Archive for February, 2013

ImageThe tree that was alive, then dead, then alive again, is now officially and sadly dead.  I wrote a nice, long essay about it and how it made it into our backyard, but after a number of storms that kept uprooting it and its movement because of a pool we put in, it gave up the ghost.  Too much trauma, soil that’s mostly clay, and who knows what else, did it in.  It fell over and basically laid in the backyard while I tried to wish it back to life (spoiler alert: it didn’t work).

This past weekend, I went on a “work retreat,” where I sequestered myself at a hotel so as to avoid any distractions and tried to get through as much work as possible.  And on Saturday night, my husband came by with pizza and present.  I had asked him to move the tree out to the front curb for pick-up since it had become extremely clear that there wasn’t any life left to bring back. 

But he didn’t just put it out.  Instead, he went at it with a saw, and he cut off a piece of the trunk, proving just how dead it was, and creating a small pen stand for me.  He hollowed two grooves and then hit Staples and got me a new Cross ballpoint pen.  As you can see, it’s quite pretty, and while I’m sad that it’s no longer in the backyard, now it’s on my desk…and maybe the next tree will have better luck in the backyard. 

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This is my boom stick! (Picture by Albert Hovakimyan, CC-BY, via Wikimedia Commons)

This is my boom stick! (Picture by Albert Hovakimyan, CC-BY, via Wikimedia Commons)

A dangerous stripper in action! (Picture by Zappel Jazz, CC-BY, via Wikimedia Commons)

A dangerous stripper in action! (Picture by Zappel Jazz, CC-BY, via Wikimedia Commons)

Now, let me start by saying this: yes, I own guns.  (Don’t ask for details.)  And, yes, I’ve been to strip clubs.  (Again, don’t ask for any details.)

So while a group of people is arguing for more stringent gun control laws, another lawmaker is going after the true danger: strippers.

Yup, you read that right.

Right now, in Texas, to buy a gun, you have a few options.  Buy it or get it from a family member.  Buy it from a pawn shop.  Buy it from a sporting goods shop.  Buy it from a gun dealer.  But you know what?  It doesn’t matter how you get it.  In the state of Texas, there is no waiting period and there is no registration required.  The only time you need a license is to carry is when you want to carry concealed. http://www.txchia.org/getchl.htm

But Republican Representative Bill Zedler (Arlington) is pushing for licensing for something that is a true scourge.  Strippers.  He’s introduced a bill that would require strippers to wear badges at work and be licensed by the state.  Of course, he realizes that might be dangerous for them – letting their customers know their real names opens them up to all sorts of stalking and other potential criminal acts (although not “legitimate rape” of course, since he is a Republican…).  To fix that little issue, he suggests that they cover their name on the badges to protect their identities.

So let’s review.

Guns: No licensing or registration
Strippers: Licenses from the state, but they get to cover up their names

Now, the concept behind the name tags for strippers is to protect women because it will supposedly help to keep underage girls and girls obtained through sex trafficking out of the clubs.  Because, you know, the people involved in organized crimes like sex trafficking will have absolutely no way to create fake IDs.

Just like making stronger gun laws would stop people involved in criminal activities from getting guns.

I’m not coming down on either side of the gun control argument here – the point I’m trying to make is really more basic than that.  Politicians are assholes who simply throw stuff out there in hopes that it will stick and they’ll be re-elected (or elected).  All of these laws and proposals are meaningless posturing that will have no effect on us or our safety.  Maybe someday some worthwhile legislation will be introduced and we can get behind it.

But until then, who wants to hit the shooting range and then get drunk and ogle some boobies?

Prison image from kconnor at morgueFile (http://mrg.bz/od4grb)

Prison image from kconnor at morgueFile (http://mrg.bz/od4grb)

As anyone who knows me (or has read one or two blogs on here or any of my other writing) knows, my son is autistic.  We have pretty much acknowledged that, while we aren’t stopping trying and while we wouldn’t give up, we know that he will probably wind up in an assisted living type circumstance where he will need help with his daily life.  We’re lucky in that we have lots of insurance for when we’re gone, and we know how to apply to get him what he will need.  In fact, we’re already on waiting lists because many of them are eight to twelve years long (no joke).

However, for those that aren’t in that position, the world is, simply put, fucked up.  I prefer not to go all out on the cursing in my blog, but this is one time it deserves it.  Lubbock, Texas, has a state-supported living center.  In 2009, they were investigated.  At the time, they were at 20% compliance.  Wait, let me repeat that.  Fucking 20% compliance.  20%.  20-fucking-percent.

In the past four years, though, they’ve made gains.  To 23%.  Wait, let’s go over that one again, too.  In four years, they improved less than one percent a year. 

The state home is meeting requirements in 37 out of 171 areas. 

And that is – scarily enough – not the worst of it.  Between January 2011 and August 2012, there were 202 allegations of physical abuse and 188 allegations of neglect.  Now, to be fair, only 50 allegations of physical abuse were substantiated, and only 83 allegations of neglect were substantiated.  But a lack of substantiation doesn’t mean it didn’t happen; it just means that it wasn’t proven.  And with the way things work, how long did it take to see if these things were true?  Long enough that it *couldn’t* be proven?  And how many people couldn’t even make allegations because of their conditions?

And, because I want to keep being fair – there’s one more thing you should know.  Remember the year and a half including 202 allegations of physical abuse and 188 allegations of neglect?  Here’s the thing you should know about that.  There are only 211 residents.  What do these numbers tell us?

Now, again, I want to be fair – I do not have the 500+ page report that details all this, so I don’t know if multiple allegations came from a single individual.  In fact, they probably did.  But it’s still just beyond troubling that there are only 211 residents and 202 allegations of physical abuse.  Those numbers just seem overwhelmingly out of whack with a world that cares about the people in it.

I know I often quote from Hair, and maybe because that’s because I’m a hippie at heart, but sometimes it’s just so appropriate to ask “how can people be so heartless?  How can people be so cruel?”  What is wrong that this is going on, and no one is fixing it.  Yes, the state is stepping in now, and they are claiming that they will do evaluations every six months with plans for the state home to hit 100% compliance in four to five years.  But what about those four to five years for the residents?  They’re expected to keep suffering while the state slowly fixes a world that is abusive and neglectful? 

No, I don’t know the solution here, but maybe we need to start looking for one.  This isn’t the only state home, and I’m afraid that if I kept looking, I would find even worse numbers out there.  But for us as the general public to act horrified when we hear about an individual child abused, why aren’t we outraged now?  Why aren’t we getting the people involved removed and putting in a whole new and well-trained staff?  Why don’t we care enough to speak up and step up? 

It's Watching You! It Knows How You Voted! (Cat image by EmmiP at MorgueFile)

It’s Watching You! It Knows How You Voted! (Cat image by EmmiP at MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/HaTLPL)

Seriously, the cat won?  The cat?

So for those not in the know, Hasbro decided to retire a piece from Monopoly and replace it with a new piece.  Kind of an out with the old, in with the new.  And the one voted out sort of made sense – the iron.  Because, honestly, in this day and age, who does their own ironing?   It’s outdated.  It’s outmoded.  Simply put, it’s out.

But then, because this is the world of voting, when shows like American Idol and other brilliantly conceived shows that mimic it like The Voice or whatever those things are called (I don’t watch them so I’m admittedly out of my depth – or shallowness – here), the voters also picked the new piece.

And it’s a cat.

C’mon, public!  You could have done better than that!  I mean, Archie McPhee already sells a Crazy Cat Lady Board Game!  Cats don’t need to be in Monopoly!  You could have had a robot.  A robot!  Now that says forward movement! That says the future!  That says we could all be replaced by robots, and just how pissed off do you think they’re going to be when they see that we picked a cat over a robot?

All I’m saying is that when the robot overlords show up, don’t come crying to me.  You made your cat-infested Monopoly game.  Now play with it!

All hail our robot overlords! (image by Middlewick at MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/SQzAoi)

All hail our robot overlords! (image by Middlewick at MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/SQzAoi)

 

Scale by MConnors @ MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/XPvHct

Scale by MConnors @ MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/XPvHct

So I’m on a quest.  Sort of.  For $20,000 in a year.  Yup, you read that right.  I foolishly sat down and realized that with tuition, travel to and from school for both my residencies, a trip to the AWP in March, a WorldCon in August, and vacation in August, I need to somehow find an additional $20,000 in this year’s budget. 

Now, once upon a time, I had an uncle who offered reimbursement for tuition for school, but I have a feeling it’s too late for that.  I could always take out more loans for school, but I would much rather pay some off instead of take some more. 

I find myself falling back into overwork – less enjoyment but goals being achieved.  I’d like to find a balance, though.  How do I find it?  How do I make it work?

Meanwhile, we’re paying off debt, paying for Patrick’s MBA program, dealing with unexpected expenses that always seem to show up (like last year’s animal emergencies, a hot water heater that broke, etc, etc.).

I suppose the biggest problem is that what I enjoy doing the most pays the least.  And even what I like doing doesn’t pay enough.  Doing taxes was horribly depressing – it made me realize that since I’ve gone from full-time to “part-time,” I’m working twice as hard with little to no vacations or benefits, yet my earning were down by almost $10,000.  (But that’s a whole ‘nuther blog about the issues in higher education and the undervaluing of adjuncts….and, yes, I have decreed that undervaluing is a word, regardless of whether it really is or not…just accept it.)

Bridge at Night by JasonH at MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/zfkTG8

Bridge at Night by JasonH at MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/zfkTG8

Anyway, the main point here is that I’m trying to find my balance and handle everything from my son to school to work to life in general.  And somehow in all of that, I need to find a get rich quick scheme.  Anyone wanna buy a bridge?