Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't settle for high costs of diabetic testing supplies

I have seen a lot of people decry the high cost of blood glucose testing supplies lately, especially under the ACA and declining coverage. This is the second time I will share this tip. eBay. For the second time, I scored some test strips at a bargain price. Diabetic testing supplies are OTC items at the pharmacy. WalMart has meters and strips right on the shelf. But even after insurance, my testing supplies were outrageously high priced. My last purchase was for lancets and test strips. I scored 400 lancets and 300 test strips for $111 cheaper than what my online pharmacy wanted to charge me for fewer supplies than that. They work fine with my meter and spring-loaded lancet device. I still have 100 days worth of test strips on the shelf and I just opened a vial of 50 to put with my meter. I just scored 8 vials of test strips (50 strips per vial) for $80 including shipping. That for me is 400 days of test strips plus the 150 I still have, so I am stocked up for a while. I will eventually have to buy more lancets since I have about 250 left, but that will last me more than another 6 months. My point is simply that you can find supplies if you look hard enough and for a price that will not kill the bank. Also, if you buy off eBay and then submit the receipts to your Rx plan, you may or may not get reimbursed. If you don't, the total can still be counted against your out of pocket maximum for the year. That is what happened to me last year. Another thought is that I previously had purchased a brand new (still sealed in the original packaging) duplicate meter that I keep as a spare, use at my work desk, and take with me when I travel.  It was only $10 for a second meter of the exact same model that I was already using. Just a tip.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My little town providing free public internet?

There are a few issues that I have with the idea that the Town of Selma will be providing free public wi-fi.  First, there is no reason why we have to hire a "consultant" to do this for the town when there are high-speed network providers that can do the job right here already.  Furthermore, one of these same providers already does networks like this, and I use their services regularly to connect to computers and networks hundreds of miles away.  I have my company computer on this very desk connected 24/7 to do the very thing that the town is spending almost $60k to do.  This can be done for far less money.  Next, I have a problem with providing wifi hotspots at public expense, especially "the public would be able to have free Wi-Fi service up to two blocks away from all 10 public buildings".  Some of these buildings are near residential housing and businesses. That means that I will be subsidizing tenants, homeowners, and business owners with free internet while my neighbors have to pay full price for theirs.  With internet providers abound and mobile data plans in plentiful supply at reasonable prices (even free if you know where to look), why are we taxpayers funding internet for private citizens and businesses?  It is one thing if private businesses wish to provide free wifi as a way to attract, keep, and placate customers.  Different data carriers even provide free hotspots around the country for their own customers.  But a town government should not be giving away that for which we who fund the town have to pay.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Watched the inauguration

We watched the inauguration today. I watch regardless of who it was that takes the oath. Donald Trump gave a decent speech today. Still, I would love to hear the shortest inauguration speech in history that would go something like this.

"Moments ago, I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. All federal officials, including the Vice President, swear to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; several of which are on this very platform with me right this very moment. GAME. ON."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Musings on private interpretation

Over the years, I have run across a good many political liberals as well as theological liberals.  Here in the USA, we have a set of founding documents and principles.  In Christendom, we likewise have a set of founding writings and principles as found in the Holy Bible.  I have found a lot of parallels in the mindset of both sets of liberals, and they often coincide.

What I find in the world's system of politics in our nation, state, and local governments is the tendency to have one's personal affections and behaviors, then look for a way to justify them within the law.  And if the law doesn't quite fit, you merely either explain it away, or twist it through interpretation until it fits your desired liberty.  For example, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington stretched the concept of implied powers to get a national bank even though it was not an enumerated power in the US Constitution and both men were there when the document was crafted.  In Marbury vs. Madison, the US Supreme Court found a liberty that did not exist for them in the form of the power to declare laws as unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court found the right to kill unborn children while still in their mother's wombs via an unwritten nor intended right to abortion.  The SCOTUS has also found the right to "freedom from religion" and the "separation of church and state" where none exists and the ripping of old writings far out of their obvious context and applying it to a court case.  The constitutionality of Obamacare, Social Security, welfare, and homosexual marriage (not to mention even the concept that government has any business in defining marriage) etc. has been fabricated to justify what used to be considered deviant, sinful, or abhorrent behavior.  I could point to many examples in holy writ or even today's news about examples in the Church.

Just yesterday, I ran across a Twitter Troll that attempted to use the logic that I must be wrong about the US Constitution if a judge or even panel of three disagree with my reading of the scope of a constitutional amendment.  He assumed that one cannot have any true knowledge of the document, founding truths, original intent, or grasp of the text and yet proceeded to inform me of how he has to be correct because of his "interpretation" if a few judges happened to agree and ergo anyone else must be wrong.

Now, this may be a simple approach on my part, but I believe that the text of a law or of the Constitution, much as in the Bible, pretty much means what it says when laying out principles, guidelines, and the like.  A knowledge of both written context and historical context are helpful in understanding the meaning or intent.  And yet if someone wearing a robe, whether judge or clergy happens to render an opinion, then it must be accurate.  If those opinions are inaccurate or built upon a falsehood, those who stand for the truth of the text and disagree are vilified as being ignorant, pseudo-experts, legalistic, pharisaical, or simpletons.  A common one nowadays is to use the label of ___phobic; just fill in the blank.  Effectively, this is an ad hominem attack in that if you disagree with the elevated expert, commentator, or potentate then you are obviously wrong and therefore the veracity of your argument or position is likewise in error.  I instead stick by the quote of John Adams, "Facts are stubborn things." 

I find it hypocritical to assert that someone cannot be knowledgeable because they disagree with their chosen perspective or expert and that something must be interpreted in order to grasp it.  No, some things need no interpretation since they are self-evident and clearly written with a concise meaning.  To find liberties where there are none, dismiss prohibitions that clear, and excuse and accept as normal some abhorrent behavior is not enlightenment nor being saintly.  It is being loose with the truth.  Sadly that is the norm today.  But keep this one axiom in mind.  If you see it in our government and our society, it is because it was first allowed and accepted in the Church.  As the Church goes, so goes the nation.  I choose to stand against the prevailing winds of doctrine, whether in the world or in the Church.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Board of Education Appointment and a Conflict of Interest

The below is a letter that I sent to the editor of "The Selma News" this morning.  I attempted to send it to "The Smithfield Herald" but that paper only accepts letters of 200 words or less.  I can hardly ask a question in 200 words or less.  So, I am also blogging it here.


To the Editor:

On Tuesday, January 3rd, the Johnston County Board of Education appointed Mr. Todd Sutton to fill the Board’s vacancy created when Larry Strickland resigned his post to serve in our state legislature.  In total, nine people applied for consideration for the open position, myself included.  I say that to stress the following point.  I am not writing this letter because I was not the one selected to fill that position.  I was under no illusion that I would be the front-runner for that slot.  There were some fine applicants, Mr. Sutton included.  My philosophy was simply that one cannot be considered if one does not apply.  I do not personally know Mr. Sutton, and from everything I have read about the man written by mutual acquaintances, he seems to be an honorable individual.

Mr. Sutton has two children in the Johnston County school system, as do I.  I am glad to see that a parent is willing to get involved in the educational system that is instructing his children, which was the same motivation I had in proffering an application for consideration for the open position. 
According to the Johnston County School System’s own web site, a news story was published the same day as Mr. Sutton’s appointment.  One of the things mentioned caught my attention.  “Sutton’s wife, Lynda, is a teacher with Johnston County Schools…”  That, my fellow citizens, is where I have a problem with the Board of Education’s selection.  Many corporations and government agencies have regulations against someone being in a position of oversight of one’s spouse or family member.  This should be no exception.  Although Mr. Sutton may very well be an excellent candidate otherwise, this one item should be a cause for disqualification for the position.  Furthermore, this was an appointment, not an election, so such a consideration is even more relevant.  My saying this is why I wrote the disclaimer at the front end of my letter.  

As a taxpayer in Johnston County, a voter, and a father of two (soon to be three) children in the   This is my only gripe about the selection of Mr. Sutton for the open school board seat.  This is a potential conflict of personal interest.  If Mr. Sutton’s wife worked as an educator in a different school system, a private school, or even one of the local charter schools, I would have no problem with the appointment of Mr. Sutton to the Board of Education.  As a matter of fact, I voted for Mr. Sutton in November’s election because of the reputation he had.  However, as I wrote earlier, I don’t know Mr. Sutton personally, so I did not know that he was running for the Board of Education while his wife was and is employed by the same school system that he would potentially oversee.  Had I known that at the time, I would not have voted the way I did.
county’s schools, I have a problem with the spouse of an employee of the school system being in a position to influence working conditions, budgets, compensation, and policies that personally affect their household.

This is nothing personal.  I tend to be objective about such things and I would have the same perspective regardless of whomever it was that got the appointment should they have been in the same circumstance and whether or not I had submitted my own application for the position.  I do know that out of the eight other candidates that applied, there was probably an excellent candidate that should have instead been primarily considered by the Board of Education.  Instead, the board unanimously agreed to allow a potential conflict of interest, and for that I blame the Board of Education, not Mr. Sutton.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A letter to the editor of The Selma News

I don't know if this will get published or not, but I sent this letter to the editor of The Selma News just a bit ago.  The newspaper rarely publishes their news articles online except for a few here or there, so the article to which I refer is not available to share online or I would do so.
Just five days before our election last week, Donald Trump came to Johnston County to speak locally at The Farm for a campaign rally.  This rally drew approximately 17, 500 people according to Sheriff Steve Bizzell.  I am not personally a fan of Mr. Trump, but considering that it was being held only three miles up the road and I wanted my son to experience the political process, I took him and my wife to the event.  I still remember back to my youth when I went to a Ted Kennedy speech in my home town back in 1980 when he ran for President.  I carry that memory thirty-six years later.

While at the event, we noticed emergency services presence from different towns, most notably the Four Oaks Fire Department supplied a ladder truck that bore the American flag.  We saw other departments that had staff and equipment on site, but did not notice any from Selma.  Considering that the event was in our backyard, so to speak, I expected to see our town's presence if emergency responders were going to be on hand.  I can tell you that EMS workers were kept busy from people fainting after being on their feet all day and not eating any meals all day long.  Between old age, health conditions, and diabetes, we saw three people just in our immediate area that needed assistance.

I mentioned that we noticed the Four Oaks ladder truck being there prominently displayed.  I obtained some insight on my own after the rally and read some confirmation of what I learned in “The Selma News” article last week about our town manager vetoing the presence of our fire department at the rally for fear of showing favor to one political party over the other.  If only the candidate from one party decided to come to our town, how is that showing any favoritism?  This politically correct myopic fear wears thin on the patience of many people, as evidenced by the outcome of the election.

Look, Hillary Clinton could have had a rally locally if she wanted but she ignored little old Johnston County, and probably for good reason.  She could probably have filled the local theater with supporters and had some room to spare.  Personally, she would have had to get John Bon Jovi to perform here in Selma to get me to come see her rally.  I wasn’t willing to travel just as far as Raleigh to see Bon Jovi at a Clinton event, even if I did grow up listening to his music, still own some of his CDs, and still like his iconic tunes.

But if it was Clinton having a rally in town, I would not allow my disdain for her as a person and candidate veto our town's visibility in our American process or at a local event.  As I said, I am no fan of Donald Trump myself.  He was never my candidate from the beginning, I vehemently disagree with some of his positions, and I am embarrassed as an American by some of his statements.  But, I am even more embarrassed as a US citizen by what Mrs. Clinton has actually done.  Still, I would not let that stand in the way of our town being represented at a local event that she was holding.

Our little town missed an opportunity for visibility and good public relations with this event.

Troy LaPlante
Selma, NC

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Bridge Men's Study on the Book of James

Note that the original video that I uploaded to YouTube did NOT have the repeat at the open.  It had to have happened in YouTube's transcoding process.  I just checked it against the file that I uploaded and my original file is correct.  Anyway, the study begins THIS Sunday evening.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I actually agree with this woman from the NAACP. Wow.

This is where I agree with the NAACP. Yeah, you will rarely if ever hear me admitting that, since it almost never happens. But, just because the person shot to death by the police possessed a firearm does not mean that he is guilty nor was doing anything wrong. IF and that is a big IF, Keith Scott was peacefully carrying his firearm, then the police should not be firing upon him. IF Scott was in fact brandishing his weapon in a dangerous way and potentially being injurious to others in his handling of the weapon, then he should have been seen as a danger and handled with lethal force. I understand the police perspective. I worked with, for, and around them for years. I also understand the ground rules for being a responsible citizen and weapons carrier. If this was police abuse or misconduct, then it needs to be dealt with. It has NOTHING to do with race. If the man with a gun was white, Asian, or ______ (insert racial description here), then I would feel the same way. The narrative of whether Scott had a gun versus a book (that was hokum) is irrelevant since it was demonstrably proven that he was indeed armed. Now whether he was acting appropriately while carrying is one thing, and whether or not the police handled the situation correctly or not is another entirely. One faux pas by the NAACP leader in the video clip is that it would only matter if Scott had a permit for his weapon if he was carrying it concealed, and the police would not shoot you for carrying what they cannot see. You do get shot if you are carrying a weapon in such a manner as to pose a reasonable threat.  You have to watch the video clip in order to see with what I agree.

Thoughts on recent violent "protests"

I am all for the right of The People to protest wrongs and seek a redress of grievances. MLK led protests and they were peaceful as well as effective. Some American colonials led protests. Some were successful, some not so much. Some were peaceful, some not so much. The failure of the British Crown to deal with its subjects in a fair and honest manner led to clashes between government and the citizenry. Quite honestly, the lack of cooperation with some colonials led to war on our own turf. However, what we are seeing in cities across America lately have not been protests over basic civil rights and perceived unfair taxation, but over a fabricated narrative that is sensationalized by a willing press and a complicit government at the highest levels. The First Amendment to the US Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." What we have seen in Charlotte, Dallas, Baltimore, Missouri, and other areas has not been protesting, not has it be peaceably assembling. It is brutish behavior and immature. I deplore true police brutality and believe it should be dealt with swiftly, fairly, and harshly in our justice system. Sometimes when a man gets shot, it has nothing to do with police brutality but with stupidity, animalistic behavior, and criminal intent. When that happens, one should expect to be met with lethal force, whether you are an individual or part of a mob. I hate government over-reach, but I also detest when the truth of a matter does not seem to matter. When protesting, it should be over injustice, not when instant justice is meted out for rash, lethal, brutish behavior in dealing with law enforcement or even an armed private citizen. I don't want to see anyone get harmed by law enforcement while "protesting" law enforcement, even when the said law enforcers are doing their jobs properly. But when these alleged protestors go to looting, shooting, stealing, beating, and destroying, perhaps they should be dealt with just like in the movie, "Soylent Green".


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wanting special treatment by my town

The very notion that someone wants to be treated differently than the rest of the community irritates the snot out of me. This arrogant individual was practically a tyrant as mayor, and I had to suffer through his tenure. His brash attitude brought shame to my community. I do not disparage the good that he did in our town. Yes, he has developed properties here and in other areas. Yes, he served on our planning board with a questionable history thereon, and did do some good things as mayor. When he did good, I publicly praised him. When he did wrong, I criticized his public performance. However, to whine to our town council that he should be treated any differently than every other citizen in town is sheer hubris. If he is in violation of local ordinance, then there is a prescribed course of action necessary. Every citizen deserves equal treatment under the law. This man got equal treatment under the law and complained about it openly in a public forum, demanding special treatment. Sure, he did a lot of development, but he will probably never admit is that he founded his business with the help of our tax dollars. He ran the business successfully for years, but recently went through bankruptcy, and one way or another, that will most likely indirectly be at our expense. He violated state regulations in some of his developments (I know, having reported them and spoken with enforcement agents) and never remedied them. It was not until his property right down the street from here was purchased after bankruptcy that it got developed. It sat as an eye sore for a couple of years. The bottom line is that this man demanded publicly for an entitlement and a consideration that no other citizen in this town gets. I don't care if he was a former POTUS or my uncle. He deserves treatment that is fair and identical to everyone else in town. To complain about that is petty and is the very attitude that got us Congressmen that feel entitled to special treatment. Nope. Equal treatment under the law. If I don't cut my grass, I will get the same enforcement letter he got. That is the way it should be. Boo-frickity-hoo.