Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Butt!




Part of my day job deals with traffic tickets. Yesterday an interesting one passed my desk.. Littering. A 1500 dollar ticket for flicking a cigarette butt onto the ground at a truck stop. The guy who got the ticket is livid and spent a good 10 minutes shouting at me because I expect him to pay it and pay it promptly. If not, he will be out of a job.

When he calmed down he apologized, he really is normally a good guy. He asked what I thought about the ticket and I had to be honest.. I think it’s great. I think it’s about damn time we started enforcing litter laws. Cigarette buts are trash, they are poison, they smell bad and why should I or you, our children, our pets and our wildlife have to deal with someone elses dirty stinking habit?

It is estimated that several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year. That's billions of cigarettes flicked, one at a time, on our sidewalks, beaches, nature trails, gardens, and other public places every single day. In fact, cigarettes are the most littered item in America and the world. Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate tow, NOT COTTON, and they can take decades to degrade. Not only does cigarette litter ruin even the most picturesque setting, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment, and littered butts cause numerous fires every year, some of them fatal.

This has been an on going problem in Holyoke and everywhere. Next time you see someone flick a butt.. walk over and say.. “Oh look, you dropped something” And point it out. Just.. you know.. try not to get shot.

Friday, October 24, 2008

White Privilege



I am white. My friend Sean says I am so white I am like the bleached white flour used in making wonder bread before it’s even mixed with all the water and chemicals. I think that means I am super dorky white. Sean is a big black man from Texas who wants to buy my children Pimp cups (I’m not really sure what those even are). Little does he know I plan to stealthily teach his baby daughter all about Greenpeace and peta! Ha! Win!

Ok maybe not Peta.. I’m not that crazy.

Anyway that conversation got me to thinking about this article I once read..

This is your nation on White Privilege

Go read it, it’s quite interesting.. I will give you a few snippets here.. Warning.. this is politically charged and NOT all are my personal views, I just find it interesting.

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you may have sold drugs at some point.

White privilege is being able to say that you hate "gooks" and "will always hate them," and yet, you aren't a racist because, ya know, you were a POW, so you're entitled to your hatred, while being black and noting that black anger about racism is understandable, given the history of your country, makes you a dangerous bigot.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you then go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly 20 years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.


Just something to think about this weekend.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are you sure?



This flier was handed out on Suffrage Day, April 24, 1915.
Notice that there are only 11 reasons listed. Also, the last line of text reads,
"Give this to a friend and ask him to vote for it."



Massachusetts 2008 Ballot Questions
Ballot Question 1: A Proposed Law to Eliminate the State Income Tax

Question one.. I am 90 percent sure I am voting No. It comes down to simple math and common sense. Income tax accounts for 45 percent, on average, of our state budget and that money has to come from somewhere. Losing the State Income tax will not get rid of blight or welfare or pork barrel programs. If we don’t pay it on what we earn we will pay it at the store, at city hall, excise tax, property tax, higher registry fees. I find it much more reasonable to pay tax on what I earn.. If I make 500 a week and you make 1000 a week it makes no sense for us to both pay say.. 300 bucks to renew our drivers licenses. It makes more sense for us to both pay a percentage of what we earn.

Ballot Question 2: An Act Establishing a Sensible State Marijuana Policy

Last year I was approached to sign the petition to get this question on the ballot.. and I refused to sign. I come from a family of heavy duty drug addicts and I was once a heavy pot smoker myself. Those of you who know my oldest son and how smart he is .. would you ever guess I spent the early months of that pregnancy high as a kite? I’m still thanking god for his health every day. The day I found out I was pregnant I never did another drug. What I am saying is that I know first hand what drugs are and what they do.. Pot is not harmless.. it’s NOT like a beer or cigarettes. My instinct is to vote no.. no no no.
On the other hand I would vote to make pot entirely legal and taxable. If it were legal and taxable it would become like alcohol and could be more controlled and dealt with by the public. We can teach responsible use like we do for drinking. Right now all we can teach is ‘No, Pot is bad! Stay Away!” Which is right.. but if we make a little bit ok.. it just seems to me like it makes us hypocrites.
“Drugs are bad!.. but you can have a tiny bit.”
Seriously? Who can say that to their kids?
“Stabbing people in the face is bad! … but you can stab them just a little.”
Ok so I am exaggerating but you get my point, no?
I can’t make up my mind.

Ballot Question 3: An Initiative for an Act to Protect Greyhounds
I didn’t even know about this question. Excuse me while I go look it up.

This proposed law would prohibit any dog racing or racing meeting in Massachusetts where any form of betting or wagering on the speed or ability of dogs occurs. The State Racing Commission would be prohibited from accepting or approving any application or request for racing dates for dog racing. Any person violating the proposed law could be required to pay a civil penalty of not less than $20,000 to the Commission. The penalty would be used for the Commission’s administrative purposes, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature. All existing parts of the chapter of the state’s General Laws concerning dog and horse racing meetings would be interpreted as if they did not refer to dogs.
My grandfather adores greyhound racing and as long as dogs are not being abused I’m not really sure why this is a problem. People race and enjoy it.. Why is it bad for dogs? And why are we so much more concerned, as a society, for animals then we are for people? What about homeless starving children in our own towns? What about abused babies?
Greyhounds? Really? Let ‘em race. I’m more concerned with the decline of the climate and toxins in our food to be too worried over a dog race.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Economical Romance!

If I ever hit my head really hard and get married again do you think anyone would object to this being our wedding song?



Lyrics

Parody of T.I.'s smash hit "Whatever You Like" By Wierd Al

Hey girl,
You know our economy's in the toilet
But I’m still going to treat you right

I said you can have whatever you like (if you like)
I said you can have whatever you like (if you like) yeah, yeah

Tater tots, Cold Duck on ice
And we can clip coupons all night
And baby you can have whatever you like (if you like)
I said you can have whatever you like (if you like) yeah, yeah

Take you out for dinner, anywhere that you please
Like Burger King or Mickey Ds
And baby you can have whatever you like (if you like)
I said you can even have the large fries (large fries) yeah, yeah

Baby, you should know I am really quite a sweet guy
When I buy you bathroom tissue I always get the two-ply
Want it, you can get it, my dear
I got my Costco membership card right here, yeah

You like Top Ramen, need Top Ramen
Got a cupboard full of 'em, I’ll keep 'em coming
You want it, I got it, go get it, just heat it
Dump the flavor packet on it and eat it

Pork and beans and Minute Rice
And we can play Cribbage all night
And baby you can have whatever you like (if you like)
I said you can have whatever you like (if you like) yeah, yeah

I can take you to the laundromat downtown
And watch all the clothes go round and round
And baby we can go wherever you like (if you like)
I said we can go wherever you like (if you like) yeah, yeah

Hottest shorty I know, if you had some lipo
You could be second-runner-up Miss Ohio
Seven dollar bills rolled
Up inside my plastic billfold
Buy you a bagel even if it isn’t day old
And you never ever gotta wear your sister’s old clothes
As long as I’m still assistant manager at Kinko’s
Cut your hair with scissors and a soup bowl
You ain’t got to pay me, that’s the way that I roll

My chick can have want she want
At Wal-mart she can pick out anything she want
I know girl you ain’t never had a man like that
Who doesn’t make you buy generic brand like that, Yeah

You like my Hyundai, see my Hyundai
I can take you to see your cousin Phil next Sunday
But that’s kind of far and I’m not made of cash
Do you think you could chip in for gas?
Mac and Cheese would be all right
But let’s send out for pizza tonight
And you can order any toppings you like (if you like)
I said you can even have the last slice (the last slice) yeah, yeah

Ran myself a cable from my neighbor next do'
Now I can get free HBO
And baby you can watch whatever you like (if you like)
I said you can watch whatever you like (if you like) yeah

And you can always ride the city bus
Got a stack of tokens just for us
Yo, my wallet’s fat and full of ones
It’s all about the Washingtons, that’s right

You want White Castle, need White Castle
Long as you got me it won’t be no hassle
You want it, we’ll get it, just don’t be a hater
If I grab a bunch of napkins for later

Thrift store jeans on sale half-price
The underwear at Goodwill is nice
And baby you can have whatever you like (if you like)
I said you can have whatever you like (if you like) yeah, yeah

Baby, I can give you anything you please
Even share my government cheese
And baby you can have as much as you like (if you like)
I said you can have as much as you like (if you like) yeah, yeah

Dear Connecticut Ren Faire




Dear Connecticut Ren Faire,

This was the second year I took my kids to the CTRF, We actually came twice but I wanted to tell you about Sunday the 19th, closing day from the point of view of my family.

We got there around 1 and thankfully missed the long lines for tickets.It was cold and windy but we were undeterred (Well I was deterred but kids are never cold.) We bought our tickets and missed the college student discount you offered last year but it is still well worth the money. This year I not only brought my children but I brought the 6 year old daughter of a friend who had no idea what this was. She does not speak in front of people she doesn’t know and in public will mostly whisper. She is painfully shy. Unlike my own children who are loud and adorably obnoxious. No, really.

Pirates at the gate had her eyes so wide I thought they might pop out of her pretty little head. We took our Mandrake Mystery paper and realized we should have brought a pencil, but I applauded that you did not give out those little wasteful golf pencils that end up on the ground and in the trash or sticking out of a previously happy little eyeball. That is not an idea for a Zoltan trick either.

Trick or Treating and a mystery to solve! You could not have put together two better things in our humble opinions. The three of them Belly danced for clues and hopped on one foot and had to cross their eyes and tell scary stories, it was really great fun for me to watch.

Most amazing of all was that one booth demanded a song.. from my sweet little princess who had barely uttered 'Trick or treat' for the last hour. (Yes she really is a Princess, I bought her pretty hair bows to make it official) There she stood, like a deer in the headlights

"Do you know I'm a Little Teapot, Little Mistress?"

She looked sideways at me as if to say Excuse me but there is a weirdo man speaking to me and you need to make him stop … I began to interject that she does not speak..

"Yes.." She said, clearly. I shut my mouth and the boys stopped being hyper (Thank the Play Free Devil Sticks guy for the Pixie Stix, really)

There she was .. Miss I am too shy to speak in front of anyone I have not known since birth.. Singing, loudly! And people clapped! I swear, Erin, I did NOT tear up. Much. The kids got their clue, solved the mystery and got knighted. How cool is that? They got KNIGHTED. I cannot tell you how awesome that is to kids.

We watched the Duelists, my boys adore that show (They don't get most of the jokes though thank goodness) and Rosalitas puppets. We ate a pickle and a bread bowl and watched the most dramatic wedding ever! When my little Princess for the day saw that .. How can I express into words the joy on her face? This time I teared up, for real. She clapped without me prompting her and yelled and cheered when the evil Morganna was beaten. She watched Zoltan from start to finish, even when I covered my eyes and turned away. I was worried it might too much for this delicate little flower.. how naive am I? She LOVED it. She picked out some fairy stones and danced to the pirate music.. a little anyway. She was enthralled with the .. Tree Spirit? And still has not figured out how that can be a person in there so tall. I've decided not to explain stilts to her. Why ruin the magic?

My kids, who have a seen it all before kind of pre teen 'tude let themselves be kids for the day. They Trick or Treated and raced around for clues, they battled a man with foam swords but spent so much time laughing at themselves they both got thier butts whipped. Thank you for helping me remind them that being a little dorky is not so bad.

I may sound dramatic myself over all this but this little girl recently lost her mother, two sisters and may soon be losing her grandmother. She doesn't have a whole lot to smile about these days. Shes only 6 years old. Thank you for helping me expand her world a little and see her smile agian.

Next year, I think, we might actually dress up. We want too.. we just haven't gotten up the nerve yet! I guess I have taken up a lot of space here to say, simply.. Well Done.

Always,
ReduceHM

P.S. What are the chances of getting some recyling bins for next year? Or maybe a whole recycling ‘green’ committee? It will help save money and the planet!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Mall Killed holyoke


Everyone is talking lately about bringing big business to Holyoke. I get the thought behind this, tax revenue, lower crime, safer streets, more jobs but I like to think I am looking at a bigger more long term picture.

A Wal Mart in Holyoke will cause pollution, trash, litter, poverty, traffic, strain our hospital and any number of other small trickle down effects. BMaverick is snorting so hard right now he just inhaled his moustache.

I do understand what Wal Mart would bring as well.. more jobs, competitive grocery prices, convenience. I just happen to think it’s worth it, to me, to drive to Big y, BJ’s, Price Rite and even Trader Joes if it means I feel better about my purchases.

Every dollar you, as a person, as a voter, as an American spend.. is a vote. Every single dollar is a vote. Think about that. If you buy flip flops made in china by pre teens who can only pee once a day and eat nothing but rice while working with toxic chemicals that cause burns and rashes.. you are essentially saying to that 12 year old girl that you don’t give a flying fuck abut how she was ripped from her family, half starved, abused and hit.. you just want cheap flip flops you didn’t have to drive more then 4 miles for. And maybe that’s ok for you. I can really understand that. Not everyone has an overdeveloped sense of empathy. Not everyone should.

But it matters to me. If I want cheap flip flops, I will by them second hand, because then my buck, or by then only 25 cents, goes to support something I believe in like the Salvation Army or some Joe the Plumbers tag sale or Big brothers and Big Sisters.

I do not really know if it is possible but wouldn’t it be nice to see downtown go the way NoHo has? Small independant shops, people WANTING to come there. I like spending an afternoon lazily poking around Main St in Northampton. We grab lunch at Bueno Y Sano or Sushi at Soo-ra, Ice Cream at Harrell’s and pick up some groceries at Cornucopia I can’t get at S&S or Big Y.

I take my kids to downtown Holyoke now and then.. I do not want them growing up in fear of their own city. We use our heads.. lock up the car, don’t leave things in plain site etc. I try to shop there.. but it’s just cruddy that nothing is really.. there. We use Chips to fix our car, even though he has no weekend hours and once got hair cuts down there but never will again because no one spoke English and they really butchered my oldest sons’ hair. He wore a hat every day for a month.

Lowes alone will not “Save Holyoke” So tell me.. what will?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Craptacular


The ren faire was great! We will be going back next Saturday as well. On Sunday we drove over to Chicopee and watched the Toy Run leave form the Wal Fart parking lot. How amazing was that! There had to be abut 500 bikers all with toys driving over to Brightside to distribute the gifts to the residents there. For those of you who do not know.. Brightside is something of a modern day orphanage for troubled youth. We even saw a few people we know. Hey Michael!

After that and an extra long trip to Radio Shack so I could hem and haw about getting a cell phone that like.. works and stuff. (And takes pics.. I want a flicker photo stream so bad!) They kind of laughed at my old cruddy phone. It’s worked forever though and it’s CHEAP! It’s just a little tracfone. We have been thinking about dumping the landline though and just using a cell phone. Here is the math..

I pay about 40 bucks a month for Comcast phone service. And then another 30 bucks a month, on average, for my tracfone. I make almost all of my daily calls from work and rarely use my land line. So why not dump the land line and pay 60 bucks a month for an AT&T cell phone and then I can also email pics to my family without having to lug around my camera and then upload the pics later. I think the average cost will even out so I might not actually save but.. along with dumping the landline.. we might dump cable TV too. It’s crap and we rarely watch it. I will miss some channels though.. Food network, TLC, Discovery, Science channel and the Green Channel.. Oh and BBC. Maybe we could just go back to super basic.. That would include some of those channels still I think.

Anyway so after Radio Shack (I have to THINK for a week before I actually buy the phone and all) we went down to McCray’s Farm. All I have to say is…

PUMPKIN ICE CREAM.

Go get some, bring me some too! It was heaven in a hot and crispy waffle cone. There is no better fall moment then that. The little guy got orange pineapple but was not duly impressed. We strolled about the animals, which stank to high heaven and then took a hayride to pick pumpkins. Someone left their trash on the wagon and it nearly ruined my mood. Is that silly? I can’t help it. How hard is it really to throw your shit out? They have cans EVERYWHERE you lazy jerk. Trash on the pumpkin patch is just.. craptacular.

We got great Pumpkins though! Mien was two toned, green and yellow but both super bright. I think it’s actually a gourd. What do you do with a gourd anyway? Can I eat it?

We finished off the day at home making wheat bread form scratch. The price of bread is killing me these days. But this took 4 hours. There has to be a better way. Anyone have any tips on quick cheap whole wheat bread?

Friday, October 10, 2008

After the Bailout




After The Bailout
by Andrei Codrescu
All Things Considered, October 9, 2008 ·

I was sharpening my chain saw when they called me from Washington, D.C., to ask me how to fix the economy.

This request focused my thoughts, or the lack of 'em, to such a fine point, I gave my 14-inch Echo an edge it never had. Good enough for cutting half a cord at least, to keep the wood stove going through October. I love not paying the oil company a nickel. Except for the half-gallon of gas and the chain oil, but I'm fixin' to make the thing run on plum brandy. I've got a plum tree.

Ah, where were we? The economy, yes: $700 billion is more than enough money to buy every able-bodied American a chain saw, a solar-powered generator and a stake in a communal well and windmill. Also, red dirt and plum trees. That would probably only cost about $100 billion, and you can use the other $600 billion to buy everybody their house outright.

Now everybody can own their house and be green and self-sufficient, and can go back to whatever they were doing before the world ended: watching TV. Except for me. I was sharpening my chain saw.

So I go back to it, and I see a line of refugees coming up the road to move in with me. Oh my God, it's the '70s again. All my deadbeat friends — dead and alive — are being chased out of their homes and heaven for not owing any money. They are debt-free in a world that can't exist without interest rates. The dead are especially egregious in this regard; you can't squeeze even an extra penny out of them.

Oh, no, now that they are getting closer, I don't even think it's people from the '70s: It's people ... from the future!

It's worse than I thought: These are people independent from foreign oil, carrying solar-powered chain saws, full of American ingenuity. After the bailout, they owned their own homes, they didn't pay into a corporate energy grid, and they didn't worry about food because they grew it on the roof. They didn't drive, because they didn't have any jobs to drive to, and every garage in America was the site of an invention that was so darn beneficial nobody needed anything from the store.

Without worries about money, without a job, and with extra space in the garage to grow food and invent, these people forgot about the stock market, stopped borrowing money, even forgot how to shop — in short they stopped being American. These un-Americans got their exercise raking the compost instead of circling the mall; they home-schooled their children and were never again embarrassed that their kids knew more than they did. Heck, they were in heaven, the place where the pursuit of happiness leads to when you stop pursuing it.

Such self-sufficiency made the economy grind to a halt, so the government had to do something again: They called in the Army to chase everyone out of their self-contained greenhouses.

And now they are coming up the road to my place because I'm a poet, and I live in a compound defended by polygamist haikus.

"What did you do wrong?" I asked the first of the refugees to get over the palisades.

"Nothing," he said. "We just got out of debt and stopped watching TV! So the urge to buy things on credit disappeared. So they sent in the troops. First thing they did was to put a 40-inch plasma TV in every room and fixed it just so we couldn't turn it off. Just like in Orwell, only with much sharper images. They are calling this the Second Bailout, or the Bail Back In."

"At least the Second Amendment is safe," I said. "Nobody took away your guns, and the Founding Fathers didn't say anything about TV."

And with that, my chief haiku welcomed them thus:

make yourselves at home

you won't be bailed in or out again

you're safe in Second Life

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thee, Thou and wow!

This weekend we are heading down to the RENAISSANCE FAIRE. Which is in all caps because I cannot spell and so I copy/pasted that from the page. We went last year for the first time and I will admit that last year I had doubts…

Everyone is going to be a world class nerd.

I will look really out of place.

I will want to laugh rudely at everyone.


Yea.. I’m not really that nice when no one is looking. Within seconds of walking though the gate though I realized that I was wrong. And more.. I was jealous! I want to be cool enough to wear a freaking fairy costume and feel perfectly okay abut it. Seriously! Maybe even some Dragon Pajamas!

Apparently he sells ice cream and that’s really his costume.. It’s no joke.

Check out Tony Mateus blog and visit to the Faire last weekend here. His pics are fantastic.
I avoided the giant Cholesterol fest masquerading as a Turkey leg (but good god that smelled good, for a carcass and all) and watched all the shows.. Including ZOLTAN THE ADEQUATE
Fire eating, insane magic, crowds going wild. It is just a few things you can expect at this magic comedy show you won’t forget. Tat guy rocks! I nearly peed my pants laughing. And those Duelist guys are pretty hot.

I got turned onto it by my dear friend Erin who helps run the faire while working and jogging and obsessing about pasta and spending too much energy making silly people happy. If I can get her to wear some fairy wings I will be sure and post pics!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Well, now you know.



Here are some simple tips to help you in working toward a life without plastic, or a life of safer, more informed plastic use. I borrowed this list and held onto it so long I cannot recall where I pilfered it from, sorry!

Avoid polycarbonate (#7) baby bottles and sippy cups. For baby bottles, try and use glass (e.g., Evenflo), polyethylene (e.g., Evenflo, Medela, Playtex) or polypropylene (e.g., Gerber, Medela) instead. Sippy cups made of stainless steel (e.g., Kleen Kanteen), or of polypropylene or polyethylene (e.g., Avent, Evenflo, First Years, Gerber, Playtex) are safer. Be sure to check the bottle or cup to be sure of the type of plastic it contains. As for baby bottle nipples, try and use silicone which does not leach the carcinogenic nitrosamines that can be found in latex.


If you must use polycarbonate (#7) bottles, avoid heating food and drink in the bottle. Heat it in a separate container and transfer it to the bottle once it is warm enough for the child to eat or drink. If the plastic is showing signs of wear – scratched, cloudy – discard the container.


For drinking water, try and avoid plastic bottles. If you do use plastic bottles made from #1 or #2 plastic try not to reuse them as they are intended only for single use. One alternative is a stainless steel water bottle. For storing large quantities of water, glass and stainless steel containers are also available. If you use a #1 water bottle, try to consume the contents as soon as possible because leaching of antimony increases with time.


Try to avoid heating foods in plastic containers, especially in the microwave oven, which can cause the plastic to degrade and leach chemicals faster. As well, leaching increases when plastic comes into contact with oily or fatty foods, or when the plastic is scratched, worn, cracked, or sticky.


Use plastic wraps with caution, especially in the microwave, and try to keep the plastic from touching the food. Alternatives include wax paper or paper towels.
Try and use alternatives to plastic packaging and storage containers. Cloth, paper or cardboard are possibilities for transporting groceries. Stainless steel and glass food storage containers are available.


Avoid plastic dishes and utensils for meals. Alternatives include glass, ceramic, wood, stainless steel, and lacquer ware. Offer your child or grandchild a non-plastic dish set made of either stainless steel or wood (safely coated using the Japanese lacquer technique).

By the way, I have no idea what the safer japanese laquer technique is or if I even spelled that right but I DO know what Bento Boxes are and 'Laptop Lunches' both are very cool and most are earth friendly though not excatly wallet friendly and since frugalness supercedes eco awareness in my world.. my kids just eat school lunch and I sigh deeply wishing I had the time or money (or energy, lets face it) to pack them up a delicious healthy lunch that they wouldnt be afriad of getting picked on for.

Coming soon.. The Farm, The Painting and the Transfer Station.
 
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