Friday, November 24, 2006

Attn: Florida Bloggers

"Billo," who comments here periodically, never asks people to call attention to his own blog. This is an exception and an important one if like me, you live in Florida.

I've known Bill for a lot of years. When it comes to forensic pathology I know he knows his stuff for a very simple reason: He is one. He also has the magical ability to take the most complex medical matter and explain it so clearly and simply that even I understand.

In two posts, Bill explains how Dr. Charles Siebert, the Bay County Medical Examiner, determined that 14-year-old Martin Anderson died of sickle cell trait and not a beating by guards at the "boot camp" he'd been sent to, why that determination was correct, and describes the political "lynching" of Dr. Siebert that's followed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Killing trees

If the environuts really want to save trees they shouldn't burn down new housing developments they believe are encroaching on their beloved woods. No. They should do something really meaningful, like take on the volume of paperwork required after someone dies.

An example?

I'm eligible for survivor's benefits under Hubby's pension. In addition to the application and (10) other forms that must accompany it, I also had to include a copy of my original Social Security card. And, you'll never guess what I can't find!

(The last time I saw it only a few months ago I decided to put it in a place I'd easily remember except ...)

Since the application and (10) other forms were all completed and only needed to be mailed, I called the pension office asking if they could waive the requirement for a copy of my original Social Security card. That might sound like I was asking for special treatment or something completely unreasonable but, to me, there was a very simple logic behind my request. Since my own bi-weekly pension check comes through the same office, they already have it on file . . . somewhere.

Their answer? No. I had to include a copy of my original Social Security card.

So, when not tearing the house apart hoping to locate the easy-to-remember place I put my original Social Security card, I began trying to contact the local Social Security office by phone. No luck. With as hard as their recorded message ("All lines are busy. Call back later. <click>") is working, it definitely deserves a raise.

A visit to their office . . . four hours before I can talk to someone? But all I need is ...

Their answer? No. I gotta wait.

Or, I could call the toll free number. Which I finally did. And after working my way through the menu system the computer-generated voice, recognizing the information on file for my telephone number, said that some time within the next two weeks I could expect receipt of the form I needed to complete and submit in order to get a replacement Social Security card. (The form is also available online BUT when I printed it out the fields had been obliterated by a gray mass that popped up on the screen. And no. It wasn't from me.) Except, I'd already picked the form up while I was at the local Social Security office. If it took two weeks just to get the blank form sent to me, I could only imagine how much longer it would take for them to process it and finally send me the danged thing.

So last Friday I went to the Social Security office. The wait was (supposedly) only 45 minutes and Herself suggested we wait. BUT she and I had other running around to do and I have the benefit (???) of 24 years, 5 months and 8 days working in and around local social service agencies. (I'm retired now, thank gawd.) Which translates to although we'd been told 45 minutes, I knew we'd still be sitting there in the lobby hours (and hours) later waiting for my number to be called. Besides, when someone in the packed waiting area overheard the security guard say 45 minutes, she began laughing and said he'd told her the same thing two hours ago.

Today I had more running around to do. Drop this form off here, get copies made of this and that and mailed out . . . and take my completed application for a replacement Social Security card to the Social Security office. I'd have to wait, I knew. How long, I didn't, but I was certain it would be the last trip I'd have to make there.

The application form states that picture identification must be presented before a replacement Social Security card can be authorized, to verify that you really are the person you claim to be. It specifies a driver's license although other forms of official identification such as a passport could also be used.

Three hours after arriving, I finally left the Social Security office with a printout saying my Social Security Number is assigned to someone with my name. That's all.

Social Security won't replace my card until I return to their office — (again) and sit there for more hours waiting for my number to be called — to provide one more verification: my birth certificate.

Things had changed, the woman behind the counter explained, since my last card was issued some thirty-odd years ago, and they have no information on file regarding my mother's full name (or her Social Security number), my father's full name (or his) or my place of birth.

No, it's not my identity that's being questioned. My citizenship is.

Funny how illegal aliens don't have to go through any of this bull shit.

(I know where my birth certificate is but I'll be damned if I'm going back to the Social Security office with it unless I have to get a replacement card. Which, now, I don't because the pension office said it will accept the printout provided as a substitute for a copy of my original Social Security card.)

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Piddling Little Details

On Tuesday I made my usual journey to my polling place. Actually, that's a bit of a stretch. The word journey gives the mistaken impression that for me it was an arduous trip. A travail slogging through sleet and snow . . . uphill both ways. Uh, no.

This is my fifth different polling place since we moved out here. They've always been in reasonably convenient locations, which is quite an accomplishment considering the rural area this used to be. But as it began to grow and the Community Center (four miles away) was no longer able to handle the volume, my next polling place was a church (about two miles in another direction) across the road from the hole-in-the-wall convenience store that NEVER closes. Then came the fire station (four miles) followed by another church (between the fire station and here) about a mile away.

Having to go to the fire station followed by the mile-away church did bug me but for a very simple reason. At the same time they became polling places, so did the church right next to me except, I couldn't vote there. Wrong precinct.

(Herself and her family lived in that precinct, although they were within walking distance of the four-mile-away-from-me fire station . . . which was mine.)

Just before the 2004 election my precinct was changed once again but since then, all I have to do is walk out my front gate, hang a right, and then stroll down the church's walkway to vote.

I pull my driver's license out of my jeans back pocket and hand it to the person checking me in to verifying my identity before I'm given my ballot. And looking at it, they always ask me where I live, I guess as a test to see if I'm really AM the person pictured on my license because if I am, I should be able to give them my address without hesitation. And I always do.

"I live over there," I reply pointing through the window.

The poll worker does a double take looking again at the address on my license. Everybody laughs. They've done the job they are required to perform, give me my ballot and I vote.

I've gotten pretty good at knowing the best time to vote so that I seldom have to wait. Surprisingly, this time I did. Not long but after so many developments have been built, the church is now the polling place for two precincts, and neither of the two people ahead of me at the A-G desk were registered to vote in mine.

The gentleman said he didn't know what precinct he lived in and might have gotten on the wrong line. And no, he didn't have his voter registration card with him that would have told him or let them tell him. He was pointed to the Help Desk and within a minute or so they told him he should have gotten on line on the other side of the low-slung, white plastic chain being used to divide one precinct's voting area from the other. With theatrical steps that would have brought a standing ovation on Broadway, he stepped over the low-slung, white plastic chain being used to divide one precinct's voting area from the other, turned toward the Help Desk and bowed deeply, then turned again to present his identification at that A - G desk, got his ballot and was already voting while I waited for the woman ahead of me at mine to finish running her mouth.

She wasn't sure which precinct she should be voting in. What did it matter? She was here to vote and this was her polling place. No, she didn't have her voter's registration card with her. And no, she didn't want to go to the Help Desk! She shouldn't have to! They should be able to tell her at this desk because she's a busy person and doesn't have time to wait. Why couldn't she just vote at this one? And then glancing at her wristwatch she stormed out, while loudly announcing for the benefit (???) of everyone that she might try to come back later.

She seemed offended that not everything was waiting for her and her alone, or everyone willing and ready to wait on her. This unjust burden was something she should not have to bear.

I'd give odds that she lives in one of those new "Affordable Starting at the LOW $500's," cookie- cutter houses the developers have been stamping out thirty-feet away from the next one, on the swamp land they've been backfilling with endless tons of sand so that what they're selling doesn't sink. (Right away.)

No one in those deed-restricted communities has to bother themselves with making any decisions on their own. The association tells them what color the exterior of their house must be and exactly how and to what height their lawns must be cut. (They measure it with a ruler. And no, I'm not joking.) One even limits interior decor of homes within it to a certain themes chosen by the community's designer.

These people pay big bucks for the privilege of abandoning any responsibility whatsoever, for decisions they could and should be making for themselves, preferring not to be burdened with piddling little details. It's more, I guess, than they can bear.

Piddling little details, like making a fifteen-foot trip to the Help Desk to find out what precinct you should be casting your vote in.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Rather than beating your head against the wall because of busy signals whenever you call or recorded messages on a menu that seem to keep looping you back to where you first started, if you’re a Veteran (or next-of-kin of one) and need verification of military service such as a DD214 (Separation Papers), please try this site.

It's NOT instantaneous. It may not fit your needs, but definitely give it a shot.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Quotable Quotes

How could John Kerry, born into privilege, and then marrying and divorcing and marrying out of and back into greater inherited wealth, lecture anyone at a city college about the ingredients for success in America? If he were to give personal advice about making it, it would have to be to marry rich women. -- Victor Davis Hanson