The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My hope for 2012

There are still a few days left in 2011, but this will be my final post for this year. I hope to be posting more frequently in 2012 than I have over the past few months, and as presidential politics heat up, I probably will.

But my number one hope as we enter 2012 is for the city of Bessemer.  The Marvel City has its problems, and we have a mayor and council now that is working together to solve them.

We have seen economic development in 2011, highlighted by the completion (!) of the DHR building in downtown Bessemer, the groundbreaking for the Norfolk Southern intermodal facility, and the Dollar General distribution center being constructed on Lakeshore Drive.

We have heard economic analysts time and time again speak of the advantages Bessemer has as far as future development goes, including ample undeveloped land, the airport, the hospital, a theme park, developments at Academy Drive and at Tannehill Promenade.

But there is a sign of a symptom in Bessemer that I must be taken care of before our city can progress in perception.

"A sign of a symptom? What does that mean?"

It's a play on words. In my opinion, the fact that this has not been taken care of since it was first brought to the attention of the city, first on this blog in 2009 and soon after in the local newspaper, speaks volumes.

Are we really this "dumb downed" that it doesn't matter?

In case you don't see it, the correct spelling is "Dartmouth," not "Dartmouht."

This misspelling of a street name is a symptom in our city. A symptom of not caring. We hear a lot about people caring, especially as city elections approach. But if they really cared about our city, about the perception of our city, and of ourselves, they would do something about this. 

I would hope that the Mayor is embarrassed by this. I would hope that the City Council is embarrassed; Sarah Belcher should be embarrassed (it's in her district); the School Board, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Street and Sanitation Department should as well. I would hope that parents of the children who live near this would be embarrassed. I am embarrassed.

And until this sign is corrected, we have no reason to believe that any of the people listed above (other than me) care about the education of our children, or what others think of our city.

Bessemer can soar, there is no doubt about that. But until we care enough to spell the names correctly on our street signs, or to correct them once the mistake is known, we will limp.

I hope that early in 2012 we will have a corrected street sign. My perception of Bessemer will then improve greatly.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lowe's sinks to new lows

Lowe's Home Improvement has succumbed to the pressures of right wing fringe groups and cancelled advertising on the TLC show "All American Muslim." The Florida Family Association (which obviously does not think much of Muslim families in their state) pressured the retail giant into pulling its ads and not re-instating them.

If you are not familiar with the show, here is a trailer.

The group said that the program was "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

In other words, Lowe's fell victim to the same type of stereotyping and  hate mongering that the show is trying to dispel. California Senator Ted Lieu stated,

"We want to raise awareness so that consumers will know during this holiday shopping season that Lowe's is engaging in religious discrimination."

"Lowe's is engaging in religious discrimination." Think about this when you need a piece of plywood or a new light fixture for your front porch.

And I say that the Florida Family Association is engaging in spreading the type of hatred and intolerance that gets people killed. 

Lowe's is already on thin ice with progressives because of their lack of LGBT awareness. The Human Rights Campaign gives them a rating of 15 (on a scale of 0 to 100) compared to The Home Depot, which has an rating of 80. The rating is a measure of the level of support for LGBT persons in a company's policies.

I'll drive a little further to shop at Home Depot now, unless of course the toilet springs a leak and the bathroom is flooding and time is of the essence.

Here are some Home Depot employees from Sacramento at an event in Stockton, CA having some fun. Michael Jackson?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Honestly, I don't understand it

I’m not sure I'm still in the country I was born in. Growing up in the heart of “the” civil rights struggle in Montgomery and later Birmingham, Alabama, I developed a sense of the good that the public can offer.  I recognized that society was wrong and that good people were doing something about it.

Fast forward half a century and my views have broadened. As a child, or even a teenager, I had a limited ability to understand the scope of history. I totally ignored that it took over 100 years for black people to gain their freedom after winning it as a result of the Civil War. I missed out on understanding how segregation was put in place for the purpose of keeping black people inferior, how interstates were built with the intent of destroying black communities, how voter laws were passed that made it difficult or impossible for black people to vote, how industries targeted poor (mostly black) communities for their polluting plants.

Here it is 2011 and I have been observing politics for years. I think politics brings out the worst in people (religion being a close second). When I hear the rhetoric of the (mostly) Republican presidential candidates, and (mostly) Republican members of Congress, and Republican governor Robert Bentley, and members of the Alabama legislature, I wonder what has really changed in the last 50 years.

In the 21st Century, with the technology we have, the ability to help others (especially overseas), the ability to develop green resources and abilities, the ability to understand science, the increasing understanding that we are not alone in this universe (and my personal disappointment that we won’t meet the real aliens in my lifetime), the awareness that we are all people of worth and all deserve life liberty and the pursuit of happiness (and health insurance); with all of this, I can’t understand why politicians and others are still arguing about the things they do.

How can people hold a belief that gay people are less worthy of equality than straight people? How can they not care that LGBT kids (or those perceived to be gay) are killing themselves?  Honestly, I don’t understand it.

How can people not care about the environment, given the knowledge we have about dwindling resources and climate change? Honestly, I don’t understand it.

How can people not want everyone to have equal access to health care? Honestly, I don’t understand it.

How can people still demonize people because of their race, considering the history of our state?  Honestly, I don’t understand it.

I do understand that people can have differing opinions, but there are some things where opinions don’t count. Like equality, for example. It doesn’t matter if one’s opinion is that gays are not worthy, or that it’s OK that teenage LGBT persons are still committing suicide. The fact is, in spite of an individual’s opinion, equality should be the norm, gays should be treated like everyone else, gay kids should be encouraged to be who they are, every individual should be allowed to marry the person they love and there should be no debate. Yet we spend decades arguing about it.

Here is one of many posts from this blog on suicides of young LGBT people, Deaths.

Or take climate change and the environment. Science indicates that the activities of man are contributing to a general warming of the planet. Scientists tell us that the climate change resulting from this will be expressed in various ways; that some areas may actually have colder temps, that weather extremes will be more common, that storms may be stronger. Yet others, who are only interested in their own profits, or the profits of the companies that fund them, are willing to ignore this and use our resources at whatever rate with no regard to preservation or the future.

Here is a post from  the past about Contrarians, those pesky climate change deniers.And here is a post I wrote on April 28, the day after the tornadoes here, about why global warming may have been the cause.

Now let’s look at health care. All the debate about health care was really about insurance, which actually is a completely different thing. Those who control insurance companies should have nothing to do with health care, and how it is administered or to what degree it is applied. There is no denying that thousands (or hundreds of thousands or millions) of people have benefited under the advances in health care administration since President Obama took office. Children can no longer be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, and in 2014 this will apply to adults as well. Young people can stay on their parent’s insurance until they turn 26. Over 24 million Medicare patients have received free preventive care benefits, and over 2.65 million have saved over $1.5 billion on prescription drugs. Alabama’s S-Chip program has been expanded and many more kids have insurance as a result. (S-Chip is not directly a part of Obamacare, but Republican president George W. Bush vetoed its reauthorization twice, while Obama expanded it after he came into office. Republican Tea Party member Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has eliminated it in her state, giving us an idea of how Republicans feel about insuring the poor).

What I don’t understand is how Republicans can spend so much time and energy trying to take insurance (and access to health care) away from people. What I do understand is that if you are a senior, or have a young adult child, or a baby who is insured through All Kids (in Alabama), then there is no way you should vote for the Republicans in any office because they all want to take your insurance away.

Among my previous posts about health care are this one, Nurses, Doctors and "Real Christians" Support Health Care Reform; this one, Health Care Reform in Alabama - the facts; and this one, Is Health Care a Right.

As for immigration, everyone agrees that immigration reform is needed, and that border security needs to be enforced. But in Alabama, and in Georgia, Arizona and some other states, Republicans have passed legislation that makes second class citizens out of Hispanic people. We’ve tried that before; it was called segregation and Jim Crow back then.  Now it’s immigration and Juan Crow. The law was written by a racist legislator, Republican Scott Beason, and he still defends the entire law, even as the rest of the country and the world are laughing at us while pitying us because of it. Because of the current and future economic damage resulting from HB 56 some Republicans in our state are calling for changes to the law (recognize that this is because of money, not human dignity or worthiness).

And here is a post I wrote about immigration in Alabama, and a murder in our history related to it.

Anyway, I’ve been rambling, but what I really want to say, is that if you vote for a Republican (and some Democrats), then you:
  • Think it is OK to bully gay kids and others to the point of suicide, and OK to deny gay people a life equal to your own.
  • Think it is OK to abuse the earth, to poison our rivers and our air, and to do so to benefit the few at the expense of the many.
  • Think it is OK to deny health care benefits to seniors, and young adults, and babies, under certain circumstances.
  • Think it is OK to demean people because of the race, their color, their real or perceived immigration status, and OK to tear families apart, deny kids an education and make people live in fear.
I have no respect for the GOP. Oh, you may say there are good Republicans. No, if they were good, they would leave that party and stand up for what is right.

And now I have to throw this in. Jennifer Parsons Champion and Benny Watson are two local elected officials who recently changed from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. I have no respect for either of these people, they have sold their soul to the devil as far as I'm concerned, and I will do what I can to see that they are defeated (after urging people to support them in the last election). If you don't understand why I said this, then refer to the bullet points above.

Now watch this video by Bon Iver. It will get you back into a good place. Holocene: we are living in it.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I've written about camellias before, and since that time I still haven't learned much about them. I will reiterate that I love them because they open after roses and most annuals have ceased their blooming.

This year the weather was a little odd and those who have visited us this year noticed that fresh roses and fresh camellias were both on display in our home during the end of November. That's a consequence of climate change (and the unpredictable weather that results) that I can live with.

My attention is now turned toward the camellias. There will be one or more varieties in bloom in our yard until the azaleas bloom in the Spring, so Winter will not be without fresh flowers outdoors, some of which will make it into our home.

Here are some photos of the ones that are blooming now.

The plant that these pink flowers came from is in the back yard, and is covered with blooms. This simple arrangement was used on the altar at church.

This plant is in front of the house. It has the largest blooms of any camellia plant in the yard. It is doing very well this year.

These two blooms are the same variety, under natural indoor light. The photo above was taken with a flash.

Just for comparison, here is the scene above using a flash. I prefer the natural (artificial) light.

The plant that produces these blooms did not do well last year, but is covered in buds now. It traditionally blooms during Christmas time, and reminds me of peppermint.

This pretty pink blossom is actually from earlier this year. This one doesn't bloom until February, but I thought I would include it just to show how they bloom regardless of the weather.

Anyway, for those of us who enjoy gardens and natural beauty, the camellia is one of the things that keeps us going through winter.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Tour of Homes - Bessemer

On Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4 the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association will present it's 2011 Lakewood Estates Holiday Tour of Homes.

Historic Lakewood Estates was established in 1925 by Mr. William Harper Lewis, a Bessemer banker and civic figure. The "Original Seven" homes were built between 1926 and 1929. Several of these are among the homes you will see on display.

Here are three of the Original Seven homes that will be on the tour.

I don't think there will be any snow this weekend, but the pictures of the homes in the snow are Christmasy.

Lakewood Estates is just off of 4th Avenue (Old Tuscaloosa Highway) in Bessemer. Google Lakewood Drive, Bessemer for a map.

The tour is from 1 pm to 5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets $10 and are available at the tour.

The tour is sponsored by the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association; Summer Classics; Milos; Brown Consulting, Inc; David Smith, Keller Williams Realty; and The Bright Star.