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ER doctor – extreme Lupus (RA) pain is not an emergency!

ER doctor refuses future treatment for Lupus flare sufferer.

A little over a week ago, I praised Wesley Woodlawn ER for the way they took care of my wife’s frequent Lupus flares, brought on by Remicade infusions, which was supposed to help with her Lupus.

This week, I have the opposite to say, specifically about Dr. Brian L Debrot, who has put a note in Erin’s file instructing other doctors to not give my wife any more treatment for her Lupus. Dr. Debrot claims that my wife is using the emergency room for pain management. This accusation could not be further from the truth, we would rather not have to go to the ER at all, we would much rather have it controlled by Advanced Pain Medicine Associates, Erin’s pain management office, who are failing at the said task.

Advanced Pain Medicine claims they cannot treat Erin for Lupus, which is a type of Rheumatoid Arthritis, they are only treating her for her back pain, caused by a car wreck about nine years ago. Upon looking at the Advanced Pain website page where they list conditions they treat, Rheumatoid Arthritis is listed, which makes me wonder why they would have told my wife it’s not a condition they treat?

Advanced Pain Medicine list of conditions treated.

Back to Wesley Woodlawn, Dr. Debrot literally told my wife, she just has to live with the pain as it’s not considered an emergency, oh, and change her doctors. So, a doctor is going to refuse to treat a patient who is in extreme, debilitating pain, because he does not consider it an emergency? Something that the other doctors at the Wesley Woodlawn ER apparently disagree with, as they treat Erin without question.

Erin attempted to explain that the Remicade infusions caused her regular weekly visits to the ER, but Dr. Debrot dismissed this despite his colleagues at Wesley Woodlawn, suggesting that the Remicade is likely the reason for the increase in flares, vindicating what I had been saying for a while, continuing to say that Erin is likely to be in the ER regularly until the Remicade works its way out of her system.

We are fortunate to have good medical insurance, which covers almost 100% of our costs after the $500 max out of pocket has been satisfied, which happens within 4 – 6 weeks of a new year. We know some people who have no option but to go to an emergency room for treatment because they have sub-par medical insurance, with stupidly high out-of-pocket deductibles or no medical insurance at all.

To be clear, every other doctor at Wesley Woodlawn has been amazing, getting Erin in, treated, and discharged in 15 to 20 minutes, but this one doctor is being a real douchbag. I bet that if he had to suffer the sort of pain that Lupus sufferers have to deal with on a daily basis, he would be crying like a baby.

Something that Erin said deeply disturbs me, she said that if she thought there was no treatment, she would have committed suicide, which makes my anger at Dr. Debrot even more intense. Erin said this just before she got in my car on Tuesday morning to go to the ER where this experience transpired.

In an effort to not return to the ER, Erin started a new Orencia infusion treatment today at her RA doctor’ Nadia Gibson‘s office, which I just hope works as going to the ER is no longer an option without fighting with WesleyMC, which I am more than willing to do, I will fight like hell to help Erin not be in pain.


Kansas Department of Labor failing Kansans every day

Kansas Department of Labor Website - Server Error

My wife was made redundant in December 2020, her position was experimental, and due to the COVID—19 pandemic, she was unable to do her job effectively, so the company, understandably decided to cut their losses. And since that time, she has received one unemployment payment of $396 from the Kansas Department of Labor, which arrived on January 5, 2021; and nothing since.

My wife, Erin, is a part-time student, so has to declare her student status on form K-BEN 317, which she has done, repeatedly, and submitted via fax, email, and postal mail, and KDOL has claimed they have not received K-BEN 317 through any of these delivery methods. Even before this pandemic, this has been an issue, the question is; are KDOL incompetent or maliciously ‘losing’ the school attendance form?

Good luck calling KDOL, my wife did get through after 2+ hours on hold, only to be told that they had not received K-BEN 317, that is why she has not received any further unemployment benefits since January 5, 2021. The representative gave Erin a different email address to send the completed school attendance form to, and guess what, several more weeks have passed and nothing, no deposits from Kansas DOL.

In addition, KDOL “upgraded” its website to file claims online at the end of January; and it doesn’t work. At the beginning of February, claimants were required to sign up to the new website; and there was no signup link, the link did appear a few days later, and Erin successfully signed up, but upon getting in, she was greeted with a “server error” message; this error message has been persistent for weeks now.

I checked the mail before I concluded this blog and in the mailbox was a notice of determination letter from KDOL, saying that my wife is no longer eligible for unemployment benefits beginning 12/27/2020.

Kansas Department of Labor Unemployment Determination Letter

So, months after December 27, 2020, and sending the requested information, no less than four times, via three delivery methods, Erin has been denied for not supplying the requested information. In the meantime, bills are still coming in, and my income alone is not enough to cover all the bills and debt payments every month. And, there is still no stimulus payment from Washington DC; and no guarantee that it will even pass with Democratic Senators like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, who blocked the removal of the filibuster, which would allow Democrats to pass legislation with a simple 51 vote majority.

And based on what I have read online, Erin is far from alone in finding it hard to get unemployment benefits. And Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is being a politician making excuses and talking about the past. No-one cares what happened in the past, how outdated Kansas’ IT infrastructure is, how many staff have been hired to answer phones, or how many fraudulent claims have been stopped. IT’S NOT ENOUGH!


The Fibromyalgia/Lupus Patient, Remicade Infusions, and the ER!

The Fibromyalgia/Lupus Patient, Remicade Infusions, and the ER!

If you follow me on Twitter, you will probably be aware that my wife suffers from Fibromyalgia and Lupus, which frequently sends her to the emergency room, when the pain gets too unbearable. Our medical insurance company, Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Kansas, are pushing for us to go to an urgent care clinic; which we have done before, they take $75 of our money, only to tell us to go to the ER as they cannot help, so we cut out the middle man. Our local ER department, Wesley Woodlawn has been amazing, getting my wife’s pain under control and sent home quickly, thank you everyone at Wesley Woodlawn.

My wife, Erin was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Lupus a few years back, and she started Remicade infusions about 7 – 8 months ago in an effort to tame the frequent Lupus flares as my wife was visiting the ER every 6 – 8 weeks with extremely painful Lupus flares. After her first infusion, I noted that her visits to the ER had increased in frequency, to every 2 – 3 weeks. I pointed this out to Erin, and she dismissed my concerns; saying that it’s going to take time to work, at least 4 – 6 months. But with every Remicade infusion, she was visiting the emergency room more and more frequently, to the point where we are at the ER every 7 – 10 days. I’m no doctor, but I understand cause and effect, but what do I know?

Last night, we were at the Wesley Woodlawn ER again for Erin’s sixth big flare of 2021; and it’s only February 16. Her third visit since her last Remicade infusion, three weeks back, which had an immediate effect on her body, causing her joints to be inflamed instantly, which, in turn, triggered a Lupus flare, ending in a visit to the ER after her regular doctors could not help her with the pain.

Three ER visits ago, January 25, 2021, I was finally vindicated, when an ER doctor confirmed what I had been saying about Erin having a bad reaction to the Remicade treatments. The doctor told her to look into the half-life of Remicade in the body; saying that until the Remicade is out of her system, she is going to be visiting the ER frequently with flares. I take no pleasure in being right, but the vindication is nice.

Every day it breaks my heart to see my wife in pain, constantly, and I do mean constantly, just the intensity of pain varies. I feel so helpless, not being able to do anything to ease her pain, other than to drive her to the emergency room on a weekly basis. Erin’s RA doctor is going to try another infusion, I don’t know which one, I just hope that it works. I would like to be able to be a husband, instead of a caregiver. I spent my teenage years being a caregiver for my mother, it’s frustrating to have to do it again for my wife, especially as we are still relatively young, in our mid-40s. Erin is the love of my life, what else can I do?


Bad Medical Billing Practices

Bad Medical Billing Practices

Yesterday, while driving out to a property to take photos, I received a phone call from Midwest Service Bureau, a collection agency, calling about, no scratch that, demanding payment, of a bill from Dr. James Vincent of The Therapy Center, a bill that we thought had already been covered by secondary insurance.

As we had only received the letter about the debt being passed to Midwest Service Bureau on Friday, Feb 5, 2021, and the Therapy Center was closed when we called that afternoon. I explained the situation, that I need to talk to The Therapy Center before I make any sort of payment, and he wanted proof that insurance had paid, I told him I did not have proof, as I have to look into it, anyway, he notated that I refused to pay, and he hung up after I expressed my dislike for him and Midwest Service Bureau.

Going back to the beginning, our son, Conner had his second evaluation for Autism at The Therapy Center, receiving a bill for $393.73 about 5-6 weeks later, after our primary insurance had paid 40% of the bill. We did not pay the bill, instead, my wife provided The Therapy Center with secondary insurance from Conner’s biological father. Then, we would have paid the remainder if any after the secondary insurance had been billed. We never received another bill from The Therapy Center, so we assumed that the secondary insurance had covered the remainder of the bill, and we moved on with our lives.

That was until, Friday, February 5, 2021, when we received the collection letter from MSB.

My wife finally got hold of the billing department at The Therapy Center, we explained the situation to Kelly, and she could not find any trace of the secondary insurance we had provided to the front desk back in December during an appointment for our Daughter. Kelly took the insurance details again and said she would contact MSB and put a hold on the collection, while secondary insurance was being billed.

Getting to the title of this blog, the bad billing practice; a simple phone call to us could have resolved this issue. Sending out monthly billing statements would have given us a clue that something was amiss; heck, they could have even Emailed it if they did not want to print and mail out a statement, they have my Email address. Neither of these things happened, and now my wife is going to have a collections order on her credit report, even if they notate that it was there in error, it still dings her score, which is unacceptable.

I don’t mind paying bills or at least make a payment arrangement to break up larger bills, which are common in medical billing. What I do not like is businesses not doing their due diligence, and sending bills to collections without even making an attempt to talk to the people who owe them money. That creates a lot of bad will, and more than likely, that person will no longer patronize their business.

The reality is that most people who are in the unfortunate position of having to deal with collection agencies like Midwest Service Bureau don’t have the cash flow to pay $$$$ out of pocket. Companies should think about calling and talking to their customers, most people would be willing to work out a payment plan, to avoid being sent to collections, while also creating goodwill with your customer base.

Now, we wait, will we get any further correspondence from The Therapy Center regarding the insurance claim? will collections get resumed, without a single word to us? I hope not, but I won’t be holding my breath, based upon my experience. This incident has forever tarnished my view of The Therapy Center.


Amazon ‘Refund’ Email Scam

Today, I got an email, purporting to be from Amazon thanking me for purchasing a Canon EOS 5D DSLR Camera for the sum total of $3,429.30. Obviously, I did not purchase an EOS 5D, a camera that was released 16 years ago. Anyway, I have been around the online block many times, so I knew this was an obvious scam, I have ordered enough stuff from Amazon to know the Amazon confirmation Email format, and this Email was not it. Although, I did check my Amazon account, just to be safe, not that I needed to as I received the Email on my ‘webmaster’ address that I use to manage my employer’s domain registrations.

Amazon Email Scam, Canon EOS 5D

I’m assuming they got my name from the WHOIS on one of the domains that are registered under my name, that is the only place where my name is linked to my employer’s webmaster Email address. I am 100% sure that I did not create an Amazon account with a work Email address, and if I did, it would not have been the Email address this scam message was sent to, my main work Email is not published online.

Of course, me being me, I did not call the number, instead, I searched Google for 1-850-919-3353 and I found that this is a variation of a refund scam. This is why “In-case you require any change in order or like to cancel we recommend giving us call immediately” on the aforementioned number appears prominently near the top of the message, hoping that the recipient of this message will call and get talked into divulging personal and financial information, allowing remote access to their computer, or saying that you need to purchase gift cards to cancel the order, which should be an immediate red flag.

I hope I would not have to say this, but never call any numbers shown in the Email, instead, visit https://www.amazon.com/hz/contact-us/ (don’t click this, type it, manually), just because the text says amazon.com, that does not mean that the hyperlink attached to the text goes to amazon.com. You will need to log in to your Amazon account to access this page, like most online retailers, Amazon doesn’t make it easy to find a phone number, but on this page, you can initiate a text chat, or request a callback. Even if the sender appears to be amazon.com, don’t trust it, it’s not hard to spoof Email addresses.

I publish the phone number in the hope that anyone searching for this number will find this blog and not get taken in by these scammers. Never take anything you see on the Internet at face value, do your due diligence to confirm anything you receive in an Email, especially Emails about orders you did not place.


ROKU Streaming & Remote Issues

ROKU Ultra

Today, I went out and bought a Roku Ultra (4800X) as our Roku Streaming Stick (3800X) for our bedroom has a number of issues. For example, while streaming on either Hulu or Discovery+, the quality will be all over the place from unwatchable to clear 1080p, and it would buffer two to three times every 30 minutes of playback, sometimes never recovering, And while using Amazon Prime Video, it would often pop up a message on screen about the Streaming Stick overheating, but no disruption to playback.

Initially, I thought the issue was with Discovery+, which I am currently testing out. But after trying Discovery+ on our TV in the living room, which has a Roku Premiere (4620X) connected, it worked flawlessly, clear 1080p after a second or two of playback, and no buffering at all, connected wirelessly like the bedroom Streaming Stick. This squarely puts the blame on the Roku Streaming Stick, it seems that putting all that tech in such a small form factor results in poorer performance than their larger cousins.

Moving onto the remote control supplied with the Roku Ultra, it worked fine with the device itself; but I could not get it to work with my 10-year-old RCA TV, following the Roku provided steps. Previously, the remote for the Roku Streaming Stick worked fine, turning the TV on and off, and controlling the volume.

I searched Google and found some suggestions for trying different brands of TV, but that option was not available to me. After some further reading, I found out that if connected to the TV via HDMI; the Roku will detect the TV brand; not allowing you to select a brand during setup, and I don’t see a way around this.

Then, I had a brainwave, I knew that Roku remotes were interchangeable; so I ‘forgot’ the Ultra remote, and paired the Streaming Stick remote to the Roku Ultra; then following the Roku instructions, it detected my RCA TV, and it worked perfectly. The remote supplied with the Ultra worked with my daughter’s Vizio TV with no issue, after pairing it with the Streaming Stick that was formerly in my bedroom.

However, it does seem weird that the older model remote works fine with my RCA TV, but not the newer model remote, both remotes are very similar, so I guess it makes little difference. I do lose the headphone functionality on the remote, which, if I am being honest, I would never have used, but thanks for the earbuds, they sound pretty good connected to my Pixel 4 XL via the USB-C to 3.5mm dongle.


Eye CAN’T See Clearly Now

Eye Cant See Clearly Now

I have been acutely aware that my vision has been deteriorating ever since I moved to the US back in 2008, and now it has gotten to the point where it is affecting my ability to work, I am struggling to read text on my 3440×1440 34″ monitor at it’s native resolution; and when I renewed my drivers license back in 2017, I barely passed the eye test, and I am 100% sure I could not pass the same eye test today.

I was coping with my deteriorating vision before the new year, when suddenly on January 2, 2021, I woke up with extremely blurry vision, that stayed with me all day. Thankfully, my vision cleared up somewhat the next day, but did not go back to where it was before the new year. Which, made my job very difficult on Monday morning as my work is 100% on a computer, I needed to use 200% zoom in Chrome to work.

After struggling until lunch on Monday, I made the call to my optometrist to make an appointment as this situation is not tolerable. And on Thursday, January 7, 2021 I saw my optometrist, and she confirmed that my prescription had changed, and that my cataracts had worsened, but not to the point where surgery is necessary. The third thing she said is that my allergies are a big reason for the decline in my visual acuity.

The outcome is that I have two new pairs of glasses ordered, one for every day life, which are bifocals with Transitions and Crizal coatings, and a second pair for use with my computer work, which has no blue filter, tint or Transitions as I work with photography where color accuracy is a requirement. The total cost, with vision insurance was $846, yes, I could have gotten cheaper frames, not to say I went with super expensive designer frames, and done without the coatings, which is what bumps the overall price up, if I went to straight clear lenses, it would have been more than 40% less than what I paid.

The last thing my optometrist suggested was a regiment of eye drops and sprays to help with my allergies and dry eyes. She recommended that I start my day by spraying Heyedrate onto my eyelids, then 5 – 10 minutes later, a single drop of Pazeo into both eyes, then another 5 – 10 minutes later, use Optive Mega3 drops in both eyes. It’s kinda expensive, around $55 per month, but I have been using this method, and my eyes are hurting less and my visual acuity has improved. It’s a hassle, but I’m going to stick with it, and hope that my vision improves enough to renew my drivers license on my birthday in October 2022.

In addition to this, I need to get myself a new primary care doctor, as I have neglected my health for a couple of years now, due to ‘Murica, I could not afford medical insurance, my wife needs good insurance as she has multiple medical issues, I don’t make enough to pay for medical insurance for the wife and kids, and myself. But, this year, I was able to get basic insurance for myself, and plan to see a doctor regularly to get my A1C checked, and get back on some sort of drugs to help control my diabetes.

I have cut out 85% of my sugar intake to help control my diabetes, but it seems I need drugs in addition to my reduction of sugar use as my optometrist showed me how diabetes is affecting my vision, with white patches on the photo of my eyes she took, which is uncomfortably close to my scope of vision.

Bottom line here is that I need to take my health more seriously, if my health gets to a point where I am unable to work, I am unable to provide for my family. I already feel like I am failing my family, not being able to earn enough money to buy everything my family wants, with $20,000 of debt hanging over us. I don’t think I could live with myself if I could not earn any income due to neglecting my health.

Photo by Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash


Review: Sennheiser HD 450BT Bluetooth Headphones

Sennheiser HD450BT Bluetooth Headphones

It’s been a while since I wrote a review of a product; and Christmas has just passed, meaning I have some new tech to write about. This Christmas, my mother-in-law bought a pair of Sennheiser HD450BT Bluetooth headphones; and the following is my opinion of my new Sennheiser cans.

Starting with the comfort and fit; the HD450BT headphones are fairly lightweight, the clamping force is comfortable initially. I chose the Sennheiser’s as they were advertised as over-ear type headphones on Amazon, but in reality, they’re somewhere between on-ear and over-ear. The main part of my ear fits inside the pads, but my earlobes are being pressed upon, which despite the soft and padded earpads starts to get fatiguing after 3 to 4 hours of use, so much so that I have to take a break from using them.

Moving onto the sound, it’s a mixed bag for me. When connected with the cable to my Mayflower Electronics O2 headphone amplifier, they sound at their best, being able to handle good power with little to no distortion. The sound mix is definitely more mid-tone focused, pushing vocals and guitars forward in the mix, which for me is great as I like rock and metal, with the highs and the lows a little recessed. If you’re a bass junkie, these headphones are probably not for you, not to say the HD450BT lack low end, the bass is more punchy than a deep down thud, while the highs a little rolled off for less harshness.

Moving onto Bluetooth performance, this is where I feel the sound is falling short. I would like to get more volume out of the HD450BT’s while connected to my Pixel 4 XL. The sound balance remains the same as when connected to my O2 ODAC, just at a much-reduced volume. This is my first set of Bluetooth Headphones, so this may be normal, but I feel distinctly underwhelmed by the wireless performance.

The Bluetooth range is good, I can walk everywhere in my 1,400ft² house without any signal loss, and the controls on the right headphone are fairly intuitive, with a button for Google Assistant or Siri, a rocker switch controls next track and previous track, and play/pause when pressed down, a second rocker switch to control volume up and down, and finally a combo button to control power on/off and ANC (active noise canceling). In addition to the controls for media playback, volume, and assistant, there is a USB-C connector for charging, for which a USB-A to USB-C cable is provided, and a 2.5mm jack input to connect to a headphone out for wired use, although it’s a shame Sennheiser elected to use a 2.5mm jack instead of a standard 3.5mm jack, the headphones are big enough to easily accommodate a 3.5mm jack.

There is an app to help tune the sound a little on Android and iPhone; called Sennheiser Smart Control, which gives you low, mid, and high frequency adjustments to change the sound profile to suit your taste, also allowing for the creation of user sound profiles. Personally, I prefer the flat, natural sound of the HD450BT’s, I just wish there was a setting to boost the volume while using Bluetooth connectivity.

Finally, the battery life, well, I don’t know, it’s claimed to have 30 hours of use from a single full charge, which I have not tested as I have been at home, and prefer to use the HD450BT’s wired, but I have not had to charge them at all, it started with 90% charge out of the box and is currently sitting at a little under 70% after maybe 3 hours of Bluetooth use, so 30 hours doesn’t seem an unreasonable claim.

I do like the sound profile of the Sennheiser HD450BT headphones, despite the shortcomings of the lack of volume while using Bluetooth and the earcup design, which becomes fatiguing in extended use. The HD450BT’s are the best sounding headphones I have ever owned, and the most expensive at $145 (list price: $200), previously the most expensive headphones were the JVC HA-RX900 at $52 (list price: $100).


Dental Insurance Lost… Toothache Requiring Surgery Days Later!

Wifey's Dental Pain Surgery

I’m really starting to wonder if my family has offended some deity, and that is why my family keeps on getting kicked in the teeth! As I outlined in my last post, A Mixed Bag Life Update VII, my wife, Erin was made redundant from her job as a service coordinator and therefore lost her dental insurance, which turned out to be quite expensive with Erin developing a toothache just days after her insurance expired.

My wife tried to deal with the pain for a few days, before I told her to go see a dentist, knowing we’ll have to pay out of pocket. I have suffered from dental pain for the majority of my life and know it’s miserable. About 3 years ago, I had dental surgery myself, after fighting the pain for six months, I could not take it anymore due to the pain intensifying in the 3 weeks before I caved in and had it taken care of. So, I did not want to watch my wife endure that same pain when we have credit cards to at least defer the cost.

Yesterday, Tuesday, 12/16, my wife went to Wichita Family Dental, and they could not find anything wrong other than a couple of loose molars. I’m no orthodontist, but I would think that would be a good place to start in your diagnosis! Anyway, she was referred to a dental surgeon, who she saw today, 12/17 at Wichita Oral Surgery, and he extracted the two loose teeth and the pain subsided almost immediately.

As we were not covered by dental insurance, due to the end of Erin’s employment, the total cost was $661, which adds to our, what I consider out of control, credit card debt. $229 of that was to be told “we can’t see anything wrong”. At least we got some value from that visit, as the X-ray that was taken was used by the dental surgeon to identify and take care of the problem teeth, which cost a further $432.

As much as I didn’t want to spend the money, with around $1,100 less income each month, I could not sit there and watch my wife deal with dental pain. Anyone that has ever had dental pain that requires surgery, know’s how all-consuming toothache is. Right now, Erin is sleeping after three days of getting little to no sleep due to the pain, leaving me to my own devices, which is probably not a good thing.

This brings me to the American healthcare system, where your employer controls your healthcare, not you, the policyholder. Thankfully, our medical insurance is not through an employer, my wife’s medical needs cannot be met when our insurance is linked to a job. America desperately needs Medicare For All, like my home country of the UK has had for the past 72 years. But politicians in the US literally couldn’t give 2-fucks about their constituents who voted them into power, they’re beholden to their donors.

Photo by H Shaw on Unsplash

A Mixed Bag Life Update VII

A Mixed Bag Life Update VII

It’s time for another thrilling installment in the life of the Lewis family, it’s mixed bag life update, no. 7.

Alright, let’s start with the positive news, we finally received our tax refund, which we filed for all the way back in late February. We just happened to check our “Bill Pay” account and there was a $3,300 deposit from the IRS listed. This refund was earmarked for paying off some debts to reduce our monthly outgoings, but, of course, things never seem to work out for us in the way we had planned it.

Our plans were scuppered by my wife being made redundant from her part-time job, meaning a reduction of $1,100 in monthly income. So, the tax refund, earmarked for debt reduction will have to be used to replace my wife’s income for the next 3 months, at which time we hope that she will be working again, or we will have to reevaluate our lifestyle, moving to a cheaper home, and reduce expenditure.

We are not surprised by the end of this job, as the company who employed her, liked the idea of having a service coordinator for their Section 8 residents, but did not want to make the financial investment for my wife to do her job, meaning her hands were tied. They asked her to lean on the property’s vendors, but the property is so in debt to its vendors, that they are not feeling inclined to make “goodwill” gestures.

School is still going well for my 16-year-old son since the switch to “My School Remote”, last semester, he had straight A’s, and this semester, he has four A’s, and one B. It really seems that online learning suits my son, so much so that we are going to look into switching him to an online school when the COVID-19 crisis is over and school returns to onsite learning, which my son struggled with in previous school years.

My daughter, who recently turned 11-years-old has been plagued with technical problems with her “My School Remote”, using Microsoft teams. Some of it was hardware related on our end, but the majority of it has been related to problems with Microsoft teams, I confirmed with our daughter’s teacher, that most of her students are having the same issues with Microsoft Teams, dealing with it the best we can.

I anticipate more issues as today, December 2, 2020, due to COVID-19 cases increasing, Wichita Schools have decided to go to a full remote school model. Which, in my opinion, should have been the case from the start, expecting elementary school children to follow social distancing and keep a mask on for 8 hours of school is unrealistic. The bizarre thing is that high school students were fully remote from the start!

On the subject of school and technology, my mother-in-law bought herself a new laptop, an ASUS Vivobook (F512DA-EB51) on my recommendation, for a bargain price of $479.99, almost $100 less than it currently sells for; freeing up her second-generation Core i3 laptop for my daughter to use for school. Previously, an attempted SSD upgrade due to her spinning rust hard disk developing bad sectors failed, the SSD just was not recognized. I confirmed that the SSD worked in another machine, and installed another mechanical drive to get it up and running. When the laptop was handed down to my daughter, I tried to replace the mechanical drive with an SSD, of the same make and model as the previous one that failed and it worked the first time, I also added another 4GB of DDR3 RAM for a total 8GB of RAM.

What a big difference, doubling the RAM and upgrading to a cheap 120GB SSD, makes it feel like a whole new machine. Not as fast as a new laptop, but it feels at least five times faster than before the upgrade.

Continuing the technology theme, I just purchased my wife the new Google Pixel 4a, at a cost of just under $15 per month for 24 months, to replace her aging Samsung Galaxy S7, as the battery is barely holding a charge anymore and her screen has massive burn-in of a match 3 game she plays a lot.

On the subject of Pixel phones, my Pixel 4 XL has developed a perfect semi-circle dot at the top of the screen, which was not there before the Android 11 update. I have posted on the Google support forums and the lack of response is deafening, so I guess it’s a problem with the screen, as it’s not there when I take a screenshot, and of course, it’s just outside of the warranty period, while I still owe $400 on it.

We thought we might have been exposed to COVID-19 after our daughter’s singing teacher was confirmed to have contracted Coronavirus. Her teacher seems to be recovering nicely after being very sick with the virus, and we seem to be COVID-19 free after a couple of weeks of quarantining as much as possible.

While on the subject of singing lessons, we are considering stopping the lessons as our daughter refuses to practice her assigned songs for an upcoming virtual performance, choosing to sing other songs, repeatedly. If our daughter is not willing to put in the work, we are not going to keep paying for lessons.

Finally, my photography has been used without permission by a local franchise of a property management company. Real Property Management First Choice was using my photos of 2020 E Murdock without a license. Twelve photos were downloaded from my employer’s website, complete with watermark. RPM First Choice cropped the photos to remove our watermark at the bottom right corner and published them as their own on their website and aprtments.com, where I stumbled across my work.

I sent an Email to the parent company of the franchise two days ago, and as I write this, the photos have been removed from the First Choice website, but still remain active on apartments.com. Hopefully, these will be removed too, as after cropping out our watermark, they added their own watermark, showing the Real Property Management branding. I’m guessing they don’t want to be linked with stolen photography.

Addendum: As of 12:11am on December 3, 2020, the infringing photos have also been removed from apartments.com. However, after doing a quick Google search for “Real Property Management 2020 E Murdock”, I find several more listings using my photos, including, but not limited to; apartmentguide.com, apartmentlist.com, realtor.com, zumper.com, and rent.com, but I will give RPM the benefit of the doubt here as I know syndicated listings can take a day or two to refresh.