Student Loans – Fin

Yesterday I paid off my last student loan. It took nearly 16 years to do so, a stretch of time that, frankly, is embarrassing. I financed my college education completely on my own; my parents held to the belief (in the mid-90s) that one could still pay their way through college. You couldn’t, there wasn’t even a chance of that happening.

My college education was financed on the backs of loans, a single grant for 2 semesters, and credit cards. I have paid off the loans. 16 years after the fact, I still have 2 credit cards within striking distance of being paid off (read: less than 5 figures).

I will not claim I was (or am) the best manager of my own money, but the cost of simply attending college set my finances back a decade. The real estate crash simply pounded the lid closed on my financial coffin in the late 2000s. We are working to dig out now, but we are purposely struggling.

There is a movement to reform college financing, something I completely support. I can’t imagine the pressures of graduating today with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. For now, I’m a few hundred dollars closer to being in the black; budget projections here show that is years away, though.

Openly questioning the value of a degree is a smart first step. Evaluating the value to yourself is just as important. Either way, this country needs to have a frank discussion about education, K through PhD. I hope we have it soon.

Snow Removal in Chelsea, MI

Chelsea MI’s relevant ordinances regarding removal of snow and ice.

Sec. 26-89. – Ice and snow removal.

It shall be the duty of the owner or occupant of every parcel of real estate within the city which adjoins a public right-of-way upon which there has been constructed a public sidewalk, to remove any accumulations of ice and snow which obstruct the free use of the sidewalk by pedestrians, within 48 hours after the accumulation of such snow or ice.

(Ord. No. 94, § 271.003, 6-21-1985)
Sec. 26-90. – Failure to remove snow and ice.

Any owner or occupant of real estate which adjoins the public right-of-way upon which there is constructed a public sidewalk, who shall fail to remove accumulations of snow and ice, as provided in section 26-89, shall be guilty of a violation of this article, and the city police officer may make complaint and request a warrant from the appropriate judicial officer, or issue an appearance ticket or citation, as provided by Public Act No. 366 of 1984 (MCL 764.9c), directing the appearance of such owner or occupant before the appropriate judicial officer to answer the complaint.

(Ord. No. 94, § 271.004, 6-21-1985)

Sec. 26-92. – Violation a municipal civil infraction.

Any person or persons who shall violate any provisions of this article shall be responsible for a municipal civil infraction.

Does anyone know any of these have ever been enforced beyond the line of sight from McKune?

Myrt Hulst – 1929 – 2104

I’m getting sick of writing these.

On January 19, 2014, Myrtle Hulst passed from this Earth. She was 84, 4 months short of her birthday. She is survived by 2 sisters and countless nieces, nephews, grand nieces, grand nephews, and friends. I am one of those grand nephews and Myrt was like a third grandmother to me.

Myrt never married or had children, but not for any of the previous generations’ reasons for excusing such things. Not that my family would ever discuss such things, but I believe Myrt found companionship in her multitude of friends. I have been to many funerals and many visitations. Myrt’s was easily one of the most well attended.

Myrt was my grandmother’s sister and a constant presence in our family. From my earliest memories, she was there. She spent her life as a hair stylist, first working in salons and then owning her own for more than 30 years. Her partners and staff were as much her family as we her blood relatives and wept as we did at her funeral.

We always referred to Myrt as “Aunt”, not because we couldn’t trace her place in the family tree (a skill we children of Dutch immigrants learned well), but because she was as much a part of our family experience as anyone else.

Myrt left suddenly, diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer five weeks before she died. The family is grateful to Holland Hospice for the kindness and expertise they brought to her and her situation. If you have the means, please give generously to your local Hospice in her name.

Rest in peace, strong, stoic, faithful aunt.  You are missed.

The Captain Kirk Problem: How Doctor Who Betrayed Matt Smith

Lots of good pulls in this Atlantic article, but some highlights:

The entirety of Season Six is when Moffat’s fascination for plot twists and open-ended mysteries (in our house, we describe this unfortunate tendency as “plotty-wotty”) took over the show, and the whole product suffered.

As Moffat checked off the boxes, … all I could think of was The Eight Deadly Words that doom all forms of storytelling: I don’t care what happens to these people.

If only the problems with this show had anything to do with the cast.

I’ve said it so much on Twitter it should be embarrassing, but Moffat has to go. Who do I write at the BBC? Someone has to be keeping tabs on this kind of criticism, yes?

The struggle of an indexed life

I live online. That’s a statement means different things to different people.

To people before my generation, that may mean I’ve made a choice disconnect from “real life” and spend it staring at a series of LCD screens.

To those within my generation (or neighboring it), it may mean that I’ve adopted the position that my job and life nearly require me to be tethered to a mobile device (phone, laptop, tablet) for pretty much every waking hour–standard exceptions for family events, medical moments, and Federally-imposed dead zones (airplanes). Sleep is not an excuse.

But, increasingly, being “online” is a default. A recent survey from the Institute for the Future asked participants “How many hours per week do you spend online?” Increasingly, the response to that question is: I don’t understand the question. We are moving more to a culture where everything you do is online. The default is no longer “I choose to be online,” it’s “I live in this always-connected world.”

The struggle for many people in my position (generational identification aside) is that, by living by default online, we still report to, are hired by, and deal with people who do not share or potentially understand that mindset. We still see stories in mainstream media outlets about “teens” (for large values of “teens”) who post every intimate detail of their lives to social media. To these people, posting this information is not seen as a negative or a positive; it is a default. It just is.

I always fear that what I say hear (or on Twitter or Google+) will flow back to a person in my professional life who does not understand that those things, while me, are not how I am at all times. Having my entire life indexed is a challenge, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s opinions to the contrary. (Sidenote: I avoid Facebook due to family.)

Someday this will change. In 10 years, hiding who you are to any degree online isn’t likely to be as big an issue as it is now. I think it will bring other challenges, but the societal norms will change enough that damage to a professional career won’t be so looming. At least I hope so since Google doesn’t forget.

Why I Quit Watching The Walking Dead

I was a big fan until this season. And then, after the second episode, I just gave up. I think the inherit conflict in the show’s structure finally got to me. It’s not that the show doesn’t give fans what they want; everyone wants something different that can’t be met.

But what is central to the show are two things that I think are in direct conflict with maintaining long-term engagement:

  • The show is, at it’s heart, largely about character development and interpersonal relationships. The characters have more or less found ways to survive (although more on that later). What they haven’t figured out, and what the show constantly explores, is how or if you rebuild society in the face of certain doom.
  • The show is also brutal about the realities of life after the apocalypse. Hope is a dangerous thing, often repaid in crushing disappointment or death. In fact it relishes the moments when destruction visits the group, spending considerable time on the setup and execution of graphic deaths, repelling of the zombie hordes, and the general acceptance of killing walkers as a matter-of-fact part of life.

These two things set up a conflict the show can’t resolve, however. When you have a show driven by the characters within it’s universe, viewers have to connect. It’s the only way you can put yourself in the world and feel threatened or satisfied. The drama of the show hinges on viewers being able to feel the heavy, ever-present threat walkers embody.

Except you can’t anymore. Allowing yourself to identify with anyone other than Rick opens the real possibility that your avatar in the world gets killed or removed somehow. Rick is the sole exception as he’s not in any real risk. The economics of the television show effectively dictate that Rick must survive. He’s the cover art for the show.

Anyway, all of this has led to the show becoming very boring once you remove yourself from becoming attached to a character or engaging in the deeper explorations. All of the questions the show raises are embodied in characters; altruism, bravery, morality all found voices in people. To grep the arguments of the show, you have to viscerally understand the character making the statement. The reward for doing so is no longer worth the investment for me.

I’ll probably binge watch this season on Netflix at some point, but I no longer make time to watch it when it airs. All the people I talked with about the previous-night’s show have all independently stopped watching. The overwhelming comment is that the show is “boring”.

I don’t think that bodes well for what, until now, has been must-watch television.

Windows 8 Sound Randomly Drops Out (Solution)

You, like me, have a Windows 8 machine which has the sounds randomly drop out. Your drivers look fine, everything is up to date, but this annoying thing keeps happening. Fear not, there is a solution, courtesy of Tech Support Forum. For Windows 8, search for and open Sound, click the Communications tab, select “Do nothing”, and click Apply.

sound-window

Why this is not the default setting is beyond me.

 

A Breakdown of Guns and Ammo’s Response to a Reasonable Editorial

Recently, a [former] editor at Guns and Ammo published what most rational citizens would consider a measured and logical approach to gun control. For that, he was fired, disowned, and earned an official response from the remaining editorial staff. Below is that response, editorialized by me, a current non-crazy gun person (which apparently is now something we have to designate ourselves as). Since Guns and Ammo is such a Constitutionally-minded organization, they clearly understand my First Amendment rights (one better than Second!) in editorializing  their rebuttal.


From Jim Bequette, editor, “Guns & Ammo” Magazine:

As editor of “Guns & Ammo,” I owe each and every reader a personal apology.

If it’s for the following message, yes. Yes you do.

No excuses, no backtracking.

What follows is a metric shit-ton of everything elses. Mostly ignoring the original editorial and begging for you to return to your previous mental patterns.

Dick Metcalf’s “Backstop” column in the December issue has aroused unprecedented controversy.

Mostly in the cognitive dissonance he created in our readers’ minds. Sorry for the overload required to process his pretty basic gun regulation discussion.

Readers are hopping mad about it, and some are questioning “Guns & Ammo”’s commitment to the Second Amendment. I understand why.

Actually, he doesn’t. And, like him, no one emailing Jim has anything remotely resembling a passing knowledge of current Second Amendment Law.

Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering. It has been so since the beginning.

We think Fred Bear is a documentary. Also, we may not understand what documentaries are.

Historically, our tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching. No strings attached.

You should totally be able to own a fully automatic, tripod-mounted, .50 caliber machine gun to compensate for… whatever. Commies! Terrorists! ‘Murica!

It is no accident that when others in the gun culture counseled compromise in the past, hard-core thinkers such as Harlon Carter, Don Kates and Neal Knox found a place and a voice in these pages.

We support the craziest, batshit-insane arguments for the most completely unregulated gun laws you could imagine. Seriously, Google these guys.

When large firearms advocacy groups were going soft in the 1970s, they were prodded in the right direction, away from the pages of “Guns & Ammo.”

I ran out of scare quotes. Please insert as necessary so you take my euphemisms for fact.

In publishing Metcalf’s column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologize. His views do not represent mine — nor, most important, “Guns & Ammo”’s. It is very clear to me that they don’t reflect the views of our readership either.

Guns and Ammo is a bastion of out-dated and fringe viewpoints, based in a world that hasn’t existed in 20 years, if ever. We promise to not make you think about any stupid-ass position you have internalized. Please continue ignoring all the kids dying in this country and believing that more guns somehow counters the excessive amount of guns already in circulation.

Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.

The world, embodied in Dick Metcalf, has moved on but we resolutely refuse to acknowledge that so we fire anyone who represents a viewpoint that doesn’t conform to our narrow viewpoint.

I once again offer my personal apology. I understand what our valued readers want.

Armed revolt against a boogieman.

I understand what you believe in when it comes to gun rights, and I believe the same thing.

I don’t actually. We think it’s unfettered access to military-grade weapons, but so few of you can parse scientific studies that say you’re wrong, we default to marketing weapons from the manufactures in the most political way we can. Mostly due to your subscription dollars.

I made a mistake by publishing the column.

This statement was mostly based on your removal of subscription dollars.

I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights.

Or pageviews. Either way.

I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness.

I really thought we could bring you Neanderthals along into a discussion most of the country finished in the 20th century (for those of you keeping time, that was almost 15 years past). I was wrong and you threatened my livelihood and, let’s be frank, I need this job way more than my integrity or honor.

Plans were already in place for a new editor to take the reins of “Guns & Ammo” on January 1.

No they weren’t.

However, these recent events have convinced me that I should advance that schedule immediately.

Please stop cancelling your subscriptions.

Your new “Guns & Ammo” editor will be Eric R. Poole, who has so effectively been running our special interest publications, such as “Book of the AR-15” and “TRIGGER.” You will be hearing much more about this talented editor soon.

We promise to continue feeding your conspiracy-minded worldview. Please buy the stupid shit we referenced above as we’ve already arranged to get a cut of those sales.

“Guns & Ammo” will never fail to vigorously lead the struggle for our Second Amendment rights, and with vigorous young editorial leadership such as Eric’s, it will be done even better in the future.

Seriously, your ridiculous worldview will be completely justified in these pages. We’ll also promote the various weapons and ammo you can use to threaten the strawmen we set up in our editorial pages.

Respectfully,

Please don’t shoot me

Jim Bequette

Coward

Disabling a Stubborn Field Test Mode

Some time ago, I turned on Field Test Mode on my iPhone 4. I then dutifully backed up that phone for ages, restoring that backup to my new iPhone 5 when I got it last year.

Then I tried turning off Field Test Mode, which came over in the backup. And it wouldn’t stay turned off.

After much searching I found a solution that, for now, appears to have solved the issue: enter the number into Notes and then paste the number into dialer, instead of typing in the number (from this helpful Apple support thread).