Sunday, July 25, 2010

Connor Michael O'Brien

my nephew connor has arrived! it wasn't a walk in the park, but stacy decided to hang in there and reap the benefit of all those uncomfortable months:

my brother john and sister-in-law stacy welcomed him july 24, 2010 at 12:24am. he weighed 7lbs, 2oz, and was 19 inches long. he was, apparently, somewhat annoyed at being removed so abruptly from his warm and cozy napping place.

we weren't there for connor's first appearance, but we did stop by earlier in the evening.

stacy was beautiful and graceful, despite having a room full of visitors . . . some of whom sported blue, green and red hands, arms and face. (little tip for ya: the magic marker that soap and water cannot remove? foamy hospital hand sanitizer will allow just enough of it to "loosen" that the color can then be transferred directly to white clothing, but not so much that any actual skin-coloring shows on the skin.)

so . . . welcome, connor! good work, john and stacy! can't wait to visit you all again!

Friday, July 23, 2010

my plan to solve our illegal immigration problem (but first, some griping)

the topic of illegal immigration is certainly not what i had in mind when i decided to blog. nope. i just wanted a quicker way to keep a journal. but sheesh! this arizona law and the federal challenge to it - and all the uproar from both sides of the political aisle? i have been thinking so much about it, and i've been so sickened by the rhetoric that i decided i have to record my thoughts on the matter. because i may not remember them in a week, let alone in thirty years. so, here goes.

first, here's the arizona law: arizona senate bill 1070, as ammended by house bill 2162. (at the time of this writing, the law has not yet gone into effect, so the link provides a pdf labeled "unofficial.") i read the text of the bill/law. it's very short, as bills/laws go, and quite easy to understand.

i think i've seen hundreds of reports by the news media (and interviews with obama administration officials and others) that portray the law as racially biased or even as hateful.

i have also seen clips of president obama's speech in iowa, where he gave an example of what the arizona law could lead to - if you're a hispanic person in arizona, taking your children to an icecream parlor, the police might harass you.

but i don't like to believe what i see or hear or read in the media. and i don't like to make a judgment based on one little soundbite. so, i went to the source (the white house posted the entire speech here) to listen to what came before and after the icecream comment so i could gain some context.

the icecream story begins approximately 48:50 minutes into president obama's speech. he says, "you know, you can try to make it really tough on people who look like they, quote, might be illegal immigrants. one of the things that the law says is local officials are allowed to ask somebody who they have a suspicion might be an illegal immigrant for their papers. you can imagine if you are a hispanic american in arizona, your great-grandparents may have been there since before arizona was even a state. but now, suddenly, if you don't have your papers and you took your kid out to get icecream, you're going to be harassed. that's something that could potentially happen."

wow. i have two main objections to mr. obama's example. first, the law (read it; link above) clearly states - in several places - law enforcement officials "may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements" of the law. also clearly stated is that a person must have already been stopped, detained or arrested for another matter before being asked to verify identity/legal status. (and guess what? a driver's license will do it! sheesh.)

my second objection is the president's and others' notion that police officers will of course "act stupidly." as the wife of a cop . . . this jumped right out at me from the first time i heard an objection to the law -and i was shocked how long it went on without anyone coming to cops' defense! none of the cops i know is a racist, but maybe the best thing i could say about cops in general is that it does not matter what their private opinions may be - they don't bring them to the job. they enforce laws. they help people. they take a lot of . . . crap . . . the rest of us are not required to suffer, yet they continue to treat every person with respect. but are we supposed to believe this would all change instantly when the arizona law goes into effect? not a chance. cops are owed a huge apology from this administration, if you ask me.

aaanyway . . . my plan, in a nutshell:
  1. no more anchor baby status
  2. secure the borders
  3. develop guest worker program
  4. develop transition alien program
  5. deport all criminal aliens
  6. speed up lawful immigration process
  7. never put our country through this again!

immediately do away with "anchor babies." not the actual babies. :) just let's recognize this amendment was created to allow former slaves to be citizens. it is no longer relevant. abolish the anchor baby status. then, continue the rest of the plan:

first, secure the borders. physically. build a fence. electrify it. add more border patrol guards. dogs, even. add electronic surveillance. do whatever it takes to physically secure the borders. make it a crime (not a "civil crime") to enter the u.s. illegally. maybe a misdemeanor the first time and a felony the second? deport them all, but mostly, prevent the entrance.

secondly, establish a guest worker program for people who are NOT currently here illegally. we had one in the past; it worked. if it needs to be "tweaked," fine.

thirdly, deal with the illegal immigrants already here. establish a 6-month registration period. call those who register "transition aliens," maybe. (those illegal immigrants who don't register within the established time frame? deport them. however we come to know about them - gather them up and deport them immediately. illegal alien felons? deport them immediately; no opportunity to register for transition alien program.) issue transition alien numbers to those who register within the time frame and allow the transition aliens to work in the private sector (no government jobs). pay them no less than minimum wages, and no less than the prevailing wages earned (in whatever position they work) by citizens. no pay discrimination!

create a separate income tax rate for transition aliens (but not for the companies who hire them lawfully). they should pay higher taxes as a penalty for breaking our laws and coming here illegally. not a one-time penalty, but a higher income tax rate, plus a yearly tax per person for whatever amount. for example, a family of two parents (only one who is working) immigrated illegally, then had three children and one grandparent then came to live with them: the working parent's transition alien income tax would be deducted from his/her paycheck just like other income taxes are withheld from lawful resident's paychecks. the yearly tax for the other parent, the children (whether citizens under the former anchor baby statutes or not) and the grandparent could also be deducted from the paycheck, or paid at the time of filing. these yearly taxes would help defray the cost of education for transition alien children.

prohibit transition aliens from participating in any government entitlements: no medicare, no welfare, no medicaid, etc. this sounds harsh, i know, but i think it must be this way. churches and other charities will take care of the needy, as it should be. eligibility should begin when citizenship is earned. transition aliens should be allowed to purchase health insurance in the private sector, of course.

require the transition alien to learn english within a reasonable time frame (one year? two years?). require the transition alien to learn american history, civics, etc. testing is a must. if possible, allow these classes to be sponsored and taught by volunteers.

if a transition alien commits a felony (or multiple misdemeanors), deport him/her. prohibit him/her from applying for re-entry for a reasonable period (say, 10 years) for less-serious offenses or forever for felonies and more serious misdemeanors. his/her family may choose to stay or go.

finally, allow transition aliens to become resident aliens, or even citizens, after a significant period of time following all the rules as transition aliens. the transition alien program must end within a specified amount of time. (there will be no more illegal immigrants eligible to become transition aliens after the 6-month registration period - people entering unlawfully once the border is secured will be immediately deported, but i hope prevented from entering in the first place!)

certainly, we can debate how long it should take someone to work through the transition alien status, but we must first speed up the lawful immigration process. the dramatic reduction in illegal immigration caused by securing our borders should (must!) allow lawful immigration applications to be processed much more quickly. no more 120 year wait lists!

then we can decide the lifespan of the transition alien program. but it is of utmost importance that working through the transition alien status to become a resident alien or citizen take longer than it takes a person to immigrate lawfully. in other words - illegal immigrants (who become transition aliens) "go to the back of the line."

lawful immigrants are vital to our nation's success, so let's get this thing worked out, already!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

bookshelf for baby connor

this is not intended to be a blog about furniture building, but . . .

a new baby nephew, connor michael, will arrive in a couple weeks, so i decided to make a bookcase for him for his baby shower. of course, i perused knock off wood and found this plan.

i forgot to take any pictures, so stacy was kind enough to take one and email it to me.

just a couple problems. since it was sooo hot and i was sooo tired, i decided to avail myself of my lumber store's services and have them cut the wood for me. big mistake. the kid who did the cuts was cute and happy to help (and didn't charge me), but . . . not so accurate. i had to trim a couple pieces and the entire bookshelf is a quarter inch shorter than the plans specified, but so what? it's square, it's sturdy - it's good!

connor's nursery is decorated in greens, blues and browns, in a jungle theme. fortunately, i had this green paint (less yellow than in the picture) left over from my (as yet unfinished) craft room. unfortunately, the humidity was sooo high that week - the paint did not fully dry prior to the baby shower. and it rained that day. the day of the shower. the day i had to haul the bookshelf in my brother's pickup bed (hubs was gone in his truck). so, it needs a few touch ups.

i can't wait to see it all loaded up with bins or baby supplies. when connor arrives and i visit, i 'll be sure to make room among the thousands of photos i'll take of him for one or two of his nursery and this bookshelf.

next on my list of things to build is the headboard for timmy's bed. the base and the cubby hutch. not the side towers, because c'mon! did you notice (from the picture in the last post) how tiny his room is?

Friday, July 16, 2010

hermit carpentry

hobbies are the methadone to my workaholism. prior to my timmy-induced sabbatical, there was a time my husband "requested" i gain some balance. work - whether in the office, on the road or on my laptop at home - took an average of 85 hours of my week.

now, i never missed one of the kids' ball games or school functions, but i missed plenty of family dinners and regular ol' time at home. even as i type this, waves of guilt and remorse wash over me. the precious, fleeting time i wasted away from my family!

one night, as i drove home from yet another couple days out of town, hubs called and brought to my attention that i hadn't eaten dinner with my family in a month. (guilt tsunami, here.) it hit me like a ton of bricks. i loved my work, but not like i love my family.

so, i tried beaded jewelry, furniture re-upholstery (blech. soon after, we bought new furniture.), knitting, sewing (purses! quilts! couch cozies!), scrapbooking and photography.

enter knock off wood. oh, ana white, how i love thee and thy recipe-style woodworking plans that allow someone who has never picked up a hammer to build beautiful wood furniture. ana's site is called "knock off wood" because she creates plans for pottery barn and land of nod, etc. "knocks offs." actually, her plans are better because we builders can choose much higher quality materials. and save oodles of fweet moolah.

case in point? my first project: timmy's bed. here is ana's inspiration. please pay no attention to the messy cubbies (i'm still deciding whether to do bins or drawers) or the mismatched pillowcase. or, now that i take a good look, the "nursery colors" of his walls, doors and windows. clearly, i need to update.

also, see the flat wall bookholder? it seriously took me maybe a half hour to make. from scraps!

i plan to build a headboard base and hutch next. well, next for this room. you see, i have several plans on my list of to-do's . . . just have to prioritize and organize my schedule.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

why do i even HAVE a blog?

why? why do i have a blog? i mean, it's not like i blog about my incredibly important life. most of the time, i don't even think about my blog. so . . . why?

well, i originally fully intended to blog as a sort of online journal. you know. record the activities of my life, the details of timmy's growing up, etc. but, just like every other journal i have ever attempted to keep, this one died a slow, painful death due to neglect. it's a darn good thing i'm a better mother than a "journaler," i tell ya. (although, facebook . . . yeah, i have done very well texting the funny things timmy says to facebook. so, at least i will have a record of those too easily forgotten utterances.)

betting against myself here, but i am going to start blogging again. it's important! well, not blogging specifically, but journal-keeping. it is. everyone knows that. and it's easier to post pictures here than into a paper journal, so here i go again.