Just Shelley

Men on Harleys

If I seem cranky in my recent posts, I am a bit but that’s just because in the last few days I have had some discomfort in my teeth/jaw/sinus, as well as my foot. These are two areas of the body most sensitive to pain, and I’m hit with both at the same time.

However, I now have legal drugs. Good legal drugs. Nice legal drugs.

I’m also a bit disappointed about a couple of things, including the fact that it doesn’t look like my minimum reserve on my mineral collection auction will be met. I have a starting bid, but not enough to justify selling the collection. My roommate suggests that the timing was bad – Christmas is coming up. Too true. If it doesn’t sell this week, I’ll try again in January.

Also, the Practical RDF book isn’t quite selling as well as other books I’ve written. I’m not surprised – it is a very esoteric subject, and I don’t go to conferences and put my face into other people’s faces, or talk about RDF a lot. It should be a consistent seller over time, especially if I keep updating outdated sample code and putting said code out at the O’Reilly site. But it’s not going to be the success Unix Power Tools is (which was just published in Japanese – I’ll post a photo of the copy being sent to me when I get it), or Developing ASP Components. (which made it into Russian and Spanish).

However, with the sour always comes the sweet. It doesn’t look like my foot is broken, but some toes most likely are and haven’t healed well (heeled well, heh), and the X-Rays tomorrow won’t cost me a dime with my medical (I do have very good medical insurance).

In addition, I’ve had the loveliest comments from the rock and mineral Interest community about the collection. They loved the collection, the stories, the photos. Makes me feel good about the job I did putting this site online.

A couple of other things might be looking up nicely soon, but I won’t say anything specific until the rubber hits the road, so to speak. I also have a very good friend (who happens to have an exceptionally handsome voice by the way), who suggested that my next bits of photography focus on things I don’t normally take photos of, or don’t like taking photos of, to increase my expertise and reach.

Excellent advice, except that I like taking pictures of everything, being a most indiscriminate photographer. However, I am shy about taking photos of people, and that’s one I need to work on. Also, I haven’t spent much time recently taking photos within cities or towns, or of industrial areas, and these could use more attention. In fact, there is a road trip I want to take (when I can afford it again) that will involve taking pictures of people and places of this nature, not just the wonderful Missouri country side.

But I will never tire of taking photos of Missouri. I may mention the statistics about St. Louis and the crime, but this really is a wonderful city full of charm and character. And the countryside – if you’ve never been here, nothing I can photograph, or tell you, will ever convey the richness of this state: the forests, wetlands, granite mountains, and deep rivers. And the charming towns, and quirky, maddening, fascinating, and complex people that live here.

And, girlfriends, the men on Harleys here are drop dead gorgeous. When they say life begins at 50, they must have been talking about these guys, silver foxes everyone, I tell you. Youngsters got nothing on these guys. Well, okay, maybe Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman, but that’s it.

Did I happen to mention the good drugs?


Irony sweet blissful irony

After writing the post about Jeneane and her COBRA going up and then heading off to the doctor, I came and found a letter from the company who I have COBRA through – my medical and dental insurance premiums have also increased.

More, they’ve changed the dental provider effective December 1. So the deductible that I paid today will no longer work for the new company. When I go in next week for work, I’ll have to pay a new deductible.

Let’s try something new, shall we? Instead of all of us saying why we’re not voting for Bush next year, someone come in and give a reason why they would. I’d say a good reason, but that song won’t play in my neighborhood.


I missed this

When I started reading references to the FBI and its new spying tactics, I assumed it had to do with the FBI spying on protestors against the Iraq war. I didn’t realize there was a second story, this one about the FBI’s expanion of powers through NSLs, or national security letters.

Seems the government not only wants to know about us when we protest, it also wants to know about us when we breath.

Here’s a solution to the St. Louis crime problem – if we can get half the city residents to attend an anti-Bush rally, we’d generate enough interest to probably result in a whole lot of FBI people being assigned here. Since we assume that they would actually act on a real crime, rather than just imagined ones, they should help cut the crime rate here. If nothing else, all those suits hanging around wearing dark glasses and peering into windows should make for an interesting time, and it can get kinda dull sometimes in the winter here.

See, my mama always told me to make the bad stuff work for you.


Being healthy or rich

Being an independent today is not too viable an option, primarily because of corporate malfeasance, but also, indirectly, because the government in this country doesn’t support it.

For instance, most companies won’t hire an self-employed person because of the infamous IRS Twenty Question bias, which basically boils down companies forcing people who should be employees into being contractors so that you don’t have to pay benefits, but then the contractors don’t pay their tax and the government gets stiffed. The government invented the Twenty Questions to be able to go after the companies when this happens.

The side effect of this is that a lot of companies won’t touch independents, and you have to incorporate. Believe me, who has incorporated in not one but four states, that’s not a great option, either.

If you do get gigs, a new corporate ploy lately, called the Wal-Mart gambit is to basically not pay your contractors. You hold on to the money and you hold and you hold and you hold, because the longer you have it, the more interest you get. Smaller sub-contractors don’t have the resources to force a payment, and most don’t want to antagonize the bigger company. Years ago, there used to be a level of trust between businesses and their sub-contractors, but no longer. In today’s corporate world, all that matters is bottom line. Quarterly profits, and bonuses to chief executives.

Jeneane is facing this with a company, most likely a major, well known company, not paying her in a prompt manner. Of course, she’s independent now because she way laid off from her company, so she didn’t have years to accumulate the funds to tide her over through the ‘corporate asshole’ payment system.

To add fear to the uncertainty, though, she also found out her COBRA payments are being increased to $1300.00 for coverage for her, her husband, and her daughter. That’s 1300.00 a month. Not a lot of people in this country can pay $1300.00 a month for insurance. But not a lot of people can afford to take the risk not to have the insurance.

You see, it’s a catch 22 situation – the laws and the business climate in this country force people into becoming employees, at about the same time that companies are fudging their profits by using contractors, or offshorting their work. No matter which way you turn here, well, you’re fucked.

Of course, Congress, outside of some Democrats, care little about this, as demonstrated by passing the only major medical initiative the President would tolerate – a Medicare ‘reform’ bill that basically gives subsidies to HMOs for people that can afford to subscribe. Doesn’t help Jeneane though. Doesn’t help the millions in this country who don’t have insurance, or have to pay rates they can’t afford.

I, myself, just came home from the oral surgeon today with not good news, not good news at all, and I have some dental insurance. I go to the doctor this afternoon because my foot I injured earlier this year, when I didn’t have medical insurance to get it checked, has lost feeling in some of the toes, and one is starting to turn a not very good color and to look a bit odd. But at least I now have medical insurance. As long as I keep paying that $203.00 a month, I can afford to get sick.

Today comes the good news that the economy is just blistering, it’s doing so well. Now this could be that the economy is doing better, and this is good. Or it could be because companies are making a profit using their lessons learned from Wal-Mart; while unemployment is driven lower because less people are being counted because their unemployment insurance has run out.

Or there are people like Jeneane, who took a chance to go independent when she was laid off – only to feel her heart in her throat everytime the postal worker delivers the mail, because she has to pay a $1300.00 health insurance bill, and she can’t get paid for her work.


No worries

I rarely get the poetry writing bug, preferring to expose others’ excellent work when I do my poetry-photography pairs. I loved the pic, though, and couldn’t find a poem to fit it for the life of me.

(Well, that’s really an excuse – everyone is a poet wanting to show their friends their bits of verse. It’s just that, thankfully, most people don’t have weblogs.)

Of course, when he reads the poem, Joe may regret his school’s efforts into bringing poetry to the computer scientists and engineers at his college.

Other news: In addition to closing down the Practical RDF weblog, I will also be closing down the Semantic Web for Poets weblog. I think that the act of writing about the semantic web is really the act of writing about everyday uses of everyday technology, so I’m adding other sites in its place, including a MySQL/SQL for Poets. Besides, I find myself falling between the cracks of the Great Debates around here – not glowing enough about the twitchy bits for the Semantic Web folks; not condemning enough about the overall concept for the “Keep Your Meaning out of Our Web” folks.

(Should make more than a few of the techies around here quite glad – I think they were beginning to view me in a manner similar to how the butterfly viewed that bee in the last story. )


I originally wasn’t going to point out this post, because what could one say, but I did think the condemnation of the RDF supporters in regards to the Atom effort was a bit tactless, considering how much work the RDF supporters (such as Danny Ayers and Ken MacLeod) put into maintaining the ATOM wiki, as well as helping with the other non-RDF bits of the effort. I guess that grace in code is valued in some circles more than grace in behavior.

All the rest of the Wayward webloggers have been moved, and aside from finding that some files transferred as zero bytes, we’re all cooking now. Including Loren who has Been Doin’ a Litl Read’n:

Did I tell ya I’d been wanderingm doin a little read’n? Read’n ain’t always a good thing. Ups and gives ya ideas. Me and Tom Joad gots ideas.

Don’t be telling no Ashcroft and his assholes I nos how to read. Don’t wanna be on nobody’s LIST.

I need to finish my clean up and move, but I’m not much in a mood for it. Maybe tomorrow.