Taking Selfies in the Voting Booth: Legal or Illegal?

If it’s legal, should it not be? If it’s illegal, should that change?

What a rapidly changing world we live in. A short time ago, this issue would not have been on anyone’s radar. Will it be up to the Supremes to decide?

Richard Hasan, Terry Gross’ guest on Fresh Air tonight, made me realize that I didn’t have a thorough understanding of it.

My first thought was, “come on, what’s wrong with taking a picture of yourself doing something you are proud of?” One of the most patriot actions a person can take is to make it known how they want to see the country move forward. We do celebrate more mundane actions.

Something that I had not considered, though, was how the use of selfies could allow someone to control the vote.

What if a dominant family member demands voting in a particular way? A selfie from the voting booth could verify that. Or what about a vote buying operation paying after a selfie verifies the voting?

The full interview with Richard Hasan can be found here: Rigging An Election? It’s Not So Easy, Voting Law Expert Says

There are instances that require a choice when not all choices are apparent. Search for those unknown choices. And, as always, question your beliefs, for that’s where you will often find hidden choices.

Property Tax Information

Received my property tax bill this evening. Looking through the statement, I noticed that the Real Market Value (RMV) of the land decreased by $5700 and the RMV of the structures increased by $7710.

I found that interesting since I’ve put much more effort toward improving the land than I have toward improvements to the structures. Just a curiosity.

Taxes this year are only $22 more than what I paid last year. Costs do go up, and that’s only a 1% increase. I don’t mind paying taxes. They help pay for the services and resources that we as a community receive in return. Especially so for the children.

Looking over at the expense column, more than half of my property tax dollars goes toward helping people get educated. Can’t say that I have any problems with people getting educated. Hopefully, that education will help some of them improve the well-being of this country. Whether that be on a national level or being able to help others improve their lives.

Pay it forward.

Getting back to what really got my fingers hitting the keys… after I went through those thoughts, I turned my attention to the pink Property Tax Information sheet. What can I say, I’ve been trained as an engineer. I read the manuals. ūüôā

Going over each bullet point, I started feeling uncomfortable. That feeling only got worse as I continued reading.

With the intensity of this year’s¬†election’s insanity, and the knowledge gained, I’ve been prodded into speaking up.

I really don’t have much of an issue with what the Property Tax Information page actually says. It’s more about the way it’s worded. It comes across as another governmental agency making demands. Another agency that has no empathy for people who might be having a difficult time. Do it this way or we will make your life even more miserable.

I don’t believe that was the intent. In fact, I do think that I may understand the county’s perspective. Being forceful now might push someone considering putting off paying until they end up in foreclosure for back taxes and then having to deal with the loss of their home find a way to pay them now.

After spending time taking glimpses of the State of the Union from many sources lately, I have become concerned with how easy this country could erupt in violence. Much of that violence would be directed at a government that¬† often to not be very caring about the people who it’s supposed to be caring for.

Documents worded like this Property Tax Information is don’t help ease that tension.

Some of that violence would also be directed at people that some might consider to be ‘others.’ Some might be carried out by those who have been treated unfairly for way too long.

Fortunately, most women know that violence is not the answer.

With all that in mind, I became uncomfortable with reading this document and propose some changes so it doesn’t come across so harshly.

I’d like feedback from those that read this. Suggestions of how to better word the Property Tax Information sheet so that people already agitated, don’t become more-so. So people in dire straits might have some semblance of hope that their government is looking out for them as best they can.

Also suggestions for any grammatical improvements.

Having just spent some time looking for this document online at the¬†Hood River County Website, I have come to realize that the county could use some IT/web management help. This also became apparent to me, in the past few weeks, with the email notices I’ve received about jury duty that could be managed more efficiently. I’ll be working on that issue personally. Back to the issue at hand, I was unable to find the Property Tax Information document online within a time frame that didn’t cause me to give up, and I’ve been blessed with a lot of patience.

My suggested changes for improving this document:

Begin with having this document in Spanish as well as English.

I’ve also changed the order of some items to give more importance to those that gave me the impression that they were inserted as afterthoughts.

This is Important Information That Homeowners Should Read

If you have past due property taxes, or need assistance, you might qualify to receive help.

Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI) has developed a Hardest Hit Fund program to assist property owners facing tax delinquency due to financial hardship. Visit www.oregonhomeownerhelp.org or call 503-986-2025 for more information.

Additional assistance might be available from the Records & Assessment Department (see contact information below).

  • Paying your taxes as soon as possible will save you money.
  • If you pay in full on November 15, 2016, you will receive a 3% discount. Payments need to be postmarked or delivered by 5pm to qualify.
  • If you pay two-thirds of your tax bill by Nov 15, 2016, you will receive a 2% discount.
  • If you choose to pay your property taxes in three monthly payments, those payments are due Nov 15, 2016, Feb 15, 2017, and May 15, 2017. No discount will be earned with this method, but neither will interest be added. [Original document is too wordy about if the dates fall on Saturdays or a holiday. Looking at the calendar to check will make it easier for those reading]
  • For your information, all county offices will be closed in observance of Veterans Day, Friday Nov 11, 2016.
  • The date on a bill payer check will count if payment is sent from your bank, financial institution or bill payer service.
  • If you send a post-dated check, it will be processed immediately, regardless of the date posted. A processing fee of $30 will be added to your tax bill for any check that is returned by your bank for any reason.
  • Checks are to be made payable to Hood River County and mailed to the address listed above. Please include the payment stub or a listing of the account numbers with payment amounts for each account to ensure accurate posting of your payments.
  • Payments can be made by debit or credit cards online at www.co.hood-river.or.us or in person. An extra fee of 2.49% will be added to cover the fees for this convenience. Unfortunately, we cannot accept payment over the phone.
  • The 2016-17 tax year runs from July 1st 2016 through June 30th 2017.
  • Please call the Records & Assessments Dept at 541-386-4522 if you need to change your mailing address. [Original wording was too onerous.]

Hood River County Contact Information as per sheet.

Please let me know of any corrections or changes that you’d like to see by commenting below.

The Ups and Downs of Internet Speeds

Questions that I see from time to time ask about Internet slow downs. There are numerous possible reasons for your Internet to appear slow. I’ll suggest a few of them and possible remedies. I’m going from memory that might be a few years out-of-date, so feel free to correct or add to this list.

Probably the first thing to do is get a baseline of your Internet speed. This fast and simple test will let you know if it is, in fact, slow and give you a baseline to work from to see if something you try has a beneficial effect. For decades, I have used Speakeasy.net’s Speedtest and click on the nearest location. There are other sites that do the same.

One of the first thing to check is to see if someone in the house is streaming music or video, or uploading the same. Those will likely be taking up a large amount of available bandwidth.

I’ve often seen computers that were automatically connected to a file sharing site (Peer to Peer or P2P) and unknowingly uploading files. Since most people don’t RTFM (Read The Fine Manual), they don’t realize that by installing P2P software, their computer and bandwidth is used to upload files to other people’s computers. This is dangerous for a number of reasons. P2P File Sharing Programs

Sometimes it’s just a bottleneck created by your computer and rebooting will fix it. Restarting the modem will sometimes fix it. Sometimes the fix requires power cycling the modem but that is usually only necessary for when you can’t get online.

Sometimes, there’s a bottleneck in the Internet that is affecting traffic over a wide area.¬†Internet Traffic Report will show if there’s a major problem.

Sometimes it’s a problem with the Domain Name Servers (DNS) that your computer or router are using to translate a domain name into language that computers understand. As an example, Gorge.net will be translated by DNS to the IP (Internet Protocol) address of .

Not all DNS are the same. How to Find the Fastest DNS Server Near You can help you choose and configure the best DNS for you, if you desire.

Another possible reason for your Internet being slow is because a computer on your network is being controlled by malware to send out a stream of spam or be involved in a DDOS (Directed Denial of Service) attack. It might not even be what you would consider a computer or device (smart phone/pad, etc) but a device such as a NEST thermostat or smart fridge, or a router.

IoT devices recently created the largest DDOS attack against a security site. If you have any such devices, make sure they are not using default usernames and passwords. IoT Devices as Proxies for Cybercrime  from KrebsOnSecurity.com has more information.

BBC’s Planet Earth Series

I ran across the BBC’s Planet Earth II Trailer earlier. I’d not been aware of the Planet Earth series so went to find what I could on YouTube. I’m providing the list here because I wasn’t able to find the series in sequence.

Update: I found Planet Earth: Season 1 from BBC’s Planet Earth YouTube Channel for $21, the DVD of Season 1 for about $18 and¬†Season 1 on Blu-ray for about $17 with shipping.

Planet Earth Episode 1 From Pole to Pole | BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 2 Mountains | BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 3 Fresh Water | BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 4 Caves | BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 5 Deserts | BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 6 Ice Worlds – BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 7 Great Plains – BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 8 Jungles – BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 9 Shallow Seas – BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 10 Seasonal Forests – BBC Documentary

Planet Earth Episode 11 Ocean Deep – BBC Documentary

I’ve not watched all of these yet. I can’t vouch for their quality.

There’s Too Many People

Could that realization be the reason that many of those in power don’t really give a damn about people dying? Especially poor people. People of color. People of a different religion?

Or even people of their own political beliefs, gender, race, religion, sexual beliefs. It often appears that many of those in¬† control, and not just in this country, just don’t really care about the suffering of ‘others.’ Could it be that it’s finally sunk in that this planet will not be able to care for 10 billion people for very long? That it’s time to grab all you can, while you can? And if people suffer or die, because of that grab, it no longer matters?

As long as me and my family can survive in comfort, to Hell with others. They are losers. They didn’t work hard enough. So what if they didn’t have the privilege that I grew up with. They were unlucky in choosing their parents.

We came, we conquered, they died. Or Hillary’s version , “We came, we saw, he died.”

And what a mess that created.