Friday, June 29, 2018

Brindy the runaway min-pit

Brindy the mini pitbull. Brindy the dingbat. Brindy the dumb runaway dog. We adopted Brindy about 6 years ago. She's the result of someone breeding designer dogs via pit bulls crossed with Boston terriers. I personally call the breed 'dingbat' and you have to see both her ears erect to see why. Brindy came with costs. Heavy costs. 700 dollars to put her through heart worm treatment with a 50/50 chance of survival. The treatment gave her premature graying in the face but she lived.

Brindy has a problem. She's a runaway dog. She is in love with the idea of running as hard as she can as far as she can. She doesn't pause to sniff anything until she's at least six blocks away. She's learned that someone will be trying to catch her and she's learned all the tricks to that.

Offering a car ride used to be the cinch. She would jump right in for a car ride. But she learned that meant going straight home. So to hell with that idea. Her newest trick, since she learned we will follow her with the car, is to go to the railroad tracks and avoid us that way. The only thing she hasn't learned is to avoid strangers. She will go right up to other people except that they are afraid of her and won't help us catch her.

This is why her address and my phone number are on her tags. But recently, she managed to force off her address tag from her collar and it was on the table when she decided to run again. Most of the time, she dashes out the front door and she's very good at picking her time. So we kennel her if we having pizza delivered or company over. Today, she got out through the backyard fence.

"But wait, don't you play with your dog or do anything with her?"

Why yes we do. This dog gets to go out and play ball an average of 8 times a day. If you don't take her out when she wants, she will stare lasers through your head until you do. She's a very spoiled and extremely demanding while completely disobedient dog. She's ridiculous with it and never satisfied. My son was throwing ball for her as I pulled up in the driveway from dropping my wife off at work. That's when she decided ball just wasn't enough for her.

Now for the other problem. As you can see by the pictures we have a large gate for part of our fenced in back yard. It's badly warped and I've had to force it to the ground with long metal stakes. I've had to tie it off with wire and strap boards to and bricks to block the end off.

It doesn't work. She can push aside everything I put at the corner and wiggle out and I can't stop her. My son stared dumbfounded as teens sometimes do, instead of running to stop her. I couldn't get out of the car fast enough, and she was gone. It sure looks like she can't be trusted to play her favorite game anymore. By the way, we rent.

Yep, we rent and there is zero chance that this gate will ever be corrected. No one has cared for at least 20 years or so as that tree grew into the side of the house and warped it. I'm just glad that's the shed built into the house that is being destroyed by the two trees growing into it. You can even see the fence post that's been swallowed by the base of the tree. The electric company hates us because they can't bring their trucks into the yard to fix transformers when they blow twice a year. Too bad so sad.

So that's the situation. You might say, 'gee, she's so smart to learn all that'. No. She's stupid.
Stupid to run away and risk her life possible loss of the family that's put hundreds to thousands of dollars into her health and living. Stupid to run off from her favorite ball to do all that. Today we had to chase her to the point of her own physical exhaustion in high southern heat. To me, that's stupid. Not smart.

One day we will be moving on from here. If we still have a dog at that time (if she doesn't get herself killed before then) we will seek a home with a really good fence. Until then, we do our best to contain her, but her ball playing days may be at an end for a while if she really prefers to play escape instead.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

So you like the idea of a SPACE FORCE eh?

But the budget! That's the outcry of any political party when they don't like a proposed program or bailout or whatever. Both sides play that game and I could take up time citing evidence on the matter but that would be a whole new blog post. One thing is for sure, when it comes to something they want to do, the budget can just go screw itself.  Nothing screams of this more than Space Force and I'm going to show you why.

Never mind Trump's wall that has little to no effect on immigration as a whole and just makes us look bad, Space Force is going to outdo any costs a nation-long wall could produce. And let me remind you that the administration is having trouble finding money to finish it. Just look it up. But the wall is only an example toward costs so lets not get stuck on it for this discussion.

Trump said he wants a military force in space. Not satellites, not a laser defense system (which is all Reagan's Star Wars would have been and it couldn't be finished either), no, he wants a military force. That means soldiers and military equipment in space. Let me start by explaining to you that, to be a military sized force, it will need at least as many people as in our Coast Guard (the smallest of our forces) and that's currently about 40,000 people.

"But they just need to be available to go to space." No. Then they aren't what Trump wants. He wants a presence in space. Not on the ground. He said so himself. Even if that's what he settles for, it won't change the astronomical costs of the issue. Pun intended. Here is the video of his statement if you are still confused.

So what's the deal with the cost? Well, since we are talking about military, let's do some comparison.

It costs an average of 50,000 dollars to train on US soldier for the average training time of 16 weeks. That includes basic training and advanced individual training. Many AITs go longer than 8 weeks however so the cost can up to as much as 100,000. But for basic infantry, it's about 50k.

You can't send basic infantry into space. Here's why.

They all have to be pilots and have at least a thousand hours flight time. That costs about 9 million dollars. Multiply by 40k and you have 360 billion dollars. That's just for learning to fly. You see, you're agreeing with a military force of astronauts and that's a whole lot of money that just isn't there.

From what I can tell, and exact numbers aren't easy to find, full training of an astronaut that requires 2 years costs around 50 million dollars per person. That's factoring in 9 million to flight train and the costs of launching them into space in the first place. What it costs to send up a space shuttle? About 500 million dollars.  That's just for one flight crew and all their equipment and living supplies mostly by weight and fuel. That's maybe as many as 12 people. And no matter how you rearrange it, it's going to be about that cost per 12 people. Because you can't just send a person into space without the things they need to survive.

So, 500 million per 12 people and you want to send up a force of 40k. 40k divided by 12 is: (my calculator comes up with a row of 3s so you round down and get:) 3300 shuttles going into space (and that's actually not quite enough) with a price tag of over 16 billion, 500 million dollars. That's just to actually PUT them in space.

But wait, that's only if all they are trained to be is astronauts. That' won't work. They have to be a full arrangement of military specialists as well. You have to take construction engineers and rocket scientists, train them to be astronauts and send them up. You have to have all the skills of any ground military additional astronaut trained to go into space and just float there for their service requirement. Then you have to arm them.

Do you know why they don't take guns into space? Uh oh. Can't do that so we'll be setting up orbital missile stations instead. And if we pull it off, that means everyone else will pull it off too. That brings me to my next point.

Satellites and space debris. There are 1100 active satellites in space and 2600 defunct ones right now. That's a total of 3700 chunks of various metal floating up there right now. Each has to have a very specific flight path or they risk running into each other. Now, we depend on those satellites for an awful lot of stuff, like phones, television, information technology of all kinds and in some places internet. Quite a few of those support active military forces on the ground.  Can you imagine the levels of interference putting a military force of 40k up there would cause. Because, like I just pointed out, we won't be the only ones. China, Russia, and the UK would be right behind us and both China and Russia would want to show us up by putting double as many people up there.

Let me just mention that 40k people is about the population of any small city. So, we are basically looking at just tossing four or five small cities into orbit. Think about it. They all have to move along with the planet and have to be adjusted constantly to no one slams into each other or any other debris because we also have billions of tons of wasted debris floating around our planet as well. Did you know that? It's absolutely true.

So, I don't know how many orbiting missile stations that puts in our atmosphere, but sooner or later, the more you put up there, the higher the chance that something screws up and comes back down. You better hope it's not a missile station with God knows how much ordinance on it, and that it never makes it to the surface. Oh, you don't think they would make it? Now why would we put missiles in orbit that can't reach their targets on the ground? THINK ABOUT IT.

"Oh they would have failsafes for that and detonate them."  Uh huh, go ahead and bet your life on that. I won't. Nothing is infallible. Sooner or later there will be fights in orbit and that means death in orbit and more debris in orbit and more falling to the ground than we or our atmosphere can handle.

Mark my words, we will destroy our atmosphere and risk millions to billions of lives. If the money factors aren't enough, the livelihood of the world should be.

What NASA pays to ship people into space

So you want to be an astronaut

United States Armed Forces Wikipedia

Space junk circling the Earth in real time

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The minimum wage argument, a new view

Recently I posted this gem to my Facebook page and incited some interesting discussion. First of all I agree with all the points Angelica made. But people are still stuck on some points that make it hard to see the bigger picture.

But it's fast food: That's the hang up. People who have good jobs and don't have the problems that these people have look down on fast food as the red headed stepchild of the labor industry. "Flipping a burger" isn't even worth minimum wage to some people I've talked to. 15 an hour is positively asinine to others. But do we understand fast food as an industry and just how it affects job economy?

I'm not saying that fast food deserves 15 dollars an hour, but they, along with a lot of other industries are definitely underpaid. And the food industry seems to get the worst treatment forcing issues of the following:

This information comes from Berkley University and you can read it HERE. The information is dated yet holds true today (only 3 years later):

1: 52% of families of fast food employees are on public assistance as part of the 25% of all employees with families on public assistance. So literally double the number of fast food workers have families on public assistance compared to any other job in the country.

2: The cost of that assistance is about 7 billion dollars a year.

3: Medicaid and children's health insurance account for more than half of those costs.

4: Due to low earnings, food industry families receive an annual average of 1.04 billion in food assistance dollars and 1.9 billion in Earned Income Tax Credit.

5: People working these jobs are more likely to live in or near poverty by federal findings. 43% live at double the federal poverty level or less. At levels like that, you may as well be homeless.

6: Working at full time hours on these jobs has been found to make literally no difference in these factors.

"Just get a new job!"   This is the knee jerk reaction of people who just don't want to be bothered with the real plight of economics in our country. Let me show you two fun points on why that's a stupid move.

1: You just suggested that 3.65 million people just "go get a new job" like it's the easiest thing in the world to do. Sorry, but that's faulted logic when you consider that our national unemployment rate is 3.9%. Depending on the varied demographics that comment also ignores. There are literally not enough of those "good paying" jobs to go around. That is a problem. 3.65 million is the number of fast food employees currently. That doesn't even scratch the number of waiters, cooks, dish staff, and others who don't even get minimum wage because we believe random tipping is enough to live on.

2: Who exactly will you be paying to make your burger if they all even could take that advice?

"Just go to college and get a better job" This comment is even worse. Aside from places like 90% of the country where those jobs don't exist (we aren't just made of big cities you know) there's the issue of taking care of your family while going to school.

Our society loves to bash on the jobless but even people who get whatever job they can (like the same scoffing people tell them to do) it makes no difference as they are judged and trod on. People in food service are routinely abused by customers who think that being a food worker is so low they can treat that person like a slave. They get no benefits and the majority don't get anywhere near even standard part time hours.

"It's only supposed to be a beginner's job anyway." Wrong. Times have changed. Fast food is a multi-billion dollar industry able to compete with any other industry on the block. As I type this, McDonald's is worth 159 BILLION dollars. It's world wide in 120 countries with 36,899 locations serving 68 million customers every single day. In 2015 the fast food industry generated revenue of 200 billion dollars in just the US compared to the 6 billion dollars of 1970. Stop living in the past.

So maybe they don't need 15 dollars an hour. But the problem is more than just 'fast food' and comparing burger flipping to other jobs that are also underpaid. If people made the wages they should, they wouldn't be in the assistance programs and we wouldn't be kicking people out of nursing homes or cutting school programs. There is no logical reason with the capabilities of today's world for anyone who is willing to at least WORK to not be able to LIVE. And this is only part of the actual problem that contributes to these factors. The other side of the coin involves utility companies that raise their rates multiple times a year, gas gouging, ridiculous medical costs, bank charges, and more. Not only do we allow people who are willing to work to wallow in poverty, we allow corporations to suck their blood like vampires.

So when a fast food worker is asking for more pay, they are not comparing themselves to anyone else. They just want to be able to live off their work like everyone else. Not correcting this is literally allowing a cancer in our economy and that my friends is what is asinine.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Gun Control and Never Again; My open letter to set this straight (trigger warning)

My dear wife believes that social media is making me too much of a negative person. She may be right. But I have to tell you, I have seen some of the ugliest and foulest things this year than I have seen in many years beforehand. And I’ve seen death up close and personal. It takes a lot to make me think things are more heinous than death. But in my point of view, that’s exactly what this is.
Children. They’re children. At the end of the day, compared to the rest of us who are supposed to be adults, they are children. Not only that, this is about children and their freedom of speech (1st Amendment) versus the right to bear arms (2nd Amendment) and how far people are willing to go to silence them.

I have never seen any portion of the Constitution that people are so willing to kill or die for than the right to bear arms. Nothing else matters. Nothing else exists. You would think it’s holier than Jesus Christ himself and the slightest breath that only appears to be a threat to it must be silenced forever. The threat need not be confirmed by any form of actual logic. Imagined is more than enough to set some of you off. You can tell me it isn’t true but you’ll never prove it so long as thousands of internet comments say things like:
“Go kill yourself”
“You’ll pry my gun from my cold dead fingers”
“Come and get my guns, I hope you’re bullet proof”
“When you come for MY guns, you’re dead”
And the real whoppers:
“These kids need to go kill themselves”
“Someone needs to teach them what real guns mean”
“They need to shut up because we are about to not give a shit anymore”

That’s how we react to the concerns of these teens who recently survived ground zero of a massacre. Isn’t it easy to be armchair quarterbacks spouting venom at people who just finished burying a friend. A friend I would add who probably bled all over them. A friend they saw die. Yes, because the 2nd amendment is the holiest of holy things and it doesn’t matter if you saw a child’s head chopped off and had it tossed in your lap, you have no right to talk about it. Yes, it’s so easy to tell them to shup up about your rights because that’s all that really matters here. Because you didn’t have to be there. You didn’t have to wipe the brains off the wall. How nice for you.

I swear I have never seen any class of people so morbidly desperate to silence any other. Desperate to the point of photoshopping or searching for dirt to discredit. To name calling and threats. It’s these acts of hate that make me want to puke up my heart. I find them that sickening. And that’s for all you smug people out there who have doing exactly these things and making disgusting claims that don’t change a single thing about the fact that children are dead. And all because of one simple thing you don’t understand.

You clearly don’t have the first damn clue about what it actually takes to change an amendment. Allow me to quote the “Constitutional Amendment Process” from the National Archives as follows in paragraph 2:

The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention. The Congress proposes an amendment in the form of a joint resolution. Since the President does not have a constitutional role in the amendment process, the joint resolution does not go to the White House for signature or approval. The original document is forwarded directly to NARA's Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for processing and publication. The OFR adds legislative history notes to the joint resolution and publishes it in slip law format. The OFR also assembles an information package for the States which includes formal "red-line" copies of the joint resolution, copies of the joint resolution in slip law format, and the statutory procedure for ratification under 1 U.S.C. 106b.

This means you cannot just waltz in to some government building and rewrite the Constitution. Hell, even the President can’t do that. This requires a massive process and vote and guess what; there is no vote active for changing the Second Amendment. None. Zero. Zilch. Let me put that another way:

No. The only changes that are possible are state by state restrictions that don’t infringe on the second amendment in any way.

Here’s another tidbit you seem to lose in translation. The right to bear arms says only that you have that right. It does not say what those “arms” have to be. That’s why you aren’t allowed to have a 50 calibur machine gun. That’s why you aren’t allowed to have fully automatic weapons. That’s why the AR15 can be brought under scrutiny and banned if the majority of American’s want it that way. Not having the exact kind of gun you personally want, does not mean your rights have been trod upon. You can still buy a gun, but when people take to altering and abusing one form of gun over all others, it’s going to get scrutinized. The same thing happened back in 1988 when Maryland banned a 22 calibur lovingly called the Saturday Night Special because it had become a number one murder weapon and was deemed too easy to conceal.  The AR15 is the number one abused weapon utilized in mass shootings. That seems important. Losing it will not mean the loss of all your guns, no matter what you think. For that matter, it’s already nearly banned in Florida via a new law just passed.

Finally, one more thing you don’t seem to understand and that’s the definition of the word AMENDMENT. It’s an amendment meaning that it was added or changed after the fact. By it’s very definition it can be legally changed again. If not, there would not be a process to do so. That process would not exist. But it does exist and you are actively pushing people to do everything in their power to pursue it.

While most gun zealots have stomped away from this in seething fury by now, there is still more to say. If you are still here, maybe there’s hope. But I’m not done. Now that I’ve explained the truth of an amendment, I’m going to call out some more of the sick behavior that I’ve seen adults utilize on these kids. I’m talking about the most ridiculous tropes I’ve ever seen.

First of all, if I see one more person compare gun control to abortion I’m going to summon a demon of hell to burn down a gun store. The two have zero to do with each other no matter what bizarre line of imaginary logic you concoct. Someone said Planned Parenthood donated funds to the Never Again movement. That doesn’t make the connection either. Speaking of money. I’m going to point out this doesn’t change the fact that children are dead. If you are a “right to life” person, I would think you could grasp that reality.

No, these people are not paid to march. It doesn’t matter where the money is coming from when the opponents are people like the above. Why doesn’t it matter? Because people are dead and we are sick and tired of them getting dead where they should be safe. So it’s just fine that George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Steve Spielberg all matched donations of 500,000 dollars to march for change.

No, these are not crisis actors. This has to be one of the sickest displays of heartlessness yet. Demanding proof of the dead like you and your armchair have that authority in the slightest way. Because these kids and their families should send you personal photos and obits and government or personal records to prove their dead children ever existed just so you feel satisfied that they have the right to grieve or utilize their own Constitutional rights. That isn’t just wrong, it’s horribly immoral. It’s sick and sickening. It’s a plague on morality and human decency. Some of these conspiracy theorists have gone so far as to track down families who claimed dead in mass shootings to harass and accuse them. How full of yourself do you have to be in order to do this?

Actual comment from someone on Facebook: “ It’s very easy to manipulate kids, because they don’t have all of the true stats and facts about gun deaths, gun ownership and crime.    Like I pointed out above, apparently watching your best friends brains get spattered on the wall just isn’t enough of a qualification for you to care about any of it. Apparently you need to satisfy people like this with some sort of special test before you speak out against the atrocity you barely survived.

These are the things that are forcing me to pick a camp some of you won’t like. Because no matter how many times I say I’m not after the 2nd amendment and there are no current actions against the 2nd amendment, you gun zealots absolutely can not stay in that reality. Yes. You are forcing my hand to stand against you because I value protecting the lives out our children over a bang bang paper weight and the ability to wield it with abandon. What have we done to ourselves that we value any such thing over the lives of our children. What have we become?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Everything wrong with "more guns in schools".

Every time there's a school shooting that hits the front pages of the media, this national social media explosion happens. Gun supporters go nuts and yell, "throw more guns at it" and frankly, that just isn't the answer. Before you jump on my post and start berating me about how guns save lives and I'm just so wrong because I don't think exactly like you, there are couple things you better consider:

1: I am not against your right to own a gun. I don't want to take your guns away. So just don't go there with me.

2: Read everything before you comment anywhere (whether it be my facebook page or right here). If you are going to react or heaven help me, get triggered, you could do that much. But if it looks like all you read was the title and you just want to dismiss every point I make, then don't bother. Knee jerk reactions help even less than the idea that guns solve all problems. They don't.

I've read a lot of ideas about protecting schools too and most people make these suggestions without taking a few important issues into consideration. Things like actual demographics, locations of schools, what kind of neighborhoods the schools are in, and frankly if the school is a troubled one or not. You can't just throw guns in all schools and expect to change things. I am in particularly going to address the idea that we should now arm all teachers. Now the response I keep getting sidesteps my points.

"I'm perfectly okay with a teacher being armed if they want to be."

I'm not talking about "if they want to be". So don't go there. And before you say this isn't an idea that's out there, you should look at this LINK. This teacher seems to think someone expects her to carry a gun. Now why would she think that? And she isn't alone.. LINK.

President Trump said, and I quote: "An armed teacher woulda shot the hell outta the Parkland shooter."

Really? How does anyone know this? What scale of evidence is there that some random teacher would have shot the hell out of anyone? There are no supportive facts here. It's a knee jerk reaction and a fantasy. It's the land of IF. IF, IF, IF.  It's also the land of ASSUMPTION. Let's just assume any random armed teacher would have stopped the shooter cold. But that isn't what happened. The statement also ignores practically every single detail of how the shooting happened.

Guns do not make people magically pop up in the right place at the right time. Please reread that until it sinks in. If they did there would be no more crime in out country at all. And this is literally the assumption people make when they say, "just put more guns in there".  Guns are not magic talismans so stop acting like they are.

If you aren't willing to foot the bill for what teachers actually need in their classrooms, how can you justify arming them all?  I have literally seen people argue that they are okay with paying taxes to support guns  in schools but not for smaller class sizes or actual educational material. We have schools in poor neighborhoods in need of repairs and services but the response of the taxpayer has been.... "Nuh uh! Not my taxes! I won't pay for that!" But then they turn around and go, "Oh wait? Guns? Yeah I'll pay for guns!" School lunches for kids? Let em starve if they can't pay their own way! But let's put guns in schools, that's a great fix.

Do you understand what arming teachers costs? No? Are you willing to give that teacher a pay raise along with the training needed to carry a gun? No? Are you willing to pay the difference in insurance costs to the schools? There is another class of thought that teacher's should be armed but at their own expense. Well, they are sure used to that since they are expected to do their jobs and buy educational materials at their own expense. To which I call bullshit. If you are going to sit there and say that teachers should be armed, you better damn well be willing to pay for it. Same goes for claiming we should have armed guards in schools, or concertina fences. You want to pay into your taxes for it? No? Then shut up.

It's literally not the teachers job to play security guard! No teacher signs up for their job thinking they get to become paramilitary. That is not their job. I even posted a link above from a teacher who explains the same thing. Teachers are not security guards, or police, or soldiers. They are teachers. In our country we barely pay police enough to carry a gun and God knows we take a massive crap on our veterans when they come home, so lets move on to teachers. If you absolutely must have armed people in any of our schools, you better make sure they are qualified and paid appropriately. Give the job to the proper profession. Would you have an auto mechanic do heart surgery? That's what you're asking teachers to do when you expect them to carry a gun. Amazingly, people still argue with me on this.

Armed security has it's own risks that are ignored.  I've mentioned the insurance rates (yes they exist and you pay for them in your taxes). Hiring the right profession would still cost less than arming teachers in 98,817 schools (that's how may US public schools there are). Thing is, accidents happen. As soon as one does, that security guard will be villainized and the whole debate gets turned on its ear. Having a gun and even the proper training does not make a person a super human or infallible. Gun supporters keep acting like it does. Even having armed security does not guarantee there won't be a shooting. Before you jump on me and yell "YOUR WRONG, IT ABSOLUTELY DOES BECAUSE SHOOTERS WON'T GO TO A POLICE DEPARTMENT!"  I would point out that a certain Las Vegas hotel had armed security  and that shooting still happened and with a historical death record. Why?

These shooters don't care what they are up against. If you take the time to compare all the mass shooters we've had in the news you may notice something. Just about every single one of them has zero regard for what they are up against. All of them know that they are going to face law enforcement at some point. 99% of them planned to die ahead of time. Pres. Trump and others call them cowards but that's not what they should take into consideration. The important factor is that they are suicidal and want to take as many people with them as they can. Not one mass shooter has ever cared if there were guns on the premises they went to shoot up. Again I cite Las Vegas, but it sure wouldn't be hard to cite more. Many schools have police who visit regularly and you can't plan for when they will be there. These shooters do not care. The sooner we can understand that, the sooner we can move on to how to stop them effectively.  I'll repeat, shooters don't care if people have guns where they plan to shoot.

Troubled schools don't need teachers with guns. We have a lot of troubled schools in our country and taxpayers who fight tooth and nail to do absolutely nothing to make them any better. All it will take is one kid getting his hand on a gun that's already there for another shooting to take place. "Well if it's secured, blah blah blah." Stop making assumptions! It's a school, not a bank vault. And a troubled school cannot secure a bunch of guns. It can't even secure it's students, control gang issues, get proper educational material, stem bullying or other violence, and you think they can secure guns?

There is even more to point out but I can tell you that this covers a lot of it. I know people will still shout about how wrong I am, but that's on them. If we can't figure out that it will take more than just throwing guns at the problem, we are doomed to keep having the same problems. It's as simple as that.

Monday, June 19, 2017

"People in wheelchairs don't go to the gym," says man about blocking accessible parking.

Yes. That is what the man who claimed to be the owner of North American Land Development said to me in defense of his friend who blocked accessible parking with his big SUV.  Allow me to divulge the whole story.

I stopped through the parking lot for Planet Fitness and Books a Million as I sometimes do, in order to check for parking violations to report on the Parking Mobility App. While the image you are about to look at is dated, I've added some pertinent information with random art skills.

Click on image for larger view. Credit to Google Earth.
You can clearly see where I've marked the direction of the construction and Planet Fitness. You can see where the construction company taped off parking for their work. You can see where I parked and where he parked. Important fact here... row we parked in was NOT taped off.  Remember this.

Below for purpose of identification I will call them Owner, Friend (as in of the owner) and Me (for the dialogue). I guess you could call this a "things people say" when they block accessible parking because these guys hit on just about every single wrong thing there is.

I saw the SUV first parked across the blue lines where I indicated. But if you really need an closer view:

Wouldn't you just love to see someone try to get out of a wheelchair van there? Good thing it was just lil ol me parked on the left. Note again the lack of yellow construction tape except dangling from the pole. People were parked clear down  that aisle. It was NOT cordoned off.

So I got out my phone and opened the Parking Mobility App. It had me take down this photo and one of his license plate. I notated the location and went on to the next car in the next aisle over. Yes, there were two violations right across from each other. Not uncommon at all. While I was taking down that information someone called out to me. It was an elder man with white hair and another elder man in a cowboy hat.  Cowboy hat was the owner. I know this because he said it was his company through the hodge podge of dialect and excuses. It went pretty much like this.

Friend: You took pictures of my car.
I looked back at him:  Sir?
Friend: You took pictures of my car.
Me: I'm documenting use of accessible parking, sir.
Friend: I'm not in handicapped parking.
Me: You are parked on the blue lines for wheelchair access. That is illegal and you can get a ticket if they come by.
Friend: I'm 87 years old.
Me: There is no provision to the law by age, Sir.
Owner and Friend together: This is a construction site.
Me: It doesn't matter what you have over there, you parked over here.
Friend says to the Owner: You know what you should do, tape all this off and then none of em can park there!

I'll let you reread that last comment before I continue. 

The Friend left and I went to my car. When I got in it. The owner laughed and shook a finger at me. Then he pointed to the wheel chair symbol on the sign I had parked in front of. I casually lifted my index finger to direct him to the placard hanging from my rear view mirror. Then I got out of the car as he walked toward the driver's side.

Me: Sir?
Owner: You don't look that disabled.
Me: Are you a doctor?
Owner: No.
Me: My doctor disagrees with you. 
Owner: Fine. But he didn't stop you from parking.
Me: Sir, it's the law. Our opinions do not come into play. And if someone with a wheelchair van came here, they wouldn't be able to get out of their van or into it.
Owner: People in wheelchairs don't go to the gym.

I'll let you reread that last comment for the same effect as before.

This is what people need to learn. Their personal opinion does not overwrite the law. Age has nothing to do with being able to park in accessible parking. As another note, had I parked on the blue lines, I would have been in violation as well. It's illegal... period. 

The law is the law and it's time that the disabled community got some respect out of it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My experiences with Parking Mobility

Since I started in February (it is now April) I have sent in 74 reports on accessible parking violations. For those who don't know what that means, it means people parking in the disabled parking spaces. We prefer to call it accessible parking because access is what it's all about. 74 violations in a small city like Monroe, Louisiana in  the span of 2 months feels like a lot to me. And I got them in an even shorter span of time, if you think about it. I only went out maybe once a week, sometimes twice. My route that I established for myself takes only about 90 minutes. I looked at my progress on the website (yep, you can totally check your progress) and counted the days. I went out exactly 17 days.

So, in reality, that's 74 violations in 17 days. Think about it.

What I want to talk about today is what to do if someone catches you taking down information. People react defensively and you will want to keep your cool and not wind up in a confrontation.

Confrontations not only don't do much to convince violators but can become dangerous and actually hurt the program. That last thing any partnering community wants, is anyone taking the law into their own hands or putting themselves into unnecessary danger.

In all of those encounters that I have had, only a very few have caught me. Maybe 5 or 6. That's just a matter of timing. One thing is for sure, nothing is worth and argument, so walk away. I mean it, just turn and walk away. Even if that means you don't finish sending in the report. It's not worth it.

So what kind of experiences have I had? When first getting started, I had an elder man and his young daughter (I'm assuming she was his daughter), catch me in the parking lot a few feet away from the back of their small car. He yelled and said he had every right to be there (he must have seen me on the news). So I asked where his placard was. He admitted he didn't have one and called me some choice names. I suggested that 3 dollars and a doctors note would fix that for him. He called me some more nasty names and told his daughter to back over me. I walked away.

Honestly, I shouldn't have bothered. I should have just said, "Sorry taking a call." and walked away. He wouldn't have had any idea if I was or not. Seriously, play it off as doing something else.

When you are taking down info, you should probably take down the plate number first and then take the photos, just so you have some of the difficult stuff out of the way first. Then, once you have the photos you can totally step away to a good distance to finish the rest.

On another stop I had a woman who had nothing to do with the situation come up and start questioning me. She acted really odd and circled me like a shark continuously asking me "what's wrong? Is something wrong?" over and over again. She was just weird. But I thought, hey, maybe someone who would be interested in volunteering, so I explained it to her. Big mistake. She stalled me long enough for an angry driver to come out and teamed up with that woman to berate me loudly in the parking lot.  The lesson, trust your gut. Don't let anyone stall you in the middle of what your doing. If someone seems weird, get away from them or play them off like you would anyone else.  I still get a shiver when I think of how bizarre that woman was.

Everything from an educational standpoint. I have had one or two people who were more interested in the educational side. These were people who already had a placard, but it was hidden under dashboard debris or left on the seat of the car. They took interest when I said that putting their placard where it can be clearly seen actually helps our cause. They even moved them to a more visible place right in front of me. But I did not go out of my way to engage them. And I also pointed out that having them as volunteers would be very helpful. Don't know if they took up on it, but it was worth a try since we were in dialogue already.

Basically, don't go out of your way to engage anyone while you are taking down a report on the app. If I want to try and recruit, I ask "would you be interested in volunteering"? But I don't do that out in parking lots unless a conversation allows for it naturally. I use social media.

Another good thing, if you can get enough people in your area involved, is that Parking Mobility will do a training course with you and "certify" you. See my last post on what you need to do in order to get partnered with your community through Parking Mobility.

Look; basically think of yourself as James Bond without the action heroics. All you are doing is gathering data quickly, quietly and safely to support the cause of cleaning up accessible violations in your area. Everyone deserves access to groceries, shops, and health care. People who violate that parking are taking way from someone who not only needs that space, but took the responsibility to go through the steps to park legally. I've seen some interesting tricks people will use to sidestep those same responsibilities.

ID on the dashboard: No placard and no plate means a violation. Your ID won't cut it.

Leaving someone to guard the car: That just makes you stand out. And we don't have to get close in most cases thanks to the good ol zoom feature on our smart phones.

Parking on the crosslines: Sorry that someone else got there first, but even with a placard, you can't park there. The crosslines are for wheel chair accessibility and safety in leaving and approaching the parking spaces.

Take two (or all of them): With just one vehicle. I know you don't want your new car scratched, but come on. Before I started using the app, I came across and elder man who parked his car across, not one, not two, but three accessible parking spaces. That's insane and would have been worthy of reporting. He didn't have a placard either.

So, the idea, to reiterate, is to safely gather the data and send it in. Don't get into confrontations and if approached, play it off. You can claim technical difficulties on your phone or something, but just walk away. Use distance where ever you can when using the app. You can zoom in with your phone from as far as another aisle away. It will look like you are taking a general parking lot photo. Then you can claim you are just taking down general data on parking spaces or something.

And one more tip: If the media wants to talk to you, refer them to the source. Media attention is fine, but it's best if your community is already partnered or you have them talk to Parking Mobility directly.