I Have a Gripe

November 24, 2016

Make Thanksgiving a “Shop-Free” Zone

Filed under: Economy,General Annoyances,Values — alvb1227 @ 4:40 pm
Tags: , , ,

I always thought one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is that it had nothing to do with shopping. Other than food shopping and picking up a bouquet of mums for Mom, it was about family and friends, sharing a meal, watching football, and taking a nap. Many volunteer at shelters, serving meals to those who are not as fortunate or may be alone. It is a day to be thankful for what you have.

thanksgivingThen a few years ago, some executive genius decided that stores should be open on Thanksgiving. It wasn’t bad enough that the day after you were thankful for what you have in your life, people would do battle with thousands of others for a good deal on a television at the crack of dawn.

My guess is that they thought this would help boost sales when the economy wasn’t great (not that it is awesome now). I remember going to Kohl’s a week or so before Thanksgiving and asked an employee about opening on the holiday. She told me that they had to be in two hours prior to the store opening, so it completely killed her day. I felt really bad for her and the rest of the employees. I haven’t stepped in a Kohl’s since.

Now you have stores like Kmart that don’t even wait until the afternoon. They are open all day. Shameful.

I do not shop on Thanksgiving or black Friday. I encourage my readership to skip shopping on Thanksgiving. Instead, I encourage you to support stores that stay closed today so their employees can enjoy a holiday with their families.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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November 13, 2016

The “selling out” of the sisterhood

Filed under: News,Politics,Values — alvb1227 @ 7:59 pm
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I have been told I am the worst feminist ever. Guess what? I really don’t care. As the reaction to the presidential election continues, I saw an article that actually referred to Clinton losing as a “sell out” of the sisterhood.

Um, what? Seriously?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am not going to vote for someone just because of their gender or someone feels it is “about time” to have a woman as president. I am going to vote for someone based on who I feel will do a better job for this country and their interpretation of the Constitution.

Now, truth be told, I (like many) wasn’t really crazy for either of the candidates from the major parties.

I have posted about what I think feminism should be before and I know many disagree with me. And that’s OK. We are allowed to disagree with each other and still respect each other. I would like to share another example of why I often disagree with “the sisterhood.”

Last week I was in a conference room and was listening to a discussion between a few colleagues. I chose not to participate and just listened. They were talking about a very high-ranking executive and how inspiring she is. And yes, it is laudable she has achieved such success. Then the discussion turned slightly to “encouraging” girls to go into STEM careers, (don’t EVEN get me started on that one), and actively recruiting women for high ranking positions.

It took all my effort not to have what I refer to as a “gumball moment” (brain to the mouth like a gumball machine – absolutely no filter whatsoever). I just kept my mouth shut. I knew my opinions would not be appreciated.

First of all, I HATE STEM. As many of my regular readers know, the lack of the arts in school today has me over the top annoyed.

Yet, I digress.

If girls have an interest in something that happens to be a male-dominated field, such as a STEM field, then fine. If they don’t, that’s fine too. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have spent most of my career in male-dominated fields. First, in prepress and then in IT. Now, I didn’t expect special treatment because I was a woman. You know what I did? I worked. I proved I belonged there. When I worked in prepress, I was one of two women in a prepress role. The other women in the company included the secretary and two customer service reps. When I wanted to learn how to “strip” (film people, get your mind out of the gutter), I was told to “go back up by the computers where I belonged.” You know what I did? I took lunch times, after work, whenever possible, and showed I really wanted to learn. I eventually learned how to run a vertical camera, fix and maintain a film developer, and make bluelines. I showed them with my work ethic that I deserved a spot. I didn’t bitch about being a woman gave me a right or that they were being sexist.

I often tell another story about a man I worked with in the printing realm. He was not a fan of women in the industry and generally wasn’t quiet about it.Again, I just went about doing my job and increasing my knowledge. When a major problem took place he said I should be the one to go fix the problem. That I was the only one who knew what I was doing. That was probably the best compliment I ever received. I won this guy over. Not because I complained that I deserved his respect. I earned his respect.

That’s what I want. To earn someone’s respect. Not demand it because I am a woman. That includes demanding a particular job because there should be more women. All that is just crap.

Now I’m not naive enough to say there is no such thing as sexism. If someone doesn’t respect me just because I’m a woman, then that really isn’t a person I want to be around anyway. Throughout my career, I’ve experienced the “boy’s club” first hand. Yes, I’ve missed promotions and I’m sure it had to go with my gender. And yes, it made me angry. The way I looked at it, they didn’t deserve my respect. I continued to do my job to the best of my ability and ultimately, the joke was on them. They missed out on a great employee that could’ve provided even more of a contribution than the position I was in at the time.

So people ask me “well, what would you tell today’s young girls?” I would tell them the world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. You will come up against adversity in life and you will have to deal with it. Don’t cry sexism and demand respect. Earn it. Don’t feel obligated to go into a STEM career because you are being told to “break the glass ceiling” or some other nonsense. Believe in yourself. Rely on yourself. Know that you can take whatever is thrown at you. Be strong. And don’t feel you need to be what I call a “traditional feminist” because you always need to support “the sisterhood.” Being a feminist should be more than about supporting the sisterhood. It should be about not being afraid to go your own way. Even when it’s not popular with fellow femme fatales.

October 13, 2016

For the Love of Team

Every Wednesday night I watch Undeniable with Joe Buck. If you are not familiar, it is a great show. Sportscaster Joe Buck conducts a one-on-one interview each week with a well-known athlete. He has interviewed some great athletes. This week was one of my favorites – the great Lynn Swann.

I have always loved football. Watching teams like The Steelers of the 1970s and my beloved Niners of the 1980s hold great memories. At the time I didn’t realize it, but I was learning about a key skill for life – teamwork. A player started their career with a team and they stayed with that team until the day they walked off the field for the last time.

During the interview with Lynn Swann, he spoke about his love of team. How they sacrificed personal goals for the good of the team. When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, he spoke of his teammates and his coaches. When he spoke of teammate, John Stallworth, he said:

“This is, this is the single greatest honor in my life. The single greatest honor of my life. And, if this is the greatest hour of my life, then I would tell you at this moment, this is only a half-hour. It’ll be the greatest hour when I can stand and sit in that back row and John Stallworth is wearing a gold jacket making this speech.”

To me, this is team in the truest sense of the word. In his greatest moment, he still took the time to recognize someone on his team he felt was deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame. Stallworth was inducted the following year.

Today’s pro athletes? Not so much.

Today it is all about the contract. There is no loyalty to a team, a coach, or the fans. It is about who will pay the most. They focus on their own stats and a fancy end-zone celebration instead of what they can do for the success of the team.

Sometimes the owners aren’t much better. While the stadiums built for theses teams are more and more elaborate, the ticket prices go higher and higher. Most people can’t afford to take their kids to a game. As a result, the scene of a father and son going to a game to enjoy a Coke and a hot dog has been replaced by guys in suits heading out after work while eating sushi in premier boxes.

I believe in loyalty.

September 11, 2016

15 Years Ago… Gone but not Forgotten

Filed under: New Jersey,New York,Shanksville,Terrorism,Washington D.C. — alvb1227 @ 4:13 pm
Tags: ,

Here we are again, fifteen years later. I sit and listen to the names, the memories from family members, and the music. It seems like it gets harder every year. I didn’t know anyone personally who lost their lives on that terrible day, but I feel like we all lost someone on that day. I feel like all the people lost became part of all our families. I was lucky, the father of one of my best friends from high school, who I have called “Papa Kane” since I was a young teenager, came home that day. He was my first thought after I heard what was

9-11-morrisplains

The 9-11 Memorial in Morris Plains, NJ that remembers two of our Cahners colleagues and the sister of a Cahners colleague.

happening. My other thought was for my two colleagues who were on a plane to Cleveland for business. As soon as we found their flight information and made sure they were safe, I immediately drove to the elementary school where my Momma Kane taught to be with her. I tried to get her to leave and come to my mother’s house, but she wouldn’t budge.

 

As I watch those who read the names, I am struck by all the children. I think about the generation that is growing up now who either weren’t old event to remember, or weren’t even born yet. For those of us who do remember, we are now entrusted with an important task; to help those children understand what happened that day and share our experiences.

When I was in high school and learning about the Vietnam War, one of our teachers invited in two veterans that were former students of Belleville High School. They told us stories and their experiences. I was struck by how different they viewed their service. One was proud. The other, I could still feel his anger. That time became real to me, rather than just facts in a history book. Maybe that’s what teachers should do today. Not talk about the politics of the time, but what we all felt and went through. Help make it a real event for the next generation instead of just facts in their textbooks.

9-11-memorial

My visit to the 9-11 Memorial in February, 2016.

In February, I went to Ground Zero for the first time since shortly after that terrible day. My Momma and Pappa Kane brought me to Ground Zero after The Pile became The Hole, shortly after Pope John Paul II came to visit and pray. I had been there countless times before the attacks, but it was hard to orient myself and imagine where the streets were and where the buildings stood. I saw the tower lights up close. It was overwhelming. I am forever grateful that they brought me to that sacred place so I could pray for those who didn’t come home and be thankful that Pappa did come home. The sheer size of the space the Memorial was overwhelming. While it sits in the middle of the city that  never sleeps, it is quiet there. People spoke in hushed tones and were caring and respectful.

 

I wonder what will happen as time marches on. Will the names stop being read? Every December 7th, I think about Pearl Harbor, but that generation is quickly leaving this world. We remember as Americans, but do we really remember? Will 9-11 face the same fate? I pray not. I pray we always remember. Not just the events of the day, but the people we lost and the people who came home.

August 30, 2016

Freedom of Expression vs. Freedom from Consequences

“There’s a place in the world for the angry young man. With his working class ties and his radical plans. He refuses to bend he refuses to crawl. And he’s always at home with his back to the wall. And he’s proud of his scars and the battles he’s lost. And struggles and bleeds as he hangs on his cross. And likes to be known as the angry young man”
~ Billy Joel

So last week Colin Kaepernick turned a hose on the hornet’s nest by choosing to sit during the National Anthem before a pre-season game when the San Francisco 49ers took on the Green Bay Packers. His reason was to protest the treatment of minorities by police and other groups within the United States.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

I have been a fan of the Niners since childhood. I had a SERIOUS crush on Joe Montana. I thought it was terrible when Alex Smith was traded and Kaepernick took over as the first string quarterback. But, I went with it. I thought he was a good player, but I didn’t think it was right that Smith lost his job because he was injured.

Kaepernick’s decision has sparked commentary, debate, and anger from what seems like every side of the ongoing discussion about race in the United States today. Personally, I disagree with his decision to sit down. I feel it is disrespectful to all of the members of the military and their families that sacrifice for our freedom. I love my country and I can’t imagine not standing.

The NFL does not have a policy on making players stand during the National Anthem. I know of people who do not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance or the Anthem and while I disagree with their decision to do so, it is their right to not participate.

Everyone makes their own decisions. That’s what this country is all about. We need to be willing to tolerate decisions made by others, even when we don’t agree. It is when people refuse to listen to each other when we don’t agree that debate turns to hateful vitriol.

Now what?

So Kap stirred up debate across the country. He has everyone’s attention. Now what? I would hope he uses this attention to do something positive. Go into communities where you feel there are issues and start a dialogue. Listen to everyone. Respect flows both ways.

Here’s the rub…

Now here’s where things get rough. Exercising your freedom of expression can come with consequences. There are rumors that Kap may be released from the Niners. He hasn’t been performing well, but it is interesting that this rumor begins to circulate right after he refuses to stand for the National Anthem. The point to remember is that if you are going to go out on a limb you need to be ready for whatever comes your way. Some people will be supportive and understanding, while others will vocally disagree. Still others will reduce to name calling and other nonsense.

“I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage. I found that just surviving was a noble fight. I once believed in causes too. I had my pointless point of view. And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.”
~ Billy Joel

There have been times over the years where I opened my mouth in the name of what I felt was right. Sometimes the wind was with me and other times I got hit hard. I used to be a pretty serious hot head. Call it getting old (I prefer to call it “wisdom in age”), but maybe I am learning to approach things differently. I try to remember the old “honey vs. vinegar” line. I try to remind myself that I have not walked in someone’s shoes. Yes, I still get angry, but I try to stay calm and hear the other side before I spin like a top. When someone starts yelling, I stop listening, so I assume others will do the same. It doesn’t always work, but I try to remember that we are all works in progress.

August 7, 2016

Journalist vs. Commentator

This shouldn’t be semantics or money. People will read this, and they’ll believe us.
~Henry Hackett, The Paper

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. More specifically, I wanted to be a journalist. One of my favorite movies is The Paper and my favorite classes in college were my journalism and print production classes. I did well in those classes, and more importantly, I was good. I wrote for The Setonian, my college paper, and even elevated to News Editor at one point. I wrote some pieces that made me very proud. There was a racially-charged fight on campus that I covered. I did some stupid things, like go to a guy’s dorm room alone to get his side of the story. I went (well, I tried) to a BSU meeting to get a comment. They asked me to leave, but I got the story. I wound up getting threats and was assigned an escort to go to classes for awhile. I pissed everyone off. I knew I was covering the story right when I got hit from both sides. It was a rush. Too bad Hurricane Irene flooded my basement and all my clips went in the dumpster.

Layout nights weren’t always a lot of fun (yes, old school layout, like running galleys through waxers and making box corners with 2pt rule and a blade). They were especially painful when layout would last until 3:00 a.m., my news writing class was at 8:00 a.m. and I was allowed zero excuses to miss. I still loved it and learned a lot. I could read upside down and backwards so I could understand how typesetting progressed. I memorized the AP Stylebook (I still have my original spiral bound copy) and to this day when I read a news story or hear a reporter on television, I am mentally editing what they are reporting based on my learning from my advisor, Professor (now PhD) Gottlieb.

When Dr. Gottlieb (who was also the advisor of the paper) would review my work for approval to publish and gave me a “good job” it was the ultimate high. In 1991 I received the Wordsmith Award for an essay I wrote. I was also a finalist in the photography category. It was awesome. I had grandiose plans of becoming a hard journalist and eventually an investigative reporter.

Well, I graduated into the worst job market in decades and took whatever job I could. I did wind up in print production, so it was at least an area I really enjoyed. My journalism plans, however, were put on the shelf. As the Internet rose in popularity and print began its slow descent, I had to find something else. I became the exact opposite of a journalist – a flack. I now work in digital marketing and specialize in SEO and analytics. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud that I am self-taught in all this technology and am always learning more. I am, however, very sorry I never had that chance to become a real journalist. At least I have my blogs that feed my writing outlet.

Why am I explaining all this? There’s a reason, trust me.

I hate columnists! Why do I have all these columnists? I got political columnists, guest columnists… celebrity columnists – The only thing I don’t have is a dead columnist. That’s the kind I could really use…. We reek of opinions. What every columnist at this paper needs to do is to shut the fuck up.
~Bernie White, The Paper

I read and watch a lot of news and every day I am increasingly ill. The profession I so desperately wanted is now a joke. Journalist, columnist, commentator – at one point in history they were all individual jobs. Now it is hard to tell the difference. For example, look at the following two headlines and ledes that cover that same story:

The New York Times
Can G.O.P. Tell Donald Trump, ‘You’re Fired’? Probably Not
We are in the midst of yet another of Donald J. Trump’s self-inflicted spirals of terrible news. And with prominent Republicans saying they will back Hillary Clinton and others announcing this week that they won’t endorse Mr. Trump, there has been yet another round of speculation about how the party could get rid of him.

ABC News
Senior GOP Officials Exploring Options if Trump Drops Out
Republican officials are exploring how to handle a scenario that would be unthinkable in a normal election year: What would happen if the party’s presidential nominee dropped out?

ABC News has learned that senior party officials are so frustrated — and confused — by Donald Trump’s erratic behavior that they are exploring how to replace him on the ballot if he drops out.

Neither of these pieces are labeled as an editorial. The New York Times piece, however, reads like a blog post. This is NOT news. It is opinion peppered with news. The ABC News piece is more down the line.

Here is another example.

Chicago Tribune
Body cams give close-up, disturbing view of fatal police shooting
Newly issued body cameras worn on the front of officers’ vests provided a disturbing, close-up view of the tragic events and questionable decisions made when Chicago police fatally shot an African-American teen trying to flee in a stolen sports car.

The word “disturbing” should not be anywhere in the headline and the lede is even worse. I was taught to ALWAYS take care when using adjectives and adverbs. This is NOT objective journalism. It is meant to incite.

There have been many different topics recently in the news that have been provocative. The presidential election, race relations, and a lot more. Unfortunately, many in the news industry and not hiding their personal opinions and biases.

This is not the level of journalism that sparked my soul. Maybe Dr. Gottlieb should teach some reminder classes.

July 2, 2016

Clean up!

Filed under: New Jersey,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 1:54 am
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Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my state; the great state of New Jersey. I love it so much I even have a blog about how great New Jersey is! Unfortunately, I have a gripe today about those who do not take care of the outdoors in this great, and often misunderstood, state.

When I finish my day and get off Rt. 80, there’s a section of the road I take home that is nothing but a wooded area. It is where I mentally switch from work to home. I usually turn off the radio, open all the windows and enjoy what is around me. Sometimes I’ll see some deer or a bear cross. Unfortunately, a few days ago I saw this:

Trash-roadside

Rockaway, New Jersey

I was disgusted.

How could someone with a bunch of household trash think this was a good place to illegally dump!?

Sadly, I see this from time-to-time when my husband and I are out enjoying the great open spaces in New Jersey.

Cigarettes

Saxton Falls

I remember some time ago Cory Booker had someone pulled over for littering when the driver threw something out the window.

CoryBooker

I thought it was great!

When my husband and I give lectures about fly fishing, we always remind people to “carry in, carry out.” The sad truth is that when we speak with people who enjoy the outdoors, they already know to take care of their trash. People who hunt, fish, hike, bird watch, and more, understand the importance of protecting resources like our open spaces.

So I ask my readers to make sure to not toss their trash out the car window or leave cigarette butts behind at the local park. Do what I do and keep a few plastic bags in the car and if you see some garbage while out enjoying the day pick it up and put it in the right place.

We have only a limited amount of open space. I ask that everyone takes the time to take care of it!

Sign

June 18, 2016

My Take on the Gun Debate

An Orlando club was attacked this week by another radical Islamic terrorist. He gunned down 49 patrons at a gay club before the police shot and killed him. It was a terrible tragedy that has brought the country together to grieve and pray for the victims and their families.

It has also kicked up the gun debate and what should be done to curb violent acts in this country. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what should be done and they vary widely. Well, of course I felt the need to add my two cents. Here is my solution for federal gun legislation.

  1. No fly, no buy: If someone is on the terror watch list (no fly list), then you shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a gun of any kind. If someone is on the no fly list and it is incorrect, they need to follow up with the FBI to resolve the issue.
  2. Required training: When applying for a permit to purchase a weapon, the applicant should be required to complete a safety course. Gun ownership is serious and should be treated as such.
  3. Safety lock with every weapon purchase: When a weapon is purchased, the purchaser also needs to buy an appropriate gun lock at the same time. Before they leave the store, the gun lock must be in place.
  4. Waiting period: Some people want to make a gun purchase out of fear or anger. Maybe they were attacked and are scared. Maybe they are angry and want revenge. Whatever the reason, there should be a three-day waiting period between the time that a purchase is made and when the weapon is picked up.
  5. Background check: This point goes hand-in-hand with my previous suggestion. During the three-day waiting period, the gun shop can complete a background check on the person. This gives them enough time to collect any necessary information to make an informed decision as to whether or not an individual should own a gun.
  6. Mental-health assessment: This is a touchy one. Everything else so far has been based on “hard data.” This definitely falls under “soft data.”  I would never want a government bureaucrat to make a decision about someone’s mental health and if they are able to understand the seriousness of owning a gun and how to properly store and use it. I believe there should be some kind of check as to mental competence, but it needs to be in line with HIPPA law and not further stigmatizing “mental illness.”
  7. Ban the sale of “auto” kits: Many Americans are not aware that it is already illegal to ar-15own an automatic (“full auto”) weapon. In 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, making it illegal for Americans to manufacture fully automatic weapons for personal use. In 1986, it became illegal for civilians to own newly made machine guns. When the media shows a weapon, such as an AR-15, after one of these horrible events there is an insinuation that it is an automatic weapon. It isn’t. And I think it is inflammatory for the media to do so. What needs to be outlawed are kits that allow someone to make their weapon an automatic weapon.
  8. Knowledge sharing: Every time one of these horrific acts takes place, I always hear from at least one professional, “if I had seen xyz information from such-and-such organization (FBI, local police, etc.), I wouldn’t have sold him the gun.” There needs to be better sharing of information between businesses and the government.

Obviously this is just the beginning of a larger issue, but when it comes to complex issues with high-charged emotions, it is easy to muddy the waters. My suggestion to politicians has always the same: take big issues bit-by-bit. Don’t handle a huge issue all at once. Let your constituents see you working and gain their trust. As you continue to move forward, cooperation will continue as long as everyone checks their ego at the door. By taking a common-sense approach to big issues, we can start to move forward.

June 15, 2016

Fashion News Flash – Real Women Have Curves

Filed under: Fashion — alvb1227 @ 2:37 pm
Tags: , ,

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely HATE shopping for clothes and shoes. Yarn shop? Book store? Fly fishing shop? I’m all there. Clothes and shoes? I would rather have my teeth drilled.

Like many, as I have aged, my weight has increased. I have curves. I am not the skinny kid I once was. Now I understand it isn’t healthy. I work to lose weight by eating right and getting exercise in where I can. Mind you, I was never a fan of exercise. You needed an excuse to get out of gym in school? I was your girl. I thought gym in school was the biggest waste of my time – ever. Why go to gym when I could go to band?

Yet, I digress.

The point is I now have put on more weight than I would like. Still I am not obese. But I avoid clothes shopping like the plague. I wear clothes I have “broken in” until they fall apart. Which is exactly what is happening with my last two pair of jeans. So I headed to my normal “go-to” store – Macy’s.

Wow – what a frustrating evening. Two hours to find two pair or reasonably-priced jeans that fit comfortably.

SuperSkinny

Super Skinny by Levi’s for $88.

First what blew my mind were the prices. Over $100 for jeans? Seriously??? Even Levi’s are quite outrageous. Second, there is actually a style of Levi’s called “Super Skinny.” Crazy. I mean, is being “Super Skinny” too thin?

 

Now, let’s move on to the sizes. I finally discover a brand that is reasonable and has the stone-washed color I like. If you are above a size six, options are quite limited. When I asked for a boot cut in my size, I went sent to the “mom jeans” section. Thanks. I appreciate it.

I am a woman. I have curves. I am tall. Like I said, I could stand to lose a few pounds to be more healthy, but I refuse to be body shamed.

Now, let’s move onto shoe shopping. Again, not a fan.

I have had problems with my hips, knees, and ankles since birth. As a result, I am not really able to wear heels. I need a wide, flat shoe in a size 9 1/2. If I do need or want a heel, I need something wide or chunky. My mother used to call the type of shoes I needed the “pink elephant.” It just doesn’t exist.

I can never find shoes that fit properly. When I do find something I like that doesn’t fall under “old lady orthopedic,” I will actually purchase several pair so I can avoid shoe shopping for as long as possible. My last multi-purchase? Mary Janes by Earth Shoes. Of course the style I liked is now discontinued.

Is there nothing stylish for people like me? I remember awhile back I ran into a woman who found herself in the same situation as me after ankle surgery. She looked like she was ready to burst into tears. I knew exactly how she felt. I gave her some suggestions and helped as best as possible to find something that fit well, was stylish, and she liked. I really felt for her.

So here I am left with shoes that aren’t stylish and mom jeans. I have to believe I am not alone.

DeejaeHarperSo as I said in my headline, I have a newsflash for designers. Adult women have curves and are not a size two. Additionally, we generally cannot afford $100 for one pair of jeans. At that point you are paying for the brand on your ass. Jeans and jeans.

And the same holds true for shoe designers. There are others like me who can’t wear four inch heels. We would like some style beyond “orthopedic.”

But at the end of the day, I refuse to be body shamed. I hope others will resist body shaming as well. Be healthy. Don’t be a size two.

April 24, 2016

The Absurdity of Eminent Domain

I hate eminent domain.

There, I said it. In my opinion, eminent domain is the exact opposite of what this country means. Shockingly, this is part of the Fifth Amendment which gives the state of federal government or by delegation to third parties to take control of private property, who will devote it to public or civic use with “just” compensation. While Thomas Jefferson rejected its inclusion completely, James Madison included a compromise of the idea.

The concept of eminent domain is actually a “carry over” from Jolly old England. Eminent domain is a younger ancestor of English property law. As a result, Madison chose instead to require compensation explicitly, and he used the term public use rather than public purpose, interest, benefit, or some other term in an effort to establish a narrower and more objective requirement than such alternative terms might require (Jones 2000, 290). This is a very different approach from the original English concept.

Still, I think it is, to use a generally English term, bloody rubbish.

I understand the importance of sacrificing for “the greater good.” However, the concept that a government can take someone’s property just makes my blood boil.

This affects people – individuals who have no way to fight the government.

Years ago I saw a film “Greetings from Asbury Park,” highlighting Angie Hampilos’ fight to keep her home of 50 years safe from waterfront re-developer Asbury Partners. She should’ve been living out her final years enjoying her life tending to her garden. Instead she and her niece fought against her home being bulldozed. Due to health reasons, Mrs. Hampilos sold her  beloved home to the city of Asbury Park in 2014. She passed away in June of 2015. This is not how her life should’ve ended. She should’ve been able to live out her years in the home she loved and leave that house to her family.

Currently, residents of Clifton and Little Falls, New jersey are fighting against an expansion of Rt. 46. The Genardi Family is losing part of their yard and pool to eminent domain. These life-long residents of Clifton have invested thousands to improve their home. Now, the second phase of the highway improvement project includes plans for a 12-foot sound wall that will cut out 21 feet of their property line and run straight through the center of their pool.

According to the plans, about 1,900 square feet of yard will be taken from the property’s 7,800-square-foot lot.

An independent appraisal of homes on Normandy Road that are being affected determined that none of the property owners would experience enough “damage” following the project’s completion to warrant the purchase of the homes themselves. NJDOT officials confirmed the majority of the Genardi’s back yard was acquired in 2012 and that the homeowner was compensated $175,000 for land required for construction purposes.

Not enough “damage?” Really?

So living 11 feet from a sound wall isn’t damaging? Forget that they had no choice about losing their property. The property they have invested in and have been raising their children. Yes, they were “compensated,” but who will ever want to buy a house that close to a sound barrier? Given the choice, I am sure they would prefer to have their home in tact than offered money for part of their property.

The Great Notch Inn of Little Falls, NJ has been affected by this project as well. A Jersey landmark, the business has lost approximately one-third of its property under eminent domain.

Is this America?

How can people fight this level of government control?

There are organizations that support those in the eminent domain fight. But it will take a thorough understanding of the law and lots of support.

If you are fighting against eminent domain, God’s speed.

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