Category Archives: Uncategorized

Provo Craft . . . run by morons or what?

Here I am again to complain. Maybe soon I’ll post something happy, like pictures of my dog.

I own a Cricut. Yes, I do, and I’m not ashamed. For those of you who don’t know what a cricut is, it’s basically a fancy machine like the old plotter printers in the 70’s and 80s except instead of a pen, it has a cutter. It cuts shapes out of paper. I find it really handy for all sorts of things like quilting, paper crafting, the mixed media paintings I’ve been doing lately, etc. It can be used for more things than scrapbooking. Provo Craft, the company that manufactures the Cricuts don’t agree with me.

They would like to keep the tool restricted to house moms who like to cut cute little animals and scrapbook pages rather than being savy business people and realizing there is a wide world of artist and other crafts people who might find their tool useful. Why do I say this? Well . . .

A few years ago two companies came along and saw a need. Up until then, you could only cut out designs from “cartridges” that Provo Craft sells for $89 each. While there are lots of cute things on the cartridges, there wasn’t the flexibility to cut your own art.

These two new companies, Sure Cuts A Lot and Make the Cut created computer software that interfaced with the Cricut to allow users to cut whatever the hell they wanted, not just the cutesy stuff published by Provo Craft. Evidently, the creators of those software products had to hack into the Cricut’s own software code to create the interface, thereby violating the terms of the Cricut user agreement. Provo Craft sued both of these companies and now, users are back to square one with only pricey, froofy designs to cut.

I own several cartridges that I use a lot. But, I also like to cut my own designs. Sometimes I like to personalize what I’m doing. The primary reason I bought a Cricut was because of Sure Cuts A Lot. I realized I could cut my own stuff on this great machine. No way would I buy anything that restricts me like that. When I bought an MP3 player, it wasn’t an IPOD for the same reason. I guess I don’t like to feel controlled and boxed in.

I don’t blame Provo Craft for being pissed that someone “stole” their code or even for suing. I would think they were simply jealous that someone came up with the idea first, but after all this time they haven’t released their own version giving users the flexibility that some competing tools have. This leads me to believe that Provo Craft thinks what they publish is simply enough and that people shouldn’t want more. Would you buy a CD player that would only play the 50 CDs published by the CD player manufacturer and restricts you from the millions of other CDs? Again, I don’t blame PC for being upset, but this should be a wake up call that people like their machine and would like more flexibility in using it. If PC would have offered a similar software, I would have purchased that. Additional revenue stream anyone?????

I’ve heard people say “you knew it was a cartridge based system when you bought it.” True, but tools existed that allowed me to use it anywhich way I wanted – which is why I got it.

My question is this: what sort of dim whits run this company? Both of the aforementioned software companies were successful because they sold a product that people wanted. PC should capitalize on this customer desire which would benefit the company and the customer – what could be better? Heck, they could buy Sure Cuts A Lot and just publish it under their name. I’m confused.

I sent them a note letting them know that the tool they just put out of business is the reason I settled on a Cricut. I don’t know why they bothered, Provo Craft has notoriously bad customer relations skills. Which could be why they ignored this huge opportunity, other companies took advantage of the opportunity, and then Giant Provo Craft squashed them like little bugs for their creativity and continued marching on like a deaf, dumb and blind giant heading straight for a clif.

Politicians Behaving Badly

I fell asleep with the TV on last night.  One bad side effect of doing this is that I can have bad dreams, but worse than that, when you fall asleep with the TV on, you don’t get to choose what you wake up to.

This morning, I woke up to the condescending voice of Harry Reid.  The very first thing I heard this morning was “republicans WANT to deprive women like his and granddaughters of healthcare.“  This is in reference to the money going to Planned Parenthood that is, in part, causing the issues with passing a budget.  I seriously doubt the republicans WANT to deprive women of healthcare or that Reid women visit Planned Parenthood for their annual pap smears.   I’ve also heard republicans claim that Planned Parenthood only does abortions.  All of these statements are ridiculous and completely false. 

Sometimes I wonder if these people are educated at all, because some of the things that they say sound like a child might have concocted them.  Or, maybe they think we are all so dumb that we won’t notice that they make gross generalizations and false statements to lure us into their way of thinking. 
It’s so sad that I only come here to vent.  I’ll have to rethink that and start making regular posts.  I am beyond tired of listening to the politicians in Washington whine and bicker.  If they would stop for a minute and look for creative solutions rather than arm wrestle over every stupid little thing, we might actually get somewhere.   They are arguing about the color of the walls, meanwhile the house is on fire.  And, instead of guiding these politicians like a wise and caring father would his arguing children, Obama has joined the fray.  He should step up and demand some creative solutions – this is how leaders of successful corporations handle things.  He would make a very bad business man.

I realize that most of these people have never actually been business men or women, or that it’s been decades since they were in the business world.  In a business, you have to creatively work through issues.  Take this Planned Parenthood issue for instance.   Republicans don’t want tax-payer dollars going to abortions.  Great, couldn’t agree more.  But, they don’t want Planned Parenthood to get ANY money because once the money is received; it all goes into one pot.  How do you separate tax-payer money from other donations?  Planned Parenthood provides many other services besides abortions.  They provide low cost gyno exams, vaccinations, general physical exams and screenings, STD tests, breast cancer screenings, and so forth.  These are all very valuable services that they provide to low-income men and women.  Nobody is arguing about that.  But they are arguing about abortions.  So, rather than look for a creative solution to this problem that would satisfy both sides, they fight. 

It’s this take it or leave it, black or white, my way or the highway standoff that is crippling this country.  If businesses approached problems this way, we would be a third-world country peeing into holes in the floor. 

Instead of bickering, they should ask questions like this: How can we keep tax-payer money from funding abortions while keeping Planned Parenthood?  Some republicans would just like to see Planned Parenthood shut down no matter what.  And, some democrats would like to see tax-payer money fund abortions.  These are extremes.  There is a middle ground.  If we brainstorm, I’m sure we can come up with a few good solutions.

But no, we don’t operate this country like a business – we operate it like a drug-addict who is about to go into foreclosure on his house.  We have no budget.  We spend more than we earn.  And we refuse to get counseling.

The Consequences of Being Responsible

Congratulations to me for being one of the people in this society who actually believe in personal responsibility and self-reliance.  Congratualtions to me for paying my mortgage on time, working hard to provide for myself, paying for my own health insurance when my company wasn’t offering it to me as a benefit, and all other manner of non-leech like behavior.

The reward for being responsible in this current economic and political climate: jack shit.

The reward for taking out a loan too big, not paying your bills, and expecting Uncle Sam to provide all one’s earthly needs: wonderful free government money ripped straight out of my pocket.

I have a mortgage that I can afford.  The interest rate is high and right now rates are low.  Thanks to the lovely neighbors who have defaulted on their mortgages, the value of my property is now less than what I owe and I can’t get a refi loan.  If I were a slack ass and just stopped paying my mortgage – No Problem!  Slack asses get special rules — we should feel sorry for slack asses.  If I had a loan serviced by the wonderful Govt agencies Freddie or Fannie — No Problem!  There is a government program for upside down mortgages serviced by Freddie/Fannie too. 

Well, I’m not a slack ass and I don’t have a government owned mortgage.  I’ve behaved myself and don’t expect or want government handouts. So guess what my reward is – Congratulations to me!  I’m SOL!  Gotta love a culture that rewards people who expect government handouts! 

I understand lots of people have lost their jobs — I’m not talking about those people.  I’m referring to genuine 100% slack asses.  I’m just frustrated and a little pissed that the only people who have no ability to take part in the currently low finance rates are the ones who bothered making on-time payments!

*UPDATE:  Since writing this I was able to refi my place.  I was sitting home having a pitty party one day and it did occur to me that I should see if I could come up with a solution to this problem myself.  There’s almost always a solution to problems if you look hard enough.  I found a good mortgage company and managed to put togther the necessary $19,000 it took to pay down my loan to the point I could refi.  Doing that saved me 5 interest points and close to $200,000 over the life of my loan!  Look ma, I did it myself!

At the risk of having someone bite me in the ass . . .

1) I’m really glad the election stuff is over. While I don’t agree with some of Obama’s politics, I am really excited and proud of the country for what this means for our history. However, I am disgusted and saddened by those who would suggest that anyone who didn’t vote for Obama is racist, stupid and hateful. Apparently, we have forgotten that there were politics involved – we don’t all agree on politics. If we did there wouldn’t be two parties, bickering and fighting. Instead, we would all be holding hands, swaying from side to side and singing “I’d like to teach the world to sing.”

2) I don’t live in California anymore. I lived there the first time the Same-Sex Marriage issue was on the ballot. Of course, we all know what happened. Then a few judges basically made the ban on those marriages null and the assertion was it wouldn’t affect anyone but those who wanted to get married. Now it lands on the ballot again, has the same result and, of course, everyone is pissed. People who don’t support gay marriage are called bigoted and hateful. Is it really that black and white? I don’t think so.

If a person’s reason for being against same sex unions is for no reasons other than homophobia, then yes, it’s bigoted and hateful. If a person has a more well-thought out viewpoint it’s unreasonable and small-minded to consider them hateful and unfeeling. Though, I do admit, putting the fear of being called a bigot into someone can be enough to entice many people to keep their mouths shut, which is sad. One of the great beauties of this country is having the freedom to think and say what you please. Too often we try to silence the so-called haters with hate. It’s hypocritical.

So, that being said, here is where I’m at on the same-sex marriage issue. At first blush, I honestly couldn’t find any problem with it. Who am I to tell someone else what they can and can’t do in their private lives? The line that goes along with this issue is that it doesn’t hurt anyone and only involves those involved in the marriage. If that is true, then, sure, go for it. I have no issues. However, thinking about it further . . . what’s next . . . then I see some potential problems that really haven’t been addressed and will cause contention. As I get older I stop making snap opinions on issues I know little or nothing about until I have time to let that issue percolate and fester in my brain. I pick up things here and there and eventually I have an official opinion. I used to date someone who thought that everyone had to have an opinion about everything at all times or that person was stupid. He is starting to seem a little dumb to me now. Likewise, making opinions simply because it tows the line with a chosen political or social identity is the lazy way out. Does anyone agree wholeheartedly with liberalism or conservatism or Democratic or Republican principals? I seriously hope not, or that person isn’t being honest with himself – these are just titles – words – ideas created artifically to create a collective. We’re too individual for that to happen. In my experience, when that happens it’s a laziness or fear. I’ve been there. Usually when I refuse to listen to a specific politican’s speech or comentator on TV and there is a lot of pent up hate, it’s me manifesting my fear that person might say something I agree with which will disrupt my belief system. Boo!

Anyway, off the preaching stand now and back to my point. The pitfalls I see with same-sex marriage issues come from the promise that it won’t affect anyone else. How is that possible? It’s not. Very few things we do have no actual impact on anyone else. So, to suggest that this shouldn’t matter to anyone else is fairly short-sighted.

I recently read the story of an OBGYN in Los Angeles who was being sued for discrimination for declining to inseminate a newly-wed lesbian couple because it was in serious and direct opposition to his personal religious beliefs. He was willing to refer the couple to a doctor who would perform the procedure and he offered to provide care to them during the pregnancy. Not good enough. Where do we draw the line? If someone’s religious beliefs conflict with what I want them to do for me can I take them to court and force them to do so against their will or suffer the consequences? This is a real situation. It happened. I have read commentary by people on the web who think the lawsuit is ok saying “well, if I ran a business and refused to service Christians, would you think that’s ok.” It’s an interesting point.

If it’s ok to force a doctor to conduct an elective procedure that puts him in conflict with what he believes because it’s not fair to someone? Where do we, as a society, draw the line? Artificial insemination, abortion, euthanasia? Do you think I’m taking this too far? Think it through. You know human nature. We will sue for anything . . . and win. Just Google “frivolous lawsuits” to get an idea. And if the frivolous ones get through, consider that serious issues will make it through too.

Another case in Florida involved a lawsuit against a Catholic adoption agency that wouldn’t give a child to a gay couple. Should the Catholic Church be forced to adopt out children to gay couples? To the Catholic Church, homosexuality is a sin. They don’t consider it a wholesome thing. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, is homosexuality different from other “sinful” lifestyles? Not really. Would we get to the point where precident has been set and they are sued for refusing to give a single male who participates in bestiality a child? I’m not sure. It’s certainly possible. But homosexuality is more mainstream now. It’s normal. The other lifestyles are not normal . . . will they ever be?

How about forcing religious leaders to officiate gay marriages? Is that ok? How about suing because teaching that homosexuality is wrong is hate speech? What about the guy who sued the Bible publishers because the verses that call homosexuality a sin were against his constitutional rights and have caused him emotional pain and mental instability? Do we force the churches to stop teaching about homosexuality? Does it suddenly have to be ok?

I think this is a much more complicated issue than it appears on the surface. Many people are against it, not because they hate gay people, but because they recognize that it could change a lot of things that are important to them. Are they small-minded and hateful? No, they’re considering what they think might be the fallout and determining if they’re willing to accept it or not.

But Christina Aguilera says they’re hateful and small-minded. So it must be true. Another hilarious assertion is that the Mormon Church paid for the fight against the prop. Not really. I think the Church is acutely aware of the value of it’s tax-exempt status. I do think that California members of the church probably forked out a bunch of money, which is their right to do.

You make up your own mind. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Just make up your mind thinking the issue through and, regardless of your subsequent stance on the issue, rest well knowing that you made a thoughtful decision.

Memories of War

I saw my grandfather tonight.  I picked him up and drove him to my neice’s preschool program.  We laughed.  It was cute.  When we got back to his house, I asked if I could talk to him about something.  After many months of obvious blindness it all came together and dawned on me that a friend I care about very much might be suffering through the effects of his recent military service in Iraq.  I have spent the last few days learning as much as I can about PTSD and treatments. 

Because my grandfather served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, I thought he might be able to give me some insight into how to help my friend.  All he could suggest was to be a good friend and a good listenter.  It’s good advice.  Then, he told me things I don’t think he has ever told anyone in the family before.  He won’t talk about his wartime stories unless they are funny stories – something I’ve noticed in other veterans. 

He told me he still sees their faces vividly.  He recounted being in Vietnam where he shot a man in the leg with a tracer round and could see it smoldeirng in the man’s leg.  The man was in pain and trying to scrape the round out of his flesh.  He told me about seeing the man who they shot with a machine gun – from the dirt on up the man’s body.

He told me about what it was like when his tank crashed through the gates of a concentration camp in Germany and what he saw, what he smelled.  They went to nearby homes and looted food and brought it back to the people in the camp.  He described the ovens and the bodies piled up next to them like cords of wood.

He can’t remember what he ate for lunch or where he went yesterday, but the memories of his combat experience are as vivid as they ever were.  I asked him if the memories of these things strike at random moments and if he is still having nightmares.  He said the frequency of the memories has diminished over time and that he is sleeping well.  Finally.  He is 83.

The grand finale of my neice’s preschool program was a patriotic number.  These innocent little children singing patriotic songs and waiving flags – I was having trouble holding back tears.  What have we become as a country.  Patriotism is not fasionable anymore.  People who put their lives on the line and ended up scarred by their trip through the “meat grinder” are not taken care of as they should be.  The things they have seen and endured most of us will never understand.  It’s heartbreaking.

Interesting Gun Facts: Part 2

“Assault Weapons” aka “Scary Black Guns”

BOO! Are you scared yet? Hahahaha

“Assault Weapon” is a misnomer used by gun control advocates and people who learned everything they know from TV news.  Please, unless you want to demonstrate to your friends that you have no idea what you’re talking about, try not to say assault weapon, assault rifle, assault pistol, etc.  Additionally, try your very hardest not to pontificate about how nobody needs an assault rifle.  That will make you sound even more biased and mis-informed. 

Check out this video by Officer Leroy Pyle of the San Jose, CA Police Department.  He gives a quick overview of the difference between fully automatic vs. semi-automatic and shows how the asthetic of the firearm itself influences news reports, public opinion and legislation.

IN REVIEW:

Semi-Automatic Rifles (not Assault Rifles, though your friendly neigborhood politicians would like you to believe otherwise.)  The first three rifles below are chambered in the same caliber – meaning they shoot the exact same bullets out the business end.  They also shoot only one round per trigger pull.  One of these looks scary.  The other one looks generic.  The third . . . you decide.

AR-15 (scary black gun)

Grandpa’s Rifle (not scary black gun)

Pink AR-15: Same as the “Scary Black Gun,” only pink.  Let this roll around in your mind:  why is the black one the one that’s targeted by lawmakers when it’s really the same as any other .223 rifle?  Also, before you go and get all upset that this deadly object looks like a toy, it was painted by a man for his ADULT wife who keeps it in her safe and shoots it at the range.  Children don’t play with this gun, nor are they manufactured for sale.  Please, try to keep from peeing yourself on this one.  Also, any comments left by people who did not read this post or any other accurate info on guns and just want to spout ignorance will quickly be deleted.  Check out http://www.riflegear.com for more info on this pink rifle.

Fully Automatic AK-47 (more truly identified as an assault rifle).  These are limited to military, police and civilians who have gone through extensive background check process.  Very few reports of this gun used in crime – they are EXPENSIVE to obtain and own.

Semi-Automatic AK-47.  Don’t let looks deceive.  This is NOT the same gun as the one above.  This firearm fires only one round per trigger pull.  It is more similar to the first two firearms than the one above it even though cosmetically, it’s the most similar to the fully auto AK-47.

Got it?  Good!  Now promise never to discuss assault weapons in ignorance again!

Interesting Gun Facts: Part 1

Did you know that in order to purchase a gun from a store (federally licensed firearms dealer) the buyer must submit to a federal background check?  This applies to all federally licensed firearms dealers – at gun shows or at the local gun shop.

What this means: criminals don’t buy guns from firearms dealers – only those with very clean records can purchase firearms from dealers.  The Brady Bill the posession of firearms for any individual who:

  • is convicted of a felony
  • is under indictment for a felony, but has not gone to court
  • is the unlawful user of a controlled substance
  • is drug dependant
  • is adjudicated mentally defective or been committed to a mental institution
  • is an illegal or unlawful alien in the Untied States
  • is dishonorably discharged from the military
  • has renounced citizenship of the United States
  • is subject to court order restraining them from harassing, stalking or threatening another (i.e. spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant or child of such partner)
  • cannot prove residency with proper identification
  • has any warrant
  • any domestic violence conviction
  • been convicted as a juvenile for an offense which would have been a felony if committed by an adult (within last 10 years)

It is illegal for anyone who fits any one of the above criteria to own a firearm – any kind of firearm, rifle, shotgun, handgun, machine gun.  They’re all off limits.

I mentioned earlier that any firearms dealer must complete a background check on the purchaser before completing the sell.  The “gunshow loophole” spoken of by politicians and gun-control advocates refers to the private sell of firearms.  This has little or nothing to do with gunshows, but it sounds really cool.  Soundbites are cool!

Why not restrict private sell of firearms?  Well, because it’s already illegal for one of the people mentioned above to own a firearm.  It’s also illegal to knowingly sell a firearm to one of those people.  Many law-abiding individuals who sell firearms privately are very careful about such sales.  Why does anyone need to sell a gun privately you ask?  I ask why does anyone sell a car.  They’re not using it anymore.  Maybe it’s a model they don’t enjoy shooting, or they want a newer better version.  Luckily, we can sell things we don’t want anymore in this country.  Gun control advocates would like that ability stripped from Joe Hunter down the street or from Sally Target Shooter.  However, like most gun control laws, restrictions on private firearms sales only adds extra steps to the process for law abiding people.  Criminals are criminals and won’t follow that law either.

So, my solution?  I propose that this country actually start enforcing the laws we have.  Punnish criminals and let them serve full and complete sentences.  I recently heard about an early release program to ease crowding in prisons and jails.  I’m not the world’s most brilliant person, but even I can understand that placing more laws and burden on the law abiding while simultaneously enhancing the criminal’s ability to commit crime is not an effective plan.

Next time: The truth about “Assault Weapons” aka “Scary Black Guns”