Cyber Terrorism and the blind eye of Americans

For the last year and two months, my family, my church and I personally have been attacked, threatened, harassed, abused, bullied, and doxed by cyber terrorist on every social media platform known to mankind. This blog post is the beginning of my effort to tell my story so that others can hear and hopefully work to stop the abuse and hatred in our world. You can visit to read more and to see the proof of my statements here.

In August of 2020 I started a video ministry on the app TikTok in an effort to reach out to hurting and lonely people. The pandemic was starting to really effect people’s mental and emotional health and I was encouraged to start a TikTok account to help people with a safe place to be themselves and find support. For the first week, things were amazing. We met wonderful people who needed support and care and we worked to provide that to them.

However, when people found out that I was a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and so was my daughter, things turned sour. It started with someone in North Carolina coming into our TikTok live and threatening to kill me. From there, the long line of cyber terrorist started to visit our lives with increasing frequency. They posted my home address, my cell phone number, all my email address, pictures of my home and vehicles, as well as pictures of our church with statements that they were coming to shoot up the church.

The Aiken County Sheriff Department refused to help us. They felt the threats were justified because we were members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The cyber terrorist ceased on that and started claiming that they were a member of the Sheriff’s Department. I have come to believe they are likely a part of Law Enforcement somewhere as they seem to access to information that only Law Enforcement would have. (BTW, the Aiken County Sheriff Department routinely ignores crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community. I would love to plan a rally to demand they take our concerns seriously, however, no one in the local LGBTQIA+ Community cares about our struggle.)

As of today, October 14, 2021, the attacks continue. We have thousands of screengrabs posted at the above website. They have started coming in to our TikTok Lives using screen names of my relatives including my dead loved ones. There is nothing they respect, no one they care about except themselves. Surely there are people out there they have bragged to or that recognize their behavior. Yet, no one will come forward to stop this abuse.

They got me fired from my chaplain job at a local hospital by email them demanding I be fired. They claimed I was a pedophile because I am LGBTQIA+ and that I would end up hurting someone at the hospital. The hospital caved and fired me. They decided to rehire me under a long list of conditions that are untenable to my ministry. So I cannot go back to work there without ending my public ministry.

They got my wedding ministry closed by spamming the request for information form. They have worked to destroy every source of income for my family so that they can come into the Lives on TikTok and tell me to get a job and stop being a lazy fat-ass. This is the kind of hateful abuse that they visit on our family everyday. And no one care. WRDW-WAGT, WFXG, WJBF, The State, The Atlanta Journal Constitution and all national media refuse to even acknowledge this story. It is not sensational enough for them to run.

Abuse has become the American Way. Harassment and bullying (cyber terrorism) is our new favorite past time in America. And it must stop. Please help us. Please help end this abuse. Please stand with us!

An open letter to Bill Maher

Today I woke up to find at comedian and sometimes progressive talk show host Bill Maher had hosted a segment on his HBO show on fat shaming. Hoping that he would present a sound defense of those of use who have struggled with weight issues most of our lives, I tuned in. I was devastated by what I heard.

Maher spoke about how fat shaming should make a comeback in our nation (not that it ever ended). He called fat people disgusting, slobs and gluttonous. He goes on to say that fat people are doomed to all kinds of health issues, don’t poop right, and will remain life long virgins. He says that we are the reason for the Amazon fires, climate change and all the economic issues in the world. His audience and the panel laughed and clapped about it the whole time. His panel was comprised of Rep. Joe Walsh, Christina Hoff Sommers, Rep. John Delaney, Maria Teresa Kumar, and Matt Welch. And they loved his fat shaming of people who struggle everyday.

Why am I fat? A lot of reasons. I eat less than everyone around me, even those who are thin and trim. Ask all the people at our National Church Synod in August. Many of them are thin and health looking and I ate less than they did! I struggle to eat 2,000 calories and day and still weigh 367. I go to the gym now 5 days a week and work out harder and longer than police offices built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ask anyone who knows me and they will attest to all this. Ask my doctor!

And yet, I get shamed all the time. People pass me in the store and make oinking noises. One lady a few months ago walked up to my table at a Resturant and told me to, “Back away from the table, piggy.” I had ordered a salad with no meats or cheeses and a fat free dressing. But who cares! Fat shaming should make a comeback according to Bill Maher.

So why am I fat? I was never really fat until I injured my back working at a tire company. I was 18 years old at the time. I was 5’10” and weighed 200 lbs. My co-workers thought it would be a great hazing for the new guy to have me work on a rear tractor tire (liquid filled) and not to help me get it back on the tractor. I had to try to lift (only a few inches) a tire taller than me onto an axle. I managed to do it, but damaged my back in the process. I had to be helped to the car because I could not stand up straight. And they all thought it was funny. They laughed and laughed. I spent the next week barely able to walk and mostly laying around crying in pain. The doctors at the time said it was just a pulled muscle. Years later, orthopedic surgeons determined I had damaged my back and now had arthritis and several bulging and slipped discs.

After my injury, I could not get around as well I once did. So I started to gain weight. I was horrified. I tried not eating as much. I tried diets. I ended up in the hospital suffering from malnutrition because I was starving myself. And yet, I continued to gain weight. The heart issues started. Then the diabetes came. High blood pressure followed. And the shaming continued to increase. First from my mom, who was larger than me, and then from the friends who would eventually decide they did not want to be seen around someone who looked like Shamu (their actually words). My girlfriend stood by me and eventually became my wife. I struggled for years with the feeling that I had saddled her with a broken and worthless husband. The pain got so bad that for several years I was walking with a cane and stooped over like a 90 year old man.

People felt so emboldened that they would comment about my weight in public and quite loudly. They wanted me and everyone around me to hear it. And most people laughed with them. Even some of those who were also weight challenged would laugh. It was painful and started to cause me to have Social Anxiety Disorder. It was not bad enough I had been raped and molested by a family member as a child. It was not bad enough that my mom had abused me and my siblings physically, mentally and emotionally. I had managed to stay rather fit despite the depression and PTSD. And now I was fat. I was made to feel ugly, unlovable, disgusting, and worthless.

It has taken years of therapy to overcome these issues. I tried to kill myself twice. I have spent years on diets. Many of them for a year or two each. And I would loose 20 or 30 lbs and then nothing for months on end. I am finally starting to loose more weight by going to the gym. I record everything I eat and still struggle to get to 2000 calories a day. Folks, I am not fat because of what I eat or how much I eat. There is far more to being fat than food.

Study after study has shown this. However, no one cares. They only want to get rid of fat people. A few years ago a republican lawmaker in California wanted all fat people to be castrated so that they could not make more fat people. Bill Maher and his laughing guest and panel want to make people feel more shame. I guess they are hoping we will kill ourselves so that they don’t have to look at “gluttonous slobs” all the time.

Bill Maher, his panel, and his audience should be ashamed of themselves. Fat shaming should be ended. And no, Bill, I don’t tell fit people to eat something. I honor their body struggles just like I want them to honor mine. But I guess you can never understand that.

Raspberry Pi, Direwolf, Digipeater, Igate, Soundcard version

This is copied and adapted from who did a great job of putting this together.

What hardware you will need:

Quick Considerations:

The above setup is not going to be the most optimal setup available, however it is cheap, quick, and easy.

Due to the less than desirable receiving and transmitting qualities of a Baofeng, especially with the stock antenna, your range and APRS usefulness will be limited.

In my own personal RX/TX I-Gate and Digipeter, I use an outdoor, external antenna connected to my Baofeng. This dramatically increases the quality of the overall setup, however, I am still limited by the low overall power of the Baofeng radio. With that said, I’ve still had my own APRS packets heard at 100+ miles away.

For a permanent, 24/7 running installation you will need to purchase a cheap Baofeng battery eliminator kit and wire it to a 12V power supply or rotate between batteries to keep your setup online.

I’m assuming you are somewhat comfortable using the Linux terminal and that you already have your RaspberryPi setup with Raspian.


Installing Direwolf on Linux

Open up your Linux terminal of choice and let’s get started! If you are not working directly on your RaspberryPi and instead need to SSH into it over your at home network, go ahead and do that. By default the default user is “pi” and the default password is “raspberry”.

Let’s make sure your RaspberryPi system is up to date with the latest software and firmware updates. Run the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo rpi-update
sudo reboot

After your RaspberryPi has rebooted and you’re back in, let’s proceed.

Lets remove pulseaudio from the system if its installed by default. Although it works fine on most systems, it does not play well with ARM based devices such as the RaspberryPi. Let’s see if it’s installed, and if it is, remove it.

dpkg-query -l 'pulseaudio*'

Your terminal output will appear as below if pulseaudio is missing:

||/ Name                         Version  Architecture  Description
un  pulseaudio                    <none>   <none>       (no description available)
un  pulseaudio-esound-compat      <none>   <none>       (no description available)
un  pulseaudio-module-bluetooth   <none>   <none>       (no description available)
ii  pulseaudio-utils              <none>   <none>       (no description available)

It should show as <none> under the version column. If pulseaudio is in fact installed, no worries. We’ll uninstall it with the following commands:

sudo apt-get remove --purge pulseaudio
sudo apt-get autoremove
rm -rf /home/pi/.pulse
sudo reboot

You’ll need to install Git on your RaspberryPi in order to download Direwolf in the next step and libasound as another dependency. To do so, simply issue the following command:

sudo apt-get install git-all libasound2-dev -y

The above will install what you need to move forward to the next step(s).

Visiting the Direwolf GitHub page, we can begin following the published instructions. This is the easy, copy/paste initial setup phase. Let’s go….

cd ~
git clone
(You can transfer to the beta channels here by follwing the instruction at 
the GitHub page. I used 1.5-beta-3)
cd direwolf
sudo make install
make install-conf
make install-rpi

Direwolf is now ‘installed’, but not quite ready for use. We’ll get there soon. Hang tight.

Playback and Capture Devices for APRS

We must now determine what your audio playback devices are for the Direwolf configuration. With your USB sound card plugged in, you can now issue the following command:

aplay -l

The output of this command should appear as shown below:

**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA], device 0: bcm2835 ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA]
  Subdevices: 8/8
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
  Subdevice #1: subdevice #1
  Subdevice #2: subdevice #2
  Subdevice #3: subdevice #3
  Subdevice #4: subdevice #4
  Subdevice #5: subdevice #5
  Subdevice #6: subdevice #6
  Subdevice #7: subdevice #7
card 0: ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA], device 1: bcm2835 ALSA [bcm2835 IEC958/HDMI]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: Device [USB Audio Device], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 0/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

You can see that the USB soundcard is recognized as “card 1” in the above output.

To view your audio capture devices, which will be on the same USB soundcard, issue the following command:

arecord -l

Your output in the terminal should show the following. Since the RaspberryPi does not have a built-in capture device, the only device shown should be your USB soundcard.

**** List of CAPTURE Hardware Devices ****
card 1: Device [USB Audio Device], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 0/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

Take note of these.

Configuring Direwolf

Now for the fun part, actually configuring Direwolf! We’re almost there.

Let’s enter the directory in which Direwolf is now installed.

cd ./direwolf

Now open up direwolf.conf in nano (if not already installed, do so by simply issuing, “sudo apt-get install nano”)

nano direwolf.conf

The direwolf.conf file in your terminal is now displayed and ready for editing. We must edit a few items in this configuration file for our use.

First, locate (Line 69):

#ADEVICE  plughw:0,0

You will need to uncomment this line and enter the correct hardware device values that we found in the previous steps, which was card 1, device 0. Change this line in direwolf.conf to:

ADEVICE  plughw:1,0

Scroll down until you see the following, and change N0CALL to your call sign.


“N0CALL” should be changed to your callsign, with the SSID of your APRS station after it. For me, I use K5CVD-5. You may wish to use the SSID -0 after your call.

TIP: Choosing an APRS SSID to add after your callsign:

-0 Your primary station usually fixed and message capable
-1 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc
-2 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc
-3 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc
-4 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc
-5 Other networks (Dstar, Iphones, Androids, Blackberry's etc)
-6 Special activity, Satellite ops, camping or 6 meters, etc
-7 walkie talkies, HT's or other human portable
-8 boats, sailboats, RV's or second main mobile
-9 Primary Mobile (usually message capable)
-10 internet, Igates, echolink, winlink, AVRS, APRN, etc
-11 balloons, aircraft, spacecraft, etc
-12 APRStt, DTMF, RFID, devices, one-way trackers*, etc
-13 Weather stations
-14 Truckers or generally full time drivers
-15 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc

If your callsign was K1ABC and this is your primary APRS station, this line in the configuration file will show as:


Moving forward…

If you wish to broadcast your APRS station on a map with a position beacon, you can do so by finding, uncommenting, and adjusting the following line for your individual location and setup:

#PBEACON delay=1 every=30 overlay=S symbol="digi" lat=42^37.14N long=071^20.83W power=50 height=20 gain=4 comment="Chelmsford MA" via=WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1

Uncomment the line, so Direwolf will not ignore it while running. Change the latitude and longitude settings to match the location of your location. The power, refers to the output power of your radio, height refers to the height of your antenna above your average terrain, and gain would be the gain of the antenna. The comment variable is for what you want the world to see when your beacon packets are received or when your station is shown on maps like at

You can easily find your latitude and longitude using an online tool such as this which is what I used.

Assuming you live in the middle of New York City’s Central Park, are using a Baofeng radio and your antenna is located ontop of a 20m mast, and you want your beacon comment to be, “New York City Central Park APRS” your PBEACON setting should look like this:

PBEACON delay=1 every=30 overlay=S symbol="digi" lat=40^46.3143N long=073^58.4963W power=5 height=20 gain=4 comment="New York City Central Park APRS" via=WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1

I see people using beacon comments advertising club information, APRS setup details, scheduled nets, etc. Mine shows up on APRS.FI as seen below:

APRS map view of station


If you wish to digipeat packets, you can do so by uncommenting the line shown below. Keep in mind that not all areas need another digipeater and if you live anywhere populated you may be doing more harm than good by operating a digipeater if it’s not needed. Being in a relatively rural area, I have a digipeater enabled.

#DIGIPEAT 0 0 ^WIDE[3-7]-[1-7]$|^TEST$ ^WIDE[12]-[12]$ TRACE


Now, let’s setup the Internet Gateway (I-Gate). Scroll down until you find the Internet Gateway section of direwolf.conf


If you live in North America, all you must do is uncomment the above line. If you do not live in North America, change the value of IGSERVER to the appropriate server. – for North America – for South America – for Europe and Africa – for Asia – for Oceania

In the lines below you will enter your login and passcode for the APRS network. You can generate a passcode for your APRS callsign with SSID instantly at this website.


Assuming your callsign with SSID was K1ABC-0 and the website linked above generated the passcode “41325” the line in direwolf.conf would look like the above. Change this to match your details.

Find the following line and uncomment it, make sure that you also adjust the latitude and longitude used as we did above.

#PBEACON sendto=IG delay=0:30 every=60:00 symbol="igate" overlay=T lat=42^37.14N long=071^20.83W

Setting Up Your Baofeng for RX/TX

If you followed everything above, you should now be (almost) ready to go. Before we run Direwolf for the first time, let’s go ahead and make sure our radio is turned on, connected to the APRS interface cable, which should be connected to the headphone/mic audio Y splitter, connected to your USB soundcard to your RaspberryPi.

  • Tune your Baofeng to the appropriate APRS frequency. In North America this is 144.390
  • Adjust your Baofeng’s squelch setting to “1”, I find this is what works best for me.
  • Adjust your Baofeng’s VOX setting to ‘on’ with setting “1”.


Baofeng, RaspberryPi APRS setup
It’s a horrible photo but it should give you an idea of how things get connected if you somehow were unable to figure it out on your own.


Running Direwolf

If you’re not already in the Direwolf folder, go ahead and move to it.

cd ./direwolf

Now, you can run Direwolf.


direwolf linux


You’ll should see something similar to the above. This shows that direwolf started, read the configuration file, PTT is not enabled because we are using VOX, ready to accept KISS TNC client on port 8001 which we’ll use later for Xastir, and it shows that direwolf connected to one of the North American APRS IGate servers.

The first packets shown are my own, being transmitted directly to the internet via the gateway.

The packet shown starting with [0L] is my own beacon being transmitted on channel 0 with low priority. (Transmitted packets are shown in magenta)

Shortly after running Direwolf, I heard the station K14BGI which is about 15 miles away from me. (Received packets are shown in green)

If you are seeing red errors regarding volume, adjust this in alsamixer:

sudo alsamixer

Hit F6 to select the soundcard the RaspberryPi is using, and then hit F5. Very important that you hit F5 because it only shows you the transmit volumes first. Spent an hour trying to figure that out. You will need to lower the mic input volume until these error messages disappear or when the general average of received audio level is around 50.

At this point, you should also be able to see your own station on


I worked for hours to figure out how to make autostarting work. No matter what I did, I could not get to work properly. Yes, everything was installed right. It just would not work.

So I ended up doing this:

sudo nano /home/pi/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart
@lxterminal -e /usr/local/bin/direwolf -c /home/pi/direwolf/direwolf.conf

Make sure the -e is the right path to your Direwolf binary and the -c is to your config file from above.

Then whenever the Pi reboots and loads the GUI, it will automatically load Direwolf.

Final Thoughts

This is by no means a perfect setup. I’m leaving comments open on this one to gain feedback as this is very much a learning process for myself as well and I by no means claim to be an expert.

If you’re using Baofeng’s stock antenna, you likely will not receive much (if anything) or transmit far. If you are limited to a whip antenna only, I highly suggest using a SignalStuff Antenna, made and sold by the gentleman who has brought the amateur radio world, otherwise look into connecting your radio to an outdoor base station antenna. On my setup I’m using a Diamond x200A and it greatly extends the usefulness of such a cheap radio, however I will likely build a dedicated 2M antenna for APRS use so my desktop 2M/70cm rig can have it’s Diamond antenna back.

I’m also unclear if it is counterproductive having both Direwolf and Xastir set to transmit and digipeat, or if Direwolf must be configured that way to grant Xastir that capability.

Please leave a comment with any questions you may have, advice or tips on how to improve this as I’ll change this article as new information is received.

I like give credit where credit is due, as most of these installation instructions are from a great YouTube video I have found which helped me with my original install on my desktop PC before setting up a RaspberryPi for APRS use. You can watch the video here, which is made by Retro Tech & Electronics. This is a great video that will go more in depth of the how and why. My guide is simply a quickstart guide to get you going and skips some of the steps in the linked video as I found they were  not needed for my particular use. Subscribe to his channel for other great amateur radio and related videos. Additional guidance was provided by the official Direwolf documentation for Raspberry Pi.

Hospital and sexism

I hate to write blogs like this one. But sometimes I have no other idea of what to do to effect change.

My wife works for a local teaching hospital. She has worked there since 2003 and for the most part, she has enjoyed working for them. Over the past year or two, things have taken a very dark turn and she is constantly being mistreated by her co-workers and management.

The hospital was a great place to work for in the beginning. The benefits were good, pay was ok and the work environment was good. Lately, her supervisor, with the blessings and help of the Lab management, has worked to make my wife’s life a living hell.

She was hired to work 3:30PM to Midnight 5 days a week and one weekend a month. Shortly after being hired, they asked her to take on an extra weekend a month to help with the shortage of staff. That was in 2003. She has never been moved from that every other weekend schedule. She asked for 4:00 PM to 12:30 AM because our son was in High School and sometimes she would need to pick him up before going to work.

They gave her that schedule, but over this summer asked her to take 3:00 PM to 11:30 PM because a co-worker was out with an injury. Now that the co-worker has come back, my wife asked to return to 4:00 PM to 12:30 AM as school will start soon. Her supervisor, a man, told her that he was not going to give it to her since she thought she was “owed” it. She never said she was owed it, in fact, she was merely asking for her old schedule back.

This same supervisor has male employees under him. He allows them to take long breaks, to sit and surf the internet when there is work piled up, and refuses to say anything to them when they make a mistake or fail to follow protocol. Yet, he will happily, almost gleefully, go after any female employee who make a mistake, who is as little as 1 minute late to work or back from a break, and will do everything in his power to hound them to work faster and harder.

This recent schedule issue is only the tip of the sexism iceberg. However, every time my wife goes to management about it, they report her interaction to her supervisor and then tell her to deal with it. Then, of course, he makes her life more difficult for daring to say anything. This is appalling!

Repeated attempts to resolve this issue have failed. She comes home upset, depressed, and exhausted. She cannot afford to quit, there are no local jobs in her field right now, and she is scared to death to talk to anyone else about this for fear of being fired. In fact, we both fear this attempt to blow the whistle on the labor violations and the sexism at her work will result in her termination.

However, I must say something. I cannot continue to keep silent about it. I am hoping that rather than punish her, the hospital will work to resolve these issues and correct them. I am hoping they will come to her and assure her that she is a valued employee and that they want to correct the illegal behavior of her supervisor, not punish her into silence.

I can hope. Please God, let them hear her.

Sprint: The nightmare that never ends

Update: The problem is fixed, but I still won’t see much in the way of compensation for my ordeal. See below. 

I am putting this in writing so that there is a permanent record of the nightmare that I have lived through. It is still on going as of this moment, but I hope to resolve it shortly via the courts if necessary.

On June 29, 2017 at about 1 PM EST, I learned that my Sprint account had been locked. I could pay my payments, and see my information, but I could not make any changes or upgrade my wife’s phone. I wanted to upgrade her phone as a late birthday present to her. Instead, Sprint has made this a birthday nightmare.

I immediately began to contact Sprint to see why my account was locked and how I could get it unlocked.

The first person I chatted with, “Katey”, said it was an issue with my browser. I used Opera and Microsoft Edge browsers to view the site, but she said I needed to use Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer. I have Firefox installed, so I tried with it. No joy. I tried with Internet Explorer. No joy. I downloaded and installed Chrome and tried Chrome. No joy. She proceeded to tell me it was a cookies issue in Chrome. Mind you, I had just installed Chrome and there were no cookies!

When I explained this to her, she got rude and shoved me off to another person who hung up on me.

The next person I spoke to, “Jessica”, kept putting me on hold for long periods of time until I told her I wanted to talk to her supervisor. I think she kept putting me on hold hoping I would go away.

The next person was “Bridget”. She finally said there was fraudulent activity on my account and she could not help me. I would need to speak to someone from the Fraud Department. I asked her to transfer me to that department, but she said she could not. They would have to call me. Before I could say anything else, she hung up.

Four hours later, after waiting for the call from the Fraud Department, someone called with a very heavy accent. I did not get her name. She told me there was no way to fix it short of going into a Sprint store and showing them my drivers license and they could unlock my account. I said this is ridiculous. I asked to speak to her supervisor. She said she would have to call me back later and then hung up on me.

Thirty minutes or so pass and “Ladonna” called me. She was a supervisor in the Fraud Department. She said that there was nothing she could do to fix my account. I would need to take 2 forms of ID to the store and they could unlock my account. I asked if she was sure they could do it and she said she thought they could.

I asked to speak to her supervisor and she sent me to the Executive Support Staff. About 30 minutes later an “Ari” called me to help me from the Executive Support Staff. She said that I did not need to go to the store, that she could verify my identity over the phone and the Fraud Department would unlock my account. After an hour on the phone with her and a small chat with “Axel” to verify my identity, she said the Fraud Department would unlock my account and I would hear from someone in Executive Support the next day.

I hoped and prayed that this nightmare of nearly 9 hours was over. Boy was I wrong!

June 30, 2017 – 4:00 PM EST – Some one from Executive Support called. She did not give her name and when I asked she moved on to other topics. She said that Ari was wrong, I would still need to go to the store and show my 2 forms of ID to the staff and they would unlock my account. She promised me that they could do it and it would be cleared up if I did. I asked if the CEO could fix this, she said no. Asked if I could speak to the CEO, she said he could not be bothered with me. Told her I could get an attorney and court order if it would help get my account unlocked, she said go ahead their legal team is the best and they would be happy to take me on. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she said he would have to call me back. She hung up.

At 5 PM EST, I arrived at a local Sprint store. I waited for an hour to be helped. Once I was called up, I told the young man, who was very nice, what was going on and that I had been through the ringer on this. I laid out 6 different forms of ID for him to see that I was indeed who I said I was. Get this, he then had to call the Fraud Department because they cannot unlock the account in the store!

After 30 minutes on hold at the Fraud Department, he passes his phone to me because they need information from me. The lady on the line said that she could unlock my account if I could just answer some questions about my account. She said I did not need to go to the store, they could have done this over the phone. When I explained to her all I had gone through, she wanted me to tell my story to her supervisor so he could fix this.

I asked for him to call me back, so I could give the young man at the Sprint store his AT&T Cell Phone back and he could return to helping customers. “Farnz” called me and we discussed everything that had transpired over the past two days. He said he deleted my online profile and that in 4 hours I could register a new one and my account would be fine then. He gave me a $230 credit on my account. At least he said he did.

I cannot see if he did because 6 hours later and the online site still says I cannot register because there are too many profiles linked to my account. But, my previous account is unaccessible as well. So I contact support again and the Fraud Department is closed. I have to wait until tomorrow to chat with them. So I will have to deal with this a third day in a row.

Bottom line, so much is wrong with Sprint. Here is what I think:

  1. Each rep, all 9 of them, called me on my Sprint phone. The same phone listed in my account as the primary phone. That should be their first indication that I am who I say I am. But if not…
  2. I gave them my security pin, backup question answer, my date of birth, SSN, and address each time and they matched the account information. This too should have been an indication that I am who I say I am. But if not…
  3. Who in the heck would spend 9+ hours fighting to get an account unlocked just to steal a phone??? There are easier ways to steal a phone than to spend all this time fighting with Sprint.

I would also like to point out that at no time since the supposed fraud on April 7, 2017, did Sprint ever notify me of a problem. This is a violation of S.C. Code § 39-1-90, Kan. Stat. § 50-7a01 et seq., 815 ILCS §§ 530/1 to 530/25, and Federal Law 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(p). Each holds for fines starting the day the breach occurred until the date I found out about it (June 28). I will be writing complaints to the US Attorney’s General office, and to the Attorney’s General of each state Sprint does business in. I will also file complaints with the FCC, FTC, SEC, CFPB, and the BBB.

This is a nightmare. And of course, I am under contract so I cannot move my service. Not to mention my credit is still messed up, so no one will give me service. I am royally screwed. Such is life in my world.

July 1, 2017 – 1:15 PM – Update: Call from “Eldon” in the Fraud Department. He says, finally, it is not a specialized team in the Fraud Department, like the last 9 people told me it was, but actually an algorithm that blocked my account. And the issue is supposedly with the IT department now. They may or may not have anyone in that department on a Saturday, so it may be Monday before they can fix it. Lucky me! Oh, and Eldon does not work on Monday, so someone else will contact me on Monday from the Fraud Department to let me know what new lie they can tell me about why it is not working.

Supposedly, the Executive Support staff is going to call me to help me with the phone upgrade so that I don’t loose my grandfathered plan. That has never quite worked out in the past, but we will see what happens. Stay tuned for the next installment of How the Bishop Turns.

July 3, 2017 – 8:50 PM – Update: Day 5. Still no solution in sight. No one from the Executive Support Team called me on Saturday like they said they would. “Nora” called me at 8:50 PM and said she would try to help me. I told her I seriously doubted that she would be able to resolve any of these issues. She did not seem too nice. At least the website is no longer telling me there are too many profiles attached to my account. Now it is giving me the error of [MySprint : Register for My Sprint : mysprint_register_for_my_sprint_error_validation_modal : en_US]. This is after it sends a security code to my phone and I put the code in the box and hit enter. Five times I tried this process and all five times it gave me the same error. “Nora” had no idea what that meant and would have to “discuss it with her team” and get back to me within the hour. Twenty minutes left of that hour and we will see if she was telling the truth or just lying like the last 10 reps.

It is really sad that it has taken 5 days, 11 reps and over 25 hours of manpower and wasted time on my part and there is still no solution to be found. This is unconscionable. As big as Sprint is, they should be able to deal with these issues on a much more expedient way. Besides, it was an error on their part and an over zealous computer algorithm that causes the error to begin with. Yet, me the customer, has to deal with the headache and is punished for their mistake.

I hope they intend to do better than a $230 credit considering what a nightmare this has been.

July 3, 2017 – 9:47 PM – Update: with 3 minutes left of the hour she promised me, Nora did indeed call back. She walked me through the steps to get my new profile established and the account now works. It took 26 hours, 11 reps, and 5 days to get it working. I have to say, I appreciate Nora working to get it resolved.

I did managed to get a $230 credit on the account. While that is far from equal compensation for the ordeal I went through, I guess it is the best I can hope for.

Dana’s phone and Thomas’ phone are now upgraded. I am paying a fortune for 32 GB iPhones. They wanted $100 down to get the 128 GB version. They both have 64 GB versions right now. So I am not sure how happy they will be with the 32 GB versions. But such is life. If Sprint wants to make this right, I have a couple of ideas:

  1. Give me 3 months worth of free service. That should be compensation enough for all I went through. Or,
  2. Change my upgrades of Dana and Thomas’ phones to the 128 GB versions at the 32 GB version price with no down payments. Or,
  3. Clear all our leases out (except for the ones I just upgraded) and let us keep the equipment.

I think any or all of those would be a step in the right direction to truly resolving this horrible ordeal.

Issues with OpenDKIM

I spent the better part of two days trying everything under the sun to get OpenDKIM to work on our server. Finally found the solution.

No matter what I changed, OpenDKIM would not listen on port 8891. Finally, I discovered that in the opendkim.service file it was not loading it to 8891, but to a sock file.

[html]ExecStart=/usr/sbin/opendkim -P /var/run/opendkim/ -p local:/var/run/opendkim/opendkim.sock[/html]

It needed to be changed to:

[html]ExecStart=/usr/sbin/opendkim -P /var/run/opendkim/ -p inet:8891[/html]

Restart OpenDKIM and Postfix and you should be up and running again.

Zebras, ulcers, and me

A friend of mine asked me the other day if I knew why Zebras don’t get ulcers (a concept that also has a book written about it). I did not have a clue why they didn’t especially since they are hunted by so many predators.

Unlike us human beings, Zebras deal with the immediate danger by flight or fight, however, once the immediate danger is over, the Zebra continues like nothing happened. The Zebra does not revisit the issue, analyze the good and bad, or dwell on the hurt or betrayal. It moves on like nothing happened.

The Zebra also doesn’t worry about the next attack or predator. It does what it normally does until faced with danger again. It does not worry about its next meal or drink. It just looks for it like it always does until it finds what it needs.

We dwell on issues. Someone hurts us, then we dwell on it. We follow them, keep them close. Hence the old adage, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. In reality when we do that we continue to allow them to affect our lives, we keep reliving the past hurt, pain, frustration, and etc.

This is a hard lesson, trust me, I know! I am still trying to learn this. I go and visit the websites of people who hurt me. I look them up on Facebook to see what they are saying and doing. And by doing so, my blood pressure goes up, I get frustrated and angry. Or I get sad and depressed. Either way, it only damages me. It does not damage them. They could care less!

So my lesson for today is to learn to let go. Stop living in the past. Stop worrying about what was and what could have been. Instead, I am going to focus on today. I am going to focus on the future, free of the hurt and pain of the past. (And I am going to use the Facebook block people feature more often!)

Will you walk this path of letting go with me?

A mile in my shoes

It is hard to rise above the depression that so easily sets in when faced with the world today. I know this all too well. I have depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Many pastors will not talk about these types of struggles, however, more of them have these struggles than you will ever know.

Many people who are well meaning Christians, say that if I had more faith, if I prayed more, if I trusted God more, I would not have these issues. Some tell me to just lose weight, exercise, get out more. All these things are supposed to be a magic cure for what ails me.

It is not. It is not helpful for people to tell me all these things. It makes me feel even worse. You see, I don’t exercise like I “should” because, like most people with my conditions, there are physical issues involved too. I have arthritis in my spine. The better term, one used recently after my latest CT Scan, is degenerative disk disease. This causes an almost constant pain in my back and has at times affected my ability to walk or even sit for long periods of time.

I also have diabetes. Which means that I have to snack from time to time in order to keep from passing out. Which leads to people talking about how I would not be a fat slob if I didn’t eat so much. People who know me, who see me on a daily basis, know I actually eat very little. Lately, I have lost some weight; so much that my once tight pants are now falling off of me.

I had a lot of issues from my abusive childhood. Sadly, there were many people in my past who fed off of that and they too abused me. Thankfully, they are no longer in my life. However, more damage was done while they were in my life.

Three people sexually assaulted me, one a relative assaulted me repeatedly for many years. He is currently serving a very long sentence in prison for other sex related crimes. The others, I have no idea where they are or what their lives are like.

Recently I decided that I had finally had enough of living this way. So I decided to get some help in dealing with my past issues that caused the depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I decided that I no longer wanted to settle for living on medications when there is a chance that I could overcome my past, overcome the abuse I suffered, and live without having my emotions stunted by medication.

Mind you, this is not to be done lightly. I am suggesting that anyone should try this, let along try it alone. I have trained medical and psychological experts assisting me through this process.  Otherwise, I would be God knows where!

I have good days and I have bad days. I am trying to learn how to deal with emotions that I have not felt for years because of the medications. I am trying to learn to take 5 seconds to think before I react. Like I said, it is not easy. One of the greatest battles I am facing right now is a feeling that I am useless. I feel like nothing I do is enough. I have started volunteering everywhere in an effort to feel like I am doing something worthwhile.

I spend my days in prayer for my brothers and sisters in the church, for those who ask for prayers, for the whole world. I work to try to build a parish with no success so far. But I continue to try. Yet, it still does not feel like enough. Even as I write this, I feel like I am being a drain rather than a help. I don’t want sympathy, I just want people to understand what it is like to be in my shoes.

Remember one thing, I am not alone. Your pastor may be one of the thousands of pastors who struggle with the very same feelings and issues. They do not need your advice, they do not need your pity. They need your love and support. They need your prayers. They need to know they are needed. They need to know that they make a difference. They need to know they matter.

Take a moment to call your pastor and thank him or her. Tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them how much they have helped you. Build them up before it is too late!

The Middle (Followup Blog)

I must caveat this post as usual. This is my opinion and not necessarily the opinion of any church or organization I am affiliated with.

The Middle.

I posted earlier today on Facebook about the middle. I wanted to expand upon that posting.

The middle is often viewed with disdain. People say that if you sit on the fence, you are lukewarm or indecisive. The middle man is usually seen as being the one that gets the short end of the stick.

But I believe that in our current day, the middle is where we as clergy should be. There are so many people rushing to align themselves with causes that sit on the edges. Civility has been lost in our political and social discourse. It has become an “us” verses “them” narrative. But that is not the message of the Christ.

The message of the Christ is one of love. Love does not run to the extremes that exclude people, vilify people, marginalize people, or dismiss people. Love embraces all people. In love it is not an “us” verses “them”, it is a WE.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe we are called to stand against inequality, injustice, hate, bigotry, racism, and all the other forms of discrimination. I do not believe that we will be effective by vilifying those who disagree with us or who we view as opposing our views.

When I see videos on Facebook of police and Black Lives Matters protestors marching arm in arm, I am overjoyed. They have mastered the WE. They are living in the middle. They are not vilifying each other, but rather working together to rid the world of hate, anger, racism, and violence. That is what we should all be doing.

But when I see protestors at Planned Parenthood clinics calling women entering the clinics whores and sluts, telling them they are going to hell, despite the fact that the woman may only be there for a cancer screening, I am disappointed. When I see protestors calling for the death of people they view as opposed to their movement, saying that whole segments of society are going to hell because of who they love, or being violent in the name of forcing change, I am saddened. This is not what we as Christians, or we as clergy, are called to do.

We are called, as Saint Paul said, to become “…all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

We do not have to rush to the edges, we do not have to become extremist to effect change in our world. We can effect change by standing in the middle. We can be an anchor so that those who have drifted to the edge might have a lifeline back to the middle. We can stand, silent, prayerful, in the middle, with our anchor attached firmly to the Christ. We can effect change by being the lighthouse.

The lighthouse does not ride on the ship. It does not stand miles away from the coast. It does not drift in the water off the coast. It stands in the middle. It marks the point where the two major forces join. We can be that lighthouse.

It is time to set aside the rhetoric that divides people. It is time to stop with the “us” verses “them” mentality. It is time to unite people.

Here are some novel ideas on uniting people:

  1. Remain civil in your discourse. Online discussions are the worst about this. This is because it is hard to hear the tenor in which things are said. Someone’s short to the point response may not be them being rude, it might be them on a cell phone trying to type with a keyboard that is 2 times smaller than their fingers (trust me, this is me most of the time!). Their formality in their messages may not be condescension, but rather formality and an attempt at showing respect to you. It is always better to assume the best in someone rather than assume the worst. It will defuse so many situations.
  2. Stay away from politics. This is a hard one for me. I love politics. I love to discuss politics. But I live in the deep South. Here my politics are heresy. So rather than anger people, I try to take Saint Paul’s tact and be all things to all people. That means I have to sometimes grit my teeth and say nothing when someone is attaching my political views. I don’t go on the defense. I don’t even share that they are talking about things I support. I merely smile and bless them. That also defuses so many tense situations.
  3. Religion is not a weapon. As clergy, many of us already know this. But there are times it is hard to remember in the heat of a discussion. Our Christ taught us love. We can preach and live love if we are using the Bible as a sword. We should be gentle in our discourse on religion. We should show the love of the Christ to everyone, regardless of who they are, what religion they are, and who they love. If we cannot do that, we have missed the entire point. Christ calls us to love. It is time we as Christians start loving.
  4. Lastly, for all else, use the 5 second rule. I want to share with you a little tidbit about me. I have been on anti-depressants for 15 years or so. Rather than deal with my issues from my childhood and young adult life, I was given medications to mask the problems. Now 15 years later, I am working on those issues. As such, I have also been able to lower the doses of some of my medications. One of the things that anti-depressants do is they regulate emotion. So I experienced a very muted set of emotions for 15 years. Now that I am working to come off the meds, I experience more emotions that before. It is has led me to have to use the 5 second rule much more. It really works. When you read something, see something, experience something and you are tempted to react immediately, take 5 seconds to breath first and then ask yourself if this is something you should get worked up over. Is this something you should respond to? What would Jesus do? (In my case, I ask what a dear Bishop of mine and a priest of mine would do.) Only after that 5 seconds and a little thought, should you react. This will save you and everyone around you a lot of grief. It has for me!

These are not hard things. They are habits we should work to incorporate into our daily lives. Civility, love, charity, and understanding are not bad words. They are words that bring us closer to what the Christ taught. Let’s start living them.