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moved to Dreamwidth p.s.

edit: It looks like foeclan created the Livejournal feed to my new blog:
http://mellowtigger-dw.livejournal.com/

While settling in to Dreamwidth, I've noticed the obvious split in people's profiles between Dreamwidth-native accounts and Livejournal-openid accounts. There is a straightforward way for Livejournal purists to participate in the Dreamwidth community:

1) Post there using openID with your existing Livejournal account.
2) Read here using RSS feeds from content that's anywhere, including Dreamwidth.

When you find a Dreamwidth blog to follow, just add "data/rss" to the end of their url, then you can see their posts here in Livejournal using the above instructions.  I used that method to watch non-Livejournal entries while I was still here.

I've been unFriending accounts on Livejournal as I add their equivalents on Dreamwidth.  Many Dreamwidth users are cross-posting to both sites, and I'm trying to avoid the double-reading since currently I still follow writers on both sites. 

Oh, and you should know ahead of time: Dreamwidth does not host photographs yet.  They intend to do so in the future.  That's an important feature that is currently missing.

moved to Dreamwidth

Yes, I have finally ported this journal to Dreamwidth.  Please check there for any new posts.
http://mellowtigger.dreamwidth.org/

I've had the account at Dreamwidth for more than a year, but I finally decided to jump to the new blog.  I appreciate my years at Livejournal.  Last year, I purchased a Livejournal t-shirt.  Tonight, I purchased another year of Livejournal subscription as a parting donation to wish the site a good future.

A recent post at Dreamwidth offers a very good explanation of this month's Livejournal problems and why it's a nice idea to continue supporting the site and its vibrant Russian community.  Good things still happen here, even though I noticed a very dramatic decrease of activity as Facebook increased in popularity.  Still, though, I see that the site owners intend to follow a path of development that is too much like Facebook to hold my interest.  I think that Dreamwidth will be more dedicated to the style of online posts that I enjoy.

For anyone else considering the move, Dreamwidth offers some very nice import features to transport your entire journal.  It brings thumbnail icons, main posts, and comments too.  Livejournal has had to scale back bandwidth on batch processes because of the recent DDOS attacks, so it took almost 2 days to bring my entire journal to the new site.  It doesn't bring photographs, so links still point to Livejournal photo albums.  Word of warning: don't import the Friends list.  I did at first, and then I noticed the huge number of stale accounts that came with that old data.  My suggestion is to start fresh.

I made my first Livejournal post on 2007 January 29.  It's been an interesting 4+ years.

threshing wild oats

What an unusual dream this morning.  Time was wonky and fast-forwarded through several pieces that would be important to a consistent story.  There's no helping that flaw to this recollection.

I was attracted to this man.  His car was having problems with overheating.  We were traveling back to our home cities in some sort of caravan.  During some stopover point, we ended up on a "make out hill" at dusk where lots of cars were parked under the sky. I ended up at his car (still overheating badly) and we chatted while it cooled down.  We eventually kissed.

Now we're at a different hillside, just the two of us in daytime.  I don't quite remember sex any more, so maybe that's why the dream skipped that significant part of the story.  *laugh*  His car had overheated so much that pipes were glowing (very unrealistically) white hot.  I'm pouring water over them trying to cool them down while he goes off into the meadow.  I'm having some success cooling down the car engine, when he comes back with an armful of oat stalks.  I know what they look like because I've grown them in my garden before.  He sits down cross-legged and starts thrashing them on the ground to pick up the seeds and eat them one by one.  I'm watching him and remembering that I find back-to-nature simplicity quite attractive.

End-of-dream as the kitten starts annoying the older cat, and their scuffle wakes me up.  I eventually crawl out of bed to wander online.  I find an email waiting for me that announces a $1000 sweepstakes event at http://www.homefarming.com/ where I apparently already have an account.  I'd forgotten all about it.  I log in, though, and submit my entry for today.  I now have a chance at $1000 to help build my "Ultimate Home Farm", as the contest says.  Honestly, $1000 doesn't go very far at all, but I suppose every little bit helps.

I guess I'll have to plant some oats this year, eh?  I only have rice and corn (in my "grain" category) planted indoors so far.  It's still not quite warm enough to plan any new seeds outdoors.  The ground hasn't fully thawed yet.

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bladder control

I thought that T'Reese was peeing in my bed because the fluffy sheets were a lot more comfortable than that new crystal litter that I've started using.  I like the crystals because they don't track nearly as bad as regular litter.

Tonight is the first time, though, that the bed got wet while I was using it.  It's wet in the spot where she usually sleeps near my legs, so I don't think it was the kitten.  I hope T'Reese isn't losing bladder control.  She's about 13 years old, though, so I guess it wouldn't surprise me too much if she is.

Tonight's sleep was cut short so I could get up and put the sheet and blanket in the washer.  Again.  The 25-year-old blanket was already threadbare, but the recent spate of cat pee washings are taking the last threads out of it.  I'll probably need a new blanket before the next winter season arrives.

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Robin Hood

wealth in America 2010Suppose that you're a government looking to fund your daily operations.  Divide the population in half based on their individual wealth.  One half holds 97.5% of the nation's wealth, while the other half holds 2.5% of the nation's wealth.  Where do you look for your money?  The details of wealth distribution in America from some politically biased groups are all rather disturbing.  The same trend emerges, however, when relying on more traditional sources like university professors of sociology in state universities or even Jesuit colleges.

Several years ago, I told some locals that the only important "Reality Television" show worth making would be a Robin Hood production in which someone films their group stealing from the rich to give to the poor.  There might be problems finding a network to broadcast such illegalities, but I'm sure it could easily go viral as an online distribution.  Can you imagine the ratings if somebody started stealing from executives at banks and oil companies?

Robin Hood tax

I'm happy to report that the Robin Hood tax is an actual idea in the UK.  It's not as promising as it sounds (a socialist direct transfer of wealth), so it's a misleading use of the "Robin Hood" name.  It's more of a band-aid solution, but at least it directs tax collection efforts at the appropriate sources.  It's a tax of a very small amount (1/20th of 1%) on the value of financial transactions such as stock purchases.  A really nice idea, I think, even if it doesn't address the underlying problems in the economy and society.

The "financial transaction tax" idea has been discussed (and promptly hushed) in America, because somebody keeps telling us that it's morally wrong to tax the rich or the banks or the corporations or the churches.  America is supposed to protect the interests of the incorporated bodies, you see, not the biological ones.

Today's lesson:  Never let me near Microsoft Paint, or I'll make an awful and not-quite-accurate graphic.

economic survival

self-sufficient in 2010I've wondered for a few years why the federal government continues to use a standard that seems increasingly out of touch with reality. If the federal poverty level (FPL) guidelines were realistic, then states wouldn't need to include multipliers (1.5x FPL, 1.75x FPL, etc.) in order to determine eligibility for various kinds of assistance.

Someone has finally published their own study of what it takes to be "self-sufficient" in today's economy. That's what FPL should mean, but it doesn't any more. I'm unfamiliar with the organization that published the report, but a brief look at their final numbers doesn't reveal to me anything unreasonable. Here's the address of the report: http://www.wowonline.org/documents/BESTIndexforTheUnitedStates2010.pdf

The New York Times seems to agree, as they published their own article about the study, including the image shown on the right.  They quote a vice president from a food bank in New York as estimating that 1/3 of their customers are working but just not earning enough wages to get by.  I tend to agree.  I earned $20,415 in wages during 2010.  (I know only because I filled out my tax forms recently.)  That puts me halfway between FPL and "self-sufficiency".

Like many Americans, I make it from day to day simply by removing frivolous expenditures like health care, savings, and college classes.  (Economic trouble?  What economic trouble?  I don't see any economic trouble.)  I could do better in the financial sense by working more hours, and I have been working 40 hours each week during the last 4 months.  I know from experience ("pre-autism-diagnosis years"), however, that the cost to my mental health outweighs any calculated benefits.  My long term survival odds improve somewhere in the 20-to-32 hours per week range.

correction

I edited yesterday's post to make a correction. The guy who saw the graffiti version of the Wells Fargo ad took a photograph of it and sent it to me. The ad was on the bus stop bench, not the bus as I originally wrote.

There's a link to the photograph in the article now, if you'd like to watch.

It amuses me.

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We're each responsible for the world that we help to create by our action and inaction.  That's why I used the phrase "customer accountability" in the title of today's post.  The customer ultimately shares some responsibility for what their supplier does.  A market requires both suppliers and consumers.  I absolutely distrust government to hold corporations accountable for their behavior, so only customers can do it.  We should still insist that government try to do it, but we should not rely solely on their assurances.

I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to to George Logan, 1816 November 12

1) Wells Fargo (bad).  While driving around Minneapolis today, my passenger noticed an advertisement on the bus stop bench.  It was a Wells Fargo bank sign with a simple slogan on it: "The bank that travels with you".  An industrious vigilante had altered the sign to show a different opinion of Wells Fargo: "The bank that fucks with you".  (Photo behind the link as a courtesy for those reading while at work.  He sent it to me on Monday.)  I was dissatisfied with their corporate responsibility in the latest economic downturn, so I moved my money last year.  I encourage others to put their money where their morality is.  Withhold money from businesses that misuse their collected influence, and give money to business that behave more responsibly.  I expect you to create your own definition for "responsible", of course, and learn to rate businesses by your own standards.

2) Verizon (good).  I lost my cell phone about a year ago.  In hunting for a replacement so that my resume would have a working phone number on it, I went to the Verizon store (where I previously had my phone account) to get a replacement cell phone.  I went first to a small mall kiosk and later to a large Verizon storefront.  Employees at both locations recommended that I NOT purchase their own low-end phone.  They both recommended that I go to a different store to get the exact same model of phone for about 1/3 of their price.  Wow, that's some customer-oriented focus there.  I approve.  They suggested places like Best Buy and Wal-Mart.  I disapprove of those stores, so I went to K-Mart and bought my cell phone there instead.  I renewed my pre-paid phone plan with Verizon.  I was happy to give Verizon my business in reward for their customer-focused sales staff.  I hope that other cell phone users will consider switching to Verizon after hearing of my good experience with them.  Even in this tough economy, they consistently helped me to conserve my money.

3) Target (bad).  I have remained vigilant in my avoidance of Target and Best Buy.  I continue to boycott them for their harmful action in funding bigots for political office while they pursue their own interest in corporate profits.  I have not spent a single penny at the local Target (which is the nearest department store to where I live) since my boycott began.  There is a Facebook group ("Money I Would Have Spent At Target") in which people post about the money they spent at other stores instead of Target.  Unfortunately, I can't find a non-Facebook way to participate.  So here I am posting my cash register receipt from K-Mart where I bought my cell phone plus rechargeable batteries, shampoo, and some other items.

KMart store 3031
Total: $57.96
Receipt#: 03031 031211 004 42076

4) Bioware (good).  Rarely do you see corporate representatives publicly put bigots in their place.  A new pc game "Dragon Age 2" recently arrived on the market, and your game character can form a romantic relationship with any other character, regardless of gender.  A Bioware forum post appeared from a disgruntled heterosexual male, and a Bioware employee responded admirably.  I hadn't intended to purchase this game, but I've already reconsidered.  It is now on my "to do" list.  You really ought to read the full post, but here's a small selection:

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as "political correctness" if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They're so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don't see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what's everyone's fuss all about? That's the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.
- Bioware forum, http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/304/index/6661775&lf=8

I encourage individuals to hold corporations accountable for their actions, because their behavior is enabled by their customers... which includes you.  Reward (spend) or punish (withhold) until they collectively learn how to behave as mutually beneficial participants in our shared economy.

US$251 poorer

I just paid my taxes electronically.  I didn't understand most of it and just clicked through the defaults on everything.  (No, I didn't pay alimony in 2010.  No, I didn't pay to have my livestock tested for something-or-other-disease.  No, I didn't participate in any complicated government fund where I pay money ahead of time and withdraw within limits for yadda, yadda, yadda.)

In addition to what's taken out of my paycheck throughout the year, I paid another $156 to the U.S. government, another $75 to the Minnesota state government, and $20 to TurboTax for filing all of my forms electronically to keep me from having to figure out addresses and stamps at a post office open at inconvenient times.

As long as it keeps bureaucrats away from me for another year, I suppose it's money well spent.

I half-remember a Republican who campaigned several years ago on the promise to make tax calculation forms fit on a postcard.  I wish.

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yes, we have weather

In the last 48 hours, we've had:

fog, rain, thunderstorm, sun, sleet, ice, snow

That's quite a range of weather.  For the last week or so, it's been quite warm for us.  We've had above-freezing weather in both daytime and nighttime.  Most of the snow has melted, and I could see bare ground in most places.  You can notice the difference in the snow pile between this morning (left, Mar 23rd) and last month (right, Feb 21st).

snow 2011 March 23snow 2011 February 21

We had some more snow last night, but not nearly as much as expected.  When I went to bed, the weather.com webpage warned of up to 8 inches tonight and today.  We obviously haven't received that much.  Still, though, I'm pretty sure Winter 2010-2011 is in the Top 10 list for most precipitation during winters in Minnesota recorded history.

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Terry, The Mellow Tigger
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