Thursday, March 27, 2008

Privacy and Purpose in an Age of Silent or Vocal Dissent

Some people can stand and deliver. Others shuck and jive. A few may tell it like it is. Some blow or spew verbal steam without realizing that they overlook reality to fit their present perspective. A few of us verbally gnaw each others psyche until we are alienated, nauseated, and frustrated. Most of us don't remain static in one of the these patterns. Perhaps, we remain silent or distance ourselves from mental challenges to our intelligence. Certainly, peace is a virtue, but not to the extent that an oppressive, questionable, and unreasonable status quo looms on our horizon.

Most of us refuse to comment and opt out as observers of another's agenda or perception. Opting out is not always a 'cop out.' We remain silent for several reasons. Perhaps, it is likely that the other person will appear aggressive, outraged, or simply won't pay attention. No one wants to appear ignorant, ignored, or overlooked. However, in doing so, a minority may hijack morality for the sake of unreasonably dominating our cheerished freedoms. Dissent without action may evolve into consent.

In many nations, privacy is not an option. Silence and submission is! In our nation privacy has become a shrinking commodity. Our right to remain silent and the option to have our preferences kept confidential 'may' be sacrificed even though the 'data diggers' had the best intentions. In its place, products are improved and facts released, but in its wake lives are scrutinized. Aren't these sharp tactics arguably unfair and ethically questionable? Will a past, present or future position or vote remain private, persecuted, or proselytized?

We are criticized for seeking neutrality and objectivity in spite of our ignorance or perspective. Our perspective may be reasonable yet deviate from others. We are panned or praised for our desire to seek some pinnacle of virtue. We accept, ignore, wade, or welcome the consequences of reaching or losing attentiveness while seeking reasonable goals. We scold or are scolded due to our shortsighted vision of what we perceive as civic, personal, professional, and parental responsibility. Such a moral compass is sometimes uncertain and vacillating.

The moral magnetism driving us north can prove elusively south, yet appeal to a minority. Some of us are bullheaded in our pursuit of reality and reason. In our elusive aims, we forget how to treat each other. We raise our voices and point our words in righteous indignation. Perhaps, only to later realize that we have overstated the obvious or ignorance to someone alienated and numbed by our messages.

One aspiration is that those who lose touch and those numbed by ignorance will return to some sort of appreciation and humility. That is, an apology in deeds or its acceptance is not a form of weakness. Rather, a reckoning form of strength for those willing to listen. Those who are outspoken or those who are on the receiving end should appreciate that the voice of reason need not always be expressed in rhetorical or condescending tones. We should appreciate and occasionally exercise our bill of rights unlike those without one. Otherwise, we may get bent and out of shape.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Rogers Park Garden Club Metra Project on Sunday @ 1pm

Consider helping with this Garden improvement event on Sunday to improve the Rogers Park Metra Station. Also, vote with your e-mail message to support the grant for RP Metra Project at Click on links, below, for more information. The project should progress quicker with more consistent support, particularly from families and/or neighbors who tend to lurk, not work.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chicago's Water Supply One Big Pharmaceutical Question Mark?

Some of us may have read about the pharmaceutical cocktail that likely awaits us at our faucets. This drug contamination in the nations water supply is by no means limited to major City limits but likely stretches outside to the major metropolitan areas. The ABC and the New York Times have some pretty good coverage. Still, as Hal Zenick of the EPA's office of research and development put it in an e-mail message to the New York Times, “there is uncertainty as to the risk to humans.”

Chicago, in its infinite fear opted out of testing. Recently, Rod insisted that Ravenswood get tested in an effort to verify whether sleeping pills, among other compounds, may have kept Blagojevic from making more trips to Springfield. However, there is a known solution to this mess; a reverse osmosis ["RO"] water filtration system. Frankly, even WebMD admits, "The water supply has a drug problem."

Some fear the cost to purify water, but for less than $500 a 50 gallon RO unit and tank can be yours. That is cheap insurance. There remains uncertainty about the long term consequences of trace and ongoing unneeded anti-biotic exposure. The RO process completely eliminates pharmaceuticals from the water supply according to well placed sources. However, you must replace the filters every year or two. Otherwise, you may ruin the membrane. Even the filter replacement cost is minimal when compared to the benefits. We have owned a Culligan RO unit since 1990 and the new non-Culligan units are half the price and twice the capacity of the older ones.

For some of our more pessimistic Rogers Park blogging community, the prozac and zantac may prove to be welcome additions to their households. Again, there is a solution worth considering, where you don't want the city's runoff of anabolic steroids to leach into your barley soup.

Consider Culligan, but I am sure that there are other vendors. Culligant rents units, but it also sells them at what once seemed like premium prices.

Again. For those who wish to bulk up on your water, then wait for Mayor Delay and the City Clown Cell to figure out how to deal with the waste water generated by RO. For those who want to invest in a healthy future, consider purchasing an RO unit on your own.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thomas Dalof Saga - What about the other Thugs?

Should the media fixate exclusively upon Boubacar Bah? He is alleged to have intentionally hit Thomas Dalof with his 1994 Buick Skylark in Edgewater near Granville and Lakewood. What about the four or more guys who kept Dalof and his friend from leaving in another friend's car?

When you aide and abet a crime, you can be considered an accomplice or co-conspirator. Obviously, Dalof's surviving friends can hopefully identify these co-horts. I hope that Police consider other counts and suspects. Those who cajole others to commit voluntary manslaughter deserve to be charged, as well, even if a jury must struggle with whether to convict.

Where was the bouncer? Was Bah and his buddies served until they were blitzed? Will that liquor license be pulled?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's the deal with Weed? Or Abbie Hoffman?

What is the deal with weed? Why is it such a forbidden and offensive herb? This cured plant that causes grown men to get the munchies was always a questionable scourge! Why do the ‘Congressionals’ and Legislators have such a ‘hard-on’ against the transportation, possession, sale and use of Cannabis Sativa?

I have pondered these edicts and have come up with no logical basis. The only arguable purpose is to save the lungs of the common man, while perpetuating the “Reefer Madness” myth demonizing dope for the sake of hooch. I don’t smoke anything, but if I had the choice, and ‘Maui Wowie’ was decriminalized, then it would not be a pack of Marlboros.

I mean . . . why is it that grown men in uniforms or walkie talkies chase teenagers, waste tax payers’ money, and isolate them for selling or smoking Columbian Gold? Why did our Government punish the populace with paraquat? The answer lies! There is no rational answer!

For hundreds of years man has hybridized, subsidized, and smoked commercial grade nicotiana only to get lung cancer. Yet, we cannot face the fact that not only is there medicinal uses, but also recreational, and even commercial uses for hemp.

We are so married to our depressing Budweiser that we forget that drinking and driving kills more than toking with the Toyota. Obviously, irresponsibility is inevitable and that requires law enforcement’s attention. Currently, we have codified away a freedom that may not necessarily impact others with rational controls.

In the Seventies, I had the pleasure of meeting quite a few intelligent people, who occasionally smoked grass without fabled enduring side effects. I enjoyed my days spent in the Aragon or the Uptown. In the eighties, I finally met Abbie Hoffman at Northwestern University. Abbie ‘was the movement’ to legalize weed.

Hoffman shocked the nation by sending weed to the middle class and middle aged in number 10 envelopes each containing two joints and instructions. He was one of the most humorous and politically astute people that graced this Earth with their presence. The recent Looney Toon like cartoon called Chicago Ten makes Abbie 'look like' Don Imus, among others, but that is not the point.

I am glad that Abbie published before he passed on. However, he was a zealot. Regrettably, in his ultimate moments, he was a deeply depressed dude desiring to die. I am proud that Abbie was a Reform Jew. I like to say that Abbie was a ‘reformed Jew’ in that he was totally oblivious to the unrighteous stigmas created by society. Sometimes, I wonder if Hoffman’s mailing list came from his Temple.

I am sure that it brought disappointment for Abbie to hear about Jerry Rubin’s last jaywalk after Hoffman resurfaced to face Court. However, it was unfortunate that Abbie refused to look for a logical way to overcome his agony and depression; his humor brought tears of joy to many of us. I mean he was ‘right on’ so far as his sensitivity to political realities; his humor hit home. This is how he and others instilled the ‘Woodstock Nation;’ it was and is a state of mind.

I wonder whether Abbie had ADHD, among other things. I wish that we had the opportunity to see Abbie grow more humorous. On the day that he passed away, I drove to Lincoln Park. I walk in what I believed was the location of the ‘Watermelon site’ organized by the Woodstock Nation. I was the only one in the Park at Midnight. I pondered as to what was next as I walked the cement tightrope wall by the monument. Where do I go from here? I have taken the ‘Abbies’ of this world for granted.

Well, I stopped smoking weed just before I quite smoking cigarettes in the early ‘80s. My justification for one was no different than the other. I prized my lung capacity more than the tar, THC and nicotine. That was over twenty years ago. It had little to do with the law, but more to do with the fact that I did not want to play Russian roulette with my lungs.

Later on, a colleague encouraged me to smoke a cigar or two every six to eight months. However, that ended about two years later when an angiogram found plaque over ten years ago. I also quit to avoid disqualification under a new life insurance policy. Frankly, when I woke up in the morning on those few occasions, I dreaded the sensation of cigar tar in my stomach, so it was not much of a sacrifice.
Now, in 2008, we have come full circle. We have finally banned tobacco smoking. Now, the Marlboro man is anathema. He died, but not before his lust for smoke ended. Near the end, the less than magnificent cowboy model for Phillip Morris personally refuted his poor judgment. He did this while attached to the oxygen tank keeping his emphysema under control.

In spite of this edict and that of John Wayne after he, too, kicked the cow dust too much, we still have people smoking and square dancing at NASCAR into the new millennium. They are still puffing on their pack of Palls or hacking on other ‘coffin nails’ as Ronald Reagan did in the fifties. Some probably wished that Reagan continued, but no such luck, since we learned why Bush lost to Reagan. Unfortunately, Gore and Kerry were too blow dried to bellow brilliantly from their buttresses, as well, but Nader never nudged enough either.

Well, we still have Chicago’s finest chasing a few kids with a joint, while trying to tackle Thai stick on Touhy. All that we have done is to create a market whose price escalates for no other reason than to get a rise out of society. We also have a market that encourages those who’s reasons to smoke are to question authority or seek solace. In exchange, we have trained dogs and delved into people’s privacy for the sake of social control. Has the experiment worked? Well, our expanding detention and prison system says enough about our conception of justice.

One of the few comparable nations recognizing the realities of this challenge is the United Kingdom. In a system that provides addicts with options, true drug abusers seem to have figured the situation out in the U.K., but it takes time. Some of us appreciate that Pot is an herb that can be used for many purposes for commercial gain. There are ways to imbibe that create a high, not a die in many people without the need to even smoke it.

Yet it, among other substances, is illegal, which is an unfortunate fact that awaits eventual objective re-evaluation. A conscious parent can objectively explain the ups and downs to a receptive child, who can make reasonable choices given good judgment and the current laws.

It does not take a rocket scientist to proclaim that controlled substances, including whiskey, in excess, can hurt you. I appreciate the effects of THC, but I don’t think that we have to continue to label tens of thousands of people as criminals. This does not stop substance abuse. It seems prejudiced in that those without a good attorney or prestige get convicted. Some who are oblivious to the consequences of a criminal conviction mess up their chance at getting employed or get deported, among other things.

The idea that a few joints on your free time create havoc at the work place is questionable at best. I wonder about current scientific data and the objectivity of the sources. No, I don’t donate to NORML, nor am I a criminal attorney. Frankly, I prosecuted cases at one point. If I decided to resume doing so, then I would obligate myself to enforce all criminal laws including the more questionable ones. Perhaps, that is why I don’t prosecute, nor do I savor representing anyone charged with drug crimes.

In my halcyon days, I had no horror stories with herb. The euphoria worked for me, because I kept one thing straight. If you cannot party with good acquaintances or friends, then just don’t party. Passing the peace pipe was not passé. That and the fact that our home must now be excessively clean is probably why my scotch bottles remain relatively full. The phobia for guests seeing 'our dust' overwhelms the significant other. Instead, I drink tea from Assam to Zulu, because its legal, not a depressive, and the flavor will not diminish my depth perception.

May our nation get brilliant and legalize, abandon its most materialistic urges, and may we begin to appreciate the finer points of a democracy with lasting peace. Anarchy is cute with its scarlet letter, but a relatively organized yet non-conformist house need not always be divided for the hell of it. Although, I don’t plan to smoke cannabis or tobacco, I don’t see why a person cannot do so in the privacy of their home or some open field as long as the smoke does not reasonably offend or seep too far out.

This is for Aron, Ben, Kim, and Larry, Ron, and Steve, but not necessarily in that order.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Letter Please? CPS Releases Academic Center Results

Well, the writing was on the wall, but the CPS Academic Center acceptance remains bittersweet. Perhaps, our child should be grateful for this lesson at a young age. Our sixth grader will make the transition from Decatur Classical to an Academic Center. The results arrived today. Last year 29 children from the entire Northside were selected for Young Academic Center. Our child ships out to Taft Academic Center [“TAC”] this fall. I am looking forward to it.

We learned, too late, that fifth grade Chicago Public School [“CPS”] transcripts count. However, we certainly encouraged and worked with our child. What the CPS ignores is our gain. Decatur Classical School teaches one or two grade levels above the overall CPS System. This means that Decatur grades seem not as watered down as the other schools. The ISAT scores at TAC are 100% above in both Math and Reading, which is as good as Young Academic Center.

Some may question the above mentioned assumption of the Decatur grading system. Our other child, who is in a near gifted program at another renowned CPS institution received straight As. Perhaps, our younger child’s grades, not the test scores will catapult into a Young Academic admission in spite of lower test scores.

Some parents presume that Young Academic Center is the best option, but I am not necessarily convinced. Taft also provides AP College credit to Academic Center Students. The kids probably prefer Young AC, because it is newer and has better facilities. However, I favor the idea of a child rising up like a Phoenix from this slight setback. It may be worth its weight in gold. Perhaps, another selective enrollment high school becomes our child’s target, not just ours. This is real life. Kids just cannot get this in the suburbs!

We unconsciously preferred a few of the other selective enrollment high schools, so Taft Academic may be the better option. Nevertheless, this can also serve as a wake up call. There was some resistance with the temptation to runescape, among other diversions. This challenge always pits one parent against another for our child’s affection. Now, our kid may actually listen to me, among others.

I felt like our tween may have acted like an academic prima donna, when potential study time may have been used more wisely. We can be more encouraging and set limits, but we do well in spite of the situation. Now, I hope that this letter proves to be an inspirational moment. There will be a separation from more successful classmates and friends. Some seem to have studied harder or expressed more interest. The test scores were not an issue, here; just a draconian grade scale.

The gifted academic center programs at all Chicago Public Schools contain children and parents who remain fiercely dedicated to those schools. This leaves few, if any, spaces for transfers. We never wanted our child to attend Lincoln Park High School for personal and practical reasons, so we ‘flinched’ at the Ogden interview. Consequently, if your child can attend a Classical School, or is an overachiever at a local school, then consider applying and testing for the CPS Academic Centers.

Now, our goal will be to work to improve an already exceptional program at Taft Academic Center. We will also hope that our child appreciates that hard work can eventually pay off.

If you reasonably consider the CPS System and learn how to navigate, then the Academic Centers and Gifted Programs are more than worthy of consideration. Both populations usually eclipse the suburbs on test ISAT test scores, because all students are dedicated and so are their parents. However, you have to live in Chicago to attend and some are 'big hat, no cattle' types.

I guess some just don’t appreciate the advantages of living in Rogers Park. Perhaps, a few would rather pay excessive real estate taxes or pay High School tuition. A few of us will put ourselves into mega-debt to show off to a few neighbors or refinance for University tuition only to have an academically ungrateful child who drops out.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Rogers Park Tourist - News @ 11pm

Six bells and all is well. Hark, who goes there? Tourist? Meandering around and bothering natives with camera clicking? Fie on thee scurvy demented soul. . . yeh say ye are rrrr local? What would a fine lad like you be dithering with a box like that stealing people's souls?
Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhh, expecting an opportune moment to catch the heathen slithering in around ye ole tracks and onto the platform? Have ye no fear, pagan; the heathen will slice your neck and roast yer ears for supper? Where is thy reason, boy?

I am so tired of hearing the blotter, blithering ignorance, and review of a few power tripping anonymous comments! This is not a reference to the routine gossip among the RP blogging community. Believe me! When do some begin to live and 'get a life? Let's here it for anonymous in his/her refusal to take any responsibility for a few questionable comments about Rogers Park.

I am an at dusk person, who routinely experiences RP at night, whether it is on the Howard Terminal Platform or waiting for tips or wings at Buffalo Joes. I don't fixate on peoples' Football or Baseball jerseys. I have better things to do than predict who is the L.A. Raiders fan, the poser, or the few pumping for power at some gangster picnic or street corner.

Well, tonight, I got a kick out of the mocking that someone left on the dust covering some of Standard Parking lot's finest patrons: "Tow me . . . I dare you." Does anyone think that Gabriel from Standard's centeral office in Streeterville gives a crap about freeing up some of those parking spaces and giving the 'Lincoln Pirates' their just desserts?

I suppose a few posers have spoken in RP, but perhaps they are from some other community. The power of the internet. Do you believe everything that you read. Do you objectively pay attention to everything that you see? Has anyone forgotten that segregation was supposed to end in the Seventies but for prejudiced real estate agents on a mission to limit diversity and prosperity.

We should not pretend that St.Margaret Mary’s Parish has been overcome by the sentries of Stoneville! Three hail Mary’s, but no great volleys of gun fire here! Head South, my man, head south, but veer away from 26th and Cal! The Paddy wagon is not a cool ride.

Frankly, I am too busy trying to make some cents out of life, rather than freaking out over a few northbound yuppies with BMWs. Well, at least I can get here from there without selling crack or cracking a few ribs for that matter! I have lived on and off in RP for over forty years; get used to it! Yes, some of your neighbors actually have pale complexions and have lived here for years wih both day and evening jobs.
Lions and Tigers and Bears? Use common sense and if you don't have the street saavy, check out J. J. Bittenbinder. BTW, that is one heck of a handlebar moustache!