Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to save big on Black Friday

I love Thanksgiving because I am looking forward to save big on Black Friday shopping.  This year, some stores call this big shopping event Black November or month long Black Friday event. Since I am on a fixed disability income, I have to watch how I spend my money.  Anyway, here is how I save big using my 3-step secret shopping technique as mention in my previous post.

 I have been thinking to buy a larger screen TV for the past few months because the remote for my 37-inch LCD TV is broken and I want a TV that can stream online content, like YouTube and Amonzon Prime video.  So when Walmart had the 50-inch Samsung Plasmas TV on pre Black Friday sales for less than $450 ($200 off), I was very interested in buying one.  But wait,I want to save even more, so I put my secret technique to use.

Step 1:  I asked myself do I really need this widget?  My TV is still in good condition other than a broken remote.  Unlike the Samsung TV, my current TV has all kind of connectors to connect to my other devices.  The Samsung TV only has couple of HDMI port and one component video port, so I would not able to use my VCR and my older video game console.  But I still want to watch online content.

Step 2:  Is there an alternative solution?  Yes, I could get an universal replacement remote for $10.  I could also get a low end Roku streaming device for $40 to watch online content. While a larger screen would be nice, but I don’t want to throw out a working TV for that.

Step 3:  I slept on it for couple of days to go over step one and two.  Finally, I decided the alternate solution is good enough for me.  So, instead spending $450, I only spent $50, saving of $400.

Update November 2015,  I finally bought a Samsung 48" TV at a very good price.

Hay…I just saw a multi-core PC on sales too.  Let me exercise the shopping technique again.

In summary, the secret of saving big is not to do impulse buying.
 Happy Thanksgiving and happy shopping, feel free to use my technique to save big.


Monday, November 25, 2013

I Hate Comcast...continue

As mentioned in my previous post, I really don’t like Comcast that much.  Here is another reason. 

Since I don’t watch TV that much, and the stuff I do watch I can get them free over the air, so I called Comcast to cancel my Basic TV service in order to save the $25 per month charge.  I am on fixed disability income, the $25 would buy me couple days of food.  But I was surprised to learn that canceling my TV service would actually increase my total monthly bill by about a dollar.  I was told my promotional price for the internet service is based on me having the TV service.  If I don’t have  the TV service, my promotional price would end.  Well, no one told me that when I accepted the promotional price. 

So I keep the TV service for now but I am not using it because it needs the digital TV adapter.  I can get HDTV over the air but I can only get SDTV with the adapter, plus I don’t want to deal with another remote and another power adapter.  I will cancel the TV service at the end of the internet pricing promotion. 

I am hoping I don’t have to deal with Comcast in couple of years.  I heard City of Longmont plan to offer internet service in 2015, this may be an option.  Worst come to worse, I would switch over to CentryLink DSL service.  Either way, bye bye Comcast.

Update April 2014
Comcast was voted worst company in America.  Read more




Thursday, November 21, 2013

Adjusting to Blindness

 I found out I have retinitis pigmentosa (RP) during a routine eye check up in 1980.  My eye doctor saw some dark spots on my retina  and sent me to see a retina specialist.  After looking at my retina and seeing the visual field testing result, the retina specialist confirmed that I indeed have RP and I was told I would probably go blind by middle age.  I  was so traumatized by the news, I  was barely able to drive back home.   I couldn't imagine a life without sight, and I was thinking I would die rather than living as a blind person.  Over the years, I kept asking why me?  I even wanted  go over to the dark side in order to keep my eye sight but I got lost along the way because I refused to use a white cane back then.
For years, I lived in the shardow of going blind and self denial.  I spent countless hours on hoping and searching for a cure.  Because I did not accept the fact that my  vision was getting worse, I kept driving for many more years and got into few auto accidents and many close calls.  Luckly no one got hurt.  Although I knew my luck would run out one day but I kept driving.  In 2005 my vision became so poor that I was not able to renew my driver's license.  While I was sadden by this but it was also a big relief for me because I would not able to hurt anyone or myself due to my unsafe driving.   Soon after, I fully accepted my fate and asked for professional help to deal with my vision loss. 

I was the sort of men who refuse to ask direction even I got loss while driving.  I was too proud, too independent, and too stubborn, so asking for help was one of most difficult thing for me to do.  However, I have to ask for help if I don't want my life get even more difficult.  Now a day, asking for help is my new normal.  
 In the process of learning to deal with low vision, I found my personal adjusting experience was closely matched with Dr. Dean Tuttle's research on how people adjusting and coping with blindness.  In his book, Self-Esteem and Adjusting With Blindness, he described the following seven phases that many people go through with the  adjusting Process:
Phase 1. Trauma
Phase 2. Shock and Denial
Phase 3. Mourning and Withdrawal
Phase 4. Succumbing and Depression
Phase 5. Reassessment and Reaffirmation
Phase 6. Coping and Mobilization
Phase 7. Self-Acceptance and Self-Esteem

For years, I was stuck in the phase 2-3-4 loop.  Although  I have moved on with my life, I am sure I would go back to the loop when my vision get worse down the road.  The best I can hope for is I would die of old age before facing even worse vision problem.   
Please go to the following link for a brief description on each phase.
Phases Description
Dr. Dean Tutter was a professor of special education with University of Northern Colorado.  His vision loss was due to RP.  Learn more about Dr. Tuttle at the following link.
Interview With Dr. Tuttle

 Adjusting to vision  loss is tough and it would have a great impact on your life and your future plans.  People around you might say a lot of nice things and give you a lot of encouragement, but only you can figure out how to live your life.  The following are probably not the most politically correct things to say, but they are hard cold reality.  Many people live by the slogan "Why settle when you can select." If you are blind or visually impaired, often time you have to settle for second or third choice.  Here are few things to consider:
  • What kind of job you like to do which also determine what you go to study in school.  Be realistic and practical.  Your dream job may be become a pilot or a police officer, but can you do it?  People might say don’t let vision loss prevent you from your dream, but dream and reality are totally different things.
  • Your career might be cut short due to your vision loss.  Do you have an alternative job skill that would not totally depend on your eye sight?   You might want to contact your local agency ASAP for training on new skill which could help you to keep your current job or preparing for a new job.  About 80% of blind adults in USA are unemployed, consider youself very lucky if you have any sort of paying job.
  • Make sure you have enough work credits to qualify for social security disability insurance (SSDI).  Save, save, save, because you might not able to live just on the SSDI benefit payment.  Buy a private long term disability (LTD) insurance if you can afford it.  If you are lucky, you might have LTD from your employer.   If you drive or operate heavy equipment on your job, get a life insurance to protect your love one.  Better yet, get it different job if you could.
  • Sooner or later, you might not able to drive.  Investigate transportation option in your area.   You might want to live in a big city where driving is not necessary.
  • Love is not blind.  Make sure your potential mate does not have RP or other serious eye condition.  Make sure your potential mate fully aware your condition and can deal with it long term.  Mating game is a two way street,  people with disability probably encounter many rejection and disappointment before finding a mate.
  • If you plan to have kid,  beware the consequence.  There is good chance that your kid would have RP or become a carrier.  Can you deal with your own as well as your kid's vision issue?

If you have to put a positive spin on blindness, it has the following "perks".  Seriously, I would give them up and more in exchange for one good eye. 
  • Extra deduction on your income tax form.  As far as I can tell, blindness is the only disability that IRS let you take the extra deduction, so it must be really sucks.
  • Relative low medical insurance via Medicare program after being disabled for 24 months.
  • Excused from jury duty.
  • Discounted fare on many public transportation, and almost always get a seat in them.
  • Early boarding on airplane ride.  Some airport even let you use the shorter security check in line.
  • Free access to audio books and player, at least in USA.
  • Handicapped parking permit.
  • Free fishing license in some states.  This is my favor.
  • Bring your guide dog with you almost everywhere.

How I adapt

    What is it like to be blind?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Right to Die: a right way to end my nightmare

Update December 2015:

Colorado lawmaker once again to consider Right to Die law in 2016.  Although this is a welcome news, I don't think the bill is going far enough.  The bill is call Right to Die, but this right is only given to people with terminal illness with less than 6 months to live.  I like to see this right extended to all people with poor quality of life and who like to end their existing.  Why limit this right to people with terminal conditions when people with other severe disability who could also benefit from this.   For example, I would definitely don't want to live as an blind old man paralyzed in a bed.  Keeping me alive in that condition is extremely cruel and inhumane, while letting me die would end the suffering and spare the emotional and financial drain for my family.  In addition, it should save some social security money for the next generation.  It is a win win for all concern.

Everyone should have the right to die just as much as has the right to live, to that end, we should provide means to support both choices.  I think the Right to Die law is one  of the mean.

Colorado to consider Right to Die law again

==== Original Post ======

I have been having the same nightmare on and off the past few weeks.  I usually woke up in the middle of nights in soaking cold sweat and I couldn’t recall all the detail.  In the nightmare, I was blind, laying in my own shit in a bed, and very alone living in some sort of institution.   I think I am having this type of dream because I have been thinking about what my life might be like the down the road in my so called golden years.

I have heard some horror stories about how nursing homes mistreating their residents; I am deadly afraid I might end up as a blind, old, and bed ridden resident in a nursing home.  As I getting older, my body parts are getting worn out.  I already noticed my knees are hurting when using the stairs, my memory is failing, I can't piss easily without medication, and my vision is getting worse by the year, and who knows what else is failing inside me that I don't even aware of.  I could be became bed ridden with just one bad fall from the stairs.
 Big Red Switch for the brain.

While thinking about this very unwelcome future possibility, I fantasized how great would it be if human brain has a power off switch, like the big red switch on the old IBM PC.  When the time comes in which living is worst than dieing, I could just flip the power off switch and I could be relieved from all the suffering.  Too bad, there is no power off switch, I am hoping for the next best thing that is legalizing assist suicide or having a fatal heart attack while sleeping.  I am a strong believer in how to live my life and when to end it on my own terms.

“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”- Buddha


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