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Category Archives: Kids

Friendly Neighbors

My husband and I have been in our new home for a little over a year now, and I couldn’t be happier about leaving the world of renting far behind me.  The downside to home ownership is that, unlike apartments, your neighbors remain pretty consistent.  Move in next to a lovely family, and you’ll have an easy ride.  Get stuck by a bad neighbor and you can expect to deal with nonstop nonsense for the next 30 years.

While our home was being built, I was excited about the existing neighbors, who had a child around the same age as my own.  He was a very polite and well-spoken boy who lived there part time (divorce/separation having half his time with his bio-dad).  Other than seeing some pretty ugly drama between the woman next door and her ex, things were pretty quiet.  Even the first time they threw a party, the gentleman next door came over to let us know there would be noise and cars, and I really appreciated that.

The second time they had a party, there was no friendly warming before the bouncy house was inflated.  There were drunk people sitting in our front yard, littering cigarette butts everywhere. There were kids in our driveway.  The man of the house (who I christen Pussy Whipped) blocked off the entire street with flashing lights so the dozens upon dozens of kids could run around screaming.  Their house is at the end of the street next to an empty cul-de-sac and giant field, yet they HAD to play cornhole right at the edge of our property, resulting in people all over our yard.  Not cool.

In the spirit of neighborly love, we let it go.  When one of their children was standing in our driveway, shooting darts at cars, we let it go.  When they lost their baby in our yard because the lady of the house (who I’ve named HorseFace) was too busy Facebooking on her phone, we let it go.  When their new puppy continuously got loose and came scratching at our back door, we let it go.  When their child started picking on my kid and stole his toy, we let it go.  When HorseFace confronted me about “kicking her kid out” of my yard, asking me if she did something to offend me, I let it go.  I didn’t want to let it go, seeing as how her stupid kid was standing in the middle of my yard to play catch and upsetting my dog, not just retrieving a ball like she said he was, but I did.

Things got to be too much when HorseFace and Pussy Whipped suddenly decided that having a dog was too much work.  They began chaining the puppy outside around 6:30am and leaving her outside for most of the day.  The puppy would be outside in the pitch dark and cold until nearly 10pm, barking nonstop while my kid tries to sleep.  On the weekends, we would be woken up early by the barking.  Just like the postal service, that puppy would be outside in rain or shine.  Alone.  A couple weeks ago, they moved the puppy’s chain so she’d be further away from the back door (which also meant she would be in two yards that didn’t belong to her)  After hearing the poor dog bark to be let inside for NINETY MINUTES STRAIGHT IN 50 DEGREE WEATHER AND POURING RAIN, I contacted animal services so they could do a wellness check.  I don’t care who you are or what you have going on, there is no excuse for neglecting your dog.  And that is exactly what leaving your dog out in the rain while you’re comfy inside would be called.  Neglect.

Yesterday, we saw a message on NextDoor, a community message board for my neighborhood.  It was titled “Friendly Neighbors” and read:  “Don’t we all feel like if a neighbor has an issue with a pet in the neighborhood that for whatever reason is bothering someone as a community they should be an adult and go and talk to the other neighbor before they call animal management for instance?  Just really annoyed that we have neighbors make complaints on a puppy for barking but they have a dog as well that barks as well!”  HorseFace’s strong suit is not the English language.  Or punctuation.  Now, I do agree that talking to a neighbor should be the way to go if it’s an issue of noise.  This was not.  This was an issue of neglect.  A puppy needs attention and direction, not a chain and alone time for hours upon hours.  I would never call animal management out of spite.  I called because that dog needed help.  As far as MY dog barking, of course my dog barks!  Every time their puppy comes by our door, my dog barks.  What my dog does not do is get left outside unsupervised to bark his head off until someone gives a damn.  Idiot.

An awesome person on NextDoor replied to HorseFace saying:  “If a dog is barking that much, that means that it wants attention and the owner is not taking responsibility for it.  Yes, no owner is perfect, my dog barks too, but when a dog is left outside barking non-stop, that means the owner is being ignorant.  People also have to remember to be responsible pet owners.”  This is my new favorite neighbor.  HorseFace replied:  “Well barking was not the complaint and she only barks when she is wanting back in.  We pay plenty of attention to her as well as play with her.  The people even make it a point to park across the sidewalk so my kids can’t ride their toys in front of their house so I don’t believe there is a true issue except they are simply being childish.”  At this point, we are enraged.  I park my car at the end of my driveway not to spite her kids (honestly, who they hell accuses someone of doing that??) but to stop cars from turning around in my driveway.  The cul-de-sac is not paved, so people use my driveway, resulting in headlights shining through our windows at all hours and people leaving skid marks everywhere.  We had drunk people leave tire tracks all over our drive as they peeled out after a party, and we had a motorcycle do donuts in the street and our drive, marking it up.  That aside, HorseFace (and half my street) parks in the exact same fashion, completely blocking the sidewalk.

My husband has had it at this point, so he says we need to go over there and talk to them face to face (I recorded this conversation so they couldn’t try and spin it later).  As he rings the doorbell, HorseFace says “it’s them, I know it’s them” before opening the door.  My husband greets them calmly and asks if there is anything we need to talk about.  HorseFace says “I don’t know, you guys seem all of a sudden, don’t seem to wave, don’t seem to care, we have a complaint on the dog, you’re our only neighbor.”  Pussy Whipped is standing behind her, holding their baby.  My husband let them know that of course we filed a complaint on the dog because she was out in the rain for an hour and a half.  HorseFace says BULL!  My husband says it’s definitely not bull, as we live right next door and can see/hear everything.  At this point, they’re talking over each other, HorseFace saying we should have come and talked to them, my husband saying it’s not his job to convince people to be good pet owners.  Pussy Whipped and HorseFace both then tell us to go right ahead and call the police/animal control/etc.  So I guess now it’s okay to call?  It’s hard to keep track.

My husband says “if you have something to say, don’t go online and say it.”  Pussy Whipped then says “I tell you what, get your fucking car out of the way, how ‘bout that?”  Cute how he grew a pair while not noticing that his car is blocking the sidewalk as we speak.  Pussy Whipped then accuses us of blocking the sideway to keep kids away.  My husband explains it’s because our driveway is the go-to for cars to turn around in because they don’t want to use the pile of rocks that is our temporary cul-de-sac.  HorseFace starts complaining about her kids having to go out in the street, seeming to forget the countless times her kids are playing in the middle of the road, ignoring cars that come through, while unsupervised.  Pussy Whipped brings the topic back to our dog barking, where I step in and say the reason he barks is because they moved their dog’s chain so that the puppy can come into our yard.  Pussy Whipped then says he can’t go outside without my dog sounding like he’s going to tear through the wall and attack him.  For those of you who have seen my dog, do you see him capable of breaking through the walls of our house and attacking our retarded neighbor?  No?  Me either.

HorseFace continues to deny that their puppy was outside in the rain for so long, or that they neglect her at all.  I need to stress that this puppy is continuously left outside along in godawful weather and/or in the dark.  Not once have we ever seen this dog be taken for a walk; she’s just thrown in the backyard.  I guess to their credit, they do have a dog bowl sitting out there for her, which is helpful when she’s left alone for hours on end, barking her little head off.  HorseFace THEN says that animal management never even came out, which is strange considering her post about animal management coming out.  At this point, my husband gives up and we walk away while HorseFace yells out the door about how childish we are.  Pussy Whipped comes out of the house now; my husband is on the other side of our driveway and I am barely in my own yard at this point.  She’s still yelling at us, so I lose it a bit and call her out on having drunk idiots in my yard and driveway.  She yells back about me being mean to her poor little angel boy (because saying verbatim “hey, can you please get out of my yard, you’re upsetting my dog” is PURE EVIL).  The same boy who crushed another neighbors young tree while playing in their yard.

So NOW, Pussy Whipped says “we were here first, bitch.”  I start walking back to my house, saying “fucking asshole” as I turn around.  He THEN says “Yeah, do something!”  I point out that he is holding a baby while trying to antagonize me.  Idiot.  He yells “yeah, you’re so tough!” and accused me of starting shit.  While holding a baby, Pussy Whipped keeps trying to  get me to “do something.”  Me, not my husband; the guy wants to fight a chick.  As much as I want to punch this bald asshat square in the face, I go back inside my house instead so we can laugh at them in private.  Big shocker as well; for the rest of the day on Sunday, they let their puppy back in the house as soon as she started barking.  Weird how that works.

I don’t regret calling animal management for one second because the end result seems to be that now the puppy will be let back in when she barks instead of left outside for hours unattended.  With winter coming and the temperature dropping, I’m happy that she won’t be suffering.  I mean, her owners are idiots, but outside of that, she will be fine.  Now, I might have been more willing to go and speak to her about the puppy if her reaction to the whole kid in the yard thing had been more positive.  Not once did she acknowledge that the kid shouldn’t have been in someone else’s yard; her first reaction was to accuse me of having a problem with her family.  That isn’t what a rational adult does.

Since I’m not dealing with a rational adult, talking is pointless.  The three minutes we spent “talking” to them yesterday proved that even more.  There is no reasoning with HorseFace, a woman convinced her children are so charming, anyone would be honored to have them running around in their yard.  There is no reasoning with Pussy Whipped either, a man who hides behind his wife and child, threatens a woman, and thinks that being somewhere first means you own the entire block.  The air being let out of two of my tires this morning could be a weird coincidence, but I’m getting as much as possible on record now because people who use the “we were here first” argument are the same people petty enough to damage someone’s property.  I need a lawyer.  And a shotgun.  And a ten foot fence.

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29 More Years To Go…

Sometimes I wonder if I’m meant to live in a world with other people or if my true wish is to be on a small island with only a handful of others.  My husband and I moved into a house in order to get away from cramped apartment living.  We were tired of sharing a wall, tired of people blocking our driveway, tired of kids playing right outside our back door in the shared yard, and just tired of not having a space to call our own.  Last October, we said goodbye to our townhome and hello to our house.

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I should have expected to still run into issues, and I don’t know why I thought that all problems would vanish once the ink was dry and we had keys in hand.  We have a house full of dudes on one side of us; they have at least five vehicles, possibly six, and initially tried to make the front of OUR home their permanent parking space.  The house, at max, is a three bedroom unit.  Three bedrooms, five dudes, possibly one younger female, a few older females who come and go, and occasionally a kid or two.  One resident wears nothing but a tank top and sandals, and just about all of them act like it’s a frat house.  At least the keg is finally off the front porch.

Across the street, the frat house’s friends installed a urinal in their garage to accommodate their guests during parties.  A garage urinal, conveniently located next to the full size garage fridge and underneath the wall mounted garage flat screen.  Oddly enough, since the garage urinal was installed, they haven’t had a single drunken party.  The last was the Mayweather fight where the guests left tire marks all over our driveway as they hurried to turn their cars around and speed off home.

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On the other side of our home is a family with four kids, one of which belongs to the couple and three that belong to the wife/girlfriend only.  I had high hopes for them because the guy was really friendly towards my husband and the oldest son was friendly towards our kid.  Didn’t last long.  They had a party where they not only blocked off the street with flashing lights (because… they own the street?), but had drunk idiots sitting in our yard and leaving cigarette butts everywhere.  They not only lose track of their puppy in our yard, but lose their baby in it as well.  Their baby.  They have thrown balls into our house multiple times, the parents only directing them to stop AFTER we stick our heads outside.

The middle boy is the worst kind of kid and will stand in the middle of our backyard while playing catch.  After upsetting my dog (who I value more than anyone in my neighborhood), I told the middle kid “I need you to please get out of my yard, you’re making my dog upset.”  Nicer than I wanted to be since the adults were outside having a garage sale, but he moved after glaring at me a bit.  After this happens, the delusional mom approaches me and the first thing out of her mouth is “did we do something to offend you?”  Seriously, lady?  Your kid is standing in the middle of my yard playing catch.  Not on the edge, not popping in to retrieve a ball, but just standing there.  My dog is upset by this because it’s his yard.  I tell him to move, very nicely I might add, and this is your response?  It took all my self-control not to go off on this woman, who thinks her family and children are so charming, that others should feel honored to be in their presence.  Every time their dog gets loose while she plays on her phone, I wish terrible things on her.

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No one puts their dog on a leash, and we had three dogs run up on our (leashed) dog and scare him pretty good, so now he hates the site of any of those dogs.  Not that the owners care.  I hate to have to worry about my dog biting another dog while trying to defend me, then having animal control tell me that my dog is dangerous, all because some twat decided their precious pooch was too good for a leash.  I don’t want to see a dog get hit by a car due to careless owners.  Unfortunately for me, everyone else who feels the same way I do lives on another street.  My street is asshole heaven.

Maybe I’m being too picky, but we are investing serious cash into this house and really aren’t asking for much.  Don’t make the curb in front of our home into your permanent parking space.  Don’t tell your kids it’s okay to play in our yard.  Put your dog on a leash.  Don’t throw shit at our house.  Don’t leave trash in our yard.  Keep your drunk asshole friends off our property.  Don’t play cornhole on the sidewalk right in front of my house when you have room to do it elsewhere and stay out of my yard.  Understand that there are shared spaces around us that need to be respected, AND that private property should be respected even more.  If everyone quit acting like they were the only people in the entire world, got out of their bubble for a minute and thought of how their actions affect others, life would be much happier for us all.

Selling Stencils and Playing Doctor

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that Hobby Lobby will no longer be forced to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees due to their religious objections.  Specifically, Hobby Lobby’s case targeted birth control that they considered to be abortifacients that would cause a miscarriage or abortion in an already pregnant woman.  Plan B and Ella, both emergency contraceptives that simply prevent implantation and do NOT cause abortions, are being blocked.  Two IUDs are also being blocked due to the misinformation that they too cause abortions.  The internet has exploded with Hobby Lobby’s supporters and opponents attacking each other with spit and venom.  The decision has been called both a victory for religious freedom and an attack on the freedoms of us all.

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Hobby Lobby’s website, in response to the question “Is Hobby Lobby imposing the religious views of its owners on its employees,” states:

Of course not.  The Greens and their family businesses support the individual liberties of all their employees.  The very notion turns the facts and the law on its head.  In fact, it is the federal mandate that violates the deeply held religious beliefs of the Greens by forcing them to violate the law or violate their belief that life begins at conception – a choice no company should have to make.  And by threatening extensive fines, the mandate would place a substantial burden on the Greens’ practice of their faith under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That’s why a federal appeals court ruled in their favor. Meanwhile, Hobby Lobby offers coverage for 16 of 20 drugs and devices included in the mandate in its health plan, and the four objectionable drugs and devices are widely available and affordable, and employees are free to obtain them.

There is obviously no law that is forcing any business to offer health care coverage that would include abortions.  The four birth control methods in question do not cause abortions to occur and seriously toe the line on when life is actually created.  To the woman using them, the IUDs are no different from any other birth control method.  Plan B and Ella are fantastic options for couples who experience an emergency such as a broken condom, or even a woman who was sexually assaulted and wants to ensure that no child results from the involuntary union.  It’s unfair to say that any woman who has used any of the four methods in question has potentially received a number of abortions.  It’s incorrect to compare the two.  Preventing implantation and removing a fetus are two VERY different things.

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The biggest issue for me here is that the Supreme Court just allowed a company to make a health care decision for their employees.  Hobby Lobby is not directly handing money over to their employees per request for doctor visits and medications, but using United Healthcare (I believe) to provide coverage.  Their religious beliefs should not be allowed to have this long of a reach, and certainly should not be reaching into the health and well being of their employees.  The life begins at conception argument is a fine argument to make, but it’s not right for the religious standing of the people on top to affect the type of care that every single woman on the bottom will receive from their doctor at a reasonable or at no cost.

I’m worried about what this decision will mean for the future.  If a gay couple adopts and requests maternity leave, can that be denied due to religious objections to homosexuality?  Can an employer decide that no medications will be covered due to their religious belief that medicinal healing goes against their God’s will?  Those seem like ridiculous notions, but then again I thought that it was ridiculous for Hobby Lobby to object to those four “evil” forms of birth control.  And here we are.  God trumps law.  God trumps employee rights.  God trumps insurance companies, doctors, and individuals unable to start their own business and play nicely with the people they employ.  Maybe I’m off base here but in my opinion, if I’m not having an abortion on company time and/or on company property, it is none of my employers goddamn business what I choose to do and certainly not their right to control the quality of my health care.

Please weigh in!  Leave your thoughts, knowledge, opinions, and rants in the comments section.

 

Trick or Trunk or Treat or…

Halloween was close to magical for me as a kid and still remains one of my favorite days out of the year.  I remember roaming the streets on Long Island, trying to get to as many houses as possible, finally being big enough to switch out the cheap Halloween bag for a pillow case, and working out strategies with friends so we could hit more houses in less time.  I always loved going to haunted houses in the area, especially one that was in what used to be a two-story department store.  My elementary school in Connecticut would allow the 5th grade classrooms to convert to haunted rooms every year, and I remember loving the tours as a young student and feeling so amazing and important when it was my turn to scare the heck out of my younger peers.  My first year in college, I dressed as the Grim Reaper (face paint and all) and scared my dorm mates to death.  I love Halloween.

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I passed a church the other day that will be doing a Trunk or Treat event this coming Sunday.  Children will dress up and go from car to car in the parking lot collecting treats and showing off their costume.  This has been going on for a few years now in various places (mostly churches) and is meant to be a safe alternative to sending your children roaming around your neighborhood.  Other alternatives that seem to be gaining popularity are having a backyard scavenger hunt with neighborhood children, getting a pinata and having all the candy in one place, trick or treating at malls that host such events, or organizing games and other activities that feature candy but aren’t centered around collecting it.

These alternate activities seem to not only be in response to a danger associated with trick or treating, but with the “fact” that Halloween is a very religious holiday and that makes it not okay for everyone to celebrate it and not okay for it to be celebrated in any fashion in schools.  A Pennsylvania school principal stated that “some holidays, like Halloween, are viewed…as having religious overtones. The district must always be mindful of the sensitivity of all the members of the community with regard to holidays and celebrations of a religious, cultural or secular nature. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that school districts may not endorse, prefer, favor, promote or advance any religious beliefs.”

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I’ll spare you the copy and pasting from my Google searches on the origins of Halloween, as there are many details and many theories about whether or not it is okay for someone of Christian faith to celebrate this holiday.  I was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic and not once did anyone associated with my church tell myself or my family that Halloween was wrong in any way.  My son was baptized in a Methodist church and the preacher who performed the ceremony addressed the Halloween issue (in a different service of course) and specifically stated that Halloween is a fun time for children and we should leave it as simple as that.

For a child, Halloween is simply a fun time to dress like a superhero or scary monster and get free candy from people around your home.  It’s a time to watch frightening movies and tell spooky stories with friends.  It’s a time to go to haunted houses, be it the truly frightening ones for the brave or the tame lights-on set ups at children’s museums and the like.  I have never known a child to question whether or not to celebrate Halloween due to religious or moral reasons.  The handful of children I knew that weren’t into Halloween felt that way because they considered themselves too old for it or because their parents pushed them into feeling that the day was silly/childish/not worth their time.

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If your family is that serious about Halloween being against your religion, then keep your child home from school that day and plan an alternative for them.  Maybe go to the movies or have a family outing elsewhere while everyone else is trick or treating so your child(ren) don’t have to sit at home and watch everyone around them have a blast.  What needs to stop happening is uptight parents sticking their nose in EVERYTHING and ruining good times for their own children and everyone else’s.  What is the harm in having decorations in an elementary school or having the cafeteria serve up Halloween-inspired goodies?  What is the harm in picking a parent to walk with a group of kids around the neighborhood?

By taking Halloween out of schools and trick or treating out of neighborhoods, you take childhood away from children.  You aren’t allowing them to simply be kids and have fun.  They are going to be miserable enough when they reach adulthood and find out that you can’t dress like Darth Vader in the office because it’s creepy rather than cute and quirky.  It’s selfish to rush these kids along and take away enjoyable childhood experiences because you have your panties in a twist about cartoon witches being evil and unavoidable sugar rushes.  This “everyone is out to get me” attitude needs to go away.  Halloween has morphed into a frighteningly fun holiday that seeks to exclude no one.  Can we quit nit-picking and simply enjoy?

You Want Fries With That?

Today, thousands of fast food employees will be going on strike as part of the ongoing battle to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers around the country.  Employees of Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, and even some from Macy’s, Sears, and Dollar Tree are currently or about to walk off their jobs in protest of their low wages.  The minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour ($7.35 in some areas), with most fast food workers making somewhere between $8 and $9 an hour for their service.  When working at those wages, especially with part-time employment, it is quite a challenge to pay bills and care for a family.  They would like their wages to be raised to $15 an hour to properly compensate them for their work and to allow them to live comfortably.

The National Restaurant Association isn’t exactly showing support for these workers.  They say that only 5% of restaurant employees are making minimum wage, half of that 5% is comprised of teenagers, 7 our of 10 of the 5% are under 25, and most of the 5% works part-time.  These people seem to be working after school jobs or working to supplement the income they are earning elsewhere or that their spouse, partner, or parent earns.  Outside of that 5%, you have people like Shaniqua Davis of New York who has worked at McDonald’s (and is currently unemployed) and unable to care for her child and pay the bills with the part-time, low paying wages she received.  A friend of mine also showed me an article highlighting a young single woman with three kids who cannot make ends meet with her low wage.  Call me cold-hearted, but it’s difficult to sympathize with people who aren’t even trying, like unemployed Davis, or who make bad decisions and end up with three kids to support by the age of 24.  This is not proper justification to raise wages.

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Ronald Ehrenberg, a professor of industrial and labor relations and economics at Cornell University, says that “because of the difficulty of getting jobs in general…for people with relatively modest education levels, you have a lot of people working in these companies who are trying to support a family based upon their earnings alone.  That’s very, very difficult to do.”  He and others want it to be known that these jobs are not just help by high school students trying to save up for a car, but by people with families to support and real bills to pay.  These fast food and retail workers are tired of earning less than what they feel they are worth.  The strike today will be the largest so far and they hope that it will bring real change.  The few live interviews I’ve heard were from employees in management and lead positions in various fast food companies that feel they are being short-changed by multi-million/billion dollar corporations.  And I do have to agree; management positions in retail and fast food are stressful, busy, and don’t provide proper compensation for the work that is done.

My first job was at Chick Fil-A making $5.15 an hour with an eventual raise to $5.35.  I worked that job during my junior year of high school, switching to retail for $6 an hour during my senior year and during breaks at college.  Eventually I moved to Shoe Carnival, making $7.25 an hour and moving to $8.50 while supporting myself, paying for my apartment and car, and taking care of all my bills.  It was a challenge to make so little and still take care of myself, but I did it and always tried to do better.  In all my jobs, low paying or otherwise, I took great care to be the best that I could be.  It is what allowed me to upgrade every time I switched jobs and what allowed me to advance in companies while still there.  At no point did I ever think that a minimum wage fast food or retail job was the best I could do.  At no point did I feel that they owed me anything more than what they were giving me.  Also, at no point did I take an offer for management because the wages were too low and I knew I could do better.  Knowingly going into management when you know the wages are too low isn’t the fault of the company, it’s a decision you make on your own.

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I understand and sympathize with the workers who aren’t making enough and who are struggling to pay their bills and survive.  I’ve been there myself, making so little that I had to resort to doing things that were definitely beneath me to make due.  I know how hard it can be and I’ve made it a point to never be in that position again.  I’m just not so sure I support the idea of starting fry cooks and cashiers at $15 an hour.  I come across people on almost a daily basis who do not do their job well enough to justify that amount of money.  Yes, I do think that they should be compensated better, but I don’t agree that the minimum should be set so high.  Now, if a system is proposed that allows employees to work up to that rate in a timely matter by advancing, doing more work, and taking on more responsibilities, I’ll be behind it 100%.  Start at $8 per hour and step up your pay by learning more, doing more, and educating yourself.  Ensure your employer knows your value so you’ll have a fantastic reference for a new job that you probably should start applying for.

Another friend of mine sent me an article that said President Obama’s plan to increase minimum wage to $9 an hour was still a far cry from what workers really deserve according to a study done in 2012 by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.  It says that “the minimum wage should have reached $21.72 an hour in 2012 if it kept up with increases in worker productivity.  While advancements in technology have increased the amount of goods and services that can be produced in a set amount of time, wages have remained relatively flat.  Even if the minimum wage kept up with inflation since it peaked in real value in the late 1960s, low-wage workers should be earning a minimum of $10.52 an hour.”

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It should be obvious to everyone that our current minimum wage is embarrassingly low.  A bump to $9, as the President has proposed, would be a great start in helping these low paid employees and hopefully also reducing the amount of people receiving government assistance in order to get by.  As far as the strike goes, I highly doubt that any employees of any company will get the results they are hoping for.  They are expecting a miracle.  By walking out of their jobs, they likely assume that the companies will see their value and up their compensation.  But these companies will probably replace unhappy employees with eager new hires faster than they will bump the current employee wages up to $15 an hour.  That amount is absurd and shouldn’t be considered, especially not for entry-level unskilled workers who drop frozen food in a deep fryer for a few hours a day.

The girl at Hardees who spoke in a fake British accent while taking my order doesn’t deserve $15 an hour.  Neither does the cranky cashier at Wal-Mart who shot me a dirty look when I said hello, or the guy at Burger King who screwed up my order, or the woman at Long John Silvers who shorted me $7 worth of food.  If you half ass your job, you deserve half of $15.  Unskilled labor done poorly does not deserve a higher wage.  As far as the rest of the employees go, the ones who take pride in their job and work to the best of their ability day in and day out, the ones who move up in the company and are working to give themselves a better future, they do deserve more and they should get it.  I hope that these people are able to find some success in raising their wages since they have the work ethic to back up a justification for higher pay.  That said, I’m not going to hold my breath for any kind of drastic change in our future.

Eight Is Great

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My little boy turned eight years old yesterday!!  Like most parents, I am sitting here wondering where the time went.  It seems like only yesterday he was waking me up every two hours needing to be fed and changed.  Taking his first steps, saying his first words, and finding new ways to surprise me each and every day.  Since his birthday was on a Monday this year, we worked to make sure he had a fun weekend beforehand, filled with games and outings and anything else his heart desired.  Monday was all about the presents!

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My boy is a very curious and intelligent kid.  He’s always asking questions and always wanting to take the extra step to figure something out.  He’s very creative and never ceases to amaze me with the things he can come up with.  He’s also shaping up to be a very skilled writer, earning himself the title of Author Of The Month every year of his still short elementary school career.

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Like any kid, he is big into lots of toys and lots of sweets.  I think we definitely delivered on both.  He had a giant pile of presents, a brownie sundae at dinner, and a yummy chocolate cake.  Since he was way too excited for cake yesterday, I put some with his lunch today so he’ll have a nice chocolately surprise with his lunch today at school.  No doubt he’ll also be bragging to his friends about his day yesterday.

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Buying gifts for him now as an eight year old presents a little more of a challenge than it did in the years past.  He is very particular about his likes and dislikes.  He’s also (thankfully) polite enough to hide it when he’s not so impressed with a gift he gets.  No kid gets thrilled about a pack of underwear, but you couldn’t tell by his reaction when he opened that gift from his grandma.  Then again, it’s a bit hard not to get a little happy about superhero boxers.

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He is big into wrestling and constantly tosses around the idea of being a WWE Superstar when he’s older.  There’s no telling whether or not he’ll actually pursue that when he’s older, but I love how into it he is right now.  My hope is that he behaves well enough during the first half of the school year so I can get him into wrestling during the winter in his school.

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He is also a big fan of Legos, but who isn’t?  He’s become very skilled at following the instructions to quickly build various creations, and then taking it all apart to build his own from scratch.  Legos were a huge part of my childhood and it’s fun to see my boy having fun with them as well.  Just as long as he cleans up so they don’t end up lodged in the bottom of my foot late at night.

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He has become picky as well about the clothes he wears, the way his hair is styled, and about his overall appearance.  We try to be very lenient and allow him to pick and choose what he’ll wear and how his hair is cut.  He had a mohawk all summer that he just adored and currently has plans to grow his hair out so he can have “crooked hair” like he saw in a magazine at Sports Clips a month back.  We’ll see how that one goes.

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The gift he was most excited about was a Nintendo DS.  He has been wanting this thing for a couple of years now, but hasn’t managed to act responsible enough to get it until this year.  We were incredibly happy to finally get it for him.  His reaction was priceless!  Very grateful for Gamestop; we were able to get eight games for under $60 to get him started.

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Overall, I think he had a fantastic few days to celebrate his birthday.  He was up before I was this morning playing with the DS, so I think it’s safe to say that he loves the thing.  Our little boy is growing up and I love that kid to pieces.  Here’s hoping year eight is just as great as the previous seven.

Dear “Mom”

To my “mother,”

Since you apparently come here to read my words and frequently visit my Twitter page (in spite of your claim of not caring one way or the other about me), I figured it would be appropriate to write you a letter.  And no, it’s not slander as you say.  I’m not writing for a newspaper or a magazine.  I write for myself and welcome anyone who wants to take time to read it.  This is an editorial, if it is anything at all.  I don’t give out your personal information, I don’t post your email address so that people can harass you, and I don’t harass you myself.  If you choose to be here, it’s not my problem if you don’t like what you see.

It amazes me that someone who doesn’t care, as you say you do, is willing to spend so much time obsessing over me.  Do you know what I say to people I don’t care about and who I don’t want in my life?  Nothing.  Jack shit.  Unlike you, I don’t go out of my way to contact people who mean nothing to me.  Your hateful email was not only filled with poor grammar, but it was filled with emotion.  YOU can’t let ME go, not the other way around.  You hate that I’m doing so well.  You hate that I’m raising an amazing kid without your help.  You hate that I’m flourishing and growing.  You hate that I’m not an overweight slob like you were at 32.  You hate that I’m not 100% dependent on a man for my survival like you are.  You hate that I still matter to you, so you seek to bring me down so I’m just as miserable as you are.

You can consider me your godless whore of a child if you wish.  Funny, because I’m fairly sure that as a Christian, you are meant to have the belief that only God can judge.  You have no business damning me to hell as you do.  How well do you think you’ll be judged at the pearly gates for the way you treat me?  Where in the Bible does it say that it’s acceptable to throw stones at your own child?  Your faith is so twisted and perverted that it can hardly be called faith at all.  Luke 6:37 states “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  For someone who claims to be so religious, you sure as hell have no clue what you’re talking about.  Maybe you should read the Bible a tad more closely before you think about writing me another letter.

You have treated me like garbage for as long as I can remember.  You love to project this image of being a loving mother and devoted wife, but we both know the truth.  I can remember being three years old and having you yank my hair back and tell me “this is all your fault” after you got into a verbal altercation with my father.  I remember you slamming a door in my face, causing one of my teeth to fall out.  I remember all the things you try to deny and have probably forgotten about.  You never wanted me as your daughter, and that’s fine.  Pushing someone out of your body does not make someone a mother.  You didn’t become a mother until you had your son, your shining star.  You made it obvious that he was the golden child and I was a mistake.  And no, I’m not bitter.  I am lucky enough to have a mother in my life now who loves me to pieces.  My mother-in-law is a saint and I am endlessly thankful to have her.  She has shown me what a mother truly is.

Your threat to me to share all my dirty secrets with the world is such a silly threat.  Feel free to lie away.  Try and convince the world that I am a terrible person.  Open the closet and let all the skeletons out.  I don’t care.  If anyone wants to believe the words from a bitter old woman, let them.  I know the truth and deep down, so do you.  Anyone who chooses to believe your bullshit is clearly as unstable as you are, and therefore their opinion does not and will not matter to me.  If telling people how awful I am cures your loneliness for a moment, have at it.  If sharing stories about what a mess you think I am makes you feel better about yourself, go for it.  The only people who will buy into your crap are people who are just as damaged as you are.

My son is finally old enough to see what lies underneath your mask.  When he returned from his summer visit, one of the first things he said to me was how mean you are.  Without me even bringing you up, he told me how little he enjoys being around you.  He expressed his desire to never see you again and to only see my father.  He doesn’t understand why you speak so cruelly about me.  And no, before you throw another accusation at me, I do not tell him what I really think of you.  I have no desire to put my child in the middle of a petty battle.  YOU have put him there.  You carelessly threw my child in an uncomfortable place and now I have to try to pick up the pieces and make him understand that everything is okay.  Your spiteful attitude is affecting my child, and I’ll be damned if I let that continue.

Corinthians 13:4-7 states “Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous; is not proud; is not conceited; does not act foolishly; is not selfish; is not easily provoked to anger; keeps no record of wrongs; takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”  I’m sure as an avid reader of the Bible and a good Christian, you’re familiar with those verses.  (Yes, that is laced with sarcasm)  You don’t know what love is.  You have perverted and twisted the meaning of love to fit your warped view on the world.  You don’t love my son, you see him as a tool in your arsenal.  You use him to try to hurt me, just as you use everyone else in your life.  On the positive side though, knowing that you don’t have the faintest idea what love is makes me feel a hell of a lot better about the fact that you never loved your own child.  Monsters aren’t capable of such deep emotion.

I don’t hate you.  I nothing you.  The only reason you ever enter my mind is because my son has the unfortunate luck to be stuck with you a few times a year.  If not for that, you would never be so much as a whisper on my lips.  You are damn lucky that you married such a wonderful and understanding man, otherwise you would be doomed to die alone in an empty room with no one around to mourn the loss.  I have tried so many times to repair our relationship until I finally realized that there is no point in reasoning with a soulless person.  I will wake up tomorrow and the next day with a clear conscience.  You are the one who has to wake up and fight against the weight of the terrible things you have said and done.  Good luck with that.

I Hate Everyone

If you’re somewhat of a regular visitor here or on my Twitter page, you know of my crazy obsession with all things Gordon Ramsay.  Hell’s Kitchen just recently wrapped, so now my sole Ramsay fix is in the form of Masterchef.  Last night’s episode cut the contestants down to six in what was definitely an emotional and somewhat surprising episode.  As with many reality shows, Masterchef gives us heroes, villains, underdogs, and all kinds of real and manufactured drama.  Reality can sometimes be boring in the minds of producers, so they generally are always very careful in their editing choices and storytelling so that the audience remains hooked and continues to watch the entire season.

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Natasha Crnjac was the go-to villain when Masterchef kicked off.  The self-proclaimed beautiful and talented home cook was easy to despise with her bad attitude and her lack of compassion for others.  But lately, Natasha has shown a softer side, not giving the producers much “evil” to work with other than the occasional eye roll.  Somewhere along the line, she has become a bit humble.  We are now seeing that she is in fact making friends in the competition, even though that was probably not her intention when things began.  She definitely isn’t my favorite, but it’s nice to see another side of her.

Taking her place as the resident bad guy has been Krissi Biasiello.  She frequently claims to hate her fellow contestants and always seems to be in a foul mood.  Outside of Masterchef, Krissi has been accused of making a racist joke about rape and using the n-word on her personal Twitter page (it has since been deleted).  Doing a Google search for information on her will give you as many results related to her racist remarks as it will about her time on Masterchef.  On a recent episode, she expressed her hate point blank for fellow contestant Bri, who is a sweetheart.  Obviously there was no fancy editing there, but former contestant Ben Starr does offer up some background information on his blog showing that Krissi and Bri are in fact friends.

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For those who don’t read Starr’s blog to gain insight or who don’t do any of their own research, Krissi is nothing but a bitter, loud-mouthed ball of hate.  It’s nearly all we see of her on Masterchef, at least until last night.  The first challenge the home cooks faced was to cook a meal to honor their families.  To give the contestants some inspiration, family members were brought in and briefly reunited with each cook.  Each cook except for Krissi.  Her son was “unable to make it” for a reason that went unstated and Krissi was left alone with only a recorded message from her son to inspire her.  It would be a gross understatement to say that she was visibly shaken and incredibly upset.

Had it been me on that competition, watching my fellow contestants hug their children and parents and spouses, then seeing that not a single person was there for me, I would be a wreck.  I’m quite an emotional person and I enjoy physical contact and a lot of communication.  These contestants are denied both of these luxuries, unable to see or speak with their family and friends.  They are isolated, so a visit from family has got to put them over the moon.  Seeing Krissi’s face once she realized that she would have to go without a visit was pretty damn heartbreaking.

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I don’t agree with the nonsense that Krissi briefly posted on her Twitter page and I don’t enjoy her “I hate everyone” attitude toward her fellow contestants.  I think she needs to settle the hell down and stop being so hateful towards others; even if the hate isn’t genuine, the words are real and they are unnecessary.  That said, you have to be heartless not to feel for her after last night’s episode.  It’s clear that her son is her life, and clear from the audition that her son considers his mom to be his whole world.  She didn’t deserve the pain of being alone while everyone around her celebrated a few moments of joy and happiness.

If there is something positive for Krissi to take from last night’s episode, it’s that the unfortunate turn of events was key in showing the audience that Krissi is human and not just some hate-filled monster.  She is a loving mother of a sweet little boy who loves him dearly.  She is in this competition not just for herself, but for him.  She also has the unfortunate luck to have cameras following her every move and loving it when she says something cruel that makes for a great sound byte.  I don’t know a single person out there who hasn’t said they hated someone else in a moment of stress or anger.  Putting yourself in her place, in a stressful competition away from everyone she loves, can you really fault her for letting her emotions get the best of her sometimes?

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Krissi, like Natasha, is not one of my favorites in this season of Masterchef, but I am beginning to view them both as more than what the producers want me to see them as.  They are both perfectly normal people who were thrust into the limelight and who have no idea how to act in front of a camera.  They aren’t 100% sure on how to censor themselves or how to behave.  They surely forget at times that a camera is on them and recording every little thing.  Through editing choices, they are being molded into characters that don’t necessarily represent the people they truly are.  We don’t know them and it’s unfair to pass judgment and go so far as to harass them on social media over what we see in an hour or two of reality programming.

With former contestant Josh Marks facing heat over felony charges and subsequently catching crap from people on social media sites, the danger of judging a book by its heavily edited cover should be clear.  The fact that reality shows mostly consist of people who are no different from the rest of us needs to be crystal clear.  It’s fine to have opinions and to express those to your friends, but it’s a whole other thing to be making harsh judgments and reaching out to these people in a malicious way.  Understand that these people do have a softer side to them, one that we can relate to and sympathize with, as we saw last night with Krissi.  Understand that the magic of television can do wonders to a person’s demeanor and that the stresses of the camera can bring out things that are very uncharacteristic.  Cut them a little slack and don’t become that horrible kind of person that attacks someone on their Facebook page over a random remark they made on an episode.

We Don’t Like Your View

I don’t watch The View on ABC, but it’s hard to avoid hearing about the show now that Jenny McCarthy has been named as the person to replace Elisabeth Hasselbeck as co-host.  I personally have always liked McCarthy; she’s funny and sexy and always quick on her feet.  I’m not an avid fan that follows her every move, but I usually enjoy her when I see her on TV or in movies.  Unfortunately for her, The View’s audience and various analysts hardly feels the same way.  Michael Specter of the New Yorker stated that “executives at ABC should be ashamed of themselves for offering McCarthy a regular platform on which she can peddle denialism and fear to the parents of young children who may have legitimate questions about vaccine safety.”

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McCarthy is vocally opposed to child vaccinations, stating that her 11-year-old son’s autism was a direct cause of the vaccinations he received in his early years.  Dr. Shilpi Agarwal, M. D. stated that “Jenny has used her celebrity status to publicize medical claims that have not been proven by the literature. While it is understandable that she has her own views on immunizations given her child, she is going to be in front of impressionable young mothers and influencing their decision on immunizations and child care. Multiple studies have shown that there is no link between childhood immunizations and autism, but she continues to publicize the grave ‘dangers’ of vaccinations.  While Jenny cannot deliver direct medical advice, she is definitely influencing many young mothers as to what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in terms of child care and immunizations.”

People are angry not only because they disagree with McCarthy’s views on vaccinations, but because she is, in their opinion, responsible for the deaths of young children who have parents who heeded her advice and steered clear of vaccinations.  There is even a website called JennyMcCarthyBodyCount.com where you can see the number of deaths and illnesses that were preventable but were a result of a lack of vaccinations.  These deaths as listed on this site are attributed to McCarthy and her advice and opinions on child vaccinations.  The site also shows a count of the number of autism diagnoses that are specifically linked to vaccinations:  0.

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Jenny McCarthy’s career started in 1993 when she began modeling for Playboy; she was Playmate Of The Year in ’94.  She co-hosted MTV’s Singled Out from 1995 – ’97, followed by her own program, The Jenny McCarthy Show.  She’s acted in Scary Movie, Scream 3, Two And A Half Men, and written two books about her pregnancy and her child.  She has worked as an activist on behalf of the autism-related organizations Talk About Curing Autism and Generation Rescue.  The important thing to note is that at no point did McCarthy dive into the medical field.  She is not a doctor.  She is not any kind of expert in anything related to vaccinations.  She is simply a mother with an autistic child who is desperately searching for answers.

I’m not defending anything McCarthy has said; I personally think it’s foolish to ignore the advice of doctors and not vaccinate your child.  But I find it ridiculous to blame her for the deaths of children.  If a parent is listening to a Playboy model and actress and taking medical advice from her as opposed to an expert, who is at fault?  There is a reason we go to the doctor when we are feeling sick and not to our local radio station to ask the DJs what they think we should do about our symptoms.  Being a public figure does not make someone an expert on everything life has to offer.  McCarthy does not have the proper qualifications to offer anything to us other than her opinion.

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The decision on whether or not to vaccinate your child is a very serious one.  There was never any doubt in my mind that my son needed (and still needs) his vaccinations.  I received mine with no adverse side effects and I’m grateful for it.  If I did feel that there was a danger in vaccinating my child, the last place I would turn to is a comedian who I used to see burp and fart on MTV.  It makes sense to look to McCarthy for ideas on fun activities for mommy and child.  It is foolish to look to McCarthy for advice on the heath and well-being of your child, especially when it comes to disease prevention.  It is also foolish to blame her for the illnesses and deaths of children across the country.

Celebrities are not special.  They are not role models and they are not experts.  They are not people we need to strive to emulate.  They are here to entertain us in various ways.  They make us laugh, cry, and occasionally inspire us in some way.  If you see McCarthy and decide to pursue a career in comedy or try to get yourself in Playboy, more power to you.  If you are amazed at the love she has for her son and vow to spend more time with your kids, that is awesome.  If you are getting medical advice from her, you are an idiot.

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It is inappropriate to blame McCarthy for illnesses and deaths and silly to boycott The View because she will join the cast.  Rather than attack her for her OPINION, why don’t we take a look at the parents who are choosing to ignore DOCTORS in favor of a COMEDIAN?  Why don’t we try to educate these lost souls and steer them in the right direction?  It’s amazing to me that people aren’t worried about the fact that these parents are so ignorant that they are taking advice from a Playboy model.  It’s just as bad as going to a Wal-Mart cashier for advice on your child’s health.  When it comes to your children, you go to expert sources.  If McCarthy pushes someone to do some research, that’s fine.  But to take her at her word and instantly decide that vaccinations cause autism is simply ignorant.

If you don’t like McCarthy’s opinions and don’t wish to listen to her, it’s easy to avoid doing so.  If you want to start some sort of movement to show that vaccinations and autism are not linked, go for it.  But it’s grossly unfair to blame this woman for illnesses and deaths and unfair to attack a network for putting a comedian and actress on a show that she is well suited for.  She’s not joining The View because the producers also agree that vaccinations are horrible. she was cast because she’s witty and can bring a lot to the table.  When I heard her opinion on vaccinations, my thought was “well, that’s stupid,” and I moved on with my day.  Everyone else needs to do the same.

Justice For None

It’s been near impossible to avoid hearing about the George Zimmerman trial.  A grown man who pursued a young teenager as part of what he determined was his duty as a member of the neighborhood watch.  A grown man who ended up killing this unarmed teenager.  A black teenager, which angered people even more, as they felt that the teen’s death was no doubt linked to his race.  The trial kept people on the edge of their seats up until the moment that the six person jury, all females, found Zimmerman not guilty of all charges.  Even the lesser charge of manslaughter did not stick, so Zimmerman is now a free man.

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I’ve heard many comparisons between this case and the Casey Anthony trial.  Two Florida cases where a presumed guilty killer got off scot-free and the family of the lost loved one is left feeling that justice was not served.  Some have compared it to the OJ Simpson trial as well; another case where a man who the general public viewed as guilty was allowed to walk free at the expense of lost lives and devastated family.  The only comparison I feel comfortable in making with the Zimmerman trial and any other trial is that the prosecution didn’t do their jobs to their fullest extent and didn’t provide the jury with enough ammunition for a verdict.

This opinion is coming from someone who did not follow every letter of the Zimmerman trial, mind you.  I read the updates in the news, I saw clips of the trial on TV, but I didn’t go above and beyond in obtaining information and immersing myself in the case.  The defense claimed that Martin “viciously attacked” Zimmerman, which caused him to shoot in self-defense.  Prosecutors claimed that Zimmerman profiled the teenager as a criminal, pursued him, and shot him because he wanted to.  Zimmerman did call the non-emergency police line and stated that he was following Martin, and the defense states that there was no suggestion from police that Zimmerman stop the pursuit.  One juror has come out to say that Zimmerman’s heart was in the right place and that things just went terribly wrong.

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Florida’s Stand Your Ground law allows someone to use deadly force if they are in fear for their life.  The confusion came from whether Martin was simply just walking home after buying some candy and afraid because a strange man was following him or if  Zimmerman was attacked by Martin and simply doing what he thought was his duty to protect the neighborhood.  There was no doubt that Zimmerman had injuries, but the question is did Zimmerman put himself in a bad situation by pursuing an unarmed teen and provoking an attack or was Zimmerman honestly in fear for himself and his neighborhood?

I personally cannot see how Zimmerman can say that he felt threatened.  If there is a suspicious person nearby, call the police and have them deal with it.  Keep an eye on the person from a distance and DO NOT FOLLOW THEM AROUND.  Martin wasn’t a large adult with weapons, he was a kid with candy.  Kids have big mouths, sure, but I have a hard time believing that Martin was a threat.  I have a hard time believing that the Stand Your Ground law was meant to allow people to pursue and antagonize others in order to provoke an altercation that would allow them to stand their ground and harm that person.  I firmly believe that Zimmerman got carried away with his neighborhood watch duties and the end result was a young life was needlessly lost.

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Legally though, my opinion (and yours) does not matter.  What matters is what the prosecution can prove and what the defense can counter with.  The prosecution did not do enough to show that Martin was innocent and that Zimmerman acted outside the bounds of the Stand Your Ground law.  They did not do enough to show that Martin was pursued for no reason other than having a suspicious appearance.  They failed to even prove that Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter.  Whether or not Zimmerman racially profiled Martin is not the issue here.  The issue is that the legal system failed because the people we trust to put guilty people behind bars aren’t living up to their responsibilities and aren’t working hard enough to prove their case.

We can be angry with the jury, but it will do no good.  We can hate Zimmerman and riot and protest, but it won’t fix anything.  We can cry racism until we’re blue in the face, but the only result will be tiring ourselves out.  Look at Casey Anthony for a minute; most people see her as guilty, but the prosecution couldn’t prove it and that is why she is free.  Don’t believe for a second that people on her jury didn’t believe 100% that she killed her daughter.  Don’t believe for a second that one or more jurors on the Zimmerman trial didn’t believe that he killed Martin out of spite, racism, or to be some sort of vigilante.  But belief and personal opinion is not what matters in a trial.  It’s what can be proved and disproved.

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Zimmerman is now said to need to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.  It’s made worse by the fact that he will be able to retrieve the gun used to kill Martin.  And while I fully believe that this man should suffer with what he did, I do not feel that it’s the public’s responsibility to make him suffer.  What is being fixed by going outside the justice system and harassing or harming a man who was cleared of guilt by the court?  I’m disgusted by the fact that Zimmerman is “not guilty,” but I’m also disgusted by the people who are now saying they’ll attack him on the streets if they see him.  How does that make you any better than him?  How is that helping?  We do not live in a society that accepts eye for an eye justice.  We have to be better than the people who anger us.

What I do hope is that Zimmerman suffers emotionally for what happened, learns from it, and that people learn from his experience.  I hope that Martin’s family is able to find peace and able to move on.  I hope that the focus shifts from racism and onto what seems to be a broken judicial system.  The fact that Zimmerman is a free man is a clear sign that there is a serious problem with the prosecution teams in Florida (and probably elsewhere) and that needs to be repaired.  We need prosecutors to do their job and make people accountable for their crimes.  If you’re riled up about this case, please put your focus in the proper place.  Focus on the people who can make a difference and who can keep something like this from happening again.

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