Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: Musings (Page 3 of 6)

Fuchsia Friday

Screw all this “Black Friday” stuff. I get it, it’s all about stores coming out of the red ink and into the black, but good lord, folks, you really NEED to trample your way in? I was thinking about all of this yesterday, as I considered reviving my tradition of going out shopping on Black Friday, wondering when it all turned from a shopping day with more excitement into a fuckin’ piranha tank.  There’s very little I need that would require me getting up at 3 am at this point in my life.  James even reminded me of this adventure (“Remember, you said you weren’t going anymore?”)

Oh yeah. And here I was, contemplating Joann’s AND CostCo. I still was, until I saw that I’d been looking at the wrong day, and that Joann’s didn’t open at 7 am, but instead, at 6 am. One hour was enough to make me really question if it was worth it or not. So I jumped online to calculate just how much I’d save on that damned OTT-Lite, and lo and behold? Joanns.com was having a sale. With a floor OTT lamp for $50, and free shipping if you spent $75. Since I was going to shell out over $100 on the lamp alone (with the extra coupon), I tapped in all my info, got a replacement bulb and one thing I needed to complete a gift. Grand total of $75.97, free shipping, bay-bee!

I did go out later, made a grocery store run and a trip to Westlake Hardware, and let me just say, I don’t know if they have a special training course at Westlake Ace for how to treat women when they come in? But the car industry could learn a LOT from these people.  I needed to get a few nuts and bolts, a new humidifier filter, and what I thought was a thumb screw. Within a minute of entering the store, I was greeted by two people, and the man working the floor asked if I needed help finding anything. Indeed I did, and within five minutes, we had all the nuts, bolts and washers I needed, at the correct size and length. He looked at the part I brought in, pronounced I already had a screw in there, but needed a tiny allen wrench (for thirty-nine cents) and I was on my merry way, with everything I needed and no frustrations.  As I left, I was reflecting on how awesome everything had gone (I had imagined myself digging through compartment after compartment of bolts, probably spilling some) and that my experience is like that every time I go. I don’t work for them, no affiliation, I just have to say, I’m either lucky, look unbelievably pathetic, or they’ve got some really good customer service, and I’m betting on the latter.

At CVS, I couldn’t help but stare at the woman who was checking out in front of me, and she looked back at me with some glimmer of recognition, but didn’t say anything. I pondered how Kansas City gets smaller and smaller each year, and sometimes people who work in other places I frequent will pop up (say, at the grocery store, and your mind struggles to place them.) I didn’t think much of it, but she returned, because they’d overcharged her for photos, and she had no photos. She looked at me again, and I finally had to say, “Do we know each other? You look really familiar.” And she said, yes, we did, and told me who her husband was, who is someone my husband got into it with during his last months with a local waterfowl organization, and so there we had it, not only did we have a connection but it was utterly fractured and stupid.  I was instantly regretting asking her who she was and realizing exactly why she didn’t greet me in the first place, and so we stood there at the pharmacy counter, awkwardly, like Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant and Mrs. Robert E. Lee somehow got stuck at the same tea table  (I’m playing the role of Mrs. Grant, btw, I don’t care what side Missouri fought on.)  I graciously told the cashier to handle her refund first, and we both stood there staring at her while attempt after attempt to credit her back failed. Then she had to call a manager, who didn’t show up, and she finally asked Mrs. Lee if she could take care of me real quick while they waited for the manager. I scrawled my name on the line and escaped as quickly as I could, wondering how in the hell they were now in our neighborhood. Like I said, small town, big city.

So it was a good day, no crazy shopping, though I’ve lived vicariously through others, as people post pictures of their giant tv’s and exhaustion from having to either work the sales or from still dealing with family. Me, I’m having a British crime procedural marathon, watching episodes of MI:5 (Spooks) and nibbling on cheese. If I were to paint the day a color, it would be the shockingly bright, happy magenta I love so dearly, making it a very fuchsia Friday indeed.

The Zen of Homebuilding

The holidays have really never been my thing, over the years. Most of my adult memories of them are associated with either steeling myself to going home and battling it out with my parents, or figuring out a way not to go home, and feeling guilty about it. I remember one year, an impending snowstorm made the decision for me, and genuinely crying on the phone to my parents about having to spend Christmas alone, but secretly, inside and under the fountain of tears, I was relieved.  My return visits home made me the centerpiece of attention, something I normally enjoy, I’ll admit, but this was never in a charmed or charming way.

I shan’t relive those visits here, of course, moments from over the years still rise up and remind me of their sting. It’s taken a long, long time to feel at peace with my history, the family traditions that so many of us have.  Then, my father’s death became a new albatross this time of year, in part because it echoed his own history around the holidays: his mother’s own death before Christmas turned him into a very depressed, withdrawn person as that holiday approached. The family compromise was to decorate every-other year, as he hated everything about the holiday, arguing the ritual was idiotic, given our lack of religious faith. But really, inside, he was just trying to keep afloat in the Pit. The Pit of sadness and despair, where our grief and our pain pools and resides, ebbing and flowing, sometimes threatening to drown us completely. In the years following his death, I barely recall those gatherings myself, apart from the ones we hosted. In some ways, I replicated his own behavior; survival in the grips of absolute despair.

I’m not sure why this year feels different. Not quite as blue, not quite as shiny, either, just another day with fewer stores open, no mail. A day spent with a good friend watching Harry Potter on the big screen, in a theater not nearly as crowded as Christmas is, where I have sought company among my Jewish friends in the past. Traditions are hard to shake, especially the feeling that you are missing out somehow, that a piece of you is off-kilter, adrift, not in sync as Facebook status after Facebook status rolls by with reports of over-indulgence, new recipes, scrubbed shiny faces of children. Odd, how social media can unite and isolate all at the same time. But that history is not my history, your recipe for stuffing is far different than my own.

They say when you leave home, that you can never go home again. My father said those words to me after they moved me into the dorms to begin my freshman year of college. Stung, I felt like I had been set adrift somehow, the proverbial thump of landing after being kicked out of the nest. He then explained that while it was always my home, it would never be the same. My struggle to define myself, to grow up, to be independent, would all prevent my childhood home from feeling the same to me, and that I would have to find and establish a new home for myself. At that time, all of 17 years old, I thought I understood. But I can tell you now, from the wisdom of 25 more years, that I had no idea what home was or needed to be at that point in my life.

Tonight, I will enjoy some pasta with mushrooms and asparagus. Asparagus my husband bought me because he knows how much I love it. Asparagus he bought when he went to the grocery store for me, taking the list I’d written for myself, taking one thing off my list in a week that’s been so busy for being so short. In so many ways, he is my refuge, my comfort and strength. But I finally see that my home is within me. It is not defined by a day or a meal. And for this wisdom and perspective, I’m thankful, indeed.

Reflection…

Standing in line

People crowding around me.

We line up by letter of last name.

I wonder when they’ll figure out “I-O” always has the most people.

I wonder how long I’ll have to wait.

My feet hurt.

It’s been a long day.

Then.

I think of the photo.

Of the Iraqi woman.

Raising her ink-stained finger.

A rush of emotion fills me

And I realize.

Remember.

Remind myself.

Of all the people who went before me.

Who dared to raise their voices.

Who sat in protest.

Who died because they fought to change the system.

Who died to protect the basic tenets of our country.

And suddenly it didn’t seem so bad.

To wait in line.

To exercise my right.

To vote.

iraq-vote

If I Were A Chilean Miner….

Not only would I be ecstatic that I’m not going to be stuck in the mine until Christmas, as originally predicted, but I’d sure be lobbying to be Miner #2 or #3 out of the hole in the ground. Hell, stuck with me, they’d probably be putting rocket fuel under my capsule to escalate my departure. (she NEVER shuts UP!)

I heard parts of the story this morning on NPR, that they are figuring out who gets to go first, and then there’s some debate and jockeying for who will be last, as that person will hold the record as an individual for the amount of time spent trapped in a mine (or some such record.)

I’d like to think I’d be brave enough to go first. But I don’t know. I just hear the descriptions of this capsule, and it’s long journey – two Empire State Building’s worth of distance – through the tube, and I feel my chest compress and the claustrophobia slithers in from all sides. Because if you’re first, that’s probably when it’s going to jack itself up, if there’s a major flaw in the entire structure. Kaplooey, you’re done for.  But once the first one gets out, hey, get the hell out of my way, that capsule is working and see y’all up on top, pops. I wouldn’t give a hoot about any records. I’d also be glad I wasn’t one of the three fellas who had both their wives AND mistresses show up at the mine site, because no matter how glad either one of those ladies is going to be, heads are gonna roooooll.

All in all, these men are all known by their first names in their country, they are heroes, and it’s miraculous they’ve survived this disaster. The lawsuits have already begun, too. It seems like this is yet another industry that is poorly-regulated and allowed to operate unchecked, both abroad and at home. I hope action comes from these tragedies/catastrophes to change and improve the regulation of all these jobs where lives are on the line – oil rigs, miners, etc.. The drive for cheaper, faster, plentiful resources and money, attained from the backs of these people who bend because it’s a job, it’s their livelihood, their options are limited – it makes me crazy, because sitting on top of those backs are the fat cats who profit from their labor,  sitting back and calculating how much a disaster would cost them, versus the cost to “do the job right” – money always wins with them, and human life becomes a number, just another line on an actuarial chart.  I went off on a rant, there, yes. It’s that Norma Rae creature in me.  I wrote a folk song when I was in 4th grade (and performed it in music class!), a dark dirge-like song about the life as a miner. Lots of flats, if I recall correctly.  I come by it fair & square, those hippie parents and all the old-timey music.

It’s dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew,
Where danger is double and pleasures are few,
Where the rain never falls and the sun never shines
It’s dark as a dungeon way down in the mines.

~ From “Dark as A Dungeon”, by Merle Travis

Rights, Rights, Rights.

So, I was mulling over this crazy situation that’s coming up this weekend, with the little cult-like church down in Gainesville, FL that plans to burn the Qu’ran on September 11.
On the one hand, you have freedom of speech, and what they’re doing falls under that umbrella. It’s like the nutters of Westboro Baptist, or the Klan, or any other group you despise. Hate what they say, defend to the end their right to do it.
In fact, it’s the Number One amendment in our Bill of Rights.

On the other hand, you have freedom of religion, and it’s not particularly love-thy-brother to burn any religion’s holy book, declare them Evil and want to eradicate them. One of the persecutions our founding fathers were fleeing was an imposed religion. Wait, that’s also covered in that First Amendment. Hm. In fact, this church’s brand of lunacy dogma is protected as well.

Certainly there are greater scholars than I, who could expound for days on the topic of Constitutional Law, Religion, and freedoms in general.

What our original government never could have imagined was a day when information transmitted in the millisecond of a lightbulb turning on, that images and words and moving pictures would exist and live on ad infinitum in an ethereal world that gives as much as it takes.

So what do we do? We can’t legally order this man not to proceed with his notion of protest. It is in direct contrast to (most of) our collective values, whether you worship Jesus, Jehovah or JellyBellys. (Allah, too, but it doesn’t start with J.) I’d like to see the entire world turn their backs. If the Qu’ran burns in the forest and nobody puts it on the internet, did it really happen?

Of course, our rapacious modern media won’t do this. Someone will argue the need to record the event for historic purposes. But the media attention is what this man WANTS. Giving it to him, and thus elevating his notoriety not only in our country, but the world, is, in my opinion, irresponsible. The so-called minister of this ‘church’, and I use the term loosely, has said he’s willing to die for his beliefs, but he has no regard for how his actions could trigger the reaction that would cause the deaths of our own soldiers abroad. Sure, you can spend another fortnight arguing responsibility there – if I load a gun, turn the safety off, and hand it to a ten-year old, do I get to throw my hands in the air and say, “Hey, I didn’t pull the trigger.” ? To me, this is where the decision breaks down. If you want to burn something – even a flag- and the only repercussions are social ostracization (or acceptance by like-minded people) or the only harm can come to you, then knock yourself the hell out. But when the fucking U.S. General overseeing our military operations says, “Hey, you doing this could really start some bad shit half a continent away, and oh by the way, your little shindig will be used in terrorist training videos,” wouldn’t you think twice? Maybe I’m being generous by using the word “think”. It just angers me that one of our soldiers, doing their job in Afghanistan, could somehow suffer the fallout from this person’s “conviction” to protest.

And, while I’m at it, I object to the conversations that compare this to burning an American flag.  Because when you burn the Bible, you’re making a statement against Christians. Or the Torah, against Jews. So on and so forth. The flag? That’s all of us. You, me, black, white, every shade in-between, no matter your god, no matter your political party, no matter your income or education status: all of us are under that flag. When you make the choice to burn the flag, you are indicting our country in your protest, and it is (pick your option) an act of defiance against the entire country or an act of aggression against the entire country. Even this is still protected in our country. But these two situations are not the same.

Just remind yourself this weekend about what our First Amendment rights protect. And remember the people who died on September 11th, and all the other people, soldiers, freedom fighters who continue to die to protect this right.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is the most heralded truth I hold as a citizen of this country, and I am sad that the actions of one tiny pocket of our population (who enjoy the very freedoms they are denigrating) could be seen as representative of our collective beliefs about the Muslim faith.

Testing, 1-2-3.

I heard a bit on NPR the other evening about how this huge number of Los Angeles elementary school teacher names are going to published, with data about their students’ improvements (or not) on standardized test scores.

All I could think in response was, “Yet another way to remove responsibility from the parents.”

Yeah, I’m married to a teacher. He works hard at his job, he makes a difference in his students’ lives.  And yes. There are teachers who suck, don’t care, do the minimum to get by.

What gets me, though, is all these new initiatives that are designed to impact student test scores, arguably to improve them – most of them involve punitive measures against the teachers.  I’m sure there are people out there who hear about them and react, “Yeah! Make teachers accountable!” and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be – but even with all the hours a child spends in school, the school is not a vacuum, and the teachers can only effect so much change. They certainly can’t beat the children anymore, like they could when I was in school. Much of the fear that accompanied my childhood education is gone – I was terrified of my principal, most of my teachers, and the faintest notion that any of them would call home to my father. God, not that.  Discipline in school can be sparse or completely absent, probably out of fear the angry parent will sue the school for violating their child’s rights. I’m not saying getting thwacked was the right solution, certainly, but discipline can exist – and it takes a lot of work and effort on every person in the school, from the administration to aides, all working in a consistent manner.

My opinion is that there is an inherently flawed premise: All students want to excel on the test.  The assumption in all of the standardization, and resulting measurement of teachers, is that the kids want to do their best on these tests.  They’ll study each question, spend all the time they need or are given, striving to do their very very best.  This isn’t a correct assumption. For you, for me, for most people who read my blog, sure – we were motivated to do well on our tests, because it was probably rewarded (or expected!) at home.  If that isn’t fostered at home, you are expecting a hell of a lot of initiative from a ten-year old to find the drive and desire and energy, no matter how hard it may encouraged in the classroom.

Look around this city and its suburbs. Look at where you see the “good” schools. It doesn’t matter which side of the state line it is, but I can bet you this: the strongest schools are where the  parents are more involved in the education of their child. When that child leaves school, they go home to an environment that continues to encourage good study habits and achievement. Long-term goals involving education to get there.  Accountability and responsibility. Proper diet, nutrition, strict bedtimes and limitations on tv/internet/video games.  We see the breakdown in family structures, the absence of good parental modeling, yet we can’t do anything about it because the “rights” of being a parent in this country are beyond reproach. You can buy a car and drive it, but you better have passed a driver’s test, and carry the proper insurance on it or you face consequences. There are no licenses or permissions -or even training- given to parents.

So, back to those teachers in L.A. who will have to see their efforts reduced to a statistic on a page. What if your job hung in the balance, dependent on all these other factors you can’t control?

Update, 8/29/10: Apparently The Onion had a similar idea, but with its usual delicious dark humor twist. NSFW for language, enjoy!

In The Know: Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don’t Give A Shit?

Whoa, Nelly.

Look at the clock! Where did that time go? Let’s see… it’s now July 14th and I may have to kick this random-orts old school style.

1. Our washing machine committed suicide at the end of June. Dramatically, in fact. It decided to screech like a feral cat and imparted a burnt-rubber odor to the items being washed. We ended up getting one of those front-loader machines and the thing looks like R2D2 with about as many lights, choices, and buttons! So far, it seems pretty nifty and is very water-efficient.

2. There’s nothing like finding out disaster has struck again via Facebook. Husband posts something about finding out the hard way that pliers and a passenger window don’t mix. Followed immediately by a post “liking” Safelite Replacement. Yep. Because of the Honda windshield we replaced a while back, we got a frequent-customer discount! And another can of magic window cleaner. Woo!

3. Because bad things happen in threes (or more, who knows, it’s just superstition), our air conditioning slowly petered out on the holiday Monday after the 4th. The initial diagnosis was a coolant leak, that could go one of two ways – keep refilling it each year, or it would hemorrhage in a couple weeks and then we’d be looking at big bucks to fix it, as much as half the cost to just replace it. Yuck. But then! The technician couldn’t get it to load coolant, and he realized we had a clogged line – which was resolved by taking out the piston. Apparently particles from the wire can gather for a cocktail party, and once enough of them get together, it results in a kegger of microscopic particles, which form a paper-thin seal and the a/c won’t work. At that point, I would have been happy to kiss the receipt, because anything under $200 without the specter of a $3k bill on the horizon is a-ok with me.

4. I turned 42 the day we fixed the a/c. The day itself held little fanfare, though I did make my husband go into DQ and get me an ice cream cake. I love those things! We did have an early party – a whole bunch of the knitting crew and family met up over the weekend to celebrate, and I got some very lovely pressies and the enjoyment of being with my fiber-lovin’ brethren.

5. Tomato season has begun. Last night’s dinner was homemade French bread, goat cheese, and a garlic-basil-tomato bruschetta. Oh how I love the tomatoes! This year, I’m paying more attention to tasting them like I would judge BBQ or evaluate a wine – it’s kind of fun, and gives the master gardener of the house good feedback. There have been a few standouts, but the black tomatoes are far and away the kings of the fruit. Later this week, there will be fresh pico de gallo….

6. Speaking of bread, I am elevating my breadmaking skills by challenging myself to try new recipes. I bought The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and my first recipe turned out beautifully. (We needed hot dog buns so I made them, along with hamburger buns, and they were utterly fantastic!) Yesterday’s French bread was an old recipe, because many of the breads in  my new book require 2 days to complete them.  It’s fun, and I’m going to get a sourdough bread loaf I’m happy with if it kills me!

7. We went to the lake this past weekend and had a good time – the dogs got to swim and retrieve a lot, including a mis-adventure with James, who had leashed them to a large, unwieldy, wrought-iron bench as he threw out the dummies.  They were so excited, they ignored their leashes, and promptly dragged the bench straight off the concrete landing and into the water with them. I wish I’d been there to see that, but hearing about it was enough to give me the giggles. Of course, when I showed up, everything was soaked, including my husband, and it seemed a little early in the day for swimming…. but our driven dogs were going to haul that bench like a sleigh, so in he went to rescue them!

8. We came home from the lake about 6 hours after the microburst of storms went through, to a house with no power. Fun. After tending to the garden, we both showered and decided to high-tail it out of the sweltering house, to dinner and a movie. We saw Despicable Me, which is the must-see movie of the summer for the 8-year old set, and it was entertaining enough, certainly, but the fact that our power still wasn’t on was weighing on my mind. (We would keep trying the home number, to see if the answering machine would pick up.) On the drive home, we mulled our options – tough it out or call Momma Linda to get us a hotel room through Priceline, get dry ice in the morning for the deep freeze – and as we inched down our street, we felt a little bit of optimism creep up, and thankfully, as we crested the  hill by our house, saw that the porch light was on. 12 hours of power outtage, we didn’t lose anything in the freezer. I feel bad for residents East of us, as even today they are still trying to restore power and the heat index is going to HOT PINK crazy, upwards of 110.

9. I had a comment on my Circle of Life post, from the Realist, who told me I was ‘thinking too hard and feeling too much, kid’, and it was phrased exactly the way my father would have said it to me. In fact, I read it on my phone, and it took my breath away a bit. Thank you for that comment, because it was not only true – the story of my life, in fact – but it reminded me in a wonderful way the pragmatic was delivered from my Dad over the years. I was his kiddo, and I miss him like crazy still. Feeling like pieces of him are still around me are surprising, unexpected gifts.

With that, I leave you for today. I have some knitting to share, and will take pictures of this next awesome-o bread I’m going to make. It has bits of hard salami and gouda cheese in it. Oh yeah.

Contraindication

I’m going to try to write a blog post today in the vein and spirit of an ad colleague I admire greatly – Mr. Sam Meers. He writes great observations on business practices, pulling from ordinary life experiences. I hope I do justice to his style today.

One of the things that has bugged my husband to no end over the years is when we’ll drive by an office building in the evening, and the automatic sprinklers are bursting out water…..in the rain. Or the day following a rain. He’s right, of course. It’s incredibly wasteful. My problem-solving brain ponders this every so often.  I’ve wondered why these automatic sprinkler systems don’t seem to have some sort of moisture-content trigger, rather than a timer. Or at least an employee designated to switch them over to “manual” during periods of heavy rain (like we’ve had the past two weeks – 12+ inches!)

Today, I glanced out my window and saw that the shady side of my building was a congregation area for all the young punk geese who are unicolor and fluffy and awkwardly gaggling about while their parents keep watch and let them feed. I decided to get a closer look, and walked around my desk to stand right up against the floor-to-ceiling windows. I needed to see over the row of hedges, and indeed, there were a whole bunch of birds, some chilling out, some nibbling.
And then I felt it.
A burst of hot air.
From the baseboard heater that runs along the length of the windows.

It’s in the 90’s here. Fahrenheit.

Mind you, I have a thermostat in my office, and it’s set at the lowest setting possible, because I’ve noticed it just never seems to cool down. Gee. No wonder. So we have a call in to maintenance, and soon I’ll stop wondering if I’m going through early menopause every afternoon.

It made me think, though, how much money is wasted by such simple, common-sense practices. You don’t run a space heater at home while you crank down the a/c, do you? Because not only does it cost money, it’s silly. We’re grateful for the rain (in moderation), because it means less watering. This building has been paying for more electricity, because they don’t come through and turn the heaters off when the seasons change. The a/c works twice as hard, less effectively. Boy, I’ve had jobs like that. Doing something the same way as always, because a boss doesn’t want to question the client or the process or suggest a different way of doing things.

Contraindication is used mostly in medical terms, but it certainly applies to situations like I’ve described. It could also apply to a certain oil company who is under the microscope right now, and needs to portray an image of dedication to undoing the worst ecological disaster, ever. Such a visible leader/representative of the company might want to take a break, say, to watch his yacht race, but that would be contraindicated, because it sends the message, hey, I’m going to spend some time on a sport most of you cannot relate to AND I’m not spending time on the disaster that happened on my watch. Tony Hayward, I get it. I bet your life sucks really, really badly right now. You want your old life back. Guess what, it’s not going to happen for a long time. As long as there are tar balls and people wondering when their car’s going to get repossessed because their livelihood was taken away from them, you have to maintain at least the appearance of diligence. No fun for you until your chores are done, that’s how I was raised.

And as for businesses who cut staff and make the ‘survivors’ work harder, and tell them they’re expendable, while keeping spouses on payrolls? One place you might find some extra money is in your landscaping budget. Or your own pocket. Berating and punishing contraindicates a productive work environment. People are your greatest asset, and how you treat them during the bad times, when they want to hang on to their jobs, will serve you when the tide turns. Will you see mass exodus? Or devoted loyalty? The tides are turning in the job market, slowly but surely, and I’ll have my own schadenfreude moments when I see trapped friends finally able to burst free and go someplace new.

Me, I’m in a good spot, thankfully. Life is pretty darned good. Apart from the extra heat.

UPDATE: Since I started/finished this post, Tony Hayward got sacked from being the point person on this oil spill. Hope the new dude learns from his predecessor. I am available for common-sense consulting, should you need it.

Musings

So, I pondered on Plurk earlier today, ‘the naivete and stupidity of clueless people will never fail to astonish me. Does that make me… naive too?’

A friend pointed out that I just want to believe in the best of everyone. And I think that’s mostly true. It’s a blessing and a curse, some of which grew from being an only child, because your formative influences are adults, who use logic and restraint and explain things and treat you with respect. Something I hear-tell is less common when a sibling’s in the mix, and I do believe that siblings give you thicker skin. I can’t even begin to count the number of times in my life where I’ve been hoodwinked, for someone else’s amusement, or out of addiction, or because they’re just plain mean. Yet I still apply logic to the wound, and while my skin gets a bit tougher and I’m certainly capable of being a jaded mean bitch when I need too, I really do want people to just … be. I drove up Wornall a few weeks ago and there was a blind man, obviously trying to figure out exactly where the bus stop was. The sign is on a light pole, and there’s grass there, it’s not a shelter. The traffic was going along quickly and I slowed, fearful he could mis-step and land in the street. But then another man, who didn’t seem to know him, walked up to him and I could see he was speaking to him. Then he touched him on the shoulder, guided him, talked to him, helped him find where he needed to be. It brought me to tears, these two people, just being human and kind and helping and receiving help.  No hidden agendas, no pretending to be anything else.

I was frustrated this past week by an obvious breakdown in logic. Granted, one should really avoid Twitter arguments, because bitch, please, I can NOT make my points in 140 characters or less. But I think it’s important to recognize that when you are putting things out there on Twitter, and you say something unpopular? You will get called out for it.  You will be accountable for it. If you want to say that the KC Fiber Community is lame, and then later say what you meant was inspired, I urge you to use www.m-w.com, because lame is not a derivative of inspired, or vice-versa. If you then want to be a martyr and say you’re just expressing your opinion and flounce about it? Well, then I get really pissed. Because yes, you are FREE to call us lame. And it IS an opinion. But I will defend my friends (who are…supposed to be the Lame-Labeler’s friends as well) because they are trying to make it a better place, and a more rewarding community, and you might not like being held accountable for your opinions, but there you have it. The old adage came to mind… when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is… stop digging.

Now that I’m not so irritated about it, and I’ve distracted myself all weekend with voraciously reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy, I’ve come up with a new twist on an old, albeit creepy, quote.  Sums up my sense of astonishment pretty darned well, I’d say. And, it’s rather appropriate with the big dug-out hole, too.

“It puts the logic on its skin and watches it slip right off again!”

Bitch, please. (I love that SNL skit just a little too much.)

A Quieter, Less-Popular Voice

I know the entire city exhaled this week when Bernard Jackson was arrested, charged with rapes from the 1980’s, and has been all-but-officially named as a suspect in the recent rash of rapes in, Waldo/Brookside. It would appear that there is strong (DNA) evidence that ties him to those cold-case rapes, and his own record speaks to his violent history as a predator. The Kansas City Police Department simply can’t comment or divulge anything about the current cases, but I hope the DNA evidence is there to tie him to those attacks as well.  I want him to be guilty.

I also believe in the system. Flawed as it is. Innocent until proven guilty. In a court of law, not the media. Or at midnight in a jail cell. It kind of squicked my stomach, how KCTV5 proudly interviewed Jackson’s cellmate who gave him the midnight beat-down that sent him to the hospital his first night in jail. My heart, my gut, my empathy for the women who were attacked and who were beaten by this man, all collectively said, “Yeah! Know how it feels, motherfucker, to be attacked yourself.” I was a volunteer rape crisis counselor for years, and it is one of the burning causes inside me that I rail against. The man who perpetrated these rapes deserves to feel unsafe, feel battered, feel like his safety has been taken away.  But at the same time I felt that tiny exhilaration, my mind, my intellect, my values cringed.  And I know to even state this puts me in the minority.  Our society is a tv-news-fed, pop-culture, twitter-riding mass of instant judgment and categorizations.  Remember, I was raised by a liberal hippie who always cautioned me to step back and think. Assess. Don’t follow the mob. Stand apart. Vigilante justice is not part of a civilized, advanced society. Everyone who’s seen CSI knows how powerful scientific evidence can be, so let’s sit back and wait (it takes longer than 20 minutes to get those results), and let’s not let down our guard completely, and let’s allow our system to work. I have the utmost respect for the detectives and crime lab folks who have devoted their lives to this case for the past several months.  The dedication – the involvement at all levels (inside word is that the FBI has been all over this as well), is to be commended. And a breath of relief for the women who have waited tens of years for this man to be brought to justice. May it be the same for the women in these current cases. And let’s ratchet down the sensationalism. It’s a disservice to the women who are still waiting to hear if Bernard Jackson is going to be charged in their cases.

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