Jul 142012

Good morning everyone, and Happy Saturday once again! Guess what happened yesterday. Go ahead, take a wild guess… IT RAINED! And what’s pretty cool too is while I was sitting in my car waiting for my next appointment, BOOM! Just ten feet away from me, a bolt of lightning struck a tree. That was pretty awesome to witness. And of course, Ron and I were texting each other, having a Queen moment about the experience:

We're having a Queen moment

We were having a Queen moment.

See, and people say we don’t have a witty sense of humor. Pfffft. And considering it was Friday the 13th, supposedly an unlucky day, I’d say we were very lucky, no blessed even, to get the rain we so badly needed. The apartment I was showing yesterday has a spectacular view of Humboldt Park, so in the listing, it features a view from the front window. Nice picture of course, but oh that grass looks so brown. I can’t wait to go over there today and take a new picture where it’s a whole lot greener, provided of course it’s sunny outside (gray outdoor pics don’t sell). It was amazing just in the fact in the four hours since it started raining, I could see the color change a little bit. Nature, you never cease to impress me.

So did it rain by you? If it did, how did it make you feel? I so badly wanted to dance in the streets, but since that wasn’t an option, I did the next best thing – I purposely drove through the pools of water along the side of the boulevard, going just fast enough to kick up some big splashes, but slow enough so as not to hydroplane. After all, it’s all fun and games until…

Well, yeah. There’s the opposite effect – the whole “too much of a good thing” deal. It rained so hard, after it had been so dry for so long, sewers were backing up all over the place. Ron said at his job, the sewers backed up and all that nasty water went right into the server closet. And of course, he was the one who had to mop it all up. Hopefully, the carpet extractor will be able to take care of some of it, but my gut is telling me it’s a lost cause. That’s the one thing about living here: We know when we get a hard rain, the sub pumps don’t work well. Our sewer system is extremely antiquated, many sections going back to the late 1800s-early 1900s, back when they redirected the Chicago River. And because of that, the river itself is consumed by raw sewage, up to 70% some say. It amazes me when I hear people purposely go kayaking in it. To me, it’s just a major ewwww factor – the thought of moon fish getting stuck to your paddle is just… gross! So when people freak out when they learn we dye the river emerald green for St. Patrick’s Day (non-toxic coloring is used), I tell them at least the river takes on a pleasant shade for a change.

I dunno, I love living here, always have, but yeah, there’s things that need to be changed. Even our “recycling system” is pretty shoddy. Here, if the house or building is four families or less, the city is in charge of your garbage. Any more units than that, and you have to hire a private service. That shouldn’t be a problem, except it is. Because while many neighborhoods finally have recycling bins, that’s a city thing, and it’s just one big bin that isn’t sorted in any kind of way. Landlords who pay for waste service are supposed to get blue bins, but that’s extra money, so they don’t do it. They pay for one or two dumpsters, and that’s that. No one’s going to argue with their landlords, because no one wants to get their leases denied for renewal. And, no one wants to push the city to enforce the rule, because that would require more inspectors, and no one wants their taxes to go even higher. Sure, the system we have now is better than the blue bag program they used to have, but it’s far from ideal.

So in situations like this, what would you do to change things? With the recycling, we get creative about it. We’re in a big courtyard building, so no blue bins for us. So, knowing the Sandford & Son guys drive around all the time looking for scrap metal, we save up our cans and set them next to the dumpster for them to take. They make a little extra money, they don’t dig through our dumpster and strew garbage all over the alley in the process, and we don’t fill up our neighbor’s blue bins with our stuff. We do that with clothes too. It saves us time from going to a donation place, and yes, they get taken by the very same people. And, because most of the tenants in our building are kids who move in and out rather frequently, we’re always finding awesome stuff they throw away. Our sofa, our recliner, the desk I’m typing on, and many other things we have, are throw-aways – good stuff you’d never know was discarded if I didn’t tell you.

And that’s just one thing. Other issues need more than just a little fun creativity to get resolved. Earlier this week, I received an email from Lance Corporal Nicole McCoy, with the subject title “Honorably discharged for rape?” Allow me to copy and paste her email:

Lori -

I served as a Lance Corporal in the Marines for over three years. During that time, I was raped twice and sexually assaulted twice more. It happened so often that I assumed it must be normal.

After I left the Marines, I learned that some studies estimate that more than half of all women who serve in the US military are raped during their service. But according to current military law, military rapists are not required to list their crimes on their discharge papers or to register as sex offenders.

I don’t think it’s right that convicted sex offenders get to wipe their records clean when they leave the military. That’s why I started a petition on Change.org demanding that the Department of Defense require convicted sex offenders to register on a national database, as well as disclose this information on their discharge papers — will you sign it?

Click here to add your name.

When I tried to find out why military sex offenders don’t have to disclose their crimes on their discharge papers, I was told it would take too long to create a national database, and even that the military is trying to “go green,” and it takes too much paper to add an extra checkbox to discharge papers.

The truth is that most military sex offenders never have to pay for their crimes. Studies say that only 14% of rapes in the military are reported, and only 8% result in a court martial. And those who do get convicted get to wipe their records clean as soon as they leave the military.

When I tried to report what happened to me, I was led through a maze of questions and excuses. It felt like no one wanted to hear what happened to me. Instead of getting justice, I was ostracized and humiliated. But I’m not going to stand by in silence anymore. I know that if enough people sign my petition, the Department of Defense will be forced to address this issue.

Click here to sign my petition demanding that the Department of Defense register soldiers convicted of sexual assault in military courts in a national database, as well as disclose this information on their discharge papers.

Thank you,

Lance Corporal Nicole McCoy

THIS is indeed an issue. Sure, some grassroots efforts can help to resolve this, by simply teaching our young men who enlist this is wrong, unacceptable and not at all honorable. Not through nagging, or guilt-tripping, or whatever – just through one-on-one advocacy and adding real faces to the problem. Sure, the new recruits and officers can sit through yet another boring/shocking PowerPoint presentation, not unlike the grainy reels we watched in driver’s ed or gym class. But do either of these efforts really get the message across? Apparently not – at least not to any quantifying degree. Do even signing petitions make a difference? I always question petitions, because somehow, they seem a bit like preaching to the choir. How would you change this? And, as a Pagan, do you feel more driven to change than how you perceive people of other faiths? I’d love to learn of your responses.

Well, that about does it for me today. I have a bunch of showings throughout the day today, and I’m working with, instead of against, the Mercury retrograde. My job is all about communication, and contracts, and travel, so yeah, it messes with me pretty badly. I’ll just double up on all of my regular paperwork, make backups, make those extra confirmation calls, pay extra attention to any weird noises coming from the car, and especially no splashing runoff puddles – even if I do enjoy the heck out that!

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