Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Getting ready for AGU

In about a weeks time I'm going to San Fran (hopefully I'll get some good pics). There is a huge conference for Earth-Space science going on. Today I finally finally finally got some new and interesting results, or at least I hope they are interesting. I really hate coding, especially in a new code (just starting to learn python). Anyway I need a coding break, so I thought I'd put up a few more pics from this fall. I hope you enjoy!

I think once I get this code working and the plots all out, I might have to take a trip to The Thirsty Scholar, because I'll be one scholar in need of a drink. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

I think this is Harvard... but I can't remember

Okay I know it is, but since I haven't been able to walk through Harvard Yard in a while I thought I might post some photos to remember what it is that we're not being allowed to see.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The wonderful T.

Having traveled a bit and living in multiple places, I have to say I love the T. I wish that all cities in the US had public transportation like Boston. For us it means that we don't need to have a car, no car insurance, and no parking spaces. This way we also get a bit more exercise as it's easier to walk to most places.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lazy Black Friday

So we protested Black Friday in the best way possible. We sat in old clothes and ate left overs, made bread from scratch and read used and or library books... Okay so that is the plan for most days off anyway.

I also spent the day going through some older photos and found a bunch from T's and trains. I hope you had a successful and safe Black Friday and that there were delicious leftovers aplenty.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Photos from America's First Public Beach

Although the hour long train ride was to try to get health care, I of course brought my camera and got some photos. I did not know this but the T stop at Ocean Beach on the blue line is right next to America's first public beach. It was a cloudy day and not in a good way. The whole sky was overcast and grey, but I think I still got a few good photos out of it.

How to make a Turkey...

There is some swearing in this... I also thought that it might need more wine.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How I eventually got MassHealth

This story like many others I have come across is one of getting MassHealth sucks, but once you have it, it's amazing.

As you may have read in a previous post  I have found myself currently without work and with out the ability to afford health care. Thank goodness I live in Massachusetts! I thus qualify for MassHealth. Getting it though has been a bit of a problem... I went to one of their virtual gateways, filled out my form, read it over, signed it and was told that since I currently have no income, am not married, and have no children this will be easy. I depressing view of my current life, but at least it helps me get healthcare?

Anyway, ~4 weeks later I got a letter stating that I was declined because I am not a resident, but I am... So I tried calling many a help number given to me and was continually asked if I resided in another state at any point in time and did I receive benefits there. Yes I have lived in other states, but not currently, and no I have never received benefits before. Being asked this questions continually I started to become worried that perhaps some one had stolen my identity, but they would not tell me what state they thought I lived in or what benefits they thought I might be collecting.

I was told that I needed to file an appeal (I think, but some told me that I'd have to do this and others told me that I shouldn't) and that I should send a rental lease (which I don't have because I'm staying with friends), a utilities bill in my name (again staying with friends, not on any of the utilities, and also their rent covers all utilities anyway), or a notarised affidavit but they didn't say from whom.

In the mean time my friend was asking around to see if any one els had encountered these problems and how they got through it. Eventually he found Health care for everyone and called 1-800-272-4232. They were incredibly helpful and told him that since I was staying with him for the foreseeable future he should write an affidavit for me and then I should take it to 300 Ocean Ave, Revere, MA 02151, I believe this is the closest regional centre.

That day he went to the bank and got the affidavit notarised and the next day I took the hour plus train ride out to Ocean Ave. Once there I got a cranky women who asked me once again did I live in another state, and was I receiving benefits. I handed her the affidavit and she baulked at it saying that they couldn't accept on from a roommate, it had to be a land lord. I explained that I was told this would be acceptable and she reiterated it had to be from a landlord and added condescendingly that I should have known better then to think that they would accept one from my roommate. I then stated that in order to bring her the correct documents I needed to be told then what those correct documents where and not given false information. Was there something that I could give her then and there that would be acceptable? I had my Massachusetts drivers license, I had my US passport,  and I had my voter registration papers. She then proceeded to tell me that she had no idea why they stated that I wasn't a resident and no it did not say that I was or am a resident in any other state or receiving benefits from another state (thank goodness no identity fraud).  She finally went and asked if my roommates affidavit would be acceptable and they said yes, took it away, she came back in a huff and said that I now had health care and I needed to call this phone number the next day,  oh and I would need to provide a primary care giver good bye. And that was it according to her. I asked her where I might find a list of primary care givers and she almost exploded "I don't know call some one else". So I left. I did get some good photos though.

Since the MassHealth help lines hadn't been helpful I called the Health Care for everyone to ask where I might find a list of primary care givers. I've never had to do this before as I've been in school for my entire adult life and didn't get a choice, you just got who they gave you. I was then told that I should know better and call my private insurance plan. As far as I knew I didn't have a private insurance plan as I was now in one of the MassHealth programs, but didn't know which one. The lady then lectured me that I should get my organisations right. She did finally give me a number and informed me that I was on MassHealth Essentials, I didn't know that was one of the possible programs let alone the one that I was on. By this time I was in tears, but at least I had a bit more info.

I then called the Customer Service at 1800- 841- 2900.  Now that I had an Id number (not that I knew that I had one or what it was) the help was much better. I found out what my options were for the different groups I could go with and where to find a list of primary care givers. This I found out was a bit of a fluke, but how to play the system. Apparently one just has to keep calling, just call the same number and the same extensions over and over again until you find someone who is helpful. I thanked the girl profusely and told her how grateful I was that someone was finally willing to talk me through the entire process. I am new to the state, I didn't expect to find myself in this situation, I have never had to receive benefits before and the process was new and is very convoluted. Even though I have advanced degrees I was made to feel stupid and incompetent throughout the entire process. I don't think it was me, and I understand that the people working in the system are overworked, underpaid, and understaffed. However if you find yourself in a similar situation don't worry you are not stupid, you are not a bad person for needing this help no matter what any one implies or out right says.

My story it ends up is quiet common. According to the Health Care for Everyone employee that my friend talked to, many people are wrongly marked as not a resident. I hope that by reading this you've found some useful info and phone numbers or at least solace  in knowing that you are not the only one out there experiencing this.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yoga Breakdancing, So Cool!

This is the best thing I've seen I think in years.  Enjoy...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The rest from the weekend at Occupy Boston

These are the last Pics from this weekends trip to Occupy Boston. My partner was sure that all he would want to do is go down there, drop off our donations, walk around and then leave and have a pint of beer at the bar. Instead what happened was that we became captivated by the speakers at the rally, and then we went and got a pint. When we were down there a group from (I thought it was militarysuiside.org or com but I'm having trouble finding their web site) were talking. Anyway, this guy talked for quiet a while about post traumatic stress disorder and military suicides. He reminded everyone that there is no way that any of us can know or fully understand what our soldiers went through, saw, or had to do while deployed. He asked us to make sure that we don't let our friends and family who are returning from war push us away. If they are quiet, if they are sullen, if they are "changed", just accept them, love them, include them, and try to help or get help for them. 

After his talk a mother and father of a kid (he was about 22) who committed suicide spoke. That's when I started to tear up. This is what I remember of their shared experience. They talked about how their son had been "aggressively recruited". This was pre-Iraq war. They talked about how he and his troop were one of the first deployed to Iraq and about the first time they felt a bomb go off close to their camp at night. They read from his letters home where he tried to spare them all the pain and misery, but would allude to other letters he had written that they would read if he died. They talked about when he returned home, about how he at first seemed just like their son prior to the war. He changed. After a while they started to notice that he was depressed, they tried to get him to the VA, but he was worried about what the military would think. I believe that they finally got him to go, but one day his son asked him if he could sit in his lap and be rocked. Later that night he killed himself. He was younger than my little brother who is about to become a father for the first time. It is sad to think that this kid, who was willing to go to war for us, and willing to give his life for our country will never be able to experience the life of freedoms that he fought for. 

I understand that we need to have a military, and I understand that our military does do many great deeds overseas that we never really hear about. I once got to talk to a guy who while in the military received a PhD in Civil Eng. He was part of the crew who first went into Bosnia after the war to start rebuilding the towns. He was also part of the crew who got to hand over the keys to the town once the building was complete. I was blessed to hear his story and get to talk to him. Stories like this are uplifting and show how much potential for good our military has. However I do feel at times, to be honest at many times, that we and our representatives forget that our military is made up of people, and many young people at that. Asking them to go to war, to see people die, to kill people, is a huge request and one that I feel is many times taken too lightly. During my lifetime I have never been for a war that we were in. That said I am so thankful for those who choose to enlist and fight in the name of our country. I could not. So thank you to those who do, try to stay safe and if you need anything, just ask. 

More from Last weekend at Occupy Boston

Some more photos from Occupy Boston, Keep up the good work! 

It is amazing to me how so many in this nation are willing to speak up for the rights of corporations and the right for people to make an obscene profit on the backs of others, neither of which are in the constitution, but are happy to turn a blind eye when the right to the freedom of assembly is being ignored and trampled on right in front of our eyes. Sure this is the second to last freedom mentioned, but it is in the first amendment to our constitution. It was viewed as one of the most important freedoms we the people of this country have. It is not used often, but when used, it has a great impact.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - The First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More from Occupy Boston this past weekend.

Some more from this weekend at Occupy Boston. 


Since moving back to the States in the Boston area, I've applied for MassHealth (well really commonwealth care, but they all go through MassHealth or so I'm told). I'm lucky in a sense to be living in a state with something akin to a socialised health care system. I'm still a PhD student, but my funding has run out so I'm no longer getting paid (thus one of the reasons I moved back) and have been looking for work in the area (My partner lives and works here). Since my student loans are about to become due, all my savings is going into paying them off as quickly as possible while still being able to pay for my living expenses... which means that I can't afford health care. Up steps Massachusetts and offers state funding health care, I say "Yes Please". So I've filled out the forms, sent in the application, wait about 4 weeks and get a letter stating that they have refused my application because I'm not a resident. Wait a min... I just voted in this last Tuesday's election, in order to vote you must be a resident. My name was on the ballot roll and all. In order to be a resident, you must live in MA, they sent me the letter to my apartment in (drum roll please) MA?!?!? I have a MA drivers license, I pay taxes in MA, one of the big reasons I need this health care is because I could be fined for living in MA without health care. I guess though that if they think that I'm not a resident, then maybe they'll let that fine slide?

Yesterday I tried to call them and spent from 1:40pm - 5:15pm oscillating from being on hold to having the computer kick me off because they were having a large call volume. So I'm now up early and on the phone with them again. I tried at 8:30 and found out that the call centre doesn't start until 8:45am, so I called at 8:45am. The line was busy, busy as in a busy tone. I called back immediately. Apparently even though it's 8:47am "all agents are busy" because they already have a high call volume.

The next step for me (after I get off of hold) assuming that they can't help me is to call a lawyer with the community legal services. I have 30 days where I can file for an appeal and ask for a "fair hearing" and explain that I think the reasons why I was declined was false. I'm not sure how to show that I'm even more of a resident than I already have. I produced my driver's licence, my pass port, my check book with the address of my current apartment, and I even had some mail with me to also prove my address. I'm not sure what else to do.

I've been on hold now for over 12 mins.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy Boston

On the way down to Occupy Boston, got this photo of south station and then a few photos from across the street. The camp was larger than I expected and much more densely packed. I was surprised to see the police by the entrances to the camp. Not sure why I was surprised, but I think I figured that they wouldn't be so visible or even there. It was also a lot quieter than I expected. No one shouting, people all acting very respectfully. It was a great experience and I hope that they can make use of the old winter clothes and sheets that we were able to bring down and donate. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Harvard

Yesterday we went to occupy Harvard and Boston. My partner is a staff member of Harvard and thus has a staff id, and I have a gym membership id. I wasn't allowed in the second time we tried to get through. We weren't there to protest, we were just passing through on our way to the T to get to occupy Boston, but I did get some photos. There weren't many people there and those that were were very quiet.

I really think that Harvard is overreacting. If they want to keep the size of the tent community down for the safety of their students, then they should be able to do that, but keeping everyone without a Harvard ID out is a bit of a overreaction. There was a group of high school students who had come up for the weekend who wanted to see Harvard and were refused access. Partners, friends and family members of Harvard students, staff, and faculty are refused entrance. The normal busy Harvard lawn was quiet and empty. They don't seem to want to kick the protesters out, but instead have refused to let anyone in, I personally think that this will make Harvard look worse for wear.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Women, War, and Peace

By virtue of living abroad you tend to miss many of the things that go on in your own country, and months after returning I feel like I am still catching up and learning once again where to look for interesting shows and news. This is a look behind the making of this great series Women, War, and Peace shown on PBS.

It is odd to think that sexual violence during wars has only recently been prosecuted as a crime against humanity. Women make up half of humanity. How has it taken so long for us as a spices to recognise that this is not okay, that this is torture, that this is dehumanising?  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Election Results!

So in my local elections all but one of my choices got in, so not too bad, but I'm sure not too many people care about the small town politics. But there were some interesting results outside of MA, Ohio overturned the union stripping bill and Mississippi rejected the "personhood"amendment. Main also re-instated the right to register to vote on election day. Not bad over all! Now just a year until the big election, I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Yeah, I voted today!

That is all... Here are a few photos from the experience. I hope you had a great day voting as well!