This weekend we experienced our first package theft and our first credit card fraud since moving into the house. We’ve been here for seven years, and considering all the griping we hear from NIMBY’s around town, we’ve been long overdue for the package theft. I can mostly describe my feelings on this matter as annoyed and concerned. I wish we hadn’t lost our $40 Amazon package containing a two person large flower pot lifter. I also wish a misplaced credit card of ours hadn’t been used for a trip to a Shoreline sex shop (I’m more forgiving of the charges to Fred Meyer, Walgreens, and Shell.) Not that I wish to sex-shame thieves, but it seems even I hold to some sort of charity-money hierarchy.

There’s the old trope of the person who won’t give to street beggars because they might spend whatever change you throw in their cup on “drugs” or “booze.” Similar is the shaming of those who use their EBT card to pay for a tasty treat that has negligible nutritional value. So why is the sex store in Shoreline a bridge too far?

I laugh when I think to myself the reasons:

1. Fred Meyer has a decent selection of safer-sex products (lube, condoms, etc.) as well as “massagers.”
2. The Fred Meyer they went to is very close to a locally and woman owned sex shop.
3. They went to a chain store that was out of the way!

But really, that’s the thing about charity. When you give to organizations that distribute aid to the poor, it attaches those strings so you can wag your finger and control the lives of others from a distance. The truth is that I look at myself, and many others I know and love, and it is by luck we are as comfortable as we are because without that luck, we would find ourselves ground under the same rules and the same system that devalues the life and labor of so many. To access what little aid there is to the most vulnerable, it still requires so much time, effort, and skill that it’s easy to forget – ABLIST of us to forget – that some do not.

I choose to think of the theft and the fraud we experienced this weekend as an unexpected donation, because really, what is my other choice? To wish the thieves to be apprehended? And then what? The criminal justice system is so punitive and broken that I don’t really wish anyone to become entangled. There is no rehabilitation or treatment within. Best case scenario means you get out and get a case manager and options within the system, but you have to be able and willing to play the game. Check all the boxes, jump through the hoops, and if you’re using drugs, get clean and sober if you want a chance at housing.

Between banks and credit card companies offering protection against fraud, and the likelihood that Amazon will refund our loss, we’ve lost nothing. We are living comfortably in Seattle, a city of increasing wealth disparity. I imagine many of my neighbors could lose $500 of merchandise or credit without them noticing for days, if not weeks, when the same amount of money could make a world of difference to any number of the car-campers.

SOAP BOX: I just wish so many in Seattle weren’t fighting so hard to preserve and increase the wealth disparity. Large companies, like Amazon (who will likely refund us), bring tons of jobs to our city and provide jobs to those in the construction industry through their rapid expansion. However, because they are not paying their fair-share of taxes, the people they bring in 1) displace lower-wage earners as rent prices increase 2) put a greater strain on our transit and road infrastructure. Head Taxes, and other taxes on businesses like Amazon could fund low-income housing and create a more robust transit infrastructure.

NaNoWriMo 2016: You Have to be Kidding

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-5-02-46-pm I’ll admit that I really don’t think I have the time to write anything these days.

That’s not entirely true. I now have the time, but I’ve been in a creative slump for a decade, and writing and drawing are the two most daunting things in my day. Diapers, and the never-ending cycle of cleaning dumped out containers of whatever in my house, are preferable to the soul crushing experience of trying to create something. The thing is, I know I can do *something* – what, who knows. Of quality? Who can say. I’m brilliant in my own mind, but there’s nothing like a blank screen or sheet of paper to make me whither inside. The presence of a mere paragraph that is somehow not up to my own standards makes me want to shut my laptop to never revisit again. And that character drawing? The one that makes the store mannequins look dynamic and animated?

Yes, as I said, soul crushing.o

Today, though, I did something different. I allowed all these ridiculous story fragments lodged in my head to converge on a story, and a loose outline was created combining parts of a remembered dream from seven years ago and my personal cosmology.

I didn’t get actual writing done, but I got organized! A plan, at least, to fill in the blanks. I should probably add a few dream sequences before I close Scrivener for the night.

Anyhow, folks. In 30 days, if I have something to show for it, I’ll consider it a minor miracle.

Reposts and Attribution: the “White Aurora” or “The Hem of His Garment”

One of the things that bugs me about Facebook is the picture re-posting, frequently without attribution. Pictures can be really cool photos, pieces of art, “memes” (whatever the hell that means), or worse, picture of famous person with some inspirational quote. Not only can the picture and/or attribution be bogus, but the account posting the picture that is subsequently reposted can also be a bogus account, meant to gather followers and shares. This issue isn’t limited to just reposts of photos, as that I’ve seen recipes without attribution also “shared.” I’m sticking with photos/pictures for this post.

The one I notice the most are supposedly radio stations, obviously reposting something they found from somewhere else. Then there are the multi-level marketing (MLM) representatives that when you click through, you see their account is all about promoting their business. And if MLM’s weren’t bad enough, you have the pseudoscience quackery of types like David Avocado Wolfe.

That being said, the reason I got all bothered about this one is that I don’t have a habit of making friends with white supremacists.

screenshot of fake aurora from Facebook
Screenshot of Misattributed Photo

The person who posted this, who has a “Keep Calm and Proud to be White” picture on her profile, originally posted to a group of specifically descendents of white colonialists that were pretty much exiled from the African country they once lived in, in part, because they were white colonialist. (There is much more to be said about this, it’s complicated, like geopolitical history often is, but that’s not the topic of this post.)

Anyhow, as I’ve said, I’m always curious about more than just “original” posters that raise eyebrows (this one caught me because of reference to a former name of an African nation whose former, colonialist flag was among those that Dylann Roof was seen sporting in a photograph.) I’m also curious about dubious scientific claims, such as an aurora being discovered and named, “The Hem of His Garment,” a specific Christian allusion, and a “white aurora.” I took a multi-step, multi-minute trip down a Google rabbit hole to find where this photo originated, and finally arrived to a post, in Russian, from July 16, 2010.

Google Translate to English from Russian - Fluorescent Light and Electromagnetic Field by NeverSmile
Google Translate to English from Russian – Fluorescent Light and Electromagnetic Field by NeverSmile

Not “The Hem of His Garment” (which I could find one attribute easily on Google from an Evangelical site, years after the original post), not a “white aurora in Finland,” which also seems to be a common attribution. Instead, it is light art done deliberately by a photographer.

For a piece of art with more than 100,000 shares, I think this deserves better.

Topics of Conversation

Topics of Conversation I’m Generally Happy to Engage In:
*keep all topics brief until one seems to gain momentum

Esoteric trivia
Authors and their books (including graphic novels)
Favorite media (TV, Movies, Music)
Obnoxious celebrity gossip
Mutual friends/acquaintances (not gossip-y, more like, “Have you heard from Jane lately? I hear she just got a new job.”)
Recipes and flavors
Cooking and baking techniques
Food and drink adventures (restaurants, bars, home cooking)
Fine beer, wine, and spirits