Thursday, January 29, 2009

Economic Stimulus

We got our tax refund today, sort of an economic stimulus. We will be stimulating the economy with it, and this is one of the ways we are doing it. I placed the order today.
It's a dual-core 64-bit machine with all the normal goodies, plus some extras. I struggled with it a bit, and could have gotten the 17" version with a few more bells and whistles, but I try to be practical more than overly frivolous most of the time. In my mind, I couldn't justify the extra cost for more of the extras. Now I gotta wait a couple weeks. *sigh*

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I have been using Skype for a long time to make phone calls across the internet. It does a fine job calling regular landlines and cell phones. (I haven't used it for computer-to-computer calls since I've had it.) Recently, I bought a regular phone handset that plugs into one of the computer's USB ports and resembles the older Nokia cell phones:

It does a fine job, and sounds good and clear to everybody I call - just like a regular landline phone. Sounds good, albeit a little bit "tinny" on my end. Overall it works very well. With it, you can scroll down your Skype phone book or just dial in the number like you would any other phone. It's also supposed to work when you switch users and log off Windows. I haven't tried that yet. (That would allow anybody to use it without you being logged in to your programs and files.) After I saw how well it works, I subscribed to unlimited US and Canada calling for only a couple bucks a month. It's much cheaper than phone company rates.

I think I prefer this way over using a headset or headphones/earphones and a microphone. Seems more natural this way. I would guess that it's best to use a dedicated USB port for the phone, because when I swap devices in the port I use, Windows has trouble going back to the handset. It seems that other drivers don't completely release it and occasionally has to be re-booted. You can find one at Wal-Mart and other places with computer stuff. I'm satisfied with it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hard Times?

Many people are experiencing hard times. Due to economic or other reasons, many have lost something. Might have been some of their "stuff". Might have been their jobs. Might have been everything. Maybe those times are looming around the corner. I've been there. I know the feeling. It can be daunting.

Five years ago this year, I turned my back on everything familiar - due to being victimized for many years. I left everything I knew and had, and proceeded to start a new life. I had close to nothing. My 4-cylinder S-10 truck, a couple changes of clothes (literally) and my computer. That's it, nothing else. For years prior to this, I had at least two, and as many as 3 new vehicles at a time, owned my land and home free and clear, had a job that paid over $25.00 an hour, had all the necessary tools of my trade as an industrial electrician, had some very expensive guns, a garage full of hand and power tools, you name it. I "had it all", including good credit. All of a sudden, I had none of it. Ya know what? All that stuff doesn't mean a thing. I don't miss it at all.

At the time I left my old world, I didn't know anything about my future. It could have been a really scary time. I didn't know where I would end up when I stopped driving. I didn't have a job, nor did I know if I could get one very soon. As overwhelming as it could have been, I stayed focused and listened to my heart. I felt that all would work out - in time. I kept my faith. I quickly learned what was important - and it isn't "things". The important things aren't what you can see on the outside, but what you have on the inside.

I was lucky enough to have real friends all across the country - from Connecticut to Alaska, from Southern Florida to Chicago, and points in between. Several of them offered to give me refuge until I could get on my feet. One offered financial help, but I refused. I chose to contact my friends closest to "as far as I could get, and that nobody would expect I would go there". They put me up, and made sure I had a roof over my head and food in my mouth until I got a job and started paying my own way. No, they weren't rich by any means. They were "just people" who sometimes struggled to make it month to month - people with good hearts and souls. (I thank God for them every day.)

In two weeks, I was working at a real job. Didn't pay much, but it was a job - income. As the years passed, I got "things" again, slowly but surely. Not the same kind of things I had before, but different kinds of things. I got craft things so I would have something constructive to utilize my free time. I enjoy leather crafting. I got photography things, cheap ones at first but it slowly became some fairly decent "stuff". After about three years, I had all I really wanted as far as "things" goes. I was even able to buy a new (used) car on my own credit. Now as of a little over a month ago, I have a beautiful wife whose wants and needs are the same as mine, someone to spend the rest of my life with in perfect harmony.

If you are among those having it rough economically now, who have lost your job or your "stuff", take heart. You will be fine. This too will pass. I have lost all of that and have emerged above it, and so can you. No, I don't have a $25.00 and hour job any more - less than half that, actually. I don't have all those new cars/trucks/4WD's. I don't have a garage full of tools. What I do have is all that is important - and it's inside me. Things didn't give it to me. I have the love of a wonderful wife. I have an inner peace that cannot be destroyed or lost. I am happy. You can have it all, too. Yes, that is "all". It's all that matters. If you have inner peace and count your blessings as you go you will come out on top.

Things are not important. They come and go all the time. They can't make you happy. You just think they can. What is important, is what lasts forever - it's what is (or should be) in your heart. Love.

Count your blessings.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dr. Martin Luther King

Tomorrow we honor MLK with a national holiday. I've been wondering - how we are supposed to do it? It got me thinking. How can we truly honor him? We have yet to do it since his death. His dream has been a nightmare.

Dr. King dreamed that all should be judged on the content of their character, and not the color of their skin. He dreamed that all would have equal treatment in society. There has been none of it, except by those who would be branded as racists.

Can anybody tell me anything that has happened since Dr. King was murdered that would suggest that his dream was even slightly fulfilled? I can't honestly think of anything. All through the years, skin color has been mentioned constantly - even highlighted. No matter what is in the news, color has been pointed out - unless you are a white person. Whites have never been able to tell a "black" joke without being branded a racist, yet blacks can tell jokes with whites as the subject. Blacks can tell black jokes but whites can't. Mexicans can tell Mexican jokes, but whites cannot. You cannot dislike someone's actions because of those actions if you are white and they are non-white. If you want a gay/black/Mexican criminal to receive a harsh sentence, you will be branded as a gay/black/Mexican hater or racist. That is not equality. That is not judging people by their character.

We have a president-elect today - two days before his inauguration. People say that this is a historic time, because we will have our first black president. Should it be? What in his character is so remarkable? It is only because of his color. The emphasis has only been on one thing, and it's not any character trait. In fact, there are many questions that would cast doubt on his character. I have been dissatisfied with many presidents in the past, including Clinton and the Bushes. Never once was I or anybody else who expressed dissatisfaction been branded a racist. Since our election, one has to be careful to not make negative comments about our president-elect, lest you take the very real chance of being branded a racist. I suspect that this will continue throughout his term. Would Dr. King approve? I doubt it.

Why is our president-elect being treated as if he was in office upon winning the election? Because of his color. (No other president-elect has ever been the object of overwhelming media coverage over the sitting president in such a way.)

Why is this a "historical" time for America? Because of our president-elect's color.

Our economy is pretty much in the tank. It's a real mess. Never before has such a hoopla and expenditure been made for an in-coming president. Why? We, the taxpayers, will be footing a huge bill for this, when frugality should be in order. Much more is being spent on this inauguration than any other. Why? Why is he so special that he needs to spend so much more of our money, just to take an oath of office? Sure, have parties and celebrations if you will, but take it easy on our money.

Can't we honor Dr. King by doing what he envisioned? Let's realize Dr. King's dream just once in our lifetimes. Let's come down to Earth and practice real equality. Call me a racist if you like, but I'm doing my part to fulfill Dr. King's dream. I do and will treat everybody the same, and you will be judged on your character. I don't care what you look like or what lifestyle you have.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Accusations of racism that lurk in the shadows do nothing to further Dr. King's dream. It is rooted in the bitterness and hatred of which he speaks.

The only way to further Dr. King's dream is to look upon another's skin with no more importance than the color of his hair or that of his eyes. Racism knows no bounds. All colors can be (and often are) victims of racism - black, brown, yellow, red, and white.

Dr. King, I salute you. I hope and pray that some day your dream will be realized for all mankind.