Saturday, 2 September 2017

So about insurance...

I just want to rant about the clusterfuck that is the US health insurance "system". Said system bars newly arrived immigrants who are contributing fully through payroll or self employment taxes from claiming the same insurance state coverage that a citizen working fewer hours (and thus paying less into the system) can get. Then after the immigrant has worked long enough to qualify for employer backed insurance, that plan makes it so expensive to afford the regular meds that allow them to function in society that it is actually a better financial decision to work FEWER hours so the employer's insurer seems the immigrant not to qualify and we circle back to the State offering its good, but subpar, insurance to the immigrant. If they arrived because they married a citizen, their Green Card will expire at about the same as this insurers Russian roulette. If you're wondering, the path to citizenship can only begin a year after this date, eventually allowing the immigrant entrance into the hallowed masses of hyphenated Americans and in states like Minnesota, access to something approaching comprehensive health insurance regardless of what Congress and the current President do to the existing federal health insurance structure.

Unless I'm missing something, tax is money given to government to govern. In the US that includes the right to elect everyone all the way down to school board members. Except that immigrants are taxes AS IF they had access to those levers, DESPITE them not being allowed to vote.

Taxation without representation is tyrrany.
Penalising people who want to work MORE and contribute MORE to the economy, WITHOUT those levers doesn't make any sense.

Especially, but not only, if health problems have not developed as a result of the person's actions, but rather of deep rooted societal inequities. So go ahead, take health care from tax paying women, people of color, immigrants and disabled people (and the intersections of those and other disadvantaged groups) but don't expect your god-given Capitalist paradise to benefit from such a move and don't expect people being shat upon to stand outside in the shit shower without a response.

Peace and love,


Friday, 21 July 2017

Symbols and identity

A lot has changed since I have become a Lawful Permanent Resident in the US.

The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union

The United States of America voted to elect Donald Trump as its 45th president.

One of the largest arenas in Europe, on top of one of the busiest train stations in my Dad's home city of Manchester was bombed, resulting in the murders of a number of people.

Which brings me to symbols. 

The biographies and ID lines of my social media accounts are largely a reflection of limits but they all (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) show symbols that reflect on those events and things that I wish to self-identify as

I am proud of everything reflected in my bios. 

I'm gonna start with Twitter because it is still structured around word limits which reflect largely on its roots in the era of SMS text messages. My ID on Twitter and Instagram is mhdtim. It reflects my proud residence of this city of Moorhead and this state of Minnesota. As I commented the other day, this is actually something beyond the control of government or law enforcement of city or state. Immigration, even for someone travelling to live with his wife, is handled by the federal Departments of State and Homeland Security.

Next to my name on Twitter are currently a mic and a radio. This is largely wishful thinking as I have not had any spoons for Technical Difficulties on 88.1 FM KPPP-LP, the public voice of the beautiful, steely People's Press Project. Thanks to the owners, Cindy and Duke for their endless understanding on this matter. I hope to be back on air with a show about (and with) the ADAPT protestors.

My biography then says this:
#pacifistnotpassive - a slogan from my proud membership of the Peace Pledge Union, as a pacifist.
 - the European Flag, a symbol of my lifelong attachment to European identity. This has become necessary since the UK started moves to leave the EU (but not the much broader Council of Europe) as a reiteration of my self-identity, which will continue even when I eventually become a Anglo-American dual citizen.
West Lancs
 - I grew up in West Lancashire, both the get geographical description and the predominant council in the area. Locals refer to this area, with the 'Golf Coast' including the site of this year's Open Championship, Royal Birkdale (Irish Sea), Preston and Wigan as the corners. Funnily enough, my brother's youth footy team had a lively, hate-filled rivalry with a team from Birkdale. Lancs is the postal abbreviation, so has been used by locals for years.

Mcr - As I said, my Dad is from Manchester, or Mcr in short. 

My Facebook cover photo is a filtered photo of the Town Hall floor covered in an artistic depiction of worker bees, a depiction of the industrial heritage and pride of the city.

Filtered from Manchester bee - Manchester bee, CC BY-SA 4.0,

 The competing city, with a similar pride and competing history is Liverpool with its Liver Bird, a mythical creature which nonetheless adorns both one of the city's main building and one of its two footy clubs. 

The bee, on the other hand, does not feature on any of the city's footy crests, but does feature on trash bins. After the bombing, the symbol re-emerged as a symbol around which an often competitive city can rally around.

Both Manchester clubs feature a ship and City's redesigned crest shows the Red Rose of Lancashire, marking the relatively new idea of Greater Manchester and Merseyside as rallying points, when both Manchester and Liverpool were parts of Lancashire at inception.

Lancashire's county cricket ground is Old Trafford. The name might ring a bell, it is at the other end of Warwick Road in Trafford Borough from Manchester United's stadium. Trafford Council's HQ is between the two.

@trentuni : From my life as a season ticket holder for Manchester United and rural resident of West Lancs, I chose to go to 'school/college' (actually a University and proudly so) at Nottingham Trent University, named after the city where it's based and the river that marks its border. Trent is also proud of its heritage as an incubator for journalistic talent. I hope I have done them proud. I thoroughly enjoyed my three years (the length of a Bachelor's Degree in England) in that city but there was no work there so I moved on.

Brixton : Technically, I moved to Northwood in the London Borough of Hillingdon first. A friend had a spare room for free. Northwood is sufficiently far from central London that the postal address was in the old county (yes that again) of Middlesex and when the Tube lines were murderously bombed, there was actually no other mode of transport that could take me that far.

My friend moved to Spain, I moved to Brixton. The two places could not have been any less similar. Northwood was suburban London, white and quiet. Honestly, dangerous at night to get to the Tube for my night shift. Brixton Road, which runs through the centre of the neighbourhood, had a strong Afro-Caribbean (mostly Trinidad and Jamaica with some Ghana thrown in) vibe and a reputation for marijuana - which remains completely illegal in the UK. A reggae record store called Reds proudly stood opposite the Tube station and blared out its music. The police were instructed to ignore pot dealers and concentrate on bigger crimes. The site of the deaths of Jean-Charles de Menezes and Damilola Taylor were areas I knew, and were close by. I'll always be a white guy from Lancashire, but I'm a proud adoptive Brixtonian. By the time I had left, the shop had gone and while the Tube station was now accessible via a lift, some of the area's multicultural vibe had been been gentrified out of it.
I made life long friends both at college and in Brixton but my landlords weren't amongst them so after developing our relationship online, I decided to move all my life 4000 miles away.

And this is now where I live. The Red River Valley is another area benefiting from fertile lands left behind by a receding lake, in this case the Agassiz. The current inhabitants also benefit from the mass murder of the lands previous inhabitants although as a pacifist I would assert that anyone telling you categorically "what would have happened if such-and-such war had been won/lost" are in fantasy land. All empires come to an end.
I am currently employed for @thisiscsd  as a relay operator, which briefly involves me handling calls from Deaf people. There isn't much else I can say, without breaking the strict confidentiality rules.
I am also a journalist, it is what I majored in and I currently use it on @lightchronic, the disability rights news feed for Technical Difficulties. 

I don't think the  ♿symbol needs any explanation but it's presence brings me on to the only thing I say on Instagram is basically and not directly elsewhere. I explicitly reference my catchphrase from Technical Difficulties, "Wear Your Scars With Pride". I mean it, I wrote a poem about it, and I am a proud disabled person. My decision to use that symbol is a decision to be part of the openly disabled community fighting for equal rights.

Facebook differs in that it features the bee picture above as the cover but also in that I consciously describe myself as a "romantic immigrant".

I don't just mean that I am a romantic (no arguments there) or an immigrant (my journey to this point proves that) but that my journey was compelled by love for my wife, and the realisation that it was easier this way than in reverse. Hell we may both end up in Iceland given our politics aren't exactly mainstream here. 

However, I am also acknowledging that I made a decision that only the privileged few can, of moving home with the majority of my possessions and in my own time in a first class cabin, not with a backpack and bullets or bombs in my wake. I know the migrant experience but I am not a refugee and want to acknowledge that distinction too.

Love and peace, wherever you are.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Meltdowns vs coping

I had a busy day. Originally: it included a liver ultrasound, talk therapy and training for work, in that order.

Work training was removed from the schedule with a target date in mind, but nothing definite.

The liver ultrasound became an abdominal ultrasound, including being positioned on both my spastic and dominant sides. Don't get me wrong, the technician did a very good job and had good "bedside manner" but the last liver test results have still not made it into my electronic "chart" for me to read. I chose to believe they will show I have nothing to worry about.

Nonetheless, I was in pain from spasticity and fasting. I ate breakfast too fast and Sonja drove me to my therapy session, which I had mistakenly scheduled an hour later.

Fresh from an ultrasound, therefore, I sat in the waiting room. Gallows humor aside, the literal last thing I needed was a family including multiple children. You can guess what happened next.

Thus my therapist found her usually attentive patient in the waiting room with his hood up and head down basically doing everything but saying "la la la" to himself.

In short, I had a semi-public meltdown. My therapist is very good and she did her job but I just wanted to vent and to give general credit to everyone at Sanford Health.

Side bar: Sonja and I went to Old Navy for some shopping and one of the sales assistants paused to say "I love the beads on your glasses."

That made my day. FYI, those beads are a glasses retainer from South Africa ( Gauteng, I think) and I am deliberately wearing it/them to provide color in my field of vision when my mood is uneven and my wardrobe fairly plain.

Stay calm,


Friday, 7 April 2017


I had a job interview not long back for a position with the archaically named Communication Service for the Deaf, their local branch here is also thankfully known as Minnesota Relay. Their main business is the provision of relay services to allow Deaf people or people with speech disabilities to access services. That business comes through a contract with Sprint, who in turn have deals with 32 separate states of the USA.

I believe those stats are right. Anyway, the main purpose of this post is to shine a light on life with a neurological condition rooted in brain damage, and being required to do a timed typing test in order to qualify for the job.

For the record, it took me three attempts and some adjustment of the keyboard position, seating position and testing method. All of these are things which cannot, fairly obviously, be conducted after the room has been adjusted by an occupational health specialist.

I'll ask about that when training begins because I DID get the job.

However, when I first sat down - and despite breathing exercises, my hands were shaking horrendously and so my natural inclination towards quality rather than speed kicks in.

Ataxia is a feature of some types of Cerebral Palsy wherein movements become jerky and unpredictable. What the previous post I made would refer to as the "Anxiety schema", also triggers increased spasticity (non typing arm, but still not fun in a job interview)

In the spoken element of the interview, neither spasticity nor ataxia were present so apparently it was the perfect #spoonie storm.

I type with three fingers on one hand, an entirely self-taught strategy which probably also amplified this problem. In decades of typing, including timed exams, I've never had that combination before.

After training, I'll let you know if I learned anything I can use in this job going forward.

Peace and love,


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Schemas/lifetraps and Larkin/infertility

My therapist introduced me to the idea of schemas, which the originators renamed "lifetraps" for a book. Essentially learned behaviours developed throughout childhood.

Their book is here

It also reminded me of this:

This Be The Verse - Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

The copyright of all Larkin's works is held by MacMillan, who by a massive co-incidence also employed a close relative of mine. Anyway, the link to their site is here, since the Philip Larkin Society permissions page leads to a dead link at Faber & Faber.

It was originally published in an April 1971 edition of New Humanist, the journal of the Rationalist Association, the latest edition of which is led by a piece entitled: Community and tradition don’t have to be set against migration, change and difference. Read that here

Peace and love,


Monday, 16 January 2017

About me - April 2017

First of all, about the title. Before Fargo was renamed after William Fargo of railroad and banking fame, it was called Centralia because - as far as anyone can work out - the centre of the North American continent is somewhere around here. I prefer the old name.

I was a freelance radio editor, . I love working with underserved communities in particular. I was working as an editor and social media manager for the local tribal radio station.

I loved working with the Anishinaabe natives of this region, and in particular Gaa-waabaabiganikag, known in English as White Earth Reservation. However, I need to earn money as well, and so I removed that particular allusion from this blog title.

However, I still believe I have learned lessons from the natives and that I have knowledge to impart and privilege to both battle and acknowledge.

I'm Tim Abbott, I am a media guy. My latest job is working as a trainee for Communication Services for the Deaf.

My most cherished beliefs are peace and equality, and that those are the foundation of humanity, if left free of coertion.
That also pretty firmly puts me in the Anarcho-Pacifist corner of politics.
I was born by the banks of the River Thames, with Cerebral Palsy. I wear my scars with pride. I am a #spoonie. I used to present a Disability rights show on Resonance 104.4 FM in London.
That show, Technical Difficulties, returned after I got married and emigrated.  Fridays between noon and 1pm Central Time on 88.1 FM KPPP-LP in Fargo-Moorhead.
I also have engineered on radio, and will probably return to that.
I grew up by the River Douglas in Lancashire and now live by the banks of the Red River of the North in Moorhead, MN.
I graduated from Nottingham Trent University, and in a round about way have eventually found my major - Broadcast Journalism - to be quite useful.
I am a romantic immigrant - that is, I moved here to be with my wife and our cat. We are infertile.
I am a proud bisexual man.
I am not romantic about the country to which I have moved, built as it was through theft and misappropriation from Mexica.
I am a white, European or "Gichi-mookomaan", to use the Ojibwe phrase.
Despite the disturbingly, forcefully mainstream politics of much of modern sport, I grew up as an all-sports guy (local favorites included soccer, cricket and two different types of rugby) and remain one.
Also, as an experienced traveler, I have rooting interests in most sports and most regions but am most at home watching (any) basketball or (Manchester United) footy.
I am least comfortable trying to help run such organisations.
Any other questions, feel free to ask. Although I may not answer.