Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Song of the Week

"Sail" - AWOLNation
Happy Birthday Juice (a few days early)!

The Most Interesting Telephone Pole in the World

Diesel in Maine in 2007:

Diesel in Maine in 2007

Diesel in Maine in 2008:

Diesel in Maine in 2008
Diesel in Maine in 2009:

Diesel in Maine in 2010:

Diesel in Maine in 2011:
Diesel in Maine in 2011
Diesel in Maine in 2012

Diesel in Maine in 2013

Diesel in Maine in 2014:

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Russian Jean Valjean

I experienced a very disturbing situation this weekend, which leads me to question the direction our country is going in, but before I can explain it, you need to understand a little bit about Family Day.
Where I live we are part of a homeowners' association. It is not gated, the houses don't all look the same, but we all pay dues, follow rules and almost all the homes are adjacent to one of the three parks.
The elementary school is located on one of the parks. The neighborhood kids go to school together, then playgroup (half-day summer camp for kids kindergarten-6th grade), they play, swim and work together. This fosters an incredible sense of community. Several people we know grew up there as kids and came back to raise their own families.
One day in summer is called Family Day, it starts in the morning with activities for kids like pony rides, inflatable slides (include a water slide), carnival games (with prizes), spin art and face-painting.
It is a completely open event. The pool is open all day to everyone, IDs are not checked, guest fees are not charged. Everything is paid for by the association. All that we ask is that parents (including residents) buy their children a wristband for $15 for access to all the above mentioned attractions plus cotton candy and sno-cones.
The pony rides and the bigger inflatable slide were manned by employees of the respective companies and they were turning away kids without wristbands.

But the rest of the things, like the bounce house were either unstaffed or done so by residents volunteering (and sacrificing times with their own families).
But there was a sign next to each station making it clear that you needed a wristband but many people just ignored it.
After having to wait for non-payers at several attractions including the bounce house (where I saw one lady, speaking Russian, but clearly telling someone about the wristband policy), I started to get frustrated.

While Chase and Julian were getting their faces painted (by a friendly resident volunteer)

the line was starting to get long. Next on line, in front of 3 paying residents, was a little girl, with her scofflaw mother (the one speaking Russian at the bounce house) nowhere to be found.

I decided to speak up. In my nicest voice I said "sweetie, tell your mommy you need a wristband to get your face painted."

Before I even finished the sentence the little girl shot back "we don't have enough money."

No one is going to turn away a child in this case. And the mother knew that. Which is why she coached the daughter to say it.

There is no way this woman is so poor that she literally had to choose between spending 15 dollars on a wristband and eating that day, she just didn't deem this expenditure worth it, especially because she knew if she plotted it right (found the soft targets, coached her daughter, and stood far away) she could get away with it.
I think she was just trying to get away with something (like the people at Panera who ask for a cup for water and then fill it up with soda) but it represents something more sinister and insidious in our society: the entitlement attitude.

If someone has more money than you, they must have stolen it or cheated you to get it, so are just stealing it back.
And that's what this woman was doing: stealing. This was an immoral act. It is wrong to take something (product or service) without paying for it.
If she truly couldn't afford it then that is sad. But she should have stayed home, that would have been a better lesson for the child than the one she taught her.