About Me

Ideas are my bread and butter and I have plenty to share!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Win for Humanity

I woke up this morning dreading the news, afraid that the political forecasts of close elections was going to bring about another recount fiasco putting people in charge whose ideas are from the dark ages. Imagine my giddiness upon reading that not only did Romney not win, but that my home state made history.

We passed gay marriage at the polls.

Maryland joins us in this, making it impossible for those frustrating farts to call it an anomaly. Growing up here in Maine, I did not think we'd be one of the first two states to pass marriage equality. I know too many people who are clouded by religious dogma. I was pleased to see 99% of my facebook friends cheering today, and saddened to see one or two who felt like we'd slid into barbarism. *shakes head*

But anyway, for the first time, I am proud to live and have been raised in Maine. We have a long way to go, I have a feeling the schools the area I was raised are still taking time out of the school day for 'Good News Club' and thinking it is just as important if not more so than actual education...I'm stopping myself there before I go on a tangent. I'm happy today, no derailments!

If I had my own place, I'd be throwing a party for all my friends who share in this great moment. Rainbows and techno music and my brother would be guest of honor. I cannot express how pleased I am by this.

Viva Equality!
Viva Atheism!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Melody Sheep

For those of us who enjoy a little techno with our science, I want to share this. I love melodysheep for creating music out of talks and lectures some people might find boring. So much better than another song about romance, in my humble opinion. Here is one of my favourites from his Symphony of Science:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Atheism and Wicca

Life has a way of contradicting itself. My life experience has led me to hold dear the beliefs of atheism, that everything has a scientific basis. However, I do believe that there are things we have yet to explain. My husband, on the other hand, is finding a deep meaning in Wicca. Wicca itself, I have no problem with. People do not force "Wiccan ideals" on other people the way our politicians are trying to use Christianity to sanction their own ideas on what should be law.

I'm not here to rant on our current politics, though it is a hot-button issue for me. What brings me to write is the concept of being an Atheist Wiccan. I want to encourage my husband, Patrick, to follow his path, I've already seen the good it has done for him. I do manage to irritate him with my own views, occasionally finding an article I find too good not to share about evolution or some other topic we don't agree on...but all I really want is for us to be able to bond over our differences.

I know that traditionally Wicca centers on the worship of nature deities, the Trinity Goddess for example, but from the research both I and Patrick have done, there are many different paths within the Wiccan faith. I don't know that I could ever believe anything without reservations, I was raised on Science and I enjoy the process of understanding, of questioning. However, I have seen my husband manage things not quite explainable, though also not measurable.

I find that I believe some people have abilities as yet unmeasured. I've seen that Wiccan spells and meditations can have perceptible results, though not so obvious as telekinesis. My hypothesis is that there are types of energy we have yet to perceive, that some people have managed to harness through use of their brains. Magnetic fields are invisible to our eyes, yet can be manipulated to create amazing, magical, results. I think if we focus, perhaps humanity will eventually discover a scientific basis for such things. I'm as skeptical as anyone about ESP, ghosts, precognition, but rather than think them impossible, I know they are impossible to prove at this point in human history, and there have been too many con artists who take advantage of blind faith for me to believe in any one person.

Another scientific explanation for Wiccan spells lies in psychology. A majority of the spells I have seen have focused on the practitioner's mind-set. If you don't believe you can accomplish a goal, you never will. The spells seem to be a advanced mediations, to enable the practitioner to realize their goals. Almost every spell I have seen describes itself as enabling the practitioner to realize the desired results, that the spell alone will not change circumstances. You can't get a job if you don't look for one, but the spell can give you the self-confidence to succeed in the interview.

My question, my thought, is that if belief is a core tenant to successful spell casting, does that faith have to be in the Trinity Goddess? In Gaia? In a personal diety? Or could the belief simply be that you do not yet understand the mechanism, but that it is somehow real? I doubt we could have advanced as a species if the great minds who nearly single-handedly advanced our civilization blindly believed. Yet, they had to experiment. Electricity at one point was magical, but through experiments it was eventually measured and defined. Science is always making new leaps, as an Atheist I believe we will never know everything there is to know. A belief based on history and observation, not simply blind faith.

So, it is with this mindset that I embark upon the mysteries of Wicca. Perhaps I will discover something as life-altering as electricity was...the adventure lies in trying. If I can simply lay the groundwork for minds greater than my own to follow, it will be worth it.

Personal Growth...

I'm not sure what to write about today, but I know I want to write. Right now my life is a waiting game, and there isn't anything I can do about that. I had a conversation about using this time to grow. Sounds so easy, right?

One idea thrown out on the topic was "finding religion." I find it absurd that religion is still thought of as positive personal growth. Yes, it means I need to find my own sources of comfort. I cannot use the crutch of a divine being, or of an afterlife that will be better than this life. This life is all we have, we should enjoy it to the fullest.

That being said, I have a hard time letting myself live because I am in part living for my husband. I have fibromyalgia, a condition that really isn't even understood let alone treatable. Yes, there are medications. No, they don't work for me and from what I've read, they rarely do much in general to help a patient with fibromyalgia become more functional. I tried one that got rid of the pain, but I was basically a vegetable, not a good tradeoff.

So, how do I grow when I can barely function? I need to be comfortable enough in my own skin to try even without someone to catch me and hold me when I am left in so much pain I can't even think. I feel I grow with each book I read, with each talk I listen to, and when I talk to people from other places in the world.

It all comes down to one thing, though. What is the point? For everyone it is different. I choose to focus on what makes me happy. People make me happy, though being an introvert I need certain people not a crowd. Games make me happy, and can take my attention away from the hole of missing my loved-ones leaves me, as can books. Books can steal away days. My husband sometimes plays a game out of talking while I read and seeing how long it takes me to realise he's even there. =)

So, I don't think I'd be doing much different if I were able. The main thing I'd do would be find a gaming group so I could play some Dungeons and Dragons. I need a vehicle and/or a place to gather before I can do that again. So, anyway. I try to better myself each day, even if some days it is simply figuring out how to effectively run missions in Guild Wars with only myself and heroes...=P

Friday, May 27, 2011

Business from Passion?

For once, my idea-spinning brain is working on a single project, for the most part. A good part of my ideas are way ahead of myself, but lists of what I need to start are gathering steam. My idea: A sushi stand, which will hopefully become successful enough to become a sushi restaurant then a chain! =D

So far, I've decided to make it slightly more difficult and make it Gluten-Free and only use American made products where possible. It already occurred to me I should have a separation between the equipment used for shellfish and that used for everything else. I've looked up the state application for a food license.

The idea is to start by being one of those trailer-food vendors at fairs and such, so I need to research fees for setting up and make sure I take that into account. I am considering making my own trailer, since most food service trailers come with much more than I need. I need the double-triple sink and a separate hand sink required for the license, I need refrigeration for both the ingredients and the end product, counter-space to put my rolls together and some cabinets to keep the shelf-stable ingredients and the serving dishes/chopsticks.

The hardest part will be getting nice-looking disposable sushi trays made in America (from my initial searches), and I doubt I can get 'local' rice. Nari is already made using seaweed from Maine, so I'm hoping to find a local producer. I'm going to continue my research for American made equipment and supplies. Here is a list of things I'm looking for, if you know someone who produces any of these in America, or who would be willing to work with me to get what I need, send me a note!

Start-up Equipment
Refrigerated Prep Table (looks like ~$1500)
Trailer with cabinets/sinks/outlets and, of course, at least one sales window/door!
Cash register (~$100)

Hard-to-find US made Consumables (Hoping for <$0.50/unit cost)
Disposable sushi trays (preferably biodegradable)
Packets of wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce (Gluten-Free!)
Disposable chopsticks
E-Z chopsticks (ok, these might be more then 50 cents per unit, but these would be a billable item, so give me a try!)
Smoked Eel (haven't looked yet, but I know I can't find it in the grocery store)

So, I won't be making any purchases until I get together my business plan, but I can't do that without my list of proposed suppliers and costs for startup. ^.^

Friday, May 20, 2011

$1000 concept...

I grew up on the fringe of poverty, but if you'd asked me as a kid I had no idea. My frustration as an adult is figuring out how to keep money under control. It seems like the more you make, the more your expenses, and nothing ever gets saved. Why does this happen? I admit I can be an avid consumer, commercials and shiny new products put a smile on my face and that 'must have' feeling into my bank account, but I strive to wait a few days, see if I still 'need' it, or if I can't find a way to do the same thing. It also helps that I try not to watch TV, must aided by sites like Hulu.com and such where I can watch the shows I want to without being inundated with advertisements so often I forget what I was watching.

The most freeing time in my life has been losing everything. With tax money, I'd settled the credit card debt I collected when in college and free to buy for the first time without asking permission from someone. Due to tragedy in my life, I have ended up living with family, perhaps on the verge of disability. I insist that they keep track of my 'rent' so that I can pay them back when I have an income again, but otherwise my only necessary expense has been a monthly payment toward a course I'm taking in hopes of being able to work again. The idea that I only need $55 a month...makes even a $1 coupon look like money in my pocket.

Then I tried to work again. At first, it was awesome having a few extra dollars. Gradually, I realized more things were filling my plate and eating up my money until I had a negative income. On top of my course fees were now gas, paying my own way when we went out as a family, paying rent. When I worked for a few months, it was suggested I buy my own car, or buy theirs. A good idea, until I realized I'd be taking on not just a vehicle, but car payments, car insurance, registration, inspection, oil changes. All this, and employment still being a test, still uncertain whether I would be able to keep working for long, definitely not able to work the hours to pay for these added expenses.

It got me thinking about life's expenses. Why do they pile on so heavily and so fast? Is it just the sudden shift from child to student to adult and a lack of financial education? I think it is the American culture of debt. Debt is not talked about with family and friends, yet you are expected to simply take it on and struggle with this bear on your back stealing every step forward you make in life.

I've decided to place myself a $1000 cap. With disability, I would supposedly make $900 a month, to date the most I've ever made was $600 a month working, so it seems $1000 would be an achievable goal, that maybe I would be able to struggle through a job to make my target amount, knowing I need no more and no less. Here is my breakdown:
  • $300/month for housing. I don't need much space, being the computer-slave I am, and if you live in a decently rural area this should be achievable as rent on a small apartment. This would be your mortgage payment or money set aside for taxes with a house.
  • $160/month for transport. This includes any car payment, car insurance and some set aside for your yearly registration/sticker. I have ideas to make my own car, rather than buy some piece of junk tailored toward gas guzzling while being labeled 'green'.
  • $60/month for healthcare. I'm not certain how achievable this one is, as I've been on government healthcare and copays my whole life. It seems with the right amount of shopping, you should be able to find health insurance, knowing what medications and how regularly you see the doctor, that would fit into this limit.
  • $70/month for utilities. In my neck of the woods, this is heat and electricity. Most people have septic tanks and wells. I fully intend to invest in solar or similar sources of electricity, simply because I'm fed up with 'delivery fees' being tacked onto your electric bill simply to line CEOs pockets. If this profit flowed down so that even their bottom-level employees made a decent wage, I wouldn't mind so much.
  • $130/month for food. This can be difficult, but without a budget it is easy to grab the snacks. With a number in mind, you have to weigh if that package of cookies is worth as much as that package of chicken for your month of food.
  • $100/month for paying down debt. We all have some, try to lump it all together and make this $100 cover not just your interest but some of the actual debt, too. I'm looking forward to adding this to savings. ^.^
  • $100/month for savings. Be very strict on this one. Ideally, you want a base of a few months of bills so if you can't work for a bit you don't have to freak. This is also money set aside for big things, like your water heater breaking, flat tires and upgrading to solar. Oh, yeah, retirement fund, too! I'm not relying on anyone but me to pay for my 'Golden Years'.
  • $80/month for misc. This is your fun money. Clothes, take out, game subscriptions...This is the first area to be paired down if you have a tight month.
Okay, so some of you are looking at this and saying that your cable/phone/internet bundle is over $100 in and of itself. For me, internet is a necessity. I'd probably skimp on food before letting my internet get cut off, but then again, laptops and wifi hotspots can fill that void if you don't mind leaving the house. Home phone is often replaced my cells now, and yeah, it is hard to find a decent plan for under $50, especially if you are part of the smart-phone wave. I'll wait to join that until...at least until I can afford a cellphone plan again! So, think about what you really need to pay for yourself. Do you need cable, or can you take the extra effort for sites like Hulu?

This budget would stifle many people, but the way I see it, accomplishing this small molehill will feel like a mountain when I'm living comfortably for the rest of my life. True, I'll still be 'below poverty level'. That rather makes me laugh. I'd rather be 'impoverished' than 'rich' when it means being content with my lifestyle and knowing that every major purchase I make is via savings, not a loan. I still have a ways to go, I'm still in the unemployed category, with health issues pushing me toward disability. The idea of $1000 a month is a goal I should be able to make. If I search, find either a job I love at minimum wage or a decent paying part-time job, I should be able to live on my terms.

If you are reading this, think on how much it would take, debt aside, to simply live. Having the newest thing is cool, but is it worth the stress of living paycheck to paycheck? Some of you are parents and this sounds naive of me, but if you are willing to put some effort into looking, you can get clothes for cheap or free, you can use cloth diapers or search for those wallet-saving coupons. I've also heard you can make deals with the companies themselves to buy their products at a discount in exchange for only buying their products. You don't have to do all the research, either. Simply do a search for mommy-blogs and such which will walk you through and give you links to how you can do it too.