July 28, 2007

It's about Time

It's about damn time somebody limited the maximum income a farmer can make and still receive government subsidies. There is no reason why professional athetes and so forth who make millions or billions a year should be getting government farm aid. If the current farm bill passes, anybody making over $1 million a year would be ineligible for farm subsidies.

I also see no reason why the max income should not be lowered to $250,000 or even $200,000. This article, to me, makes no sense because they talk about farmers putting in huge up-front investments and benefitting the rural economy. The investments that you make in a farm are deductable just like any other business expense is deductable from the income made from the business. So, there's really no reason why a farm spending a great deal of its earnings on farm-related supplies and equipment couldn't go on contributing to the rural economy and still receive subsidies. They're talking about $1 million in adjusted gross income, which, if my tax knowledge doesn't fail me, is money made after expenses. (If I am wrong, please correct me, Danika).

At any rate, to me, rich people getting farm subsidies is paramount to rich people getting welfare checks. The money is there to help poorer farms make ends meet and continue to grow the grain needed to feed the country. It's to keep the industry and food costs stable, yes, but if you are making over $1 million a year in profits, there's no reason why the market can't be kept stable anyway. You have enough money to continue growing without help.

There is a big, corporate farmer who operates in the county where I grew up. He owns half the county and owns even more land in other counties and in southern MN. He shall remain nameless. My friend's dad worked for him for awhile, and the standard practice was to dump chemicals on the land to get the maximum production for as long as possible. My friend said her dad said that after three years the land was just sour. You couldn't grow anything because of all the chemicals (pesticides, fertilizer, herbicides, etc.) that they'd put on the land. When he buys land, he clears whatever trees are on it, and ditches it so as to drain it completely and send water pouring into the ditches, flooding out his neighbors who can't afford to hire drainage ditches dug the way he can. Basically, he can buy whatever he wants and is a poor steward of what he gets.

He was in so much debt because he bought so much land and equipment (overspent his means), but he got his debt forgiven by the government so that he could keep operating. So basically, he used his resources foolishly, overspent, damaged the environment, and hurt his neighbors, and the government still rewarded him. Meanwhile, other smaller farms are going under. Who will forgive their debts?

Farm legislation needs major reform, and this bill looks to me like an important step towards making sure that farm aid goes to the people who need it. Hooray Congress!

Posted by LoWriter at 11:59 AM | Comments (6)

July 24, 2007

A Spoiler-Free HP Entry

I have now finished Harry Potter. Feel free to resume correspondence.

I am not putting spoilers in here, but I may or may not in my end of the month review. So, get a move on, slow pokes! ;)

Posted by LoWriter at 08:40 AM | Comments (1)

July 20, 2007

Please Don't Spoil It for Me

I have made a decision. Given the fact that when I went to the last Harry Potter book party, we did not all get our books until 1:30ish or so (this is my recollection--it may be faulty), and I went home and fell asleep without cracking the book, I have decided to forego the midnight party at the bookstore. I will instead stay home and finish my work tonight and early tomorrow morning. Then, I will go get my book when Borders opens and enjoy it with my breakfast. Probably at Panera. Possibly outside in the sun. There may be coffee.

This is my plan. Of course, my plan to stay in bed all day and read has been thwarted by a graduation party and a birthday party. But I have informed the boyfriend that I will be reading all weekend, but I doubt I'll be able to stick to that. Then I have family coming to town and a pigsty in my house yet again.

So, to bottom line it, I may not get the book read until much later than everybody else. Please don't spoil the book for me. I plan to stay fairly sequestered and avoid the headlines/news/blogs. I will post when I have finished. The regular Tuesday post will probably be delayed.

Thanks, everybody!

Posted by LoWriter at 10:30 PM | Comments (1)

July 17, 2007

101 Things in 1001 Days

As you all know by now, I do not make New Year's resolutions. I think they're stupid.

I do, however, "set goals and acheive them."

Recently, my friend Danika challenged me to start a list of 101 things I wanted to do in 1001 days, an idea that she got from this website. I have shamelessly lifted the description below from Danika's blog.

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

My tasks are seperated by category, but they may be completed in any order.

So, without further ado, here is my list:

Start date: 07-11-07
End date: 04-07-10 (Thank you, Danika)

1. Write a list of 101 goals.

2. Clean my bedroom closet by August 15th. (Almost done with this!)
3. Clean up my bedroom by the end of the summer.
4. Clean out the fridge.
5. Do the dishes every night for two weeks.
6. Clean the bathroom and keep it clean for two months.
7. Mop the floors once a week for a month.
8. Clean off my balcony this summer.
9. Wash the windows in my apartment, inside and out.
10. Clean out my car.
11. Water my plants as often as they would like to be watered.
12. Plant herbs next year in May (chives, basil, etc.).
13. Start a garden with Ben (if he’s willing).
14. Hang up all the pictures I have sitting around the house. Frame those that aren’t.
15. Organize the filing cabinet and actually put the paperwork from the green bin into it (rather than using the filing cabinet for storing liquor and Christmas presents).
16. Either use my beads once over the next year or give them away.

17. Buy a new car with a good warranty that does not cost me more than $300/month in car payments. (Don’t talk to me about Toyotas; I do not want to hear it.)
18. Open a Roth IRA.
19. Figure out what’s going on with my current retirement plan.
20. Create a budget.
21. Save $1 per day for one year. ($31 through July)
22. Pay off SELF3 by the end of the summer.
23. Pay off SELF1.
24. Pay off SELF2.
25. Pay off SELF2. (I have two SELF 2s).
26. Send at least an extra $100 to my SELF loan payments each month. (1 of 31 months)
27. Take on one freelance project in 2007.
28. Fix my resume and send it to my friend for more freelance work.
29. Open a high-interest savings account and transfer 2/3rds of my savings to it.
30. Use trial of MSN money to sort out my finances and begin a debt reduction plan.
31. Make a profit at freelancing in 2007 and 2008.
32. Complete my insurance’s health assessment and “coaching” (even though I think it is B.S.) to get lower co-pays. Lie whenever prudent/possible.
33. Find a new doctor and switch to primary provider.
34. Move my prescriptions to the Walgreen’s nearest me to save on gas.
35. Arrive to work at least 5 minutes early for one week.
36. Cancel three of my credit cards (if, after accomplishing some research, I discover that this is, in fact, beneficial to my credit score). Turns out this can actually hurt your credit score and does very little to help it. Who knew?
37. Get a credit report.
38. Maintain 0 credit card debt. (1 of 31 months)
39. Apply for three jobs with someone other than my current employer.

Do Something Nice/Good for Someone Else
40. Send a thank-you to a former teacher.
41. Send thank-you cards for every gift received for one year.
42. Recycle all my cans, bottles, and junk mail (even though I hate the hippies who feel so superior to everybody for doing so and even though I hate that I get junk mail after I have requested to be taken off such lists…neither of these things are the planet’s fault).
43. Contact SAVE and find out what volunteer opportunities they have. Choose one to participate in. (Amount may vary depending on what the activity is, but for at least one month or one event.)
44. Get yellow ribbon cards from the counseling center at work to put on my desk at work.
45. Surprise Ben.
46. Complete and mail 10lees’ b-day/Christmas present before her next b-day/Christmas.

Learn Something/Read Something/Write Something
47. Record/Interview Grandma Helen for writing project/family record.
48. Learn to cook at least six new meals, even if it’s something dumb like roast beef. (0/6)
49. Write for at least ½ hour every day for two weeks.
50. Read at least two books each month. (1 of 31 months)
51. Start online writing group.
52. Participate at least every other month in the online reading group I joined.
53. Read If I Live to Be 100.
54. Read the EarthSea series.
55. Write Old Chicago newsletter “Conversational Highlights” article weekly.
56. Decide on a program of study for grad school. 08-07-07 I have decided to look at Composition and Rhettoric programs. I will work on my MFA after I have a job that will pay for it, using my Comp and Rhettoric degree to get said job.
57. Decide on a school for grad school.
58. Apply to grad school.
59. Begin grad school.
60. Watch the Planet Earth documentary.
61. Watch An Inconvenient Truth (even though I still don’t like Al Gore).
62. Read and return everyone’s books to them (or simply return them if I don’t intend to read them).
63. Learn how to quilt.
64. Buy a digital camera and learn how to use it.
65. Learn some basic html.
66. Take a Community Ed drawing course.
67. Send at least two articles to two different magazines.
68. Read at least 10 of the books on Dr. Becknell’s “Good Books” list.

69. Work no more than 60 hours/week in the month of August (either year).
70. Exercise at least three times a week for one month.
71. “ for two months (can count off of last month if done consecutively)
72. “ for three months (can count off of last month if done consecutively)
73. Drink green tea every day for two weeks.
74. Take B vitamins every day for two weeks.
75. Get the proper 3 to 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day for two weeks.
76. Lose 30 pounds by Christmas.
77. Eat only healthy snacks for one week.
78. Floss every night for two weeks.

Have Some Fun/Relax
79. Sip wine on my balcony.
80. Find someone to play Settlers of Catan with at least three times a year.
81. Watch 4th of July fireworks display.
82. Find my Lego’s and play with them.
83. Ride bike in the city at least once.
84. Walk around Lake Calhoun.

85. Stay in Duluth.
86. Go to Gooseberry Falls.
87. Go to Taylor’s Falls.
88. Go to New Ulm for Oktoberfest.
89. See Herman the German in New Ulm and get a smooshed penny.
90. Get a smooshed penny from every machine in MN.
91. Go to Iowa City alone or with younger sister to visit middle sister.
92. Go to the A Day in Pompeii exhibit at the Science Museum. This was amazing. You should all go!
93. Try five new restaurants.
94. Go back to the sculpture gardens.
95. Go to the Walker once a year (and eat at the restaurant there at least once).
96. Go to the MIA once a year.
97. Visit a farmers’ market.
98. Visit Chicago.
99. Find out what that one famous museum or observatory is called (the one I read about in the Smithsonian)/where it is and go see it. It is called Roden Crater and they are hoping that maybe it might be done by 2010. And I can't find anything terribly recent on it, but it kind of sounds like it's one lone guy out there digging holes in the side of the mountain. So, I found it, and I can't visit it yet (and let's face it, given the way of these things, may never be able to visit). Even so, I plan to write to the skystone foundation for more info.
100. Get a passport and use it to visit Canada or Mexico (or both if I can afford it).

101. Have a party (maybe with Danika and Lindsey?) for completing goals!

So far, as you can see, I have completed creating my list and purchasing a digital camera. I have begun cleaning out my bedroom closet, and I am 1/4 of the way through.

Feel free to start your own and play along--you could be partying in 2.75 years as well!

Posted by LoWriter at 12:00 AM | Comments (6)

July 10, 2007

Finished! (And Other News from the Lo Report)

So, as many of you now know, I have finished all my projects! Hooray! :) This means I have more time for fun and, heaven forbid, cleaning. If any of you are bored, you should come join me for drinks and/or walks and/or movies and/or travel and/or books and/or tea.

In other news, last weekend the boyfriend and I took a trip up north to see my folks (who he met when they were in town at the end of May). It was fine, but it was excessively hot (passing the 100 mark on Saturday), so my plans for our entertainment were somewhat thwarted. Also, we were both exhausted and thus not on our A games. We did play some Pit, and that was a good time. (For the record, we have the original version, which is infinitely better because it's the version I've always played.) We also spent some time relaxing on the deck and meeting Kimmy and the grandmas (who were both not feeling so well). On the whole, it was probably not the most fun for the poor boy, but he was a good sport about it. And we did get to try out my new iRiver radio transmitter thing so that we could listen to our MP3 players over the car stereo. Oh, it's high tech, and you know you're jealous. Plus, I got mine for $10 on Woot. Also, there was some sweet grilling action, featuring yummy steak.

On the 4th, there was a great bash at Danika and Lindsey's place, which was a good time. There were giant sparklers, which was also pretty cool. I did hear my first "Down with the British"-esque comment ever uttered at a July 4th celebration. Thom's girlfriend is British and was concerned that we would be burning the British in effigy, so of course, she needed to be teased about it. :) It was pretty funny. The boy and I had to leave pretty early because I had to work at 7 the next day. We saw the Taste fireworks from the road, though, and found a good spot to watch them next year, so all went well.

I am still regrouping after the hell that was June, but I think I am doing better. I find I just kind of want to sit around, so I am letting myself feel that way this week.

I meet the boy's mom this weekend, and I am nervous. Yikes!

Also, I have finally gotten rid of the headache that I'd had since June 29th. This morning, I woke up, and it was gone, so that was nice.

And that, my friends, is all the news that's fit to print. Feel free to share your summer/July 4th/weekend recaps in the comments.

Posted by LoWriter at 05:13 PM | Comments (4)

July 03, 2007

June Books and TV

Aside from reading about 10 college catalogs (one of them three times), I mostly just read one book. Here it is:

Eva Moves the Furniture by Margo Livesey. (4.5 stars) 10lees was right. This book is, frankly, amazing. It's very girly, so be warned, guys. It's the story of one woman's life, starting from her childhood. It outlines the choices she made based on two "companions" that only she can see. Who/What they are is the speculation of the novel. It delves deeply into the subjects of greif and loss and death, with an element of the supernatural thrown in, which is probably why I found it so powerful and moving. On the whole, I heartily recommend it.

That's it for books, kids.

If it's TV you are wondering about, there I can help you.

First, I do not recommend Deadwood, Season One. I realize that I am in the vast minority on this point, but I frankly just don't like it. This is not because I am a sissy. Those who know me know that I swear like a sailor and love it, and while I do not like real violence, TV violence holds little horror for me. Mostly, the only thing I don't like is horror/scarey movies. Otherwise, bring it on. Yet, Deadwood disturbs me. I find it disturbing. I feel that the characters the show focuses on are vile and repulsive. I find myself struggling to find a character to cheer for. By the third or fourth disc, I found that I'd become so used to the cruelty that I was shocked and surprised by the smallest of gestures the main vile character, Al, makes. Every other word out of someone's mouth is either sexually explicit or a swear word or both. The main plot focuses on an ex-lawman and his arrival in Deadwood, SD, which has troubles of its own. The town is run by Al Swearengen, the owner of the Gem Saloon, who is by turns enthused and worried by the town's status and its possible annexation to the territories. It's mostly about corruption and murder and gold and death in the wild west. I know that most shows wax nostolgic about the cowboy era, but I feel that perhaps this goes too far the other way. On the other hand, I am tempted to watch the rest because now I am curious, but I'm not sure I can stomach it. Do with that what you will.

I love Arrested Development. This is a beautiful little piece of satire. It's all about Michael Bluth and what lengths he will go to, to keep his family together. Why is the family in danger of being torn apart? Well, because his entire family is selfish and crazy, and his dad has been thrown into prison for dipping into company funds and also, perhaps "some light treason." The show only gets better as it goes. It's narrated by Ron Howard, who is fantastic. My favorite lines happen when someone says something like, "I haven't seen them and the narrator comes on with "Yes, he had." It's not afraid to make fun of itself, which I enjoy, and it's full of over-the-top characters and situations. Perfect for a hot summer evening after a long day at work.

That's all I know for now. Happy reading/watching. Feel free to share your own in the comments.

Posted by LoWriter at 05:17 PM | Comments (3)