Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

An Update, a Rant About Medical Insurance, And a Plea

I haven’t been posting much here lately.   I literally have dozens of writing ideas stashed away in my blog research notebook, but I just haven’t been able to get anything written. 

The main reason is that I lost my job a little over two months ago.  We’ve been lucky so far in that we have some financial resources that we have been able to draw on to keep us afloat, but these are quickly running out.  Unemployment barley pays the bills and will leave nothing left over if that is the only thing we have to live on.  Food stamps help, but $100 a month is hardly enough to feed a family of four.  

I suffer from Bi-polar II and depression.  I take medication for it.  Still, the depression has been acute and this makes it very hard to concentrate, so writing anything of substance is difficult.

I’ve been using what little concentration I have to concentrate on finding a new job.  The medication I take at least gives me enough stability to do that.  I’ve had several interviews that didn’t pan out, and I have three more companies who want to interview me, but the Holidays put that off.  Next week will hopefully see a lot of movement on the jobs front.

Going back to the issue of medical insurance, Medicaid covers the kids, but for my wife an I, we can’t get anything until we have met a $1100 monthly deductible.  That’s almost as much as we are bringing in.  I’m lucky.  Being a veteran, I can go to the VA hospital here and get my medication for only $8 per prescription.  My wife’s medication, on the other hand, we have to pay out of pocket.  These run to several hundred dollars a month, making it even harder to make ends meet.

All of this makes me wonder, if I didn’t have access to the VA, and can’t afford to pay for my medication out of pocket ($300+ per month), how would I ever be able to look for a job?  Without my medication I would almost surely be so bad off that I would either never get out of bed, end up in an inpatient facility, or dead.  Seriously.   Before I was diagnosed as Bi-polar II and got on the medication to treat it, I was suicidal.  The only thing keeping me from killing myself were my kids.  Since they live with me, I somehow managed to keep it together enough to care for them.  If I didn’t have them, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be here now.  

So, back to my point.  If people like myself can’t get the medication they need to function, or in some cases even live (think diabetics who can’t afford their insulin, heart patients who can’t afford their heart medication), how can we be expected to function well enough to actually find a job?  Job searching is hard.  It is time consuming and incredibly depressing.  Every rejection, or even every non-reply, is a slap down .  How can you be expected to perform well at an interview if your mental state makes you anxious and jumpy, or depressed and lethargic (something all in the same day)?   What if your diabetes or heart condition make it impossible to even get out to an interview?

Eventually, you could end up in the hospital (on the government’s dime), or worse.   The least the government could do is to cover medications that people need to function while we are collecting unemployment and looking for a job.  Otherwise, we become a burden to the state for much longer than we might otherwise, not to mention the terrible toll it can take on ourselves and our families.

Anywhoo, I still have some stock in my old company that I can sell if a job doesn’t come my way before the end of this month.  It isn’t much, but will mostly cover rent.  

Not being able to write is really bothering me.  I have an article being published in Skeptical Inquirer magazine in a few months.  I hope to use the exposure that I get from that to find other writing opportunities, not just to boost my ego, but to make some extra money.   Even one paying article per month would help pay a car payment or car insurance.  To do this, though, requires that I can be seen to be able to write not just well, but consistently and constantly.  That is something I’m making a priority, now that I’m starting to feel somewhat better (was without meds for a while until I could get things going at the VA).

Given this, I’m making a plea to anyone reading this.  I don’t want you to send money or anything like that, but if you know of anyone or anyplace needing some writing done, please let me know, or let them know about me.   I know I said I’ve been having a hard time writing, but if I have a deadline I always have been able to deliver the goods.  It would be a job, after all.

You may be asking yourself how I am able to write this if I’ve been having so much trouble.  Easy, it’s about me.  No research needed.

 

 

January 6, 2013 Posted by | Humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Lot Has Happened

If there are any actual readers of this blog still out there, you have noticed that there hasn’t been much activity here lately, and for good reason.

I lost my job almost three weeks ago.  I’ve been applying like crazy and I’ve had two interviews, one of which I didn’t get and the other I’m still waiting to hear about.

You would think I’d have more time to write, and I do.  I also have plenty of ideas of things to write about as well.  The thing is, with being bi-polar II, depression and anxiety go hand and hand.  Needless to say, both have been playing havoc with my mood and my ability to focus.  

My days have become a blur of several hours of job searches, filling out applications, etc., followed by some light house work, but mostly wandering from computer, to book, to TV, to just staring off into space, unable to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes.

I’ve written here before about depression and mental health.  It can be debilitating and it is a daily struggle.  At least I’m keeping up with the job searching and and meeting with recruiters.  Unemployment is coming in and savings are covering a few months of rent and such.  I’ll be ok, but at 52, age discrimination is becoming a real worry.  Luckily, I’ve got a long and varied background in computer administration.  Everything from desktops to the largest servers, and OS’s from Windows, to Unix, Linux, Solaris and AIX.  Its a pretty broad, but also deep, background.  Also, the job market is heating up.  It is just a matter of time.   Either than, or a career change.  Ugh!  I hear Walmart’s hiring (shudder).

November 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Recharging

I have been wanting to write more lately, but each time I sit down to write, I can’t seem to figure out what to write about. I have had a lot of ideas in mind, but just can’t seem to settle on one to write about. Between the uproar over Atheism+ and the current political campaign, plus personal things going on, I’ve been in a bit of a muddle.

So it seems I’ve made an unconscious decision to not write, perhaps to allow my mind to sort things out. I think I am also trying to figure out where I want to go as a writer. Do I want to focus on writing about skepticism or atheism, or maybe science? Right now I just don’t know.

One bit of cool news to share is that my article that was accepted for publication last year in Skeptical Inquirer magazine will soon be published! I’ll post the details when I have them.

September 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

My Wedding And The Seductive Lure Of Magical Thinking

Lessons can be learned from almost any experience.  Lessons about reason and logical thinking are no different.   I got married yesterday (pictures here) and while the ceremony was beautiful and was deverything I wished it could be, the events of the day or so leading up to it was anything but.

Things did not go well starting from the day before the wedding.  Both my wife and I went shopping and bill paying separately.  Well, turns out that by the time we were done and got back together, a check of the bank accounts showed that we might no have enough to pay for the reception at the restaurant.  It took returning some stuff and cashing a check with my bank’s line of credit to make sure that we had enough.  

The next problem came the morning of the wedding.  We went to the florists to pickup the floral circlet for her hair so she could take it to the hair dressers.  We got to the florists and instead of the circlet with sweetheart roses, the clerk handed her some loose roses.  No circlet.  To top it off, her bouquet, which was supposed to include red roses, star tiger lilies, and lilly grass. looked like something that a child might have thrown together.  She had specifically picked out a design from a catalogue two days before, except replacing orchids with star tiger lilies.    To be blunt, it was a piece of crap.  We canceled our order and left with her in tears.  Fortunately, went to the local supermarket with a florist and found the perfect bouquet and other flowers we needed

The next almost disaster was about half an hour before we were to leave for the wedding.  Our rings and the marriage license were locked in a fire proof box.  The key for the box was on her keyring, which, despite us and our kids looking, we could not find.  Disaster was adverted after five minutes with a hammer and screwdriver busted open the box.

Finally, we arrive at the restaurant where the ceremony and reception was being held.  We had eight vases for the place settings in a bag, which I handed to my soon-to-be-wife.  Unfortunately, she didn’t have a good hold of the bad and it dropped onto the parking lot, breaking six of the vases.  The good thing?  We didn’t have as many people show up so that we were able to place one vase per table with the flowers.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with magical thinking or supernatural belief.  It was very tempting, even for me, to want to attribute the streak of bad things that happened to some kind of mystical force, be it fate, luck, the evil eye, God, satan, or leprechauns.  The reality is that these events were just a random series of adverse events the effects which were amplified by the significance of the day and the associated stress.  

We both fought the impulse to attribute the bad things that happened to some kind of cosmic fate or karma and that actually made it easier to deal with.  A superstitious person might have allowed their superstitious beliefs to convince them that because things had started off so badly, that meant that their marriage was somehow cursed.  Even if they didn’t take it to that extreme, the thought that they were the victims of bad luck could easily have made it harder for them to enjoy that special day, as they waited for, as it were, the other shoe to drop.

We knew that there really wasn’t any rhyme or reason to these upsetting events.  This knowledge made it much easier for us to put them out of our minds and enjoy our wedding.  

In hindsight it was obvious to us that just as many, actually more, good things happen than bad.  Way more, in fact.  If we had allowed ourselves to believe in the delusion of bad luck, or karma, or whatever you like to call it, we might still be lamenting these events, or at least allowing them to taint our memories of the day,

Things happen.  And as our parents always told us, the reason is, “Just because.”

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Skepticism | | 2 Comments

An Apology and Puppies

I feel bad that I haven’ t been posting consistently here lately.  I haven’t been feeling good and work has been busy.  I do have some good ideas, but I either don’t have the time or the mental wherewithal to put them on paper (hard drive?).  I’m hoping to get something going here soon.  Until then, here are our new puppies!

Sasha and Puppies 3

Sasha and Puppies 1

 

Sasha and Puppies 2

January 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

My Apologies

I have to apologize for not posting here in a while.  I’ve been busy with a new job and, more importantly, a new love.  Things have been wonderful and exciting and crazy, but has left little time or brain cells for writing.  Things are finally settleing down into a routine now so I should be able to start writing more soon.

July 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 5 Comments

Trying to Get Back in the Saddle

I haven’t posted much on this blog lately.  There are several reasons for this which I want to let you know about because I believe that I owe it to you, my readers, who (hopefully) look forward to reading my blog.

The first reason is that I moved from an apartment to a townhouse about a month ago and have been pretty busy settling in.

The second reason is personal family issues, the details of which I can’t go into here.

The final reason is that I have met the woman of my dreams and we have been spending as much time together as possible.  After two failed marriages to narcissists (for both of us), being with someone who is honest, open, and giving is an amazing experience, one which we intend to make the most of.  

Now that I’ve settled into the new home, and my sweetheart and I are settling down into something of a routine, I think I will be able to start devoting more time to writing, especially on this blog.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments

Where I’ve Been

I have been busy all week with personal things, some of which you can read about at my personal blog if you are so inclined.  I have fallen way behind in my RSS feeds; no time to read the news, hence no material for this blog.  I am hoping to catchup this weekend.  Until then, stay skeptical!

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

My New Personal Blog

I’ve started a new blog, Parenting, Relationships, Love, and Sex.  It’s an outlet for issues that are important to me and that I hope to generate discussions on, but don’t fit here since they are of a more personal nature.  Please feel free to visit if you like.

March 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments

Meditation In a Starbucks

I’m writing this as I sit in a Starbucks on my lunch break.  I was racking my brain trying to think of something to write about when after a few moments of staring at nothing out the window the music and conversations seemed to blend into one low hum.  I suddenly realized that I had just spent several moments with no thoughts in my mind.  It was very calming and helped me to feel centered.

This immediately made me think about the book I am reading, When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron.  It was recommended by my therapist who said I might find some useful coping strategies in it.  Being a Buddhist, she writes a lot about meditation and how to teach yourself to keep your mind clear.  The idea isn’t to lose yourself or escape from the world, but to center yourself and accept where you currently are in the world.

I was, and still am, skeptical while reading the book.  She hasn’t gotten into any kind of spiritual ideas or concepts, outside of some very vague mentions of energy.  I can see the value in centering yourself and accepting where and what you are at that moment.  I just don’t want to see if devolve into talk of spiritual mumbo jumbo and “life” energy.    I suppose we will see.  I’ll be sure to let you know.

March 15, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, Skeptical | , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 391 other followers