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Appreciating what you have

In light of my trip to Pittsburgh recently to see the traveling Willard suitcase exhibit, I’ve started to realize something that I had sadly taken for granted prior to the trip.  Where I live it’s kind of a freak thing to not have some kind of yard availible to you where you live, or a park nearby or for that matter lots and lots of tree.  I didn’t realize how much I took the ability to simply go out in my yard for granted until I went to Pitsburgh, and the area I was in had so little grass that it was a challenge to find someplace that Tippy would go potty at.  Like me, Tippy is use to having grass, though we have our own reasons for liking grass,  It never really dawned on me how lucky I am to live in a place where there is an abundance of grassy and forest type areas.  Things are much quieter where I live, and the pace of life even feels different then what I felt in Pittsburgh.  Things seem slower and in general more relaxed here.  This isn’t to say I don’t like Pittsburgh, but just that it reminded me about how simple things like grass can be missed when  visiting someplace where grass is scarce.  I was impressed by Schenly park though, not just because it gave me the ability to visit some grass, but because it gave me a taste of how folks living in the city spend time in the park.  The day I was there, there were people laying in the sun using backpacks as pillows, others were sitting on benches reading books or eating.  I thought it was neat that there was public internet access available in the park, which made me think of something I do here at home when the weather is nice but I have blogging to do.  I will sit on my porch with my netbook and enjoy the nice weather while still getting things done I need to finish.  I guess that in some ways, Schenly Park is to folks in that part of Pittsburgh, what my porch is to me, a place to kick back and relax, enjoy the weather, and experience some time in a grassy setting.

All of this isn’t to say I hated Pittsburgh, in fact just the opposite is true, I hope to go back and visit again sometime, and hopefully get to broaden my understanding about how folks live in different places.  I have lived in a rural area where I can go from seeing a shopping center to within 5 minutes be at a farmer’s market that is surrounded by farm fields.  So for me Pittsburgh felt like a whole new world that in some was was rather strange from what I have known the majority of my life.  I do look forward to the day when I can return to visit Pittsburgh though because despite it’s lack of grass and trees, it does offer a huge assortment of things to do that just don’t exist in my area.

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Renewing and old interest

Back in 2001 I bought a metal detector, which I used maybe 4 or 5 times tops right off the back and then it found it’s way into my closet.  I recently dug my metal detector out of the closet mainly because of an event being held in my area, it was described as being “day camp for adults”.   get you minds out of the gutter, it’s good clean fun with various things to try out, some I picked include, geocaching, kayaking, archery, metal detecting and a few others.  It boiled down to 4 first choices and 4 alternate choices.  I got to thinking that since I selected metal detecting as one of my choices, maybe I could take my own detector and get some pointers on using it.  At any rate my detector is out of the closet, and I found myself thinking about places I might be able to use it.  Home is out of the question, but I thought maybe the local park might be worth trying.  First thing I had to do was figure out what kind of batteries it needed which I discovered it took 2- 9 volt batteries.  I was relieved that it didn’t require “C” size batteries since those are tough to find, but since it was the little rectangle shaped 9 volt batteries I knew it wasn’t going to be tough to find them.  I got the batteries popped them into the detector and pressed the “On” button the display lit up I heard some beeps and then it settled down, I was in business.  I had good batteries in a seemingly working detector …. good start to say the least.

Well, I had other things to do, so I set the detector next to the front door where I walked past it every time I took my dog out so she could go potty.  Afetr a couple days I thought ok I have ideas of where to use it, maybe it would be good to play around with it and see what I find.  So I ended up going out on a rather cool windy day, it had rained the night before so the ground was soft which made digging easy.  Within about an hour or so, I had found $0.56 some pop tabs, a handfull of candy/gum wrappers, and a fork.  I think it was a bit of beginner’s luck, but I had a blast.  Yeah it was boring at times when the detector I was swinging back and forth was silent, but then it would come to life and beep as I homed in on something.  My detector gives a hint as to what I’m looking for, but there is still an element of surprise since I don’t know if the coin my detector sensed is a penny or a quarter or something entirely different.  So I guess you could say that there is a bit of a thrill of the hunt involved in this.  I’m really enjoying it overall, I can take my dog so we can spend time playing in the park.

So how does this relate to this blog, well I guess it’s one of those things that I found I had an interest in that by renewing it, not only do I get to do something fun, but it is something that gets me out of the house, depending on the weather I might get to enjoy the sunshine, and being as my weight is an issue, it is an activity that gets me moving around which is always a good thing when trying to lose some pounds.  I just have a low end detector, but it’s one of those things I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not when I bought it so I didn’t want to spend a lot for it.  I think in the last 3 times I’ve been out, I probably found just over $1 in spare change, and I have a warm fuzzy feeling because I found a couple really sharp scraps of metal in a sandbox that kids play in that I was able to remove and make things a little safer for the kids.  I also decided to keep the pop tabs I find and once I get a bunch of them, I’m going to take them to McDonalds and turn them in for them to use to help fund the Ronald McDonald House.   I guess you could say that this is a hobby that while it is boring at times, it does have potential to help not only myself, but others as well.

An estimate of what I paid for equipment to do this ….

Detector was between $80 and $100

hand trowel cost between $1 and $3

Carabeaner type key clips x2 $2 to $4

Plastic grocery bag  – Free?

The way I carry my stuff is that I use on clip through the handle of the trowel so I can clip it to my belt loop or backpack.  The second clip is used the same as the first but for carrying my plastic bag. The bag is used to carry the items I find in until I get home and can clean them up to check them out closer.

I would like to get a detector that has a headphonejack because my current one has a speaker with no volume control which means it has one setting in terms of loudness and that is something that I think if I wasn’t the one swinging the detector, I would probably be annoyed by the sounds.   So I try to pick times when the park is quieter to go use my detector, and if it starts getting more populated I usually head home.

In general though I find my mood has been better and I’m sleeping better as well since I started playing with my detector.  So it’s one of my nerdy hobbies, but it does offer some mental health benefits which is why I opted to share it with folks here.  It’s a hobby that can be done by just about anyone ant any age, and for folks like me who aren’t big on crowds, it’s a great way to get out of the house without having to go into crowded places.  Once in awhile someone will ask me what I’m doing and when I tell them I’m just seeing what kinds of metal objects I can find they generally shrug and walk away.  If I happen to have found something I’ll show them what I have found just so they know I’m really doing something.  So there is a bit of socialization involved, but for the most part it’s an solo kind of hobby.

Will I get rich doing this?  Doubtful, but I think the benefits of walking around outside for a couple hours or more will pay off in it’s own way even if it isn’t in gold and silver.  🙂

Social Security going green

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/21/AR2010042104780.html

The above link will take you to an article that was in the Washington Post on April 22, 2010.  It is something the folks receiving Social Security should be aware of.  While the article indicates primarily new recipients will be receiving their benefits electronically, it is something that I suspect that everyone will be effected by eventually.

“The Treasury Department is making a big push to go green — and save a lot of green — by switching millions of people who receive Social Security and other federal benefits from paper checks to electronic payments.” – Washington Post April 22, 2010

“Dangerous, Crazy, Disabled”

“Dangerous, Crazy, Disabled” that is the title of a blog entry that just brought tears to my eyes as I read it.  Not because it was hurtful, but because I felt like there was one more person in the world who is trying to understand folks with mental illnesses.  The writer of the blog entry I read talks about who judgemental and often harsh they had been in their views of folks with mental illnesses, but that because of being diagnosed with a mental illness themself and pretty much being put in a position where they had no choice but to be exposed to others with mental illnesses, they discovered that many of their views were wrong.

I loved this post and I’m not usually one that could be considered to be a “touchy feely” kind of person, but this is one blogger I would like to offer a hug to, not just because they changed their thinking, but also to let them know thattheir honesty and openness was not only gutsy in many ways, but much appreciated.

I hope they continue on their journey through recovery and that others who might hold similar judgemental views as what this blogger once had might read their post and realize that they do have a choice in how they view those with mental illnesses and that by choosing to be judgmental, they could be risking their life or the life of a loved one as was pointed out by the blogger who brought tears to my eyes.

If you want to read the blog entry that inspired this post, please go to ….

http://www.sugarfilledemotions.com/2010/04/dangerous-crazy-disabled/

Poll: Choices we make ….

This really doesn’t have to do with anything in particular it’s just one of those random things I thought might help others think about how they approach choices/decisions…

The grass may be greener but is it a good choice?

Those of you who have read the page called “About” on here may know that among other things, I also happen to have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.   I recently went through a phase where I pretty much felt sorry for myself and wanted to move elsewhere because the grass looked greener there then it does here.  As someone I bounced the idea of relocating off of pointed out, that something I really don’t want to go into detail about but to put it mildly it was a horrendous and life threatening situatuion that occurred someplace in the area I was considering moving to.  Because of having DID, much of my past is fragmented and often there are huge gaps in what I know about myself and what I don’t have a clue about in regards to my past.  The event that I mentioned above is one of those things that was in one such gap.  If it hadn’t been for one of my other personalities showing me what they had experienced, but had been keeping from me, I would have dove head first into the idea of moving to that location.  You see having DID is much like a alancing act, I have to balance not only my neeeds, but the needs of the other personalities and to be honest everything got out of kilter and I had started to neglect the needs of the other personalities.  So while the grass seemed like it was much greener for a lot of reasons that my sounding board agreed were valid reasons, I decided that looks can be deceiving and just because the grass looks greener doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for me to make.  So, for now I am going to stay put and work on finding ways to improve my situation without moving to the place I had thought would be idea but in reality may not be.

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Workers World: “SSI cuts target state’s poor”

The following article talks about a march held in protest of what I’ve been refering to as “Pennsylvania’s Cost of living decrease for those on SSI”

http://www.workers.org/2010/us/ssi_cuts_0218/

PENNSYLVANIA

SSI cuts target state’s poor

By Betsey Piette
Philadelphia

Published Feb 12, 2010 8:16 PM

Nearly 200 demonstrators, many in wheelchairs, gathered at the Broad Street Ministry on Feb. 3 to march to City Hall in protest of $22 million in cuts to Supplemental Security Income. The cuts took effect in Pennsylvania on Feb. 1.

Many participants in this “funeral procession for justice” wore black or carried mock coffins and tombstone-shaped placards, underscoring the deadly aspect this devastating blow will have for 340,000 of the state’s most vulnerable residents, 67,000 of whom are children.

The state has tried to downplay the monthly SSI decrease of $5 for individuals and $10 for families as insignificant. The official announcement about the cuts was not even made until two weeks before they were scheduled to take effect, even though the state’s budget was approved in September.

For people with disabilities, seniors and children on SSI already struggling to survive on $600 a month or less, these reductions could mean the inability to afford the co-payment on an important medicine or to buy tokens to get to school. For people with incomes already just 77.7 percent of the federal poverty level, the loss of even $5 can be devastating.

Many elderly and disabled in the state rely on paratransit services, which can cost $20 for just one round trip. For families with children, $10 less a month — the cost of a box of cereal and a gallon of milk — might mean skipping yet another meal.

Nearly one-third of the state’s SSI recipients live in Philadelphia, where very few supermarkets are easily accessible without a car. For the 30,000 others living in the surrounding suburbs, grocery options are often limited to higher-priced stores like Whole Foods.

Speakers at the rally noted that as Pennsylvania state legislators and Gov. Ed Rendell are taking money from the poorest in the state, plans were dropped to tax corporations that are rapidly expanding drilling for natural gas. These companies are using the environmentally hazardous process of hydraulic fracturing.

Rally organizers handed out hundreds of fliers to people along the march route urging them to call Gov. Rendell and area state legislators to reverse the cuts.


Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Follow up … Do I laugh or Cry?!?!

I know the post “Do I laugh or do I cry” was pretty charged and in many ways could amount to more of a rant rather then anything overly constructive with the exception of the idea that others can see copies of scanned documents I received I have to say there is a lot wrong with that particular post despite being based on the information I had at the time I wrote it.

Some thingsa I feel I need to clear up…

In the other post I said something about hoping that our state government doesn’t vote for a raise for themselves in light of the cost of living decrease they handed to folks on SSI.  In light of being in contact with a state representative, it is my understanding that the legislatures did NOT get an increase in their income this last time.

I also feel like I need to clarify that I personally don’t expect an increase in my Social Security benefits every year, and do understand that the economy hasn’t been too good in recent times.  I would have been mopre accepting if I had been told that my benefits would be frozen at their current amount until the economy improves, as opposed to having them decreased.  I don’t know numbers or anything to back this up, but I suspect there are others out there who hoped for an increase, but would have been understanding if they were told there wouldn’t be an increase and that benefit amounts were frozen.

For me personally, I think the thing that frustrated me the most, is that I was told by Social Security I qualified for “X” amount of dollars in benefits, and then to have the State decide to decrease that amount, despite the fact that I hadn’t had any changes such as a job, birth of a child, marriage, divorse or any of the other things that can effect my benefits, I felt like I was being told yes I qualify for a certain amount, but the state wasn’t going to hold up their end of what on some level has the appearance of a contract based on my qualifications for the benefits.  My understanding had been that as long as I met the qualifications, and I reported any changes in regards to other income or  things like marriages, divorce, birth whatever, I would be receiving a certain ammount that wouldn’t decrease unless something on my end changed.  that is pretty much how Social Security portrays the benefits to people receiving them, I never once was told that my benefits could go down because of decisions made by my state or federal government.  In light of this, I would like to ask that Social Security at both the state and federal levels, better inform those receiving Social Security benefits that it is possible for the government to decrease benefit amounts without notice, based on what the government feels is best rather then them looking to see what the actual impact could be beyond the actual budget they are working on.  With something like Social Security, politicians and the general public need to realize that while it looks like just numbers on paper, behind every single number on that paper, is a life that will be impacted in some way by the decisions made about the numbers.  For folks who live below the poverty level, a change of $5 can be huge in terms of being able to meet basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and for those who do try to work or are even in the process of going to college in an attempt to better themselves and gain skills that might make them more employable, the $5 decrease that PA State Government decided on, could mean the difference between being able to have money to pay for tranportation to get to class or work, so while I keep hearing about programs like “Ticket to work” or “Welfare to work” personally I find that decisions such as the one made by the PA state government to decrease benefits is pretty much counter productive for those trying to make an effort.  We are told we can keep our helth coverage for “X” amopunt of time while we work even if we don’t qualify for Social Security, but then if we don’t have the skills to get a job where the employer offers health insurance comparable to what we had, it puts us in a position where we have to choose between paying rent or paying for healthcare, and many will choose things like food, rent, transportation, and clothing over medication if put in that position.  For folks with mental health disabilities, putting us in a position like that can result in us not getting the medication we need to remain stable enough to continue to work, and result in us having to quit working and go back on Social Security or other benefits just so we can once again stabilize our disabling mental health issues.  For someone with a severe and disabling mental illness, it can take several years for them to stabilize enough to where they are able to return to work, but then they are risking putting themself back into a situation where they once again have to choose pretty much between sanity and insanity because of a high potential for not having access to health care coverage to prevent having to choose between medication and a basic necesity like food, clothing or shelter.  It’s a viscious circle and I know based on experience that there are people out ther who believe that if everyone on social security or welfare simply “got a job” everything would be better, but I have to ask these people are they saying it would be better for the individual being told to get a job?  or would it be better for the person making or implying such statements who obviously have no clue what life with a disability of any kind is like.  For me personally to be able to work I would need a guarantee that I would have adaquate health care coverage that was compareable to my current coverage with coverage for my mental health treatment being treated equal to the treatment avaiable to someone with a medical condition such as diabetes, which I have been told for years that for me, taking my meds is as important as insulin is to a diabetic, but yet I’m told that unlike the diabetic, if I’m working, heath insurance isn’t required to give me the same coverage for my medications and other vital treatment as a diabetic would be entitled to with the same health care coverage.

No, I don’t have a degree that I can say backs up anything I’m expressing, but I can say I have life experience that has taught me that because my disability is a mental health disability, I’m better off not working then I am to attempt to work.  Society through their policies has taught me that, but given a chance to work at a job that was friendly to my mental health disability and provided me with insurance compareable to what I have now, I would make an honest effort to try to work at least part-time.  Until I find that combination, I will do what I can to give back to society through my limited freelance writing, and other odd jobs I sometimes do mostly on a volunteer basis, just so I can feel like I’m making an effort to be productive in some way regardless of the views held by those who would claim I’m freeloading.

So while this may be in some ways, yet another rant, I hope that people will be more aware of the viscious circle that folks like me end up in because of society’s view of us and the fact that I believe that many, not all, but many politicians forget that there are lives that will be impacticted by changes made to the numbers they are juggling when balancing budgets.  I feel that special interest typ projects that by design will only impact an individual community, such as funding for stadiums for example should be where cuts should be made, not because stauims don’t serve a purpose, but because people can live without a stadium, they can’t live without food.

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“Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unknown”

 

Those curious about the eventual fate of the Mayview State Hospital property will
have to wait another month.
The state task force studying the issue cancelled the meeting it had scheduled for
tonight, and is withholding its draft report to await more information.
“We are expecting the final appraisal and land survey in
June,” State Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, said Monday.
“Originally we didn’t know when that was going to come
back. Since we’re going to have it, it seemed wise to wait
for it.”
The state, as part of its program to decentralize mental health
care, closed the hospital at the end of the year. Mr. Pippy is
co-chair of the task force, which is exploring the best use of the 335-acre site on
Chartiers Creek in South Fayette.
The process has not been free of controversy. Advocates have staged rallies at task
force meetings, calling for a sale at the highest possible price with the proceeds
going toward mental health care.
Others have been sounding a cautionary note, pointing out that slopes and wetlands
limit the buildable space to about 80 acres, noting that access on Mayview Road
would limit development for major business or commercial use and saying that the
roughly 30 buildings will have serious asbestos issues in demolition or reuse.
South Fayette commissioners recently changed the property’s zoning to a newly
created designation for recreational use, which would include use as a public park,
low-density residential or agriculatural use or such commercial recreation use as a
golf course.
The township is interested in acquiring the upper part of the property — west of
Mayview Road, up a steep slope — and adding it to the adjacent Fairview Park.
Some of the hospital buildings are more than a century old, and many are in poor
condition, ill-suited for reuse. Those dating from the middle of the 20th Century are
laden with asbestos, as are most buildings from the era. It will have to be safely
removed whether they are renovated or demolished.
Mr. Pippy said the task force essentially agrees with the goals of the mental health
advocates.
Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unknown
State to release report next month
Thursday, May 07, 2009
By Brian David, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
LOCAL / NEIGHBORHOODS / SOUTH
Inside Neighborhoods:
City
East
West
North
South
Washington
Westmoreland
5/10/2009 Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unk…
post-gazette.net/pg/…/968062-55.stm 1/2
advocates.
“We’ve been working with them closely over the last couple of months,” he said.
“We want to make sure that as much money comes from this as possible, and that it
goes to mental health care.”
But it’s not likely to be tens of millions, as advocates would like. “I don’t think
people have taken fully into account the cost of demolition,” Mr. Pippy said.
The task force commissioned the appraisal in March; the contract called for an
assessment of the land’s value at its highest possible use, regardless of zoning.
Having it should lend some clarity to the draft report, which Mr. Pippy described
as “essentially an attempt to summarize most of the notes we’ve taken at the various
hearings” held about the land’s use.
The task force announced several weeks ago that it would post the report on its
Web site about a week prior to tonight’s meeting. But when it cancelled the
meeting, it also cancelled plans to post the report.
“There won’t be anything in there that’s new,” Mr. Pippy said. “It’s all the stuff
people have been hearing talk about. But it seemed prudent to wait for the
appraisal.”

 

This article first seen in the May 7, 2009 issue of the Pittsburgh post-gazette offers an update as to where things are with regards to the issues surrounding the re-use of the former Mayview state Hospital property.  The article can be found in it’s original format at … http://www.post-gazette.net/pg/09127/968062-55.stm

Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unknown

State to release report next month

Those curious about the eventual fate of the Mayview State Hospital property will have to wait another month.

The state task force studying the issue cancelled the meeting it had scheduled for tonight, and is withholding its draft report to await more information.

“We are expecting the final appraisal and land survey in June,” State Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, said Monday.

“Originally we didn’t know when that was going to come back. Since we’re going to have it, it seemed wise to wait for it.”

The state, as part of its program to decentralize mental health care, closed the hospital at the end of the year. Mr. Pippy is co-chair of the task force, which is exploring the best use of the 335-acre site on Chartiers Creek in South Fayette.

The process has not been free of controversy. Advocates have staged rallies at task force meetings, calling for a sale at the highest possible price with the proceeds going toward mental health care.

Others have been sounding a cautionary note, pointing out that slopes and wetlands limit the buildable space to about 80 acres, noting that access on Mayview Road would limit development for major business or commercial use and saying that the roughly 30 buildings will have serious asbestos issues in demolition or reuse.

South Fayette commissioners recently changed the property’s zoning to a newly created designation for recreational use, which would include use as a public park, low-density residential or agriculatural use or such commercial recreation use as a golf course.

The township is interested in acquiring the upper part of the property — west of Mayview Road, up a steep slope — and adding it to the adjacent Fairview Park.

Some of the hospital buildings are more than a century old, and many are in poor condition, ill-suited for reuse. Those dating from the middle of the 20th Century are laden with asbestos, as are most buildings from the era. It will have to be safely removed whether they are renovated or demolished.

Mr. Pippy said the task force essentially agrees with the goals of the mental health advocates.

Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unknown State to release report next month.  Advocates. “We’ve been working with them closely over the last couple of months,” he said.

“We want to make sure that as much money comes from this as possible, and that it goes to mental health care.”

But it’s not likely to be tens of millions, as advocates would like. “I don’t think people have taken fully into account the cost of demolition,” Mr. Pippy said.

The task force commissioned the appraisal in March; the contract called for an assessment of the land’s value at its highest possible use, regardless of zoning.

Having it should lend some clarity to the draft report, which Mr. Pippy described as “essentially an attempt to summarize most of the notes we’ve taken at the various hearings” held about the land’s use.

The task force announced several weeks ago that it would post the report on its Web site about a week prior to tonight’s meeting. But when it cancelled the meeting, it also cancelled plans to post the report.

“There won’t be anything in there that’s new,” Mr. Pippy said. “It’s all the stuff people have been hearing talk about. But it seemed prudent to wait for the appraisal.”

“Mental Health Awareness Month Kicks Off”

This article was found in the Cumberland County The Sentinel on May 4, 2009 and can be found at the following address …

http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2009/05/04/news/local/doc49fef1706accb539490497.txt

he Cumberland/Perry Community Support Program committee kicked off Mental Health Awareness Month Friday with lunch, speakers and cake at the STAR Center in the Penrose Plaza in Carlisle.

A planned walk from the STAR Center to downtown Carlisle was canceled due to poor weather. The CSP committee is a group of people in recovery from mental illness, family members and professionals working together to help adults in recovery from serious mental illnesses live successfully in the community. CSP serves the thousands of Cumberland/Perry citizens who are in recovery from serious mental illness.

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