ObamaPhone or Indiana Lifeline Assistance

So I received my “ObamaPhone” application in the mail recently. I know there is so much to talk about right now, but since I have this in front of me and there is a ton of false information and ignorance about this particular subject I think this is necessary. Also: I want to contribute to the works that actually help people on occasion – this blog is not just for me sounding off about things that are wrong.

No big info, just for reference.
Picture of the flyer that came with my application. I wanted to show you the application, but I could not come up with a way to show you, Gentle Reader, what I wanted to show you without displaying personal information. 

They are cracking down on fraud and abuse on both corporate and individual levels. Do not falsify anything on your application.

Let me say right now that there is nothing wrong with needing a lifeline phone. They will only ask you about how you qualify, not about how or why you believe you need their phone. Even if your situation is okay but perhaps subject to cataclysmic change it is something you should consider. Maybe your need is obvious and undeniable. Maybe everything is fine today, but the finances are out of your hands. Maybe it will only take one big couple fight to find you in desperate need of a phone. Maybe you are at home taking care of a parent that uses access to cars, phones and whatnot to control you and your business. Only people that could really need one are even eligible, so do not let internalized classism keep you from help you need no matter why you need it. 

My application came to me though my health coverage. I am disabled so I have the state’s health program. You can see if you are eligible for Indiana’s Lifeline Assistance program here at Safelink. As with all things “free” it comes with ad offers and such, but you can opt out of most of them. But I am getting ahead of myself. 

You can apply straight up at the website above if you do not receive a pre-approved application in the mail. (Note: that approval only lasts a few days, so use your application right away if you receive one.) You can also apply at your local library. If you are having extreme trouble, you can apply over the phone, but they do save that for folks having trouble with the process.

The application I received is in English on one side, Spanish on the other, and I think they have other language options at the web site. All I had to fill out was my name, address, last four Social Security number digits, and a contact phone number if you have one. There is also a box to check if your address is temporary. 

Next you pick your plan. The choices are 68 minutes a month, 125 minutes a month, and 250 minutes a month. Each plan comes with different options. The most important one is that the 68 and 125 plans have roll over/carry over minutes, whereas the 250 plan does not. The first couple of months have bonus minutes, and my offer included free calls to my docs even if my time is used up. Speaking of, you can of course buy SafeLink cards to extend your time if you have used it up for the month.

Once you get though that, you have to swear under penalty of perjury that you belong to the plan they believe qualifies you and a handful of other statements like that a qualifying household can only participate in the plan once. If you have trouble reading small print I definitely recommend using the website so you can use your browser options to size the text to your comfort level and ability.

That is it. You can fill out the paper application, go online, call their question line, fax it. As my own application progresses I will update this article. I am happy to say that the process seems to be fairly easy so far

Updates will go here. Corrections to the above, if needed, will be added where appropriate and clearly indicated.

  • This process immediately showed itself to be a government program, in that it is difficult to navigate in ways that only the government can produce (and I mean in general, no offense to the current administration).
  • I filled out the paper application so I could walk through it in this article, but my plan was to go online to file. However, the first thing Safelink wants is your “enrollment ID.” Guess what? There is no such thing labeled on the application. There is a member ID, and promo code, and a bar code, but no such number labeled.
  • My call to the help number at the bottom of the paperwork was promptly answered, filling me with false hope. The support personnel on the other end of the line was difficult to hear, and stuck to a script which did not answer my question at all. At one point there was an indication that it might be my insurance number (my qualifying program), but that is also used as my “member ID” and was not usable as my “enrollment ID.” So that was a 14 minute exercise in futility.
  • I could not start a fresh application because their web form would not accept my hyphenated last name. Later even the tech support agent helping me had trouble and even asked me if I had changed it on my government paperwork. (Yes, I did, sexist coder that wrote this form, I did.)
  • Next is my call to the help line listed on their web page. They have separate numbers for account help and tech support. The line is automated at first and is designed to help without connecting you to a real person. I needed a live person. It took two minutes to get connected to live help, which is not bad in my experience.
  • Again, the script given to assist customers was almost the opposite of help. It took another thirty two minutes to suss out that the only way to get past the lack of “enrollment ID” and the last name business was to apply over the phone. Now, the person I actually dealt with was heroic in trying to stick to the script. She also actually wanted to and eventually did help.
  • At one point I had to give the “I have worked in tech and tech support, I would not be bugging you if anything I could try worked!” speil. 
  • It was assumed I wanted the 250 minute plan, the others were not mentioned.
  • Applying over the phone is tedious, repetitive and irritating. If you can use any other method, I recommend quite strongly that you do so.
  • So now the wait is on! 7 to 10 business days should produce an Indiana Lifeline Assistance handset…

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Farewell Ferguson’s Faux Friends

So the apologies from all the fucks bleating so wrongly about Ferguson, MO’s protesters and racist cops and racist policies and tactics and racist everything should be rolling in any minute now…

…yep, any moment…


Because they were wrong. So very, very wrong. 

When you back up bad cops you hurt good cops. You leave impoverished, under privileged, under siege communities feeling like people only care when they can cluck their tongues about “riots” and “looting” and “boot straps” and “the race card” and “working harder.” 

You see, in the uniform, no one can tell a good cop from a bad cop. Because “decent folks” and “good cops” bend over backwards to protect bad cops. Maybe they watched Thin Blue Line too many times at too young an age. Maybe they watched COPS too many times at any age. Maybe they just think that only those with the intent to actually protect and serve are drawn to the job. But that much unsupervised power over fellow humans is a draw to the wrong kind of people.

If you defended Ferguson’s power, you need to apologize about Ferguson. Unless you still do not think the cops were wrong. Then just shut up, because you are a racist.

Personal notes: not a lot of links for a while as I am getting used to a mobile platform more kind to my shaking hands. 

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How to Restart a Blog

I do not do resolutions, but I do try to reevaluate my goals and recommit myself to those goals. You, Dear Reader, have been on my mind a lot more than I have shown during my hiatus. So, what happenings have happened or are happening?

I just celebrated my first year of no smoking after switching to eCigs. My nicotine intake is less than half of what it was when I started. I was using 36mg juices at the start, and vaping them like there would be no tomorrow. Now I use 18mg to 12mg and actually put them down once in a while. I am currently using a VTR, an Eleaf iStick and an SVD 2.0.

(My spell check is having fits with the above, my apologies for any actual missed typos!)

The family is doing well, despite the challenges in their individual lives. Minion One has technically become an adult, although she is still a high school student. Minion Two has found her groove, I think, and is shining brightly. The menfolk are getting along with life although they too face some challenges.

My Buddhist studies are going well and I am committed to them. Wrestling with my avoidance has been the biggest challenge, as one of the three main components is community (sangha).  

My health has maintained, although it has included a new problem: antiphospolipid syndrome. This has not increased my overall disability, although it is more meds and much more worry. 

I am closer to my idea of a healthy weight after getting better pain management. I had to finally tell my doc, “I am gaining weight because I am not moving and feeling gross and indulging in food, one of the few pleasures I can enjoy just like everyone else. I think if I hurt less I will move more and eat less.” That all proved to be true, and although the profession is still moving more towards criminalizing seeking pain treatment, she listened and I started moving more and shedding unneeded and unwanted pounds.

So let me put this out to you before I change my mind.

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Doing the Disability Drag (Get Your Cripface on!)

Oh, yeah, this is an official BAD CRIPPLE blog entry. Bad Cripple says, “Only you can stop kicking wheelchair wheels during movie viewing. They did not let me in for free because I brought my own chair, asshole!”

A blond, blazer-ed PatientC trying to look casual for a wheelchair picture.

Recently, after I mentioned a crip face issue on Facebook, a friend asked me to point her towards resources on the topic. I am usually happy to do that for anyone interested in a social justice topic, especially folks I know (given the usual: spoons available, respectful request, all that sort of thing). I was only able to point her towards an article on the fantastic but defunct FWD. Most of the resources I had compiled way back when are all gone. So come with me and we will make a new one here.

Disability drag/crip face/cripface/crip drag all describe the same thing: the act of behaving as if one has a disability that one, in fact, does not have. Usually this is done by TAB (temporarily able bodied) person, but it can be done by anyone. A person with a disability cannot cripface their own disability, but can cripface one that is not theirs. It is not usually considered cripface to temporarily take on the qualities of a disability that one has had in the past, as they are pulling from their own lived experiences and not demeaning someone else’s life experience.

Crip drag is always a display of privilege and is always ableist/disableist

ProTip: if you are not yourself disabled, you should stay away from using the word cripple (and that word family). Stick with disability.

Cripface is part of a long tradition of people with institutional & social power, with privilege, appropriating the experiences and lives of those without it. It is on the same field as yellow face, black face, poverty drag and other tasteless and hurtful impersonations of the very social structures that cause these inequities. I make no moral equivalencies here, I leave the Oppression Olympics to other folks! I am only pointing out a general category of people pretending to experience the problems and therefore somehow the lives of other people. 

This has come up recently in discussions about The Fault in Our Stars, a really good movie and an even better book. I think that both are worth the time. And I can enjoy an entertainment product while also understanding that it has a cripface issue. Hell, House, MD helped me through a rough patch in my life when I was newly dealing with using a cane as part of a bigger package of suck that came from a misdiagnosed infarction. Except it was my life and House was crip drag. Frequently patient characters were, too. Yet I was a big fan for years. The new Ironsides was totally cripface no matter how awesome Blair Underwood is in everything he does. I estimate that about 90% of disability I see on major media is fake. Oh, shout outs to Game of Thrones and CSI – you know why you rock.

Yes, it is disability drag when committed by a major motion picture the same as it is one of those empathy stunts. You know the empathy stunt (my phrase, but I would love it to be common use): where someone wears a blindfold for a week or uses a wheelchair for a month and learns valuable lessons. Usually done in service of a good cause, but almost always a bad idea.

Because crip face is still so commonly practiced and accepted, we are mostly just forced to deal with it or never dig anything. I have a lot more to say about the politics and power around cripface, about how you respond to the subject says more about you than about the problem, all kinds of things. There is so little out there, and I want to help fix that. Discussing this is part of the solution to it. Looking at these systems that benefit from disability drag should be something we all do together. Dismantling this problem should not be the sole responsibility of the people victimized by it. 

Avoiding using accurate terminology because you like something or give the creators a pass for being good people is part of the problem. Bad Cripple says, “Stop it. Stop it right now.” 

I am in the middle of a medium evil classic lupus flare with some bonus avoidance activation, but I decided to write anyway. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I hope you are free from suffering and the root of all suffering.

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This Post May Be Crap

This post may be crap. Every post here may be crap. Maybe every once in a while I get to be the millionth monkey and write something not crap. But I know this for sure: every single thing I decide to not write is definitely crap. So, I am going to side-swipe the little hater, the self censor, and work on the assumption that crap happens, that crap happens to me, and it is better to get it out and get one post closer to something good. Right now I am in flare management mode, so what the hell!

PatientC, a middle aged white women with silver/blond hair taking a rare bathroom selfie before a feared massive hair loss that did not occur.

Right after killing sprees and mass shootings may be the hot iron for gun control and gun abolition activists but it is the worst time to try to convince someone that they should give up what they see as their personal defense against such things. These folks sometimes lack the ability to use basic empathy as much as the NRA does (almost all the time). I use the phrase gun abolitionists to simply indicate activists with the goal of eliminating civilian gun ownership, no baggage. I think that control activists would do well to separate themselves from the abolitionists folks if they want to get more done. My heart aches for these folks, today in Oklahoma and who knows where tomorrow – so I want something right, something real, that will help. There is a lot we can do to make the 2nd Amendment a secure right that also respects the rights of others to live without them. But the secessionists, the militia/”states rights” folks, the NRA, the gun abolitionists – they are all going to have to sit at the kiddie table of ideas until they show they can do better.

The Fault in Our Stars is a great movie, you should go see it. You should read the book too. I got into some hot water trying to address the crip face/crip drag issue – but as I said then, if that was all I noticed I would never get to like anything. It is daring to put crippled and dying folks out there, to treat those stories as even worth the telling. Particularly telling tales with disabled/dying kids – we like to pretend they do not even exist. Also please note that Indianapolis is not as white or straight as the movie makers seem to think it is. Overall it is really good and worth the time and almost as brave as the book.

I am over 100 days cigarette free, thanks to vaping eCigs. Which is good, because they found antiphospholipid syndrome and have added that to my list of crap I fight every day. I am glad they found it, it can cause blood clots and kill people, so I would definitely rather know. There is just kind of a shell shocked reaction now a days that comes with new bad news.

(I am trying an app called If That Then This, please pardon duplicate announcements while I get used to it. It could be really useful!)

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