An open letter to President Obama.

Dear Mr. President,

I chose Science and Technology as the topic for this message, but really this subject affects so much more. It is vital to almost every aspect of our nation that we proactively act to ensure that we have a free and open (ie; neutral) Internet. The rules which have been proposed by the FCC do not allow for the neutrality required to encourage the innovation that have marked the recent decades of success in America, despite your own promises as a Senator to safeguard such an open Internet.

I respectfully suggest that no amount of watching on a governmental level of this situation is going to prevent the slow encroachment of big businesses over the access of every day Americans and small businesses. This is not a solution.

Instead, as a voter who has twice asked you to take the highest position in this country, I humbly ask you to act, Mr. President. Please ensure that corporations who are interested only in settings themselves up as this century’s robber barons do not get that chance.

You have the opportunity to ensure that the Internet remains Free. Truly free. Please do so. Replace Chairman Wheeler if needs be. Make an Executive Order if you must. But please . . . act.

Respectfully,
~Daniel “Ash” Rhodes.

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An Open Letter to _________.

Every once in a while you find something out which just renders you speechless. Not long ago I found out that someone I care about quite a lot is being abused by her husband. Perhaps it’s for the best that I’m far outside the country and so my gut reaction (to drive somewhere and abuse him in return) is rendered moot. Instead, I present this open letter to the entire Internet as well as the couple in question; hoping against hope it will be read by someone who could use it.

 

Dear ______,

A wise man once said that there was a special hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk during the theater.

There are other hells though. Worse ones. Ones that are for men who think it’s OK to hit their wives.

When their wives are holding their children.

When their wives are nursing.

I’d say something cool from a movie like “I’m not a violent man” but a) that would be a (stolen) cliche and b) it would be a lie. Also, let’s face it . . . it would be an empty gesture. A threat as subtle as that would probably be entirely lost on him; plus trying to in any way intimidate someone who is several thousand miles away, no matter how pitiful of a human being he might be, is just empty. I try not to engage in empty gestures.

Instead I’m going to point out that eventually his wife is going to realize that in no way is it acceptable to be hit under any circumstances for any reason. EVER.

And I’m going to tell her that every time. EVERY. TIME. he touches you, you call the police. You get out of that house and you never come back. Don’t you worry about money. Don’t worry about insurance. You get your kid and you leave. Find a parent or find a friend or find a shelter and you go.

Because this? This is only going to get worse. And eventually it won’t be you he’s hitting. Guys like him will NOT stop at just smacking you around once or twice.

And you know it.

 

Love and kisses,

~Mighty

“Policy”

As you probably know, Charming and I are moving to Europe for the next year as a part work/part adventure-type thing.

Packing has been insane, but we’re just about finished. Today, one of my chores has been to cancel all of our services. First on my list should probably have been last, DirecTV.

When I first contracted with DirecTV I has been told that I could cancel without cancellation fees if I had to move abroad (something that was on my mind, since I was moving to CO at the drop of a hat at time). This encouraged me. However since then I had experienced DirecTV’s “customer service” and was . . . underwhelmed. I had been underwhelmed with the service itself and tried to flat out cancel, and that’s when I found out the true enormity of their cancellation fees ($500 or so). I was again informed however that if I moved out of their service area, I would not be subject to the fees.

Um, not quite. Apparently what the fine print actually says is “in the continental US where you can’t get line-of-sight service.” Since I’m chosing to move out of their service area, I’m still subject to the early cancellation fee. I got a manager on the phone. Tricia (Trisha?), who I spoke with for some time, and to whom I pointed out that this was not a choice she HAD to make. That she could make this a positive experience for everyone. That I would be happy to consider a return to DirecTV in the future, but that such an experience as this one would not endear me in any way. She seemed to take great pleasure in pointing out that she could, but that was not DirecTV’s policy . . . and she followed company policy.

I’ve worked in customer service for the better part of a decade, 2/3rds of which was in call centers. I heard when her voice changed. When she shut down completely and when what little give-a-fuck she had departed forever. She purposely went in to “this guy will get NOTHING MORE from me at all ever” mode, and made sure that I knew it.

The feeling is mutual, DirecTV.

You don’t call . . . you don’t write . . . so now you don’t have Netflix.

The pending merger between TimeWarner Cable and Comcast (the two largest cable/broadband internet companies in the country) is causing remarkably little commentary these days. Which is shocking, considering the potential consequences that it can bring about.

Comcast, which is famous for terrible customer service, bad service service, and was amongst the first companies to try to rate limit certain kinds of internet traffic, is looking to spread its shadow even further.

In these days of highly uncertain Net Neutrality, do we really want what effectively becomes a monopoly controlling ALL of your webbynets AND cables?

Here’s a suggestion. Find out who your congress person is: Who’s Asleep in Washington from my State? And send them an email or call them about it. Here’s a copy of what I sent my Congressman:

Congressman Salmon,

I cannot express my concern highly enough over the possibility that Comcast and TimeWarner Cable may soon be allowed to merge. These are the two largest cable and broadband internet providers in the country. Mergers like that should be a relic of a bygone age when oil and rail barons made backroom deals designed to ensure that they could control what prices were paid from coast to coast. A giant corporation such as this does not provide stability or choice for consumers, it only puts back in to place a single megalithic monopoly reminiscent of “Ma Bell,” which took a mandate from the U.S. Justice System to break apart.

Please don’t allow the flow of information, which countries all over the world have started to recognize as a basic human right, to be solely in the hands of a single company. Fight to ensure that there are still free market choices available to consumers!

And in the same vein, please do what you can to help the FCC with their goals towards Net Neutrality. I could bore you with all the reasons why it’s important, but you’re a busy man and I’m sure you’ve got a lot of work to do today! I promise you though, it’s important!

Thanks so much!

~Daniel “Ash” Rhodes.

Will it do any good? Meh, maybe not. But if you don’t try, can you really bitch?

Not everything is happy all the time.

Spoiler alert: This isn’t a happy post. If you’re looking for the typical amusing fare which we as a couple provide, you might want to skip today’s post.

You’ve been warned.

I (Mighty) have been very lucky through my life to have 4 grandmothers. The two women who gave birth to my mother and father, and then two more who have been there for my entire life as added “bonus” grandmas. This is about one of those extras: a beautiful and kind woman named Sherry. We always called her “Mon Chéri” which means “My Sweet.”

Sherry and my grandmother (my Mom’s mom, Marie), have known each other for well over 50 years. Family legend has it that they sat down next to each other in the OB/Gyn office when each were heavily pregnant with their daughters and struck up a friendship. They’ve been two peas in a pod since, and the girls grew up very very close.

But then this horror happened over 40 years ago. Both families, but especially Sherry was devastated (as would anyone be), and to cope she adopted my mom as a surrogate daughter, thus bringing about the additional grandmother for my sister and me.

And what a grandmother she’s been! She’s always had a vitality which has been unmatched by anyone we’ve known. I have fond memories of her taking us kids to Elitch Gardens and her sharing her “secret” plans to marry my sister to her actual grandson and me to her granddaughter. For her 65th birthday, she bought for herself a tattoo of a bee wearing a crown on her ankle, because she was the Queen Bee. She wanted another tattoo as well just in case her favourite necklace should ever fall off. A lovely silver pendant with the letters “DNR” emblazoned in stark relief on it, but she was told by her doctor that such a tattoo wouldn’t actually hold any legal standing.

Mon Chéri had a heart attack and at least one, likely a series of strokes earlier this week. She’s been moved to hospice care and in keeping with those wishes which she fervently has, she is being given only morphine to keep her out of pain. No additional life-saving efforts, including food and water. In short, she is dying.

Charming and I are in Denver to see her and hope that some of her last impressions can be of her great grandson, who loves everyone but especially old ladies. This post is not so much to bring people down, but more because so many people have expressed concern, and so I thought I should give an explanation for my sudden departure from work and our equally sudden drive to Colorado. There are just some things . . . some people . . . who are so special that you have to do things like this for. Sherry is their Queen Bee.

UPDATE: 2013-07-05

Today we went and visited Mon Chéri again, and while we were there, she woke up. She focused on me and smiled and I said “Hi Sherry, it’s me! We’ve come for a visit!”

She said something, which I couldn’t quite hear, so I leaned in closer. She grabbed my hand and in the most perfect Sherry-like fashion said “You give me that baby RIGHT. NOW.”

And so the Cap'n met his Mon Chéri.

And so the Cap’n met his Mon Chéri.

They held hands for a while, and he kept losing his binkie because he kept trying to grin at his great grandma. Which lead to crying. Which lead to more binkie. Rinse and repeat.

Sherry wasn’t awake for long, but she did drink some water while we were there. She also asked after my mother and was excited to hear she was coming tomorrow.

This is genuinely the best thing which we could have hoped for short of a full recovery via some sort of angelic intercession. Oooo, or aliens. Aliens would be totally cool.

UPDATE: 2013-07-06

At around noon, local time, Sherry Burt passed away. She was 80 years old. She was with her son Allen at the time and appears to have passed peacefully. Sadly, my mother and sister had just arrived and were in the parking lot, on the way in to see her when she passed and they did not get a chance to see her, however they are very happy to have been there for Allen during his own time of grief. Charming and I joined them soon after.

Sherry will be very VERY sorely missed in the world.

The future is NOW.

It’s been a long day at the office. Nobody really likes working on a Saturday, but sometimes in order for you to get to enjoy things like Memorial Day off, you’ve got to just suck it up and put in the hours.

There are certain things which makes it easier, of course. Especially in my admittedly-unique case. Things like the fact that I get to work from anywhere I want to on my company-provided, state of the art, Mac Book Air, which my in-no-way-scientifically-tested-or-tested-at-all observations tell me actually weighs less than my iPad.

In this case, circumstances dictate that I am working from the passenger seat of my hybrid Toyota Camry, traveling at [redacted] miles per hour down the I-25 going from Colorado to Arizona. My connectivity is being provided by a MiFi “Jetpack” (Automatticians will giggle at this) from Verizon which gives me 4G speed which sometimes really does what the commercials say and surpasses that of the ethernet waiting for me at home.

So to sum up, while I am having to work on a Saturday, I’m doing it in close company with my family, in a car getting up to 40 miles per gallon, with truly wireless Internet of incredible speeds, on a laptop which weighs like 2 pounds.

How ISN’T this science fiction?

Yep. We’re moving.

I figured I should probably write a proper explanation of the admittedly VERY sudden announcement that Charming and I are moving out of state from Arizona to Colorado.

First, I’m sure if you really think about it, this isn’t all THAT sudden. I spent a good portion of my childhood and early adulthood in Littleton (a suburb of Denver), Castle Rock, and Colorado Springs (basically the I-25 corridor). Plus, Charming has hated Arizona for as long as she’s lived here. And when I say hated, I mean HAAAAATED. The desert, the heat, the lack of seasons, the politics. You name it.

So we’ve been kindof thinking about moving for a while now. As in “since we’ve known each other.” I usually just smiled and nodded, because I mostly like Arizona. I moved back from Scotland to it. Voluntarily. I love the stark beauty. I put up with the heat and the politics. And I ADORE my family, even if they drive me insane sometimes (love you guys!).

But then things changed. As I think all of you guys know, about 6 months ago I left GoDaddy.com and started working for Automattic, Inc which is a distributed company. Automattic allows me to work anywhere in the world as long as I have an active and robust internet connection. This just naturally fueled the talks of us moving elsewhere. And THEN of course, the Little Cap’n came along, and suddenly we were thinking about him. What kind of environment do we want to raise him in? What quality of schools? I’ve never had to think along those lines before, but they make you think much more differently!

Side note: Another random bonus of working with Automattic is the travel. They will fly you all over the place for meetups. The first such one came about three weeks ago, when Automattic had a meetup in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That was so close for me (and I don’t fly well) that I decided to drive, and since I was driving I brought Charming and the Cap’n along with me. After that week-long meetup was over, we decided to continued on to Colorado to stay at my grandmother’s house in Littleton rather than return to the heat of Arizona, and that was just it for Charming. She well and truly fell in love with the place and we decided to do some house hunting.

Much like my decision to go to graduate school in Glasgow, one thing just came together after another. On a lark I decided to check if I could get funding, I could (and it was a great rate). On a lark, we decided to look for a realtor. We found a great one. On a lark, we decided to look for houses. The very first one we looked at we fell in love with. We looked at 14 more and we still went back to that first one. On a lark we put in an offer, and it was (eventually) accepted.

And so, we are now home owners in the state of Colorado. We’ll be moving in late July, early August.

Here are some photos which will give you an idea of what we’re looking forward to: