Thursday, January 10, 2019

Call the VA White House Hotline!

This is what happens when you call the VA White House Hotline with a legit gripe: they fix it, and fast. Many veterans do not know that such a mechanism exists, so I write this piece explaining how to use it. 

BLUF: VA White House Hotline:  1-855-948-2311.

Those who read my work and follow me on Facebook know that the Department of Veteran's Affairs and I tussle, and a lot. 

My latest dispute with the VA was caused by schedulers at the VA's Lake Nona facility in Orlando. I need to renew my medications, and my last visit to Lake Nona was over a year ago. So I scheduled appointments, and I bought a plane ticket. 

Then the schedulers canceled appointments that I made months in advance. 

It is my decision to live as an expat in Bangkok, and this complicates my health care. I see a cardiologist every month and a pain specialist at my own expense, and it is not cheap. 

I could seek reimbursement for these expenses through the VA's Foreign Medical Program, but the process is complex, it requires meticulous documentation, and it is prone to error. 

The last time that I tried to get reimbursed the VA clerk told me that the medication in question was not on the VA formulary. I just shake my head. The VA prescribed it for me, and they provide it for me every month. 

Just one example. I have stacks of receipts that need to be submitted to the FMP. They repay expenses two years in arrears. Someday. I wish that they offered an online process for reimbursement. They are stuck in the 1970's. 

I need to monitor my INR levels as every cardiologist that I see tells me that I will die from a stroke and it is impossible to know when that stroke will strike. So I take warfarin every evening and I pray the Jesus Prayer when I do so. 

My cardiologist also monitors my blood sugar levels, and she is nagging me fierce. What I put in my mouth is one of my lone pleasures, and she is crowding me. So my diet is increasingly strict. No carbs. Ok. Few carbs. 

My pain specialist is a psychiatrist, she prescribes my opiates, Methadone and Codeine. My addiction to opiates began with a gall bladder that tried to kill me several years ago. It was excruciating, and that was when I encountered the solace of Mother Demerol. 

My opiate addiction is controlled, I take strict dosages of Methadone to manage addiction, and Codeine when I cannot sleep due to breakthrough pain. I suffer from crippling arthritis, the price that I pay for 333 parachute jumps and many years under a heavy ruck. 

I would love to transition to a hemp or cannabis treatment, but it is not yet legal in Thailand. Medical marijuana is legal in many American states, and it seems inevitable that it will finally be legalized at the Federal level--which would make it available to veterans through the VA. 

In time. If I live to see it. 

Enough about that. I made appointments to see my primary care physician, my shrink, my neurologist and my cardiologist at the Lake Nona VA facility all the way back in September and October 2018. I made the appointments for one week in January 2019, so I could fly to Orlando, check into a hotel, and knock them out over a few days. 

All was well until December, when the Lake Nona facility began canceling my appointments. Doctors were canceling them for various reasons, and the schedulers then told me that no appointments were available for many months. 

I flipped out. I harangued a scheduler on the phone, I called the patient advocates at Lake Nona and complained my ass off, and then finally, I remembered: The VA White House Hotline fixed a problem for me before. Why not try them? 

So I did. I called, I was immediately connected to an agent, his name was John, I laid out the problem, John heard me out, then he said that he would open a case file and poke his liaison at Lake Nona. I received an email with a case number in moments. 

And just like that, shazam, the problem was fixed. 

Two days later schedulers from Lake Nona called me, Google Hangouts gloriously rang the calls through to my iPad in Bangkok, and they made new appointments for me during the week that I will be in Orlando. 

When the VA tells you that no appointments are available for several months, do not believe them. They can squeeze you in. This is proof of it. When somebody with sufficient authority tells them to fix their shit, they can do it. 

The VA then sent me an email a few days ago telling me that those appointments were rescheduled, and I almost flipped out again, but I reminded myself that the VA White House Hotline fixed issues for me twice before, and I could just call them again. 

I prayed. I pray and I meditate during my daily walk in my neighborhood, so I walked and I prayed, and the next day, I received the letter above in my mailbox. 

The Medical Center Director at Lake Nona who sent me that letter included a list of my upcoming appointments, and they were all listed. Mr. Timothy W. Liezert, Medical Center Director, sent that letter to my address in Bangkok. Other automated letters were sent to one of my addresses in CONUS. All the appointments are for the week of 22 January 2019. 

Victory. 

I will take it. 

There is no guarantee that a doctor at Lake Nona will not attempt to cancel another appointment before that week, but I suspect that my patient record is flagged to the effect of "Do not mess with this veteran because he will raise an unholy ruckus." 

Plus, we have an ally there, a man on the inside: Norm Hooten is on the Pharmacy staff at Lake Nona. I will make it a point to say hello. And Mr. Liezert gave me the name and direct phone number of Ms. Sanchez, whom I suspect is a manager of scheduling. At minimum she is a manager. She may be the Director. 

I wrote before that somebody anonymously helped me with previous challenges with the VA. I still do not know who that person is, or was. But I know that somebody out there in the vastness of the internet picked up a phone and advised somebody at Lake Nona to take care of me. 

To that anonymous angel, I again render my thanks. I know that you are no mere figment of my imagination. Too many synchronicities occur. I do not believe in coincidence. 

And yes, I thank President Trump, whose gatekeepers deep-six every letter that I ever send to him, I thank him for following through and setting up the VA White House Hotline. 

It just works. We desperately need a way, any way, to contend with the VA, which is tied with the IRS for most frustrating and incompetent government agency in the federal constellation. 

Some 22 veterans a day kill themselves. Each is an individual, as the Hindu put it, a universe, irreplaceable, a sudden black hole in the human continuity, but there is no doubt in my mind that frustrations with the VA are implicated in most of them. 

I understand that frustration. Before you eat your gun, call the VA White House Hotline and talk to an agent there. 

I will leave this at that. 



Saturday, January 05, 2019

Revelation Revisited

Aleister Crowley, LAM, Dead Souls Exhibition, Greenwich Village, 1919. This portrait of LAM was published in The Equinox, (aka The Blue Equinox) Vol. 3, No. 1, (1919), and as the frontispiece to Crowley’s Commentary (Liber LXXI) to Helena P. Blavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence (1889). I write about LAM on my other site, Samizdat

I finally posted a new article on my other site, Samizdat. I use the pretext of a review on an article to revisit themes that are threaded throughout my book Revelation.

This is all high strangeness. I lavished photos and hyperlinks to arcane sources throughout, so if you are inclined to bend your consciousness without illegal substances, click through

I began writing Revelation as a preface to Metamorphosis, and it took me a couple of months to realize that it was just continuing to expand.

Writing Revelation was a process in learning, I continually researched as I wrote, and writing this review made me realize that I am not done with those subjects by a long shot. 

That preface turned into a book. I was so married to the idea that it was a preface that I published the whole mess as The Rosetta Stone of Memories. When Amazon priced the paperback at $88, I realized that I needed to split up the halves and make them into separate books. Sometimes I am not that smart. :) 

So Revelation and Metamorphosis were the result. Those books are selling steadily in small numbers every day. I am not getting rich, but the numbers keep rising. Amazon holds royalties for 90 days, so I will see no money from those books for another month. 

Google and Apple pay royalties every 30 days, so small amounts rolled in immediately. I took Momma out to dinner. I am not sure if I need to do something to start royalty payments from Barnes & Noble. I will give them a couple of weeks then look into it. 

For some reason, Amazon is the default bookseller for most of us. I do not understand it. Google makes it a policy to undersell Amazon--Revelation is selling there for $7.99, less than the $9.99 that Amazon charges, and Google still pays me my $5 per copy sold. 

Their sales profile is very different from A Tale of the Grenada Raiders. That book sold a ton of copies in the first 60 days after release and then it tapered off. I am astonished to see that folks are still buying that book a year after I released it!

Writing on my Samizdat site is very different from writing a book. In a book, I use inline academic references. On Samizdat, I hyperlink the hell out of everything, post photos with abandon, and include the inline references anyway. 

Writing the narrative is the easy part. Then the grunt work of doing bizarre Google searches comes into play, sourcing photos, and ensuring that they are not under copyright (almost always), and meticulously crediting them. I cheated a bit with this last piece. I admit it: I got lazy. 

As it is possible to include hyperlinks in eBooks, like Kindle or GooglePlay books, or iBooks, I may write first on Samizdat then port over articles into iBooks Author, which is my preferred writing environment. 

The formatting that I use handles URLs nicely in eBooks. It is theoretically possible to embed videos into eBooks, so I will have to experiment with that. I do not do much with video. I prefer text. It takes too long to watch a video, and the process is passive. A book, I can scan ahead, reread, and mark up the text taking notes. 

If I make enough in royalties to buy a new Mac, I will do some videos. I want to read my books and make my own AudioBooks. That way you can listen to them while you drive. My MacBook Air is not enough Mac for video. It is a great text machine. I push it to its limits. 

Another funny thing. My Samizdat page on Facebook has 913 Likes and 948 Follows! That is a hundred more than MKD. But we know that Facebook suppresses the distribution of MKD. We have, as you know, shifted most news commentary over to Spreely. Enough censorship.

Thank you for reading my work! I appreciate it when you buy my books! I love it when you leave reviews! Leave reviews anywhere, wherever you purchased the book. 

And to my cherished patrons on Patreon: Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


           

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Banned on Facebook



On December 20, 2018, the overlords of Facebook decreed that a link from a website that we posted was "fake news." 

The website was www.thegatewaypundit.com

Facebook's authority was PolitiFact

No, I am not making this up. 

PolitiFact counters news reporting that annoys the neoliberal mandarins of social media. Any news espousing a pro-MAGA bias is anathema to the overlords of Facebook. 

Facebook suppresses conservative news sources. Facebook censors pro-MAGA pages, and shadowbans folks like you and I when we express views that debunk globalism. 

The mandarins of social media, our Facebook overlords, reject economic nationalism: they repudiate any America First worldview and dismiss us as xenophobic, nativist and racist. 

I myself am a disabled and decorated Latino veteran and an expat. I live in Bangkok. So much for the identity politics of neoliberalism. 

We editors of Magic Kingdom Dispatch make no apologies for our prioritization of Americans and America. We are unrepentant economic nationalists, our government must take care of Americans first. 

Every American city is blighted by homeless citizens. Veterans are homeless. Many Americans go to bed hungry every day. This is unacceptable. In America we enjoy surpluses and wealth that could care for every American citizen. 

Our problem is one of prioritization, incompetence, greed and distribution. 

Many reading these words have been subjected to time-outs by the overlords of Facebook. I myself was blocked from posting because I expressed opinions about illegal immigration. 

Like the rest of the MAGA-verse, I reject open borders, and I demand a Wall--a real Wall. A gigantic, looming, technological Wall. A Wall that will forever disrupt human trafficking and drug trafficking. A Wall that will keep America safe. 

I will be satisfied when America  enjoys a Wall that rivals the Great Wall of China on our Southern border. A Wall that is visible with the naked eye from Earth orbit, a Wall that will outlast our Republic, and become a perplexing historical artifact after our civilization recedes into dust. 

We editors of Magic Kingdom Dispatch on Facebook long ago realized that Facebook suppressed the organic growth and reach of our page: www.fb.com/magickingdomdispatch

Facebook's algorithms impose a neoliberal worldview: if Facebook controls our inputs, if Facebook controls the data that we access, then Facebook controls our thoughts and our conclusions. 

Whomever controls the predominate narrative rules the world. 

We will not be ruled. 

We will not obey. 

We will not comply. 

When Facebook issued the decree at the top of this page, we acted. 

Brother Dave created our news and commentary page on Spreely.com

https://www.spreely.com/page/MagicKingdomDispatch.

We consequently transitioned all posting from Facebook to Spreely. We will speak our minds, we will curate news links that Facebook censors, and we will comment without fear of shadowbanning. 

We will not be suppressed.

To read the forbidden news and commentary that is banned on Facebook, we invite you to join us there. 

May God save the Republic. 

Doc T sends. 
Bangkok
December 20, 2018





Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Guest Review--Revelation, by SMP52

Revelation is available on Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle and paperback, GooglePlay, GoogleBooks, and Academia.edu


A friend on SOCNET (SMP52) posted this review of Revelation

I am delighted by this feedback. 

=

I scanned through Revelation: A Screed on Dreams and Worlds Without End. As a result of your open book approach, I also purchased it. I read/purchased your first book too and will be getting the others. 

As a compendium Revelation puts forth a genuinely novel position. It needs to be archived somewhere in the Library of Congress or National Archives as a treasure.

********

First off, I agree with Yon's position and believe your auto-ethnography is ahead of its time--though not so far off as some may think. 

I'm not sure many will get it immediately; however, I believe the timing is at the cusp of potentially some major shifts/evolution in humanity (next industrial revolution, AI, evolution of the human brain/consciousness, etc.). 

The universe finds mysterious ways to communicate in times of major shifts and the synchronicity is powerful. 

1) The concepts you've woven together in a written form, which can be limiting to what you're doing, are incredible. Life experiences, philosophy, religion, science, sociology, psychology, etc... Very difficult to do.

2) Your integration across the external and internal realms is masterful. Few can dip into the ephemeral collective and individual unconscious and come back out of the rabbit hole. 

You have live-access to non-linear constructs in a way I don't think I've ever come across. Psychologically, the way you negotiate going into the primordial shadow (shadow isn't bad) of yourself, the collective, and your brotherhood is visceral and flows with spirit. 

3) At minimum, your writing should be taken from how you make meaning of the world through lived (conscious or unconscious) experiences and how that informs your relationship with yourself and the world around you. 

This journey honors those that have shared your experiences, shaped you, and the lives that carry on within you as a keeper of memories. 

It is a heavy burden to hold with a physical and psychological toll, but also one that has strength, generosity, dedication, and cares. It is the true burden and privilege of leadership.

4) The auto-ethnographical account in terms of meaning-making experiences follows what Robert Kegan outlines in his book, The Evolving Self, where life is a series of tilts, and negotiating those tilts/truces is how we grow. 

Getting stuck or not having an opportunity to live/negotiate a "stage" due to traumatic events or just skipped experiences creates a skewed developmental growth. 

With post-traumatic stress also comes spiral post-traumatic growth. Equilibrium rarely exists and it usually signifies that a change in direction is near (an apogee). 

Other psychologists, theologians, and philosophers have similar concepts that you capture. 

As a learning exercise, I am thrilled with all the reference material as I'm seeing stuff that I haven't seen or that I am just topically aware of. Not a criticism, rather an affirmation. This goes to my last point...

5) You could have gotten a Ph.D in Philosophy or interdisciplinary studies with the level of detail, research, conceptual integration, etc. put into this--though I understand that is not what drives you nor should it. 

The quality of the material is that good, in my humble opinion. Not everyone will agree with you or your conclusions and that's ok--the way your thoughts are constructed has a logical novelty to it. 

Many may not yet get it, as it requires deep comprehension of psychology, religion, and lived experiences in a way that few have right now. Maybe in the future.

Thank you for putting non-linear experiences that you have been subjected to into words that can be accessed as objects by others. 

Truly complex, really rich work. I can only imagine that my struggle coming up with words for this review is challenging. 

Building what you have done is monumental.




Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Michael Hafftka, Kali Yuga, 1977

Michael Hafftka, Kali Yuga, 1977. 

After I published Revelation on Academia.edu, my dear friend Michael Hafftka saw it in his feed and sent me his painting, Kālī Yuga, 1977. Kālī Yuga is 36-inches by 28-inches, oil on canvas, painted in 1977. Michael Hafftka is an eminent figurative expressionist painter, and our friendship dates back to the mid-1990‘s. 

As you read Revelation and meditate on Hafftka’s Kālī Yuga, his painting will atavistically provoke you: Mahakālī  dancing. 

The name Kālī means Kāla, or force of time. Before creation, when all was darkness, the blackness of Kālī evokes the beginning: initiates understand that the sinister feminine was first. Kālī's name derives from a legend about Yama, lord of death, who fled upon hearing her name. Initiates of Kālī are contemptuous of death.

In esoteric doctrine, Kālī is the goddess of preservation, preserver of nature. Her eyes are red in rage, her wild black hair is the freedom of nature from civilization. The signs of the Sun, the Moon and Fire are beneath her third eye ājnā, driving forces of nature. As Kālī Ma she is the primordial Mother Goddess of the Tantric traditions.

Classical representations of Kālī depict her wearing a garland of 108 human heads, an auspicious number in Hinduism and the number of countable beads on a japa mālā rosary. Kālī is sometimes depicted with 50 heads: the number of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.

Sanskrit is the language of dynamism, each letter representing a form of energy, a form of Kālī. She is the mother of language and mantras. A garland of 50 skulls denotes dominion over words and thought.

Overflowing the veils of Māyā  Kālī is nirguna, beyond nature, beyond prakṛti. Nirguna means "without form or qualities." Dualism between ātman and Brahman is obliterated. Kālī is an incarnation of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva the Destroyer.

Kālī is a dark goddess because she is Brahman in an unmanifest state. Kālī Ma exists beyond the ends of the multiverses. Human concepts of color, goodness, badness, are inapplicable.

In classical representations Kālī's tongue is extended in shame (lajjā) as she realizes that she is dancing atop her consort Shiva. Her earrings are the corpses of dead boys as she prefers childlike disciples. Her forehead is luminous, dispensing ambrosia.

Wearing a skirt of human arms, Kālī assumes the kárma of the donors who contributed them. Four-handed Kālī brandishes a sword, a trishul trident, a severed human head and a skull-cap kapala to catch blood, which Kālī drinks to intoxication.

The sword severs the bondage of ignorance and ego, symbolizing knowledge. The human head is the ego which must be vanquished to attain mokṣa. Her two right hands signal the abhaya (abhayamudra, “fear not,” “dauntless”) and varada (“bestower of boons”) mudrā forms. 

As Mahākālī the Goddess is synonymous with the totality of BrahmanMahākālī is the feminine variant of Mahākālā or “Great Time,” synonymous with death, an epithet of Shiva, her consort.

Portrayals of Mahākālī depict ten arms, each hand holding an implement of a given Deva: Mahākālī subsumes their powers and as Brahman she manifests them.

Emblematic of feminine power, Mahākālī is custodian of cosmic order, restoring balance. The goddess of revolutions, Mahākālī is the goddess of cycles, and so, of spacetime: the embodiment of Brahman. In Hindu legend, Mahākālī eats spacetime. In some representations Mahākālī is depicted with ten heads and ten legs.

As Dakṣiṇākālī, this goddess is the Mother. Dakṣiṇā is the offering to a priest before ritual, or a gift to a guru. Dakṣiṇākālī’s right hands are mudrās granting blessings or boons.


Dakṣiṇākālī is depicted with her right foot on the chest of Shiva, while Dakṣiṇākālī with her left foot on his chest is said to be Vamakali, worshipped by the marginalized: TantrikasHafftka’s interpretation of the Goddess is vanamarga, left-hand path.

Kālī was rampaging, destroying demons, so Shiva, fearing that Kālī would not stop before the multiverses were laid waste, laid himself down on the battlefield in her path. Seeing her consort beneath her calmed Kālī. The god Shiva was suffused in the grace of Kālī through her foot on his chest.

Surrendering his ego to Kālī, enveloped in mokṣaShiva was enchanted and he offered her austerities. Shiva is puruṣa, the unchanging aspect of reality, pure consciousness. In Tantra, fusing puruṣa and prakṛti yields samādhi: Brahman, ultimate reality.

The Mother in her terrible form is Śmaana Kālī, two-armed and black, standing on a corpse with a wine cup and a piece of rotten flesh in her hands. Worshipped by Tantrikas, devotees of Śmaana Kālī perform their austerities in the śmaan, the cremation grounds, to short-circuit orthodox processes and expedite mokṣa.

Tantrikas consider the goddess Śakti emblematic of energy, and Shiva of consciousness. As Shiva depends on Śakti, on energy, to fulfill his purposes in creation, in preservation and in destruction, Shiva by himself is an inert corpse and unable to act.

In the Mahanirvana-tantra, Kālī is one of the epithets of the primordial Śakti or Shakti, and Shiva extolls her:

“At the dissolution of things, it is Kāla [Time] Who will devour all, and by reason of this He is called Mahākāla [an epithet of Lord Shiva], and since Thou devourest Mahākāla Himself, it is Thou who art the Supreme Primordial Kālika.

Because Thou devourest Kāla, Thou art Kāli, the original form of all things, and because Thou art the Origin of and devourest all things Thou art called the Adya [the Primordial One] Kālī.

Resuming after Dissolution Thine own form, dark and formless, Thou alone remainest as One ineffable and inconceivable. Though having a form, yet art Thou formless; though Thyself without beginning, multiform by the power of Māyā, Thou art the Beginning of all, Creatrix, Protectress, and Destructress that Thou art.”

--Arthur Avalon (John Woodroffe), Mahānirvāna Tantra, (Tāntrik Texts), Chapter 4, Introduction of the Worship of the Supreme Prakṛti, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, (1913), 1920. 

Michael Hafftka, Kālī Yuga, Study, 1977, watercolor. 

Hafftka also completed a study of Kālī Yuga in watercolor.

The watercolor precedes Kālī Yuga, 1977. It was painted in 1977, but the different medium and colors communicate variant impressions. The watercolor helped Hafftka visualize Kālī Yuga, but it stands as a separate painting in his watercolor oeuvre. 

The flag on the left of the watercolor recalls the bars of the American flag, an impression which evaporates in the oil painting, where the flag is executed in deep blue and red. The flag in the watercolor is red and white. The tongue in both works is a coral snake, fatal serpent. The snake in Hindu iconography is not the serpent from Judeo-Christian Edenic legend.

Cultural flexibility is required to appreciate snakes in Hindu iconography: their implications in African systems of mysticism are utterly different. Dynastic Egyptians associated the cobra with Ra and Wadjet, patron goddess of Upper Egypt.

In Hafftka's watercolor androgyne Kālī reaches down to grasp an implicit snakelike phallus. In the oil painting the phallus is red, yet less noticeable, while it dangles over the yoni of the goddess. In the watercolor, testes are obvious, though less apparent in blue in the oil painting. 

Kālī, goddess of death, is a sexual goddess. Hindu Tantrikas and Tibetan adepts of the Vajrayana tradition are not mystified by the juxtaposition of death and sex. The orgasmic manipulations of the Vajra vehicle and the simulacra of the processes of dying are modalities of karmic energy. 

The diagonal bisection of Kālī's face is her androgynous nature: male and female, personifying Shiva and Śakti, consort of Brahman

Remember that the Shivalingam and the yoni of Śakti are emblematic of the totality of existence. Kālī is the Śakti of Brahman, universal feminine: Goddess. 

In the watercolor, Shiva reaches up with a left hand (three total arms and hands are depicted) to caress the left foot of the goddess, a hand which appears like a foot in the oil painting. In both paintings Shiva’s other left hand reaches out to Kālī’s right foot, Shiva’s limb being both arm and leg. This is figurative expressionism, Hafftka’s medium.

In the watercolor Kālī’s eyes (Sun and the Moon) look as normal as eyes can look in a Hafftka work, mirrors of the soul. In the oil painting Kālī’s eyes are blazing, characteristic of classical Kālī iconography. The third eye ājnā of the Goddess is redly enraged. 

In the oil painting Shiva’s heart chakra, anāhata, is subdued in orange. In the watercolor Shiva’s anāhata is radiating in red and pink, as it would be upon contact with the sublime foot of Kālī

The eater of spacetime is depicted in the upper right quadrant in both works, evocative of Hieronymus Bosch in the watercolor.

William Clark, Kālī Yantra, Public Domain, 2012. 

This is the yantra of Kālī for use in meditation. I consider this yantra overpowering for beginning practitioners of meditation. 

It should not be attempted until a sādhaka develops a grounding in Kālī iconography and affinity with her legendarium. 

Reading this article is a start.