I Was Walking In A Circle

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I realized that my feet felt as if they weighed a ton a piece, looking down I see that I’m wading through a foot of thick mud, going towards what appeared to be the direction I was drawn to head. The closer it seemed I would get to my destination I would notice the distance increase. I was carrying a bag which seemed to get heavier by the step, I wonder what I could be carrying that could weigh so much, I wanted to open the bag but in the darkness I don’t know how I would see inside. Hearing the loud crashes of thunder I wanted to move faster, I wanted to find shelter, as I watched the flashes of lightning in the distance I wanted to get away from the tall trees, but the flashes got brighter and the thickness of trees only increased, the more I pushed the more trees I can see. Hours seem to pass before my surroundings begin to seem familiar, I’ve been here before, and before that I was here also, but where is here, why do I keep coming back, I keep finding the same path, leading me to the same damn place, I’ve been here but this place is not familiar, it’s darkness reminds me of having my eyes closed, unable to see, only being able to hear, to feel, and smell the rot in the humid air. What is that familiar smell, why do I know the soothing scent, it is pleasing to me, it makes me feel secure in a place I should know but don’t recognize. As I rest I feel each drop of the rain touch my face, rolling down the skin like warm tears. In my mind I hear Freebird, it’s loud and I hear it echo in the trees, I need to start moving now, I need to get to a safer place, this place smells of death, it smells of rotting corpses, there are thousands of them. As the light of day breaks I can see the bodies I’m walking on, wading through like mud, the blood is over the top of my boots, it’s weight is increasing with every step, I look down and see the faces, faces that didn’t see what had killed them, I know what killed them, I know what the thunder is, I know the lightning flashes, I know what has happened.

As I sit in my recliner with my eyes closed shut, telling my wife for the first time ever what it was like to see the destruction as a result of what I did while in the Air Force. The reality of it is that it isn’t a forest, it is a desert, it is a place I never want to return to, and rarely, if never, talk about it. I’ve been married for 16 years, to a wife that came along after the Air Force, she just doesn’t want to understand, and I’m okay with that. The mere fact that I’m writing about it amazes me, it still hurts, it is still fresh when I close my eyes, and I fear there are not enough pleasant memories ahead to knock it the fuck out. I spent years detached from the reality that the weapons I helped build destroyed life and property, it wasn’t me pulling the trigger, it wasn’t me hitting the target, but a simple walk down a deserted street after a carpet bombing the night before let reality set in, no longer was I detached, no longer was I innocent, and I knew then changes needed to happen or I would lose my mind. Like a good soldier I pressed forward, putting behind me horrors that cannot be unseen or forgotten. What gets seen cannot be unseen, unfortunately it is very true. My wife wants me to talk to a headshrinker, I opted out. And now I see, once again, talking about it isn’t worth a fuck, I just leave more out each time. I hope that in time, preferably before my wife has me cremated, that I just forgot about the shit and everyone else forgets it as well.

When I talk about Desert Storm and later The Liberation of Kuwait it is to educate myself and others about how the real world is, beyond the news, beyond the media, beyond what the politicians think they know. There is zero reasons I should feel guilty for being a part of the machine which is called the military. I took responsibility for my personal contributions while in the Air Force, I do not blame others, there was no gun to my head, I served, fuck it, I’m a proud veteran, I can’t ever take it back. Some of y’all understand my pain, the rest of all will never have a fucking clue, y’all are the lucky ones, the innocent ones, the ones who close their eyes without fear. Anyway, to my wife who is reading this post, I hope this has helped you, at least a little. I never asked to be anyone’s hero, I never asked for people to thank me, I never asked for people to want to take a picture with me if they find out I’m a disabled veteran, I just joined the Air Force because I wanted to serve my country because I thought I could and would make a difference. But, I can’t fix stupid and stupid wanted a robot who didn’t care, that person is not me.

Before I go, let me tell you about the one and only time my ex-wife was able to pry out of me what I didn’t want open. Y’all see, she was studying to become a sociologist and well on her way to being a social worker, she thought we could talk about it, that I would be comfortable knowing that she, of all people, would not pass judgment. When I was done talking she was in tears, she was appalled that I was part of the organization which promotes peace through the use of violence, she told me she was ashamed to be in the same room with me, ashamed to share a last name with me in marriage, and that one day I will pay for my sins of being a baby killer in the deepest, darkest parts of hell, a place reserved for rapists and paedophiles. At first I believed she was right, it matches how I feel, but soon I realized that I am a simple person who was not looking for redemption or forgiveness, I wasn’t even looking for understanding, I just wanted to know if the words I would speak would or could sound like the thoughts in my head or the memories I have or how I feel deep down in that part of me nobody gets to witness, ever. Shit goes there to be buried and forgotten, it takes time to dig it up, nobody quite understands that, scratch that, some do understand, those are the people who don’t have physical scarring but are somewhat fucked in every other way, we know what each other are thinking, not even we understand so we don’t expect others to either. We don’t look for eyes or words if pity, we do appreciate it when others respect us enough as human beings just to let things be.

My wife hugged me, long and tight, not a word spoken, with tears down her face, she told me I’m home, I’m with people whom I love and that love me, support me, and care about me. That was the best hug I have had to this day in my life, a memory I will forever cherish. My message to my wife and to my son who will read this post later is that life happens every minute of every day, take time to see the scenery, smell the rain in the distance, we only have one shot at this life so we better live it to the fullest. My daughters give me their support as well, still I wonder if they really understand or if I just get the nod. This, unless something snaps again, will probably be the last time I discuss any of this on a personal level, this shit sucks to remember, to relive, and to talk about. Some call blogging “therapy”, and it is, but not today, today is more like anger management for me. Remember, no pictures please, ever, for any reason.

My Very First Blog Post Ever

Way back in the spring of 2001 I decided I wanted to create a blog to capture some of my personal ideas, beliefs, life, and history. It wasn’t that I had (or have now) an amazing life that I needed to write an autobiography, I just wanted a place to put my thoughts, what better way than to use the new and upcoming technology then to make a blog. My roots remain intact today, I write for the purpose of being able to “talk out-loud” to a very non-specific audience. But then again, one couldn’t really even define one’s audience back then. Fortunately for me recently, I was trolling myself, y’all might be familiar with Googling yourself, a disgusting habit, but I’m sure most of us have done it at least once. Anyway, my original of the three blogs I have started pops up as a result. Intrigued, since I thought it was dead and buried long ago, I clicked the link. It remains as the day I left it, before moving on to pursue other pastures. But when I started reading the things I was writing it all came back to me. I then located my initial post. In a minute, I will share that with you. Oddly enough, I find myself concerned in similar ways with how religion changes the lives of the most honest men and women. Fortunately for me, many years has passed, but one thing remains the same, what history writes about us will never change, good or bad, right or wrong, historical facts will remained emblazoned in time forever.

I remain, still today, as seen by my last post and some real recent ones, a critic of organized religion because, more often then not, it is personal opinion. I remind each of you that I am a full supporter of personal freedoms and we all know that each individual will always be bound for the choices he/she makes. I may criticize, ridicule, and as many accuse me of, mock organized religion, it is purely my personal opinion in life and my choice to do so. I used to think I was seeking answers, shopping which version of truth and reality I wanted to see or be a part of. Slowly but surely religion began to be pushed out of my life, becoming pointless, and I really started looking into what we all know as mainstream organized religion. Although there is personal opinions in this inaugural post of mine, there are also many historical facts. Take from it what you will, but I think after this post I will be avoiding the topic we all call organized religion for many reasons I don’t think I need to go into now. The emails used to be entertaining but they have turned into another kind of beast, a beast that I had to learn to break and learn to ride like a horse with an attitude problem.

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Let’s Follow The Money …….. 

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I have studiously avoided the subject of religion and politics in past conversations face to face with people, preferring to concentrate on personal aspects of our situation in the world. But, the fucking time has come to discuss it. This will be difficult reading to some Christian patriots out there. But if you have reached the level where you can accept that our government is not, nor has been, acting in our favor; that those in power lie; that “those who would enslave us” will use any means, any vehicle to achieve that enslavement; then you must examine the evidence without the rose colored glasses.

If we are indeed in a spiritual battle across the planet, then you must be able to recognize the devil in his many guises. Correct or incorrect? Next to “government”, his favorite institutional tool must surely be “organized religion”. What better way to lead the sheeple, his captured “flock”, into slavery. In my youth and even as an adult, I found myself being very uncomfortable with organized religion. At that time in my life I was, like most Americans, totally ignorant in regards to the New World Order agenda and the plot to destroy, or override our Constitution. Intuitively, I refused to allow government or religion to exercise much of a hold on me. For many years I struggled with what appeared to me to be an unsolvable paradox; How could I love my country to the extent of serving her military and believe in a God yet be fearful of my government and apprehensive of the church and organized religion?

Certain aspects of Christianity have always disturbed me since I was a very young age. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the burning of so-called witches and the distant look in a fanatic’s eye when they realize you aren’t going to fall for their particular interpretation of the Bible. Yet Christianity and the pursuit of the freedom to practice it, is directly responsible for the founding of this country I love so dear. Christians account for less than 30% of the world’s population. Are we supposed to believe that the other 70% of the world and all of the great men who were not Christians were and are still wrong? For us to believe that any one denomination, or religion for that matter, is the only way, is to deny the omnipotence of God and the mere idea of his actual existence in body, spirit, and mind.

Religion is man’s way of dealing with his mortality and the Bible used by Christians is much more than the proprietary property of one group of people. It is the foundation of two other religions, Judism and Islam. It is, in itself, the greatest tool for the civilization of mankind in existence and simultaneously the cause of most wars, bloodshed, divorces, and disagreements. The Bible is a history of tyranny and an epic saga of the determination of a few men to lead their people out of slavery. It, and the lessons it teaches, inspired our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights. Yet, despite the recurring theme of God guiding men out of their slavery; of God giving man his freedom; of breaking his chains and protecting his chosen ones from harm by the leaders of the day; we have, allowed our so-called leaders to use it as a tool to return us to a slavery called organized religion.

Standing on a Sacramento Mountains summit in New Mexico in 1997, looking out over the perfect harmony of earth, air and sunlight, I knew without a doubt that something spectacular existed somewhere in our vast universe. Something more to explore, something more to explain, and something more than we, as men, could possibly ever have the capacity to understand. Each of us see divinity through eyes colored by their culture and surroundings, we have the tendency to believe others are somehow wrong in their beliefs. Evil men have seized upon this practice and used it to unite us against others, often ending in us fighting and dying for someone else’s favorite interpretation. Our country was created by men fleeing religious persecution, but some of those men, in turn, persecuted the Indians who worshipped God in their own way, through nature. Is it not said that God gave us the gift of free will. When we use it to persecute, prosecute, denigrate or force our belief system on others, we are giving in to the dark side of man. When we allow our greed, our envy, our sloth or any of the seven deadly sins, to guide us, we allow evil to rein. When one man, or group of men, seek to impose their morals or their dictates on another, we have tyranny. It is even more insidious when, under the guise of religion, we allow ourselves to be led down the path of slavery once more.

How is it done? An example from our history. Before World War 1 Joseph Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt conspired to dominate the world. It was their job to create a tension that would lead us into a world order. With most of Russia already dominated by the Communists, it fell to Roosevelt to create the same conditions here. In his sweeping measures of 1933, he stole our gold, gave it to the bankers and replaced it with a monetary system that they could control, inflating or deflating it as needed. There was still the need for an entity to replace the failed League of Nations. Alert Americans doomed that organization but Communist spy, Alger Hiss, and his buddies were waiting in the wings with the United Nations.

So, even before the war was over, the scene was being set for the installation of  the UN as a ruling body, with the memory of Patrick Henry still fresh in their evil little minds, the “One Worlders” had to neutralize the danger of Christians becoming involved in politics. They latched upon the fraudulently used but oft-quoted doctrine of the “separation of church and state.” The  agency used to cut the balls off the church was none other than the IRS. According to this list, excerpted from a list of 30 requirements for 501(c) (3) Churches. Put out by the Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service Pub 1826 (9-94) Cat. no. 21096G, churches must:

1. Be incorporated (BECOME A BUSINESS)
2. Have a recognized creed and “IRS approved form of worship.”
3. Have “IRS approved code of doctrine”.
4. Have ordained ministers educated in “state accredited colleges.”
5. Be “neutral on political issues.”
6. “Have tax exempt status issued by IRS.”
7. Pastor must answer to the IRS as to “daily activities of the church.”
8. The IRS must be privy to “all financial transactions” of the church.
9. Pastor must supply “names of all donors”- make books records available.
10. May only use “IRS approved” fundraising methods.
11. Pastor will be “called to account over any stand taken against the tax system.”
12. Church “must advocate and support racial integration.” (Multiculturalism)
13. May “not” engage in activities “opposing pornography.”
14. May “not” support legislation saying “children belong to parents” rather than state.”
15. May not form a Political Action Committee nor support legislation “opposing lotteries and gambling activity.”
16. May not “oppose the public school system.”
17. May “not publicly declare” we are to “obey God rather than the government.”

These requirements only pertain to churches that want to escape paying taxes. Most businesses cannot operate at a profit today because of taxes. In fact, most small businessmen are either forced to cheat on their taxes and lie to the government simply to make ends meet and to feed their families. So the government which stole our gold in 1933, led us into a world war, imposed illegal taxation and adopted the 10 Communist planks verbatim, as stated in the Communist Manifesto, and has now invaded your churches and now controls your religion, as of 1942. Our pastors, preachers, priests and rabbi answer to the government, not God. The obedience of the Christian Coalition to the Republican party, the refusal of the ministries to endorse a true leader or to expose political corruption is now explained.

Meanwhile, Bible reading Christian Home-Schoolers are prosecuted, their children taken away because the “government court” believes unauthorized, unsupervised reading of the Bible (or the Constitution) is somehow dangerous! Guess what? They’re right! For when you read the Bible without the blinders of “organized religion” you realize you are in a constant battle against evil to maintain your freedom. If you aren’t against it, you are unwittingly for it. The Word the Bible teaches is hushed up in Church. The word you get, when you read it right, is FREEDOM. The ironic part of all this is that no religious leader has had the guts to stand up to the system, to expose the part the bankers play, or to break through the primarily Jewish control of the media. Only Louis Farrakan has been able to organize an effective protest against the new enslavement of Americans. He was able to organize a million man march and speak out against this creeping Fascism called the United States government while a white patriot group was only able to amass a few hundred. Dick Gregory led a demonstration against the CIA drug running. For all our espousal of the Constitution, God and Country, we lack the effort to bring organized religion back into control.

Feel free to look into the finances of organized religion and you will find deceipt, corruption, idolism, and money funding things you don’t even want to think about, it’s ALL a piece of history now.

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As I reviewed this very first post of mine before re-posting it here I see I used to be a little fucking angry. At what specifically or exactly why I don’t really know today. But, life was different for me back then, I had just got out of the Air Force, been divorced, and starting a new life, to include a new wife. I wasn’t a very big fan of people back then, it has taken me years to pinpoint why, but as I get older I am able to see better. Does this post from a long gone era justify my way of thinking towards organized religion today? Absolutely not, but the point I want to make is that the further I got away from religion, politics, the military, and a cheating cunt wife, I found that things began to make sense. Men are evil, nobody can deny it, it is a fact proven every single damn day. We, as human, look for a root and reason, and some continue to follow an outdated way of thinking, a way that uses FEAR as a primary tool. Do you really think that this is the right approach? Sure, we are people, we need organization, we need to be able to herd together in gatherings, but we also need room to be able to think for ourselves without being condemned for pointing out flaws in organized religion, man, government, and society.

As mentioned at the beginning of this particular post, I think I will steer away from writing about religion of any sort simply because it is taxing on the mind. It has come crystal clear that no matter what, its all just my opinion. Maybe I’m the one who is butt-hurt.  I’m tired, bored, and disappointed in many things about the response this blog gets. Most of all, I realized there are many angry motherfuckers out in the world that don’t want to see anything at all. So be it, tour is now officially over. I will be returning to posts about weekends, sex, naked women, vacations, family, tattoos, music, food, cars, guns, military, The United States of America, and all the other things, people, and places I like in this world. I would like to stay away from the negative impact that religion has had on me and the world in general. If you want depressing shit about your religion just turn on the ol’ boob tube and cook your brain a little while there. Anyway, I really appreciate ALL of the email that has been coming in, even those wishing I would go to hell, ALL very appreciated. So, well, fuck, where are we taking this little ‘ol blog from Texas? I figure it like this, since I’m already driving on the road headed to hell then I better make it a road trip to remember. With everything being said, I think, all there is left to say is to remember to eat it every day, your lady will always appreciate your continued efforts.

Just Slide It In Slowly

Wait, wait, wait motherfuckers, it’s not at all what your dirty damn minds are thinking. Or is it? Is it? It’s actually quite innocent, but, there’s more, it goes much deeper than that, because a conversation with a tech services department really left me questioning the number I dialed when seeking assistance. But now I have jumped to the middle of the story, so let me back track a bit and tell you a story, a true story, a story which happened to me this past weekend. In the end, no matter what, I’m very innocent, my entire conversation reminded me, quite a bit, about the commercial where the guy is talking to his insurance agent at three in the morning when his wife slips in, turning on the light wanting to know what in the fuck he is doing and who in the fuck he is talking to. The difference is I was not getting insurance information from Jake, I was getting information from, wait, nevermind, you have to wait til that part of the story. So, I sense your confusion, so perhaps I need to just start.

A few weeks ago I ordered a set of replacement headlights for my daughter’s older Nissan Sentra because both of the headlights had a crack in them which in turn was letting in moisture which in turn was creating its own set of problems. I try not to plug companies for free here, but JC Whitney was a great help in finding the product I needed. In fact, when I was having problems on line I did call them to request help, the guy I spoke with at that time was Jack, he helped me place my order and I was on my merry little way while I waited patiently for my box to arrive. Within a few days the box did arrive that contained the headlight replacement kit. From the look of it I assumed it was all correct and as soon as I had a day without rain I was going to be all over it. I had a long wait, but this past Sunday was the magic day. I got out my trusty orange bucket to use as a chair, my toolbox, a frosty cold beverage, and the box of headlights. I was ready to go. Home alone, the breeze blowing nicely, and my music playing out of her car loudly. Is 7 in the morning too early to listen to Crazy Train? I didn’t think so either.

Removing the old ones was a bit of a challenge, the manual that was provided mentioned it was the “typical” way to disassemble the existing light housings. But, and this is a general complaint to translated 3 times over instructions, something that I need is always lost in translation, literally. After finding the remaining 2 screws, the housing popped right out into my lap. It was like magic, presto, its out. I felt as though I had beat the car which challenged me with the tiny hidden screws. I need more “victories” like this in my life, they are simple but they are still mine. After completely cleaning both sides out, spider webs and debris caked up over the years, I was ready to begin. Meanwhile my wife is calling me to check up on me, see if I’m bleeding or not, and to inform me that if I need an extra set of hands she will be home in ten minutes. Sure, why not, I can wait, help is help. After fifteen minutes and no wife I decided to brave it all alone and just finish. Within ten minutes the new light housings were installed. That was the easy part. Then I find myself getting just a wee bit pissed. The electrical connection from the car is rectangular in shape, the new lights come with a more square connection. Needless to say I would have been extremely mad, but I found a harness kit in the box, one for each side. I had two choices, use the adapter to crossover or cut the cars wires and install the female ends so it all works. I chose the adapters. Here’s the catch, they still don’t fit. Thinking I’m stupid some how, I redo the same steps multiple times.

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Having no luck, I roll back on my bucket, light a cigarette, have a drink of Dew, and re-read the instructions thinking this shit shouldn’t be so hard. Unable to figure it out I call the 1-800 # for the manufacturer who claims to be open 24/7. I call regretting having to make the call, these things never end well, I’m not looking to speak to someone in a call center halfway around the world. After navigating the rather simple menu I’m on hold for less than 30 seconds and speaking to a woman who speaks fluent English, my guess is that it might even be her native tongue. She has a very pleasant voice, she guided me through finding all the product information she required to find the proper spec sheet and instructions. After reading though them she comments that the way they are written is pretty confusing, a statement which I agreed to quickly. So, now its time to begin, I put my phone on speaker, turn up the volume, and set the phone on the radiator housing. She commented that she liked Ozzy, old school Ozzy like she hears in the background, and she wishes she was alive back in his glory days because she would have been at all of his concerts rocking out. So, we go through the plugging and unplugging routine, still no go, still not working. Then, she asks me if I put on the protective gel on the connectors to inhibit corrosion. Nope. So, this is where it got fun, because my wife comes up behind me quietly and kisses me on the cheek. The operator tells me to hold the male section (I’m still on speaker) in one hand and squeeze generous amounts of lube on the protruding prongs, assuring to push into the crevices with my fingers. My wife is just looking at me with that look, y’all know the look, hands on the hips, ect. I’m asked to put the male part down and pick up the female plug, she tells me to just fill up the entire cavity with the gel because she wants me to see it oozing out when the connection is finally made. Now, I’m instructed to grab each plug, male and female and gently make the connection.

Excuse me ma’am, but how much force do I need to apply, the male section will not go in easy. She tells me to grip both ends firmly and just slide it in slowly with steady straight pressure. Bingo! the parts clicked together. She asked if I needed assistance with the other side. Out of the blue my wife says, “it’s safe to say that I can help him slip his male part into the proper female part now that he knows he was in the wrong position to make the connection”. She looked at me, hit end call, and told me I wasn’t holding my tongue right in the first place. She was a bit confused to whom I was talking to in the first place. So, after I explained to my wife who I called for help we just started laughing our asses off, because this shit was hilarious as hell. Indeed, the other side went in without a hitch. I watched my wife walk off, I hated to see her leave but I do enjoy the show. As I cleaned up, I started thinking that the operator (Amanda) reminded me of that insurance commercial as well as those new erection deficiency commercials that are on the television nowadays, the one with the porn star telling you that you should buy their shit if you are over forty. HA! I’m pushing fifty and still function like a teeanaged boy. It’s like a genie in a bottle, think about it, if you don’t get the relation then you got problems.

In the end, with the aid of some great technical support, I was able to tame the beast and finish the challenge of exchanging the light housings. I’m grateful for Amanda’s assistance and that she was able to have a little fun with me. Now, to explain it better to y’all, it was not my dirty mind who took that into the gutter, it was my wife’s, who needed to share  the story with her sister and her friend, and while I was listening to her version she made it sound I was on the phone with a 1-900 call girl or something. All I can say is I liked Amanda’s approach, more often than not we call the service centers and are left in utter disappointment. Amanda left me with the impression that she knew her fucking job and she was customer friendly. All call center employees need to take notes because it never hurts (to at least act) to like your job. It projects across to your customers fast. Anyway, I just thought you would have fun hearing this story.

13 Rules Of Engagement

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This is a pretty complete list of 13 things that a veteran must do or more importantly, not do, while you attempt to win your compensation benefits. These aren’t in any particular order, each is as important as the next. I know these are all very important. I know the results of not catching mistakes and of making simple errors.

Following these simple rules won’t win your claim for you but it will help ensure you don’t lose it.

(1) Don’t call the toll free number. Don’t email the VA Regional Office. Don’t use the electronic system to file your claim. Do not ever, under any circumstances communicate with the VARO except by certified mail, return receipt requested. If you break this rule, you are sure to get the wrong information. When you call or email you aren’t contacting your VA Regional Office, you’re in touch with a call center. The call center has access to a computer system that is rumored to be powered by kerosene and data is stored on IBM punch cards. The employees are under orders that you are allowed 3 minutes and not any more. They will tell you anything you want to hear to get you off that telephone. If you insist, try calling 3 days in a row. Ask the same question each time. It’s likely you’ll hear 3 completely different answers, all the wrong answers.

(2) Know who is representing you. You hand over the future of one of the most important legal moves you’ll ever make where the stakes are counted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and you aren’t sure who the person works for? On the other hand, you’ll walk into any office that looks official, sign over a power of attorney, complete financial paperwork that exposes your weaknesses to the world and walk away not knowing what to expect or when to expect it. Spend much time thinking about your claim and who that representative works for, you’ll be a lot happier down the road.

(3) Be patient. Take 2 hours of quiet time early in the process and read from all the stuff that is available all over the internet. The VA site itself is a wealth of information and will answer a lot of your questions completely. Your application for benefits will follow a process. If you’ve done your part that paper you submitted is going to slowly wind its way to the first step in the process, then the second step in the process, then the third step and so on right through over 100 steps that must be accomplished before it is adjudicated. Whether you think all that is necessary or not doesn’t matter. It’s the process that counts and you need to accept that very early in the game. Once you’ve submitted your paperwork and you’re confident that you have given VA all the evidence that there is, you’re done. There is nothing else to do but wait. Calling the VA (see #1) to ask where your folder is truly a waste of your time. Don’t write any more letters to the VA. Don’t call your VSO to ask if she has heard anything about your claim. She hasn’t.
Do anything at all but think about your claim. Your claim will be adjudicated when it gets adjudicated and not a minute before. Live with that.

(4) Don’t ever display any anger to a VA employee. Yeah, OK…we’re all pissed off. Every last veteran I know can feel their blood boiling at the mention of how the VA treats those it’s supposed to serve. We were trained to be angry. Extreme pain was a sign that weakness was leaving my body. My most basic and most important job was to kill people and destroy their stuff. We were not emissaries of peace, we were warriors. That was then and this is now. If you show your angry side to a VA employee by yelling, expressing your displeasure at waiting, slamming your fist down on a desk, cursing, storming out of a room and slamming the door or making a direct or veiled threat…you have created trouble for yourself and all those who have to follow in your footsteps. Most, not all, but most VA employees at the clinics, hospitals and regional offices want to help you. They’re usually every bit as frustrated as you are at the bureaucracy they work for. They have the same problems of paying bills, raising teenagers, flat tires and headaches that you have. Many of them are veterans. Many others weren’t born yet when you were injured. The bureaucracy wasn’t intentionally made tougher for you by that 23 year old student intern sitting across from you. A lot of these people are afraid of you. I was born with a scowl. At my happiest, my brow is furrowed and my eyes narrow down to slits and I sigh a lot. I’ve been told often that I intimidate people so I work hard to overcome that. Before you interact with a VA employee in person, on the phone or by letter, take a deep breath and let that anger go. The amount of courtesy, respect and smiles you give is directly correlated to what you’ll receive. Otherwise, you may find that your record is flagged to warn others about your erratic, threatening behavior and if you think you have problems with getting things done now, you haven’t seen nothing yet. Worst case scenario, the VA police are serious. Most VA police officers are real cops, not ‘security guards’. The handcuffs they use are pretty much guaranteed to show you what they think of your attitude. Think before you open your mouth. You’ll be glad you did. The rest of us will appreciate it too.

(5) A well written letter is your best friend. When you moved and changed your mailing address, it appears you told everyone but the VA Regional Office that handles your folder. Neither the toll free number nor the IRIS email system is at your regional office. Your VSO can’t be relied on to run errands for you. If you had written a letter, mailed it to the correct address and used certified mail with return receipt requested and kept the receipt along with your copy of that letter, it is very likely the address change would have happened just as it should have. If it didn’t, you have good evidence that you did your part correctly and timely. Without that little green postcard, you got nothing. This action applies to every action you take with the VA. Any time you want VA to accomplish anything for you, you must put it in writing and you must be precise in telling them exactly what it is you want. When you put your request in writing, you’ve just created a piece of evidence that can be held in the hands and reviewed by another person months or years down the road. It’s real, it’s solid and if it disappears from your folder, you have a back-up copy and that little green post card to prove it was delivered. A telephone call is a faint memory the moment the connection is broken. An email may roll up and off the screen, out of sight and out of mind. Emails are often purged whether by accident or intent. Your letter and your copy of that letter are the most powerful tool you have. A single letter that is brief and tells the reader just exactly what you want is more potent than a hundred phone calls. There is just no reason for you to communicate with VA by any other method than a letter.

(6) Don’t call your Congressperson or a Senator. Your elected representatives in Washington makes laws, they don’t enforce them. Each of them maintains a number of very busy offices staffed by a dozen or more people. In that mix are “Military & Veterans Liaisons” or an individual with a similar title and responsibility. When you write or call to complain about the VA and your claim, your call is routed to that person. He or she will ask you to complete documents that allow them to view your folder, privacy issues must be addressed as you have medical records in there. Then they send a “Congressional Inquiry” to your VARO. The VARO maintains a team of people to respond to such inquiries within 45 days. Your folder is located, pulled out of line and examined for any particular glitches or errors. Then it may be sent to the Representative’s liaison for a review. If the folder and your application are merely going through the usual routine of numbingly slow progress, that’s what you’ll hear. If there is missing evidence and VA can’t find records or something is lost, they’ll assure the Representative that they’re doing all they can and that message will be passed on to you. Your Congressperson or Senator won’t be aware that you’ve done any of this with their office. They each have hundreds of these requests every year. Often enough, the impatience is rooted in ignorance. The vet doesn’t understand the process and nobody told him that his claim may take as long as 18 months. Some requests and complaints are filed with these offices because the veteran is in dire financial straits and is depending on a compensation benefit to save the day. The wolves are at the door, the car is being repossessed, the credit cards are maxed out and the vet needs the money right now. This is probably the worst reason to call as an inquiry may cause even more delays. Your folder could have been next in line to be distributed to the desk of a Ratings Veterans Service Representative (RSVR) and you caused it to be pulled out of its place in the line.

(7) Don’t ask advice from everyone you meet. Once you begin the journey to that compensation benefits award, you should soon develop a plan and stick to it. An integral part of the plan is where you’ll get guidance from. Have you decided to use a Veterans Service Officer who you trust?  Are you going to DIY? Are you in an appeal and you’ve signed some agreements with a lawyer? Whatever path you choose, stick to it. There is no one perfect answer to any of the thousands of questions that may come up during the course of your claim. Different people will have different experiences and those experiences will shape the way they will advise you to handle your claim. This happens in appeals too. The veteran speaks with a lawyer who agrees to take him as a client. Papers are signed and the lawyer begins the process by notifying VA of the new POA and requesting a copy of the folder. Six months pass and the veteran hasn’t heard anything so he calls the lawyer to discover the VARO only delivered the copied folder 2 weeks ago. The veteran once again starts looking for advice elsewhere and the result is always the same, the vet is lost, confused and unsure of what to do next. Changing representation in the middle of the process may be one of the worst actions a veteran can take unless there is a very good cause. That the claim is taking too long or the lawyer isn’t calling you every week to tell you nothing has happened isn’t good cause. You should only change your POA in a circumstance where you’ve discovered and can prove incompetence, your representative is on an extended leave or the representative dies. Even then, you will want to give a lot of thought to upsetting the flow of progress, as slow as it may be. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that it’s better to allow the claim to proceed to a denial than to try to make a course correction during the process. When you make the decision to file a claim, give a lot of thought to how you’re going to proceed and choose your representative carefully. If you’ve done your homework up front, when you hit those bumps and delays that come with working with VA, you’ll remain confident that it’s just the routine and you’ll be happier for it.

(8) Prepare for the worst. Approach your claim as if it is already determined that you’ll lose and have a lengthy appeal. There are no reliable, precise statistics that allow us to predict which claims will be approved or the ones that are doomed to failure. We know that even when you submit a perfect claim with perfect evidence there’s a good chance that you will be tied up for a year or more and then receive a denial letter. When you get that denial, you’ll be stunned as you read along. In the required explanation from VA you’ll see that it’s almost as if not one single person actually read your evidence and/or they just ignored it all. The language they use might make you think that they’re speaking of someone else’s claim, not yours. You may read incomplete sentences, pages that don’t seem to connect from one to the next or the date on your letter may be days, weeks and even months previous to the day you get the documents. The truth is that it’s entirely possible that your complete folder was never examined for all the evidence. It’s possible that evidence you delivered wasn’t ever matched to your file. It’s not rare for papers from one file to be accidently included in another file and your denial may be based on a single page of a report from another veteran’s medical record. If you are already in need of the financial help that you deserve when you take that first step towards compensation, you must begin to develop your budget as if you aren’t ever going to see any help from the VA. I have met many vets who are suddenly unemployed or underemployed due to their service connected disability when they decide to file for a benefit. They hear from friends of the retroactive pay and that monthly deposit and the free medical care and they file and sit back and wait for it. It’s very unlikely that you’re going to find any sympathy for the knee injuries that you’ve asked for and been denied 3 years earlier. Even if your claim is valid and you’re unable to find work, unless you have a situation that is life threatening, you probably won’t see any help at all from VA. No matter what your situation, after you’ve completed your filing of the paperwork for your claim, you must then address your long term finances. You should involve your family in the discussion so that everyone understands that you’re facing a long road ahead. If you start the process knowing how you’ll pay bills each month until the point that you are awarded your deserved compensation, the time you wait will be less of a stress on you as well as your family.

(9) Read the fine print. Each time the VA writes to you you’ll find a page that applies to your claim and a number of pages of boilerplate instructions regarding your rights to appeal and other matters. Too many of us get to the part that reads, “We propose to reduce your benefits…”, or “Your claim for compensation is denied…”, or any one of a number of messages that we didn’t want to receive and we never read past that. The blood boils up in the brain, eyes cloud over and we get tunnel vision and we never see the instructions that can save us time and trouble. The fine print included with a VA letter is as good as it gets. Often enough it will detail why a particular action is taking place and once you understand that, you can correct the problem in short order. In a denial letter you may see that they didn’t consider an important piece of evidence that would have supported your claim and you have an instant reason to appeal. The most important detail you’ll find is that of timing. Your VA is obsessed with timing, yours, not their own. That fine print will tell you that if you wish to halt the apportionment of the money your ex is trying to withhold from your compensation, you must take certain actions within 30 days or 60 days. If you ‘timely’ reply you can request a personal hearing that can halt proceedings for months while VA makes room in the schedule for you. This can give you valuable time to gather evidence or get advice on how to fight a proposed negative action by VA. Reading those pages of legalese will provide the veteran with almost never-ending routes of appeals, hearings and opportunities to prevent decisions from going against us or to reverse decisions that aren’t favorable. Using the law to enforce your rights is smart. Getting smart beats getting angry every time.

(10) Get involved. You served your country. You wore the uniform, took the oath and you agreed that if ordered to do so, you would lay your life on the line for the principles we believe in. That isn’t enough. You aren’t done yet. When you were active duty, you could vote and that was about it. Now you’re a veteran and you have the knowledge and experience required to understand how our military forces need the support of the civilian leadership that control them. If you haven’t ever written to your elected representatives before, don’t embarrass yourself by thinking that they should jump up to help you when you have an issue with the VA. You Congressional representatives want to hear from you on an ongoing basis. Your Senators each have an easy, simple section on their web site for you to write them a note to let them know how you feel. Once each month, it may take all of 5 minutes of your busy schedule to write to say that you support some piece of legislation for veterans. If you do that on a regular basis, if you aren’t a ranter, and if you are contributing your thoughts to them even when you don’t need their help, they’ll pay more attention when veteran’s issues come before them. Today, the younger veterans need your wisdom, your guidance and the benefit of your experience. When you returned to the world in 1969, there were few people who were willing to offer you a hand up. If you haven’t lifted a finger to help our newest veterans but you have time to bitch and whine and cry about your own benefits, you need to reassess the situation you’re in. Giving your time to assisting these warriors will give you something to do while VA muddles around with your claim. You won’t get the sort of reward from the VA that you’ll discover helping a young veteran rebuild a life.

(11) Learn how to use your computer.  If you’re reading this, the odds are you’re reading it on a computer. It’s often said that filing an application for disability compensation isn’t a spectator sport. It’s time for you to get in the game. How can a person who manages to log on and use email not know about that phenomenon known as the Google search engine? The Internet is as amazing an invention as the wheel or sliced bread. To have Internet access is something most of us couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams as we entered our military service. Today’s soldier can’t recall a world without the Internet. If we take it in it’s simplest terms, the Internet is nothing more than a library that houses information. We all access the same Internet. It doesn’t matter if your portal is AOL or Bellsouth or Comcast, those are just doors that open to allow you access. Once you step through the door your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has for you, you are surfing along the same “Information Superhighway” as everyone else. Once you’ve arrived on the Internet, the “library” is full of billions and billions of pages of information. That information is piped up into the Internet from other computers, called servers, from colleges and governments and private citizens and even businesses that want to sell things to you. If you want to see what they have to offer, you have to be able to arrive at their Internet address and then view the information they provide. To get to a specific place or find specific information on the Internet requires that you know the exact address of the place you’re looking for. If you don’t know where you’re going, how on earth can you find your way among those billions of addresses? Thankfully, that was made easier for you years ago by the development of the “Search Engine”. The first Internet search engine came about 1993 and has quickly evolved into today’s Google. While there are plenty of competitors around, many consider that the Google engine is the best available. How do you use it? Simple. If the Google search bar isn’t already a fixture on the landscape of the web page you’re looking at, go to the address bar of your browser and type in http://www.google.com and you’re ready to search. Bingo, you’re on a page that shows you the results of the search by the engine. It may tell you that it found hundreds of thousands of “hits” of pages that are relevant to your query. The engine, being as smart as it is, has listed them in the order it thinks you’ll want to see them. You’ll see the main page of the DVA site (http://www.va.gov) and also the main page of the VBA site (http://www.vba.va.gov) Congratulations! You’ve just learned how to use a search engine. You entered a “search term” and then directed the engine to find a likely page of information for you. Once at the DVA web site you’ll see links to almost everything the DVA has available. A “link” is a word, phrase or symbol that you may click on that will take you to another place on the Internet or within the pages of the site you’re on. To find the facts about dependents benefits is easy once you’re on the VA site. Look around, you’ll see links to benefits, from there links to dependent’s benefits and so on. I recommend the DVA web site as a first stop for almost everything you need to know about the VA. The site is massive and it can be complex but with a little time, you’ll soon discover all you ever wanted to know about VA.

(12) Retrieve and then organize your own documents and evidence. The VA has a duty to assist you. The obligation to help you includes a reasonable effort to track down records and to notify you of your rights. The word you want to pay attention to is “reasonable”. If 10 years have passed since you were treated at the infamous Our Lady of Pain and Suffering Medical Center, located in beautiful Dog’s Breath, Georgia and you want those records, you better work on getting them yourself. That VSR may fire off a letter in the direction of that hospital and include a copy of your release but there is never any guarantee they’re going to respond. He may even try again. After that, it’s your problem, not his. Many hospitals today have medical records outsourced to a vendor in another city and state. If the VA writes to the hospital asking for your records they may get a message to contact the vendor. In turn, that vendor may require a stiff fee to research and copy records, and yes, they can do that. The vendor may require a photocopy of your driver’s license or other identification for security. Their rules may require all of that and then they must send the records back to the hospital where the hospital releases them to you or the VA. Upon encountering those kinds of barriers, the VSR at your VARO will note his attempts and move on, only without your important records. If you were treated by a handful of different physicians over the years, practices may have changed hands, doctors may have moved on. If you were treated by Dr. Quackenstein 12 years ago and his notes will prove your disability, you’ve got problems if he gave up medicine and is now a back-up singer in an unheard of band. Your file may be in storage, it could be that the entire practice moved to another building or that the practice, including your chart, was sold to another group of doctors. The VSR may send a letter and might even make a phone call on your behalf. If that isn’t productive, he’ll move on. In the circumstances above, had you taken the initiative yourself, you may have been able to track down your record. Yes, it may have taken you 30 phone calls and days of frustration but if you are persistent and you find the right person, the one with the keys to the storage facility, you may get that single piece of paper that wins your case.

(13) You’re not in the military anymore.You no longer have to accept answers you get as if it was handed down from authority and, or through the chain of command. Question everything. If the answer or decision is not favorable to you, disagree with it. Our government’s agencies do not always get things right, do not have your best interests in mind, and will not always tell you everything you need to know. If you think your claim has merit, and your belief is based on facts, law, and evidence directly on point to your claim, then appeal and persevere. Do not shrug your shoulders, give up, and think the VA must know better and, or must be right. They make wrong/bad decisions all the time; hence, the incredible backlog that exists in the VBA claims process today.

Read this disclaimer: The above information is provided to you to describe general processes and procedures that occur during the application for disability compensation and pension and other benefits within the Department of Veterans Affairs System. You are not being provided with any legal advice. Any information provided here is not intended as and should not be construed as legal advice. The DVA laws and regulations are subject to change. I cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any of the information provided, or any results or outcome as a result of the use of this information.

Uphill Battles & Gaining The High Ground

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Many of you have been around here long enough to know I’m a disabled United States Air Force (AF) veteran who has been in an uphill battle with the Veterans Administration (VA) since the day I got out of the AF. I’ve asked why it must be a battle to receive veterans disability benefits, I’ve asked why there must be so much red tape, and repeatedly I find myself with the same damn answer, because this is the way it is, just accept it. Well, I’ve called bullshit, and that answer is not only un-acceptable to me and shouldn’t be acceptable to any living breathing veteran on the face of the planet. The word needs to get out, we need to share what we know with everyone, the more information we are armed with can mean the difference of one’s success or failure with the VA. So, here’s my personal challenge to all of you, veteran or not, disabled veteran or not, family members, friends, and co-workers, share this post on your web page, your blog, Facebook, Google+, and so forth. This following information will help you whether you want to file a claim or you wish to re-open an existing claim. But this information needs to get out there, the word must be spread. I won’t mention her name here, she knows who she is, who she is to me, but she knows first hand the battle veterans fight in the VA system, whether it be on the medical side or the claim side of the VA. We have spoke extensively and I want to be the one that gives something back to my fellow veterans. She has been an inspiration to me to keep my head held high and keep fighting. I owe her a debt of gratitude for lending me an ear and being a dear friend. So, again, the more this information is shared with everyone the better.

There is information within the walls of the VA which is very important to each and every veteran. I’ve spent many years just taking the VA’s word for it about my personal disability claim, but I’m done with that nonsense, real done with it, everyone who is a veteran needs to come to the very moment I did, and just flat say that enough is enough, its time to get to higher ground, its time to win my battle and claim the high ground. I didn’t do this alone, I’ve had help along the way, I’d love to mention each person out but I would rather thank all of them in mass for they each helped me in their own particular way or supported me when I thought it wasn’t worth fighting for any more. But why do we need to fight? Why can’t the process be easier? I’ll tell you why, it has the appearance that the VA makes the process of filing a claim overly complex and hard simply to discourage veterans from filing a claim. When, in reality, it should be just the opposite, our Veterans Administration should be helping us, not fighting us at every turn, they should want to be there for us as we have been there for them. But, we all know it to be very different, a scenario that resembles a battle plan with contingencies to set in play for the setbacks. Again, we must be prepared, we must be three steps ahead, we must have a hand in the grand scheme, and the only way to win any battle is to be well informed.

I have read many blogs, web sites, forums, reviews, papers, and government documents than one single man should ever have to endure. I’m no lawyer, not by any means, and this post will only point out your legal rights as a veteran, but in no way constitute any form of legal council. And, for the purpose of the contents of this post I offer you my disclaimer. The information you obtain on this blog or this post specifically is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney or advocate for advice regarding your individual veterans claim situation. This blog post is intended for informational purposes only. Got it? Great, lets move on then, there is much to cover. The following information has been researched by me personally, shared with me personally, all for the purpose of being better prepared to do battle with the VA. With that being said, I’ve collected quite a stack of useful information. Today we will talk mostly about a veterans “C” file or claims file, it’s contents, and why the information might be the single most important resource a veteran can have.

What is in a C-file? When I casually say everything about you, I truly mean it. For simplicity purposes, let’s separate the contents of a C-file into 11 different categories so each one of them can be examined. Your claims file is being reviewed by the VA to evaluate your case, it is your legal right to have a copy so each party has the same information. See what is missing, see what is being overlooked, and provide yourself with ammunition to fight back, you need a page by page copy of your entire claims file, without it you have already lost your battle.

Miscellaneous: Basic information can be found here like birth certificates, employment information, and more.

Military Administration: This area pertains to everything from your discharge to your awards and personal records.

Compensation and Pension Exams: Any records pertaining to your C&P Exams.

VA Medical Records: Record for any occasion in which you have sought treatment at any VA facility.

Private Medical Records: Any medical records from non-VA facilities, or from your active duty period.

Military Medical Records: Any medical records from your time in service.

Entrance and Separation exams: These exams are performed when an individual enters and when they exit the military.

Ratings Decisions and Statements of the Case: This section is rather large and will contain your application for benefits, appeals, decisions, statements of the case, and so much more.

Statements in Support of Claim: Any statements or questionnaires that you may fill out will be located here.

Transcripts:  This simply pertains to transcripts from hearings.

Transcripts: Any applications, decisions, and records pertaining to Social Security.

The claims file is kind of like the lifeblood of your case. A C-file is something that every Veteran has once a claim is filed with the VA. Some C-files are small, and others contain more 7000 pages, but no two files are the same. Unfortunately claims files are not currently electronic, and they arrive from the VA unsorted. One of the first things to do when your claims file arrives is sort it into the eleven categories above. Those eleven categories contain all of the essential information about your case. So, how does one obtain a C-file? That part, unlike the review, is simple. All you really have to do is ask for it from the VA. Remember, the word simple with the VA is a relative term. As I mentioned earlier, the files are not electronic. They are paper.  As they are paper, they are stored in filing cabinets. Further, depending upon when you served, where your case is in the process, and which Regional Office is handling your claim, the file may be in multiple locations. Because of this, it takes time to get your file together.  Also, it is important to note that only one copy of your file is free. If you request additional copies you will be charged. I recommend, if you have the technology, scan it all, scan everything, make that digital copy for your records, store it on a thumb-drive and/or burn it onto a DVD or CD. Saying that your claims file is important to your VA Disability claim is an understatement. Honestly, the records found within the claims file really determine your eligibility.

I mentioned above that a veteran just needs to ask for his/her claims file, below is an example of what I used.

———————————–

(Date)

Privacy Act Department

Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office

6900 Almeda Road

Houston, TX 77030

Re: (Veterans Name) Claims Folder FOIA Request

(Social Security Number or Claim Number or Case Number)

Dear Staff:

I hereby request a copy of all documents contained in (Veterans Name) claims folder, including, but not limited to, all documents in the right flap, left flap, and center flap, and the reverse side of any documents with writing on both sides.

Please note that this request for documents is being made pursuant to the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552a, as well as 38 C.F.R.§1.550 and 38 C.F.R.  § 1.577.  Your agency has a duty to respond to this request within TWENTY (20) DAYS of the date of this request pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(6)(A)(2)(i).

Additionally, although an extension of time to respond may be requested, it may only be granted for “unusual circumstances.” “Predictable agency workload” is not typically considered an unusual circumstance as stated in 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(C)(ii).   Moreover, even to the extent that unusual circumstances could be demonstrated in this instance, the time limit for the extension is limited to “10 working days” pursuant to 38 C.F.R.§ 1.553(d).

Please also be aware that your agency’s failure to respond to this request within twenty (20) days may result in the filing of an administrative appeal with the office of the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs pursuant to 38 C.F.R.§ 1.557 and 5 U.S.C. §552(a)(6)(A)(2)(ii), and potentially, the filing of a federal lawsuit to compel the production of the information.

This may subject your agency to contempt of court and a fine, including attorney fees and litigation expenses in compelling the production of this information pursuant to 38 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(l) of the Privacy Act, and 38 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B) of FOIA. Thank you.

(Veterans Name)

(Veterans Signature)

(Veterans Contact Info)

———————————-

Hand write the request, type it out, print it, be sure to sign it, put it into an envelope and send it. But, wait, be sure to send it certified mail requiring a signature. Why? You will be notified of the date, time, and person signing for the letter. Why is this important? Their time to reply starts on the date signed. Remember its business days, excluding weekends and federal holidays. Once you get a copy of your claims file, categorize it, read it, get to know it frontwards and backwards, then use the information to better prepare your initial claim or to help you re-open your claim. Personally, I’m in the information collection phase of my battle, soon I will soon be finished preparing my package to be submitted to the VA. I will continue to update this blog with my progress and/or road blocks. Remember, the more this information is shared with fellow veterans, family members of veterans, co-workers of veterans, and so forth, the better we, as veterans, can better prepare. If the playing field is level then the veteran once again has a fighting chance. The resources are out there, the information is out there, and the almighty answers are all out there, find it all and live a better life.

What Won’t We Connect To The Internet?

So, I was on the evil internet recently and came across this most interesting article (#1) which got me wondering. What aren’t we willing to connect to the internet? What are the connection limitations to the internet? Why do we connect so many things collectively to the internet so willingly? Anyway, these just happens to be the articles I was reading. All credit belongs to the original author and I claim nothing but wanting to share. Also, take a look at the second article (#2) which gives some statistics that might blow your mind a little.

Article #1

See original here.

Jacob Morgan; Contributor

I write about and explore the future of work and collaboration.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

5/13/2014 @ 12:05AM 

A Simple Explanation Of ‘The Internet Of Things’

The “Internet of things” (IoT) is becoming an increasingly growing topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it. It’s a concept that not only has the potential to impact how we live but also how we work.  But what exactly is the “Internet of things” and what impact is it going to have on you if any?  There are a lot of complexities around the “Internet of things” but I want to stick to the basics.  Lots of technical and policy related conversations are being had but many people are still just trying to grasp the foundation of what the heck these conversations are about.

Let’s start with understanding a few things.

Broadband Internet is become more widely available, the cost of connecting is decreasing, more devices are being created with wifi capabilities and censors built into them, technology costs are going down, and smart phone penetration is sky-rocketing.  All of these things are creating a “perfect storm” for the IoT.

So what is the Internet of things?

Simply put this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.  This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.  As I mentioned, if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT.  The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices…that’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion).  The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people).  The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

How does this impact you?

The new rule for the future is going to be, “anything that can be connected, will be connected.”  But why on earth would you want so many connected devices talking to each other?  There are many examples for what this might look like or what the potential value might be.  Say for example you are on your way to a meeting, your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take, if the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late.  What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 am and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you? What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more?  What if the wearable device you used in the workplace could tell you when and where you were most active and productive and shared that information with other devices that you used while working?

On a broader scale the IoT can be applied to things like transportation networks “smart cities” which can help us reduce waste and improve efficiency for things such as energy use; this helping us understand and improve how we work and live.  Take a look at the visual below to see what something like that can look like.

The reality is that the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can’t even think of or fully understand the impact of today.  It’s not hard to see how and why the IoT is such a hot topic today, it certainly opens the door to a lot of opportunities but also to many challenges.  Security is big issues that is oftentimes brought up.  With billions of devices being connect together what can people to do make sure that their information stays secure?  Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network?  The IoT also opens up companies all over the world to more security threats.  Then we have the issue of privacy and data sharing.  This is a hot button topic even today so one can only imagine how the conversation and concerns will escalate when we are talking about many billions of devices being connected.  Another issue that many companies specifically are going to be faced with is around the massive amounts data that all of these devices are going to produce.  Companies need to figure out a way to store, track, analyze, and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated.

So what now?

Conversations about the IoT are (and have been for several years) taking place all over the world as we seek to understand how this will impact our lives.  We are also trying to understand what the many opportunities and challenges are going to be as more and more devices start to join the IoT.  For now the best thing that we can do is educate ourselves about what the IoT is and the potential impacts that can be seen on how we work and live.

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Article #2

Connected Devices Accelerate the Need for IPv6 in the Internet of Things (original article)

Posted on 27 Decembter 2013 in: Blog, Featured Article, General Information, IPv4, IPv6

Just how many devices are connected to the Internet? A report from the NPD Group found there are more than half a billion Internet connected devices in U.S. homes alone – that’s more than the number of U.S. residents. And a report from ABI Research found there are more than 10 billion wirelessly connected devices in the global market.  Those numbers are only expected to increase as the Internet of Things (IoT) expands to include more devices that can connect to the Internet.  Gartner predicts the IoT base will grow to 26 billion units by 2020 not including smartphones, tablets and PCs.  Including those items, other predictions have placed the number of Internet-connected devices in 2020 everywhere from 50 billion to 75 billion.

The IoT is a true demonstration of the evolution of the Internet, but its potential could be slowed by IPv4 depletion. As the number of available IPv4 addresses dwindles, it is more crucial than ever to ensure new consumer devices and the networks that support them are IPv6 enabled.

Every device needs a unique IP address to connect to the Internet.  Drawing only from the pool of addresses that IPv4 provides, there just simply won’t be enough to connect every new gizmo and gadget to the Internet.  Fortunately we have IPv6 that has been in production across the web on many networks for years that can meet addressing need challenges.  There are 340 trillion trillion trillion IPv6 addresses available to allow the Internet of Things to come to fruition.  What is more, transit networks as a whole need to support IPv6 in order for all of these new devices to function properly and efficiently.

The Internet of Things has the potential to open new markets for innovation for many businesses and even entire industries. Take for example the car industry, where Ford’s director of technology predicts cars will have voice recognition capabilities allowing drivers to connect to their apps, pre-order a coffee or pre-pay for gas – all using their voice. Let’s not forget about safety, either. Envision a future with wearable sensors for drivers with medical conditions that connect to your car and can prevent accidents during medical emergencies.

The possibilities of the IoT with IPv6 are endless and the bottom line is consumers don’t want devices that will only connect them to part of the future Internet. The IoT is a dawning reality and its evolution is dependent on the use of IPv6.

I Have A Message For One Person

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But y’all can read it just as well. I’m not going to yank out my soap box but I am going to say my fucking piece while it is fresh on my mind. Earlier today I was at the mall to get a new pair of shoes. It has been 8 years since I bought the shoes I’m retiring because I buy shit that lasts and I take care of them. Anyway, when it was my turn in line the young lady rang up my total, I pulled out my VA card and cash, then asked her what my new total was. Before she could do anything I hear screaming from behind me from this woman yelling at the clerk telling her that I didn’t deserve the fucking military discount that this baby killer was begging for like a dog wanting fucking scraps. I’ve been called many derogatory names in many different languages in my life but this bitch was seriously pissed off at me. At first I was thrown by her words, after a quick breath I turned to her with this, my favorite movie quote.

“As a military member, I have more responsibility here than you could possibly fathom. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. I know deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you don’t want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a person who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said THANK YOU, and went on your way”.

She, of course, stood there with her fucking piehole wide open, at a loss for words I assume, she didn’t have a clue what I just told her. I am not a person who raises his voice or hand to a woman, and in a calm voice I asked if there was going to be anymore stupid fucking shit spilling over her lips. While I stared into her lifeless eyes for a few moments she turned to her five young children and told them they were going to a different store, one that doesn’t support murderers and baby killers. I’m not an emotional man, but when I turned to the clerk I had tears in my eyes, she touched a nerve that I couldn’t control. Wanting to continue my purchase I handed the clerk my cash, she closed it in my hand and said she will not except my money. She voided the transaction and then I watched her as she bagged my box with the shoes just before she handed it to me. She turned her head, I watched her wipe tears away, and she tells me thank you, some of us will always appreciate your sacrifices to our country, we love each and every one of you, we really do.

What do you say? How do you say it? She came around the counter and gave me the most sincere hug I have felt in a long time. I left there smiling, not because I was given shoes, but for the first time ever in person, a perfect stranger openly admitted that she appreciated our military and our services to our nation. That rarely happens in our society and I got to be a part of it, I will remember this day for a long, long time.