Credit Card tips and tricks

Here is a list of tips that I find useful:

If you are at a point of paying your high-interest cards down to zero regularly, but you are still being assessed a monthly fee, or being assessed a non-usage fee, then all you have to do is send the credit card company a paper check for more than you actually owe. You can’t pay this on their websites because most credit card web interfaces will not allow you to overpay.

Overpaying by even a dollar, if you time it right, will put your balance at negative one dollars. This means you have overpaid them by a dollar. Now, you are avoiding the monthly fee if you leave it in the negative. The advantage is that even though you aren’t using the card you have the available credit. Available credit will decrease your percentage of credit used.

If you are going to carry a balance, put it on your low-interest cards. Carrying a very small balance is better than no balance, but don’t miss any payments. In a pinch, pay only the minimum until you aren’t strapped for funds. Paying as much as you can into your credit cards rather than have money sitting in a checking account is better for your credit score. If you have money to spare in a checking account and no bills to pay, put that money in an interest-bearing account. That, too, looks better to creditors…even though you really only earn pennies in savings interest. Why? More assets look better.

Using a credit card at swiping or chip machines is safer than using a debit card. If the machine is tampered with they are stealing the credit card company’s money, not your money. If you do see fraudulent charges report them right away.

A lot of credit card companies will waive late fees. Call them up but ASK NICELY.  Don’t make it obvious that you’re buttering up the customer service rep, either, and don’t flirt on the phone.

If you are traveling, don’t rely on only one credit card because that card may end up on a hold if the company thinks it’s not you charging up a bill in Hong Kong. Have a spare but do not carry all your cards, either. Leave some at home. Don’t carry your social security card and rip up those old Medicare cards that had your SSN on it. Have the 16-digit number of at least one credit card memorized. Memorize the expiration date and the three-digit code also.

NEVER use the word bankruptcy when speaking to a credit card company. NEVER. Do not even joke about it. Don’t say that word. Be very careful and don’t tell them the card is lost if you know it’s in your house or know you’ll find it very soon. If it’s really lost, that’s when you tell them. If you left it on the bus or left it in the gym or sitting on your desk at work, consider it stolen. If you walk regularly at night at the same time, walk a different route each time. Thieves like it when you are predictable.

 

 

Great article on Lorena Bobbitt

Some of you may be too young to remember the Bobbitt case. I do remember. It was around the time I had shock treatments, I guess prior to the shock. I remember telling myself that I knew she had been raped by her husband and asked myself why marital rape wasn’t even being considered. I remember arguing with my friends over this, defending Lorena, maybe because I was sexual assault victim myself.

I also recall the OJ trial, which also occurred before my shock treatments. I felt that there must have been domestic violence incidents leading up to the murders. Suddenly it seemed like the evidence got tampered with early on or was mishandled. I was shocked when one of my best friends took the opposite side, saying he was “framed.” This got turned into a race issue. I think it should have been more of a football issue because back then no one considered that OJ might have had a head injury.

They don’t really know what is going on in your brain until you get autopsied. More recently, Aaron Hernandez, another football player, killed someone, ended up in jail and there he committed suicide. They opened him up after he died and found a massive head injury.

At least Lorena did not end up a chronic mental patient! She is very lucky she got out when she did and was able to pick up the pieces.

We all fall victim to temporary insanity. How many out there have made decisions you now regret? Did you ever buy a product that turned out to be a ripoff? Have you ever had your wallet or phone stolen because you were absent-minded or maybe left it somewhere that wasn’t so safe? Have you ever made a wrong career move or chosen a college major that did not suit you?

Falling for false advertising is a form of temporary insanity. When you are totally convinced that a product is worth your while because some advertiser pulled the wool over your eyes, that wool is the insanity.

Psychiatry used false advertising when it advocated its “help” on us. How long was that wool over your eyes? How long were you deluded into believing something totally illogical, that defied any common sense? How long did you believe you had a disease without being presented with solid evidence? How long did you believe the pills were working when all they did was make you sick? How long were you deluded into thinking that getting locked up was actually good for you? How long did you truly believe that a large amount of voltage shot into your brain was curative?

Now, we see the other side of the story, don’t we?

Warming Centers in Pittsburgh

Please stay safe today! I am copying a list of warming centers from the Post Gazette (altering wording so I do not break copyright laws) and posting it here FREE for anyone who needs it.

By the way, leaving  your dog (or pet) out in the cold for longer than 30 minutes is illegal in Pennsylvania. Be considerate of Fido, please!

Here are the city warming center locations:

● Greenfield, 745 Greenfield Ave.

● Homewood, 7321 Frankstown Ave.

● Sheraden, 720 Sherwood Ave.

● South Side, 12th & Bingham St.

These are the emergency shelter locations:

● Downtown Low Barrier Shelter, Smithfield United Church of Christ, 620 Smithfield St. It will have extended hours this week only from 6 p.m. – 8 a.m. Monday-Friday, and 6 p.m. – 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

● Catholic Charities Day/Warming Program, 212 Ninth St., regular hours 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday.

● Wellspring Drop In Center, 903 Watson St., regular hours 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Catholic Charities Winter Warming Station  (Wednesday through Friday), open from 7am to 7pm, at 212 Ninth Street in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Light of Life Rescue Mission, in the North Side, will open and distributing hats, gloves and hand warmers to those that need them, plus warm food and drink. The mission’s warming gate and chapel will be open from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

 

Smithfield United Church of Christ, 620 Smithfield Street, will be open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. to provide temporary, overnight accommodations, professional social services, and medical care. The Winter Shelter, a low-barrier shelter serving both men and women, is open every night, including weekends and holidays, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. regardless of the temperature through March 15, 2019.

East End Cooperative Ministry, at 6140 Station Street in East Liberty, is open to anyone from 8am to 6pm. Hot lunches served from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., and warm drinks any time. Donations are welcomed, but not required.

Port Authority will be running as usual. That means both buses and the Light Rail. I’m not sure about the Monogahala Incline. Don’t go skiing today or skating. It is not safe supposedly, but I remember going skiing in temps well below zero, like ten below…and I’m not dead.

Please please please stay warm. If you drink booze or get high be extra careful that you do not do anything unwise. Stay inside and don’t drive or act foolhardy.

Beware the PDMP!

I have learned a few inside facts about the PDMP. What is the PDMP? This is a new national prescription database. Now, any doctor who meets certain qualifications (almost all) can look up anyone in this database. The database will supply them with your prescription history! Oh no!

However, I have some more details for you. First of all, they can only search back seven years. If you have not taken any scheduled drugs for seven years you are in the clear. Only some psych drugs are scheduled, mainly the benzos, speed, and sleeping pills.

This is all the more reason to stay off that stuff if you have a psych history, or at least if you are going to get it, get it illegally! This is why. Every time a doc prescribes a controlled substance you are listed in this database as having taken it. So you’ve been on a heavy dose of Klonopin? Someone can actually find out, even across state lines.

You aren’t automatically searched in this database. I can’t imagine they search every person who walks into a doc office. They only have this as an option and so far, it’s not mandatory to do this search. Also, only certain states allow access. About half of them, I think. I became aware of this since Pennsylvania was recently added. The whole goal of this is to stop opiate abuse, not to identify psych patients, but I sure can see various alternate reasons for looking up patients. It is like a snoop book for doctors.

Another thing is that only scheduled drugs (II and worse) are in this database. I do not believe antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics are listed. It is possible (though I am only guessing here) that Clozapine is scheduled, for obvious reasons.

If you are off psych drugs seven years you have nothing to worry about here. I don’t think they have the resources to check back decades ago, and I don’t think they’ll think it’s worth the money.

My last psych drug prescription was 2013. Now, over five years have passed. Dr. Pearson wrote scripts for me for sleeping pills but they never worked so I tossed them out. This includes Ambien and some other pill like Klonopin. Neither of these had any effect on me.  I was so desperate for sleep I even tried combining these drugs with booze. Nothing really worked to put me to sleep. If I had been wiser I would have sold the stuff for money. Instead, you got drugs in your water supply!

Since these are only single prescriptions, not one after the other, I doubt this list can be used to identify me as a former psych patient. So what if I had a script or two ages ago? At least I never developed benzo addiction because I hear that is really horrible.

I have been using antihistimines to get to sleep lately. Are the addictive? Likely slightly. Any of these drugs and some herbs cause dependency. However, these are legally over-the-counter. Not only that, very cheap. Goodbye, doctor’s office. Hello, dollar store!

Use herbs, vitamins and minerals, and of course, FOOD and exercise to help yourself and save yourself from doctor tyranny! You will be glad you avoided the appointments, bills, side-effects, and early death.

“Free range” meat is a scam

I can’t believe how many people fall for “free range” beef and other meat. Can they not see the forest through the trees? Can they not see the most basic reality: This animal was killed for the sake of being sold to suckers for their culinary enjoyment.

Free-range or not, the animal is as dead as anyone else who is dead. It’s a corpse that you’re eating. I don’t want to hear any more rants about what great lives they had before they were brutally slaughtered.

Yes, I do occasionally eat meat and Puzzle eats mostly meat. However, I don’t fall for gimmicks like “free range.” I do care whether eggs are organic or not, but actually, a lot of “free range” eggs aren’t organic. And it wasn’t the eggs that were free range, it was the chickens.

Also, once you have them on your plate and they’re facing doom via consumption, they’re not free range anymore.

I do avoid big name brands such as Tyson and any of the others that mass-produce. I do feed that stuff to Puzzle, though.

The reason why I got on this topic is because I purchase “organic” ground beef at the supermarket and found it wasn’t that good quality. Then, I went to a tiny store nearby where they sell meat from a very small local farming establishment. It is certainly more expensive than Walmart but they only sell small packages of this meat, not the “family size” I buy for Puzzle. I found the little corner store has better meat than any local supermarket.

A lot of meat is injected with broth and chemicals I would love to avoid. Here’s a rule of thumb: With most meat the sodium count should be 60 or under. If it’s floating around 100 or 120, you are guaranteed added broth and god-knows-what other chemicals. I will not feed sodium-laden chicken to Puzzle.

The FDA (or whatever they are) allows broth to be injected into organic chicken. Beware! Not all organic chicken is alike! Almost all that Walmart sells is filled with broth, especially that major organic brand they sell.

Here’s another rule of thumb: If the chicken shrivels up to an extreme amount when you cook it, it had broth in it! That’s why it was so cheap! Congratulations! You have been successfully ripped off.

Of course, you can avoid all this by not eating meat. Let’s not ignore the obvious.

Check out Pennsylvania’s new Clean Slate Law!

I received this just this morning in Governor Wolf’s monthly newsletter:

https://clsphila.org/mycleanslatepa

If you have any criminal history in PA, go check it out!

I support the Ban the Box movement and also the Clean Slate Law.

My opinion is that all imprisonment is totally cruel and  unhelpful to anyone. Imprisoning a perpetrator of a crime does not help the victim in ANY WAY! It doesn’t just wreck the life of the person imprisoned. It ruins the lives of all family members of the criminal. Imprisonment will scar the lives of the children who have not committed crimes. It separates families.

Let’s consider the case of Mumia, who, by the way, is imprisoned in PA. Has the wife of the slain cop become any less bitter in the three decades that Mumia has been locked up? NO! She is a bitter, vengeful woman. Keeping Mumia in prison won’t bring her husband back. Still, she gets on TV and other places and demands that they don’t let him out. What kind of harm would he cause by being freed? If she really thinks he is going to go around killing more of her family, she is totally deluded.

Why do people repeat-offend? I do not know, but how can imprisonment help them stop committing crimes? Prison causes trauma. It segregates a person from society, which isn’t helpful because they lose their social skills. It takes away their rights. Some become very very angry. Can you blame them? Anger is a natural and understandable reaction to being treated like shit. No, you do not need a college degree to understand the basics of this. The prisons actually profit from keeping their beds filled, too. A lot of people end up locked up who aren’t guilty, also. If you read The New Jim Crow you’ll see that the courts and judges are very biased and racist.

Isn’t it time to end this nonsense? I am not expecting any huge changes anytime soon, but shouldn’t the aim be to end ALL imprisonment?

 

Follow this one! Torchiana to step down…looks like it’s more than “retirement”

Check this out:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2019/01/29/partners/9CcTBXYbD0vHbGtEkJydhO/story.html

We are not getting the whole story here. So Torchiana wanted to expand his empire into Rhode Island and also snatch up Harvard Pilgrim….

Their tendrils were getting so far-reaching that patient privacy gets invaded. Imagine going to a partner hospital to get a second opinion. Good luck, because they will only peek into the other doctor’s records, base their opinion on that, and you’ll get nowhere.

Many times I have warned people about this. There’s no point in going to the Brigham to get a second opinion when your first opinion was at MGH. Folks at Brigham can easily read anything MGH docs write. Pointless. How far are people going to have to travel to get outside of Partners’ grasp?

MGH and its cronies have a lot of power. Let’s face it. Do we really want our lives run by a giant hospital?

Note also that in the process of  expanding, Torchiana also wanted to cut costs. What does this mean? Think about it. Which programs are they most likely to cut? Likely the ones that are less profitable. Where do they lose out most? I’d guess anything provided to folks on Medicaid  or uninsured. Lower pay for the lowest-earning employees. Job cuts. More milking of the elderly (it is profitable and if you kill them/us you can more easily invent an excuse). Increase of shock treatments and other bogus procedures because they’re a huge money-maker.  Cutting of the best workers because they spend too much time with patients (unprofitable).

What next?

Brrr….

We’ve been having very cold weather for a few days and it’s not due to let up until next weekend. I was going to go to the gym this morning but I chose not to because I dread standing at the bus stop any longer than a minute. Wednesday it will be even colder as a high of only 6 degrees F is predicted. Wednesday night it is due to drop to minus 4.

I’ve been warm enough indoors but sometimes I wear a winter jacket and hat while I work so I don’t have to turn the heat up too high. Yesterday I had been working for hours and realized I had not once taken my jacket off.

I am always warm enough at night because Puzzle sleeps with me. Dog body temperature is much warmer than a human’s. She jumps onto the bed right into my arms every night and that’s how we sleep, snuggled under the sleeping bag. Sometime in the middle of the night she moves to the end of the bed and sleeps on top of my feet. I think this is because she gets too warm under the covers. I feel comforted having her there.

Funny thing is that Puzzle is the same color as the security blanket I had when I was a child. Was it ever true white or did it come off-white? I will likely never know. After a while I couldn’t wash that blanket because it kept falling apart if I tried. I saved it for decades and then, when I didn’t know what to do with it, threw it out.

I suspect that I can go out if I need to, and in fact I have to later today to get to work. So long as I keep moving outdoors I should be fine. I’m going to be quite bundled up. Stay warm, everyone!

 

Progress on Life After Lithium

I am very pleased to say that Life After Lithium is almost finished, that is, the first draft of the book. I believe I have roughly 3,000 to 5,000 words remaining. The total word count is just where I want it to be. Since I first announced what the chapter titles were I have changed around a few chapters, moving them and re-titling. I added a number of new chapters.

I hadn’t realized I was this close to completion. Next week I will have longer blocks of free time to work on the book. I don’t believe I will finish next week because of pressing tasks I need to complete, including paying bills and calculating my taxes.

I hope my book pisses off a lot of people, especially those who are totally convinced that no patient can ever leave the System.  I hope to piss off anyone who believes in the validity of psych diagnoses. At the same time I hope to encourage anyone who wants to leave or is doubting the System. I hope the book paves the way for more survivors by showing an example of someone who succeeded.

Welcome back!