Saturday, November 22, 2014

Immigration Reform: First Change the 14th Amendment

Image by Andrew David Cox
The system is broken. It's true.

However, we cannot begin to start trying to figure out where the system breaks down until we begin enforcing the laws as they are currently written, to their full extent.

If those in power do insist on tackling the issue of immigration reform before beginning with enforcement, then there is one place to start that would make me look much closer at supporting any law.

Right now, the fourteenth amendment grants citizenship rights to "all persons born ... in the United States..." When we had vast open tracts of land that were unsettled according to European definition1, then this made sense. However, the land is entirely owned now. There are no broad tracts of land to settle. In addition, people are deliberately coming in and having "anchor babies," who are considered to be fully born citizens of this country. Then the parents make us out to be monsters: we want to keep the child, but deport the parents.

Now, the wording or understanding of it, needs to be changed. I don't care if you were born here to illegal children. If one of your parents is not a citizen then, you have to go through the naturalization process to become a citizen. If you are the child of a pair of illegal immigrants then, you should be deported with the others. If you have been here long enough to become "Americanized" then take the best parts of our culture home with you and try to change your culture. After all, we want to spread "freedom and democracy" around the world, right? So, let them do it. If they feel that they can't change their culture then, they can attempt to come back legally.

As for those saying: "'If we don't let these people stay then we will not have the labor needed to ." Well, we allow more people in legally each year. We don't just increase border security; we also increase the number of people processing immigrants and their paperwork through with greater speed..

People say that those coming here work hard, and they want to give a better life to their children. For many, that is true, and I cannot say that I would not do the same if I were living in another country. On the other hand, I have more respect for those who remain in their countries. Those who see a problem, and instead of running away argue and support change and reform in their country to benefit not only themselves and their family, but their entire nation.

Obama's plan is passable, but it does not cover all the steps needed to ensure that we don't have this problem again.

1. Change the 14th amendment, one parent must be an American citizen.
2. Allow more legal immigrants through faster.
3. Enforce the rules that we already have on the books.

1: the idea of the Native American vs. European ownership is a debate outside the scope of this essay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Getting Married in Bell County, Texas

Image by KGorz
Getting married used to be simple. You went before the preacher; he announced the upcoming ceremony, waited a few weeks to make sure no weirdness popped out of the woodwork, and had the ceremony. Afterwards, it was written into the books. Ta-da! Have fun in married life.

Unfortunately, bureaucracy has made getting married much more difficult.

Here is what you need to get married in Bell County, Texas:

1. IDs

2. Proof that previous marriages have ended legally.

3. A twenty-four hour waiver (I don't even know if this is possible)

4. An absentee waiver (Much better way for a deployed active duty military to get married)

5. A thirty-day waiver (easily obtainable by military personnel, but only available in Belton).

6. 67.00 for the license fee

7. The license

8. Money for the judge: $40 at Belton, $25 in Killeen. (This must be in cash).

Any questions?

Remember, you can only utilize a single waiver. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Write-in, Not an Overnight

Last time I checked in, I had was closing in on 40,000 words. While, I did not get to write as much as I wanted to, I was definitely making good time. Many things have come up this month, and I have been going out and being social as well as writing. That makes it much harder to balance the two.

Saturday, there was another write-in. This week's meeting was supposed to match the Night of Writing Dangerously, held in San Francisco each year as part of the fundraising efforts of the Office of Letters and Light. OLL is the non-profit which sponsors NaNoWriMo. Although we could not find a place to write overnight, we were attempting to write the same amount of hours. So, we were planning to write from 1pm to 10pm on Saturday, and then at least from 1pm to 6pm on Sunday. 9 hours on Saturday and another five on Sunday would make the amount of time that we spent socially writing longer than the ones that went to the official write in - 14 hours.

Of course, reality rarely matches planning. We started around 1pm, even though Robert was still away at a Boy Scout Merit Badge event. People came and went throughout the afternoon, some of them that we had seen before, and some that we had not. One was even starting to write that day so that she was already half a month behind. However, she did well, she wrote most of two days' words while we were sitting there, even though she did her best to distract herself.

We ended up with nine people again, but we did not have enough tables. One young lady, spent some time writing in her lap until some of the others wandered away, and before others joined us. I think that was one of the Larissa's, but I know that it was the daughter of the mother-daughter duo that show up each week.

Non-NaNoWriMo patrons of the cafe occupied one of the tables, which is why we could not add it to our collection. We speculated upon why the whole store seemed a little busier this week. The conclusion that we came to was that the cold snap had sent people seeking shelter inside. However, the cold snap had gone on long enough that cabin fever drove them to find other warm places, and a bookstore with a coffee shop is one such wonderfully warm place.

Robert returned about 3pm, and Will had to go get him and take him home. He was gone for awhile, nearly and hour and a half. I was surprised. However, he eventually returned and continued typing.

Later, as dinner time approached, our ML, JeaneB, asked the manager about ordering in dinner. That was a no go, no outside food allowed on the premises. There was a cafe, but cafe food is not dinner. We discussed spreading out and then returning to continue writing, but with the cold and some of them had long drives. We decided to not reconvene.

Will and I headed home for the evening. We did not return the following day because we had a roleplaying game session scheduled.

As for my word count...

I went to the write-in at about 46,000 words. I topped 50,000 at the write-in. However, validation does not open until the 20th, so I have not technically one. Also, I was not able to write on Sunday, and Monday was - turned upside down for another reason, which I will reveal in a future blog.

Will inspired me when he wrote several thousand words each day for a couple of days. Today he should have more time to write while he is at work. I hope that means that he will catch up as well.

Now my goal is 100,000. Think I can make it? I'm going to try. Who is with me?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Offensive Essay

The idea that we should not offend anyone ever, or hurt their feelings, even by accident, is one that boggles my mind. It is also the reason for this rant.

Let me begin by describing the inciting incident that finally pushed me to write this essay. HLN News Now was commenting on this article in Time Magazine.1 During the discussion, one of the commentators was talking about the party that she had for her kids and their friends the previous weekend. She allowed them to take pictures, but gave the order that none of the pictures were to be posted to social media for fear of making someone feel left out or offended.

As a personal stance, this is fine. However, I have several personal problems with it.

  1. It is bad parenting. Period. 
  2. She may be able to stop my kid from posting pictures while he is at her house. How does she keep them from posting after they leave? 
  3. If they were doing something that someone could take as offensive, they then should not have been doing it. Not just not putting it out on social media. 
  4. This attitude is what is wrong with society in general. 
Let me begin by addressing number 3. It is true that we do not know or cannot always anticipate what will offend someone. However, if there is an adult sees behavior known to be considered offensive by some then the adult should pause the behavior and explain. If this child is under the care of the responding adult, consequences should follow. If not, the proper guardians should be informed. Because a behavior done in private may be repeated in public. It is not about whether the person who would be offended knows or not, it is about doing the behavior in the first place.

Now, let me tackle number 2. If she does not want photos posted during the event that is fine. However, they belong to my child. If he or she comes home going “Mom! Mom! Look what I did!” and wants to share it with grandparents or other family members via our pre-set-up routes - email, social media, or blogging. Then I should be able to let my child do so. If this results in her not inviting us back, that is fine. It is her right to not invite us. However, she does not have the right to stop me from sharing my kids’ life with the rest of our family.

The next item up for discussion is item number 1: “It is just bad parenting. Period.”

Let me start with the disclaimer that I already know that I am only a step-parent and not a biological one. It is also true that I only began parenting him at the age of thirteen. It is also true that he is a better than the average teenager and has not gone completely rebellious yet. So no, I do not have the same amount of experience that many parents do.

However, I do understand the purpose of being a parent. It is not to make sure that no one hurts them. It is not to make sure that nothing they do hurts someone else. A parent’s job is to ensure that children have the reasoning skills, knowledge and experience to allow them to make their decisions. These include choosing to get hurt (or risking doing so), preventing harm to others, and understanding how to handle the situation in which they have accidentally hurt someone else.

I phrase it this way because many of the choices we make do result in injury - physical or emotional. Anyone who signs up for military duty, reserves, police, or firefighters risks serious physical injury or death. Without the reasoning skills to balance the pros and cons, they will jump at the pros and come to resent the cons.

Every relationship involves emotional risk. It may come in the ultimate forms of death and betrayal, or simply from passing time and changing lives. Knowledge and experience help us deal with these while critical thinking skills help us maintain friendly healthy relationships, repair broken relationships, and walk away from unhealthy ones.

Finally, everyone will accidentally offend or hurt someone’s feelings at some point. Everyone is different, and upon meeting someone new you have no idea what might trigger their personal offensive stances. However, with knowledge and experience we can make every attempt not to offend someone. Reasoning and empathy can help us smooth ruffled feathers of all sorts.

We cannot be there forever to help our children live in a bubble through which no evil may pass, but we can help them deal with the pain, even after we leave.

So what does that have to do with posting, or not posting, photos of the party? She mentions two things: offending others and making others feel left out.

I already addressed the first half of “offending.” That is - “if the behavior is already a known offensive then stop the behavior.” However, there remains the question of “accidentally offensive actions.” There is no way to avoid these in their entirety. However, good reasoning skills and a healthy dose of empathy can help. For example, if at the party, they had a cake, and you wanted to share it, there is a vast difference between:2

Both of them share the picture of the cake that looks delicious, but the first one may leave a friend feeling left out while the second is a complement.

As for making a friend feel left out, there are several reasonable ways to handle it. The first is to realize (and teach children) that yes; there are a limited number of seats at the table, a birthday cake cannot feed the school, and someone will be left out. If you are the persona being left out decide if it was malicious, accidental, or due to limitations. If the first then let the friendship go. If the second or the third, see if it keeps happening. If it does then make new friends, if it does not be happy.

If you are the person doing the leaving out, then try to make up for it. Invite a different crowd to the next party. Alternatively, if it was only one person, bring them a piece of cake and a goody bag, and then make time to spend with them. Also, make sure they get an invite next time. Finally, the person with hurt feelings may not one of your buddies, but they thought they were. In this case apologize, be honest about your surprise and (if asked) be honest about how you feel the relationship stands.

These simple things will help everyone’s relationships be happier and healthier, even if everyone does endure a little disappointment and pain.

Finally, this attitude that no one should ever be hurt by our words or deeds is utterly ridiculous. We should go out of our way to make sure that others are not offended or hurt. However, if we stop sharing our lives with those who matter for fear of someone who is merely an acquaintance taking offense then we cease living. We begin to exist only as part of a collective of which we do not feel a kinship to most of the population. That is not American culture.

If you are worried about your child posting things that you believe they should not be posting, then why are they on an open social media account in the first place? Utilize a locked blog, twitter account, or another medium that will allow you to monitor their posts and teach them about proper social etiquette online. However, don’t stop them from living. Don’t stop them from making a social faux pas on occasion. It is better to do it while they are young, can learn and recover, than it is to do it later in life.

Teach them. Don't lead them.

1: I looked for, but could not find the discussion that I was referring to. If someone knows where it is, I would love to see it.
2: These are completely fake tweets. I used Simitator

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Write-In, The Second

Sunday, was the third write-in for the NaNoWriMo. We had a good group of people at the local used bookstore.

Will couldn't make it because he had to work, unfortunately. However, in addition to our ML - JeaneB - there were several people there. There was a mother and daughter duo, as well as a first time NaNo-er, an English-teacher at a local high school, and three people that were more focused on their words so I didn't catch enough about them to make them stand out in my brain. We had two people going by "Larissa." There's a unique name to find doubled up.

We got several hours of typing done, but as the sun set we started dispersing. Work, and hour long drives pulled most people away about the same time. However, Will was still at work. The English teacher was kind enough to give me a ride home since she lives near me.

Now, as for my word count update...

I'm not keeping up with my goal of 4,000 words per day. If I were, I would be at 52,000. Obviously, I'm not there. Of the two red squares, one can be explained. The first Thursday I was busy grocery shopping, getting married, and then going to Robert's final football game. That's a pretty good excuse.

This week, I have no excuse for the yellow and red squares beyond Will's work. I've been getting up to drop him off even earlier than I usually would because of what his work is having him do. The exhaustion is sapping my creativity.

On the other hand, while I was getting way ahead, Will fell way behind. However, the new schedule seems to be working for his creativity, because he started catching up. I hope he can keep it up and get ahead.

Good luck to us all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Poem for Veterans

They fought, some died. They bled, survived. They came
Back home to many changes made, while fight
They did. For some, those alterations, blame
Could not be placed. New soldiers' lives in sight.

With fam'lies new and growing, hobbies, friends,
They found new balance. Some did dive in quick;
But others, no such balance found, theirs ends
In death, with no such home for them to pick.

We try, we must, then build a home for those
Who cannot - not - on own find places there.
We make a home, keep safe who living chose.
This, even when they're growling like a bear.

They fought for us. They died for us. For that
We thank them. Then we should quick tip our hat.

Note: The picture was taken by me this morning at the Central Texas Veteran's Memorial Cemetery, while Robert planted flags with his Boy Scouts Troop.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paper Wedding

I'm married!

No, really, I am. We got married last Thursday. Yesterday was the first of three ceremonies that we intend to have, the "Paper Wedding." We went down to the courthouse with all the necessary documentation to sign the paperwork and have a justice of the peace say the words.

It wasn't that easy.

(Is anything?)

We were missing a piece of paperwork, so they sent us up to Belton to get it. Or rather, to get a waiver for it. Belton isn't that far away; the drive was about twenty minutes.

We could have had everything done there. Indeed, we got a waiver, then we got the license, but the justice of the peace at that courthouse had left for the day. He also would have charged us fifteen dollars more to do the ceremony than the one in Killeen.

We drove back to our annex of the county court system.

While waiting for our ceremony, another was going on before us. They were apparently quite a crowd, because there was great cheering when they finished their vows. As they filed out though, the bride's attitude took up the entire foyer. I sure hope she wasn't a Bridezilla to her party, and was just blowing off steam from the illogical decision to wear stiletto heels, even if the dress was gorgeous with them. (Silly fashionistas!)

Then it was our turn. Bill Cooke did a simple, but theatrical job with the ceremony. He made a little production out of it, even turning around to ask the empty room if there was anyone that was going to object. On the other hand, he forgot that Will had a ring to put on my finger. (It's the same ring, we didn't get a new one).

Then the ceremony was done. We had a short celebration at Starbucks, and then went to Robert's last game.