Thursday, March 24, 2011
Now Washington contemplates eliminating that statute of limitations altogether, as it is in 29 other states. The proposed bill passed the Washington State House unanimously. One state senator from the West side, however - Senator Jim Hargrove - refuses to give the bill a needed hearing by this Friday in order to let the bill be considered by the full Senate. If it isn't heard by then, the bill dies for another year.
Here is a great piece by local KXLY on the difficulties - by the way, the argument that it shouldn't be extended because victims will then not come forward is bogus - no victims' advocacy group is saying that, to my knowledge - and it does not reflect the truth of what happens - as one advocate put it, the only ones who don't want this bill passed (besides those playing politics in Olympia) are the pedophiles themselves. Oh, and the article that the cases will be harder to prove is also bogus - prosecutors always have the option to decline prosecution if evidence cannot be gathered. But in the case of, for instance, Patrick O'Donnell - a priest here in the 1970s who abused so many, including Tim Corrigan (his widow Cheryl is holding his photo in the news story) - he never faced criminal prosecution in spite of all the evidence because the statute of limitations already had run.
If you do want to express an opinion, email Jim Hargrove at email@example.com or Lisa Brown (Senate Majority Leader from Spokane) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's the story:
(I'm in the shot, actually - standing to the left of the reporter at one point, in black, getting my hair blown all over the place. )
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I did want to mention that Friday is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory - the 1911 textile factory fire in New York City that killed 146 women immigrant workers, mostly Jewish and Italian. Here is a very touching article about people remembering those who died by marking their names in chalk in front of the apartments where they lived.
The happening of this anniversary is eerily timely right now, as Wisconsin unions - and unions across the country - fight to keep at least the basic boundaries formed to protect workers' rights over the past 100 years. The Triangle Fire was one of the catalysts at the turn of the 20th century (another being the publication of The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair) that moved people to action to protect the rights of workers in this country - and to form unions that helped the least workers among us. In the Fire, the factory heads were saved, but not the women workers - mostly the ones who were working on the ninth floor, where the fire engine ladders didn't reach, and sprinklers didn't work, and exit doors were locked, and phone calls couldn't be made to warn them (because the phone on another floor was off the hook, preventing inter-floor phone calls). Under those conditions, with material strewn around workstations like ready-made kindling, the fire ripped through the overcrowded floor at lightning speed. Workers either burned, or jumped to their deaths.
Here is an interesting quote at the end of the article about the sidewalk markings:
One of [the chalk writing organizer's] favorite quotations comes from Gabriel García Márquez: “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.” Certainly, she said, the Triangle fire was colossally sad. But the huge protests and push for change that followed it were, she said, “invigorating.”
“In the wake of tragedies like Triangle or 9/11, my sense is there are actually quite wonderful things that come out and radiate from that,” she said. “There’s an immediate dropping of day-to-day falseness. You become much more compassionate and humane toward each other in those moments.
“It’s incumbent upon us if we’re going to commemorate the fire,” she added, “to commemorate the spirit of action that grew out of the fire.”
There will be bell ringings at 4:45 p.m. EST around the country, to mark the moment that the first alarm sounded 100 years ago. Here is a website for more information.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I think we all have basic values, and then we have one or two values that define us individually. For me, one of my defining values is Justice. Although I never dreamed about becoming a lawyer, it was a great choice once I thought of it, because having balance has always motivated me to action.
When I cry at plays, or movies, justice - or the imbalance of it - is usually a motivating reason. I cried at "Camelot" when King Arthur gave a speech at the end of how he wanted to create courts in order to establish a civilized society. Yes, I cried at his words - at the concept, though in a good way. For as imperfect as our court system is, it is where we go to settle disputes - not the streets, I hope, but to the courts. Or to the courts after the streets, if we weren't able to wait. To hear his speech - from the point of view of the origin - moved me.
I sobbed at "Man of La Mancha" (the older couple sitting next to me didn't want me to drive myself home, I was so emotional) - and at the injustices there - I didn't expect it, you see - I had never seen the musical, though I knew some of the songs - and remember, as a child, listening to my father sing about dreaming the impossible dream (as my mother accompanied him on the piano). But it's a dark play, and it took me down.
And then I could hardly keep myself together at "Of Mice and Men" - had to duck out the theater after it was over, so that nobody had to see how distraught I was. I had always been so angry with George for not getting it together better to keep Lennie out of harm's way, until a friend of mine scolded me for having such high expectations of the poor guy, who himself was hardly able to survive. And so, when I watched the play with her thoughts in mind, and I realized George was a victim too - my gosh, I couldn't stand it.
(As a youth, in a philosophy class, I wrote a paper once about Oedipus, blaming him for fulfilling his destiny of killing his father and marrying his mother. If he didn't want to do that, then shouldn't he have stopped killing men his father's age? and really - shouldn't he have thought twice before marrying a women who could have been his mother? After reading the paper, my professor said, "Aren't you being a little hard on Oedipus?" Maybe. Maybe I was a little hard on him...)
When I was on the board of our local Meals on Wheels, I went out once to serve the meals - only once, though. I was great at keeping my distance in the board room - looking at things analytically - knowing we were doing our small part to help out Spokane's poorest-of-the-poor seniors. But when I went door-to-door, all I wanted to do was fix everything - clean every apartment - take everyone to their medical appointments so they didn't have to struggle with the bus and their walkers... So I stayed in the board room after that - where I actually could be productive, and not just spinning my wheels (so to speak).
The thing is, for as much as I want justice for all, I can't really personally provide it for every single person. And even more than that - the world doesn't intend for one human being to achieve that. In fact, if you look beyond our justice "system" - the court system that is imperfect, and rarely effects justice because money does not heal all wounds - and look to karma instead - spiritual justice - where (the theory goes) the universe constantly seeks balance, and seeks to correct imbalance - then part of the equation is that individual people need to stand up for themselves sometimes, on their own, without additional help, so that the next time some injustice comes barreling on down upon them, they have some tools to use in the battle.
That doesn't mean I can't help sometimes - or at least cry, at the sight of unfairness - that must create some balancing too, don't you think? If we can see the injustice, recognize it, and mourn its existence...
I do think that's why the tearing down of teacher unions has been met with such public negativity. It's one thing to get the unions in balance. It's quite another to just destroy them. Where's the justice in that?
Okay. Well, I hope this makes sense. I typed fast - knew I couldn't let another week go by without a blog entry! And happy Justice Day to you. (Is there such a thing?)
Sunday, March 6, 2011
It was just a wonderful day, filled with lots of immigration information about Bing Crosby's roots, and how his family played a huge role in the settling of the Pacific Northwest. The whole day started before the program began, however, with a burst of nostalgia. Someone had set up a small screen with youtube clips of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin that played while we waited for the conference to begin. It was just wonderful! And so funny. Here they were - the cool guys - bursting into song during a movie, or completely relaxed while singing as a trio. That's back when you could be cool and a little corny at the same time. Here are some of the videos we watched - first, one of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby singing in the "High Society" film:
And then this clip, from the Dean Martin Show - I presume it was his show - singing the Nathan Detroit song (a part Sinatra played in "Guys and Dolls"):
So much fun!
The title of this piece comes from Bing Crosby's nephew, who was also one of our speakers. In his reminiscing about "Uncle Bing," he told a story that his uncle had told him, about how they tried to get Bob Hope to take a vacation - a two-week deep sea fishing expedition - but they had to come back to shore after just a day to drop him off. When the reporters asked Mr. Hope what had happened - did he get seasick? - he answered that he had not realized one thing before going on the trip: "Fish don't clap." So he'd come back home. Ha!
I did get a chance to show all the Crosby presenters the photo in my baseball novel ("Until the End of the Ninth," about the Spokane Indians' minor league team and a bus crash midway through the season that killed nine of the players) of Bing Crosby donating $2,500 at the memorial fundraiser game that they held just days after the bus crash, to raise money for the families of the bus crash victims. He and Bob Hope had just been up here golfing a month or so before the crash. The presenters were excited to see a photo that they had never seen before - and gathered information on how to get a copy of the original through a local family.
One of the tasks yesterday was to spend some time doing your own family research on ancestry.com. I decided to focus on my dad's side of the family, where I have some records and photos of a great-great grandfather who served in the Civil War. The volunteer who assisted me (they had a volunteer for every participant, it seemed) was especially thrilled that we kept running into family photos online. Apparently this was quite unusual. I had no idea. I told her that, through my mother's side, we go back to the American Revolution. She was in awe. She made me feel like I had accomplished something, just by sitting there and existing.
What I did notice about my dad's side though, was how they all came over from this fairly small area in Switzerland - the province of Schaffhausen, and then these little towns sprinkled around the province - towns like Schleitheim (current population 1,663) and Löhningen (pop. 1,213) and Guntmadingen (pop. 248). And then somehow they all found their way to Buffalo County in Wisconsin - to towns like Mondovi (current pop. 2,634) and Eleva (pop. 635) - and got married. All to each other, too - all these Swiss marrying other Swiss. It must have been quite the detour for my grandfather to marry my Norwegian grandmother. He was 28, she was 17 - and he was smitten from the start, is what the story always was.
It did baffle me a little yesterday - you move from a little town in a cold place to another little town in another cold place? Huh. It seems to be a lot of work, and distance, just to recreate what you had back home. It did get me here though, so I'm not complaining. And maybe that's partly why I like small towns - it's in the blood.
I was proud to read how civic-minded they were. I already knew that my grandfather was the local hospital administrator, and was on the Buffalo County commission, for years. Yesterday I learned that his maternal grandfather - the one who served in the Civil War (and is rumored to run an oral message between General Meade and President Lincoln on whether Lincoln should stay in D.C. or not) - ended up a Justice of the Peace, helped organize a school district as well as creamery co-ops there in Dairyland, and was quite active in the Lutheran church - as they all were, I'm sure. And I didn't read about any arrests - well, they were Swiss, after all. Anyway, a fun day overall. Worth the trip!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
If I tweeted (or is that "twitted"), things would be posted - since that takes a lot shorter time to compose than a blog entry. Indeed, I continue a little Facebooking, even in the midst of creating and editing.
So, in semi-tweet-like form (did I just hear a bird?), I can tell you that:
*It's been snowing in Spokane. Winds reached 58 mph yesterday at our airport.
*I had a plan to drive to Seattle over the weekend, as I wanted to do research about my new script, and one of the main scene locations is Pike Place Market - so I was going to go on a ghost tour and such - but was worried that the snow would impede my ability to get through Snoqualmie Pass and back, so I postponed for a later date TBD.
*I have decided to go all-out in my effort to buy American - under the theory that, since our tax structure encourages companies to take jobs overseas, then our buying patterns here should encourage them to keep the jobs here instead. My foray into this effort was only partially successful on Saturday, as only one of my three purchased vegetables - the onion - was home-grown, so to speak. The other two - the tomato and the mushroom(s) - were from Canada and Mexico. Sigh. But I did hear from Bounty Towels (which I like - they have cute patterns!) - in response to my email - that they do manufacture their towels here in America, so it looks like I'm able to keep purchasing Bounty. Here's what they said:
Thanks for contacting Bounty. I'm happy you are interested in knowing where our Bounty products are made. Bounty paper towels (including Bounty Basic & Bounty Napkins) are made in Mehoopany, PA – Albany, GA – Green Bay, WI – Cape Girardeau, MO – and Oxnard, CA. Hope this helped! Thanks again for writing.
Jerron J., Bounty Team
This sounds great. But I'm such a lawyer - so I thought, hmm - does this mean that all Bounty towels are made in these locations? And if not, what percentage of towels are manufactured overseas and then brought here for sale? Inquiring minds want to know. So I've emailed that follow-up question - will let you all know what I find out.
UPDATE: Bounty has not responded to my more pointed question. I emailed again this (Thursday) a.m., saying that if I don't hear back, I'll presume it means that the majority of American-sold Bounty towels are not American-made. (I did notice where Procter and Gamble, which manufactures Bounty, has manufacturing plants around the world, so I think it's a pretty fair question for me to ask). (Update - Thursday afternoon - they've responded! and yes, Bounty towels all are made in these United States - Whitney S. from The Bounty Team emailed me the following: "Hi Beth, Thanks for contacting Bounty. We really appreciate your interest in our bounty paper towel. I am happy to inform you that all Bounty paper towels are manufactured in the United States.")
If Bounty ends up not to be an option (update: it is! see the few sentences immediately above), I do know that Seventh Generation is manufactured in the U.S.A. In fact, I actually contemplated SG as my first option, as they not only are a U.S. company (privately owned), but they also are a responsible one, using only recycled products. I have purchased their paper products before...
ADDITIONAL UPDATE: Just got off the telephone with Seventh Generation - such nice people! - and they were able to inform me that their paper towels (and toilet paper) are manufactured both in the United States and Canada - and that the stretch to the one plant in Canada had to do with a limited pool of manufacturing plants in the United States for recycled products - and was not an effort to flee the country - which makes sense to me (e.g., their manufacturing choices are not actually costing Americans jobs0 - and they have the additional attraction of producing recycled products - so hats off to Seventh Generation! I'm officially switching to them for those paper products.
By the way - the Seventh Generation concept originates with Native Americans - that all we do is done in honor of the seven generations that have come before us and in anticipation of the seven generations to come in the future - which makes that a very cool name...
So this is all excellent news. It means that we now have at least two great choices for paper towels.
*Oh, and I've been enjoying all the Wisconsin stuff. One wonders (as the Morning Joe crew observed last week) why the Wisconsin governor just doesn't declare victory and settle it all. He has, after all, won all the financial concessions he was seeking from the unions. Here was a nice video from over the weekend about the protests and sit-in. I sent it along to both my nieces as I thought they would enjoy the efforts that students in their age group were making in Madison.
So there's a quick recap of My Week That Was. Thanks for checking in!