Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I feel I have the right to control who I admit into my house. After all, it's my house. That's the microcosm. I also feel Americans have the right to control whom they admit into their country. That's the macrocosm.
We are a nation of people who came from someplace else. Even the American Indian, came from someplace else. Actually, according to a program on public television, We all came from Africa. Still, We are now a nation of laws. There are procedures for becoming an American citizen. If everyone was allowed into the country, who wanted to be here, We would be overrun with communicable diseases, criminals from other countries, people without skills looking for public assistance from the first day they enter our borders. Our civic systems would break down. Just try to immigrate to Australia or to China under those conditions. On second thought, save your strength. It won't work in your favor.
Now you know that I favor lawful procedure. It makes sense to tighten our Canadian and our Mexican border, especially in the light of our war on terrorism....whatever that is.
How shall We address all those illegal immigrants? For the sake of arguement, say they all come from Mexico. You know..."wet backs". (I picture a Mexican male swimming the Rio Grande River and emerging on the US side, all wet.)
The low cost labor these immigrants provide to the US economy is very valuable, especially if you own an orchard that has to have its fruit picked NOW. ...if you are a roofer and no one will go up three stories on a roof in the blazing sun, with the possibility of falling off and dying...or worse....being paralyzed for the rest of his life....or if you are a landscaper that needs day labor.
God bless the people that are willing to work and shame on Americans that aren't willing to work.
I put myself in the position of a man or woman about to make the decision to enter the US illegally. It is a desperate position. The man will have to leave his family. He will be in constant danger from being found out. He has to live with that stress. He will have to speak a different language, be immersed in a different culture....different from the one He was born into. His country has a warm benign climate. The USA is cold and damp. What if He gets sick or injured? There is no socialized medicine for him. Would you want to take that chance? Would you? You would do this, only if there was absolutely no way to provide for your family in your own village or town. The money these men and women make is wired back to their families. The illegal immigrant is doing what he has to do to feed his family.
Therefore, I propose a solution that will not turn these foreigners into criminals: Help Mexico improve its economy so it equals that of the USA. There would be no incentive to leave. If there was a good way of earning a living in his home town, the man or woman would stay. Why bother leaving when family is at home.
If our government helped other countries maintain a standard of living equal to our own, We would be good neighbors, have no illegal immigrant problems, have developed new markets for our goods and services.
Other issues would surface, but they can be addressed. After all, We have Yankee ingenuity, don't We? Some issues are: increased demand for goods puts more pressure on natural resources and increases pollution. We can handle that. Tight borders means that some people will be turned away for good reasons. We have the right to turn back people, just like I have the right to not admit people into my house. Too bad if you don't like it. It's my house.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I feel the government's noose around my neck getting tighter. This is not the time for good people to politely stand around and do nothing. The following editorial and letter to the editor is from the New Haven Register, Sunday May 21, 2006

Misleading public, ignoring courts and Congress, his reassurances are hollow.
Lost in the uproar about the revelation that the National Security Agency has gathered the phone records of tens of millions of Americans is how consistently the president and top officials of his administraiton have lied to Congress and the American public. This loss of credibility should be just as deep a concern as President Bush's refusal to seek court approval for this spying, the extension of NSA surveillance beyond its overseas charter and the total lack of oversight by Congress of this wholesale invasion of Americans' privacy.
Perhaps , this deliberate deception should not be surprising from a chief executive who excused the government's poor performance after Hurricane Katrina by saying "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." In fact, federal emergency management officials had done just that. Bush was told the day before Katrina hit last September that the levees might not hold. Perhaps, he forgot.
Bush certainly didn't forget that he had approved a massive domestic spying program, first reported this month by USA Today, that collected vast numbers of records on ordinary Americas' phone calls and Internet use.
A limited part of the NSA's domestic eavesdropping was first reported in December by The New York Times. Then, it was estimated to affect only a few hundred to a few thousand individuals.
In January, Bush said the intercepted phone calls were not within the United States. "This is a phone call of an alQaida, known al-Qaida suspect, making a phone call into the United States."
In February, Ge. Michael V. Hayden, former head of the NSA and Bush's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, described the telephone surveillance as "very specific and very targeted."
Also in February, Alberto Gonzales, attorney general of the United States, told Congress that after the Sept. aa attacks, Bush had decided against allowing the NSA to intercept domestic phone calls and e-mails.
Each of these statements by Bush, Hayden and Gonzales was false.
Why should we believe the president now when he says that Americans' privacy is being "fiercely protected?"


It shocked me to learn that the government has violated the time honored right to the attorney-client privildge. I have been a lawyer for over 25 years and I have always thought that either receiving or making telephone calls to clients was information protected from the government through the Constitution and state and federal law.
We have to now ask whether this practice includes e-mails, delivery services (Fed Ex, UPS) and the U.S. mail.
Does the government know with whom I communicate, regardless of the content and medium?
Anyone who believes that technology is incapable of drawing inferences regarding the business of these communications is mistaken. I know what the government can do with the millions of records it collects because I HAVE BEEN AN ELECTRICAL ENGINEER AND A LAWYER WORKING IN THE FIELD OF COMPUTER DATA MINING FOR NEARLY 35 YEARS.
Unless we check this practice, we will soon discover that all semblance of privacy has vanished.
Joseph Carvalko, Milford Connecticut


As for me, I got a credit card that has a cash back feature. To maximize the cash return, I've started purchasing most everything using this credit card. It has dawned on me that my credit card record, available to the government, can be used to trace where I am and what I do. It is no comfort to me that everything I do and where I go is perfectly innocent. There are plenty of innocent people who have been crushed between government gears. Their lives have been ruined. Am I protected by our constitution? Can I point to it in my defense? Not if government officials are spying on innocent people without a court order...not if our elected officials are ignoring our civil rights.

Somewhere I read that the price of freedom is eternal vigelence. I thought that ment a threat from without. Who would think it could mean a threat from within.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Neighbors 2nd half: The calender said spring was coming, but the weather was fighting back. We had terrible weather. It rained and snowed and the wind was of gale force. The house across the street didn't have a garage. It had a car port. That means: a roof without walls. It was constructed of aluminum panels, interlocked as shingles are. Well, the builder of the carport faced the seams the wrong way, because when the snows fell, the roof buckled.
When the wind blew with force, the whole thing literally came apart at the seams. Each sheet of aluminum was still attached on one end. The other end waved about like a snake. Noises from the crackling metal could be heard day and night. The children of the neighborhood were fascinated. Mine own stood at the picture window and watched and listened, fascinated, to the wrething shapes of aluminum.
It was also dangerous, because cut edges of aluminum are sharp. So We all kept away until the wind stopped blowing and the insurance company came. (Why do We love to see man made things wrecked?) The metal strips, much out of shape, were removed. All that is up there now, is the frame...good for climbing on, by neighborhood children.
I hear the owners of the house are thinking of putting up fiberglass panels instead of aluminum. Something about the cost involved.
She did things I admire. I never saw her overly excited or ruffled. Her house was always clean. She changed from slacks for housework, to a dress and took the curlers from her hair when her husband came home. They never bought junk, so they were never "cluttered". The whole family took rides in the car after supper. She took a bath every morning. Her little girl's face was always clean. She baked cookies and gave some to the neighbors.
Her skin was dark and her eyes were brown. We never did find out if she was Mexican, Spanish, or Indian. Anyways, I liked her.

Friday, May 19, 2006

In cleaning house, I found an old notebook. It was written when Richard was on active duty. My daughters were pre-schoolers. This was in the notebook:
"There was that awful time when Dick was called on active duty and I had to stay alone. "well" I thought, "at least I can still be warm in bed". So I turned on the electric blanket and crawled in. Of course, it didn't work. I froze all the time my husband was away. A short time later We threw away the blanket.
When we go shopping, we buy the girls a penny gumball. But one time, Melanie wheedled a dime out of Dick for a life-like plastic snake. Bugs and creepy things were the fad. Even on TV, there were monster programs. We came home and put the groceries away. We were sitting around, procrastinating when suddenly We hear from the bedroom, a blood curdling scream. and another...and another. Both Dick and I rushed to Melanie's room to find she wasn't hurt at all. She had dropped her snake on her lamp and it was melting all over the light bulb.
We were so relieved she wasn't hurt. Dick felt so sorry for his mortified daughter, that he ran back to the store for another snake. The store was closed by then, so He went to another store and bought her a tarantella pencil sharpener. It wasn't the same.
Shades of popcycles! Beth goes outside in all that snow, gets a shovel from the garage, knocks icicles down from the eaves, picks them off the ground, carries them indoors, puts them in the freezer. So, anytime she's hungry or her mouth is dry....the little four year old tot runs to the freezer for an instant snack. She wraps a paper napkin around the end for a handle. I admire her for her thought, little packrat.
1966: I was sitting on my front steps, thinking "I'm 29 years old. I'm a responsible adult. I care for my home, my children, my husband. I feel a certain vitality flooding through my veins. Once I was a child and before that, a baby and before that there wasn't any me. But there was a whole world evolving through history. There really were dinosaurs. There really were savage indians standing on this very ground I look upon. But, there wasn't any me.
Days shall pile upon days and one day I shall be very old and die. The world shall continue on without me. Surely my awareness of this long process, surely this activity I call my life is a great phenomenon.
and: Poem by me
Dear heart,
I love you today.
Tomorrow I may hate you,
but it's all the same thing.
We're emotionally involved

May 1967 : The neighbors
We knew the neighbors across the street had outgrown their house. Both he and She worked and could easily afford a larger place. Still, We were disappointed when they finally packed up and moved into the village. Tract living drove them crazy....what with little kids picking your tomatoes green, and salesmen at the door all the time. Then, too, the livingroom is too small, the traffic pattern through it is terrible, and the sun sets in the picture window, turning the whole place into an oven.
Still, We liked them and hoped they'd hang on. One day, they found their better house and put their old one on the market. The market was in terrible shape, so they rented it out to a young couple instead.
This is where my story really begins.
It was a bitter cold Thanksgiving day when the car stopped in front of the green house. We were on our way out, so I didn't see my new neighbors that day, but I did notice a baby's car seat in the back of their car. That was just enough to prick my curiosity about the new people. Do they have children of my children's age? Scuttlebut said no. Their child was younger--a toddler girl and that's all.
Winter is a bad time to move in, because all of us "tract owners" are chicken about cold weather. We stay in, unless We really have to go everyone in the family is starving and We need more groceries. So, my new neighbors spent their first winter alone. No one came to the door to welcome them. I remember that when We moved in, only a few people came to welcome me. People move in and out of these houses so fast, that those who do stay, develope a certain attitude after a while, a protective attitude, I think, one of casualness about new neighbors. Many new people complain about the "coldness" of the tract, but not the people across the street. They just lived there. They picked up their garbage cans, when empty, and put them away. They cleared the snow. They got their groceries. They took their daughter outside, walked her up and down the driveway a few times, and brought her in.
Gradually, their personality emerged. I learned their first names but could never remember their last. they were very kind, never gossiped. They were the clean, healthy American type. he liked to do track running once in a while, or bicycle riding. They didn't smoke, swear, or even drink coffee. Were they dull? I couldn't make up my mind. Anyways, I was thankful that they didn't add more problems to our neighborhood. Their girl wasn't allowed to "run", as many are allowed to, around here. they kept their puppy tied up, eliminating a problem of spilled garbage. They were neat and as clean as a pin...thank goodness!!!
The weather broke, the air warmed up, and We saw more of them. We would be cutting our lawns at the same time. My husband went over and introduced himself. Both men worked for the same company. How about that! Both men are interested in running. How about that! She paints!! and so do I! How about that! They're trying for a second baby. (giggle) I wish We could afford to. (Sigh)
By the time the second winter rolled around, I liked my "new" neighbors very much. She invited me to visit her art club. I did and enjoyed it very much. They found out that Dick was an excellent bridge player. They have always wanted to learn that fascinating game. Would He teach them? Dick taught all three of us on a once a week basis for about 3 months. We enjoyed these evenings very much, knowing that it was soon to come to an end.
She was from the southwest and had said early in our friendship, that they were not going to stay up north, here. He was trying to get a job in the Texas Arizona area. We followed his endeavers. the interview, the plane trip, the acceptance, the phone calls to relatives, the preparations, the movers.
Now, moving day is less than a week away, and it is only the beginning of their second summer.
Move in - move out.
Yet We are richer for knowing them. Their second child, a son, was born here. We had bridge lessons. I like and understand the game now. We have the little pinetree seedlings they gave us. My girls have some fish that the neighbors gave us when they "disbanded" their aquarium as part of the moving preparations. I've investigated the art club, whose existance I didn't know about before. There is a fence behind the green house now that wasn't there before.
I will miss our "new" neighbors and I resolve to welcome our NEW "new" neighbors, the minute they drive up.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Today is packing day. It is time to get ready for my drive to Syracuse. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to just lock the door and go? This happens only in my dreams. It takes me a full week to get out the door. I have to stop the mail, be sure the lawn is cut at both places, take out the garbage so I don't come home to a rotten smell, stock up on groceries so Andy doesn't starve, do the laundry...same smell issue and need for clean clothes . All bills must be paid, to avoid a late charge.

Rascal goes to the groomer for a bath and to have her nails done. To think of it, I never have my own nails done. They look terrible. I have hang nails, rough nails, split nails, dirt under my nails. Come to think of it, my hair doesn't look that good either. My dog looks better than I do.

My tenant gives me the rent check. The only thing is, I can't cash it before it is dated, and it is dated in the middle of my trip. What shall I do with this check? Hold it until I get back? What about my master card bill? Will I get a late charge if I don't get back in time to pay this bill? My tenant, Tina, suggests that she will deposit the check for me on the date it is due. Gratefully, I give Tina a deposit slip and her check back with my endorsement. I can trust that she will make the deposit for me. I shall pay the master card charge on-line, from Syracuse.

The month is May. This is the gardener's month. If I don't get my plants in this month, they won't do very well in June. If I leave my seedlings alone until the 17th, my return date, they will have dried up...dead and gone. I sprouted a tray of cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables. They can't be left to sit all this time. There is only one option: I am taking them with me, in the back of the truck. In this way, they will be watered every day. A whole day is spent getting cells ready to accept separated seedlings. Each seedling is separated out and put into its own cell. This takes half a day.

I called Beth several times. Shall I bring the Aerobed? Do I need to bring blankets and a pillow? I bought some things for Beth. Does she want the pillow for her bench? Would she like some extra spices I bought? I have duplicates. Beth says yes to all of it. The stuff gets packed.

Then, there is the electronic issue. I am bringing my SLR Pentax, my digital Olympus camera and my cam corder. The Pentax is giving me trouble. The film doesn't advance, so it goes to the camera shop ...the trip before the trip. A fresh roll of film is loaded into the camera. The camera calls my name. I roam around the backyard, taking pictures of flowers. We haven't left yet and I've used up half a roll of film.

I thought I had all of Saturday to pack the Ranger truck. Dreaming again. Stephen and Allison come over in the morning. They want to borrow my truck. Stephen needs to move furniture from Allison's house to his new apartment. ...and He's hungry. Grandson gets fed. Truck disappears.

People keep saying I shouldn't be driving alone without some way to call for help. I keep thinking that if I keep the Ranger in good mechanical shape and drive defensively, I've covered myself. I don't believe in security. There is no such thing as security, just statistical probabilities. I take my chances. Never-the-less, I am finally convinced to purchase a cell phone. I buy the cheapest one I can get away with, because I am not a telephone talker person. The phone is for business only. It'll do the job of calling for help on the highway. ..if I need to. This is at least the third phone I've purchased. I get frustrated with them and give them away to my grandsons. This one seems easier to read the numbers. Stephen sets the phone volumn to high. He tests it for me. I can hear it just fine. I can turn it on and turn it off. That's about all I want from my phone for now.

Judy is so excited about our visit. She has a long list of things she wants to do. Silly me. I thought she was recovering from a brain operation. I visualized myself as her nurse, cooking and doing her laundry, bringing her a cup of tea. Not Judy. She is planning on an early discharge. She wants to go to a miniature show the day I arrive. Judy has called our common Quaker Friends to tell them that I shall be in town. I smell socializing coming up. Judy has a chair with a caned bottom that needs fixing. Could I look at it while I am here? Of course. My chair caning materials go into the truck. I get a call from Judy's friend, Herb. Herb has been visiting Judy in the hospital. He reports that the doctor had lifted a big piece of Judy's scalp. About half her hair is gone. She has a big bandage around her head. Judy still plans on making it to the miniature show. Some people got guts!

It is now getting dark on the evening before I am to leave. Andy, Stephen and Allison have left to go to a club. Alone at last! NOW I can pack the suitcase. How do other people manage to just lock the door and leave?