change (we haven’t known about them very long, so don’t really know much) has a good local reputation, so I called them.  Not only were they happy to look at it – they could get it in today.  So, I called AAA.  The car is at the shop now, and I’m waiting for the call to find out what is wrong.

The receptionist had a good laugh with me when I told them that the Goodyear store tried to convince us that it was a cracked flywheel.  FYI – if a shop ever tries to sell you that, I hope you need fertilizer.  I’ve talked to a few different shops that specialize in transmission repair – flywheels do NOT crack.  EVER.  Any shop that tries to use that is wanting to pad their profits at YOUR expense.  As I said in a previous post, the labor charge on dropping a transmission is around $750 – pure profit if they already know they don’t have to actually drop it.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s about as crooked as any repair shop can get.  KANSASLAND TIRE will never see a car of mine again.

Progress on car problems?

Things might not be so bad as it seemed.

While she was at work 2 days ago, my wife talked (via email) with one of the instructors in the university’s Automotive Technology program, and found out that there is a transmission repair specialist who is able to address this problem, using a part from a salvage yard (because Mitsubishi no longer makes this model of car).  The estimate for getting the repair done is “between $600 and $700”.  Not bad.

The catch is – the car isn’t in any condition to drive very far, and the specialist is over in Joplin.  We could get AAA to tow the car over there, but most mechanics want you to sign some paperwork authorizing the repair before they will do it.  I could ride over to Joplin in the tow truck, but then I still have to be able to get home.  Oh, and then going  back to Joplin to get the car when the repair is complete, because it is unlikely to be a same-day completion.  Yes, if we go this route, there will be a need for lots of coordination.

Still, not having to spend $5,000 right now is a help, and I think we have the room on the credit card to cover getting a rental car for the extra trips to Joplin.  We’re going to look at this pretty seriously.

Another Social Security hearing . . .

Yesterday afternoon, I had another hearing with the Social Security people about the status of my claim for disability benefits.  Some good things resulted – my lawyer reviewed my records again (several times, actually) and has realized that one of the potential weaknesses of my case can be completely explained BY SOMETHING IN THE RECORDS in a way that negates the weakness entirely.

I suppose that is rather vague, and it doesn’t need to be, so I’ll elaborate.  I’ve made no secret on here of the fact that I used to be a staff member of a Church of Scientology – I was an ordained minister and conducted Sunday Services for several years.  Yes, I’ve left the church – but because I had problems with the church, not the collective “scriptures.”  I still have my entire collection of materials that I built up while I was on staff.  I believe that the tech works well, when it is used correctly, and I believe that the church has been deliberately misusing it for years.

My VA medical records reflect that I had my religious preference listed as Scientology, and that is where things start getting interesting for the Social Security case.

One potential weakness to my claim has been that the judge reviewing my medical records has been seeing notes in those records that I’ve been “non cooperative” with medical professionals when they tried to give me certain drugs to treat my migraine headaches.  If the doctor tells me he wants me to try something (let’s say, for example, PROZAC) that I know is usually prescribed for psychiatric cases or has potential hallucinogenic effects, I’ll tell the doctor straight up that I won’t take it.  That is documented in my medical records.

The reason WHY I won’t take it is because I still believe in the Scientology principles, even if I don’t support the church.  Remember a few years ago when Brooke Shields went public with taking psych drugs to treat postpartum depression?  Tom Cruise made a big splash in the media for attacking her over the admission.  I agree with Tom that taking the drugs is a mistake; I disagree with placing public judgement on another for the choices they make regarding them, especially when they don’t share my beliefs.

Anyway, my lawyer feels that whether or not I succeed in my claim for disability looks like it’s coming down to that one issue – the non-compliance with medical advice.  She’s going to raise the issue of religious belief at the next hearing if the questioning goes that direction.

I say “at the next hearing” because yesterday’s hearing was almost literally a non-starter.  It lasted 5 minutes.  The major reason for the hearing was to get the testimony of a medical professional who is being paid to review my treatment records and determine if I am functionally unable to hold a job.  After we convened the hearing and officially went “on the record” – meaning that everything said from that point forward would actually become part of the case records – the judge asked the court secretary to call the doctor (who was scheduled to give his testimony live over the phone).  When she got him on the line, the first thing he said was that he called the judge’s office yesterday and told someone that he never received the disc with my records.  The judge immediately realized that the doctor couldn’t testify about records he hadn’t reviewed, adjourned the hearing, and made a note that we’d (my lawyer and I) get a notice when the hearing is rescheduled.

New year – new goals . . .

Welcome to my first blog written within the year 2016. Oh, I know – someone is going to point out that I’ve already POSTED a blog in 2016. You’re right – but I wrote it before Christmas.

Anyhow, I thought I’d start this year off by setting out the goals we’re looking at for our home improvement projects and personal lives.

First, the big one. After seeing some wonderful success with the double-pane replacement windows we’ve had installed around our home, we’re now looking at a different source of temperature offensiveness. It’s that black roof we had put on right before we closed on the house. Rather than go to the incredible expense of having another roof put on so soon, we did some digging and discovered a type of “paint” that can be applied to roofing shingles to help shut the heat out. The price seems quite reasonable – if it holds up to expectations we can do the whole roof for about $100 worth of the paint plus the cost of the labor for getting someone to apply it, which our guttering guys have already agreed to do. I think they are looking at it as a possible third income stream for them (since most of their work is seasonal).

Also, my weight continues to drop in a slow, steady, hopefully healthy way. When I stepped on the scales to weigh about a week ago, I was looking at 198.8 – yes, I did check the battery (lol) – putting my total weight lost at precisely 50 pounds over the course of one year. I’m good with that.

We’re planning to do the roof painting with money from our annual income tax refund, which leads to item number three on our plan. Any money left over will be used to pay down our credit cards, which have been used over the last year for everything from rental cars to an upright deep freezer and a PS4.

Well, I think that’s enough to get the year rolling. Today is my wife’s first day back to work for the year, and I’m sure the same is true for many of you. Drive carefully, have a great day, and I hope your 2016 goes as swimmingly as you wish it to!

No accounting . . .

DHS Official Unable to Give Number of Syrians in U.S. or Number of Expired Visas

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/dhs-official-unable-to-give-number-of-syrians-in-u-s-or-number-of-expired-visas/

A senior Department of Homeland Security official was unable to tell Congress the number of Syrian refugees who have entered the United States in the last year and the number of Americans who have travelled to Syria and returned, in testimony on Capitol Hill that angered many lawmakers.

and, if that isn’t bad enough, check this out

(the following is from an email I got from a group called American Security Coalition)

Barack Obama barked out orders and Congress rolled over and obeyed.

In the $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill negotiated by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Republicans caved and fully funded Obama’s refugee program.

And while the Republican controlled House passed legislation with a veto proof majority that would have tightened the screening for refugees entering America, that language was dropped on the cutting room floor of the trillion dollar spending binge.

Now thousands of refugees from Syria — and other lawless Muslim nations — will nest in America.

Foxnews.com is reporting 100,000 Syrians have already flooded into our country since 2012.

Vernon, it’s not a hypothetical for ISIS to exploit the refugee program as a Trojan Horse to sneak jihadist fighters into America.

At least one of the Paris terrorists entered France as a refugee.

*POP*

This past Saturday night, after my wife went to sleep and as I was sitting down to do some late-night gaming, I heard a loud noise. The one in the headline.

No, it wasn’t me, nor was it any part of my body. It was a spring in the back of the recliner. It’s completely broken, and no longer provides any horizontal support across the middle of the back.

Monday I checked online for furniture repair places in this area – the only one I found was in Joplin, MO. So, I called them, and found out that their BASE fee is $80/hr – and this sort of repair could run $300 – $400 USD (depending on the type of spring it needed).

I can see how, if you have a matched set of expensive furniture, this might be a price that is within reason, to save part of the set.

This recliner cost us about $15 at a garage sale. About 8 years ago. No, I did not schedule an intervention of the broken spring. Instead, after supper Monday evening, my wife and I went out to Home Depot to see what we could get. Our local store doesn’t carry livingroom furniture. So, we drove out to the store we bought my bed at 2 years ago – it keeps banker’s hours, literally. After supper that store is dark. Finally, we drove to the other end of town, to WESTCO. They were closed, too.

When we got home, we talked it over and decided to rearrange our schedule, to get Saturday freed up so we can spend the whole day shopping for a new recliner.

Still, I’m glad to know about the furniture repair center in Joplin. They had video on their website of “recent jobs” they’ve done, and they do good work. You see, we have a foundling – this antique solid-oak bookcase we found beside a trash dumpster, that some crazy fool did a bad job of covering in latex enamel paint, and I’ve been dying to get it restored . . . .

Happy Thanksgiving (USA)…

Due to the modern miracle of scheduling posts in advance, I’m writing this several days before you will read it.  That’s not really anything new – I like to get most of my posts for the week done on Monday, so that I don’t have to spend more than an hour a day at the computer.

Anyhow, today (as you are reading this) is Thanksgiving in the US.  It is the day we celebrate the end of the harvest season, and give thanks for the (hopefully) abundant harvest, friends, family, and good fellowship.  Or at least that is the historical context of the event.  The last 20 years or so it has seemed most Americans use this day to celebrate mock-slaughter and grid-iron mass hysteria over an oval-shaped piece of porcine hide, inflated artificially with air.

I’d like to take this moment to reflect on a milestone.  My blog is approaching 200 followers here on WordPress – an event that I didn’t even dream of when I started this 1.5 years ago.  I’ve never tried to monetize this, or do any of the weirdo things spammers want you to think will make it go viral.  I just write what I think, and let others decide if it is worth reading.  Sometimes it’s spiritual, sometimes it’s a funny cat video, or politics, or health care.  It would seem that one of my followers is even an international political watchdog group based in a foreign country!  I’m impressed.

Thank you all for watching my blog, and helping it grow.  Please be safe, the next 6 weeks aren’t just the “holiday season” – they are some of the craziest and most dangerous shopping weeks of the year.