Unforeseen changes

Surprises every turn. Over Christmas, a friend invited me down to Costa Rica. He’s down there at a newish job, had lovely things to say about the area, the country, and I’d always wanted to see it. He’s got a house a minute from the beach where he’s learning to surf, friends, and knowledge of the terrain. But I wasn’t sure if he really meant it or was just being nice, and I had things to do.

Oh yeah.

Then a couple of weeks ago, he reiterated the invite, and asked if I would assist his lovely and fun fiance to get there as well. We talked about logistics, he booked our flights, round trip for me and I’ll be gone for a month.

Oh, yeeaah.

As a result, I have an adventure in front of me, a new old dog waiting when I get back, days full of laughter and great company as she and I pull it all together for her life transition, I try to finish a book and maybe complete a major business transaction with untold but significant impacts on my own life.

Oh, yeeeaaah.

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Chalice by Erik Dolson

Chalice

by Erik Dolson

Giveaway ends March 01, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Road trip

Sabitri and I will take off in a couple of hours to collect her twin sister from college. A mini road trip from my desert mountain hide-away through towns and valleys, to cities and ocean bays. We’ll have an ice chest for water and cheese, a dry box for Wheat Thins and chips and my coffee.

I love these runs. Something in me responds to the road, something I share with those I am closest with, even if it’s different now than it used to be: my cars are so much more reliable, and if they do break, there’s my cell phone Link to make a call for help. One has to make an effort now to get lost, with that same Link and its maps and GPS and evenly cadenced voice saying “in one quarter mile turn left at the fork…”

That said, there’s still freshness to moving through time and place as we speed past a woman with a wide-brim hat walking an absurdly tiny dog wearing fluorescent pink ribbons; by a man fighting to keep upright an overloaded yellow wheelbarrow with a single wobbly wheel; as we cross then recross the Santiam, swollen from a week’s worth of rain, crashing through rough canyons of grey rock to the Willamette in its lush wide valley, then along the Columbia that carves sweeping curves into a continent on its way, on our way, to the Pacific.

It’s never, “when will we get there?” with my girls. We go to go, to be going, to be seeing something we may have seen before, but with fresh eyes. Moments of Zen. I’ve given them this, and they give this back to me.

And now, it’s time to throw a few things in a bag and hit the road.

Broadband Bandits

Great journalism has finally uncovered evidence that a lack of competition for Internet access has led to price gouging by AT&T, Verizon, Qwest (dba Century Link?) Comcast (xfinity? Really, Comcast?) and the rest of the oligopolists.

This came from the New York Times? Chicago Tribune? Boston Globe? Fox News?

Please. U.S. Media was neutered a decade ago. The story was published by… the British Broadcasting  Corporation. Read it here.

But the report on which the story was based is homegrown, and was produced by the New America Foundation. See the report here. While you still can, before those who control your access to your radio waves and monitor your information requests for profit, and the NSA, prevent you from doing so.

And, apparently, while charging you more than three times for slower Internet than what  those in other nations pay for the privilege. 

No, I am not joking.

By the way, Verizon reported a third-quarter (that’s three months) profit of $2.2 billion in October. AT&T, the second-largest American carrier after Verizon, reported profit of $3.8 billion in the third quarter, up from $3.6 billion  a year ago.

We need to stop the damage these monsters are doing to our America, with the aid of their paid flacks in Washington D.C.

Rep. Greg Walden, have you scurried yet to set up your golden parachute to the telecoms or pharmaceutical industries, or some lobbying firm they hire? Or is it just “understood” wink, wink, nod, nod, that they owe you sooo much?

Freeing the free markets

The weird thing is, I believe in the “free market.” I believe that removing consequences for bad behavior encourages that behavior. I don’t believe “inequality” per se, is a bad thing, as long as we ensure opportunity. In short, I am a conservative.

From about 1965.

Of course government is inefficient. The sky is blue. But government’s role is not to be efficient. Government needs to be the referee, mark the playing field, protect free markets and provide services under the law that we would not entrust to our neighbors without guidelines, or that need to be done to avoid loss of our humanity.

But we don’t have “free markets,” we have market manipulation by oligopolists who collude with corrupt politicians and fight transparency.

The only folks facing consequences are the poor—the leaders of Goldman Sachs, ATT, and Pfizer don’t face consequences for their greed, regardless of the damage they do to our country.

Ownership of our money by big banks has caused irreparable harm, first in the Great Depression, which was followed by bank laws, then in the Great Recession that followed repeal of those same laws. Some of those working in the largest banks hurt far more people than John Dillinger. Increase capital requirements, so they face the consequences of their failure, or break ’em up, so if they fail, it is shareholders and not farmers and teachers and gas station workers who are out of a job.

There should be vigorous price competition between cell phone networks. No, there’s not. We need to make sure that no one company or four companies can grab all of our radio spectrum, nor limit our choice of phones, nor throttle in any way our access to the Internet. The ‘Net is now too important, and every citizen should have a wide-open pipe, buying what they want, paying for what they use.

There should be vigorous market competition in the drug industry. It should be illegal for one company to pay another, in collusion, to keep generics off the market. Patent law should be changed so that new generics are available much, much more quickly. Consumers should have the right to buy their drugs from wherever they please. Drug prices, and hospital equipment prices, should be published, not hidden. The market needs information to operate efficiently.

Corporations are not people. If a corporation has broken the law, someone in that corporation did the breaking. They should do time if they did harm. It’s not just marijuana users who are a threat to society. In fact, I don’t think pot smokers are any threat at all, and we should leave them alone to face the consequences of their behavior.

But maybe that’s just me, being a conservative.

Scream

If ATT, Verizon, Comcast, XFinity (really, Qwest?) had the tools to “sniff” the content of emails, blog posts, news articles, as they were posted to the internet, it would be their legal obligation to minimize access to criticism. It would be a violation of their fiduciary responsibility not to do whatever is legal to preserve their reputations and protect their business plans. Whatever is legal.

But as far as the Internet goes, the law sits about ten generations behind the technology, and the social consequences, of this whole new paradigm of human interaction. Of course these companies, which collude with the National Security Agency, know the content of our communication. The Oligopolists of Communication are about two generations ahead, technologically and legally. They write the laws and then get lickspittle congressmen, like Oregon’s Greg Walden, to introduce them.

Using words like  “freedom” and “progress” and “market” and “innovation,” and bribes in the form of campaign contribtuions, they keep at bay the only force, the definition of “what’s legal,” that could reign in their slurping and sucking and hoarding of the life blood of our librerty: information.

You have no privacy. You have no rights. You have no power. They have won, and if you oppose them, you will be rendered either deaf, or mute. We have no mouth, and we must scream.

The Reading

The reading was a bust, by standard measure. Two couples, one of whom are good friends (one are? implied plural? Lazy, lazy…), my girlfriend, some folks who dropped by. Rebecca Singer, owner of Dudley’s was so graciously apologetic: “Fall Festival, a beautiful day to be outside, hard to find parking,” etc. I wanted to apologize to her.

Somehow, I am not devastated. My reaction like that I had with the “friend of a friend who knows somebody,” who was surprised when I told him I  still believed in the value of “Chalice,” despite rejection by agents and publishers. To that, I add a nearly empty book store on a beautiful Fall Sunday.

Have an impact on me? Of course. A bit of the doldrums, wind absent from my sails. Plus a fever on Monday, full on wet-sniffle-snuffle-hacking-cough cold on Tuesday, slow recovery on Wednesday.

And then, there was today. Someone I don’t know, but know of, posted a comment on this blog stating her gratitude for “Chalice.” Someone squarely in the demographic I felt would receive what I was trying to communicate.

That one comment made more of a difference to me than an empty book store, rejection by agents and publishers.

Because I wrote “Chalice” for her. And her friends. Those she went to college with, or hung out with in high school, who are inspired by her passions, wherever those take her. Chalice is not for everyone. But she and her brothers and sisters are out there. She is the one who makes the effort worthwhile, the rejections bearable. She is my audience, she is the one I was trying to reach.

A breeze is picking up, sails inhale, losing slack. We have a video of the reading, which will be posted sometime soon. A book club may take up the book, I’ve been asked if I would speak to them (of course). Sales inch upward.

Off we go.

See you at Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe

We are getting some traction on “Chalice,” and thank Dudley’s for their enthusiasm. Stop by on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the reading (look upstairs if we’re not downstairs), and 25% off on coffee. It’s a very cool book store.

Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe
“This Friday is Friday Art Walk PLUS Fall Festival. We are privileged to have Kelly Riley & The Range Benders playing their amazing set of Americana, Blues & Folk with attitude!! Originals, traditionals & a few surprises! 6.30pm. ALSO, on Sunday October 6th we will be having a signing and reading by Erik Dolson of his new book “Chalice”. Erik is a local author and I promise the book is fabulous! All drinks and treats will be 25% off from 2 to 4pm.”