Monday, June 25, 2007
She was explaining to someone (presumably a girlfriend) why she went on a shorter vacation with her significant other than she had originally wanted because he did not want to go on an overnight trip on which they would have to share quarters. It seems he objected to them sleeping together. She expressed exasperation with people “passing moral judgment” and thought the whole thing was stupid. She’s forty-five, she explained, and he’s forty-nine. Of course that moral stuff is fine for someone who’s 18 or 20 or something, but they’re too old for that stuff, and why can’t people just leave them alone when they’re that age [“grown up”?].
Part of me really hopes he (whoever he is) dumps her very quickly and doesn’t let her bully him out of the very courageous and admirable personal stand he has taken. Part of me wants to lecture her: Don’t you ever dare start a “kids these days” complaint if that’s the example you knowingly set. If sex is a recreational right, and “grown ups” can’t be bothered with “kiddie stuff” like morality, you lose any right to throw your hands up in bewilderment when teen pregnancy and STD rates go through the roof and cohabitation becomes more common than marriage. It is not our generation that has caused a crisis of family; it is yours that set the example and we who are reaping the consequences. Believe it or not, we watch you to see what you really think is important, and you can’t expect us to take you seriously if you tell us something is for our own good but it doesn’t apply to you. Grrrr.
And then part of me is really sad for her. She’s bought the same bag of goods being pushed at women and girls from every Cosmo mag, soap, and billboard (not to mention most chic flics): If he doesn’t want something from you, there’s either something wrong with him, or with you. Permanence is something to fear. Feminism means taking what you want when you want it, because that is the only way we will be equal with men. Take the relationship for what it’s worth now, because it will probably be gone tomorrow anyway. And my favorite: It’s not a real, serious, grown-up relationship unless you’re sleeping together.
Come on, girls. We can do better than that. And yes, that is a moral judgment. Someone’s got to make them. Our elders certainly aren’t.
Since I have a public forum available, I’d like to indulge in the time-honored tradition of the consumer rant after a bad experience with a product or service. If those annoy you, please skip this post.
This particular rant is about air travel. Now, I realize airlines are popular targets of consumer rants, and I usually give them a break because (1) most people who travel by air do so because they have An Agenda and are already stressed out and feisty, (2) airlines are frequently at the mercy of elements beyond their control, such as weather or air traffic control, and (3) when you travel by air you have to expect a certain number of delays and mishaps a certain percentage of the time just as a matter of statistical probability.
However, I think the number of mishaps I’ve had with Northwest is starting to stretch my patience with statistics and make me suspect that Northwest might be a proper target for an accusation of incompetence. So here’s a sum of the last month of Northwest travel for me:
Dallas/Ft. Worth to
So where does that leave me? In the last three weeks I have flown 14 separate Northwest flights. Of those, 4 have been significantly delayed, 2 have been in place of cancelled flights. I tried to get on earlier flights 7 separate times only to be told they were overbooked, so I was frequently stuck in an airport for three to six hours waiting for a flight with a seat. So my significant delay rate was 2 in 7; cancellation rate was 1 in 7; and overbooking was 1 in 2 (though that number is statistically sketchy because I was sometimes trying for flights through other cities to try to get at least close to where I was going). Is that normal? Granted, the sample is not large enough to be considered representative, but conversations with other Northwest passengers (and employees) confirm that my experience is not unique or even unusual. What I found especially exacerbating is airline employees’ complete lack of help, particularly in
Classic example: when I went to the counter on the 5:30 flight to
I wish I could say that I’ll never fly Northwest again, but frankly, I’ve not heard much better news about other airlines, and right now I can’t really afford to be picky. So like the rest of flying
UPDATE: Hat tip to The Bard for this news article. Apparently it's not just me; the statistics really do point to the conclusion that Northwest is terribly mismanaged. According to the article, 12% of Northwest flights were cancelled yesterday, compared to 1.2% on other major airlines. That's not the weather, folks.
UPDATE UPDATE: Hat tip to Lincoln for
these articles from USAToday. Yesterday was the fourth day in a row Northwest has canceled over 10% of its flights.
Friday, June 15, 2007
When we got there the executive director Robin Steinberg (whom I had met at the Norman Amaker Public Interest Retreat in February) met us and showed us around the office. It is larger than I expected, especially given its unassuming store-front appearance from the outside. The design is open, with few walls, and low cubicle dividers. There are brightly-painted accent walls, artsy posters, and high ceilings. The waiting area has toys and books, and the receptionist frequently occupies children while their parents consult within. The cubicles are arranged in "teams." Each team has a few defense attorneys, a family law attorney, a case worker, etc. Clients are assigned to teams rather than individuals, so that their particular situation can be addressed holistically. Most people do not have a criminal defense problem; they have all kinds of interwoven problems.
Robin is energetic, and has the passion and sense of mission of an evangelist. She is proud of the fact that Bronx Defenders does not follow the usual model of legal aid, but she'd change it in an instant if she thought another model would benefit the community more. She takes her clients personally. I cannot imagine the emotional energy she must have to still be outraged each time one of her clients gets the short end of the stick.
So here's my crazy plan:
1. Work in legal aid, perhaps at the Bronx, for a while to get my hands dirty and learn where the unexpected difficulties are (not to mention how to handle the expected difficulties).
2. Start my own model somewhere else. I will need:
- Funding. While I was in PA, Ryan took me to the Hershey factory museum (cool place, btw). As we drove around Hershey, he pointed out all the evidences of non-profit money from the Hershey foundation being slung around the community. Federal non-profit law requires that foundations spend at least 5% of their money every year to keep their tax-exempt status. For Hershey, this is a LOT of money, and they hardly know what to do with it. They are almost driven to tearing things down just so they can spend money rebuilding them in the most expensive way possible. I wonder if I couldn't write a proposal inviting them to spend some of that money in a more constructive manner.
- Location. If I used Hershey money, it would need to stay in PA, preferably connected to the Hershey community or mission to make the project attractive to the funders. Hershey and the surrounding communities, however, are relatively well-off and may not really need legal aid. Probably I would need to go to Philly to find my clients. Robin confirmed that Philly would be a fantastic place for a legal aid clinic. There is currently a very traditional public defenders office, but little is being done in other areas of law, and the need there is great. How to pitch it to the good folks at Hershey? Hershey founded a boarding school for underprivileged, inner-city kids from Philly. The school is located in Hershey, but the kids' families are still in Philly. I can serve their families.
- People. I can't run a clinic by myself. I need lawyers, social workers, folks with heads for business and people. A clinic like this would need talent, vision, and dedication. And organization like crazy. So if you like adventure, helping people, and low pay, keep the idea in your mind and make sure your phone number stays in my files. One day I may call you.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
- I dislike the smells of honey and artificial watermelon flavor.
- I always request pumpkin pie at my birthday (even though it's in May).
- Every night before I go to bed I wash my face, take out my contacts, brush my teeth, and take a multi-vitamin, in that order. I can't sleep well otherwise.
- I usually watch intense or scary parts of movies with my eyes closed. This also applied to parts in TV shows that have foreboding music.
- I baby-talk to my cat, but never to babies.