A Better Mouse Trap

Lessons from the Edge:

Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) juvenileWe have mice. They live behind/in our stove. Seems like it would be a nice place to live; warm, lots of insulation and easy access to a steady supply of food. I catch and release them.. and so far this year I have caught about 6 of the little cuties. My husband reminds me often that, “No, we cannot just build a habitat and keep them.” In my fantasy I put together a maze habitat with a tube with a one w
ay door from the stove through a box like space with stuffing and food and then more tubes leading around the kitchen. My inclination is to just embrace the presents of our mice and keep it managed in a way that makes us both happy. They get to keep living in a safe warm place, and I get to keep them off my counter tops and out of my cereal… seems like a win, win to me. However, I know that they carry insects, diseases etc.. and that it is not ok for us to share a kitchen.. so I catch and release.

As I was walking today to the park with our dog to release yet another little Stuart I thought about this as a parable. It occurred to me, that in general, there are always multiple outcomes for every opportunity. Finding the right solution, not only can look very different from what you initially imagined, the solution for today may not be the solution for a week/month/year from now. Also, hitting on the right resolution for today requires consideration of all parties and compassion for all the positions, it’s only then that every interested party carries similar responsibility and reward. In the case of my mouse: I have to catch and then walk them to the park, the mouse is taken to a foreign, cold place, my husband has to hear about yet another catch. In the end we all get something we want too; my counters stay clean, the mouse lives and my husband does not have to live with a colony of mice. Longterm this is a better, healthier solution than my049dfb37633f93e29cb609d29d6db6f1 imagined elaborate maze. Eventually, we may need to borrow the neighbors cat…

Oops  .. just caught another one..

Bottom Line: The best solutions are ones that include consideration of all the invested participants.

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Holiday Survival Guide – Chappy Style

I know that this can be a difficult time for people. Family histories are hard, feeling alone and end of the year stuff brings judgements and other negative feelings. I get my dose around New Year’s after all the fun of Christmas dies down and I am left with my thoughts, doubts and self flagellation.

Here are some things that may seem corny but help:

  1. Be Present. Leave the phone in the kitchen drawer and take a break from the Jones’s
  2. Wrap your loved ones in hugs
  3. Send peace in the form of cards and notes to everyone you know
  4. Donate food, clothes and anything you can afford, including time,  to those who’s holiday might be in jeopardy or thin
  5. Make sharing your love the priority not your disagreements
  6. Be your own light in every room

When the gloom sets in, recognize it for what it is and say hello for me. Know it will pass. Make yourself make a coffee date with a close friend (I’m free) and get out in the fresh air. I have been known to throw a party as a F’you to the gloom.. works sometimes. Try it.

Happy Solstice

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukah

Happy Kwanzaa

Happy Arba’een and Mawlid an-Nabī 

Boxing Day

St. Stephan’s Day  … etc & etc.

Sending you and yours love and light for the holidays and the New Year!

PS: I always say Happy Holidays because I am not so arrogant as to believe everyone else celebrates Quantum theory like I do  😉

 

 

 

 

 

Education, education, education ..

It’s the drum I beat in every political, civic or social discussion I have. It is so basic and so necessary that it seems too obvious to be the fix we are looking for. Fixing, improving and expanding our public school systems is no easy task. I understand, personally, I did my best with our local K-8 school and it was a snake pit obstacle course with head winds. There are vast competing interests, egos, philosophies and economies, the deck is very stacked against change. If we are going to close the divide in this country we have to dig in and start here.

I am not talking about test scores. That is a fools distraction and proves only that special interests are the winners. Real, enriched and in-depth education that promotes thinking and real problem solving for all our children is what I mean. This includes literacy, art, music, civics, global history, math – beyond just the rote numbers, the sciences and all in a safe place with well paid teachers. No small task. We have to get there. We have to invest in this or we will loose our country for good.

Let’s look to countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland who spend some of the most money on education as a percentage of their gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. These Scandinavian nations all ranked in the top third of Best Countries istock_000014186302mediumby Education, generally outperforming Asian nations. (Source) We can take what works and improve on the rest. These countries, not coincidentally, also rank among the top 10 places for quality of life for all it’s citizens.

The conspiracy lover in me thinks that the defunding methodically, over the last 20 years of public education and demonizing the educated has been a slow and deliberate plan to make the electorate ignorant, uniformed and susceptible to believing just about anything. It is much easier to rule an uneducated population. H.G. Wells was not wrong when he created the Eloi. All you need is to scare them enough and they will pretty much do whatever you tell them.

This election is a wake up call for all of us. Once the protesting and fervor dies down, I hope we will all get to the hard work of fixing what lead us here.

Read this article by Nate Silver: LINK

 

Changing Demographics

Thinking about the myriad of reasons America chose the hateful, narcissist for our leader, one thing stuck out to me this morning after reading this article in the New York Times: The Two America’s of 2016. I have been thinking about why it is that the urban population, on the whole, voted for our neighbors and in rural America they voted against them. Other than the compression of humanity, access to culture and the other elitist things they tell us is why, I was wondering, why really? … What is it about the experience of a rural American that is so different. There are many things I am sure, but the one that struck me this morning is, we here in the cites are used to having our neighborhoods change constantly and whole new populations come through about every 5-10 years. Our cultural landscape is in constant flux. Beacons of gentrification and the wave of white privilege that follows are often the least welcome.
My mother has lived in the same neighborhood since 1962. In that time there have been waves of new groups who have passed through. When she moved in, the neighborhood was was the Puerto Rican and Cuban neighborhood of West Side Story – That’s right we lived in Shark territory, with it’s coffee shops and bodega’s. Then more Spanish speaking neighbors joined them from South America, Dominican republic and beyond. I remember a Santeria card reader who would sit on the corner and give us candies. As the 70’s marched in a new wave of black working class families started to move in. People from Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad 5218635164_e2d1e7f71etoo. Music poured out on to the streets and ladies wore bright colored outfits. Following them in the 80’s were students of all colors, the first sign of gentrification. They were mostly from NYU and Juilliard; dancers, artists and musicians. The 90’s brought a wave of middle class professional gay families and the YUPIES. On their heels came the wealthy 1%. Now only the Saudi’s an afford an apartment in her neighborhood. The area has traveled through rich cultural influences, restaurants, boutiques, music, styles of hanging out on stoops to a white washed, sterile, amenities-less mall. White privilege is ugly, pretentious, cold and most of all brings NO practical necessities with it. With in a three block radius of my mothers house she has gone from having multiple bodega’s, groceries stores, hardware stores, and pharmacies to now there’s a Papyrus, Kate Spade and Sephora – Yay! The “ism” of the City is Classism .. we dread gentrification more than any population. Hillary’s “level the playing field” message especially resonates here.

port-jefferson-long-island-ny-main-street-business-section-ca-1920s-postcard-badc3e3cfa0e840b68ae2cf8bf9d3bfcBy contrast a close friend of our family lives in rural Long Island, on the outskirts of a small town well past the end of the 495.  When he bought his house in the early 70’s it was a dominantly Polish and Easter European town filled with people who he and his family had known probably for generations. There were black people sure, but they were segregated to their own part of town, and his world rarely if ever crossed theirs. The town had always been this way. Seasonally there would be migrant workers who would pass through, to help with the harvests of potatoes, sod and other agriculture, but they never stayed. Then it happened. These migrant workers started to stay. There was enough work available that they bought houses and started to live all over town. Their children started to go to the local schools and they were in line at the grocery stores. This wave happened to be dominantly Mexican and following them were small waves of other Spanish speaking peoples. Our friend was/is very unhappy about this. While he may not think of himself as a racist, he blames ALL of that areas troubles on these new neighbors. So, when Trump demonized this population, our friend could relate.

There are racists in cities too, don’t get me wrong. There are people who grumble about the changing nature of their neighborhoods. You hear, “This was such a nice place to live before the (fill in the blank) moved in.” The difference is that in cities the “fill in the blank” changes all the time.. it is in constant evolution. In the outer, rural areas everything moves slower, including cultural evolution. The rest of us will need to take notice of this and respect how disorientingly fast the world is moving for these people.

Compassion is what is going to get us through the next four years.

#TeamHumanity

Silence is Permission

“Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear. Making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet.” – Hillary Clinton’s concession speech full transcript: 2016 presidential election

http://www.vox.com/…/hillary-clinton-concession-speech-full…

Let’s please stop blaming the 3rd party candidates. They only made up about 3% of votes cast. One path to fixing the choices we get is to encourage third, fourth and fifth parties.

Here is some math from an angry Dyslexic:

Problem number 1 – There are 218,959,000 eligible voters in this great country. 146,311,000 of those are registered, so, 72,648,000 don’t care to participate in our democracy. Nearly 73Million people! ..Lazy? Disenfranchised?

Problem number 2 – In 2012, a year of huge turnout, 126,144,000 cast votes.. so the 20 Million difference who are registered just could not be bothered.

Problem three and why Hillary lost – Turnout this year? 124,344,129 (this is still evolving). That almost 18million (or 38Million if you count all registered voters) decided it wasn’t sexy enough an election to get their butts off the couch.

A non-vote is still a vote.. in this country if you believe in progressive ideals, you HAVE to vote. We win by turn out. No turn out = Conservative agenda. There are actually more of us than them, but it does not matter if you don’t show up.

#Silenceispermission

#TeamHumanity

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”

— Edmund Burke