dydan: (Default)
Looks like our love affair with our Internet provider is over. Its a shame, really. When locals complain about dealing with ATT and Time Warner, we freely sang the praises of Clear. We have two devices: the home modem as well as a portable USB one Jared liked to take with him to work. For $60 it was a decent deal and the service was uber fast and reliable, something their competitors were lacking at the time.

Admittedly, we are Geeks and therefore, we have and always will be heavy Internet users. Last month, we chomped up 86 gig of Internets. How do we do it? We don't have cable TV, so we essentially use the Internet for the bulk of our entertainment. We watch a ton of Netflix, I run Spotify on my laptop while I am working (40+ hours a week)and the occasional time-wasting fun of Guild Wars 2. I don't have LAN parties at my teeny apartment, and neither of us have Halo marathons on the Xbox Live. So while we may indeed be heavy users, I seriously doubt we are that different than ohhh say a family with teenaged children or college students.

Over the years we have been customers, we have steadily watched our connectivity speeds go down, down, down. Jared says on a good day we're lucky to see 3Mbps. We accepted this. We're heavy users, its logical to assume that because of this, we will be squelched during peak times so that we are less of a burden while less frequent users are getting their Farmville time in. We get that, and we accept it. We aren't happy about it, especially when we know for a fact we are connected at way, way lower than their advertised speeds. But we understand this is the price we pay for being Internet piggies.

What we are NOT ok with is when we are being told that not only can we expect our Internets to be slower because our account has been flagged as Heavy Users, we can also expect our service to be randomly turned off as some sort of "punishment" for using the service we faithfully pay for. We found this out yesterday, when at 5pm the Internet was cut off. Jared reset the modem and routers and when he still couldn't connect he called Tech Support to get it back on. He then spent the next 2 1/2 hours talking to 4 different people. Three of them of claimed to be Supervisors, but our combined Call Center experience told us (when we demanded job titles) that the first 2 were really only Team Leads - in other words, lackeys who merely take the escalated calls and who have no real authority whatsoever.

The sum total of the call is that if we get our service turned off too many times, per the Acceptable Use Agreement our account can be terminated. We're too much of a resource hog on their system they gleefully advertise on their website as "expanding". The reasonable question to ask, then, is how can we be responsible customers and prevent this? Their answer: they don't know. They have no way to measure if the time I decide to watch a movie on Netflix is going to be a bad time to do so or not. You can theorize that perhaps if we use our Internets for such things during non-peak hours we can safely do so, but that's not true either. We found that out when our service got cut off at 2am. That was another 2+ hour phone call Jared made where all of this info was revealed to him. Because our account is flagged, we are at risk at any time simply because they have no way to gauge whether or not we are being too much of a drain on their precious system.

With Supervisor #4, Jared gave this analogy:
We are big SUV drivers on the highway we pay to drive on, and they are the toll booth. We speed, we suck gas. In the beginning, we were the only car on the road, so it was no biggie. Over time, however, the road has gotten more packed with other cars of varying size. But we're still truckin' along in our Hummer. Our usage has not changed at all. What has changed is that their Toll Booth cant handle the traffic. They've tried to deal with the problem by adding more lanes (towers) to the road, but its creating a bottle-neck at the Toll Booth and everyone is suffering in the gridlock.

We are now being told that we can't drive our Hummer the same as we have. We have to change our habits, only they can't tell us how or when since they have no way of knowing when its safe for us to drive. Further, we can be totally denied the right to drive altogether in some arbitrary judgement no one can give us parameters on. Other drivers are free to have the unlimited use of the road they are paying for without any threat, without being forced to slow down like we are.

Why are we paying for this? It makes no sense. Unlimited use is unlimited use. Now you are imposing limits on our use, so where's our discount? Supervisor #4 told us we should "pick another road to drive on". Jared's response was "really? Wow...so your 'expanding network' can't handle the traffic, so we should go with another company?" Of course, at that point she started stammering and giving the "oh I didn't mean that" speech.

But that's exactly what they mean. Alrighty then...message received, Clear. Looks like we'll be going back to Time Warner. We'll certainly be able to connect decently at the same price we've been paying Clear all these years. Actually, for the same price we'll be able to get a package that through TW that will give us speeds 10 times faster than what we're currently getting. Wow, watching a whole 30 minute TV show on Netflix without it stalling 5 times will certainly be a refreshing change!
dydan: (Default)
Late last night I caught this gem from one of my childhood friends:

If you don't eat meat..that's your choice, don't share you bs opinion with my growing daughter! :-P

I didn't respond, but I was sorely tempted to!

Aren't all opinions, depending on your perspective, bullshit? I remember being told years ago "Opinions are like assholes: everybody has one they are usually full of shit."

I am far from a militant vegan. I consider myself an omnivore. I do try to make friends with veggies more these days, but I can't help but be in love with a good steak. And I understand that unless I'm getting my meat from the Amish (and I'm not) that my meat is chock full of hormones and who knows what else. Its an informed decision I make when I eat meat. And while I do find the more preachy vegans to be more than a little irritating, I would never get that nasty towards them.

I get the whole protective parent thing. Really, I do. But I looked at that statement and I can't help but wonder: what's the harm in educating a child about vegetarianism as a dietary option? When did vegetables become "bad" for your "growing daughter"?

And for that matter...when did knowledge itself become bad? I started substituting "eat meat" for other things...

If you're Catholic, that's your choice...but don't share your bs opinion with my growing daughter!
If you vote, that's your choice...but don't share your bs opinion with my growing daughter!
If you believe in the laws of physics, that's your choice...but don't share your bs opinion with my growing daughter!

I guess it all boils down to how the information is presented to a child. There's no sense in telling a 6 year old that eating hormone-laden meat will send them to an early grave (even though there's plenty of statistical data to support that). There's no need to use fear tactics to scare anyone into a change in lifestyle. But I truly don't see the harm in explaining to a kid the benefits of eating more veggies and less McDonald's Happy Meals.

What's wrong with letting your child see more than one perspective on an issue and letting them decide for themselves where they stand? Isn't it the goal of a parent to raise kids to think for themselves?
dydan: (kinky)
Over the years, I've lost track of the number of times I've joked about providing "Temple Services" to my lovers. Late last week, I learned that such things really do happen.

Phoenix Goddess Temple was raided after a 6 month police investigation. Something like 30 people were charged with prostitution. Not surprisingly, the people who run PGT have loudly proclaimed their religious rights are being trampled upon. Also not surprisingly, the Pagan community has been very split in its opinions.

Team #1 says: Prostitution should be legal, man! Sex is sacred, man! If these people are saying they are offering sacred sex, that's good enough for me!

Team #2 says: They are hookers trying to hide behind a religion. And they are about as Pagan as Billy Graham.

I've definitely gone to Team #2.

Their website is predictably vague. But if you see some of their online ads, I don't see how it can be viewed as anything other than a high priced hooker.

Here's the issue I have:

Let's give these people the benefit of the doubt and say they are doing deeply personal, therapeutic work to help people on a psychological and spiritual level. Before their profiles got taken down (due to the legal problems) I can tell you that NOT ONE of their staff had any kind of credentialing or licensing as a therapist, sex therapist or even a sex surrogate. Not one. A few have Reiki credentials, but the last time I checked, Reiki doesn't involve a happy ending. A few have massage therapist licenses, but again...no massage therapist I know would be willing to put their license on the line by performing anything that could be remotely viewed as a sex act. In fact, the LMT's I know have zero tolerance policies and have been known to kick clients out in the middle of sessions when they have gotten too frisky.

And yet here they are, publicly promoting themselves. That's stupid if you ask me. If you are going to put yourself out there in a very public way doing some kind of business that could be easily questioned by the general population (and the law) you better damn well make sure you have some kind of documentation to legitimize yourself and avoid the embarassing perp walk.

I like to think I am a good friend. I'm a good listener. I've been known to give damn good advice to people and have helped people I care about through some really shitty times. Does that make me qualified to open shop and call myself a therapist? HELL NO. I haven't got the degree or the state license to be able to claim that. So if I were stupid enough to advertise myself as a therapist, I'd have no one but myself to blame when the local law comes a'callin' to rein my ass in.

Does owning all the ER episodes ever made make you qualified to be a doctor? No. Watching every Law & Order episode doesn't make you a lawyer. Because again, you don't have the education and licenses required by the law.

This debate should not be about whether prostitution should be legal. I happen to think that it should be made legal, heavily regulated and taxed appropriately. And if people feel that strongly about legalized prostitution, then go on out and lobby to change the laws. But for now, the laws state you can't exchange payment for sex acts, no matter how therapeutic or religious you think that act may be.

Playing the religion card? It just doesn't work. Not here. Yes, yes, there's plenty of Gods and Goddesses out there who are quite sexual. And yes, there's probably plenty of Pagans out there who incorporate sacred sex (and lots of it) in their traditions. There's nothing wrong with that at all and I don't think the law would have an issue with members of a church getting frisky with each other in the privacy of their own spaces. But when you step outside and invite the general population in to partake of your services, request a payment, and you call it some form of therapy, you better damn well cover your ass.

Pun intended.
dydan: (Default)
There is a "Subscription meme" going on HERE

I like calling it a Friendzy. It just sounds more festive, dont you agree?
dydan: (asplodey!)
Part of my job as Cat Herder at the hospital involves compiling some statistics for my boss so she can answer to the higher ups about why it takes so bloody long to get patients on our floor. Moving patients is a big, big deal to the hospital because we have a lot of factors working against us. Since I work in Rehab, we are getting patients who have progressed beyond the more acute care units.  Which frees up a much-needed bed for some poor soul waiting in the ER.  The Administration pushes really, really hard to get patients onto our floor within 2 hours of notification.  Which NEVER happens.  For the longest time, we got the blame for it.  My boss and I got tired of getting yelled at about it, so I started getting REALLY anal and started tracking the details.  Not only do I document when I get notification of an admission, but I track who I give the bed information to and I document any delays that hold up the transfer to our unit.  At the end of each month, I compile all my stats and merrily email them to my boss and the Gods on High who pass judgment on us. 

And lo and behold, a pattern has emerged!  One where we are NOT the bad bad children the Admins painted us to be.  According to my data, more than half of the patients we receive are held up because the doctors discharging from the other units do not know how to write the orders to transfer the patients. 

Think about that for a second. 

Yes.  A fucking DOCTOR has not learned how to write orders.  I've been bitching about this for months now.  On a nearly daily basis I have to field not one, but multiple calls for each patient because the orders have been screwed up.  And according to MY bosses, I cannot allow the admission to proceed unless the orders are 100% correct.  This is because we are Medicare certified and if we do not follow Medicare guidelines we lose a HUGE chunk of funding.  When Medicare says jump, you fucking jump.  

So, my boss had this big hoitey toitey meeting this morning and at lunchtime I asked her how my data went over.  She said it was eye-opening to the Admins and Doctors from the other floors we deal with.  And apparently, the consensus among the Doctors was...  *cue whine* Putting the correct orders in the system is tooooooo haaarrrrrrrd!  waaahhhhhhh!

Now the Gods on High want my boss (which, by extension means ME) to find a way to dumb down the process. 

Think about THAT for a second. 

O.o

I swear that is what is wrong with our society.  Everything has to be dumbed down.   We cant have newspapers above a 4th grade reading level because OMG big words are toooooo haaaaarrrrrrd!  And now apparently we have to dumb down an already simple process because Doctors who have had 8+ years of higher education cannot figure out how to put an order in the system - even when I - the non-clinical, non-licensed personnel TELLS them exactly what to do. 

Gives you a lot of confidence in the person who is supposed to keep you alive, dont it? 


dydan: (Default)
Holeeeeeeyyy crap! My hair is actually long enough now that I can wear a single braid that is of decent length without a crapload of stray short hairs poking out of the braid!

And....if I tilt my head back, the ends of my hair now touch my waist.

~squeeeeee~

I know Rhoni is living for the moment when I ask for a major cut, but right now I am reveling in how long my hair is getting! Stay away from me, Scissors!
dydan: (true blood)
So, I started downloading the episode off the Intertubes before I went to bed last night so Jared and I could watch it this morning. Mind you, I have not read any of the books. There's a part of me that wants to, but from what all my more informed TB friends tell me if I read the books I'll just get pissed at how much the show deviates from the books.

cut for spoilerific details... )
dydan: (Default)
Cookies are baked and packaged to take to work tomorrow,  hooray!  Of course, I had to taste test a few.  Oh, the cruelties one must endure! 

Rhoni came by for some counsel.  She was pretty upset but once it got talked out she seemed more resolute.  She's in the midst of some change in her life and its scary and exciting all at the same time.  In the last week or so, things shifted into focus for her and she was back to being the old Rhoni I love.  Some shit cropped up today in her professional life that kinda threatened to take the wind out of her sails and slow her momentum and she was struggling with the decision to let it go.  I'm proud that once she got past the emotional part of it she saw it for what it was and she felt much more confident about walking away from something that was no longer healthy for her. 

I'm always struck by these moments of synchronicity.  My coven sister and best friend is sitting here in tears as she tells me about how she feels about this situation and the things she is saying are almost identical to the things I said last night to Jared as I debated leaving LJ behind. 

In the end, we've both chosen to leave situations that were no longer good for us.  And like I told Rhoni, when you clear out something that's no longer good for you, it only creates space in your life to be filled with GOOD things.  Things that contribute to your growth and your soul's evolution. 

What's funny is that right before she called me on the phone I was sitting here having the internal debate about leaving LJ for the zillionth time today.  Was I being too rash?  Too judgemental?  Was I making a mountain out of a molehill?  And then here comes my coven Dedicant asking for advice about a situation that had the same questions.  We both sat here and confirmed what we already knew in our deepest heart: that this is the right decision. 

I love moments like this when you feel the Goddess move within you in the most mundane of things.  We're all students and teachers to each other.  At least that's how I think it ought to be.  

dydan: (flying monkeys)
Jared and I had to make a trip to the bowels of Hell, aka Walmart.  My department at work is sponsoring a Bake Sale tomorrow for United Way so I had to get some baking supplies. 

When we got to the baking supply aisle, there was a mother with 2 children.  One was a little ginger-haired toddler girl who was quiet as a mouse, sucking on her pacifier.  Her sibling was a tow-headed boy of about 6 who was whining incessantly because he didnt like the cake his mother was going to make for his birthday.  "waaaaaaahhhhhhhh I dont wanna soccer ball cake anymore!!  waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!  I hate youuuuu!"  

Bless her heart, the mother managed to keep from throttling the child.  She kept calmly asking him what he DID want but he refused to answer.  She'd ask him like 10 times and then finally say "Ok well I guess we stick with the soccer ball like you told me you wanted this morning..." and then he'd start back up with his screaming.  

Our timing was such that we were almost always in the same aisle as this woman and her brat.  Jared and I both agreed that we'd have dragged that kid straight home with NO cake.  
dydan: (LJ abuse)
I thought long and hard overnight about my move to DW. When I told Jared last night about the creepy staff stalking incident along with the staff trolling going on he was astounded.

Before we went to bed, I changed my browser's home page to DW. That was...HUGE for me as LJ has been my default home page for YEARS now.

I'm a little sad that some of my beloved LJ friends wont be migrating. I understand not everyone is going to care or have the issue I have with all of this. And truthfully, since the bulk of my posting is under an F-lock, I am minimally affected by the whole LiveTwitFace issue. But the stalking? The harassment? Deleting comments? That's just not something I am willing to endorse with my hard-earned dollars and the site traffic my blog draws in. And while I am well-aware that my little blog pales in comparison to the traffic the more "famous" LJ'ers bring, I still feel that my defection will add to the growing numbers of other loyal users who have left for safer harbor.

Dreamwidth is far from perfect. They are still relatively young and are right now a small pond. And that's ok. I remember when LJ was a small pond and right now I feel like I've been foolishly holding on to that fond memory in the hopes that the Russian Mafia at SUP would return LJ to those glory days. They wont. They simply dont care. And that's fine...it is a business after all and they are free to run it or mismanage it however they want to.

Doesnt mean I have to stay there and be a party to that. And I wont.

Guess I'll be hosting and/or participating in a few Friending Frenzies! But at least here in DW I wont be stalked/harassed by the staff.
dydan: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] bkwrrm_tx asked me -- What one piece of advice would you give to a friend?

Not that I think I have all the answers, but if I had to pick one thing it would be this:

Live the life YOU want to live. Be the person YOU want to be.

In a lot of ways, children GET that. Kids are completely ego-driven. If you've ever had to babysit a hyper 6 year old, you know that its all about them. What they want to do, what they want to eat, when they want to sleep (if at all).

And then kids get older, and they are spoon-fed this myth that the key to happiness lies in becoming whatever society deems happiness to be. Its pushed on us by the media: "Beef: its what's for dinner" or "Don't get mad - get GLAD". Make no mistake, the art of advertising is its ability to impress upon you that your otherwise mediocre life will suddenly become better if you just fork out the cash for the latest and greatest product. (In a way, I kinda admire the people who work in advertising. Its really a gift to be able to sell something in 30 seconds or less. But I digress...)

But we cant lay the blame solely on the big bad Media, despite what the Tipper Gores and Sarah Palins of the world like to think.

The Great Myth is sold to us by the people we trust the most: parents. Stay in school; get good grades; go to a decent college; major in a solid, marketable field like accounting....and you too can have the white picket fence American Dream just like we have. Sorry Billy, I know you hate math and are a naturally gifted artist. But the life of an Artist wont support your wife and 2.5 children that you'll have. And Susie, you cant be a lesbian feminist activist...how will you give your parents grandchildren if you're like that?

Its no wonder kids are so fucked up today. They are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages. You can be anything you want to be - as long as you arent gay. Everyone's a winner - except those people who arent like us. My parents had my whole life planned for me before I even really knew I had much say in the matter. I was going to go to college, get a Nursing degree, marry a Doctor and quit working to raise his children. From then on my life was to be a whirlwind of PTA meetings, bake sales and summer vacations by the lake. It was a neat, tidy little plan that I had drilled into my head from a very early age.

Except I hated baking. And I suck at math. And I didnt want to be a nurse. As soon as my mother figured out that I didnt have the skills or the desire to embrace the Doris Day Utopia she had dreamed up for me, the resentment began. I was too fat, too ugly, too stupid, I would never make a good wife, etc.

When I did express the things I wanted to do, the things I wanted to be? I was met with harsh criticism and not an ounce of support. If I regret anything about my younger years, I regret that I wasted so much time trying to strike up some fucked up compromise in an effort to make other people happy with me. Nothing I ever did was good enough or successful enough to earn their blessings. I suspect nothing short of walking on water would have pleased them - and even then I'd probably be criticized for how I walked!

Oh sure, I did make my own decisions and I chose to get married to a man with 2 children. I had my stealthy tattoos and my quiet, mostly-closeted Paganism. It took looking hard at everything wrong in my life 10 years into that marriage to realize that I was not being true to myself. That I had probably never really been true to myself, not 100%. There are a LOT of reasons my marriage failed: things I did wrong, things he did wrong, things the kids did wrong. And I know my Ex will probably never understand that ultimately the decision to leave was because I simply was not true to myself. I had sacrificed myself in the hopes that would make him and his kids happy. In the end, I was miserable, they were miserable and there was nothing I could do to ever fix that.

The one thing I could fix? ME.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the whole White Picket Fence Dream. If that's your dream, go for it. But if your life's dream is to run away and be a Circus Clown, then by golly go do it. You may not be the most famous clown in history, you probably wont be wealthy, but at least you'll be living life on YOUR terms.

I'm with Jared because I WANT to be. I'm in Texas because I WANT to be here. I work at a job that is well, well below my skill level because it allows me to focus more on the things that make me happy. My friends, my home life, being openly Pagan...hell just being open. I chose to be/do those things because it brings ME joy. If it makes other people happy, so be it but I am not really invested in other people's joy the way I used to be.

Its not fair to me or anyone who has to put up with me when I am not living honestly. Living the lie hasnt gotten me rich or famous; it hasnt given me any of the things the TV jingles said I'd have and it hasnt gotten me any of the shit my mother said it would.

So I live as open and true to myself as I can be. I'll probably never be a "success" in whatever means my mother (or society) deems success to be, but I'll bet when I am laying on my deathbed I wont be saying "I wish I had done what I wanted with my life."
dydan: (Default)
President Obama is NOT Muslim.

....

Gee....what a relief.

Seriously? What if he is? Last time I checked, the First Amendment gave us the freedom to embrace ANY religion - or no religion at all.

Ah, but I guess we should all know that Muslim = TERRORIST, right?

Sweet Goddess, people....not all Muslims are Ebil Baby Killing Terrorists! Its not like when you become Muslim you get the location of Osama Bin Ladin's Sooper Sekrit Lair and a Do-It-Yourself Acme Suicide Bomb Kit! There are radicals on the fringe who unfortunately draw attention by the hate they spread, but they are certainly not the majority and certainly not a good representation of Muslims worldwide.

Just like there are radical fringe Christians. You know, like the ones who bomb Planned Parenthood Clinics and gun down an OB/GYN in his Church in front of his friends and family.

So if you want to spout off the shit that radical Muslims are somehow representative of ALL Muslims, be prepared to also admit that the Clinic Bombing Doctor Killing Christians are representative of all Christians.

Its never good to paint any group with a broad brush.
dydan: (Default)
I've been watching the circus of the San Antonio Pagan Pride Day on Yahoo Groups for a few weeks now and if nothing else, it reinforces my thought that the local community sucks.

Pagan Pride Day is supposed to take place in the Fall, sometime around the Autumn Equinox. Its meant to a public showing of ourselves...community outreach, de-mystifying ourselves to the general population, etc.

Last year there was all sorts of drama involved with the Coordinator and a local coven. The coven was sponsoring a fundraiser in the form of a raffle. PPD isnt free...there's space to rent, a security guard to pay for, food/beverages and all that. And being that Pagans are notoriously broke, it was clear the money necessary to pull off PPD was not going to come from our own purses, hence the fundraiser. Somehow the Coordinator decided she was going to use the money raised for something else...and the coven who sponsored this raffle was understandably angry about it. It was shady, it was full of drama and hate and ended with the coven publicly giving the Coordinator and PPD a big fuck you.

You would think there would be someone new as Coordinator this year, right?

Oh no. Same lady. More shady shit this year!

This year's great fundraising idea was a Midsummer's Ball. This was decided back in like...January. And on paper, it seemed like a good idea. It was supposed to be for Pagans and the general public (in keeping with the spirit of PPD). Unfortunately, they did NO advertising. None. Hell, I didnt start hearing anyone talk about the Ball until roughly a month before it was supposed to happen! So when they came within a week of the event and had only sold FOUR tickets...the event was cancelled. So long, fundraiser!

The Coordinator posted a bunch of pics on the local site that were supposedly from last year's PPD. Only, they werent. They were actually pictures from a private event the "angry Coven" from last year held. The pics heavily featured children. The Coven politely asked that the pictures be removed from the site. Seems reasonable enough: the pics are NOT of PPD. The Coven pointed out that as a parent, Coordinator had to respect another parent's wishes in not having a child's image plastered all over the Internets for some group's advertising. Coordinator completely ignored the request. And THREE other requests. It wasnt until someone got bitchy about the photos that she decided to speak up about it. And of course, that was snarky.

She made the comment that if you arent out of the closet, then you shouldnt attend PPD at all. That got EVERYONE pissed off because the whole purpose behind PPD is being able to attend whether you are Pagan or not, closeted or not. Community outreach, remember? Coordinator never retracted her statement, never apologized for it either.

Coordinator regularly pops off with snippy, rude remarks to people in the group, especially when people are asking legitimate questions that need answers. And heaven forbid your opinion is different than hers! She'll bitch you out, then tell you to take the conversation off-list. Oh ok, so you can rip into people publicly, thus displaying your superiority...and then you can send the bad little Pagan to her room for a time-out where you'll presumably do more bitching? Classy, lady...oh so classy.

Several questions people have are blatantly ignored. Important questions pertaining to actually running said event. Like, how much $ do we have in the bank for this? Who is doing advertising - and what is being done? Who is running certain important committees? And what progress is being made in those committees? Late last week a number got dropped. They need $850 for the space and the security guard. If we dont cough up that money asap, the event will be cancelled.

So let me get this straight. The event is roughly 2 months away and you need close to a Grand and you've done NOTHING to get that money all year long? And you STILL aren't advertising this event in any way?

One of the volunteer coordinators said something about this in her private Facebook. Coordinator lady took said posting and made it public to the PPD list, bitching out said volunteer for her opinion. It was tacky and childish, something I'm seeing regularly from this stupid Coordinator. Predictably, the posting created a shitstorm all weekend long. Most of the volunteers that were helping organize this fiasco have quit in disgust (including the co-chair). Not just over the latest flame war, they are disgusted with the way the whole thing has been done (or not done as the case may be)

Its downright pathetic if you ask me. San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the United States and we have a large, diverse Pagan population. And yet the majority of the "public" Pagans in this area are snooty, catty bitches who cant play nice with anyone - including themselves. Worse, when they do get someone with brains and a willingness to volunteer, they refuse to cooperate with that person - because they CLEARLY know best, what with how wildly successful their events have been. Gee, no wonder we are all apathetic and lazy! As much as I am willing and able to volunteer and help out, I absolutely refuse to deal with those people. Maybe next year someone will get smart and take over because as long as that crazy woman is in charge it will be nothing but a Clusterfuck Circus.

Goodie...another year, another lame excuse for San Antonio's Pagan Pride Day.
dydan: (Default)
Mother Oak

The air is still
Unusually quiet
Even greedy baby birds
Hold their breath
The scent of rain
Lingers teasingly
The clouds gather
Low and heavy
Full of promise
But still holding back
In the distance
Thunder faintly rumbles
A squirrel leaps
From branch
To branch
Eager to find
Her safe haven
At last, the cool breeze
Caresses branches
Like a lost love
The leaves rustle
In approval
As the first drops
Fall
dydan: (Default)
The summer breeze is keeping my wind chimes busy
I slipped outside to bask under the beautiful glow of the moon.
I felt the elements as I called to them.
My skin prickled like unseen hands were tickling at my aura.
I opened my arms to draw Her in.
I heard Her say "My Daughter"
And I let the wave of bliss roll over me.
dydan: (Default)
Today we celebrated Jared's brother's birthday. Asa is 20 now, but still a kid at heart. It took a bit of coordination, but Jared was able to get the day off work so we could go to what I think is probably the most brilliant business model of an amusement park I've ever seen.

Behold, MORGAN'S WONDERLAND! Its not the size of Disney, or Sea World or any of the big flashy amusement parks. At 25 acres, I'd call it cozy. There are so many awesome things about this place I dont even know where to begin.

I did manage to take a few pictures here and there with my phone. The stream can be found HERE

How often are the disabled excluded from the fun of an amusement park? This is a park designed 100% for disabled kids of all ages (even us big kids). The rides are all wheelchair accessible so that nobody is left out. Unlike a mainstream amusement park, admission to Morgan's Wonderland requires a reservation. Bloody brilliant, if you ask me! No overcrowding, no waiting for ANYTHING which is great when you have a severely autistic kid like Asa who isnt always patient about waiting his turn. To be able to bring a disabled child along with their entire family/caretakers at an extremely affordable price is no doubt a godsend for people who probably spend a king's ransom in medical bills.

I was impressed before we even got into the park by what I think is the greatest invention to mankind. Everyone in your party wears a wristband with a GPS tracker. There are stations scattered all over the park where you can have your wristband "read" by the scanner. This way, if you are separated from your party, you can simply scan and instantly see where every member of your party is. Whoever thought of that should be hailed as a God among men because that's amazingly handy! Even a large park like Sea World could utilize that...hell, charge tourists a "rental fee" for the convenience of the wristband and the investment would pay itself off pretty darn quick!

The entire park is almost completely devoid of the retail trappings that, in my opinion, take away from the "fun" of going to an amusement park. There were no crappy food stands. There were vending machines that dispensed soda and water and tons of water fountains. There was only 1 gift shop that I saw and it carried very little touristy junk. There are ample picnic areas and you are allowed to bring in your own food and beverages. There were other families celebrating birthdays that came laden down with coolers and wheels and assorted presents. The staff there actually came out and helped them into a side entrance so they could set up their little area. It nearly made me cry to see such genuine care the staff gave to that family.

We started out at the great staple of amusement parks: the carousel. Their website doesnt say who designed it but the artistry of the creatures was just beautiful. There wasnt a single creature that I didnt like. Some of the horses have high back seats to accommodate kids needing that extra support. The bench seats even go up and down so the wheelchair-bound can have fun too! Asa sat on a bench with Aimee and his mom while Jared and I sat in the next set of benches a few rows up.

We didnt last long. Asa wasnt too keen on the carousel. When he started to shriek I asked Jared if that was a "I'm having fun" shriek or a "DEAR GOD SOMEONE SAVE ME" shriek. Jared said it started out as a "I'm not sure about this" shriek that quickly turned into the "I'm getting off this contraption NOW" shriek. For a kid who doesnt speak, Asa is pretty direct in how he communicates. I applaud anyone willing to spend the time trying to interpret how he sees the world. Sometimes Asa is a complete mystery to me. Other times, I find his sense of humor to be brilliantly hilarious. He pretty much won me over the day he tried to show me to the front door at Grandma's house for daring to ask him to share his M&M's.

Funny thing about the carousel. Later in the afternoon Asa decided on his own to go back on it. He still shrieked, but it was definitely less panicked and more exuberant. Good for him!

My favorite attraction, hands down, was The Sensory Village. Aside from the allure of sweet, blessed air conditioning (curse you, Texas heat!) I could have spent all afternoon here. One room had a series of large screens with digital art that was interactive. On the floor was what looked like a tranquil pond. When you stepped on it, the water would ripple and then beautiful, colorful flowers would blossom around your footsteps along with pretty little dragonflies! We were all amazed by it, especially Asa. He plopped right down in the middle of the pond, slapping at the screen to make it change under his hand.

There were tons of play areas full of things to climb around on and play with. We sat out there for a while to do some people watching. There was a cute little blond girl in a cheery yellow outfit running all over the Butterfly Playground with the biggest grin on her face. All of the play areas have a nifty kind of rubberized flooring. It was comfortable and easy to walk on, yet had enough give to cushion anyone's fall.

There was a huge pond in one area with an elaborate pavilion. One end had remote control boats, the other had water cannons. In the middle was a place where folks could fish for catfish and bass. Its catch and release only, but that was pretty cool of them to have something like that.

I dont know who does their hiring, but they deserve a pat on the back for the staff. Every single person I encountered today was extremely nice. I'm not talking "pretend to be nice so the boss shuts up" nice...I'm talking genuinely nice people who are happy to be doing whatever job they are doing. Even the ride operators were friendly and chatty with everyone. It created a nice, friendly, relaxed family atmosphere that rubs off on the guests. There was no pushing to get to the front of the line, no ugly outbursts of people with entitlement issues. Even the volunteers were into the whole spirit of including everyone. None of them were bashful about interacting with Asa, which was really cute to see.

Win win WIN! This place rocks. We're a little sunburned and exhausted from the heat, but we had a fantastic time. I am thoroughly impressed about this place and I hope the people who are behind Morgan's Wonderland become fantastically rich from what they've created. Its obvious that everyone there truly believes in the mission. That's so rare to see these days that I'm bookmarking the website just to see if some nifty position opens up that might be up my alley. Maybe some day they'll have a need for a creative thinker like myself! Haha, hire me!

Happy Birthday Asa!

P.S. Our present to him was his favorite! Yay!
dydan: (Default)
Well, predictably my "Boycott BP" LJ/FB friend de-friended me this morning. She never once even approached me to have any kind of conversation - not during ANY of this. How adult! Sad, really because up until now I actually LIKED her. Ah well. If you're House of Cards is so fragile that it collapses under the weight of an opposing viewpoint and makes you have a tizzy, then by all means dont let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Late last night I saw an article about how poorly BP is doing financially since this whole thing happened. Their stock is plummeting and there's already a flood of lawsuits being filed. The article even mentioned the possibility of BP declaring bankruptcy. It made me consider something I had not thought of before. Let's just say for the sake of the argument that boycotting BP is a great idea. And let's just say that the campaign to boycott them is so wildly successful that people manage to put BP out of business. Who is going to handle the clean-up of the worst ecological disaster in human history? What, should we to tell Exxon or Shell that they need to cough up some dough? That would be like telling McDonalds they have to pay for the aftermath of thousands of people being poisoned by Burger King's shitty fries! So who pays for that? WE DO.

Makes me wonder how much bitching those boycotters will be doing when they learn that little lesson. If they thought bailing out the banks and the auto industry was bad, wait til they see the price tag on the Gulf cleanup!
dydan: (Default)
When I first started seeing the "Boycott BP" meme flooding my FaceBook, I was intrigued. I've boycotted establishments before, but knowing what I know about the oil industry, I thought I should do a little digging before I committed myself to that cause. The first place I went to was the BP corporate website. I immediately located the page listing all of the BP subsidiaries and as I scrolled down the page through hundreds of listings (in a variety of industries) I thought to myself "whoa...how the hell is boycotting a gas station going to be effective when BP has THIS much out there?" I genuinely did not even know how many gas stations BP even had in this country. There are no BP gas stations in my area, which seemed odd to me considering I live in the 7th largest city in the country. But then again I live in the heart of Valero territory, so I put my Google-Fu to use and started digging a bit deeper. At that point I found an article talking about how BP got out of the gas station business 4 years ago because of the shitty profit margins. There's roughtly 900 BP gas stations in this country; out of that number only 100 are corporate owned stores. The rest are franchises.

And the more I thought about it, the more I thought this was a bad idea. When it comes to where I do business, I will ALWAYS go for the small business owner before the corporate giant. It just didnt make sense to me to punish the small business owner who had the bad luck to chose to open a BP franchise as opposed to an Exxon or Mobile. I mean sure, BP does get a certain amount of money from the franchisee, but that's really a drop in the bucket when you look at the hundreds of other places BP earns their profits from. Our economy is already fragile, what good is it going to do to put a bunch of small business owners and their employees out of a job? And when you look at just how many tentacles BP (and every other oil company) has extended out there, how do you know you arent patronizing them in a hundred different ways? That tiny bit of gas you pump in your SUV is probably a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the other things you spend money on that BP makes a much bigger profit margin on. How many BP boycotters are researching that? My guess is very, very few.

When I saw the meme for the zillionth time in a "friend" who is an LJ/FB crossover, I thought it would be "safe" for me to voice my opinion. Hell, for all I knew nobody really was aware of the fact that BP didnt own their own gas stations! Oh, how wrong I was! You would think I had said I wanted to nominate BP for Humanitarian of the Year or something! I have never seen people act more defensive, rude and passive-aggressive in my entire life. I was blasted in the FB post, I was blasted in my email. Wow...so much for people respectfully sharing ideas like civilized adults!

One woman actually *bragged* about how she was doing something. Unlike *SOME* people (gee, who was THAT directed at? Passive-aggressive much?) she was boycotting! Why, she drove a whole 20 miles out of her way just to make sure that she avoided BP. I didnt even respond to that one, but when I read that I thought, "Wait a second. What kind of car does this woman drive? What's her gas mileage like? Because she just spent MORE in fossil fuels by driving 40 miles round trip for what??" Flawed logic is flawed.

Personally, I think boycotting BP really only fills some psychological need people are having to DO something in response to a tragedy that is hopelessly beyond anyone's control. And I totally get that people are outraged. I'm outraged as much as the next person! If it were up to me, I'd make every one of those slimy, greedy corporate bastards live in a vat of the shit they have poisoned our ecosystem with. They should be force fed oil-poisoned shrimp that havent been de-veined. They absolutely should have their feet held to the fire on this - and I hope their feet are coated in oil so that when they get near the flames those bastards ignite in a fiery inferno. There, is THAT outraged enough for you? Because heaven forbid I make someone think I am not giving them blanket approval.

At this point the comment thread is over 40 comments from a smattering of people. Out of all of those people, I think maybe 2 were even remotely polite towards me. And not one person to date has answered a single question I asked. At one point in the conversation someone mentioned that they didnt understand why we just dont make the switch to alternative fuels. And since I actually know a little about that, I commented back.

Sure, we have other forms of energy. Wind, solar, coal, nuclear, etc. So why arent we using any one (or all) of those forms of energy on a global scale? Because there are serious problems that prohibit them from widespread use. The reasons vary. Some technologies create their own environmental problems - mining uranium for nuclear is not exactly an earth friendly endeavor. Some technologies are in their infancy and require decades of ironing out the kinks - like hydrogen. Some work halfway decently, but are still way overpriced for all but the wealthiest to afford - like solar. In solar's case, in order to meet the energy needs of this country alone, you would have to lay panels over an area roughly HALF the size of California. Oh, no problem - we'll just put solar panels on the roofs of houses! Really? Who's going to pay for all that? Because as it stands right now, in order to convert your average run-of-the-mill 3 bedroom American home, it would cost anywhere from 30 to 80 grand (depending on how
much energy you need to generate per month). That kind of investment would take 20 years to see a return on the investment. Christ, people can barely pay their mortgages right now, who has an extra 80 grand laying around to do that? And that's just here in America. How is some poor guy in China who makes $25 a year going to afford to convert his home to solar?

Like I said the other day, I find the whole concept of Peak Oil and sustainable energy to replace oil a fascinating subject. I first started reading and researching 4 years ago when Jared and I first saw "A Crude Awakening". That movie scared both of us sufficiently enough that we've been keeping an eye on crude oil prices and the news concerning alternative technologies. And as much as I hate to say it - its NOT a pretty picture. Our consumption of oil has surpassed what's being pulled out of the ground since 1980. We havent had a major oil discovery since what...1970? And its not for a lack of technology to find oil. We have such sensitive sonar now that it can show the most minute details underground. When we're trying to suck oil out of the sand pits in Canada, and drilling in deep water that should tell people something: *we've already gotten the easy-to-get good stuff*!

And yet oil is used for EVERYTHING. Everything you wear, everything you eat, the meds you take, the tools you use during your daily life - everything comes from oil. This country's infrastructure was developed around oil. And why not...its cheap to pull out of the ground - so cheap its virtually free (even if it doesnt seem like it is). For one dollar you can pull a barrel of oil out of the fields in Iraq. Right now a barrel is what...around $70? And that one barrel yields the equivalent of 23,000 hours of human labor in energy. Where else can we generate that kind of energy? Nowhere. Even if you are extremely optimistic about developing technology and were to combine all the forms of alternative fuel that we currently have, we are far from equaling the amount of energy derived from one barrel (only 42 gallons) of that black gold.

But apparently according to my favorite critic, reading things online doth not make me an expert. After I got over that crushing blow to my ego, I politely asked this woman to provide me with more information. After all, she was certainly quick to tell me how wrong I was! Yet when I asked to be specifically told what part I had wrong, when I asked for books or links or anything, the answer I got was "I'm not comfortable telling you about my employer or what I do for a living." What the bloody fuck? How does "please provide me with reading material" get interpreted as "tell me every intimate detail of your life, oh Internet stranger"?? I thought perhaps she misunderstood my question. Oh no...according to her she cannot give me ANY information supporting her claim that we have sustainable technology ready to be globally used right now - except for her own employer's information.

*FAIL*

I dont give two shits about her or who she works for...its not like I had plans to go stalk her or something. She could have given me ANYTHING and it would have shut me up and satisfied my curiosity. She could have said, "go to your library and check for stuff by Bill Smith" or "Google search info on chipmunks on conveyor belts" Hell, she could have given me info from her employer and I would have never known that she worked for them. But oh no. Her evidence condeming my 4 years of compiled information is Sooper Sekrit? And just sayin here...if you REALLY want to make sure the whole of the Internets doesnt know who you work for, you might want to do a better job
making yourself anonymous. It took me all of 5 seconds to Google her employer AND her official job title. And as far as *that* goes? When it comes to the subject of Energy, I am going to give the word of someone from the EPA about as much weight as I do to someone from OPEC or any of the oil companies. What she really should have just said to me was "I dont know a godamn thing about what you are talking about, but since you have DARED to disagree with the rest of my friends I am going to say you are wrong, you meanie fascist poo-poo head!" At least then I could have respected her for her honesty. But to say I'm wrong but its a secret? Come on!!

Like I said...I get people being upset about this and wanting to do something. And sure, even small acts will add up to big things. I just think that if someone wants to do a "small act" it would be more prudent to really think about what sort of effect you are aiming for here. We all live busy lives, juggling careers and relationships and everything else that demands our precious time. Wouldnt it make sense to utilize that time doing something that has the most impact and benefit? If your goal is to punish BP or somehow get their attention, boycotting Apu's Kwik-E-Mart isnt going to do that. Putting the pressure on your elected representatives to keep demanding that BP pony up and make good on this mess might be a better option. If your goal is to help the areas that have been affected, there are a host of things that any one of us can do without going to the Gulf and getting our hands dirty. For example, why not organize a "hair drive" in your community? Solicit your local hair salons and pet groomers to donate their hair clippings - after all, they just throw them out. Hair clippings can be sent in and made into oil absorbant mats. That is something any average "little guy" can do in any location in this country. Its a positive, proactive, life-affirming action and would have an immediate benefit where assistance is most desperately needed today. Wouldnt that be a better way to utilize your time and energy?

Sadly, I suspect few people would even bother taking any REAL action. Oh, I am sure that people feel like they are "doing something" when they boycott BP but let's be honest: exactly how much time and energy is invested in just not driving somewhere? If mass forwarding an email and driving to the gas station across the street from the BP one is your idea of activism, then I shudder to think what kind of future the human race has to look forward to. Maybe the cockroaches deserve to inherit the mess we've left for them.
dydan: (Default)
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As an adult, I find it fascinating to watch those old shows with my more mature eyes. I find a whole new perspective. The best example I can give, is MASH.

When I was a wee-whippersnapper, MASH was regular viewing in my parent's home. For the most part, I was entertained by the antics of Hawkeye and Trapper John, and I thought Radar was funny and Klinger in his dresses. But beyond that I had no real understanding of the dialogue.

Now that I am adult? Its a whole new experience. Hawkeye is a wise philosopher, driven to the brink of madness by the horrors of war. Radar is an idealistic, innocent youth struggling to perform in the face of all the violence around him. And Klinger, so afraid of his own safety, is willing to risk being called "crazy" so he can go back home to his beloved Toledo.

When I was a child, MASH was a sit-com. As an adult, MASH is a highly political statement on war. Amazing how my perspective changed in a few decades!

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dydan

November 2012

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