Friday, August 02, 2013

The world goes on

I've been so busy this year that I have not had a chance to sit down and get any work done. It is really frustrating, but there has been little I could do about the situation, so I just put my head down and kept moving forward hoping to find some level of momentum that took me ahead of the chaos enough that I could sit and get some of the things I want to do done rather than keep punching away at things that were required. Every time i have thought that things might actually slow down and I might have some room to breathe, things have tripped me up once again and I have had to start running to get ahead of this or that disaster. I'm not sure if I am ahead right now or not, it is either that or I am about to be swept under by a rogue wave.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Micro loan hell

Have you ever tried to borrow just a few dollars? Say, $500 to $1,000? You can't do it, not unless you have two years worth of tax returns, so when a business has only been in business for one year, and so has only one year's returns to show, the banks scowl and shake their heads and say "no, we won't talk to you."

Why isn't there a small business lender that will loan money to new businesses on a short term, 6 months to a year, so when a small business runs into issues they can borrow a few dollars and pay it back at a reasonable interest rate? Instead the one place I looked at that can loan money fast on short term lending wants such outrageous interest that to borrow $500 for a few months (6 months i think it was), the borrower has to pay back over $1200.00. Really? $1,200 repayment on a $500 loan? OUCH!

I think there would be a great business opportunity for anyone that was to loan small businesses up to $1,000 with reasonable interest rates on the amount borrowed and low payments to assure that anyone can meet the monthly repayment amounts. To see a business go under because they can not come up with $500 or $1,000 that is needed because of an unforeseen emergency is not right, particularly when the business is one that is otherwise doing really good.

Just my two cents worth, if anyone wants to start a business, that could be one that would show decent returns I think. I might start something like that up next time I am ahead a few thousand dollars.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Working my tailbone off and barely sleeping

I know that this blog has been... neglected, to say the least, but I have been really busy going into 2013 and still can't be sure where in the heck 2012 went off to. It seems like we should be entering into the start of 2012, not going into 2013 with no sign yet of the world changing events of December 21. 2012.

I don't know... maybe unbearable stress everywhere is what the change was all about? Perhaps the Mayan's foresaw us all having major mental breakdowns as the stresses of modern life overwhelmed us all and we crashed back to the dawn of time as technology imploded in upon itself? Interesting concept there for a story, I'm sure... maybe a video game? I don't know. I just know that I have been overworked and over-stressed and just generally under rested to the point I keep passing out and waking up a few hours later wondering when I can actually go to bed and get a full night's worth of sleep.

Someday I want life to slow back down and let me get back to writing full-time for a living, but at the moment it does not look like I will even be thinking straight part-time, so I will write as I can and try my best to at least keep up with the blogging and other distractions when I am able to. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The gift of giving

There is a post making the rounds on Facebook that shows three Santa bags lined up in front of a hearth and says:
"Great Tradition: Kids must choose old toys to put in their Santa bags. These must be toys in decent shape that other kids would actually want. Leave the bags under our tree on Christmas Eve. Santa takes the old toys back to the North Pole to fix them up. He leaves new toys in the bag. Great way to declutter, recycle old toys, and teach the kids about giving."
While I like this idea, I think it would be better if it was a "kids can", not "kids must" plan. I'm not sure I approve of telling kids Santa will only bring them presents if they give him stuff in return. What does that teach them about giving gifts? To always expect something in return?

I think it would be better to leave it up to the kids on if they want to help Santa give toys to other boys and girls for the holidays. Let them know that Santa sometimes needs a little help, and maybe they can help him give toys to less fortunate boys and girls?

Put a box or bag near the tree when you put it up for the holidays and let the kids decide if they want to give some of their old toys to Santa (or use their allowance to buy new toys even?).

I'd suggest that the toys should stay under the tree for a few days, give the kids some time to ponder their decision to let another kid have their toys, then, a week or so before Christmas, take the toys to be donated to a local group that can refurbish them and get them to needy kids in time for Christmas. I recommend looking for a local toy distributor rather than dropping them at the second hand store, just to assure the toys are actually given to needy kids and not sold. If you must give to a second hand store; try to support a local small business second hand shop, not one of the big name places.

New toys, if the kids decided to buy a toy or two for Santa, can be donated at a Toys for Tots location near you.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Why do people think the Bible needs to be explained?

I was talking to someone tonight about the Bible and prophecies and I asked about a specific prophecy that I could not see how it was supposed to be a prophecy.

The trouble was with the first of a long list of prophecies that I took a look at -

PROPHECY FULFILLED: Forsaken by His Disciples
Zechariah 13:7 "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate," Declares the Lord of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones.
Mark 14:50 And they all left Him and fled.

I questioned the assumption that Zechariah 13 was a reference to Jesus. If you read the whole of Zechariah 13 it is...

King James Version: Zechariah Chapter 13

1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
2 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.
3 And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.
4 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:
5 But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.
6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.
9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

Zechariah 13 is about prophets being killed by those who know them. So, how is it specifically a prediction about Jesus being betrayed?

After talking back and forth I was told that I refused to accept what Zechariah 13:7 said, and my reply was:

No, I did not refuse to accept what it said. I read what it said and refused to let anyone say "if you SQUINT and look through this colorful kaleidoscope at noon on a Sunday, reading it backwards and in connection to this and this and this- ignore that they are not connected other than via my saying they are... then it can be read in THIS way, and THAT is how it is to be read... forget what it says and read what *I* say it says."

So, I ask... why is it that those who live their lives by the Bible get upset and say those of us who do not blindly believe every word we are told are unable to understand it? Does it really make more sense that it would be a giant cryptogram? Does it actually make any sense for the thing to be next to impossible to be understood without making wild leaps in logic about what it is saying?

Could it be that what it says is actually what it says and the extravagant manipulations are not necessary for a person to understand the meaning of the Bible?Why can it not stand on the weight of its own words without having them "interpreted"?

Water Ice at Mercury's Poles

The MESSENGER spacecraft has sent back evidence that Mercury has keep secrets in the shadowy craters at its poles. MESSENGER used three tests to reveal the evidence of water ice. Using over 10 million laser pulses from MESSENGER's Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), MESSENGER has provided scientists with the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury's north polar region, revealing evidence of thermally stable water ice. Scientists have speculated for over 20 years on the possibility that Mercury might have water ice in its shadowed polar regions. MESSENGER has provided evidence that yes, there is water ice hiding away in the shadows of the Sun's closest planet's poles.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winter is here, but the snow is late

There are times when the snow in the winter is deep enough to cover a car. Literally. Years ago my parents and I were staying at my sister's house for the winter and we hiked in our drive to check on our place and discovered that my dad's Pinto was missing. Someone had apparently stolen it. After growling and kicking about where the car had been parked, my dad realized he had found the Union 76 antenna ball that was on the antenna of the car. That was still on the antenna of the car. The Pinto had been buried under the snow so thoroughly that the car was not even a bump in the snowfield. This year, looking out the window, I see about 3 inches of snow on the ground, that fell a few weeks back. The sky is clear and blue, which means that it is COLD outside. And inside. Thankfully there is still wood in the yard and the fireplace is doing a nice cozy job of keeping things warm in the house. According to the weather report on my phone the rest of the week will be clear skies and no snow, reminds me of the year there was no snow until Christmas eve, then we had a few feet dump on the area.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Who's on first?

I realized today that as the years pass by, some things that were well known to everyone are being left behind in the march of the years. Tonight I had to explain to my nephew what I was referencing when I smirked and said "Who's on first?" to something that he had said.

A few moments on a Google search for a good YouTube video brought up this gem from the past where Abbot and Costello perform their wonderful "Who's on first?" skit, which had my nephew laughing as it has made so many others laugh over the years.

May the great comedy performances never be forgotten!

Monday, November 12, 2012

USS Enterprise returns to port one last time

The USS Enterprise (CVN 65) has had a long and distinguished career, but now she has returned home one more time to be decommissioned after 50 years at sea and 25 missions.

Her final port of call was Naples Italy, which had been her first port of call on her maiden voyage 50 years ago. The first nuclear-powered warship, the eighth Enterprise was setting history from the start and kept going, hitting a record 40 miles-per-hour on her pre-acceptance trial runs, prompting the destroyer Laffey, Enterprises’ escort during the trails, to send her this message;

“Subject: Speed Trails. 1. You win the race. 2. Our wet hats are off to an area thoroughbred.”

Read more about the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), and her predecessors, in my full article at my Freelancer's Office website.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tea after work

Few things in life compare to sitting back in a comfy chair and enjoying a nice hot cup of tea after having spent the day working. I'm not sure what it is, precisely, maybe the "ahhh, time to relax" effect, or just the warmth causing a sense of relaxation, but I definitely enjoy the pleasures to be found in a lightly sweetened cup of Red Rose tea.

And yes, it must be Red Rose for me. I grew up with Lipton, but in later years I started collecting the tea animals that Red Rose includes in their teas and my mom joined me in that effort. We have a LOT of those little critters now, and I still buy the tea and collect the little figures in honor of the excitement of wondering what will be in the box of tea when it is opened.

We bought a few from second hand stores, but so many more were cherished discoveries in a new box of tea tat we then enjoyed together. And, I guess that is what it is about. The memories. Remembering times spent with my mom helps me to relax as much or more than the warm tea and the comfortable clothing after a long day at work.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Assassin's Creed III - no metal case

I went to Gamestop last night to pick up my copy of Assassin's Creed III for the pre-launch party and was disappointed to find out that they did not have the metal case for me. Talking to the clerk when I pre-ordered the game I had thought that, with the early pre-order at Gamestop, I would get an edition in a metal case with limited edition cover art when the game came out.

Last night, picking up the game, I was handed the standard plastic case and inquired about the metal case I had thought my edition was going to come in and was told that I would have had to have requested the metal case when I pre-ordered the game, and would have been given the case THEN, not at game release.

It really disappointed me to find out that I was now MONTHS late to ask for something I had been lead to believe would be given to me with the game on launch night. I then had to drive home in white-out conditions at almost 1 in the morning. Still, I am looking forward to playing Assassin's Creed III, but I really am disappointed that the advertising and clerk had made it seem like I got the metal case at game launch and I have spent the months since ordering it looking excitedly forward to having the nifty metal case. Only to not get one.

It would be enough to make me stop getting games at my local Gamestop if they had not done good by me earlier this month when they gave me the deck of Dishonored Tarot cards that I had been supposed to get for having pre-ordered Dishonored. They had started to not give me the Tarot deck when I went in for the game at the pre-lauch event, but then went ahead and gave me, and everyone else at the pre-launch, a deck of the cards. So, I will let this one slide, since I have no choice, but I am starting to get really unhappy at pre-ordering games for the pre-order bonus only to be told on launch pickup that I do not get the pre-order bonus item I had paid early to get.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Buy Local

As I was working on my post about how many people have birthdays today, I looked up and saw someone walking past the window from the no longer used front drive direction. Curious I answered the door.

Door to door meat salesman.

Okay, so, looking back, it might not have been the smartest move to be following a guy out to the deserted and difficult to see wooded side of the property to see what dead things he has in his old beaten up van with a large sized freezer in the back. I now have lots of horror novel plots going through my mind. But... back to the story at hand.

Two young guys, probably early 20's, driving around in dark jackets and dark beanie caps, in a beater delivery van with a long freezer in the back of it. Yeah, this could go so wrong so easy.

The salesman took over, telling me all about this wonderful free range steak out of Montana. He asked me if I knew what that meant and I nodded that my parents had a place in Washington years ago where there was free range and we had cows from a few different farmers wandering across our property.

But really... free range steak? The USDA only has such standards for poultry.

Mayo Clinic on "free range"

The USDA says --

"FREE RANGE or FREE ROAMING: Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside."

So. How much time do the cows spend outside?

Something else about free range that not many people think about is that on a free range cows eat more than just hay and alfalfa.

Years ago my mom declined free goat milk for all summer from a neighbor and explained to me that the goat was allowed free range, which means it not only ate the oats they gave it as treats and the grass, but the trash and Knapp weed and anything else it could bite into. That, she explained, was why the milk tasted so strange when we tried it. I've looked uneasily at "free range" since.

That does not stop me giving it a try, however, and I was willing to look at what the guys were offering.

Up until he opened the first box and the steaks had freezer burn on them. Well, okay, sales samples. Stored in a van freezer. I was still willing to consider it.

But $600 for a box of steaks that are shipped up here from the lower 48? Free delivery or not, I can make my $5 steak from the local butcher taste just as good as thier more expensive steaks. And I do not eat steak often enough to be paying that much for it.

I wish the two luck, they are out there trying to sell their steaks and I know there are a lot of people out there that are going to say "sign me up!" but... I have better things to spend money on right now than bulk purchases of meat. I'll worry about my home first, then... go buy a nice thick cut NY strip from the locally owned market's butcher shop to grill out on the porch in Mom's old BBQ grill. :-)

Thanks anyway boys!


Update: Okay... add to the unease factor... Dogs start barking a few moments ago and I look out to see who pulled in. It is the guys selling meat door-to-door pulled in the driveway on the other side of the house. They paused just long enough to see no one is home next door and then turned around and headed back out the driveway. Still... timing of the return to just after I posted about them is... should I start writing my horror novel now?

Celebrity Birthdays for October 26th

I was scanning Facebook and realized that there are a LOT of birthdays today!

Keith Urban - Oct 26, 1967

Hillary Rodham Clinton - Oct 26, 1947

Cary Elwes - Oct 26, 1962

Matt Smith shows up in an announcement about the party the Doctor Who production crew threw for him, but his actual birthday is not until Sunday... Oct 28, 1982.

Still, three birthdays on Facebook today? This made me look to see if there were any more lurking in the shadows of a Google search... I found...

Seth MacFarlane - cartoonist - Oct 26, 1973

Dylan McDermott - actor - Oct 26, 1961

Stephen K. Robinson - astronaut - Oct 26, 1955

Pat Sajak - gameshow host - Oct 26, 1946

Jackie Coogan - actor - Oct 26, 1914

Lauren Tewes - actress - Oct 26, 1954

Jaclyn Smith - actress - Oct 26, 1947

Charles Post - Post cereal founder - Oct 26, 1854

Ivan Reitman - director / producer - Oct 26, 1946

Rita Wilson - actress - October 26, 1956

Jon Heder - actor - Oct 26, 1977

Anthony Rapp - stage actor - Oct 26, 1971

Sasha Cohen - Olympic figure skater - Oct 26, 1984

Lots of famous people and a LOT more actors, sports stars and composers and more that I have not mentioned.  Feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Update frustration

I updated one of my websites to a new version of a program that it had on it and the program immediately told me that it could not run the site program because it has to have PHP 5.3.2 and I have PHP 5.2.17 installed on that site. I cannot change the PHP version and am not sure just how to go about contacting someone that can change it for me so... my site is apparently down until I can sort out what is going on and how to get my PHP version updated. So frustrating that I just had to vent about it before I scream.

Whatever Happened to Good Children's Television Shows?

Lately I have been babysitting a two-year-old for a friend and that has got me to watching children's television in the afternoon. It has made me realize that there is a definite lack of good television shows for children preschool age children.

When I was a child I watched The Mickey Mouse Club, Sesame Street and Romper Room. Shows that had me dancing all around the living room and calling out numbers, colors and shapes.

Today's children watch shows like Spongebob Squarepants, Max and Ruby and Dinosaur Train.

I cannot say that I was entirely impressed with the lessons that those shows were teaching.

Spongebob Squarepants has a lot of humor that is much better suited to 12-year-olds than pre-school age children, but it seems to be the show that the two-year-old asks for the most.

Max and Ruby is, at first look, a cute show about a bunny and her little brother bunny and their lives. The episode I watched, however, showed the little brother bunny being devious with shifty eyes as he got tubs of sherbert to take to his bath and proceeded to dump each into the water and make a nasty mess that left him dyed various colors. I'm not sure what lesson the show was thinking to teach children other than it was okay to make messes and dump sherbert into their bath water - again and again.

Dinosaur train seemed to be a good show, but I was not sure about showing a mother dinosaur that freaked out if her children went more than arm's length away and how it was better to let the children climb up onto a high cliff. Not that I think children need to be kept right at a parent's side at all times, but does a child who is the age that the show is made for actually understand the concepts it was teaching? The concepts seemed to be aimed more at the parents of those children than the children. And wouldn't playing in a park on age-level jungle gym toys have been better to show the children than that is is perfectly safe to be climbing a 20' cliff with a sheer drop into the ocean?

Maybe I am turning into an old biddy.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

High Winds in Town Causing Dust

Driving in to work I kept feeling my little car sway back and forth on the road. Now, at the shop, looking out across the parking lot toward the mountains I can see this thick haze of glacial dust kicked up obscuring the bottom half of the mountains out toward Palmer. I can only imagine how thick the dust probably is over in Palmer. I had planned to run over there today, but with these winds I think I will put that off until Monday, or until I have a Mars space suit that would let me survive in that micro-fine dust blowing out off the glaciers.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Long week ending in stressed weekend waiting

This past week has been a bit insane, but I have finally made it through it... now for the stress of waiting for what comes next. I am not sure what will happen, but it is out of my hands for the moment and all I can do is wait for Monday when I can do things once again and hope for the best in everything that is currently going on in my life. It's a lot, and I'd really love to share some of what all is going on, just to get it out there, but I'm still too private of a person to just chatter about what is going on in my private life where the world can see it. I can say that it is about my efforts to save my house, and I am hoping it is a good step toward repair of the damage to my ability to purchase the house that the banks have done since I started trying to save the place from a reverse mortgage. Wish me luck people, I'm pretty sure this is the last stand at the Alamo I am entering here. :-/