Sunday, August 30, 2009

Maybe sometime I'll be able to grow something besides weeds

For the third time in so many years, I pulled all the weeds out of my front garden. A whole afternoon in the sun, pulling up creeping charlie, dandelions, and grass into big Hefty yard bags to be brought to the Ramsey County compost place. And for the third time, I vowed to plant something, anything, in those beds lest they become overgrown with weeds once again.

Last fall, I decided I didn't want any of the remnants left behind from prior owners of my home. The primary flower present was the iris, which I don't care for because of the short bloom time and just plain ugly blossoms. So I dug them up, bulbs and all, and left the bed to freeze over the winter, full intentions to plant something in the spring. Spring came and went, and because I just could not decide what I liked, I put landscaping fabric down to keep weeds away while I made up my mind. But I failed to take landscape fabric 101 and did not put near enough stakes in, and alas the weeds persisted right though and an even bigger mess ensued.

Turns out, I'm damn good at growing weeds. I don't necessarily mind the labor of pulling them out, just would like to pull them out to allow something else to grow. I considered planting some bulbs, but after taking many long walks around the neighborhood and studying yards belonging to others, I have decided I love the more native look. I'm going to go for some sort of black eyed Susan, purple cone flower kind of mess. I read in the newspaper's garden section that fall is an OK time to plant these, if they are low on blossoms and high on stems and roots. Not to mention, plants go on sale this time of year and I can get them for much cheaper than in the spring. So we'll see. I am lucky enough to have beds already cut, all I need to do is biff up the soil and make it pretty, so what the hell.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Funny of the Day

Today's Mother Goose & Grimm by Mike Peters

Thank you Mike Peters, you bring great joy to my morning coffee.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I want to calculate the odds but can't!

I thought it would be easy to find the statistical likelihood of getting rear-ended and contracting strep thoat. Multiply the two together, and wa-la, the odds of having them together appear on the calculator. I Yahooed and I Googled, I read medical sites and traffic safety data, and could not find anywhere that will tell me something like: "The average person has a 1 in x chances of getting rear ended." Well, turns out the stats on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration largely surround fatalities, alcohol, and motorcycles (and combinations thereof). And Googling "the odds of getting strep throat" bring you to a bunch of mommy sites telling people to reduce their odds by handwashing, etc. Maybe my search parameters were incorrect, or I simply wasn't patient enough to keep digging for the data I sought. Or maybe Google isn't as "smart" as I gave it credit for and I'd have to go to a library or something. Or maybe, just maybe, insurance companies house this precious data in air tight, oxygen minimized environments so smarty-pants bloggers like me can't uncover the data and learn something they don't want me to know. But surely this data exists, someplace...didn't Jack Nicholson star in a movie about an insurance guy who was too paranoid to do anything because he knew the stastical likelihood of getting hurt or killed doing everything?

Whatever the odds may be, this set of circumstances has led to one hell of a week. Monday afternoon, I was sitting in a boring meeting when I thought I felt my throat scratch. I otherwise felt fine and went about my evening as though nothing were wrong. I went to the gym, cleaned the house and enjoyed being the queen of my domain. Tuesday was the car accident. I was sitting at a red light, checking out my hair in the rear-view, minding my p's & q's when BAM, my car is hit. Luckily I did not "pile up" onto the car in front of me and the damage seems to be minor (I've yet to hear from an insurance adjuster but that is a whole other blog). I was shaken, so I took the afternoon off work and relaxed. Wednesday I woke up feeling not so great, but not terrible enough to call into work so I dealt with it, but there was no energy for my normal Wednesday run. This morning, I really wanted to call in, as overnight the pain in my throat woke me up several times during the night and I got little sleep. I didn't think it was strep, or that serious, because I had no fever. However, because of the accident, I was eating Ibuprofen like it was candy and my doctor pointed to me today that I was probably suppressing the fever.

But I digress. What are the odds? Who knows. All I can know is the Universe is sending me a clear message: slow down.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Affordable" Housing: Bleeding Hearts vs Money Makers

I have been in the affordable housing industry for nearly ten years and have born witness to the constant pull between the bleeding heart and the money-making conservative. The bleeding heart wants the best deal for all, and will house anyone from the drunken bum under the bridge to the ex crack dealer avoiding child support. The money-making conservative doesn't care about housing in and of itself, but about the buck to be made by charging the most by providing the least.

One of the realities of government housing programs is that the programs allow landlords to charge higher than normal rents to off set the administrative burden of pushing cases of paper and filling out forms ad nausem. Therefore, a concept that seems to belong to the bleeding heart is taken over by the money-maker, as the money-maker holds the purse strings.

So what happens when you have money-makers partering with the bleeding hearts to fulfill two ends with the same means? The money-makers run the budget and question why the bleeding hearts are spending staff time on school supply drives and food shelves. Meanwhile, bleeding hearts allow free loaders to live in apartments for months rent-free because they can't stand the thought of an eviction and question how the money-makers can be so harsh.

These are extreme examples but they are examples I have witnessed and conversations in which I have partaken, and the nexus between providing a basic human need and making a buck off that need is a delicate one. In the end, there needs to be some money making or appliances go unfixed and yards go untended. Likewise, there needs to be some forgiveness of poor choices or there would be no one living in the buildings to pay rent.

I find myself comfortably in the middle, making a livable wage off an industry designed to help those who do not. I sit in a cubicle at the "home office" where I am shielded from the reality of what happens: all I get are the stories of our residents an.d the numbers from the money-makers. Some days I am able to accept the different worlds and other days, like today, I question my place in the big ugly scheme of things.