Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Libertarian Bard

So I finally made it back to Ruta Maya's this past tuesdays for the poetry night. I have been there a couple of times over the past year. I shared The NeverWar with them last spring when I first wrote it.

This time I decided to be real brave and share one I call "Fish for Sale." Keep in mind I do not claim to be that great of a poet but what I may lack in my wordsmithishness I make up for in passion. Which probably makes me a little shrill... oh well.

In any case I spent about an hour trying to decide whether to share my fish poem. I finally decided in favor of it. The reason it was a challenge was due to the fact that it is intentionally confrontational and critical of the left's take on sweat shops and human prosperity in general.

I'll give you an example. My favorite line from the poem is "We will think globally of your poor starving village, while we shop locally from our not-starving-american neighbors."

Ruta Maya's tends to be a hang out for very leftish persons. The "think globally, shop locally" bumper sticker is a pretty common sight in their parking lot. In any case my mind was contemplating the possibility of being booed off the stage and thus my reluctance.

What got me up was the fact that the host said that their was only one poet left. So we were about to stop like an hour early. I hate it when they do that. I am their to hear poetry and when they end at 8pm well it kinda sucks I think. So I ran up and put my name on the list.

My thought was this: maybe their will be one libertarian in the audience, and maybe that one guy will appreciate my poem and know that he ain't the only non-lefty in the house. So I went for it.

Afterwards I got quite a bit of cheering from the audience including some from a few persons I know to be left-leaning. I also had one libertarian guy come up and tell me that it took a lot of nerve to say "bring on the wal-mart" to that audience. That was really cool.

On top of that once I signed up another handful of people were inspired to sign up including one guy who had never been behind a mic before, and one guy who apparently felt the need to clear out my libertarian mojo with a anti-development "do we really need another stripmall" poem of his own.

So poetry night got filled up all the way to 9pm and there was a lot of good stuff that came later. So it was really cool.

Now I have in my brain plans for a "yes we really do need another stripmall poem." An "anti-global warming poem." A poem inspired by a certain famous document... and last but not least an Iran poem.

Yeah happy fun.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Updates about me

I am now a married woman. Woo Hoo! if you search my name "rainbough" at photobucket.com you will find my wedding albums, and can see pics of me getting married in a cave in my red dress.

Also I am back at massage heights although a different location, and I am shocked to discover I actually enjoy working there. Given how vehmently I hated the last massage heights this has come as a pleasant surprise. Of course the money isn't great but the tips are good.

BilLee has left home depot and as a result is currently in the process of fielding calls from many prospective employers. He really wants something that will be a great fit for him. That he will enjoy, will be good pay, and that he can stick with for a long time.

The down side of this is that our house hunt is on hold once again and there are an awful lot of prospective employers knocking at the door (i.e. phone). Its been frustrating when we finally find one we think will be great, go through the interview process, and then discover that he didn't get the job. This has happened twice now.

In other news we recently got a DBA in williamson county for our massage/yoga business. BilLee is continuing his training to become a yoga instructor and soon we hope to combine our talents in our own yoga and massage studio.

I am nervous about starting out on my own. It can be rough to put yourself out there and actually ask people for business. I am not sure how well I will fare at it, but I think it is very worthwhile to gain the experience of doing so even if it turns out I am not especially good at it.

I am going to break up my updates into multiple posts. Part 2 coming soon.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Great Moronic RIAA

Recording industry goes after personal use:

The Howell case was not the first time the industry has argued that making a personal copy from a legally purchased CD is illegal. At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,' " she said.

My opinion of the RIAA: HA HA HA HA....

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Hampshire Civil Unions

New Hampshire Legalizes same sex marriages.

New Hampshire is the fourth state to permit civil unions, but the first to do it without a court decision or the threat of one. New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed the law on May, which grants same-sex couples the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married male-female couples, but it does not call the union a marriage.

Yea New Hampshire! But on a more serious note why does it matter so much what we do and do not call a gay marriage?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy '08

In celebration of the new year I had to be the geek that called my siblings on the east coast to ask them what year it was at 11:45pm central time. When I told my twin that I was calling from last year he says, "you can't call from last year... you can only call from now." Or something to that effect I don't remember the exact wording.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Expensive Unfinished Roads

Austin now has toll roads, and they are horrible. I hate them.

I do not have a problem with the idea of paying a toll to use a road. It actually makes pretty good financial sense if it is taking you to a job and can get you there significantly quicker, well why not?

Oh yeah one other problem -I do not think the government has any business making people pay tolls who paid for the roads to begin with. In Austin the big complaint was the idea of people getting "double taxed."

Basically we are paying for the construction and maintenance of these roads with gasoline taxes, but then to use the road you have to give them additional money. What this does in effect is, it keeps most of the people off the toll roads who actually paid for them to be built.

Meanwhile we are not really being "double taxed" actually we are at the very least being "triple taxed," and very likely quadruple taxed or more. That is because the toll road builders are getting their money from multiple sources including state level funds (this is presumably from the gasoline taxes), and county level funds (these would come from sales tax's funding bonds on the county level).

Now its also possible they are getting funds county level from ad valorem and property taxes. I doubt at least the property taxes part given how highly contested school money is these days, but I know at least the money is coming from multiple places in the county budgets which likely means multiple sources of funding.

What that means for us is that we pay for these roads every time we pay that extra 3 percent of sales tax. So if you buy gas anywhere in Texas you are paying for roads that the state will not let you drive on without you forking out additional funds, meanwhile if you buy any product in travis or williamson county Texas you are helping to pay for roads that the state will not let you drive on without demanding additional funds from you.

All of this would be actually tolerable if the roads were well designed and/or well priced. They are not. You might be thinking well if I need to get somewhere I will just stay on the frontage road, that way I won't have to pay the toll I will just have to put up with all the stop lights.

To combat this problem the frontage roads of the toll roads were designed to end at fairly random places, and then immediately start again. In application that means you are driving along and you have the option of either getting on the toll road or turning down a nearby road that will take you in different direction from where you were traveling.

Last night I found myself accidentally on the frontage of a toll road -it shunted me down a neighborhood road that was in the opposite direction of the direction I had been trying to travel to begin with. Meanwhile the roads have already opened in spite of the fact that they are unfinished. So if you actually get on them you find yourself forking out a 1.50 to stay on a road that ends a mile down the road.

Austin's toll roads have intentionally confusing signs, and intentionally confusing frontage roads. One day I was driving home from my fiance's sister's house. She lives off of the same road that we do. But a section of that road has been turned into a toll road, then the toll road splits from it and goes off in a different direction.

So I am trying to get home which used to be just a straight drive down 620 from her road to mine. Not today, I attempt to go home down 620 and I get to these signs that say toll45 with a right arrow. Well I do not want to get on the toll road so I try to turn the other way thinking I will find some part of the frontage road to get on that will skirt the toll section.

That isn't what happened, turning the other way put me on the same toll road going the opposite direction of my home with no option of getting back off. The frontage actually forced you onto the toll road. Well luckily this part of the toll road wasn't charging this particular night so I didn't have to pay anything but I am trying to find an exit so I can turn around.

The next exit I come across is the mopac exit. Once again all I want to do is exit so I can loop around and come back the other direction. So I get off on the next exit. What happens? The next exit is another toll road or rather a section of a road that was extended and then tolled. The rest of mopac is not a toll road.

So does getting on mopac give me any option of exiting the toll system? No. It immediately puts me on the toll part of mopac and then brings me to a toll plaza where they demand money from me. The whole mile or so I am on this road I am looking for a way to exit or turn around but there is none.

All you can do is go to the toll plaza where an actual person is waiting this time wanting 75 cents. Immediately afterward there is an exit (surprise!). So I get off on that exit. Then I notice a sign saying parmer lane next exit. Well I live near parmer lane so I figured I should drive down the frontage to parmer and then head back to my neck of the woods.

Does this happen? Sort of. It turns out completely unbeknownst to me that the left two lanes of the frontage shunted you back onto toll road. Well I didn't know this probably on account of the fact that it was dark and there were no signs to be seen indicating such. At least not in the little stretch of frontage I was on.

So by the time I realize I am headed back to a toll station wanting my money there is once again no way to turn around. There goes another 75 cents. So finally I get to parmer and start my 20 minute drive home. Oh and by the way my fiance's sister lives all of about 10 minutes away from us. In fact it used to be about a 5 minute drive before they stuck in the toll road. Now we have to get on a narrow one-lane frontage road, and sit at a long stop light we did not used to have to sit at. Why?

Oh thats because otherwise we would have to get on the toll road and pay 75 cents to get off on the very next exit which is maybe a mile from the entrance of the toll road. In other words they converted a section of 620 into toll road. In order to use that very short section of road that would bypass the one-lane high traffic frontage (that also did not used to be that narrow) we have to pay 75 cents. Oh and by the way before it was voted to turn this into a toll road, and before the rest of the toll road was built this section of 620 had already been improved to bypass that stop light and there was no additional fee for using it.

So now instead of decreasing the time of our trip it has effectively doubled it.

As it turns out the sign that had said "toll road this way" that had originally caused the confusion failed to mention that you also had to turn that way to keep going down 620 in that direction.

So $1.50 and about 45 minutes of my life were wasted because of the intentional shittiness of the toll road signs and frontage roads. But of course they have every reason to make the roads confusing and force people to get on them who innocently turned the wrong way or missed the exit they were supposed to get off on, or perhaps who are just confused about how the frontage roads were designed and what lane they were supposed to be in.

That way they can make money off of people who get lost or confused by their signage. Meanwhile this particular toll system is designed to charge you according to how many miles you use. What does that mean in application? Well unlike traditional toll roads that charge you at your entrance to the road this one charges you at multiple points.

They have "toll plazas" placed every few miles down the road. Then they have tolls at some entrances and some exits. What this means in application is that to drive down the toll road without their little textag you have to stop and pay the toll to get on, stop and dig out change to pay the toll when you come across a toll plaza, and then stop and pay a toll when you get off. Of course approaching toll plazas, frontage roads and exits tend to disappear so that you cannot avoid having to stop at the plaza.

Part of why this is so ridiculous is because most of these toll roads aren't but about 4 to 5 miles long. In theory you are supposed to get charged something like 18 cents per mile, but the toll plaza's charge people the same amount regardless of where they got on.

I have personally been charged $1.50 to drive approximately two miles of toll road. Why? Because I got on where the frontage road ended, and the frontage road ended about a half mile before the toll plaza. Meanwhile the toll road ended about a mile beyond the plaza. So including the ramp I might have gone two miles on that road. 75 cents per mile.

Also there are little segments of the toll road that only allow people to use them who have a textag. The txtag though free right now is going to start carrying a charge. A 9.95 activation fee or some nonsense. So to use the exclusive txtag sections of road its going to cost you ten bucks plus the toll.

With a txtag they set up an account and then charge you every time you pass through one of their toll stations. The toll stations are all designed to be incredibly inconvenient unless you have a txtag. In fact that is the point of having the exclusive areas. The exclusive areas force all the other motorists off the road, or risk getting ticketed and fined.

They take a picture of your license plate when you pass through one of the toll stations that way they can send you your fine in the mail.

So there is this pristine section of mopac expressway now that is brand new and tolled. Because of this hardly anyone uses it. At least not when compared with the rest of mopac. The rest of mopac has heavy traffic most of the time.

The rest of mopac is falling apart. Not only that, it very badly needs more lanes given how many people use it all the time. This is basically a major north/south expressway in austin. Its most congested area is not in the northeast where it has been extended and improved but the northwest segment, central and south.

There are areas of mopac, areas where it has its highest congestion that drop down to only one lane. Meanwhile most of the congested section is riddled with pot holes, filled-in cracks, and precariously narrow ramps and exits.

Unfortunately its hard to get adequate money to fix these kinds of problems because the state explicitly favors improvement projects that use tolls.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The NeverWar

So once there was this war.
It wasn't our war,
It was never a war
but we had a treaty
So when the invasion started
it became our war.

But not a war, NeverWar

It became our friends,
our neighbors, our blood.
It ended they said.
But not really.
Wars don't end that neverWere.

In reality it stopped being
our blood and became our bombs
bombs dropped from the sky-
on farmers, on children,
on targets of strategic importance.

It became an embargo
a little myth we called "containment"
where we tried to starve out the people,
deny their basic needs,
to poke at their leader

Obviously this was violent
but it was neverWar
Wars don't end that neverWere.

Then one day someone poked back
someone from the same hemisphere
so we escalated our NeverWar.
We sent our blood back.

Thus the Antiwar folk got to protest
the new NotaWar. but to protest
they had to pretend the
NeverWar never happened
Wars don't happen that neverWere.

They had to suppose
dropping bombs on civilians
was not a state like the NotaWar
but a state of "containment"

a state more desirable
than the new NotaWar.
either option involved
the secret of collateral

Of untold thousands,
civilians, dying,
dying to be liberated
eaten up in the dust

Of our NeverWar.
Wars don't end that neverWere.

We pay for it still.
Confusion is all we have left.
Do we owe them?

The people we bombed for so long
Do we owe them protection?
Should we rebuild what we destroyed?

Are we still an occupying army?
are we at war, were we ever?
The NeverWar never ended.

We escalate, we invade,
we step back, we bomb
we starve, we kill
We escalate, we stabilize

We'll never end the NeverWar
Wars don't end that neverWere.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

(Poem) Among Friends

If I cannot stand among friends.
If I cannot stand up for what I feel is right
who am I?
If I cannot challenge my family
for a wrong for fear of division
and distress,
How can I stand among anyone to do the same.

Shall I speak among strangers
who know not me
who have no means of
truly hurting me
to whom I have no alliance
no bonds, nothing to lose.

Shall I speak among them
in whom I have staked nothing
to whom I owe nothing.

Shall I stand up for truth
among those who care not that I exist,
but not among those who matter to me most.
Then am I not a coward.

Do I not sell these strangers
false pretenses, false passion.
Am I not a hypocrite.

If I cannot among my friends,
risk every relationship I have
every friend, every solace,
every social bond and value,

If I cannot stand among them
to advocate a new world.
How dare I stand among strangers,
in hopes of changing their's?

Friday, July 13, 2007

More Sci-Fi Meta-Posting

I know I said narrative and point of view were next, but I find myself randomly inspired to discuss some other issues instead. I came across an old issue of Reason from last year the other day and got to reading about Octavia Butler. She died about a year ago after falling and hitting her head.

She was a very talented science fiction writer or so I am told. I was familiar with her due to many references I had seen to her books, and because I had seen her interviews at least once on TV. I never read her stuff because the themes struck me as pessimistic.

It seemed as though she often created worst-possible-scenarios that arose out of the present state of things. However after reading more about her I sort of wished i had. This is because I realized after reading the article that she wrote on many similar themes to what I have written about. I found myself relating her in a sort of obscure way.

Her work reminded you that you can be very sci-fi without having a focus on either science or technology. Sometimes explorations of future societies are more about social ideas, and how social structures can conflict, and evolve.

As I am a fan of character-driven fiction the social themes strike me as being an important realm of science fiction that I certainly do not intend to neglect.