flwyd: (dogcow moof!)
Colorado's online tax filing site used to be a super-ugly but oh-so-simple web 0.9 series of text fields with a submit button and some JavaScript to automatically calculate some stuff.

This year, they've rejiggered things to require Microsoft Silverlight, which is kinda like Flash except a lot fewer people have it installed. It's also completely unnecessary for providing a couple dozen numbers that you can still fill out via pen and paper. This change was also apparently expensive, because the page also says "Filing a return online is free, but if you want to pay any tax due online, a minimum portal administration fee will be added to your payment."

At best, only two thirds of Internet users have Silverlight installed. The ADA requires the state government to take all kinds of measures to accommodate disabilities that affect significantly less than 33% of the population, but apparently they're free to block access to their website for over a million Coloradans.

Beyond being a Flash wannabe with a focus on DRM video, what really annoys me about Silverlight is the EULA which states in section 2 "you may not… work around any technical limitations in the software." I refuse to give up the freedom to find an innovative solution for a program that doesn't work properly.

Yes, they've managed to make using their website so undesirable that I'm going to file my tax return on paper.
Look at me.  I want to use your website.  Now look at your website.  It says "You must install Microsoft Silverlight."  Now back to me.  I'm on a different website.
flwyd: (McCain Palin Abe Maude Simpsons)
I just finished figuring out how I'm going to vote on ballot measures this year. I'm not sure I've had this high a percentage of NO votes before. The abbreviated explanation: 60, 61, and 101 are for people who think it would be fun to have California's budget problems with the additional constraint that we can't borrow money to keep things running. Or, if you prefer, 60, 61, and 101 is like cutting off your arm to lose weight. In synchronicity news, there's a meme going around to find a post you wrote "on this day in your first year on LiveJournal." Here's a 9-year old insight on libertarianism. In the fall of 2001 I also apparently invented flash mobs, made personal insights that remain largely true, and revised Pascal's Wager.
Amendment P – reorganization of bingo oversight – YES
This sounds pretty reasonable. That gambling and bingo are handled by different parts of the state government is probably a historical accident. Merging these functions should lead to government that makes more sense. Yay!
Amendment Q – a process for setting up temporary government operation if Denver gets hit by a hurricane – YES
Sounds like more housekeeping. If someone's gone through the bother of figuring all this out, we should let it in.
Amendment R - eliminate taxes on small herds of cattle grazing on BLM lands - YES
The key to this one is the phrase in Arguments For reduces the administrative burden of collecting a tax that in many cases costs more money to collect than it brings in to local governments. When the government says "Collecting this tax is more bother than it's worth," that's a good sign it's time to phase out. Also, given the scale of tax cut proposals on the ballot this year, the $46,000 of accounting rearrangement is peanuts. Or pinecones, since it's government land.
Amendment 60 – override voter-approved tax increases, add tax elections to more levels of government, cut property taxes (for individuals and businesses), and create property taxes (for universities and airports) – NO
One nice thing about TABOR is it's shown that people will often vote for higher taxes if they think they're getting good value for their money. This measure would undo some of those changes, reducing voter power. It also reduces local property taxes. But anti-tax zealots have learned that their biggest enemy is parents worried that lower taxes will lead to worse schools for their kids. So the former tried to entice the latter by replacing lost school district revenue with money for the state without creating any additional revenue for the state. Good thing to, 'cause if the kids don't get a good education, the state won't have any budget to provide the low income, health care, or prison services folks with poor education often need.

This measure also requires state-owned enterprises (universities, airports, etc.) to pay taxes. But these taxes won't make up for the lost revenue caused by the rest of this amendment! The taxes will go to pay for a further property tax reduction for people in the county (who typically get a property value boost due to the enterprise). CU became an enterprise so they'd have more budgetary flexibility while keeping tuition manageable since it was a pain in the ass to get money out of a tight state budget. If they have to pay taxes, students all over Colorado will pay higher tuitions to fund lower property taxes on expensive houses in Boulder. If they're lucky, landlords might drop rent by a few bucks.

The one redeeming feature of this amendment is letting citizens create ballot initiatives for lower (or higher) taxes at all levels of government (except federal). However, that perk isn't worth creating budget crises over.

Amendment 61 – stop government borrowing – NO
What happened to the Republican phrase of ten years ago, "Run government like a business?" Short and long-term borrowing are important parts of most businesses' operation. This amendment would prevent the state government from borrowing money at all and require voter approval for any local government borrowing. This is an understandable knee-jerk reaction to perceptions of the recent financial crisis, but it's not very helpful. If the interest rate on long-term borrowing is less than inflation plus growth, it makes money for the state. Preventing short-term borrowing is asking for chaos at the legislature, forcing them to consider things like paying state employees IOUs until everyone's taxes come in. If your "make government more accountable" plan is anti-commercial paper, you really shouldn't be proposing tax law.
Amendment 62 – let fœtæ own property and access the courts – NO
For Halloween season, how about a zombie anti-abortion amendment that died 75% to 25% two years ago? Oh wait, they changed "moment of fertilization" the the far more vague "beginning of biological development of that human being." Well my biological development began 6000 a couple billion years ago. Oh, and everything I said about Amendment 48 is still a problem.
Amendment 63 – add health care choice as a constitutional right, but prevent the government from creating health insurance worth choosing – NO
This measure seems designed to counteract the sort of health care bill that Congress didn't have the balls to talk about in 2009. You could at least wait until there's some data on the success of a plan before deciding it sucks. A full essay on how I think health care should work will have to wait for another day.
Proposition 101 – slash vehicle taxes and fees and reduce income tax by over 1% – NO
This seems to be a reaction to Bill Ritter's move last year to increase vehicle fees in order to balance the budget. One of the downsides of TABOR is that only citizens can raise taxes, combined with a balanced budget requirement, means the government has to get creative in how they balance the books. One could argue that the budget process should have gone differently, but the solution is not to drop vehicle fees to approximately 0 and simultaneously reduce income tax (why are those part of the same measure? at least the anti-abortionists didn't propose "Change the definition of person and also cut taxes by half a percent."). Cars create significant social externalities and should be taxed accordingly. What is especially ironic is I suspect many of the supporters of this amendment opposed the cash-for-clunkers program.
Proposition 102 – require participants in pretrial services programs to also have bonded bail – NO
I might support this measure if it had an exception for all nonviolent misdemeanors rather than just the first. Since the judge already has the flexibility to require bonded bail, I don't see how this amendment is a win for anybody but bail bondsmen. Maybe this is the plan to fund the courts system if 60, 61, and 101 all pass.

So please go out and vote for reason and sanity in government. Or, since you're a fan of reason and sanity, stay in and vote by mail. Otherwise, there tea party will lead to a pretty terrible hangover.
flwyd: (1895 Colorado map)
It might be Colorado if there's snow in the corners of the Frisbee field, but it's warm enough to play without a shirt in the first week of February.
flwyd: (1895 Colorado map)
Here are my current positions on the initiatives and referenda on the Colorado ballot this year. Since I don't have a TV and haven't dug through the web on these issues, most of my information comes from the blue book. If you think there are considerations I've overlooked, please comment. If I learn something that changes my mind, I'll update this post. If you don't have time to read this post, please just vote NO on 48, the "personhood" amendment.

Note that amendments 53, 55, 56, and 57 have been retracted in a deal to oppose amendments 47, 49, and 54. Amendments 53, 55, 56, and 57 will be on the ballot, but votes won't be counted. 47, 49, and 54 will be counted, but "business" has joined with "labor" in opposing them. If you don't vote in Colorado, use this opportunity to research your own ballot or convince a friend in California to vote NO on prop. 8. )

Quick Reference:

  • 46: No
  • 47: No
  • 48: No
  • 49: No
  • 50: Probably yes
  • 51: Unsure
  • 52: No
  • 54: No
  • 58: Yes
  • 59: Yes
  • L: Yes
  • M: Yes
  • N: Yes
  • O: Yes
Take that, longest ballot in the country!

flwyd: (transparent ribbon for government accoun)
The beginning of October means it's time to make sure you're registered to vote at your current location. Colorado Voters can check their registration status online. It will also tell you your polling place, what districts you are in, and so forth. In Colorado, the County Clerk must receive your voter registration by 5pm next Monday in order for you to vote in this fall's election.

Even if you can't make it to your polling place on November 4th, you can still vote by mail; check your County Clerk's website for mail-in ballot information. The advantages of voting by mail include not waiting in line, being able to refer to voter guides before checking boxes, and voting at midnight while drinking a beer on your couch naked.

Colorado is considered a "swing state" in this year's presidential election which means major candidates are expending a lot of effort to convince us to vote for them this year. I've listed all of the presidential choices below. I urge you to inform yourself about the other items on the ballot as well; many of the less-publicized choices will have more of an impact on your day-to-day life. Coloradans this year will vote on an open senate seat, a seat in the house of representatives, the state board of education, University of Colorado regent, state senate, state house, district attorneys, county commissioners, RTD directors, judge retention, 14 initiatives and 4 referenda to amend the state constitution, and various issues at the county, city, and district levels. Educate yourself early so you make an informed decision about the future of your community.


Colorado has rather easy ballot-access laws, so tends to have a lot of minor-party choices. I'm surprised, for instance, that the Prohibition party is still kicking it even after Earl Dodge kicked it. And I've never seen a few of these parties before, particularly the Boston Tea Party (who are not on the ballot in Boston). Presidential candidates on the Colorado ballot:
John McCain / Sarah Palin Republican
Barack Obama / Joe Biden Democratic
Chuck Baldwin / Darrell L. Castle Constitution
Bob Barr / Wayne A. Root Libertarian
Cynthia McKinney / Rosa A. Clemente Green
Jonathan E. Allen / Jeffrey D. Stath HeartQuake '08
Gene C. Amondson / Leroy J. Pletten Prohibition
James Harris / Alyson Kennedy Socialist Workers
Charles Jay / Dan Sallis Jr. Boston Tea
Alan Keyes / Brian Rohrbough America's Independent
Gloria La Riva / Robert Moses Socialism and Liberation
Bradford Lyttle / Abraham Bassford U.S. Pacifist
Frank Edward McEnulty / David Mangan Unaffiliated
Brian Moore / Stewart A. Alexander Socialist, USA
Ralph Nader / Matt Gonzalez Unaffiliated
Thomas Robert Stevens / Alden Link Objectivist

Snowshine

Friday, April 11th, 2008 05:29 pm
flwyd: (1895 Colorado map)
The sun is shining and snow is falling at the same time.

Go Colorado.
flwyd: (spencer hot springs feet)
The weekend focused around rafting the Colorado with several of my coworkers. The Feuchts own several rafts and like taking groups, so we were happy to oblige.

I headed west from Work on Friday night and got to Pumphouse, our designated Saturday morning meeting place, at around 9 (significantly after dark). I walked around and didn't see a place to camp, so I headed down to Radium. That looked like it had a few places one could camp, but I was worried about (a) the sign stating one needed a wildlife stamp and (b) the raucous group near where I'd be. So I drove back to Pumphouse figuring I'd sleep in the back of the Subaru. Upon arrival, I found that someone had claimed a camping site but was sleeping that night at the group site, so up went my tent in the dark.

Unlike everyone who carpooled from Lakewood at 6:30, I woke up at 8:30 (not counting the several trains that went by in the night). Pumphouse to Rancho del Rio is a very casual stretch of the Colorado River, especially in fall. Highlights included water fights, cliff jumping (in which I didn't participate), and a relaxing (naked) soak in Radium Hot Springs right on the river. Back at the Feuchts' we constructed burgers, ate corn, and played croquet in the dark. I slept in my sleeping bag on my cot on the driveway (to avoid early sun) under the stars. I didn't wake up at 5 to watch the meteor shower, and I'm okay with that.

On Sunday we rafted from Shoshone to Two Rivers (Glenwood Springs). This stretch has a lot more rapids, but we handled them without trouble. A lot of folks were on the river, catching the Labor Day summer bookend. We stopped to soak in a hot spring outside Glenwood which is only above water seasonally. Not wanting to offend random travelers on I-70 and the hordes of Bud Light Drinkers that docked, I kept my suit on for that. Having stayed upright in the raft for two days (no dunking here), I decided to overcome my dislike of water in the face and poor swimming skills to float the last (half?) mile in the river. Aside from a few rock scrapes when I jumped in, the experience was quite pleasurable. Maybe next summer I'll go tubing a bunch.

After a brain freeze courtesy Dairy Queen, I sallied north to Steamboat Springs. My casual driving pace and map confusion in town led me to Strawberry Hot Springs about 10 minutes after they closed admission. The guy at the window let two folks in, but I didn't want to pay $10 for less than an hour of springing, so I set out to find a place to camp. Being Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, the Routt National Forest campground (toward Buffalo Pass) was naturally full, so I decided to look for a big box retailer who wouldn't mind a guy sleeping in a Subaru. Steamboat discourages "formula stores" from downtown and I didn't know how to get to any other part of town, but I found an empty parking lot with (in ascending order of importance) four baseball fields and a soccer field or two, no "No Overnight Camping" sign, an unlocked bathroom. I parked in what looked like it might be shade, flipped the back seat down, laid out the cot, and settled down for a somewhat restful night of urban camping.

I woke up a few hours before the springs opened, so I went for a hike in Routt National Forest. Maybe I should take more early morning hikes: there's much prettier lighting for photographs (forthcoming). Strawberry Hot Springs were fabulous. At least nine pools and tubs contain varying measures of hot spring water and cool river water so one can heat up, cool down, rinse, and repeat. The water and and infrastructure are on par with Valley View. Since Steamboat Springs is a tourist town, Strawberry had a lot more people than Valley View typically has (though I don't know how busy it was this Labor Day). I heard families speaking in Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and English, which is a flavor I haven't tasted at Valley View. The communal aspect felt absent, though. The magic of VVHS is often found by striking up conversations with strangers in a pool, but everybody at Strawberry seemed to keep to themselves. Oh, and Strawberry requires swimwear during daylight hours. Have I mentioned I dislike swimsuits? They take way longer to dry than skin, provide drag in the water, and just call attention to the fact that your genitalia isn't visible.

After lots of heat and probably not enough water consumption I drove down the hill thinking about the Pho restaurant I'd seen in town. Unfortunately, they were closed for the holiday (what tourist town restaurant closes on holidays?) but the coffee shop hooked me up with a hydrating smoothie.

On the way home, I decided the scenic route would be preferable to sitting in holiday traffic on I-70, so I drove through North Park, Medicine Bow, and Cache la Poudre. North Park is even more desolate (but perhaps hillier) than its better-known southern cousin. The Jackson County seat, Walden, sports "The Moose Watching Capital of Colorado" on its welcome sign. Really, it felt like southern Wyoming draping its leg over the edge of the bed. The Medicine Bow range decided to welcome me back to the Atlantic basin with an intense but pleasant downpour. There are lots of good hiding places for powder along CO-14 in Larimer County. There's also an impressive number of national forest campgrounds. I'm surprised I haven't been up there before.

Speaking of scenic Larimer County, I bet there's still room at MeadowFest this coming weekend. Drumming, dancing, and great people will be in abundance.

Ideas I had this weekend:

A T-shirt with Colorado's outline and a bunch of landmarks with elevations. 14'ers, Leadville, Conundrum Hot Springs, major river paths, several points on the Continental Divide, and other Colorado points of note as well as some low points of note in other states: Burlington, CO is higher than the highest point in Kansas ("Mount" Sunflower), which is within a couple miles of the border. Oklahoma and Nebraska's highest points are also close to the Colorado line. Above the picture is some stylized "Colorado." Below the picture is the caption "It's all downhill from here."

A Creative Commons-licensed T-shirt on print-to-order websites with the phrase "Free Hugs" written in many languages. Perfect for travel through international airports.

I can float for extended periods if I wear flip flops to keep my feet up. I can also float downstream without trouble if I wear a life jacket.

On the way home, Radio 1190 mentioned a show at Rhinoceropolis and I thought of [livejournal.com profile] tamheals. How can you go wrong with a name like that?

Note to self: a chopping knife and biodegradable dish soap should be added to the camp cookware bag.

Sno-B-Gone

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007 02:36 pm
flwyd: (rose red sky blue)
5 to 50 in 24 hours. Colorado's a meteorologic sports car.
flwyd: (smoochie sunset)
(staying up until 2am) + (getting up at 8am) + (working from home) + (cats who want attention) + (lower inhibitions about using OKCupid at home than at work) + (Front Row and Apple remote control) + (hot sex with wife) = (unproductive work day).

Apparently I forgot my lesson from college to go out and have fun for a while (e.g. go sledding) and I'll work more effectively. On the plus side, I'm tired enough to go to bed now which will make getting up at 5:30 for drumming up the sun at Red Rocks more feasible.

Colorado's been on national news due to the blizzard the last few days, but it's some of the best severe weather I can imagine. My Subaru (even with worn tires) had no trouble getting to and from work yesterday. The power stayed on the whole time, so Coloradans sat at home and uploaded pictures to the Internet. Others shoveled their sidewalks and ran around in the snow.

But the best part of Colorado weather? While hurricane alley takes months to recover from a disaster, our weather just slides on by (three pictures) )

flwyd: (Trevor over shoulder double face)
One of [livejournal.com profile] tamheals's friends in Florida once told us that "Colorado is the lesbian capital of the world." While it's a great place to meet other girls while hiking, walking your dog, or pursuing higher education, I don't know about in the world.

On the other hand, we do seem to be ahead of the pack in gay pastors leading large evangelical churches.

Unfortunately, we're not such a groovy place that evangelical pastors admit they're gay, gain acceptance from their congregation, and argue for equal rights for same-sex couples. We'll leave the gay marriage legalization to liberal and nonreligious places like Spain.

I hope Ted and Paul can come to terms with their sexuality and find healthy ways to satisfy their needs and desires. I hope the evangelical community can accept that they followed and respected gay/bi men and welcome them in their community as the people they are. It's What Jesus Would Do.
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