Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Some people just never learn life's lessons do they? After the death of his wife just after giving birth, Gary Staton couldn't take the stress so he dumped his nine children off at an Omaha hospital in 2007 , an act which was sanctioned under a Nebraska Safe Haven law. Now he and his girlfriend are going to have twins. Gee, if they break up I wonder what he'll decide to do with them.
According to Omaha.com, when he was married and his former children were younger, his family received $995,648 in government aid which included more than $600,000 in food stamps and over $100,00 in medicaid.
We can only hope that the trauma of being abandoned by their father, shortly after the tragic death of their mother combined with the news that their father has moved on with his life and is having more children with his giflfriend, doesn't have a lifelong negative impact on these kids.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Mom is a good person...no...she's a great person. She'll tell you she wasn't always like that, but trust me, she's always been like that. She's always been a caring soul. Ask her mother, her sister, and her best friend of nearly 50 years. I know that mom went through tough times getting married at 19 and having three kids by the age of 23. We were good kids but still three is a handful. She put up with a lot. But if you asked her if she'd do it all over again with all of us, she would say that she would.
Mom and I didn't always have the best relationship when I was younger but as we all know there's no manual on exactly how one should parent, so you have to play it by ear. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. I think mom was hard on me because she saw so much of herself in me. In fact I think she used to tell me that, only when your mom tells you that when you're a kid, you just don't buy it. Not till you are nearly 40 years old anyway! She wanted me to make choices different than she did, not that she regretted her choices, but most parents want their kids to have it just a little better than they did. Mom had a great upbringing with two parents who loved her dearly and took very good care of their girls. But I think mom wanted us kids to get out into the world and experience it first before settling down. See, she didn't do that, she went right from her parents home to marriage.
One of my favorite moments of my life is when mom used to sit at her typewriter, the old Olivetti that great uncle Doug gave her because he knew she loved to write. Dad made mom a desk in their bedroom right in front of a window between the two closets. And there she would sit, with her cigarette burning on one side and a hot cup of coffee on the other. Mom loved to sit there and pour her thoughts out on paper and she did a lot of it. She spent a lot of time there and I knew when she was sitting there, she was happy.
I have a lot of favorite moments with mom, it would take a book to talk about them all. Dad too, he was some kind of guy.
I wish I could tell you how much I love my mom, but I don't know that words could adequately describe it. And maybe that's ok because I am sure she knows. I know sometimes mom has regrets about the fights she and I had when I was a kid, but I always tell her "mom, it's ok, you did the best you could" and I say it not merely to make her feel better, but because I really mean it. Looking back, mom and dad did the best they could with we three kids.
Dad's been gone now for three months and it still hurts every day to know that he's gone and never coming back. But we have mom here, she's healthy and she's doing the best she can to make it without him. If I thought I couldn't imagine a life without pa here, I can only tell you that the thought of my mom no longer being here is even worse. Mom loves us kids, all three equally, but she has a different relationship with each one of us. That's because each of the three of us has distinctly different personality traits and characteristics. We're a lot alike but very different too. Mom sees different things in each of us, I would guess most parents do. Mom and I have a special relationship I can't explain. It isn't better than what she has with Kim and Dave, it's just different. I think that as we got older, we bonded more because we really are a lot alike, and I mean A LOT ALIKE! The more we hang out together and talk the more we realize it. It's something I am very proud of.
I moved back home from 1994-2001 and lived with my parents for seven years and I have to tell you it was some of the best times of my life, being there with them as I moved from my 20's into my 30's. We had a special bond and shared great times there I fondly remember always. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss those days, I sure do. But...mom is only a few minutes away and I can see her anytime. And I know she's not planning on leaving us for quite some time.
Mom is really special, and to know her is to love her. You can't help but like her, she's just a nice person. I wish I could keep her here forever. I know I can't, but I tell you one thing, I love her more than she could ever know and I am thankful for every day of my life I have had on this earth because of her---and dad. I am who I am because of them. I owe them everything, especially my life.
This is the first birthday in 43 years that dad hasn't been here to give mom a birthday hug and kiss, I know she's feeling a little sad. But I also know she is happy that she has her life, her kids, her mother, sister and many others who love her. May this be a new start to the second half of what I pray is a very long and happy life.
I love you ma!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Wife: "Remember--you left them in the kitchen near the back door because they have mud on them"
Husband: "That's right!"
Ten minutes later...
Wife: "What the F*ck is this?" she says as she looks down at the dirt all over the floor from the back door to the living room.
Wife: (Points to dirt tracks that apparently only men cannot see) "There's dirt all over the floor from the back door to where you're sitting"
Husband: "Ohhh I didn't see that, I thought I cleaned them off"
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I can't just look at ONE picture, I have to look at the whole page. And then I can't just look at one page, I have to look at two, then three, then four, and before you know it...I'm on page 30 and have spent two hours here at home looking at kitty kats with kapshuns doing funny things.
I need help...please...someone...stop this madness!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
On this day nine years ago he was killed in a car accident in Ellijay, Georgia, when the car he was in with his parents was struck from behind at full force by an illegal alien who had fallen asleep at the wheel. Dustin had a wonderful life ahead of him when he was suddenly taken from us on the night of June 16, 2000. The man who killed Dustin and disabled Kathy for life, has never been apprehended.
Dustin was a beloved son, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend.
Dustin, we will never forget you.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers. The parking lot attendant had brought the car out and he was still holding the door open because Terry Lennox's left foot was still dangling outside, as if he had forgotten he had one. He had a young-looking face but his hair was bone white. You could tell by his eyes that he was plastered to the hairline, but otherwise he looked like any other nice young guy in a dinner jacket who had been spending too much money in a joint that exists for that purpose and for no other.
There was a girl beside him. Her hair was a lovely shade of dark red and she had a distant smile on her lips and over her shoulders she had a blue mink that almost made the Rolls-Royce look like just another automobile. It didn't quite. Nothing can.
That's the opening of Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye". Shows like Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Boston Blackie, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar---the actors were classic and the lines just flowed. There's nothing like these mystery/detective/suspense fiction of the 1940's and 50's.
Now if I can finish this book, I can begin the next!
Friday, June 05, 2009
The facts of the case, from Oyez.com
White and Hispanic candidates for promotion in the New Haven, CT fire department sued various city officials in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut when the New Haven Civil Service Board (CSB) failed to certify two exams needed for the plaintiffs' promotion to Lieutenant and Captain. The CSB did not certify because the results of the test would have promoted a disproportionate number of white candidates in comparison to minority candidates. The plaintiffs argued that their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e, and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause were violated. The federal district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment.
On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed. It reasoned that the CSB, by refusing to certify the results of the promotional exam, was trying to fulfill its obligations under the rules utilized by the plaintiffs in their argument and therefore was protected in its actions.
1) Can a municipality reject results from an otherwise valid civil service exam when the results unintentionally prevent the promotion of minority candidates?
2) Does 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e permit federal courts to relieve municipalities from having to comply with local laws that require strict compliance with race-blind merit selection procedures?
The city claims it denied all of the promotions in order to avoid a discrimination lawsuit. The city's policy is to promote only the highest scorers. However, in this case, if they had promoted the top scorers it would have included whites and one hispanic but no blacks. The city wanted to avoid a discrimination lawsuit so they threw out the results of the exam.
It's all based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So I read it. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, section ion 2000e-2, nothing in that subchapter requires any employer to grant preferential treatment to any individual or group "on account of imbalance which may exist with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of any race" .
As to the burden of proof of disparate impact, an unlawful employment practice based on disparate impact is established ONLY if "a complaining party demonstrates that a respondent uses a particular employment practice that causes a disparate impact on the basis of race"
An article from Slate.com written by Richard Thompson Ford argues that "racial discrimination has locked minorities into poor neighborhoods with bad schools thus as a group they do not perform well on written examinations". Slate claims that the disparaged minorities can study harder as Ricci did (he took six months off work and paid $1,000 for a tutor) but that is not possible for everyone to do this because "in the real world" not everyone has equal access to this kind of opportunity--the time off and $$ for tutoring, that is. Also, should Ricci, who filed the suit, necessarily be considered the most qualified candidate (even though he had the highest score) simply because he spent more time and money preparing for the exam?
Speaking of studying harder-----what we didn't hear in the mainstream news was that Mr. Ricci is in fact dyslexic which is probably why he spent so much time and money preparing for the exam. I learned of this in the decision of the 2nd Circuit. In fact, he gave up a second job, studied thirteen horus a day, and paid someone to record his textbooks onto tapes so he could listen instead of read them.
But that did not seem to matter to the Circuit:
"In this case, the Civil Service Board found itself in the unfortunate position of having no good alternatives. We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs’ expression of frustration. Mr. Ricci, for example, who is dyslexic, made intensive efforts that appear to have resulted in his scoring highly on one of the exams, only to have it invalidated. But it simply does not follow that he has a viable Title VII claim. To the contrary, because the Board, in refusing to validate the exams, was simply trying to fulfill its obligations under Title VII when confronted with test results that had a disproportionate racial impact, its actions were protected."
So, if Mr. Ricci is dyslexic, it could be assumed that his own high school education was probably much more difficult to accomplish than the average student. If he could overcome a learning disability, or rather take the necessary actions to not let it stand in his way of passing the exam, what would stop any of the other firefighters to take similar actions? Is this a matter of which is more oppressive--having a learning disability or being black?
There is a reason that only a select small number scored high enough for promotion. Our options:
1) The exam was biased against blacks.
I've not read that the exam was unfair, after all, the agency which administered the exam could not possibly know the educational, racial, or socioeconomic backgrounds of those taking the exam. How does one create an exam which is unfair to one particular race if one is not even privy to this information?
2) The firefighters who earned the highest scores were simply more knowledgeable on the subject areas.
For whatever reason, these individuals were simply more qualified than the others. Whatever means they took to achieve this, they should be applauded, those are the kind of firefighters we want to be in positions of authority in our fire companies, no? It doesn't mean that those who did not promote are not good firefighters, it simply means that whatever areas they were deficient in, they need improvement.
Remember where I mentioned earlier that in Title VII there is nothing in that subchapter requires any employer to grant preferential treatment to any individual or group "on account of imbalance which may exist with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of any race" ?
Well in my own humble opinion, the firefighters who were promoted were denied equal protection and preferential treatment was given to the black firefighters by way or not promoting the other firefighters who earned scores high enough to warrant the promotions. These firefighters were not promoted because it would have created an imbalance with respect to one certain racial group.
The city took action because they were afraid of a lawsuit. They should have promoted the firefighters as they are legally required to do so and worried about the lawsuit later. On the other hand, maybe we needed this case to remind us that just because a law exists doesn't make it right. And so what we need to do right now is change the law.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Every time I look at your picture, I get so sad. I keep wishing this was all a dream and you were here.
It just seems like yesterday you were sitting at the table eating dinner, at the bar in the kitchen talking to mom while she cooked, at your desk in your office putting all your meds in their proper containers, calling me at work, checking up on us kids, working outside, taking Bean to the vet, fixing things for grams.......I think my favorite memories of you are working in your shop. Oh you loved that shop. Remember when you built it...you were so happy. It was nice and big and you spent every waking moment in it.
I remember those years I moved back home and you'd go out in the shop on a Saturday morning and not go in the house except for coffee, three meals and when you finally went in for the night after it was paast dark! And you had an action film (my favorite was Die Hard) and we'd watch it while you worked in the shop and I pulled my car in, changed the oil and waxed it. There were times you'd even do the oil for me. Not because you had to, but because you wanted to. Just because you figured that your little girl shouldn't have to get under the car on that hard concrete and change her own oil. I'd ask "are you sure" and you always said you didn't mind. We spent LOTS of hours in that workshop piddling around building and fixing stuff, and cleaning it up. God knows you could make a mess of that place. How many times did we move that Marvel Mystery Oil or the 12 thousand cans of motor oil/transmission/brake fluid? Always trying to find a suitable place for all that "stuff". You were happiest when you were working outside, you always worked outside, it's where you belonged.
Where you belong is here dad but I know you can't be. Damnit I know you can't be here and that you are never coming back. We've moved on as best as we can, like you wanted us to, but it doesn't stop the pain. It doesn't stop the tears that flow every time I see a picture of you. It doesn't stop the wish that my dad could call me at work one more time and say "hi gaga". I know you can't pa, but maybe you'll visit me every now and then and tell me everything is ok. And keep coming to me in my dreams, I'm hoping eventually you'll say something. So far you've been in the background, keeping quiet in the dreams, not saying anything, but you are there, and I feel happy when I see you. But you'll talk to me when you are ready. Maybe you just want me to get used to seeing you there first?
I have this pic of you holding me when I was a baby, a few months old. You're looking at me and while I don't know what you were thinking, I know you were happy. I bet you had no idea of the messes I'd get myself into eh? You had three good kids and you knew it. Even though we gave you and mom a hassle at times and we weren't always on our best behavior, and there were some tense moments when we were kids, you always sacrificed so much to take care of us. You always put us first, even when it meant your health and your own well-being.
If I could turn out half as good as you and ma, I think I'll do ok.
I miss you pay pay.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Rose: This is exactly what happened during the Great Herring War.
Blanche: The great herring war?
Rose: Yes, between the Lindstroms and the Johanssons.
Dorothy: Oh THAT Great Herring War!
it continues here...