Rights and Responsibilities

I’ve spent much of the past 24 hours contemplating the Constitution, and the RESPONSIBILITIES that go along with all the Rights it grants us.

During the run-up to the recent election, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Sharron Angle, Michele Bachman and others, advocated a violent overthrow of the government if they did not get their way at the polls.  Yesterday, a duly-elected Democratic Representative from Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, was gunned down in public by a disturbed young man who has publicly railed against the government using language not dissimilar to that spouted by Palin, Beck, Angle, and Bachmann.  Perhaps his actions were not directly caused by their hate-filled speech, but it is difficult not to believe that with so much hatred in the air perhaps some of it filtered into this one particular disturbed mind.

Many years ago the first-year students where I was teaching were required to read the U.S. Constitution over the summer before they came to college.  Once they arrived on campus, our task was to engage them in discussions of the Rights and Responsibilities presented in the Constitution.  I remember how difficult it was to get them to recognize that ANY of the Rights might also entail Responsibility of any kind.  Lots of talk about their FREEDOMs, but much mental blockage on the topic of Responsibility.

I fear our current new class of lawmakers may suffer from the same Freshman-itis.  I was hoping that their recent reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House might have opened their ears and minds to the monumental responsibility involved in being a citizen.  Alas, they managed to take the Freshman approach even to reading the Constitution (by choosing an abridged and modified version rather than actually reading the whole thing—which really is not very long anyway.  Read it for yourself at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html).

All I have heard for the past year is “FREEDOM FREEDOM” and proposals that “Second Amendment Remedies” might be an appropriate solution to any situation in which you don’t get your own way.  It is time for someone to stand up and say STOP!  If you spew hatred with your First Amendment Right, then you better be prepared to take responsibility for the consequences.  Stop hiding behind the skirt of “Free Speech” and take responsibility as a citizen for being part of something larger than yourself.  A government by the people and for the people cannot be based on an “all about me” approach.  So far I’ve heard lots of folks de-crying the act of violence, but none of the Republicans who originally incited it have issued an apology.

I’m not holding my breath waiting . . .

Update: I wrote the above before seeing Keith Olbermann’s excellent commentary on this same subject on MSNBC:

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Rant of the Day—Smoke Detectors

For the past four nights one of my smoke detectors (one of the fancy dual sensor ionization/photoelectric kind) has been beeping in the middle of the night. Each morning I replace the battery and everything seems fine, until the house gets cold, and then the thing starts beeping again . . . yesterday I went out and bought MORE new 9V batteries . . . still same problem.

So I finally called the company BRK/First Alert.
I always take notes during and/or after these kinds of calls . . . here they are:

BRK/First Alert Smoke Detectors — garbage
Just called BRK about my First Alert SA710 smoke detector (only 2 years old) chirping when the house gets cold at night, even with brand new battery.  Only happens at night.  They gave me some crap about how the batteries must be certain brands and dates (Energizer, Duracell, post-2014). (Have already tried those as well as Rayovac, nothing works.)  They are willing to sned me a new one for $6.99 S&H.  For that I can by a new, cheaper SD that won’t eat batteries and will work correctly.

Just called BRK about my First Alert SA710 smoke detector (only 2 years old) chirping when the house gets cold at night, even with brand new battery. Only happens at night.

They gave me some crap about how the batteries must be certain brands and dates (Energizer, Duracell, post-2014). (Have already tried those as well as Rayovac, nothing works.)

They are willing to send me a new one for $6.99 S&H. For that I can by a new, cheaper SD that won’t eat batteries and will work correctly.

Only valuable info was how to discharge after removing battery (so it stops chirping): push button and hold for 20 sec

I should also note that this particular unit has gone through batteries much faster than any of my other smoke detectors (the others are Kidde and Universal brands).  This issue is particularly annoying to me because even though my house is very small (about 1000 sq ft), I was required to install additional smoke detectors when I got a couple of new windows . . . so I now have 3 (THREE) plus a CO detector upstairs and 2 on the first floor and 2 plus a CO detector in the basement . . .

Ah, Minnesotans, they love laws and rules and regulations . . .

Piniella banishes Bradley after tantrum | cubs.com: News

Piniella banishes Bradley after tantrum | cubs.com: News.

I wish they would banish Bradley to the minors.  I wonder if they thought to put an option in the contract that releases the Cubs from any obligation to pay him if he doesn’t behave professionally (or even like a grown up 🙂

Unfortunately, Lou only banished him for the afternoon and will put him back in tomorrow . . . which doesn’t really send much of a message.

Much more to write about the games since my previous post . . . including a confession that I’m now more of a Twins fan than a Cubs fan . . . .  I won’t be changing my blog header anytime soon, but I’m so fed up with the Cubs that I can barely watch them anymore.  Derrek Lee is just about the only decent hard-working guy left on that team.

Too late to go into all that now . . . just wanted to rant some more about Bradley.

delivery “service” ?

We’re having a glorious day here in Lake Woe-be-gone, my home town. The temps are above freezing for the first time all month (which means we just blew a bunch of records for “worst January ever”). I ran errands this morning sans hat and gloves. Yippee! And now I’ve got two loaves of bread in various states of baking/rising down in my kitchen and sitting in a sunny window in the dining room.

Of course, an improvement in the weather means that something else has to tick me off. Today it is both UPS (unhelpful package sorcerers) AND the USPS (united society of poor service). This week we heard all kinds of whining from the United States Postal Service about how they were going broke (who decided they should be a separate, non-governmental, profit-making business?? ) and might only deliver mail 5 days a week. I was a bit surprised by this because I rarely get mail more than 5 days a week (even when I’m expecting something) and often my mail arrives after 7 pm. So I’m thinking how can they cut back even more? Then this morning I go to mail a package at the Post Office and learn that the new “rules” at the postal service forbid the “customer service” people from uttering the words “Parcel Post”. In fact, unless you specifically ASK for it, they are not even supposed to offer you anything cheaper than Priority Mail. I AM NOT KIDDING OR EXAGGERATING! The person at the counter told me this is the new policy when I asked why they were stamping my package “Standard Mail” instead of the old “Parcel Post”. SO, unless somebody knows that there is a cheaper rate, they will get charged the Priority Rate (which in my experience rarely arrives in the specified 2-days). One more way to sock it to people who are either new to the country and/or too young to remember when the postal service was quick, reliable, and relatively inexpensive. Of course, now that they aren’t really an arm of the US government, there probably isn’t much we can do about any of this . . . except rant.

At least I’ve been able to train my local USPS postal delivery person NOT to leave packages sitting on my front steps … where they are likely to either disappear and/or fall down the steps when I try to open the door to retrieve them. They actually ring the bell and see if I am home and/or leave the package between the storm and main doors and/or put the package on the back steps.

UPS is another ball of wax (spit?) all together . . . They’ve left packages labeled “Perishable” out in the sun on a 90° day and out in the snow on a -40° day. Once they even hid the box under some shrubs, where I just happened to find it (though it was fairly well hidden). When they do bother to ring the bell, you get about 2 seconds to get to the door, otherwise they leave (with your package if it required a signature). Yesterday I returned home from some shopping to find an “InfoNotice” indicating that they had tried to deliver my package from King Arthur Flour (though of course the source was not identified on the note, I just happened to know this package was on its way) and that they would try again on Monday (no more specific time indicated, though the form provides 4 time-frames) and that a signature is required. Not wanting my flour to sit in some bug-infested warehouse all weekend, I called the toll free number to see if I could just go pick up the package somewhere. I was told that if I were to make this request, someone would call me back in an hour or so (it was already 4:30pm) and tell me what time I had to go pick up the package. Lord knows WHERE in the WORLD the person I was speaking to was located. All I know is there was no way for me to call the local warehouse directly and speak to a human being to figure out what my options were. SO, my flour sits in the warehouse, I have to wait home all day on Monday for the package, and I just learned that the other three items in my order are being shipped IN THREE SEPARATE PACKAGES . . . so I get to go through this run-around all week.

These two incidents top off a month in which every time I had to contact “customer service” of any sort, I was basically given no service at all beyond . . . “see our website” (where I had already looked) or “we’re sorry, but we don’t know why that happened and there’s nothing you can do to prevent that from happening again” or “here’s an answer which reveals that I didn’t actually read/hear your actual question”. Mostly it just seems that the folks doing “customer service” really don’t know anything about the systems/products they are providing “service” for . . . they’ve just been given scripts to read and/or send via email.

Okay, enough ranting. Time to go take homemade bread out of the oven. At least I know THAT will be good!

Election Day

Getting ready to head off to vote.  Drinking my coffee and waiting for my oatmeal to cook (so I’ll have a full tummy in case there’s a long line at the polls).

The day did not begin well.  The morons at Minneapolis Public Works picked today to start digging up the street in front of my house (which happens to be half a block from the local polling place).  At 6 am they arrived with their big truck and back hoe.  Since then they’ve added more heavy equipment.  They’ve just finished sawing the pavement and are now using jackhammers to break up the asphalt.

Some of you know that I have a bit of a bad history with jackhammers.  I worked in an office where they decided to jackhammer cinderblocks in the basement beneath my office at the same time they were tuckpointing bricks on the exterior of the building.  For a month I couldn’t hear myself think or talk on the phone because of the noise.  I lost a filling from the vibrations.  And I still have ringing in my ears.  Needless to say the sound and vibration of a jackhammer sets my nerves quite on edge.

I’m trying to re-vision the road work as part the revolutionary changes that I hope begin today . . . but it’s a stretch! 🙂

More after I return from the polls.