Arbitrary Laws and Borders

For an informed, pragmatic approach to this issue, check out Mira Hartford. For something rambling, keep reading.

This week I’ve read about how a local columnist is moving out of Hartford, and how he partly does not feel so bad about this decision because of the crime rate. I’ve also read about how people believe the role of the police officer is to waste allocate resources to discerning residents’ status. It’s strange to me that nobody questions the right for one person to move across city/town lines or from state-to-state, but that nation borders become an issue. I mention the columnist/radio host because he is employed, somewhat involved in the community, and seems family-centered. Most people–I think–would describe that as being respectable. How different would it be if moving to West Hartford or Canton required more legal issues than selling and buying a house (or renting an apartment)? Why don’t our in-country relocations require much more paperwork than they do? If the issue, as some contend, is that undocumented residents are receiving social services that they should not, then why is the same not an issue when moving to cities or states with vastly different property tax rates? These newcomers haven’t been paying taxes in that area for a long time. Why should their children get to attend better schools? What right would they have to use sports fields?

Making life more complicated is not something that I would get behind, but I think it is worth considering the absence of logic behind the anti-immigrant arguments.

Meanwhile, here in Hartford, some of the people who were elected to take on roles of both leadership and representation are cowering instead of performing either task. The post at Mira Hartford indicates the language of the proposed ordinance as well as what Hartford residents can do to confirm with our City Council that all people be treated with dignity and respect.

A Permanent Staycation (insert groans here)

Llyn Mawr

For some people (me), the concept of not traveling far is a familiar one. I like to travel, to statuesee the world (Alaska); I also like to have a roof over my head, especially when the weather gets colder. Rather than switch into a soul-sucking career that I’d hate (think anything finance or insurance related, or anything involving a dress code), I do fulfilling and intellectually challenging work which, incidentally, doesn’t pay enough for a single person to be jetting off to Borneo every six months. Fortunately, I can be amused, entertained, and awed just about anywhere.


On Friday, I traipsed through Cedar Hill Cemetery in the South End of Hartford. (more…)

Weekend in Hartford

nice day for a picnic

These were taken at Riverside Park in Hartford.


On Friday there was a little bit of flooding. By Saturday afternoon, the dirt trails were basically impassible, unless you felt like walking about seven feet through knee-deep water.


 lots of soccer games

 Some soccer event filled the parking lots.

Beware, ConnectiCon

From August 1st-3rd, the nerds will be descending on Hartford. Their website says that we should expect about 6,000 of them.

Last year, or maybe it was the year before, I accidentally “discovered” this while walking downtown on the weekend. A person juggling out front made me curious, and as I turned a corner and went up the stairs of the CT Convention Center, I quickly learned that there was far more than juggling going on. If my memory serves, I saw Luke Skywalker smoking a cigarette outside of the building.

Honestly, it’s hard to resist. Among other things, there are workshops with names like:

How to Become a Samurai in One Hour

Women of Power: Powerful Female Characters and How to Create Them

TV That’s Worth My Time

Homemade Lightsabers

If you need visuals, they have a ton of photos online. My favorite: here.

Fun & Games

Here are two pictures I took today at different locations in the city. Anyone want to guess where? Neither one was taken at a particularly obscure spot.

dragonfly on lily pad

mystery location

Global Warming and Big Business

sunflower(s) in elizabeth park - west hartford, ctOn Monday (July 28th), John B. Larson and the House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming will be speaking in the auditorium of the Mark Twain House Museum at 11am. The discussion is titled, “Economics of Global Warming: How Climate Change is Shaping the Way U.S. Companies Do Business.”

It’s requested that people RSVP to Larson’s office: 860.278.8888.

It sounds like the focus of this will be national rather than local.

“For the last time, don’t share your toys with your brother!”

peasant mother nesting dollsMy ancestors might have been illegal immigrants. I have no reason to suspect that they were, nor any reason to believe that everything was on the up and up. We are not a family of scrapbooking types, so if there ever were immigration papers, they would have been lost, destroyed, or stuffed in an unmarked box in the dank corner of someone’s basement long ago. What I do know is that there have never been any claims of American Indian heritage in my family, so basically, we are guilty of being part of the problem. We come from Russia, Germany, Poland (when it was part of Russia), Ireland, Canada, and France. Maybe elsewhere. My Russian family had our name changed by dolts who could not pronounce or spell anything other than strictly Anglo words. The result: a Russian last name that was –almost ironically–converted to one that looks Hispanic and is often pronounced as such. That part of the family came through legal means, I suppose, in the late 19th century. As for the rest of my family, who knows? It’s plausible that the French-Canadian ones crossed over to Vermont through the woods at night. Others ended up in the state after being routed through Indiana and Wisconsin. At any rate, we have not been here for terribly long.

I was born in the U.S., as were my parents. I can’t vouch for my father’s parents. How far back must one prove legal entrance before the current surge of nativists are content with offering us non-Mayflower arrivals “services” or “privileges?” Because I am white and speak without an accent (beyond the occasional regional inflection) I have not once been questioned by anyone in government or law enforcement about my immigration status or right to be here. It’s assumed that I belong. When I have called the police in past years to report various crimes (drug-related activity, fights/altercations), I was never asked to prove my identity. There was not even a check of my driver’s license.

I can not get away from the irony that exists in the immigration “debate.” For starters, many opponents of sharing the land claim religiosity of the Judeo-Christian persuasion, yet have no attention span about the tenets of their religions. Like many other parts of American life, they have gone the route of picking and choosing what seems most convenient in their religion/laws to suit their personal prejudices. In the Ten Commandments, we are directed not to steal, murder, or cheat. Elsewhere in the Bible, we are urged to love our neighbors, our brothers. Although not an expert, I’ve read the Bible a few times independently, and don’t recall ever seeing a suggestion that God urged people to take up arms, sit by borders, and pick off fellow humans as they attempted to cross without filing paperwork.

As for picking and choosing, some nativists like to talk about how their ancestors did everything by the book, and so they are rightfully here and now entitled to prohibit others from coming. The Edge of the American West addresses this in Eric’s article, “Inventing Illegal Immigration.” Likewise, an overview of immigration history on the Ellis Island website shows that immigration laws and restrictions have been in flux, and at times, there were no laws regarding this issue. (more…)

Benefits of Surging Fuel Prices

Time has a cute piece (“Ten Things You Can Like About $4 Gas”) in the July 14, 2008 edition. You can read the reasons (follow the link) at length, but in short, they are:

  1. globalized jobs return home
  2. sprawl stalls
  3. four-day workweeks
  4. less pollution
  5. more frugality
  6. fewer traffic deaths
  7. cheaper insurance
  8. less traffic
  9. more cops on the beat
  10. less obesity

Those are all solid reasons which I’d like to add to.

  1. Drivers of SUVs, Hummers, and other recklessly inefficient vehicles: I derive a bit of joy from knowing that people who have for so long been bullies on the road are paying something like my whole week’s paycheck every time they fill up now. Am I sadistic? Just a little.
  2. Safety in Numbers: With more people biking and walking, I see an increasing number of other women out at the same time. I don’t know that this is necessarily safer, but I do feel better when there is someone else in earshot should I have to yell or take off running.
  3. More Attention to Sidewalk and Bike Lane Conditions: I don’t know that this will happen; I’m hoping. My walk to work involves sneakers because there is consistently broken glass on the sidewalks, and for a few months, a bundle of busted fencing obstructing most of a sidewalk that goes under a bridge. There’s uneven concrete to contend with too. As for bike lanes, snow and leaves routinely get dumped into them, and cars park in them. Maybe the cars get tickets, I don’t know. Somehow I doubt it. (more…)