Featured Quote

In 1913, Henry Ford wrote the following as the directors had been reaping the rewards of profits - "The wages we pay are too small in comparison with our profits. I think we should raise our minimum pay rate".

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Leaves and Lives

I burst forth into life, clinging to the limb high in a tree.
I grew, gaining life and giving life
doing my part.
I held on to the limb through high winds
through blazing heat, ups and downs
Over time I grew tired.
My green faded.
I learned to let go.
I became a leaf on the wind.
Spiraling down, soaring up
wherever the breeze pushed me.
I slowly descended, wondering
what would I find below?
I settled onto the river,
dancing on the water as it babbled,
flowed, eddied, crashed and rushed.
I learned to go with the flow,
going where fate may take me,
overcoming the rocks in the river.
Dancing ever slower.
I realize I am sinking into the water.
The water pulls me down even as it
fills me up.
I shall go under, settle and decay.
My wish is that I have become rich enough
in my life
That the leaves of the trees downstream
will be a little more green,
live a little bit longer, their trees stronger,
because I lived before them.

- today's motorcycle meditation

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Yeah, I don't like being required to listen to Prayers

So, this has been a while coming.  Recent Facebook conversations have got me thinking about why I feel offended by being required to listen to, if not participate in, Christian prayer in order to attend just about any supposedly public event.
I've been thinking - because an un-examined position is not a good one - about my reactions.  Not even sure this is a good idea... but...

What offends me?  The repeated idea that Their way is the only way.  That people are powerless, needing to be possessed by some foreign spirit to even be able to walk - or do anything, win a sports competition, get over grief, make more money, etc.  That a loving, all powerful deity is also a petty, vengeful one - kind of like an abusive boyfriend that will kill you if you don't love them back.  That it is better to believe - or go through the motions of really believing - just in case it is true that this loving deity will send you off to be tortured for eternity if you don't.  That people are basically cruel, evil beings in need of saving from themselves.  That a lot of the same people Praying in public are 'sinning' - often in very nasty, harmful ways - in private.  That a lot of people Praying for peace, love and understanding in public are also racist, hateful, mean spirited people - mostly in private, but even in public.  Hypocrisy in general.  I won't get into the anti-science and 'bible-based' bigotry.

I understand - from a first hand point of view - that if you seriously believe it, that you see wanting other people to believe as you do is the kind thing to do.  I know it may be comforting to think some omnipotent, benevolent God is really paying attention to everything all the time - even you and your quest for a parking space.  I know how hard it is to have that Faith stripped from you.  Its not something I would wish on anyone. 

So, I don't go around trying to convince Christians of what I know to be true.  I don't try to force anyone to change their religion or open themselves to spiritual possession.  I don't require anyone to meditate, take a shamanic journey, make offerings to Cernunnos​ or anything else to participate in any event or gathering. 

Is a little reciprocal consideration too much to ask?

I don't 'cleverly' give people copies of "Conversations with God" or "Illusions."   I don't invite people to a free dinner - without telling them it requires sitting through a presentation of The Secret before or during eating.  I don't go around suggesting everyone get into Healing through Shamanism.

(Feel free to click the links and buy some books or videos if you are interested.)

What do I believe? I answered that a while back on another blog (click to read).  The post before that one is good too.  So, not getting into that here.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Vista Print Yard Sign Tutorial

How to make a Vista Print Yard sign

Step one - go to Vista Print's Yard Sign page (Click Here)
  "Browse our Designs" is already selected.

Step two - pick a size by selecting the circle next to 'small' or 'large'
  Click Continue.

Step three - Select design.  I selected the "Phone / Other * Company Name * company message" design with the blue frame for this tutorial.

Step four - fill in the text you want :
    Click Next.

Step five - Click Edit on the 'other back side options'
  It should show the same design for the back.  Click Next.

Step six - Check the box beside 'I have reviewed and approve my design' and then click Next.

Step seven - You can sign in, create an account or click "Continue as Guest"

Step eight - Select your quantity - whatever you can afford or are willing to spend.

  Click Continue.

Step nine - Click the circle beside the free stand (or not, up to you.)

Step ten - Click "Go to Cart" to skip the offers for more stuff to buy.

Step eleven - Review the cart and click Check Out and pay.  The sign should be on the way!

I will be offering a custom design a little bit later.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Confederate Flag

I grew up seeing the Southern Cross confederate flag (a stretch of one of many confederate flags) as a symbol of Southern Pride, doing the right thing, having a little fun - and the Dukes of Hazzard kind of good ole boys - never meaning no harm.  For me, and many poor white folk in the south, it did not mean racism.  It meant having a little pride when there was not much to be proud of.  "We may have been beat, but we're not beaten."  A symbol of "when you get knocked down, stand right back up!"

Now, I realize that all the talk about the Civil War was fought over State's Rights and Taxes and other stuff is, although founded in some actual issues of the time, just not really the case.  Slavery was the cause for the Southern states.
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun." - from A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.
 That reality was, and is, hard to come to terms with.  It goes against what I believed growing up, what I was told and taught.

The same with the Confederate Flag - the Southern Cross flag, which is a stretched out version of the battle flag of Virginia. We didn't see it as meaning what it does to so many.  Coming to terms with the fact that it DOES represent Hate, Racism and Terror for a very large number of people was difficult.  It is used by the KKK - a white christian hate group.  It was created for that exact reason - to instill terror in people of color.  For many people, it brings up images of burning crosses in yards, white hoods with weapons in hand, nooses, lynchings.  The Southern Cross flag is to people of color what the Swastika is to the Jewish people.  They are often waved together!

Knowing what it means to people of color, I can no longer imagine that it is anything but a symbol of terror.  It has been hard losing what I thought it was... what it meant to me.  But I could no more fly or defend the Southern Cross any more than I could fly or defend the Nazi flag.

Getting other people who grew up like I did to see that, to realize the facts and to support removing the flag from state flags and stop flying it or wearing it - that is going to be hard.  You have to realize that for many of them it really does not represent slavery and hate.  It represents at least a little something to be proud of, resilience, heritage, not being held down - hope.  Destroying the symbols of people's childhoods doesn't make for a good basis for building relationships.

It is hard to realize that when you fly the Southern Cross flag, you are, even inadvertently, supporting things like this:

On the other side, it is important to realize that the Confederate Flag does represent Heritage and Southern Pride to a lot of people who are not racist.  If you are looking to change hearts and minds, then desecrating memorials and graves is not the way to go about it.  It would be better to help people realize what the flag means to those who have been terrorized by people waving it.  Help people realize that just because they think of it one way, doesn't mean that other people see it the same way - and that sometimes it is worth giving up a symbol in order to not cause distress to others.

There are good people who really do not realize what the flag symbolizes for people of color.  Losing a beloved reminder of their childhood, a piece of their pride, an image of resilience, is not going to be easy.

It can't be about what race has to be humble and apologize for past behavior.  It has to be about coming to terms with the past, coming to an understanding of how things are and working together to move forward.

... on "how things are"... It doesn't take much to see that harsh laws are applied differently to black people than they are to white people.  The question is how to stop it!  From the obscene treatment of the Scott Sisters to the unequal application of Stand Your Ground, the ... the bullshit is systemic. Poor white people are often victims of our blatantly corrupt legal system, but not as often or too the same degree.

When we come to the realization that our we are not actually that different, that "Race" is propaganda, segregating ourselves based on the color of our skin is just plain silly and start to join together against the injustices that harm us all - that is when we start to make a difference.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On Poverty

WARNING: Very disjointed post.  Inspired by a meme featuring a quote from Bernie Sanders about poverty and comments from facebook.

One reply to this was : "Three solutions. Finish school. Wait until you're married to have kids. Get a job, any job. Problem solved."

Of course, many people don't have access to the education they need to realize that there are options other than the living situation in which they are growing up. With conservatives refusing sex education, the 'wait till married' is not working out. And 'get a job' is not as easy as it sounds, even with school. 'Any job' will also not solve the problem of child poverty and hunger.

I firmly believe we need to invest in education - especially in lower-income, poverty-ridden areas - and have classes dedicated to teaching kids how to be productive members of society. If you think those are things to learn from the parents, then you are a very privileged. Those are things that privileged kids learn from their parents and are things that many kids never have access to. From getting and keeping a job to how to manage finances, credit, etc. That there are options to working at wal-mart or getting a job at the factory and living in a trailer for the rest of your life. How can a parent teach things the parent does not know?

I know it is hard for the privileged to realize that not everyone has the opportunity and education they did. That 'motivated and willing' are not always enough to overcome a bad situation. For many, many people growing up in generations of poverty, we are going to have to teach them that there is another way of life that they can have access to, because otherwise, they will always think that the way they are living is 'just the way things are.'

I have began to see that many people have little to no will (not sure if that is the proper term) of their own. They go wherever they feel expected to go, do whatever they are expected to do or told to do. That is the norm. That is why occupation names became surnames. The baker's kids became bakers, so the family became The Bakers. Taylor, Shoemaker, LeForge, Parker, Cook, Smith, Farmer - just a few more examples of Family Occupation surnames.
That is why the children of poor people tend to remain poor. The information and knowledge that there is another option is not often made available. Even when it is, the confidence and drive is often overwhelmed by their situation long before it can be utilized. Add to that the weight of hunger, hopelessness and desperation, most people are crushed before they have a chance to achieve more. Upward mobility is harder that ever. The poor parents don't have the contacts to get their kids special treatment that more connected parents often do. Many don't even know what opportunities exist nor how to get access to them. If they parents don't know, how can the kids ever know?

Another problem comes in when bad people learned to take advantage of people's lack of self awareness and willpower. Advertising. You see something enough times, some people are convinced despite all evidence to the contrary. (see the effects of Fox News)

The best thing we can do to help people not be dependent on welfare is to provide adequate Education, Food, Housing, Transportation and Training - and awareness that options are available. In conjunction with reigning in rampant profiteering, wage inequality and corporate malfeasance (like not paying living wages, overcompensating executives, tax evasion, etc.), we could have a very healthy economy.

Extreme Conservatives want to throw everyone to the wolves and create some Beyond Thunderdome world where the rich and powerful rule by force. Conservatives refuse to educate anyone whose family doesn't already have a lot of money. Extreme Liberals want to give handouts to everyone who shows a need. Republicans want to shred the constitution and create an Theocratic Oligarchy in it's place, Democrats seem to want to be Republican Lite.

I just want Freedom and Justice for All. A big part of that is Freedom of Information - which to me means education, awareness of options and opportunity.

We should require money management courses for all those on welfare, those who file bankruptcy and those on unemployment. If you get state-funded support, you get the training to help you not need it. For those on welfare, they should also get life lesson courses - rich dad, poor dad kind of things and basic life skills - how to get along in the workplace, how to find a job, how to find training, how to get access to training, how to make contacts and nurture business relationships. Many people never get that kind of information.

I wish I had the money and contacts to start a training program....

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Freedom of Speech - You apparently don't understand it.

The First Amendment is often cited.  Most often, it is used improperly.  I am going to make an effort to explain what the First Amendment means when it talks about Free Speech.

First off, the "Freedom of Speech" is not absolute.  It does not give you the right to say anything you want, any time you want, any where you want.  It does not protect you from the non-governmental consequences of your speech.

The right of Free Speech does not mean that you can say "Bless You" in the middle of class during school hours.  It surely does not mean that you can then proceed to start an argument with your teacher in the middle of class and suffer no repercussions.

The only thing that the right to free speech affords you is that the government can not arrest you for simply saying something.  Teachers can tell you not to talk in class unless called upon - including not saying "Bless You" when someone sneezes.  Rules of the class.  Police can open an investigation on you for saying something like "I want to kill the president" or "My heroin supplier was late, so I shot him and took all his stash."  You can be arrested for shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater or bar - if anyone hears you and a stamped occurs because you scared everyone - and fined for damages.

People are completely free to stop buying your products or shopping at your store because of anything you said that they didn't like.  Your employer may fire you for saying bad things about the company.

Your right to free speech has other limits as well. You can't claim free speech when standing outside a classroom yelling the script to Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail.  You are free to speak that somewhere else, like a public park.  However, if you start doing that in a grocery store, they are totally free to kick you out.

Your right to Speak Freely is only protected from excessive suppression and obstruction by the Government.  Freedom of Speech does not protect you from the social and civil consequences of what you have said.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Visual Studio Project Disappeared!

I worked on a Visual Studio 2012 project pretty much all day yesterday.  It was a Visual Basic .Net project.
I saved frequently.  I debugged.  I ran the project.

Overnight, windows updates (I am assuming) rebooted the system and, this morning - no more project. Gone.  Nowhere (normal) to be seen.  Apparently, I did not "save all" or save the project itself.  So all that work and testing disappeared.

I googled.  Nothing I found turned out to be helpful or if it seemed helpful, turned out to be untrue.  I panicked!  All that work gone - I saved!!!  What the Funk!?!?!

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/zainnab/archive/2010/06/30/autorecover-vstipenv0019.aspx <-- No help.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh848072(v=vs.85).aspx <-- No help.
https://www.piriform.com/recuva/download <-- No help.
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/saraford/archive/2008/02/14/did-you-know-where-visual-studio-saves-auto-recovered-files-in-the-case-of-an-unexpected-shutdown-151.aspx <-- No help!!

"C:\Users\MyUserID\Documents\Visual Studio 2012\Backup Files"  had MyProject folder.  It was empty.

I cursed and searched, and cursed and searched... and then I found it:

"\\localhost\c$\Users\MyUserID\AppData\Local\Temporary Projects\MyProject" - it was all there!

I copied the folder to my documents.  Then I copied the folder to my visual basic projects folder and opened the solution file.  It is all there!  Whew!

Why the \\localhost\c$ ?  Well, I am on windows 8.1 and the "Previous Versions" tab is gone from File Explorer, but you can get to it using UNC to your own machine.  Silly, I know.

I hope this helps someone else find their hard work that a stupid thing from Microsoft caused them to loose.