17 years of bringing the truth

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On this day 17 years ago I published my first hand typed snippets of HTML known as a website from a one room apartment on the South Jersey shore. On this day in 1997 the persona that would become to be known as Trench Reynolds was created.

Thank you all for your support over the many years.

Trench Reviews Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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***POSSIBLE SPOILERS MAYBE?***

With most superhero movies you have to sacrifice something vital to the comic book that doesn’t necessarily work on the big screen, this movie did not have that problem. Almost everything from the comic translated seamlessly to the movie and the minor things they did change worked for the better.

As far as I am concerned this is the new standard that all superhero movies need to be held to. Unlike The Avengers there was no slowdown in this movie. I was transfixed from start to finish. Since I read the comic I was aware of what the big reveal was going to be but I was still, anxious waiting for the moment to happen.

I can’t recommend this movie enough. If you don’t like this movie you hate America and freedom and are probably a member of Al-Qaeda.

Trench Reviews Gotham

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***SPOILERS ABOUND***

I liked it. I thought the casting of Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock was brilliant and the guy who plays Penguin is great as well. My only problem with the premier episode is that jammed too many references into one episode. One of the great things about Arrow is that they limit those geek references to about one per episode. In this initial episode of Gotham we were given glimpses of Catwoman, Riddler, Poison Ivy and Joker. We get it, this is Gotham City.

The other thing is that I hope they’re not leaving the investigation of the Waynes’ murder as is. It could be a season long or even series long story arc and it kind of felt like they just dropped it at the end of the episode.

However all in all so far so good.

Trench on ‘surprise’ medical charges

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Lately an article from the New York Times about surprise medical charges has been making the rounds on Facebook. Once again people are taking the article at face value without doing any further research. Luckily for you I’m here to tell you the real deal as I call upon my 20+ years experience in the healthcare field. If you doubt my credentials they just happen to be that I worked for a major health insurance company for ten years and for the next 15 I’ve been working in various medical clerical positions mostly including medical billing.

The article seems to be mostly focused on one man’s plight when he received a rather astronomical bill for a surgery that he had. The charge was for an assistant surgeon who was out of his insurance’s network. The article gives the impression that there is no recourse even though there is.

First off this is a rare occurrence in my experience. If you going to have surgery in a hospital that is in your network and the primary surgeon is in your network then the odds are that the assistant surgeon will be in your network too. If the assistant surgeon is not in your network a majority of the time the insurance company is willing to make a deal with the doctor and most doctor’s offices are more than willing to work with the insurance company. The article also seems to give the impression that doctor’s will know ahead of time they they’ll need an assistant surgeon. Usually an assistant surgeon is called in during the surgery when an anomaly or difficulty is discovered. Also if you read deep into the article you’ll find that the man’s insurance company did end up paying the assistant surgeon’s fee.

Here’s the one tip that everybody needs to keep in mind. Doctor’s do not know how billing procedures work. They are usually too involved in treating the patient to worry about each individual insurance policy covers. That’s what medical billers and coders are for and most of us bust our asses to get the most benefit from your insurance company.

Self-harm hashtags

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Any social network worth its salt these days allows its users to use hashtags. For the uninitiated hashtags are keywords that allow users to find other posts with similar interests and are usually preceded by the pound sign (#). Unfortunately some of those interests may be detrimental to the user.

In the past I’ve talked about certain self-harming behaviors like the pro-ana movement. That’s where people, mostly young girls, believe that eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are lifestyle choices and use ‘Thispiration’ or thinspo for short as their rallying cry. Other self-harm behaviors I have not talked much about before are self-cutting or self-mutilation and the ultimate self-harming, suicide.

In the past some social networks have banned certain hashtags that promote self-harm such as Tumblr and Instagram. However those in the self-harming community are supposedly using new and supposedly secret hashtags like #sue and #secretsociety123.

This is all part of a much larger problem than just teens on social sites. In this day and age of alleged social enlightenment there is still a stigma on mental health treatment. Just because your son or daughter may need mental health treatment that does not make them broken or any less of a person. And if you are a teen and you know someone who is seeking or receiving mental health treatment you should be giving them your support. Self-harm in any way shape or form is not normal or healthy. If you are self-harming please get off of the social sites where there are triggers abound and ask your parents or school about finding resources to get help.

There is no shame in wanting to get better.

Vaping will make you a cocaine addict say researchers

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In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, a pair or researchers claim that e-cigs and vaping will make you predisposed to becoming a cocaine addict. The researchers made this bold claim after testing mice with cocaine and nicotine. They claim that the mice that were given nicotine before cocaine had more of a craving for the cocaine.

I realize I don’t have the background or education that these researchers have but this study sounds like a load of crap. I smoked for 30 years and I’ve been vaping for one. Never in my life have I snorted a line of cocaine. Granted that is anecdotal evidence however I’ve known a lot of smokers and vapers in my time who have also never tried cocaine. I’ve also known cocaine users who refused to smoke because they thought it was unhealthy but that’s another story.

Without trying to sound like a conspiracy theorist I think a lot of these studies about cigarette replacements like e-cigs are mostly scare tactics designed to get people to keep smoking. Vaping isn’t even a gateway to smoking like a lot of people claim. That would be like saying that methadone is a gateway to heroin. The majority of people only vape so they don’t have to smoke anymore.

The Fall of Atlantic City

I grew up in the shadow of Atlantic City so I’ve been sad to hear about the casino closings and the loss of jobs that is going with it. Unfortunately this has been a long time in coming and it seems like America’s Favorite Playground didn’t do a while lot to prevent it.

I’m old enough to remember when the casinos first moved into Atlantic City. At the time of their initial openings there was only legal casino gambling in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The casinos injected a cash flow into the city that in my opinion went a long way to improve the city. While it never was white picket fence America it wasn’t exactly Camden either.

Then other locations started legalizing gambling but they were so far away that it didn’t really affect A.C. In the northeast there was the Foxwoods casino but that only took a small bite from the overall casino pie. It was at this point that Atlantic City should have been looking into alternative industries to support the city. When Las Vegas was facing a serious downturn in their tourism market they made a sweeping change and became a family destination. In my opinion it seems that Atlantic City’s death knell came when neighboring Pennsylvania legalized gambling. Most of the casino traffic in A.C. came from the Philadelphia market but now that they had their own casinos there was no longer any need to plan a trip to the Jersey shore when they can just hop on a bus or the El to go to their local casino.

Atlantic City is not without hope though. They went from a major tourist town in post-World War II to a blighted city then bounced back with the ushering of casinos. Hopefully the city that I do have such fond memories of can bounce back again. The problem is can they do it this time without taking decades?

Comic of the Week: Action Comics Future’s End

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MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

In my entire life I’ve never cried at a movie or about a book or any work of fiction for that matter, until this past week. Believe it or not I was legitimately moved and almost got choked up over a comic book. But I’m getting a head of myself.

For those of you not familiar with the Future’s End storyline permeating DC Comics this month it takes place 5 years in the future after a war with an alternate Earth (Earth-2) has changed the world for the worse. Superman is among the missing however an incorporeal being grants three different people an aspect of Superman’s powers to see how they would use them and then how they would continue their lives after they were taken away again.

I started getting choked up for two reasons. The first is that two of the three people had issues that I have had to deal with in various stages of my life. So screw you to all the people who say a Superman story can’t be relatable. The second reason is that the ending left me with the most amazing feeling of hope. Not just in comics but in the real world. Call me immature or childish if you want but what’s wrong with a grown man being inspired by a funny book?

Overall the Future’s End issues this week we’re all very good and inspiring. Usually when a comic depicts a future it’s usually dystopian or apocalyptic. Very rarely is it this hopeful. It’s been so good I even took to reading titles in the story I don’t normally read. In the series that was out this past week I also recommend Phantom Stranger, Green Arrow and Swamp Thing.

Comic of the Week: Daredevil #7

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I haven’t done a comic of the week recommendation in a while because frankly, nothing has really blown my skirt that much lately in the world of comics, until today. Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil has been nothing short of excellent and issue #7 of the current run should be looked upon as a classic issue.

After the Original Sin event Matt Murdock has a flashback to his dad who he idolized. Except the memory shows Matt that his dad may not have been the man he thought he was so Matt suits up as Daredevil to find the only person who can tell him the truth, his mother.

I guess the reason I liked this issue a lot is it because it touched upon a lot of things that I experienced in my life both young and old but I won’t spoil it for you. Pick up this issue as soon as you can.

Why the States’ bad deals with tobacco are bad for vaping

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Recently ProPublica published an extensive article about their investigations into the U.S. states and how they’ve used the money from tobacco settlements. Turns out, not so good. Too many states entered “it’s my money and I want it now” type deals with Wall Street think that the tobacco money would be as steady source of capital.

While I wouldn’t be foolish enough to say that this is the main reason why so many states are eager to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes I would definitely say that it is a major contributing factor. Since they bled the tobacco well dry they’re going to follow its old users and try to collect the money from their new, albeit less addictive, hobby.