Hello! Just a quick note for anyone who may be interested, I've moved my blog. This particular spot is no longer active... I've switched over to the Dark Side (WordPress) - my blog now lives at http://www.radloffs.net/blog/
I keep planting birdseed, but all that comes up are weeds.
I hate that I often base my designs around the limitations of my Internet speed. If there are any Iowa politicians out there - WE NEED INFRASTRUCTURE OUT HERE. Our only options were WildBlue and Hughes.net. We went with WildBlue because they swore up and down they'd triple the speed and lift the usage limits "sometime in the first quarter of 2011." We're still waiting.
I hate how everyone complains about Verizon's cell phone service, yet Verizon does nothing about it. It's amazing how "the acreage you're buying is right in the middle of a strong 3G coverage area" turns into, "we're sorry, we've never had good coverage out there" as soon as you sign on the dotted line...
I'm not happy that my blogs aren't showing up in Facebook as notes like they should. I realize that both Blogger and Facebook are free, but shouldn't they work as advertised nonetheless?
I hate that my Internet Service Provider makes me use an outdated version of a browser I don't like, because "all the new stuff they released doesn't work with our system."
Last December Dagmar and I moved to our acreage. It's early July now, so we've lived here just over six months. This home seems so natural to us it feel like we've lived here for years, yet every day we're surprised by some little aspect of the land.
During the winter we were surprised at how often the wind came howling from the southeast. The wind never comes from the southeast - it always, always comes from the northwest.
During the spring we were surprised at how often the wind came howling from the southeast.
During the early summer we were surprised at how often the wind came howling from the southeast.
Last night we were surprised - the wind quit howling from the southeast for a few hours. Magically the fireflies came out. Not just a few, but hundreds - thousands - happily blinking away in our yard, the grove, and mostly out over the fields. Sometimes it seemed like the lightning bugs were blinking randomly, but other times it almost seemed as if they were creating purposeful art - a wave of light coming from the west, sweeping up through our yard into the pasture to fade out up over the fields a quarter mile away. Neither Dagmar nor I had ever seen anything like it.
When I was a child there was a certain spot in our grove, a small clearing, where there would often be fireflies. That's where you would see them first, dancing in their own little meadow, surrounded by trees. They signaled the depth of summer to me. All is right with the world when there were fireflies dancing in the meadow - no wind, no rain, warm weather, calmness.
When I grew up and moved to Le Mars, I missed the fireflies. I'd see them occasionally in the small town, blinking in back yards as I'd drive by, intent on whatever errand I was running before shutting myself back into a windowless apartment. Later, when I moved to Sioux City, I gradually forgot about fireflies altogether. You simply never saw them. In our old neighborhood we didn't feel safe sitting outdoors or going for leisurely walks - too many drunks, thugs, gang-bangers. And if there were any fireflies in the city, their lazy glow was drowned out by the constant stream of headlights, streetlights, the haze coming from the kiln factory across the street.
I never imagined, as a child, that I'd lose the magic of fireflies. And until just a few months ago, I never imagined I'd find that magic back again.
An e-mail I just sent to John Boehner (R), Speaker of the House of Representatives:
Please, I ask you to work for America. We need to get the budget under control, and that means raising funds. Please follow the President's lead and close the tax loopholes on the very wealthy and those who own their own jets. I realize that paying taxes on a private jet, much as I have to pay taxes on my Toyota Yaris, can be a hardship, but it's one that most average Americans bear with grace.
We have the lowest tax rate of any industrialized nation, and the lowest tax rate in America since the 1950s. We NEED the revenue that could be raised by closing tax loopholes on the wealthiest of our citizens.
I ask you, please work for America rather than for the Republican agenda. I'm asking the Democrats to end the partisan bickering as well. To be honest, both the Republicans and the Democrats are acting like self-important fools. Those of us who live in this fine country are counting on all of you to get your act together and do your jobs. Please, work together on this issue.
Facebook's out, at least for now. I'm done messing with it for a while, and I'm going back to my first love, blogging. If you're seeing this on Facebook, that's simply because I have an automagic feed set up from years ago to publish my blog posts as notes on Mr. Zuckerberg's Wondrous Money-Maker. If you'd like to see the original blog posts with photos and everything, just go to www.radloffs.net and click on "Blog."
There are myriad reasons why I'm going to go back to blogging in lieu of Facebooking, but the main reason is that I'm simply fed up with arguing with people who are strong on opinions but weak on facts and logic. I hate to say it, but I'm feeling kinda, well, bullied into silence. Whenever I'd say anything remotely political on my wall I'd get hammered - often with arguments no more sophisticated than a regurgitation of yesterday's FOX opinions*. I'm not sure whatever happened to "free speech" in America, but it seems I'm having problems with it...
Don't get me wrong - everyone is entitled to an opinion. The problem is that I find myself wondering if everyone SHOULD be entitled to an opinion. To use an extreme example, when a professor studies politics and history, he reads books, studies philosophy, dig into the backgrounds of political thoughts and movements, has a grasp of political trends and shifts throughout history and what the consequences of those trends have been. I'd be more apt to listen to his opinion than that of someone who no education, no background in history, who gets his ideas from the talking heads on television rather than from his own study, whose political views are more a reflection of their personal insecurities than of a broad worldview... Yet on Facebook both are given equal time.
I'm tired of everything being an argument. I'm tired of having people think their opinion is fact. I'm tired of people believing their opinions mean more than facts. Especially when I take the time to look up the facts and be sure of them before opening my mouth. Most of the time.
Not too long ago I posted a plea for compromise on Facebook, a call for Democrats and Republicans to work together for the betterment of the United States. Oddly enough, people argued with me. There's a knee-jerk reaction to fight violently for "your side," be it progressive or conservative. People forget that "your side" and "my side" are one and the same - America. The divisiveness is instinctive, and increasingly worrisome.
An example: my wife and I were talking to an eleven-year-old boy the other day about professional football. He liked the Vikings, thought Green Bay was okay, but when my wife mentioned she used to watch the Washington Redskins when she lived in D.C., the boy jumped to his feet angrily. "I would never want to live in Washington," he said. "That's too close to that Barack Obama." Hatred flashed in his eyes. Hatred from... what? Where does an 11-year-old learn to hate a politician? It would be a rare 11-year-old to hold a truly informed opinion about such matters. I'm glad the boy is aware enough of his country to know who the President is and seems to be interested, but I'm sad that those who are teaching him seem to be teaching him instinctive party division rather than independent, critical thought.**
As much as the political divisiveness and partisan bickering bothers me, I'm just as bothered by my perceived notion of how Facebook etiquette should be handled. Personally, I split my postings between personal and political. When I posted political gunk, most of the time I simply posted a link to some tidbit of information or opinion I thought interesting. Once in a while I'd post an original thought, but those have been increasingly rare as I have little stomach for argument these days. It seems that people have no problem hijacking a thread on my wall - posting argument after argument, comment after comment. Personally, I dislike that. When I see someone else writing or linking to a political thought, I may comment once - rarely twice. I try very hard to be concise, state my position, and be done. I respect that the other person may not have my ideals, and aspire to not argue. In a way I feel it's akin to being invited to someone's home - if my host states an opinion, I'll politely respond with my opinion. Once. Unless invited, I don't pursue an argument in someone else's house. When I'm in my own home, I feel quite free to air my opinion - until I get the feeling that my guest doesn't share my opinion, at which point I generally restate my position quickly and change the subject. (There are, of course, exceptions - I feel free to argue politics politely with some friends, but most of the time I really try to be sensitive to "enough is enough.")
So, for the time being, I'm done with Facebook - for the most part. I'll keep up my business' page, and I'm sure I'll comment occasionally via my phone. But I'm not gonna lurk. I'm not gonna argue. Enough is enough. Feel free to comment on this note in Facebook, but please don't expect me to respond. If you'd like to comment on my blog, again, just go to www.radloffs.net and click on "Blog."
*Did you know that FOX News is banned in Canada? They have laws against people lying on TV. It came up for a vote not too long ago, and the people of Canada overwhelmingly opted to keep the law as it is rather than let a FOX-style news show go on the air.
**Would I have been equally upset had he jumped up and said, "I'd love to live in Washington - I might be able to meet President Obama"? No, probably not. While no President is deserving of blind devotion, all Presidents are worthy of our respect. Except maybe... Well, no, even Taft.