Just a note to self:

That is so cool! I wonder the same thing as you: why is this just sitting here abandoned? Why hasn't somebody fixed it up to live in or to rent out?
What would you estimate the diameter is? Twenty feet or less, I'm guessing. Maybe fifteen.
Okay, so: do you have any ideas on how to build something like this? It doesn't look too complicated. How would you get the dome shape? What did they use to cover the exterior? Is building something like this by one person on a reasonable budget a feasible project?
I will be looking forward to seeing your sketches and suggestions.  ;-)

Oh, And, One More Thing

One more thing: thank you to all the wonderful taxpayers who are continuing to subsidize my health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act in 2017. My personal share of the monthly premium did not, after all, increase. Rather, the federal government is now subsidizing my monthly premium in an amount exceeding $630 per month, or about $200 more per month than they were in 2016.

And just so you know, other than possibly consuming a bit too much soda pop, I continue making an effort to remain healthy and avoid doctors and hospitals, so that entire $630, plus the additional amount I pay myself under penalty of law, is going directly to the overflowing coffers of the insurance industry.

I believe the term is "corporate welfare." I really oughta get me one o' them corporations.

No More NaNo

I just deleted my account. I have participated in National Novel Writing Month for over ten years. Each year I donate at least a few dollars (usually twenty, and as high as fifty) to support the event, because it's fun and because it seems selfish to take part for free. In more than ten years of participating, I have never once completed the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word challenge. Still, being a "contributor" puts me in a more exclusive group than mere completers. Fewer than 8% of NaNo participants actually contribute financially to the operation, even though about 15%, on average, complete the 50,000 word challenge each year.

For me, in addition to the disappointment I feel toward myself for never having put forth the necessary effort to complete the really-not-that-difficult challenge, it seems that NaNo has lost much of its charm. It's too big now. It's too popular. It's too trendy. It has lost the slightly oddball, goofy appeal that it had when the participation rate numbered in the few thousands or even the tens of thousands. NaNoWriMo participation is now over 400,000 annually. Yet despite the greater numbers, NaNo no longer contributes a portion of the annual proceeds to non-profit literacy and library-building projects. The beneficiaries of their non-profit largesse appear to largely be the participants who choose to participate for free and themselves, to keep the operation running.

I decided, during NaNo this past November (2016), that I would probably delete my account if I once more failed to complete the challenge. Despite not really having any legitimate or compelling excuses to fail this past year, I simply failed to put in any time or effort whatsoever beyond typing in a title and making the usual contribution. Tonight I ran across a mention of NaNoWriMo somewhere and it reminded me of my intent to cancel my account. Having thought about it off an on over the past several weeks, I've come up with no compelling reason to continue my NaNoWriMo membership, so cancel it I did, about ten minutes ago.

I expected to feel more of a sense of sadness or loss, or at least of failure, but really, I don't. In fact, while "glad" is too strong a word, I feel like leaving NaNo is the right thing to do. I think partly it's because NaNo is a "big business" now, rather than an "exclusive club" or a "fun group," and they don't need me. Plus, after having contributed money to them for all these years, and even having purchased a poster or two from their online store, I'm feeling a little bit like a sucker for paying the rent for the hundreds of thousands of leeches and lampreys who go along for the ride every year but never pitch in for gas.

Hillary Clinton Supporters - Please Unfollow

If you intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Presidential election, you are more than welcome to pay my soon-to-increase "Affordable Health Care Act" (aka "Obamacare") health insurance premium, which, effective in January, increases from $34 per month to $212 per month.

Or at the very least, please unfollow and block this account, and I will happily unfollow in kind... because we are not of the same kind.

How can anyone believe it is appropriate for the government to pass a law criminalizing those who refuse to purchase health insurance from a private company, but allow those private companies to continue to raise rates with no apparent ceiling or price cap? How can anyone believe it is correct and lawful for the federal government to FORCE individuals to purchase a product from a private company or face criminal penalties?

Well, guess what? Y'all just made me into a criminal! I think maybe I'll take the $212 per month that I'm NOT going to pay to the health insurance companies and buy a couple of guns and a whole lot of ammo (while I still can). Then, when the gub'mint comes to get me for not paying my insurance premiums, I'll be ready to take some of 'em down with me when I go. I hope the insurance company toadies have good insurance!

Oh, and, most of the tax dollars I have been paying are already going directly into the coffers of the insurance industry, because the government is currently "subsidizing" the cost of this insurance to the tune of $450 a month.

How can anyone with even a single functioning brain cell believe that this colossal financial handout to the insurance industry is just or equitable or legal (despite the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court... and leaked information indicating that the Justices were "pressured" about their ruling) in any way? Other than, of course, the scumbags who work in the insurance, banking, or medical fields?

How many times did I visit a doctor this past year? Or the year before that? Or the year before that? ZERO! How many prescription medications did I purchase? ZERO! I don't cost the insurance industry a stinking dime, but they are raising my rates – let me do the math for you, because as a Hillary supporter you're too damned stupid by default to understand numbers – by SEVEN-HUNDRED PERCENT!

Yeah, the rate increase is being covered, briefly and in a cursory, disingenuous manner, in the news today: "Obamacare" premiums will increase by double digits. Those headlines, and the numbers they use, are misleading. Those numbers are based on the full, unsubsidized premiums. The actual out-of-pocket premium increase for regular people, like me, are much greater.

As noted above, my particular plan is being subsidized at over $450 per month. A National Public Radio article says, "Rates Rise Again For Obamacare Health Plans, But So Do Subsidies." So it's no big deal, right? Even with a subsidy increase, my share of these absurd monthly rates will increase seven-fold, from dozens of dollars a month to hundreds of dollars a month. Hundreds of extra dollars I don't happen to have.

But if I don't, or can't, pay, I'm a criminal.

If you are supporting Hillary Clinton and the Obama legacy, please unfollow and block this Flickr account. If you believe the Affordable Health Care Act is about "health care," go insert sharp, rusty objects into your various bodily orifices and then unfollow and block. There's a YUUUGE difference between "health care" and "health insurance." This "Act" is not about providing health care services; it is a legislated transfer of wealth.

You know, back when the Affordable Health Care Act was being debated in congress, I attended several local "town hall" style meetings with congressional and senate representatives. At each of the meetings, a significant majority of the people present were vehemently opposed to the proposed health "care" legislation. Not just a vocal minority, but almost everyone. Nevertheless, the representatives said that they were listening to the advice of "experts" and were supporting the legislation. Because these meetings turned out to be so antagonistic, after the first few, the remainder were simply cancelled.

We are being ruled by the corporate elite. If you're one of 'em, if you work in the insurance or banking or medical industry, or if you are a state employee working in higher education, or if you are working for the federal government, woo hoo for you, your insurance premiums are probably being covered, and your company's profits are on the increase. Lucky you.

(As a former state employee who worked in public, rather than higher, education, I saw my take-home paycheck decrease every year as a result of increasing health insurance premiums. Ultimately, my declining wages (which declined despite occasional, paltry "raises" that did not even cover the increasing insurance premiums) contributed to my decision – not so much a decision as a necessity – to sell my home in a wonderful location and move to a smaller, dumpier house in a different, and far less pleasant, state.)

If you're not one of the fat cats, you know what to do.

I don't care who you vote FOR, as long as you vote AGAINST Hillary Clinton.

Dearth of Imagery

There has been a significant fall-off in the appearance of my free-to-use Creative Commons licensed Flickr photos in various online publications over the past year or so.

Have online publications quit using Flickr as a source of free photos? I don't know.

Are Flickr stats no longer effectively reporting off-site links? Who knows; Flickr is constantly messing with things under the hood and out of sight.

Are there fewer online publications? Possibly; I've noticed that small-scale blogs, which often used my images, seem to be falling dormant or ceasing publication altogether.

A more likely explanation, however, is that I have been posting fewer images to Flickr this past year or two, the images I post are low-grade snapshots and not very interesting, and I moved many of my most popular images (Thailand and Spain travel photos, in particular) to iPernity. And nobody looks at iPernity!

I'm going to try to post more and better photos in 2016, and see if that makes a difference. I might even resurrect a "365" project or two!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Just read a bunch of reviews and spoiler sites about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Sounds to me like effin' lazy film-making of the lowest, most degenerate kind.

(Warning: moderately edited spoiler RANT follows!)

Character X allows and even encourages Character Son of X to kill him, because "he has to do it" and somehow that will start Son of X down some kind of path of redemption? Okay, sorry for being so, y'know, hyper-conservative and all, but killing your parents is just messed up. It's not "entertainment." It's not even good storytelling. It's effin' Kip Kinkel (high school shooter in my hometown who killed his parents and then shot up a school) crap.

We have a world full of psycho kids and "young adults" out there, raised on video games, who can barely differentiate between reality and fantasy anymore: the Columbine shooters, that Colorado theater shooter, the Sandy Hook freak, those two 12 year old girls who stabbed their friend nineteen times and left her to die in the woods "for Slenderman." Now we have what is possibly the most influential film franchise of all time hinting -- no, not hinting, but blatantly stating -- that killing your father is the path to understanding yourself? And your dad, as he dies an agonizing death right before your eyes, will forgive you for it?

That. Is. Messed. The. Eff. Up.

Oh, and don't forget: it's a Disney movie!

Second-run, DVD, Netflix, whatever or wherever... I'll be skipping The Force Awakens.