It’s Getting Harder to Pay the Rent in America

It’s been more than 15 years since Congress increased funding for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the government’s primary method for encouraging construction of affordable housing…

There are 3.9 million low-income households that lack access to affordable housing, according to Cantwell’s office. Just as troubling, the number of U.S. households spending 50 percent of their income on rent could increase to 15 million by 2025…

Rental housing often gets short shrift from politicians, at least compared with proposals to promote home ownership…

So many tax breaks revolve around home ownership (and marriage), something tens of millions of renters (and singles) will never be able to take advantage of (we always get screwed).

Tumbleweed Invasion 2016

While part of the country suffers through a spring blizzard, here in New Mexico, we had a drop in temperature of about 10 degrees, along with some pretty strong winds.

On Thursday, the winds were clocked at above 40 mph, shaking my car as I drove to Dairy Queen. (I’m weak.) I also drove through a brief tumbleweed storm, glad that I was safe inside my car. (Tumbleweeds are not friendly creatures.)


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It’s hard to take a photo of a tumbleweed tumbling (this isn’t my first attempt).

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That’s me, a tumbleweed. 🙂

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Friday afternoon, I took a break from cleaning to take a walk. As I was leaving my apartment, I saw the grounds crew leaving with a truck full of tumbleweeds. Of course, they didn’t get them all:


Can you see the heart?

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Can you see it now?

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Throughout my walk, I’m disgusted by more trash.


Every time I turned a corner, more trash.

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Some left by the grounds crew?


While some of the trash in front of my building was picked up, for some reason, not all of it:

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Peppermint liqueur.

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Do you think anyone reads the “government warning” label?

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Do you see a warning label on these beverages?

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Plastic, plastic, everywhere.


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Cannabis is so much more environmentally friendly than alcohol. When you smoke a joint, you re-use the roach (or pipe or bong), so there’s very little waste to throw away. Bud is kept in jars or baggies, which I always re-use.

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I just don’t know what to think about stuff like this…


Except that man’s obsessions with destruction and fire appear to be alive and well.

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Let’s think about something else…

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When I got back home from my walk, more trash greets me (among the flower petals from my tree):


The last maintenance guy (a contractor) who visited my apartment said they weren’t getting paid, so I’m assuming that the sloppy jobs performed by the contractors my landlord hires are due to low or no pay.

After living in apartments all of my life, one thing I’ve noticed is that when management no longer cares, the trash gets out of hand. When I was searching for an apartment, this is a red flag that I looked for. Fortunately, I didn’t find any other complexes with this kind of problem.

Good thing I have dilly bars. 🙂

Federal Government Advises Doctors Against Testing Patients for Marijuana

As part of its plan to change the healthcare community’s cavalier attitude towards the distribution of dangerous prescription painkillers, the federal government has advised physicians across the United States to stop testing their patients for marijuana.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated set of guidelines for prescribing opioids to patients suffering from chronic pain. Buried inside the language of this attempt to put a leash on the prescription painkiller epidemic, the CDC urged doctors to modify their drug screening policies in an effort to prevent those testing positive for THC metabolites from being disqualified from treatment.

Although the agency wrote that it still believes urine testing is necessary to discover any “undisclosed use” of illicit substances, it specifically states that this rule no longer applies to THC…

Although passing a drug test is not usually a prerequisite for an initial prescription to painkillers, patients who end up passing through the corridor from the family doctor to a pain management clinic are often held to a higher standard in order to continue receiving these medications. Typically, these patients are required to test free of any illegal substances, including medical marijuana, before being allowed to participate and/or continue in a pain treatment plan.

However, the latest CDC guidelines suggest that this old philosophy leads to “stigmatization” and “inappropriate termination of care,” which inevitably creates additional hardships for those patients in need of these types of treatment programs…

The Jesus Shot

(3/21/2016) Texas Ag Commissioner May Have Billed Taxpayers for Trip to Get ‘Jesus Shot’

Miller, a former rodeo cowboy who suffers from chronic pain, told the Houston Chronicle earlier this year he has received the “Jesus Shot,” a controversial but legal medication administered only by a single Oklahoma City-area doctor who claims that it takes away all pain for life…

The “Jesus Shot” costs about $300 and includes Dexamethasone, Kenalog and B12, which have each been approved to treat inflammation…

Dr. Vania Apkarian, a physiology, anesthesiology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation professor at Northwestern University, called those claims “outrageous.”

“This is some variant of giving some anti-inflammatory drug and cortisol, which is what all chronic pain patients are treated with regularly in almost all pain clinics,” Apkarian, who has studied pain in animals and human models for two decades, told “It’s effective for a week or so, and eventually the pain comes back.”

He said the success rate of anti-inflammatory drugs like these is 10 to 20 percent at best.

“This is quackery,” Apkarian said. “There is nothing in here that is anything different from the standard lines of managing pain.”

He said the shot probably wouldn’t cause harm but rather, “It’s guaranteed not to do anything.”

Maybe I’m just overly tired, but what I see here is a pain management doctor calling his own practice “quackery” and “guaranteed not to do anything.”

Poor people don’t vote

Ehrlichman provided some shockingly honest insight into the motives behind the drug war. From Harper’s:

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

It’s not news that the drug war is all about racism. But the “antiwar left” included white people, so it’s not just about race. If I were to guess, I’d say that more poor people voted in the 60s and 70s. Now? Not so much. Hard to blame us, really…

I have to wonder, who are the enemies of chronic pain patients? Why have we been targeted? Just like the “antiwar left and black people,” pain patients are poor and can’t fight back. But are we big enough in number to make a difference at the voting booth?

Maybe, but who the fuck would we vote for?

Under comments:

Ian Mentken · Founder at Cod and Cowboy Design
I will say the obligatory “what happened today in Brussels was horrific and tragic,” but truly it is nothing compared to the devastation we have wrought upon our own citizens.

Dan Ibrahim
Even with this revelation, I neither bear or carry ill-will against any man. Black people, collectively have no agenda to hurt any race or group of people. I don’t know what might a plausible justification for a scheme to cause grave harm to this group of people by some people in certain quaters. Please help us make the world a better place for all in every small way you can. It begins with speaking out against injustices like this. Please do something in your own small way. Thank you.

Because her pain never stopped

Let me tell you a story about a friend I used to have, let’s call him Paul. He was in his 60s when he fell in love with a 20-year-old prostitute, let’s call her Ashley. Ashley was also a meth addict.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t like the movies — and this story isn’t like the Julia Robert’s film, Pretty Woman.

Paul mentioned that Ashley had been on drugs since the age of 13, and started selling her body not long thereafter. He told me of the many occasions when he found Ashley at his back door, smelly, dirty, broke, and in need of care. He would get her cleaned up, but she never stayed for long. The last time I saw Paul, he told me that child protective services had taken away Ashley’s two-year-old, which sent her into another meth binge.

Paul said he had tried over and over again to get Ashley into rehab, but she didn’t want to go. Just like many other drug addicts, Ashley probably didn’t believe she could get clean. She didn’t believe in herself. And even after 7 years of this life, Ashley still didn’t want to stop. Because her pain never stopped.

It’s very difficult and humbling to recognize that a drug has so much power over you. That it’s stronger than you. But another part of this struggle is dealing with the physical pain and torture of withdrawal. Because, make no mistake about it, drug withdrawal can be torture. It’s a different kind of torture than chronic pain, and although I’ve experienced both, I don’t know how to describe the difference.

Searching on YouTube for “addiction,” I found visual representations of this torture:

What you’ll also see in this video is a prime example of how not to treat a drug addict — with shame and derision (even if with good intentions) — which just increases these very same emotions in the patient. He’s already disgusted with himself, which is why he agreed to the cold-turkey detox. But time and time again, he’s unable to go cold-turkey because he can’t stand the pain (the torture).

This is the kind of torture that overdose victims suffer through when they’re given naloxone:

For instance, to the uninformed, it is inconceivable that someone who nearly died from a drug would run out that very same day and buy more of it. Narcan works by binding to opioid receptors, blocking the effect of narcotics like heroin. In drug users with a physical dependency, it also has the effect of causing severe withdrawal symptoms. This all but guarantees that the first thing a user will think of after their overdose is reversed is getting another fix…

“It’s snaps you right out, but now you’re sick,” she said. Tammy explained how EMTs took her to a nearby hospital for treatment, but her withdrawal symptoms were so bad she ran from the vehicle when it reached its destination. She says she tried shooting up to feel better but the naloxone in her system blocked the heroin.

“You could do 30 bags and you’re not going to feel nothing for hours,” she said…

Meanwhile, several users told The Daily Beast that police officers sometimes use the drug irresponsibly to rouse addicts who are sleeping or nodding out in public. That claim is hard to independently verify, but Jeff Deeney, a treatment professional who works with drug-addicted populations in North Philadelphia, told The Daily Beast he has heard similar anecdotes from clients…

In the midst of a national opiate epidemic, politicians are talking a lot about addiction treatment… But few if any of these public discussions address what “getting help” actually looks like…

Because the best way to milk insurance is to cycle addicts through detox, rehab, and outpatient programs, there’s plenty of incentive to keep them relapsing. Five recovering addicts told BuzzFeed News that some marketers give their recruits money for drugs so they test positive on urine tests when checking into treatment…

Florida has struggled to regulate the recovery industry… The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), the body tasked with regulating rehab and detox centers, is woefully underfunded, they say, and doesn’t have staff to enforce its own regulations. And it doesn’t have any power over halfway houses…

There are few numbers on how many addicts get clean in rehab, and even fewer on how many stay clean. By nature, it’s a transient population, difficult to track for the multiple years required to get solid evidence of efficacy. And there’s little incentive for rehab centers to shine a light on relapse rates, which likely hover around 90%…

Even in countries that have safe injection sites for heroin users, the relapse rate is still high (but much lower than America’s 90%). But, at least in one of these countries, the death rate from heroin overdoses is now zero.

Here’s a little good news for New Mexico:

(3/16/2016) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government is giving more than $1.7 million to five health centers and treatment providers in New Mexico to improve and expand substance-abuse services, particularly the treatment of opioid abuse. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced the grants being awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The senators said grants are going to First Choice Community Healthcare Inc. and First Nations Community Health Source Inc. in Albuquerque, La Familia Medical Center and Presbyterian Medical Services Inc. in Santa Fe, and the Pueblo of Jemez…

I’ve done my best to understand addiction. But what to do about those who don’t want treatment? Who are not ready for treatment? I was thinking that if a cancer patient refused treatment, it wouldn’t be considered shameful, like with drug addiction. Even psychiatric patients usually have the right to refuse treatment. But pushing and forcing drug addicts into treatment obviously doesn’t work.

Good news, for once

I was finally approved for a new apartment!


Now I’m cleaning and packing. (But mostly cleaning, and who likes to clean?)

I’ve been (seriously) craving Dairy Queen dilly bars, but also patting myself on the back because I’ve (recently) refrained from indulging in these delightful treats. Unfortunately, I’m out of butter (and toothpaste and… something else…), so I have to go out and about tomorrow. (I mean, today.) Please keep your fingers crossed that I’ll be able to resist swinging by Dairy Queen.

I want to thank everyone for their support, through my eviction, and really, all the time. (I will post a financial accounting of the GoFundMe account after I move.)

I think I’m gonna make it. 🙂

(Photo taken 3/9/2016.)

Good luck, England

Duncan Smith said Sunday he was no longer able to support the cuts to disability benefits while taxes for higher earners and companies are being lowered. He denied his decision to quit late Friday as work and pensions secretary had anything to do with his support for leaving the EU in the June 23 referendum, a position in opposition to the prime minister and chancellor…

While Osborne’s Budget initially drew a positive reaction from Tory lawmakers, criticism soon began to surface about the impact of disability-benefit changes, intended to save about 4.4 billion pounds ($6.3 billion) over five years. The government signaled on Friday, before Duncan Smith quit, that it was looking again at the details…

The former Conservative leader quit dramatically on Friday, claiming he had been forced by George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, to implement ÂŁ4bn of cuts to disability benefits against his will...

Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that suicide rates, which had fallen consistently since 1981, have been climbing since 2007 and are now at their highest in over a decade…

The link between benefits issues and increased suicide risk is being highlighted by charities such as Mind. Speaking to the Guardian, Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said:

“Pressurising people by threatening to stop their benefits causes a great deal of financial problems and emotional distress, with some people attempting to take their own lives as a result.” …

(5/4/2015) More than 80 suicide cases directly linked to Coalition cuts claim disability campaigners

They’re coming for your fentanyl


Now, amid an unprecedented opioid crisis…

This, from an alleged liberal perspective (Salon)? Or just from a lazy media that needs clickbait to survive?

“Significant increases in fentanyl seizures and fentanyl deaths first became evident in 2013, and continued to increase throughout 2014,” emails Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher Jon Zibbell…

Be careful out there…

A coroner has confirmed that a couple in the province of British Columbia died July 20th after ingesting toxic levels of fentanyl…  This comes at a time when researchers have found recreational drug users are switching to alternative opioids after the much-abused prescription drug, oxycodone was changed to make it more difficult to tamper with.