Friday, November 20, 2009

The end is near - if not already here

When I was little, Christmas couldn’t come soon enough. Now, increasingly, it comes all too soon.

Yes, time does go by faster as I get older. There is also the fact that Christmas comes earlier and earlier each year. I used to complain about seeing Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Now I spot them before Halloween. In fact, it feels more and more like, once November 1 comes, Christmas and the year-end holiday madness, with an endless list of things to do and get done, is more or less here.

Perhaps more significantly, I love Fall, and I never get enough of it. Autumn is my favorite season, with its cooling temperatures and its glorious, bright colors in the face of death and the growing dark, but, unlike the long, hot summer, it always zips by, and, before I know it, Christmas is here, and another year is over. What’s more, here in Southern California, the summer heat lingers - it wasn’t until this past weekend (when, appropriately enough, a friend arrived for a visit from Vermont) that it got really chilly, at least at night - so I feel I am short-changed, getting even less of the fall.

It could be that I’m just not getting enough of a favorite thing. As I feel like I’m hurtling towards the end of the year, I suspect there’s something more to it. I like the image I was recently given - that of the year being like a roll of toilet paper which unravels more and more quickly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

T.V war

Okay, I went and did it. I bought a T.V.

Faithful readers will know that the new digital converter box has been a bane of my existence. Last month, the picture on my screen broke up, and it turned out that a wire on the converter box was impossibly loose. If I bought a new box, it would be my third in less than five months, and the government coupons are pretty much gone. So I bit the bullet, went to Target (NOT Walmart, even if it’s cheaper!) and, after sitting there for an hour, bought a 22-inch LCD high-def television (plus an extended warranty) for a good price, putting it on my credit card, figuring I’ll pay it off.

I have to come out (again!) and say that I love the T.V. The picture is stunning! For the first time in my life, I have a T.V (on its own) with a crystal clear picture, with no static or fuzz at all, even on PBS. Period. (Yes, I have friends who say I shouldn’t watch T.V - "Kill your T.V" as the bumper says - and others who say I should watch it on my computer, but there are shows I like, and I like to watch them on a television in my living room.)

There has been one big problem, though. I can’t record. One of the things that drove me crazy with the converter box is that it severely limited my ability to tape programs. I tend to tape programs and really like being able to do so. With my V.C.R, I can watch videos and D.V.Ds, but I can’t record. It took at least five hours and exactly five lesbians (at one point, they were all here at once - yikes!) to figure out that my V.C.R couldn’t do the job and that I need something else.

The something else isn’t at Target, so I went to Best Buy - twice - and got very confused - twice. It doesn’t help that Best Buy is a confusing, loud place. Many of the devices that record - D.V.Rs - require a monthly service, like TiVo, that come with a bunch of stuff (football games, movies, whatever) that I don’t want. I did buy a TiVo device, because it wasn’t too expensive, but, despite the guy at the store answering my many questions and assuring me otherwise (I guess I shouldn’t trust a guy dressed up - it was Halloween - as a superhero who looks like a weeks-old balloon), it turned out that it worked only with cable T.V, and I had to return it AND cancel the service. (I was just glad my attendant didn’t murder me!) The TiVo device that doesn’t require a cable T.V (no, I don’t want cable!) is considerably more expensive, and it turns out that a plain D.V.R - without a monthly service and which will record programs later or while I’m watching another one - is even more expensive, costing more than what I paid more for the T.V.

Do I regret getting the television. No. I can watch videos and D.V.Ds, and I don’t have to put up with the converter box. But I still really want to tape, and I will keep my eye out for a D.V.R and may well bite the bullet again and buy one. Also, I can’t help thinking there’s something I’m missing, wonder if people on fixed or low incomes just can’t record programs and wish that I just had what I had before we had to get digital T.V.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Giving the disabled a bad name and a bad time

I got the notice. I wasn’t sure when or how it would come, but I knew it would come. My attendants - those who I pay with funds from the state-funded, county-operated In-Home Supportive Services program - also got it, and they didn’t know it was coming and were confused and unhappy.

I knew that, over the summer, as the California state legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled to pass a budget, it was discovered that, lo and behold, the I.H.S.S was riddled with fraud. It turned out that people were getting money to take care of people who were dead, to take care of people who don’t exist, to take care of pets. There was one guy who was getting money to take care of his father and was using it to feed his own meth habit. It turned out that all this fraud was costing the state millions, if not billions, of dollars.
This was bad. No doubt about it. Clearly, people were taking advantage of the program, and the already broke state - not to mention the taxpayers - was getting cheated of a load of money. Something had to be done, so Arnold, the governator, gave out the order to crack down.

Thus, the notices that I got and that my attendants got in the mail.

Because of the fraud that has taken place, my I.H.S.S-funded attendants, according to the notices, are now required to fill out a form and hand-deliver it to the county office, be finger-printed and get a background check, attend a training and sign a paper saying they will abide by I.H.S.S rules. This goes for all new attendants as of November 1 and my current attendants next July.

Giving them time to quit.

Not only are these requirements a big pain, they treat my attendants as suspicious, if not criminal. Also, the notices my attendants got state that, by state law, they must pay for the finger-printing and background check.

Here’s something else: I have enough trouble finding people to work as attendants. Now I’ll have to tell them, "Oh, by the way, you also have to do these...."
Thanks to the cheaters. Wish me luck!

I recently read that people are protesting these steps, saying they make things harder for I.H.S.S as well as its disabled clients. Who knows if this will get anywhere. Oh, well, at least a judge ruled last month that thousands of disabled people can’t be dumped from the program, as was being planned to save money.

And then there was the recent report on 60 Minutes on Medicare fraud. I wonder if this has anything to do with Medi-Cal now taking more than two months to approve new motors for my chair.