Give Me Your Tired

The city of Raleigh doesn’t want charity groups* to feed the homeless in Moore Square.

*My family volunteers with one of these groups, Human Beans Together, and have done so for a year.

Not only did they (the city) not want us to feed the homeless in Moore Square– the homeless most definitely did not make it into the $14 million dollar renovation plans for the park– no one in the city offered suggestions for other options.  Or they didn’t until a blog post from Love Wins blew up with internet and NC made the national news.  Again.  Don’t forget that October election.

The first time the cops threatened arrest for noncompliance with a long-standing, but never-enforced city ordinance, we moved across the street to an empty Salvation Army building. This lasted about 2 weeks before the city announced that they owned that building, too, so– no.  The next week Human Beans paid for parking spots in a nearby parking lot (smart, we are).  Then national attention and political deflection, and meetings with politicians making nice– remember that election in October?

It’s the refusal to open a weekend soup kitchen that made the suddenness of these plans feel deliberate and calculating.  For me, the fight isn’t about Moore Square at all– if they gave me a building nearby and said, here- you can use this space, I would be fine. My fight isn’t for that small block of land;  it’s about feeding the homeless on the two days where the soup kitchens are closed and, AND children cannot get meals at school.

Yeah– we have kids that come through that line, too.

Lt Carswell says, “The truth is, they are chalking the fine up as a cost of doing business. It’s all about making money.”

Now, I’m no business woman, so maybe I’m missing how that particular business model succeeds. The one where providing free food to people unable to pay for food makes rocks a huge profit.

Phase 1: Pay for food and give it away for free.  Phase 3: Profit.  Ah, Lt. Carswell must have watched the Underpants Gnome episode on South Park.

I realize I’m rambling a bit and I’m probably dangling participles all over the place, but I have my first ever sinus infection and, whoa, does it suck.  

So, if the city doesn’t want the homeless fed in Moore Square, then the city should open the soup kitchen on the weekends. If the city (state) finds themselves uncomfortable when confronted by homelessness, then perhaps Step One is the re-allocation of funds for unemployment benefits, mental health and domestic abuse programs.  Shouldn’t that happen prior to starving human beings? Obviously the money exists– if only we could filter some of that $87,500 back from the 24-year old hands of the under-qualified, but politically-connected, HHS policy adviser.

And finally, these crime stats, collected into lump statistics designed to show an increase in crime specifically around Moore Square? I spent afternoon reading the individual crime report data and, yeah, Moore Square has more arrests than the proximate Nash Park.   Quite a few drunk and disorderly charges around 2am, and DUIs that… WAIT! That’s it,  we can solve the crime problem at Moore Square by closing the many bars that flank around surrounding streets.

Ahem.

All of that sarcasm aside, I’m not saying that the people living/working downtown don’t have a point about trash and outdoor bathroom usage (though I’ve not yet identified a free public restroom down there– very New York of us, hunh?), because they also have a voice that needs to be heard.  Some of the people down there have expressed themselves with compassionate concern.  I’d like to work with THOSE people.

Then there are these people:

“Screw ‘em, they choose to be homeless, they should get a job.”  Sure, sure.  It’s not as if NC’s 8.7% unemployment rate (the national rate is 7.3%) creates job-finding difficulties– even for those with showers, homes, and the appropriate education.

Sidebar: The internet, and the anonymous, hate-filled minds that comment therein, causes more 3am nightmares for me than any dark alley, or homeless filled park.

I just… when I read the reasons for homelessness as tabulated by the folks that study that sort of thing, choice isn’t what leaps out at me.

Lately, whenever I hear a conservative this or that spout off about traditional American values; how we’ve forgotten what America stands for; how we need to get back to our forefather’s America I can’t help but think:

I agree.

Though I think many of y’all skipped school the day teachers defined the real meaning behind all of that American symbology you’ve armored up in.

Lady Liberty Did I Stutter

 

 

 

How to Love Reptiles

The reptilian members of the animal kingdom always grossed me out.

Then I gave birth to Elliot; code name– The Lizard King.  And now I’m learning how to love reptiles.

I Am The Lizard KingOne ill-advised promise later and we’re elbow deep in cricket shipments– fed ex brings 1000 every 2 weeks.  Of course baby bearded dragons eat as much as baby-everything-elses.  Of course.

Luckily–and unexpectedly– they have a lot of personality.

Wanna Ride
Biker Lizard

Lots of personality and very little choice about prop placement.

Lizard TakeDown

I mean, c’mon now.  That’s just funny.

Scared Now

We even finished their rocking bearded dragon lair– but writing about that is lots of words.  Words and formatting and other things for which I currently lack motivation.   So instead I’ll just leave you with this:

Psst Behind You

 

 

My Teacher Said

“To have our parents show us video about what happened on September 11th.  Okay, mom?”

Edit: I sincerely doubt that the teacher delivered this exact message.  I’m sure it was more along the “ask you parents” route and my kid is pre-programmed to request a youtube education.

In a word, no.  No way will there be any video watching of 9/11. Joel pried me off the couch and away from CNN somewhere around the end of October 2011, marking the last of my obsessive watching of news coverage.  Hyperfocus and national tragedy just don’t get on well together.

I should have looked up more information on how to explain September 11th to children.  After last year, I should have been more prepared, should have known better than to think I had just one more year.

Defining terrorist, explaining why they’d want to fly planes into people, describing the resulting change in America without the many layers of my well-nourished cynicism, and revisiting symbolism’s importance in human culture?

See, I normally do an okay job with this– I’m reasonably good at peeling away all the extra adjectives and keeping information at an age-appropriate level.  For example, I’ve never mentioned Zoroaster during religious conversations.

But I struggle with this day.  Because September 11, 2001 was the “I made it 6 months” after my father’s rather abrupt death (some of you I promised warnings: that’s the make-you-cry-post).  I started that day steeped in symbolic grief– and the attacks just made it MORE.

I struggle and I didn’t even know anybody that died.  Not a single person, not a single friend-of-a-friend.   It feels like the depth of my emotion is transferral. Raw.  But not legitimately raw.  And because they aren’t raw just because of the attacks, it makes me feel fake to think about it too much.

He asked to see pictures.  And I know him– I know if I hadn’t found something for his brain to see, he’d just go find it himself.  There are some pictures– you know the ones– that remain as vivid in my memory as the first day.  I don’t want him to see those.

He’s 6. His brother is 4.  Their history doesn’t include those images.

But it’s symbology, right?  The smoke pouring from those two buildings.  It’s hate, it’s disgust. It’s religious intolerance.  It’s patriotism.  It’s human spirit.  It’s retaliation.  It’s war.  It’s the willing sacrifice of personal freedoms.

It’s complicated.

Honor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Epic Battle: Boys vs Girls

Over a dinner of home-made (bag-removed) chicken nuggets and frozen peas, this conversation happened.

“Mom, some of the girls say boys are lame.  And the boys say girls are lame.  But I know that’s not true– because you take me to Moral Monday and explain stuff to me All.The.Time.  And  all the books that you read to me about suffer-bridge (suffrage) and that other book** from the 70s- remember?   

Girls aren’t lame because they are girls.  But boys aren’t gross because they are boys.”

I interjected– “equal doesn’t mean better”.

“Right. So I’m stuck in the middle in this world war at the Elemen-tar-y school.  And I just keep yelling ‘we’re equality’, but not many of them are listening to me. It’s just stupid.”  

It’s that simple– for him all of this gender bias means nothing more than a waste of precious, adult-free, recess time.

He’ll be seven in a few months and this conversation pretty much wiped out 2 months of back-talking, eye-rolling, and limit-testing.  I can deal with that if it means he’ll walk out into the world telling people that bigotry and misogyny just wastes precious time.

Though I have to temper my immediate urge to squeal, Fight the Power, darling with:

It’s not just about allowing the limit-testing at home to encourage free-thinking– yes, one has to happen for the other to develop.  But part– a HUGE part– of learning independent thinking has to include understanding the consequences of your actions.

Doing what’s right over what’s generally accepted by the masses often includes a backdraft. Deciding that the consequences are worth it encompasses a giant part of developing morality (for us all, right?)

Then, with his face smeared with milk and talking through a mouth full of half-chewed chicken nugget, he tells a fart joke and calls me a hipster.  The hipster thing I corrected immediately; I am hippie.  There’s a difference.

Anyway, I document my frustration with child-rearin’ a lot and those are fair moments. But tonight I looked at my kid, with the weight of an entire first grade’s gender war riding on his shoulders, and my heart… My heart just went kerthump.

Somewhere after the start of this conversation, but before he got peas stuck up both nostrils, Elliot realized that girls might not be so bad, since– you know– mom’s one.

**My mom kept many of my old childhood books.  Everybody Knows That by Susan Pearson, originally written in 1978, remains one of my favorite feminist tomes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts in a List: Music

  1. Searching amazon, because you know– procrastinating– looking for new music.
  2. Come across Now That’s What You Call Music #47, realizing I know a single song.  Which made feel all–
  3. THANK ZEUS.  Ahem.
  4. Only to remember– Wait, don’t I own one of…
  5. Dig out giant caselogic thing and giggle/groan to think of how much money I spent; how many times I joined the eight CDs for a penny club.  That’s vintage, kids.
  6. Find at least 10 un-clouded discs.  What the what?
  7. The Now CD? Volume 9.NOW
  8. My attachment to pop music and various artist compilations began many years ago. Like back when MTV played music and created CDs.
  9. Something about flipping through those pages, not recognizing the album because not everyone printed things like words on discs back then, and JB never, ever put them back in the right sleeve.  Or recognizing the album and remembering how it used to slide into your car’s after-market player.  How loudly you would play Sitting on the Dock of the Bay in high school, with the bass cranked to an obnoxious level, because Otis just GOT me, ya know?  That brand of ennui cannot be expressed with ear buds, my friends.
  10. Wondering about the contents of the dozenish unlabeled discs.  Veritable treasures of musical memory, just waiting to be rediscovered.  Or piles of crap.  Now, if you’ll excuse me– I’m off to set adrift to some good vibrations.  Because time is eternal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon Prime. Piranhas and Free Shipping

For the low, low price of $80 an Amazon prime membership can be yours!  I don’t often order physical product from them having realized that it exploits employees like it wants to be the walmart of the matrix; but damn, 5 minutes of time to find the from-preschool-favorite-stuffed-beanie-baby-tiger with free two day shipping?  Hard to argue with pure convenience.  Combine the free streaming video, and the free lending of a book per month?

 amazon prime

 Oh, my kindle habit.  A habit that turned from an app on the iPad to an actual kindle because the iPad got too heavy.  Oh, and other people in the family– like JB, the iPad’s owner, started requesting time.  500 books in one year– not counting the library downloads and those I deleted because they were just THAT bad*– sort of disallows complete dissing of The ‘Zon.

*I have a thing about free stuff; why else would Senior Living have made it’s way into my home?  Free books, self published?  Some very good.  Many really not.

So.  One free book.  This should be simple enough.

I started looking for August’s free book already feeling gypped because I forgot July– yeah amazon, where was the email about that, hmm?

I’m talking 2 evenings, at least 6 hours, and 100 previewed books that I then cross-referenced with the library’s available downloads.  Don’t want to waste my free prime book if I can get that milk for free from the library, amiright?

Unlike my typical e-book searches, which rarely break $3.99, I’m hunting for something in the Gold Circle price range.  Yeah baby, the 5.99.  But I didn’t stop there– let’s hit the genres and authors way out of my normal range (which isn’t saying much since I added Mark Twain and… definitely not-Twain… to my already-read list).

A few things occurred to me, right before I downloaded a historical romance about an english rake–who also happens to be a gigolo– and a virginal widow, because, yeah TOO MANY SHINY BOOKS.

  1. I’m bored with my reading, yet can’t stop making bad choices.  I also don’t want to read anything too terribly difficult, because you know, lazy.  Thus my book choices morphed into the metaphorical version of late-night snacking:  not hungry, gonna eat anyway, but no way will it look like a carrot.
  2. I wanted my lent book to be worth a lot, and by the time I got done searching?  It cost me $1385.36 of my contracted-hourly fee and all of the soul I keep in my left foot.
  3. I get motivated like the space shuttle re-enters the atmosphere: specific windows of opportunity at 11 am and 11 pm.   If it’s 11:15 am and I haven’t already begun something fantastic (and with kids I usually haven’t) then I’m stuck circling around with the space trash until 11 pm.  At 11 pm I have to pretend to be trying to go to bed lest JB realize exactly how late I stay up every night.  Really sweetie– by 12:30 every night.  Cough.
  4. The greatest challenge to my human happiness condition is my semi-professional ability to waste time.  This countered by an actual need to spend time with those family people, and those friend folks.  But then I’m with the real people in my life, being all resentful of the time that I could be spending on… What?  Tonight’s search of why my city spells Buffaloe with an E?  Because that matters, ever.  I missed my calling as a politician, I could rock that filibuster* like Poison in the 80s.
  5. Speaking of politics, my greatest blogging/writing success of the past week has to be the 4 search term hits for “McCrory is an asshole”.

*For serious.  I had a talking problem in school (can you believe!) and my parents– in an attempt at creative punishment that always, always backfires– stood me in front of a tree and made me talk to it for 3 hours.  AND I DID.  My final 30 minutes were spent on various renditions of:  “ask not what your mustard can do for you, but what you can do for your mustard” just to watch my Dad waffle between rage and amazement.

The Booger Challenge

Electricity danced along my neurons, my lungs struggled for oxygen.  My eyes bulged and my lips parted in preparation for the discordant scream that would shatter the peaceful silence.

WHO WIPED BOOGERS ON THE BATHROOM WALL?  

Yep, on the wall– right above the full roll of toilet paper– sat dual booger volcanoes.

First it was a numb shock, like what the hell is that on the wall? But then? Then it feels like measured deliberateness.  Either my oldest child* is using the scientific method as he analyzes The Average Time To Wall Cleaning, or he’s founded the Mucous Mafia and the dried boogers are my horse head in the bed.

Extreme?  Meh, there is just no other explanation for this sudden co-mingling of my walls and his snot.  One does not spend 6 years putting boogers in the trash can to suddenly start wall-wiping them.

*How can I be certain that it’s the Oldest Small Person? Because the youngest one is smart enough to eat the evidence.  God, I puked in my mouth a little bit. Kids (and 22-year-old baseball players) are so damn gross.

After I delivered a horrified–and pants-less, because who has time to put on pants when dried boogers sit crusting RIGHT ABOVE the toilet paper– reminder of why boogers belong in toilet paper, tissue, or trash cans and never, ever on walls, I thought we were good.

Several quiet, booger-free weeks passed.  I even noticed a reduction in booger eating from the youngest one.  And triple bonus, my husband, utterly embarrassed by my posting of the crystallized pee, really ramped up the toilet seat etiquette.

But then tonight…this. On the sink?  It feels like a challenge.  It feels like broccoli-based dinners for a week.  It feels like… saving all of the wall-dried boogers in a jar. For his senior year in high school.

Boogers

 

 

NC: Lawmaking For the Corporation, By The Corporation.

North Carolina Constitution

The current NC trends in law and legislation creation appear to focus on:

a) turning away federal money for social programs, and to make “necessary budget cuts” therein.

b) accepting federal incentives for corporate and commercial growth.

Y’all, they (as in NCGA folks– a suspicious number of which are either real estate developers and/or lawyers) are messing with our… everything.

Like water. Here, there, everywhere.  For example, in the Farm Act:

DIRECT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO JOINTLY PETITION THE WILMINGTON DISTRICT OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO ALLOW FOR GREATER FLEXIBILITY AND OPPORTUNITY TO PERFORM STREAM AND WETLANDS MITIGATION BEYOND THE IMMEDIATE WATERSHED WHERE DEVELOPMENT WILL OCCUR.

Developer Tom wants to build some coastal property and make some fancy-mitigated wetlands, you know, over there somewhere. Cool beans. Unless you are a loggerhead turtle, and really, what do we need turtles for anyway?  

I mean North Carolina’s representatives are diligently working to write legislation based on solid environmental science.  Look at real estate broker/ State Representative Pat McElraft’s bill that specifically would NOT mandate regulatory sea-level policy based on scientific evidence of sea-level change.  Regulations that would have risked a large number of already-approved, or under-review, land use plans.

 Fishy Time Troll Herring

M’kay, developers and real estate brokers (no conflict there, snort) simply don’t believe in climate change. More importantly, they don’t believe in rescinding the millions of dollars in planned building permits over something that might happen.

Since we’re already talking about water, grab the environmental legislation and a shovel for this giant pile of inorganic fertilizer, House Bill 94.

Why exactly should everyone in this state be nervous about the folks futzing with the environmental laws? It starts at the top, with John Skvarla, Secretary of N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

John doesn’t seem to believe much in things like climate change.  Or renewable energy.

Then next, Assistant Secretary Mitch Gillespie, a long time Republican member of the house with a lot of corporate backing not known for environmentally friendly policy. 

A beach-loving state, yes.  And now also a state embracing Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) with the same fervent enthusiasm a child has for a new puppy. But it’s okay, because certainly the newly reconstituted Mining and Energy Commission has been populated with members that are politically/industrially objective, and scientific experts.

Okay, probably not.  You don’t have to drill too far down the member list before finding the new vice chairman of the Commission is George Howard– co-founder and CEO of Restoration Systems.

“It’s good to see big-time institutional capital come into it, because we want to see the industry professionalized — not a lot of mom-and-pops,” said George Howard, co-founder and president of Raleigh, N.C.-based Restoration Systems, which banks 25,000 acres of wetlands and 60 miles of waterways in half a dozen states.”

and Howard lauded the success of other mitigation firms.  Firms that think…

“If you think about pipelines and power lines and the siting of renewable energy … mining, oil and shale gas — all have significant impacts,” he [Fred Danforth] said.

Regs, shale drilling spur business”

Restoration Systems… why does that sound familiar? Ah, right- John Skvarla was the CEO.   

You can get more government/corporation incestuous than that.

The people charged with protecting the environment are the same people that view environmentally unfriendly activities as things good for business?  This seem like a horrible idea.

But wait– there’s more!

House Bill 321, which amends Local Solid Waste Planning made me snort when I saw that they replaced actual goals and reporting practices with: “local government shall make a good‑faith effort to achieve the State’s forty percent (40%) municipal solid waste reduction goal and to comply with the State’s comprehensive solid waste management plan”

I’m a parent– this is what I think of when I see the words good-faith:  It was a total accident that I was kicking the window when it broke.

At this point I admit to hours of reading punctuated by snorts.

There was intent written into those laws on solid waste, landfills, and new brownfield mitigation rules– you can smell it.  At first I couldn’t find the relationship between the systematic deregulation and the why.

Then a friend mentions the ReVenture project in Charlotte…   Revitalization of a superfund site, cleaning up contamination, job creation, recycling– on the surface this all sounds great.

Everything to make my little hippie heart dance with glee.

Except when I turned on the hyperfocus it looks a little more like this:

How the ReVenture project shapes NC legislation

Click for a larger image

 

And after looking at what ReVenture proposes and considering the types of things being written into law? When looking at–

ReVenture happening in McCrory’s previous backyard; if the NCGA wasn’t slipping in new deregulation legislation on brownfield development [1]; and if both the brownfield development and “greenness” didn’t come with so many nice local incentives [2]; if the recycling part of ReVenture didn’t involve burning trash and trees and the NCGA wasn’t proposing amendments to air quality rules[3]; if ReVenture wasn’t right off Catawba River and the Environmental Management Commission (goodness that’s a lot of lawyers) wasn’t getting ready to amend all of the Riparian Buffer Rules for the state’s watershed [4] ; if the EMC had to follow their own rules about making rules [5];  if none of this [6]; or this [7] existed. 

[1] PART XX of House Bill 94 and Part V of House Bill 74.

[2] HOUSE BILL 1829 and GS_105-277.13.

[3] Senate Bill 171: Limit Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

[4] House Bill 94: SECTION 28.(e)  The Environmental Management Commission shall adopt rules to amend)…

[5] House Bill 94: Rules adopted pursuant to this section are not subject to G.S. 150B‑21.8 through G.S. 150B‑21.14.

[6] House Bill 94: PART XXXII.  PROVIDE THAT CERTAIN WATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS WITH EXPIRED AUTHORIZATIONS… 

[7] . . . as described in sub‑sub‑subdivision 3. of sub‑subdivision b. of subdivision (1) of this subsection. . .

I have to stop; I can’t look at this anymore.  My children are currently making their own lunch– and it sounds like it involves raisins, hummus, pomegranate juice, and cupcakes.  I think Elliot taught himself to read yesterday and I’m pretty sure that Zach just washed a load of clothes.

As amazingly self-sufficient as they have been these past few days, it cannot last much longer.  And now I feel obligated to take them to Chuck E Cheese (shudder) to demonstrate my appreciation.

I’m torn because:

1) it’s both fascinating and horrifying to see what a large group of intelligent psychopaths do all day.

2) there is an ah-mazing story arc sitting in all of this, but that would mean abandoning my other one.

 

 

 

 

NC General Assembly: I See What You Did There, Part 1

North Carolina General Assembly: I see what you did there when you flopped out that abortion bill.    I remain outraged at y’alls audacity, but I’m both easily distracted and naturally suspicious.

Always the multi-tasker, I protested Bill 695 while thinking unladylike thoughts about how I’m being bitch-slapped with my own tax dollars.  As my attention started to drift, I considered:

What other things are they sneaking into legislation?  If abortion restrictions can get tucked into a motorcycle law, what else is hidden under Part 6 of Article 7 in Subsection 16.13b during the forsoothing; the considerating; the amending and retracting.  Was the unprovoked attack on my uterus just a giant red herring designed to distract me (and everyone else) from the bigger issues?

Troll Herring

Thus began 3 days of accessing– the NCGA’s search results return at a rate of a myspace page littered with dancing kittens and background music– and attempting to understand– WORK that Juris Doctorate y’all– the full scope of what’s going on in that gilded chamber.

This is some of what I found.

NCGA I See What You Did There

Filing a new constitutional amendment for the specific purpose and intent of furthering political power of the major two parties while limiting any chance for a third party candidate:  may I present House Bill 436.

The NC State Constitution– quite a read.

May I present House Bill 683– you go ahead and drink a full 2 liter of pepsi with your giant bag of funyuns.    On the surface I can’t identify much overt maliciousness here*, just an inane waste of time and resources.

Hunh, I wonder how many of the recognizable Pepsico’s products don’t make my real-food list, despite being advertised as healthy.   But Pepsico is a NY company so I can’t really find a legislative link— ah, there it is; Pepsi Bottling Venture remains Tarheel powered.

*Of course, NC is an old tobacco state and it’s not as if tobacco companies ever lied about the toxicity of their products.  And there is the whole caveat about getting sick from food in general.  So I can see how this might get twisted.

Or perhaps Senate Bill 638, the new farm act? 

Which I’ll talk more about tomorrow, but includes a brand-spanking new addition (b13- MIGRANT HOUSING) to the building code that provides an:

exemption from any requirements in the fire prevention code for installation of an automatic sprinkler system applicable to buildings meeting all of the following:

 (1) Has one floor.

(2) Meets all requirements of 29 C.F.R. § 1910.142, as amended.

(3) Meets all requirements of Article 19 of Chapter 95 of the General Statutes and rules implementing that Article.

 For purposes of this subsection, “migrant housing” and “migrant” shall be defined as in G.S. 95-223.

Why don’t migrant workers get a sprinkler?

That’s it for tonight.  Tomorrow– Part II, because what’s being done to the environment while hiding behind the attack on our uteri?  Oy.