Thursday, December 8, 2016

Meanwhile at the Ends of the Earth...

I know we've all been captivated by elections, and pipelines, and holidays, and whatnot - but just in case you've missed it, there are some very, um.... interesting things happening at our earth's poles right now.

Basically, both the Arctic and the Antarctic hit new record lows for sea ice extent in November. This is pretty much unheard of and it has scientists a tad bit panicked concerned.

Here's the picture in the Arctic:

And while that graph might look disheartening... it's not quite as alarming as this one:

Yes... it's true that it's just one month, and even if the trend were to continue throughout the season it's possible that it's just an anomaly.

What's the old saying? Oh I know: One month of historically low sea ice doth not a global emergency OMG we've hit the tipping point and now the feedback loops are all kicking in and WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! disaster make. But it is quite interesting.

Anyhow, there are lots of articles on the topic, but this one in the Washington Post is a good summary of the situation in case you're curious.

Somehow I am oddly comforted by the idea that we might be on the cusp of something really bad environmentally speaking. It's not that I want anyone to suffer, but somehow the prospect of a species-threatening environmental catastrophe sorta puts things like my mother's estate or paying for health insurance into perspective.

I dunno... It just seems like everywhere I turn I see powerful people trying to grab more power, and conflicts over resources and control.

But honestly, I just can't escape the sensation that we're all fighting over... errr, I mean rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Anyhow, I have no what to do with this information, but I thought you should know. At the moment this is the best advice I can come up with:

You've been warned!!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

An Update, and a Santa Story

Hello there world!

OK... this post will be much less whiny than the last few have been... I promise!

So first of all, an update. My geeking has been coming along nicely.

Long story short, I've been re-writing websites and setting up new servers. The learning curve is steep, but I think I'm turning the corner. All of my sites are now mobile-compatible, the one that was crashing all the time has finally stopped misbehaving, and once I get things transferred to the new server I'll be able to cut nearly $100/month off of my expenses. Plus, having a better understanding of what's going on "under the hood" can only be good, right? So, a big woo hoo on that front!

I've also stepped up my game in terms of making new content for my sites - which is actually the part that I really enjoy. My latest accomplishment is falling snow gifs... Waddya think?

That brings me to my little Santa story. For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about this, and thought it might give you all a little chuckle. So here's a little holiday humor for you.

One year, I decided to leave out some cookies and milk for Santa.

When I got up on Christmas morning, I was delighted to see that a few of the cookies were gone, and half of the milk had been drunk. BUT, on closer inspection, I was horrified to see that the rim of the glass had lipstick on it!!! WHAT?!?!

Needless to say, this was a very disturbing development. And there were only a few possible explanations.

Option one: My mother had stolen the cookies and milk left for Santa.

She, of course denied this, and really, it didn't make logical sense. I mean, there were plenty more cookies, and gallons of milk in the kitchen, if she'd wanted some, she could have just gotten them there.

Soooo... option two: There really was no Santa and my mother had been impersonating him by eating the cookies and drinking the milk.

But, I was not quite ready to believe that, sooo....

That left only one more plausible explanation: Santa was a cross dresser!
Don't ask me why, but that's where my seven year old little brain went, and for a few hours I was thoroughly convinced that my transvestite Santa was real. But as the day wore on, I just couldn't quite come to terms with the lipstick and the beard, and finally had to accept the sad reality that there was, in fact, no Santa Clause.

True story.

Anyhow, that's the news from the funny farm.

I'm sure everyone can remember that first moment when they realized that there really was no Santa Clause... I'd love to hear yours!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Coming Out of the Fog

Well, where to begin....

First of all, I want to thank all of you for your kind, supportive and helpful comments in regards to my situation with my brother.

I was finally able to speak with him, and I feel much better at least in the sense of not being so angry with him anymore. I'm still not sure that he'll be able to get it together to actually close out the estate, but I tried to help him craft a plan with concrete steps for moving forward and he did actually follow through with step one. So we'll see how it goes.

So, I sorta feel like it's been an entire lifetime since I last posted. I've been really sick - caught a bad case of bronchitis about a week an a half ago, and then I did something to my neck and have been dealing with muscle spasms, so I feel a bit as though I've been in a stupor of sorts.

On top of that, the weather has been downright schizophrenic. Over the course of 24 hours we went from 80 degree (27C) summer-like heat, to this:

It got down into the teens the night after the snowfall (-9C) - holy moly!  Truth be told, we were long overdue for some winter weather - this was the third latest first snowfall in Denver history, but still - a temperature swing of 65 degrees over 36 hours felt a tad bit extreme and otherworldly.

Then, of course, there's the election. I was as shocked as everyone by the outcome, and while I have plenty of political opinions on the whole thing, there doesn't seem to be much point in focusing on that stuff. Instead, I'm trying to craft a plan to deal with the very real fallout that the change of political climate will have in my own life.

As a self-employed person, I get my health insurance through the exchange, and no matter what happens, I think it's a safe bet that the ACA (Obamacare) will be going away. Trump has promised that they will replace it with something "better," but if house Republicans have their way, they'll be repealing the ACA immediately. Either way, I think it's prudent for me to be prepared.

Of course, that begs the question... prepared for what? I think it's sort of hard to say, but since all of the proposals I've heard involve doing away with both the subsidies and the restrictions on how much insurance companies can bump up prices for older people, I'm pretty sure my insurance costs will skyrocket - that is, assuming I can still get insurance.

The only thing I really have to go on is what things looked like for the self-employed before the ACA, and well... it's sort of grim. Back then, most self-employed people I knew who were over 50 were lucky to get a catastrophic care policy for under $1000/month. Many were paying in the neighborhood of $1200-$1500 per month, and often that was for a policy that excluded pre-existing conditions. Gulp.

So, I'm sort of figuring that I'm gonna need somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-$20K annually for health care costs. And since they're also talking about dismantling Medicare, I think it's safe to assume that even after age 65, I'll be paying a lot more for health care than I thought.

As you may have guessed, that amount of money is simply not in my budget at the moment. All of this means that I'm gonna have to make some big changes in my life strategy, and focus all of my energies on making money for a while.

To that end, for the past week and a half I've spent pretty much every waking moment (or at least those when I wasn't coughing up a lung or swacked out on muscle relaxants) working on my business.

Whether I'll be able to continue to support myself being self-employed remains to be seen, but I've put my geek hat back on, and so far I've taught myself to write Wordpress themes, I'm learning how to write apps, and I'm researching cloud hosting and other strategies to cut my business costs to the bone.

What this all means for the future of this blog... well, I'm not sure. I hope to continue blogging, though it will certainly have to take a back seat for a while, and I may end up reworking some of the material I've written into a eBook or two.

I'm not really happy about that prospect, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and if that move allows me to continue to be self-employed rather than becoming an employee again, it will be well worth it.

So there you have it. Heavy sighs all around.