Administrivia

Election Day’s a Week Away

Unlike Alec Baldwin, I know I have absolutely no influnce over your vote. And I sure as hell can't move to France. No matter who wins next Tuesday (or in the lawsuits that will follow), I'll be here, slogging through the outcome, and odds are that I and my family will survive regardless of the outcome. One way or another, we'll still have the War that George started; we'll still have the economy he and his cronies caused; we'll still have a huge deficit and crumbling infrastructure. It'll take decades to reverse the damage done in the last four years.

But. George W. Bush has got to go. And odds are, if he doesn't, we may survive another four years–but we'll do it without much joy.

I sympathize with those of you out there who lean toward the right, who cling to some misinterpreted tenet of faith that tells you Dubya is annointed by God to lead this country away from Sin, or whatever. Somehow, through no fault of your own, your upbringing and your environment caused you to believe that Jesus was a gun-loving, gay-hating, tax-cutting, war-mongering Savior who wants you to Kill Everyone Different Than You. I can't find that in the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, but somehow you've been led to interpret it that way.

Whatever. I can't undo what your parents and your community did during socialization, or whatever politics you picked up when you moved into a certain tax bracket, or the fact that you're a selfish bastard who'd rather see the poor pay for their own goddamn health insurance. Fine. But understand me when I say that regardless of your misinformed position, another four years of Dubya will leave this country spiritually and financially poorer and more divided. It should say something to you that Iran has endorsed Bush? or that Vladimir Putin, a man who is openly hostile to your missionaries and is rolling back personal and religious freedoms, is
endorsing Bush
? Wake up and smell the Holy Spirit, people! WWJD? Certainly not vote for a purveyor of lies, death, and hypocrisy like Bush.

Dubya says Jesus saved him from booze, I hear–well, he certainly hasn't returned the favor. He isn't saving anyone from substance abuse, or from poverty, or from unwanted pregnancy, or from the ravages of disease. Instead, he's all about giving the government a bigger stick to beat people with, and outsourcing the caring part to your churches and other nonprofits. He asks, “Is our children learning?”, and makes schools focus on testing instead of teaching.

So, I'm not going to try to change your minds. But I am asking you to open them up just a little bit to the Truth.

Because the Truth may set you free, but first it's going to piss you off–and the Truth is that you've been getting manipulated and played by a guy that makes Slick Willie look like an amateur in that department. He uses that aw-shucks crap and your fear of the unknown to get power over you. He has lied so much without being called on it that he now does it by default–and when he is called on it, he says, “That's what I call one of those 'exaggerations'.”

So, consider the Truth. And if it doesn't change your mind, at least mull it over for a while–like all of next Tuesday. Because the rest of us would like our country back. And while Kerry may not be the best choice, we at least know that he's more prone to be responsive to the popular will than Dubya.

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Administrivia

Election Day's a Week Away

Unlike Alec Baldwin, I know I have absolutely no influnce over your vote. And I sure as hell can't move to France. No matter who wins next Tuesday (or in the lawsuits that will follow), I'll be here, slogging through the outcome, and odds are that I and my family will survive regardless of the outcome. One way or another, we'll still have the War that George started; we'll still have the economy he and his cronies caused; we'll still have a huge deficit and crumbling infrastructure. It'll take decades to reverse the damage done in the last four years.

But. George W. Bush has got to go. And odds are, if he doesn't, we may survive another four years–but we'll do it without much joy.

I sympathize with those of you out there who lean toward the right, who cling to some misinterpreted tenet of faith that tells you Dubya is annointed by God to lead this country away from Sin, or whatever. Somehow, through no fault of your own, your upbringing and your environment caused you to believe that Jesus was a gun-loving, gay-hating, tax-cutting, war-mongering Savior who wants you to Kill Everyone Different Than You. I can't find that in the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, but somehow you've been led to interpret it that way.

Whatever. I can't undo what your parents and your community did during socialization, or whatever politics you picked up when you moved into a certain tax bracket, or the fact that you're a selfish bastard who'd rather see the poor pay for their own goddamn health insurance. Fine. But understand me when I say that regardless of your misinformed position, another four years of Dubya will leave this country spiritually and financially poorer and more divided. It should say something to you that Iran has endorsed Bush? or that Vladimir Putin, a man who is openly hostile to your missionaries and is rolling back personal and religious freedoms, is
endorsing Bush
? Wake up and smell the Holy Spirit, people! WWJD? Certainly not vote for a purveyor of lies, death, and hypocrisy like Bush.

Dubya says Jesus saved him from booze, I hear–well, he certainly hasn't returned the favor. He isn't saving anyone from substance abuse, or from poverty, or from unwanted pregnancy, or from the ravages of disease. Instead, he's all about giving the government a bigger stick to beat people with, and outsourcing the caring part to your churches and other nonprofits. He asks, “Is our children learning?”, and makes schools focus on testing instead of teaching.

So, I'm not going to try to change your minds. But I am asking you to open them up just a little bit to the Truth.

Because the Truth may set you free, but first it's going to piss you off–and the Truth is that you've been getting manipulated and played by a guy that makes Slick Willie look like an amateur in that department. He uses that aw-shucks crap and your fear of the unknown to get power over you. He has lied so much without being called on it that he now does it by default–and when he is called on it, he says, “That's what I call one of those 'exaggerations'.”

So, consider the Truth. And if it doesn't change your mind, at least mull it over for a while–like all of next Tuesday. Because the rest of us would like our country back. And while Kerry may not be the best choice, we at least know that he's more prone to be responsive to the popular will than Dubya.

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Family

So Much For Plan B

Life has been hectic. We've been running around in circles here at Casa de Chaos; Paula's either in school or teaching it; the kids have projects and homework and field trips (well, Kevin does) and visits and soccer; and I spend most of my time trying to make enough money to pay for it all (a losing battle. let me tell you) with occasional glimpses at blue sky.

Like Saturday, when Jonah and the boys of Brood X won their first game this season, 5 to 1. It was a Red Sox-size miracle; the drought was over, after one goal all season (on a penalty kick). The kids were playing position, passing, it all came together. I wish I could take credit for it, but I think a lion's share of the credit goes to my assistant coach–I think his screaming got through to places my earnestness did not.

And like Friday night when Paula, Zoë and I went to have dinner at the Golden West, and ran into some fellow Baltimore bloggers (seadragon and lostgirl). (And seadragon apparently was concerned that she'd overstayed her welcome…believe me, T., you didn't; otherwise we wouldn't have come into the bar looking to say goodbye. Zoë is our built-in timer for such things).

And then a house concert Saturday at another blogger's house that Paula had gotten us into, with Zoe. It was mellow. It was a good crowd. It was…time to take a few breaths before dashing off again somewhere else.

I spent so much of the first stretch of my life trying to reach something, or working to get somewhere. It's hitting me now; it'll always be this way. There will always be something to work to; there will never be room to coast. And that's fine–because the things that matter are those occasional patches of calm along the way that let you enjoy the trip to whatever you're working on next.

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Family

the heat is on

This morning, I stumbled downstairs and turned the thermostat clockwise for the first time since last winter. It was just above freezing outside, and the temperature in the house had dropped below the comfort zone. Outside, one of my friends from genus corvus was happily croaking to his friends.

It looks like autumn has taken hold.

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Family

Ambush Revenue Enhancement (parking at the Baltimore City Farmer’s Market)

On Sunday, we went down to the Baltimore City Farmers' Market, which is held under the Jones Falls Expressway downtown. We've been going for years; it's one of those things that has always exceeded expectations (which is increasingly rare in Baltimore).

And for years, everyone who's gone has assumed that the parking meters in the adjoining parking lot (a weekday commuter lot) were not in effect on Sunday–for ages, one of the remaining “blue laws” on the city's books made street parking free on the sabbath. Even with increasingly tight parking enforcement in the city, meters under the JFX were never enforced on Sunday; it was implied that the parking was free for those patronizing the farmers' market.

Well, this weekend, market-goers got a rude shock. As we parked, we saw a squad of contract parking enforcement agents writing tickets on cars for meter violations and various other infringements of parking regulations. It was a revenue-enhancement ambush.

Now, it would seem to me that if the city really wanted people to comply with meters and parking regs in the lot on Sunday, they would have at least given some notice. But it was clear that the city wasn't really concerned with citizen compliance–this was about padding out the budget at the end of the fiscal year. The meters, you see, are only a quarter for an hour–the tickets are for $20 or more. And if you don't pay the tickets, there's no limit to the late fines the city can impose on you. That's right–forget to pay a ticket for an exposed meter, and your fines could exceed the value of your car.

You can imagine how pissed off the dozens of people returning to find tickets on their windshields were. And Paula and I were just plain disgusted with the city's tactics. It's not like there's a public-transportation alternative to get to the Farmers' Market; and if anything, the market has thrived in spite of the city's neglect rather than because of anything the city has done for it. (I understand they raised the price of entry for farmers and merchants again this year.)

It's funny how our mayor is so big on multicultural messages, yet I've never seen him at the Farmers' Market–which is one of the only places you'll see this city's cultures elbow to elbow. In fact, the only place I *have* seen the Mayor with the masses is when he's playing with his band in a sleeveless T-shirt.

On the other hand, I ran into (well, not figuratively)Senator Barbara Mikulski at the newly-reopened Baltimore Conservatory in Druid Hill Park. The Parks Department has really done a great job there, and Sen. Mikulski was walking about on her own, checking out the payoff.

Zoë also loves the new “space net” climbing net nearby in Druid Hill; it's the first playground upgrade in years in the park, and it's almost as much public sculpture as climb-on equipment. The new swings are also a welcome addition. Now if they could only pay some attention to the Buena Vista playground and some of the other neglected small local parks…

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Family

Ambush Revenue Enhancement (parking at the Baltimore City Farmer's Market)

On Sunday, we went down to the Baltimore City Farmers' Market, which is held under the Jones Falls Expressway downtown. We've been going for years; it's one of those things that has always exceeded expectations (which is increasingly rare in Baltimore).

And for years, everyone who's gone has assumed that the parking meters in the adjoining parking lot (a weekday commuter lot) were not in effect on Sunday–for ages, one of the remaining “blue laws” on the city's books made street parking free on the sabbath. Even with increasingly tight parking enforcement in the city, meters under the JFX were never enforced on Sunday; it was implied that the parking was free for those patronizing the farmers' market.

Well, this weekend, market-goers got a rude shock. As we parked, we saw a squad of contract parking enforcement agents writing tickets on cars for meter violations and various other infringements of parking regulations. It was a revenue-enhancement ambush.

Now, it would seem to me that if the city really wanted people to comply with meters and parking regs in the lot on Sunday, they would have at least given some notice. But it was clear that the city wasn't really concerned with citizen compliance–this was about padding out the budget at the end of the fiscal year. The meters, you see, are only a quarter for an hour–the tickets are for $20 or more. And if you don't pay the tickets, there's no limit to the late fines the city can impose on you. That's right–forget to pay a ticket for an exposed meter, and your fines could exceed the value of your car.

You can imagine how pissed off the dozens of people returning to find tickets on their windshields were. And Paula and I were just plain disgusted with the city's tactics. It's not like there's a public-transportation alternative to get to the Farmers' Market; and if anything, the market has thrived in spite of the city's neglect rather than because of anything the city has done for it. (I understand they raised the price of entry for farmers and merchants again this year.)

It's funny how our mayor is so big on multicultural messages, yet I've never seen him at the Farmers' Market–which is one of the only places you'll see this city's cultures elbow to elbow. In fact, the only place I *have* seen the Mayor with the masses is when he's playing with his band in a sleeveless T-shirt.

On the other hand, I ran into (well, not figuratively)Senator Barbara Mikulski at the newly-reopened Baltimore Conservatory in Druid Hill Park. The Parks Department has really done a great job there, and Sen. Mikulski was walking about on her own, checking out the payoff.

Zoë also loves the new “space net” climbing net nearby in Druid Hill; it's the first playground upgrade in years in the park, and it's almost as much public sculpture as climb-on equipment. The new swings are also a welcome addition. Now if they could only pay some attention to the Buena Vista playground and some of the other neglected small local parks…

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