The Joys of Bureacracy and Confusion

So after agonizing over it and talking about it and thinking about it and, and, and...  I've finally started the application process for Social Security Disability (hereafter SSDI). 
Some of you may be wondering why the hell I've done this now as I got a job in August.  While the job is nice, it is also exhausting to me.  I cannot work it full time.  I can't even work two days in a row without serious repercussions like needing to spend most of the next day or two in bed.  And this is not a difficult job.  At all.  My mental health has taken a distinct turn for the worse (not to crisis levels yet, but treading uncomfortably close) and I think it not unreasonable to suppose that some of it is because I can't quite cope with the "stress" of working.  While I can, and possibly will, adjust meds to see if there's an improvement, I have noticed that the weeks when I'm not scheduled so frequently I seem  to be less inclined to anxiety/depression crap.

Thus, I've had another wake-up call in terms of my limits.  I am not, by the Social Security Administration's guidelines "gainfully employed."  I'm not sure how much longer I can remain even sub-gainfully employed.  I've already had to ask to be excused filling-in for certain shifts because they are seriously detrimental to my health.  Anyway, I hope to keep working at least a shift or two a week for as long as possible.  But I also recognize that I don't know how long that will be. And as I've said before, I have to plan based on how I feel *now* not how I *might* feel in the future.  The way I feel now is that working just 16 hours a week at a sedentary, uncomplicated, quiet job is nearly overwhelming.  Ideally, in the future, I might be able to take advantage of the Ticket to Work program or successfully work from home in some way, or be healthy enough to work a 40 hour week.  Or hit the lottery.  Or something.  But now, not so much.

The initial step in the process was calling up Social Security and trying to fix my income statements for a few years when, for some reason, they have me as having received no income.  While I was never making a hell of a lot of money (because I had been in school full-time between the ages of 5 and 27), I *was* making some.  And paying taxes on it.  Dammit.  Anyway, they were very nice and helpful and hopefully that's fixed.

SSDI is in part based on work credits.  For every x amount of $ you make you get a credit.  I cannot, despite valiant effort, figure out if I have enough credits.  Some calculators say yes, others say no, there are weird exceptions to the rules based on age.  Buhhh.  Also, I resent the term "work credits" - I was "working" my ass off, I just wasn't getting paid for a lot of it.

So, I started my application.  Teh confused.  I haz it.  I think that may be the first test of disability.  If you are capable of filling everything out on your own correctly you clearly are not disabled.  So, I've let it sit for the past few days and started looking for assistance. 

The first agency (Allsup) would not take my case because I'm working, even though it's usually under 20 hours per week and my monthly income is well under the SSA cut-off.  If I quit my job they would review my case.  So, hell with that.

An old friend who happens to be a lawyer saw me moaning about the above on Twitter or Facebook or somewhere and sent me some helpful links.  So, I've been researching law firms.  I already have one scheduled to call me (tomorrow, hopefully) to discuss details, etc.
Here's the things I plan to ask about.  If anyone has helpful suggestions, they'll be well appreciated.
  • Fees - by law they're supposed to only be able to claim a certain % of the back-pay or a set $ amount and only if they win.  No win, no money.  I want to be sure they know this or else I will run away.
  • What about the work credit situation?
  • Should I continue the application I started on-line?  If so, precisely what information should I include and how?
  • How much and what am I expected to do?
  • What is their success rate?
  • If they won't take my case can they refer me to someone who might be able to?
  • If they won't take my case is it because they know it won't succeed or is it just because it will be too challenging?


The 12 Days of Ice Age Christmas

Snowmass tally: 10 mastodons, 4 mammoths, one "once-in-a-lifetime" find - The Denver Post

Pretty nifty find. The list of animals has me thinking someone should get cracking on some song lyrics.

Some earlier articles about the initial find by the guys digging the reservoir indicate that at least one of the mammoths was buried in peat which would account for the preservation (rather than fossilization) of bone and hopefully some soft tissue.

Widespread Panic fans will be interested to learn that Snowmass Village at least considered making "Big Wooly Mammoth" the official village song.


Nevada Trip - Down South

When we got back to Las Vegas we decided to visit Red Rock Canyon.  It has lots of hiking trails of varying difficulty.  It also has an amazing interactive visitor's center that covers the canyon, desert climate, the microclimates in various parts of the park and is generally amazing.

I'd really like to go back and camp and do a few more of the trails. 

Prickly Pear

One of those sort of microclimates along a gully

Sad ickle pinyon pine

Yep, I look like a dork, what of it.  Worse, most of what I'm wearing is slightly too-small dig clothes

I feel like this most of the time


Behold my magical glowing shoes

Deciding how to make my ascent

Another more forest-y microclimate

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Nevada Trip - Up North

Logan Shoals view of Lake Tahoe
It's been a hectic few weeks for us, so I didn't get these posted as soon as I had hoped.
Super Tom looks down upon us mere mortals
I think I need to grab a few from Tom too that he took with his iPhone.
So, we mostly went up to Reno to visit with my Nana who has esophageal cancer.
She is doing very well, considering.
We also took a day to drive up to Lake Tahoe where we got married at Logan Shoals Vista Point.
It was a beautiful fall day.
The Vista Point has had some improvements since we were there 7 years ago.
It also, however, sees the occasional crack-pipe.  To be fair, the crack smoker had hidden in in the crack (heh) between some rocks and I knocked it out with my cane because I wanted to see what it was.
I love Lake Tahoe.  If we could live there it would be awesome.  The air smelled wonderful.  It was quiet.  Ahhhh.
Reno is still very nice too, I think. 
To mark the occasion, I bought my very first fancy-pants yarn from a yarn store.  Some Noro in colors that sort of reminded me of the lake and surroundings.  I have vague plans of a shawl for me.
We also went to one of the streams and caught salmon spawning season, which neither of us had ever seen.  It was pretty amazing.  And I spent entirely too much time trying and failing to get photos of feathery duck booties when they dived for food.

So beautiful.
Look boys and girls, a crack pipe!

This is a weasel, not a ferret or even an otter but I took a photo anyway.

Ducks!  And dying salmon.

Salmon dying after spawning.  I thought of Chip, who by now had probably forgotten that highlight of his campus tour

More ducks!

The stream the salmon were swimming up.
We went and had a picnic on the beach and we took a photo of that random tug-boat on wheels thingie.
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Busting out the heavy equipment

Sir (William Matthew) Flinders Petrie, by Phil...Image via Wikipedia
This evening at work I've been looking for resources to redesign my blog template which has led to some browsing of old Egyptology books, including Methods and Aims in Archaeology by William Matthew Flinders Petrie.  I'm mostly looking for images, but this block of text caught my eye.
While I have, on occasion, been tempted to use a saw while excavating, the antiquities weren't my intended targets.
I have a feeling I might need to go through this whole book and post some of the highlights in the future.

ETA:  Holy shit, I never noticed before that Petrie is holding a Predynastic beaker in that portrait.  Durrrr.