Odin's Last May Update: May Ye Be Well

And so begins m new monthly publishing cycle!

Odin's Last May Update: May Ye Be Well
"Wall painting from Herodium depicting a naval battle, it may represent the victory of Octavian at Actium, 20-15 BC, Israel Museum, Jerusalem" by Following Hadrian is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Hello all!

Well, this is my last weekly newsletter before I switch over to my new monthly regular format. As I’ve mentioned, there may occasionally be other posts I send out aside from that, but I think the monthly format will be more likely to work with my schedule.

So, this last week… between preparing for my new jobs and my summer semester, I’ve also had a birthday! Poor Katie got sick, too, so we’ve been taking time to rest. Oh, and I officiated at a friend’s wedding — how lovely!

In looking back at the year, so many unexpected things have occurred. Some not so great, like the crippling back pain. Others quite grand, like getting two jobs directly related to me MLIS degree. Now, with my back pain slowly improving, I’m trying to focus my thoughts into a prism of optimism for what lays ahead.

Which, to be frank, is not always easy. Life in our modern world is frustrating, brutish, and filled with paperwork. America, a country that could, and should, be leading the world into a bold future for the species, is mired in quotidian bureaucracy and vicious capitalism.

Instead of fighting for the people, our leaders fight for the interests of oil companies. Instead of serving those who have served it, our country shuns its veterans and its teachers.

We are fighting for loose change at the feet of capitalist moguls… and they are laughing.

I do not know where my life is going to take me, but I know that all aspects of my work are bent toward a singular cause: a world where monetary gain is no longer the driving force in our lives. A world where we exist to better ourselves, and lend the hand of aid to all humankind.

We must, however, start small.

As I said, I’ve recently gained two new jobs, and this has landed me in the middle of having to leave California’s public health insurance for the first time. I’ve always been low-income, and dealing with the messy bureaucracy that exists for our tattered middle class is downright frightening.

Even entering on the shoulders of a powerful union, I find myself flabbergasted by the norms that are applied.

Digging into my options for healthcare, not a single one is as functional as California’s public safety net. Some might allow marginally easier access to specialists, but the trade-offs are severe. It has never been more personally apparent than at this moment that private insurance is absolutely inferior to a public option.

I’d supported public options for healthcare before now, as a matter of principle and logical deduction. But facing the world of private healthcare has left me rigid with rage at the ill-treatment American citizens take as normal.

This is why this article from the incomparable reporting team at ProPublica is so darned interesting.

When a health insurance company is deciding whether to pay for your medical treatment, the company generates a file around your claim. All the records associated with your case should be part of your file. This includes documents explaining the reasons your claim was denied.

Patients who make it through the records request process get information that can be revelatory. Some told us they received case notes exposing how they had been funneled into programs the health insurance company deployed to cut costs. A few obtained audio recordings of phone calls showing company staff introducing errors into their cases.

The ProPublica team has even provided a form that can be used to submit your legal request for this information. Funnily enough, they direct people who don’t own a printer toward the local public library for such resources. In the fight against oligarchy, the public systems we have in place, like the library, are key battlegrounds.

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The difficulty we have at locating the basic information about our own healthcare denials is just one thread that needs to be followed back to its rotten seed. There are innumerable aspects of our legal system that fail to provide any semblance of justice, enforcing a “law” that only serves to further demoralize an already desperate low-income population.

In this article on San Francisco local politics, I found this interesting section:

And the fees don’t increase for repeat offenders. In the case of the UPS truck that’s been caught illegally parked 2,837 times, the most recent ticket cost the same as the first. Tumlin said “normal countries, of which we are not” price tickets based on people’s ability to pay and fine repeat offenders more. Finland has famously issued speeding tickets of more than $100,000 to very rich executives.

“That is effective deterrence,” Tumlin said, noting companies like UPS won’t care a lick, say, about a $108 ticket for parking on a sidewalk, and many of those fees are set by the state. Strangely, he said, San Francisco isn’t allowed to institute a different fine structure due to state law. State law also prevents the city from installing automated speed cameras on its streets to slow traffic or adding more cameras to city vehicles to catch cars parked in bike lanes or on sidewalks, he said.

In the United States, we don’t scale our parking tickets to meet the ability the offender has to pay. Now, there are privacy reasons why I might caution against the widespread implementation of cameras… however, I am fully behind any system that treats people fairly. And the fair thing to do to those with deep pockets is to fine them according to their means.

This is, incidentally, the same problem we have with taxation. Taxes are a functional system only so long as those with the most money are taxed the most. Enforcement should be directed at the millionaires and billionaires, not at the people trying to open a local business. While the dirty politicians scare your friends and family with horror stories of criminals run amok, they themselves are profiting off that self-same criminality, and more.

Interested in diving into the problems we have with cars, parking spaces, and local politics more? Check out this excellent 30-minute podcast.

Alright, the soap box can be adjourned for the time being.

Instead, I want to swing back around to one of my usual subjects: writing.

With all that’s been happening the last few weeks, I’ve had to put my novel and my articles largely on hold. Until things with these new jobs solidify, all my focus will have to be on them, so my articles will have to wait. But my fiction needs to be written. When I don’t get time for that, everything starts to feel hollow.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do more of is write using my e-ink device, the Supernote A5X. But, I’ve been doing almost all my writing in Scrivener, which is sadly tied to Windows and Apple devices (and more heavily geared toward the latter). It’s time for a change.

Enter yWriter! Developed by a writer as a completely free project, yWriter is available on all major platforms, and appears to offer an incredible suite of tools for writers of any genre. I’m still early in my testing, but it seems like the ideal Scrivener replacement.

My plan is to have this loaded on my phone so that I can keep my story with me at all times. Then, I can easily write scenes in my Supernote and directly transfer them to my Android phone. This should alleviate the need to carry a laptop with me, and allow me to escape the distracting and eye-straining screen environment to some small degree.

Keep an eye out for more about how this is working out in next month’s newsletter!

A four panel comic in line drawn style.

Panel 1: A person sits in an armchair reading a book beneath a lamp, next to a bookshelf.  On a side table, more books are stacked with a mug on top of them.  The person says "I've read so much."

Panel 2: The person looks up from their book and says "But lived so little."

Panel 3: They have gotten up to open the curtains, exclaiming "I bet a world of wonders awaits me outside!"

Panel 4: The person looks away from the window, deadpan.  Outside the world is on fire, aliens are attacking, there is lightning and in the distance an atom bomb appears to have detonated.
Source: https://mastodon.social/@warandpeas/110091062592312624

Alright, friends, that’s where I’m leaving you today. It’s been wild and wonderful, sharing these weekly letters with you all, and I’m excited about what the months’ ahead will bring. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get my writing back into a good swing, and maybe even create some of those videos I’d been planning before things with my back went sideways.

But, for now at least, go easy… and, if you can’t go easy? Then go as easy as you can.


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