The Mayor and Mr. Claypool: Chicago Citizens Suffer Under an Arrogant City Regime

THE MAYOR AND MR. CLAYPOOL: OUT OF TOUCH WITH CHICAGO’S CITIZEN MILLIONS

In the news what do we have? Here is just a brief list:

Citizens on a hunger strike for the support of the school they want in their neighborhood;
Among the worst (gun) violence in the nation;
Schools in disrepair;
Teachers upset and on strike and threatening strikes;
Pension funds a mess;
Roads and bridges in disrepair;
Homeless families and veterans;
Special needs people who are seeing cuts in funds for services……………………..

And what are our officials talking about? Here is just a sampling:

Property tax increases;
Garbage fees (we already pay for utility and garbage fees at many apartment complexes);
School property tax increases;
Congestion tax for people who drive in from the suburbs;
Taxes on sugary drinks such as sodas and fruit punches;
Cutting public school personnel and jeopardizing teachers and students;
Selling expensive parking lots and earning millions of $$ from those sales in downtown;
Closing schools and establishing charter schools that do not use union personnel;

***************************************************************************

What are our officials NOT talking about? Cutting their own perks and salaries and timing themselves on a time clock like many citizens do, and being accountable to the people who elect them instead of to the mayor who hand-picks many of those ‘trusted’ officials. These narcissistic people are so worried, so paranoid and obsessive-compulsive about giving up or sharing their power that they will do just about anything… but that is going to ruin not only their reputations but our city as well.

Who is going to want to have a business or a home in the city limits? Who will want to drive in and be sacked with a ‘congestion tax’? And by the way, some Chicago apartment managers charge for garbage collection and sewer services and a resident told me that doing so is illegal because the city already pays those companies so we are being charged twice for garbage collection. They head everything under the name of “utility fees”.

We certainly need people in our city department offices who are not accountable to the mayor, who are not hand-picked by the mayor, who have to answer to their employees and not their boss the mayor, and who must answer to a citizen’s board made up of people from all the neighborhoods and who have a bone to pick with the mayor and his arrogant ivory-tower inner circle.

No doubt they have their hands in every department and every office. I suspect that if you turned upside down and shook the boards of METRA, the RTA, Chicago Parks, the CTA, and the Streets & Sanitation, you would find some mayoral crony in the official circle. The Chicago City Council and the Chicago Public Schools already have that deep trouble, and they will push taxes through in a hurry without any consideration of the millions who will suffer.

We are in the grips of a high-money mayor who has his head in the clouds of big money and corporate favoritism and Washington politics. Yet he was booed out of a public meeting recently and there are many people who hope that happens at every public meeting he has until the problems we have are resolved completely to citizens’ satisfaction.

Those few tyrannizing over the many? Uh, folks, we need to get on the officials and in a hurry. We need to ask them what is going on, we need to ask to whom they are answering. If they say, “I answer to the mayor” then those who work for them have choices – they can strike, they can reply, “Oh, then if you cannot help me then why am I working for you?” They can leave the city and go elsewhere, to jobs where they will be appreciated and leave the officials hanging and wondering and having to search their own consciences and finally cooperate with their constituents.

Just look around – there are already people leaving for other cities and suburbs. There are plenty of ‘for sale’ and ‘for lease’ signs in downtown, and there are plenty of homeless and beggars and families suffering on our streets. There are vacant lots full of trash and there are abandoned buildings that attract drugs and crime and vermin. What is the mayor and his inner circle going to do – drive out so many people that only the rich will be left and those who are left will be ‘taxed to the max’ and then want to leave? What will Chicago be left with – no residents, no small businesses, and no workforce.

Get the officials to answer to you or band together and find ways to fire them for not doing their jobs. After all, if the average citizen did not do their job they would be severely reprimanded or fired or demoted, so considering that we let those officials keep their jobs and their money and perks and cushy seats, we should stay on top of them like our employers sandwich us in and hold them accountable for every little thing – yes, every pothole, every power outage, every flooded home, every rat and mouse in the alleys, every tax increase, every investigation that shows government waste, every closed school, every murder using a gun, every homeless veteran, and everything else we know can be corrected. We just have to do this ourselves.

If the officials are too prim and lazy to get out there then grass-roots efforts are the answer. We need to show them how it is done and organize cleanup days and go through this city from south to north and from east to west till we like the way it looks. Then we can work on deciding where our taxes should be spent and how they should be spent and who should control that money. We need to send the officials home for a few weeks, rather like a time-out for a fussy child, until they can cooperate and politely ask to come out of the corner and then assure us, their bosses, those who elected them (and what is the mayor but an elected official so where does he come off being so arrogant and stuck-up), that they can and will behave properly and do their jobs correctly and for the benefit of those who put them in office.

Meanwhile we have the:

Citizens on a hunger strike for the support of the school they want in their neighborhood and who are now going to rally for an elected school board;
Among the worst (gun) violence in the nation;
Schools in disrepair;
Teachers upset and on strike and threatening strikes;
Pension funds a mess;
Roads and bridges in disrepair;
Homeless families and veterans;
Special needs people who are seeing cuts in funds for services
Kids dying on our streets due to drugs and guns and gangs……………………….

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Advertisements

Veterans Need the Best We Can Offer: Chicago HAVE For All Military Personnel

Chicago Needs to HAVE Veterans In Our Hearts All the Time

There are many men and women who have served our nation in uniforms of the military branches of our great United States. They have enlisted and signed the papers, put on the faces and marched through the mud. They have seen international tours of duty and they have seen service right here at home.

Speak Up, America! Watch US Work.

Remembering America’s veterans.

Home… a word that does not ring with many of those proud people, since they do not have a home to go to. Yes, there are homeless veterans… HOMELESS… the very people who have given so much, who have sacrificed and labored and been through obstacle after obstacle, to protect the homes we go to every day, do not have a home of their own to step into.

That is disgraceful.

Yes the Veteran’s Administration (VA) system is seeing its share of dishonorable behavior and wasteful disgraces, but to think that a veteran or any military member is homeless is a major stain on our nation and a pustule on our society. These are people with medical problems due to their tours of duty, and that to which they have been exposed, such as gunfire, diseases, shelling, shell shock, PTSD, and loss of limbs. They have been sick for us, been maimed for us, and been tossed aside by us.

Something has to change, and such changes cannot wait for politics or elections. Those in office, those who command and lead and order around those veterans must step up, just like those folks did in lines of rank or to police an area of their base. They wanted things to look better, they wanted freedom, they wanted health and well being, and they were willing to sign on and give their lives and legs and hands and arms for those privileges.

Do we arrogantly stand by and wait for a new mayor or new senators or a new president to be elected before we bother to look at the endurances these proud people have made for the rest of our nation and around the world? They cannot wait for the influential, the rich, the government that hired and ordered them about, to step up.

Every veteran and their families should have a home and work that is fitting to their talents and needs. Every man and woman should have a house they can call their own, a space that suits them. If the vet has lost a limb, build them a home that will accommodate their special needs. If they are sick, give them the best care a reformed VA system can provide.

HAVE is an idea I thought of while listening to excerpts of Mayor Emanuel’s inauguration speech recently, and the acronym means Home All Veterans Everywhere.

After all, we have homes; we have spaces all our own we can go to after work and play and worship and trips to the grocery and the mechanic, so why don’t these veterans have a home?

It is going to take a lot more than dropping a buck or two in the shaking cup of a homeless vet crouched at the side of a street under a light post, or holding a sign as he strains to sit up in his wheelchair; it is going to take elbow grease action, grassroots efforts, caring and tender and loving people who deeply understand that these are their fellow citizens and neighbors.

Treat them with respect. They deserve it.

America's flag flies proudly.America's flag flies proudly.

Bless our veterans, love our veterans, take care of our veterans, home our veterans.

Divi Logan. Chicago, on this Memorial Day 2015.

Chicago Neighborhoods: Constructive, Corrosive, Communicative?

I. INTRODUCTION

Election Day in Chicago, and the candidates are out there. What are some of the topics on which they speak and on which they attempt to cater to the voters? There are the usual issues of taxes, TIFF’s, having an elected school board, transportation, the roads and bridges, and business. There is another issue that crops up in their ads: the neighborhoods.

It seems that the word “diversity” is a new concept to people of modern America, but it was not news to me when growing up in Nashville. There was not even a need to mention the word, as some kind of cajoling to get me to think of others who were different, to think of others in terms of some kind of census related terminology, or to see others for what I could get out of them for statistics, tax dollars, business funding, etc.

II. NASHVILLE NO – BOUNDARIES

The area of town I grew up in was about as low – crime as a part of a major city can be. There was no need to even think of anything dangerous happening. Police patrols were regular and it was good to see them, but they were just doing their jobs, that I knew. I just watched and went on with activities. Everyone kept their homes maintained and their yards neat, their lawns mowed, their mailboxes painted, and their noise levels down. There were no shootings, none of the “if it bleeds it leads” junk on the news networks that plagues us these days, and no talk of drugs around the area that would cause us to be on the watch for dealers/ pushers, and certainly no mention of gangs such as make parts of Chicago notable in the national scene for violence.

Not at all; our part of town was quiet, comfortable, and about as “diverse” as can be. I went to school with children who, thank goodness, did not all look like me or speak as I did, or dress as I did. They were interesting and different and my classmates and my teachers, pure and simple. We were there to learn, to play together, to interact on projects and to come and to go every week. We had no need for uniforms; we were there to do what students do – no metal detectors or security guards or metal bars needed, thank you. They might have been around but I had no need to take such heavy notice of them. I felt safe and that is what mattered to me and my parents.

The same applied to the churches I attended: it was a church, and everyone was welcome. Everyone sang, participated in Sunday School, baptisms, christenings, parties, etc. We came and went, one and all worshippers of the same God. The message was the same and we understood it.

People were people in my eyes and for my folks, who worked around the doctors and nurses and staffs of at least three major local hospitals as their careers progressed. They saw every patient, everyone who needed help, no matter who they were. I was fortunate to interact with the brilliant people who were friends of my parents, who came to our home and to whose homes we went. Compared to how people think today, my folks were ahead of the time in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and thank goodness I was not subjected to the terrible talk of what separates whom from whom and what this means to “the government statisticians” and the Census Bureau.

I traveled after high school for international vacations and the world broadened. Because I had not been so mentally restricted early in life, I had an open mind to these exotic cultures and languages, foods and attire and jewelry and histories that greeted me like the pages of an open book coming to life. I was not worried about it at all, the influence of these diverse and amazing cultures on my mind and spirit. Gone were thoughts of being separated by some imaginary line that ended at a certain street or city limit or ethnic boundary. Travel and the benefits that came with doing that made my world a better place. It was grand – the world became my neighborhood

It was marvelous.

Then I moved to Chicago…

III. CHICAGO: SIDES, DISTRICTS, and… NEIGHBORHOODS

Those candidates we will consider in this election today have spoken to and berated each other on their work with and in and their experiences with and funding of Chicago neighborhoods. They talk about how safe or unsafe “their neighborhoods” are; they talk about the closings of schools, the disrepair of roads, the lack of or the concentration of development for residences and businesses. They talk about diversity… not about unity.

We need a mayor who will break down those barriers and remove the roadblocks to progress, a friendly and open –  minded mayor and the aldermen who will work with him. As Shakespeare might put it, we need someone who will “dispel these inconveniences”, which is part of a speech from the play Henry V, when, towards the end, King Henry and Princess Katharine are listening to the Duke of Burgundy speak on restoring peace.

Our mayoral candidates might have a lot of money and influence and power when the cameras are around for campaign photo opps, but they seem to forget something, that Chicago is and always has been a diverse city, and always will be.

From its inception to right now, Chicago is made up of people who interact every day with others who do not look or talk or speak as they do, people who need help and who give help and who are glad to help in their lines of work, every day. These are the retailers, the first responders, the doctors and nurses and administrators, the airport ticket agents, the airline crews, the television studio camera operators, the bus drivers, and the furniture salespeople.

Diversity is nothing new, and we just need to leave off this census -oriented thinking and make progress. Interaction is easier when we just simply treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Represent yourself as a person, a special human being, an American citizen, plain and simple; represent yourself as someone who is one of those people out there to help and to work with everyone. Close down the prejudices, and bless yourself with the qualities of peace.

We just need to do that.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Census Regulations Can End Good Relationships… or Prevent Them From Being Good

I. INTRODUCTION

When you are around someone for many years, you think that after a certain amount of time you know about all there is to know. You have been friends, and like friends do you have probably argued, parted ways and made up, eaten out and visited together for movies and gone on vacations and such.

But then something deep -seated reared its ugly head- prejudice. And just like that, old ways intruded, the old ways promoted by our government, using our tax dollars, and funding the Census Bureau.

Representation is good, but not if someone is hurt or injured or further singled out because of the present laws and codes of the Census. It really is only for the purpose of counting the population, and no more. Anything else is an impediment to progress and achievement of a truly united United States.

If you have lost a friend thanks to prejudice and bias, thank the government. If you have lost business or been falsely accused because of those “protected status” labels, thank the government. If you have had it “up to here” with someone else labeling you and singling you out, thank the government.

I cannot begin to imagine how many potentially good relationships or even long – standing friendships and other unions have been damaged or completely broken and dissolved because of the biases and prejudices this nation has come to deem as acceptable.

II. WHERE YOU WORK SHOULD BE FREE OF BIAS AND PREJUDICE

Americans sometimes take for granted the privilege of having a job, and will put up with goodness knows what in order to keep it and grow in it.

Still, our government wants to make it complicated for people to begin and own a business. One look at the regulations dealing with the Census and the Small Business Association and those dealing with surveys of business owners shows that even though the owner might not think about his or her employees in terms of anything but a dedicated team, the surveys have something else in mind. The enumeration questions are hard deal with at times, especially when you as an owner pay no attention to race, color, gender, ethnicity, nativity, or other factors, when thinking about your staff. But the government wants to ruin that progressive thinking by sending you surveys that make you consider your staff in just those terms. Now you have to remark on who is what and what they do and such like items that in a way divide your staff in your mind.

But you can choose not to fill out the questions – you can say that such biases compromise other principles, or your ethics or morals or religion. You can take a stand against legalized prejudice.

The regulations of the Census Bureau have led to racial profiling and so much “legalese” that whenever we are out in busses, businesses, trains and when we fill out applications, we see the tangled web of the Census Bureau. Everywhere we turn we are buffeted by those signs posted and those disclaimers written, that the business or transit system will do its best to provide good service and not base the quality of service provided on “race, color, gender, national origin, religion or disability…”

But isn’t that what is happening in a subtle way? There is the wish not to discriminate, but the labeling words are right there in plain sight. We don’t want to treat you poorly because you look and act and dress differently from those who made those census act schedules that direct that the questions be answered and submitted with those categories in mind. You have to think of yourself in those terms because someone wants power over you or to regulate or categorize you for their own selfish and arrogant ends.

And then what happens? When you walk down a street, what does the approaching person do – pull their purse closer? What does the paranoid shopper do when you approach to look at something? Do they appear to guard their purchases or their bags? Thank the government and the Census Bureau. You could be just minding your own business or trying to see something on a shelf, as I was doing at a local liquor store yesterday. There was a man and a woman with a cart that had bags in it, and I came to look at something on a shelf. The guy could have moved the cart out of the way or asked if he could move it, but he moved very quickly as though to block me and guard the bags, like I was going to take them. I said nothing but went back around another series of shelves as I realized I had passed the item I sought.

It is a pity that we have allowed the terminology of separation to ruin our lives and our potential so awfully. So much has been wasted on the categorizing, the attempts at clearing out the collective conscience, the departmentalizing of the human being and the ruin of the human spirit. So much waste.

III. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR PREJUDICES… AND CONQUER THEM

Most of us have grown up in a world riddled with prejudices, some of the effects of which we can see and some that are subtle in presentation and appearance. We see on the news, on the media spin that gives us more information than we need and that we sometimes want, the conflagrations arising around race and gender and certain preferences that cause some among us to be judged as having “alternative lifestyles”. Well, everyone to some degree has alternative lifestyles to someone else; we do make choices, every day, alternates… every day.

But when we use those biases and census schedule factors as excuses to not help someone or to perform a degrading or derogatory action and call it right or acceptable “because it’s on the census form and the government dictates that you are… this or that”, then there is a problem. Indifference and avoidance and denial take the place of compassion and love and grace, and someone might just die because those who stand around and who could help “do not look like that person”. “That person isn’t from my community so I don’t want to help them.” That is bigotry, and there is nothing good about it.

What does need look like, then? What does pain look like, then?

Many people take the stand for a post – racial America, and it is high time. The only race we need to think about is that which circles the athletic track.

When you can look at someone with civility and with compassion and with the caring thought of “sure, this is another person, and I am a person… cool deal.”, that is progress. When you can welcome everyone into your school or business or church or club with civility and understanding, that is progress. It is more than just being tolerant because “the government says so”; it is real and genuine peace of mind, no problem, no analyzing, no details needed. You are a human being, the person in your store or on that bus or in that airport or in your restaurant is a human being.

Civility – pass it on; don’t pass on it.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Chicago Begins a New Year: Is it Time for Meditation rather than Mediation… or Both?

Good and Happy New Year greetings to everyone in America’s third largest city!

Hello to all who are right now at home watching football, eating dinner, getting ready for work, or sitting at their computers doing work.

Everyone, it is 2015, and it is time to begin thinking and acting differently – those resolutions we make should mean more than that on which they are written hastily. A resolution is a plan, something you make up your mind to do and for a reason.

You are obese so you resolve to exercise and lose weight. You did not finish high school so you resolve to get your education equivalent and then maybe get a job. Perhaps you just turned sixteen and want to learn to drive, so you make up your mind to enroll in drivers’ education.

Maybe we can all add something important to our list of plans, the art of meditation. Now it is known that meditation is useful for calming our minds and bodies, reducing stress and sickness and bringing inner peace. It is an extension of the space we need to think, but we do not need to go into our rooms and light a candle or incense to practice meditation.

We can meditate – think on our actions – quickly and effectively, but we need to have calm minds in order to do that. We must stop thinking and acting harshly and rashly towards others – that must be an immediate resolution, for everyone deserves respect. We can think before we act, an essential element of getting along in society.

It is time to take the fine art of personal responsibility seriously, no doubt about it. We must learn to stand back, to consider everything carefully and closely and then act. It is simply the will to or the will not to do something or say something.

We in Chicago have grand and brilliant ideas, we have plans and resolutions, hopes and dreams and at every level in every social strata and on every scale.

Let us work well together, let us show love and compassion, and let us be the best we can be every day.

How will you make a difference in 2015?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

School and Students:: How to Be and Remain a Good Student

Are you a good student? Do you want to be a good or a better student? Here is an article about how to accomplish that goal… or some good pointers at least.

1. The Phrase “dress for success” Really Does Have Meaning… and here is how it does.

What influences the manner in which you dress, in which you get ready for each day in choosing what to wear? Naturally the seasons of the year have bearing on what you wear; if it is warm you might wear shorts, lighter -colored socks and pants, and light -material and lighter -colored shirts and blouses. If the conditions are cold, you go for thicker socks, heavier pants, and coats, mittens, and thick hats and earmuffs.

What else has to do with what you wear? One factor is what you have that is clean and pressed. If you need to do laundry then do it; if the codes of your school require that your clothes are properly pressed and your shoes polished then do that or have someone teach you how to iron and how to keep your shoes clean and neat. Clothing also must be appropriate for the situations you are going into. Many schools have dress codes and uniforms, and it is suggested that no fuss is made when you encounter those rules. Rules are made for a reason and should be followed. If you are not sure of something, please ask a trusted teacher or other authority figure and listen to them carefully.

If your school does not have a dress code and what to wear is under your discretion, play it safe. If you put something on and you have ANY doubts at all about how you look in it or whether or not the clothes will cause trouble or attract undesirable attention or makes you look funny, then take it off and save it for the weekend or the beach or vacation. Refuse to follow trends if they do not make you feel comfortable; after all you are the one who for hours a day will wear that shirt, those pants or shorts, those shoes and socks and belts and jewels. Opt for simple clothes without a lot of graphics or loud colors that will definitely attract attention and distract you from your studies or will distract others from their studies.

Remember that there are other people around; the school is not just you alone.

2. Be Respectful and Punctual as Possible

Respect is not only a manner of behavior, it is essentially a duty of every citizen one towards the other. To “respect” simply means to look at again. You can certainly respect yourself in a healthy way and thus you are able to respect others as easily as you breathe and walk and eat. In any public setting, respect of others is just essential and vital to remember, simple as that. How do you respect others, or how can you learn the ways to do that?

One way is to wait your turn to speak, especially if those who are talking are older than you. It is just proper to respect your elders, including teachers, professors, and all school personnel, no matter what position they hold. They are your elders and experienced in what they do, and can provide you with direction and knowledge, so listen carefully to what they say.

Never shout down a hallway or on a street corner or in a quiet room or library or other places where people are reading and studying. Shouting and screaming in public is a vulgar habit and is not necessary. If you cannot reach someone right away, you can call them or text them or send electronic mail any time. If you contact someone electronically, remember to use the rules of proper electronic etiquette. There are plenty of resources that teach those habits.

Endeavor to be as on time as possible. Get up earlier for the bus if you have to, so you have time to dress, have breakfast and not rush through it, gather your supplies and head off to school. Do not keep the bus driver waiting, and do not keep the class waiting. Being on time is a life skill that you will always have and need to work on, no matter if you are going to school, going on a vacation, going out to dinner, or meeting someone. Punctuality is a good quality.

3. When You Have a Problem, Ask Questions.

Every once in a while we run into situations we do not understand, something about which we need clarification. At that point we need help… we need to ask questions. We need to gain understanding and problem solving.  This is where teachers and other trusted people enter the picture. These are folks who have the experience you need to get to the root of the problem and find out the answers. If there is a problem with the mathematics homework, ask your parents, or get onto a homework hotline, or ask your professor. Do not be afraid to ask for help; that is what these people are there to help with, solving problems. Be patient and learn the steps that will help in the future when you encounter other odd situations. Problem -solving is a life skill as well; you will need to learn to do this as you go through school, no matter what subjects you study. You will problem -solve in the workplace as well, so learn that skill and polish it every chance you have. Helping others to solve problems or get through concerns is a fine way to polish your own skills and such leadership is desirable. When you teach others you should get a good feeling and want to do more teaching.

4. Branch Out: Grow Out of Your Neighborhood and Into the Global Setting

Many people think that sticking to being in “the neighborhood” is a good thing. It is to a point, that point being that once you have seen everything, know everyone, know the habits and sights and sounds, you are probably ready to go to other places and see new things.

Branching out is a good thing and a vital element of growing up. Being social is just a part of what we do; it is why we are a “society”. You have to have the courage to say, “There are others out there who are different, and I want to get to know them. Sure others say to stick with people who look like me or talk like I do… but no one does that.”

Which is why you must take the lead and talk to others at your school. Is there someone who does not make friends easily? Talk with them. Is there someone who seems alone? Talk with them. Invite them to your lunch table or to sit outside on the school grounds and have a bag lunch out there and just talk about things. You will feel good, someone else will feel better, and both of you might become fast friends for life. Everyone is unique and individual and special, and because of that we must respect everyone.

You are the one who must take the first step away from the streets you find familiar, to reach towards that part of town you have not explored before but have heard about. Go there and look around, ask about what interests you and learn from the people in that area.

And when you have the chance, travel. When I had the chance for international travel I took the opportunity. Because I had the courage, the world was as an open book, but instead of looking at someone else’s photos, the pictures became living and colorful and alive and vibrant. In China there were people doing Tai Chi in the morning. In Japan there were people exercising and walking about and doing business. In Europe people went about their daily lives, playing and working and maintaining the home life. Some were there to take care of the tourists, and thanks to them my times in these areas was made pleasant and comfortable. Travel is essential in the growth process, even if it is just to another part of your city, and favorably if to another part of America and the world.

5. Growing Up, Have Fun!

No matter what you do, be your real self, learn what that means, and have fun exploring what that means. When you are sitting at the desk at home, burning the studying oil after dinner or late into the night to get that term paper ready, you are preparing for a lifetime of work and fun. You are the one who will grow out, make the changes, and learn to help others while helping yourself as well.

Enjoy your life!

Downtown Chicago

Photos taken with a Leica V -LUX -4 “bridge” style camera.

Communication is the Answer

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

 

The Workplace and Society: Loyalty, Denial, and Suffering.

Awareness.

At some point during each day and during life we possess and manifest this faculty… awareness. It is being “aware” of something, someone, or some aspect of where a person is and the circumstances of a situation.

We are bombarded with a lot of information and material stuff during each day; some of this is useful for us and some of it is not. We can to a degree screen out or tune out that which is not useful and attend to what is useful, but this takes energy and saps that which we need to focus on what is useful or worthwhile or necessary.

It is possible then to have too much information. You can consider this mental clutter.

It is as bad as having a cluttered house or a workplace. If a living space is filled with junk, stuff you do not use or which is being hoarded, such accumulation is a distraction from healthy living. Sooner or later clutter could attract dust and allergens, vermin, odors and then, if it really gets bad, visits from the fire department and the health department. At that point the situation is out of the hands or the jurisdiction of the owners or residents; it is being given strict attention by authorities who will give orders to the folks to clean up, to straighten things out, and to put the area in safe order before thirty days runs out.

Clutter as we have seen can cause dust and allergens to gather. In a workplace, dust is unsightly and gives the impression that the workplace is not being cared for, the merchandise does not move and is not useful or is outdated, and that employees do not care about appearance of the business. Dust might cause problems for customers who have severe allergies to what gathers in it, and then the business might lose customers. One bad comment can cause a lot of problems.

The circle of being in business involves those who work at the business and those who run it (manage, own). Satisfaction is relative; look at the way of conducting business as “do not assume things are good until they are”. Sure, good is a relative term, so think of the business environment in other ways than the ideas of good or bad, high or low, or broad terms such as these.

Consider the safety of those who work there and who are customers. Look at the workplace environment: what meets the eye or the senses when you walk in there? Are your senses met by neatness or by clutter, by clean and fresh shelves and air or by stagnant air and dusty shelves and dirty floors and cluttered displays? Is there room to maneuver safely, especially if you have a disability or other special needs? Is there room to do your work, allowing plenty of space for customer transactions or showing merchandise? Can the customer easily see the items available for sale or rental? Are the displays relevant to the mission of the business and the needs of the customers?

Safety – so valuable an asset that it must be considered at all turns of the work day – must be thought of in every way, from cleanliness to space to work in. Is it likely a person is going to trip over something, or get hair or a limb caught in something like a display or a stand? Are aisles free of clutter that narrows the space in which people can walk and look around and see what the business offers? Is suffering caused when people are frustrated that they cannot feasibly reach something or see something: in the case of the worker who due to clutter has a hard time reaching something a customer wants to see and thus has to take extra time to get to the item and makes the customer wait too long? What if there is too much to work with, to the point that the employee has to shuffle through a shelf display to get to the requested item?

A boss who does not communicate cannot expect the employees to communicate with them. Suffering cannot be known until it is talked about or until someone is made aware of it, is cognizant of the fact that conditions of “suffering” exist. Someone has to think that something is wrong or know something is, and tell someone that it is so that the situation can be addressed and solved. Without that knowledge, the problems continue. Denial is in itself a form of suffering – the one in denial tries to turn off or tune out the causes of the suffering (mental or actual clutter, lack of business, lack of capital, employees who do not perform to the boss’s standards, etc.), and thus might tune out the sufferings of others, namely those who work for them.

One must be careful about crossing the line of that which I call “micro -managing”. To micro -manage is rather like being a vulture that sits on a high post waiting for someone to mess up or be perceived as doing something wrong and then swooping in and correcting the person before the full situation is known. The supposed offender is vulnerable to attack before the situation is completely and fairly assessed and this can be a real morale -buster. Micro -managing is nit -picking and it is not a good idea. It is casting the stones before removing the board from one’s own eyes, it is arrogant and assumptive and foolish and dictatorial. Such an attitude can lose a business not only customers but employees as well, and without customers, what business? Without employees, what business?

Such tactics can also lead to a loss of good manners; those who micro -manage might perceive their employees as not going fast enough, or talking on the phone in the proper way or in the right order. The employee might be doing just the right things but is the boss aware of it or just hearing what they want to hear? Rude behavior is not acceptable; anyone with a modicum of knowledge of manners should know how to talk on the phone and how to interact civilly with others, not to interrupt, not to shout, not to push ahead in line or speak when others are talking.

We can break the cycle of suffering but we must be aware that it is going on and know what we can do about it.

What will you do about alleviating suffering?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

Shootings? NOT ANOTHER ONE!

Shootings. Shoot… the last word I want to hear every single doggone day around here is “shooting”.

Enough already with the reports that even mention that someone was shot in Chicago or anywhere else for that matter. The time for just talking about or reporting it is come and past; the time for action to stop the violence is NOW.

RIGHT NOW.

After all, there are other meanings to the word “shoot”. Time was that “AW SHOOT!” was nothing more than a mildly explosive expletive when someone would misplace their keys or break a shoelace. The words were just a bridge between the incident and getting over what happened, rather like saying drat, dang, rats or doggone it.

But now when the news networks mention “shoot” it deals with someone getting shot, as happened today in Las Vegas.  A “shooting” with a “gunman” happened at a university in Washington State.

Shootings happen in some parts of Chicago every day, and no doubt folks in Chicago are darned sick and tired of hearing every day about someone getting shot.

Rather get a camera and go on a photo “shoot” and document what’s going on and perhaps in that way find out if there is a solution to this pressing problem. Not attending to “the press” when they talk about it and hype it up is one way. Just turn it off and protest this “if it bleeds it leads” gibberish.

What’s the deal with summer and hot weather being a time when suddenly the violence and people running amok seems to explode? Folks, find other ways to entertain yourselves. No need for this junk with the flash mobs, the gang involvement, and bored kids that seemingly have nothing to do.

The kids have plenty to do if only people with consciences get them off their lazy and jaded behinds and put tools in their hands, give them a plot of land to till, clean, take care of and get a garden going. The kids have plenty to do if they get involved with building houses or playgrounds or tidying up a school or serving in a soup kitchen or collecting items for a charity or a mission.

Come on, people – you don’t need guns and drugs and gangs to give your life meaning. Those things will only put you in danger – in danger of losing your life, of hurting someone else, of ending up in prison and with a record you cannot erase. Gangs, guns and drugs are dangerous.

DANGEROUS. No one can emphasize that enough. Gangs, guns and drugs are DANGEROUS. You ought to be running away from those things as you would from a poisonous snake, a tornado, a scorpion, a toxic spider. You who have conquered the need to have such garbage fouling up your life, and who know about the perils and dangers and ugliness of prisons and police stations and being booked, and facing the people you have hurt, can turn this around and help others get over the need for these things in their lives.

Remember that gangs and guns and drugs endanger everyone, including children. Kids want a safe place to live, play and go to school. They should not be afraid of dying on the way to the store or having some idiot gang banger drive past their porch and open fire in the hope of killing someone else.  Children are vulnerable in this society as people start to care less about others and more about only their selfish and lazy and arrogant selves. Kids are abandoned to make their own decisions, to test judgment not completely mature, and to be exposed to harmful habits, to foul language, to violent video games, and to “the streets”.

If only more adults could think like the teachers who sheltered students during the tornadoes the Weather Channel features on their tornado week specials these days. Teachers in Moore, Oklahoma sheltered their students as the twisters approached and damaged their school. Teachers in Joplin, Missouri did the same, taking care of their students. But teachers cannot do the work of parents. Sure a school can provide shelter and food and instruction during part of the day but a school is not a home and teachers are not parents. Parents MUST take more responsibility, first for their own habits and then for their kids, making sure they have these good examples of care and decency and dignity to follow.

Maybe it’s time to stop this diversity thinking and start thinking UNITY. Quit thinking about whether or not someone “looks like you”, “talks like you” or “lives in your neighborhood”. So what? No one is going to look like, talk like, or live like anyone else, even though they are right across the hall or the street or in the next building. Everyone is different but in some ways we are united.

Those who are united in the common thought of ending the violence must band together, stuff the diversity talk in the trash bin, and start thinking in a group sense and a unified sense. An army cannot fight successfully and with a purpose and with strength unless the personnel are unified in their goal of driving out the enemy. Without this common bond of discipline and unity and purpose the biggest army will be nothing but a bunch of people going every which way, not going forward to the goal, and the effort will collapse, and the enemy will win.

The armies of the gangs, guns and drugs cannot be allowed to win these little victories every day. Thanks to the mass media they are winning, because people talk about the incidents and the shootings, talking about the problems instead of the solutions, talking about the investigations instead of banding together to call people out to drive the gangs away for good.

AW SHOOT, folks… can’t you find ways to stop the violence already?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

Rahm Lights Up Chicago? Be Sure to Clean Up Thoroughly First!

Inspired by a news story heard this morning on Chicago’s CBS affiliate radio station, News Radio 780 WBBM, I present:

CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!

1. To Beautify a Space, First Make a Plan

When someone designs anything –  a garden, a car, a cityscape, a grand hotel or an office building or a home, the process begins with a plan. People sit down and draw a plan that goes from the mind, the workings of the brain, onto paper and also on a computer. A lot goes into making progress: the way the group works together, weather, availability of funds and of the location suited to the project… so many variables.

The important factor is that the planners work together in a civilized atmosphere with all that is needed to make the plan come to life. Whatever is needed: coffee, tea, a new office, travel to other destinations, booking a hotel or a limo to get to where the plans will take shape, a quiet place to sit and draw it up… everyone must agree to what will make the plan a success.

2. To Beautify a City, Talk to Everyone Who Has a Say in How it will Look (or should look)

** And that means EVERYONE, EVERYBODY who is a member of that city and community! **

Start by doing at the very least what will make communities better: THINK UNITY! One reason we are so fragmented is that we are thinking along demographic lines, not person to person and civil lines. We are thinking in ways that box us in (race, income, ethnicity, religious creed) instead of thinking on common ground and thinking towards what will make progress. We will make progress only when we clean up ourselves in all those ways that make humans special: in mental, spiritual, and physical ways.

We need to clean up areas of gang violence. Why, even the very idea, the term “gang violence” is ridiculous. The gangs were not here first and people are sick and tired of hearing about them on the news every day. The more the press gives attention to the gangs and those actions related to them, the more they will do those things that get them press time and air time and talk in the reports. NO MORE GANGS! Folks, get brave and get those gangs out of the area, right now. Stop your need for drugs and guns; YOU DON’T NEED THAT STUFF and you don’t need anyone to help you solve problems, at least not that way.

You can solve your own problems without drugs, illegal guns, and membership of and the presence of gangs. How stupid can we get, tolerating gangs. REALLY. Gangs are nothing and nobodies and mean nothing to us except for the trouble they cause. Well, run those punks off your street corners, clean them out of your area and get involved.

When we get our streets and land cleaned up, we can turn to beautification.

But we must make sure the gangs are out of the picture, the abandoned buildings are either renovated or torn down, the lots are cleaned and free of pests, trash, rats, squatters, etc., and the streets are safe for people to work on, play on, and go to school and work on.

The job does not do itself; we have to use elbow grease, folks. We have to run the gangs out with shouts, voices, prayers, music so loud they can’t transact and will leave the area, stones if necessary, sticks and pelting those punks with bottles and rotten tomatoes until they get the message. GO AWAY AND DON’T COME BACK. These are OUR streets, understand!?

Assess, once the area is safe, what your area looks like. What are the main problems and who will help you solve them? Who will help you break through the red tape and get the funds and the materials necessary to get the community looking better? Are the problems viaducts that flood, then sit on the departments of water and streets and sanitation until they get off their behinds and act to solve the problems.

Is the problem a lot full of trash and debris? Well then, get in there with a group and clean it up. Get the tools of the cleanup trade: tarps, rakes, shovels, sturdy gauntlet gloves, bug spray, insect repellent, trash bags, trash cans, dumpsters to haul the stuff away, and people who will be available to have food and drink ready to serve to volunteers who, literally, work for food in such cases.

3. Beautification Begins With a Thorough Cleanup Campaign

* For a city Chicago’s size, is a month enough? *

For the mayor’s plan to work, Chicago needs a thorough cleanup. There is enough bird poop in the Loop to build a wall, so no matter what we feel towards wildlife, the pigeons must go. After all, pigeons are introduced pests from Europe. The proper name for these birds is the European Rock Dove. They were brought to America and have prospered due to a lack of natural enemies, so they must go. Accumulated droppings can lead to disease, and it looks really gross and smells even worse (like waste will do after a while), and animal waste attracts some of the worst pests of all, the disease -bearing rats we are trying to rid out of our city.

The L stations, the entire L structure, and buildings along that area of the Loop must be power -washed and cleaned down, right to the sidewalks, and then anti -pest programs must be instituted. Putting up anything that will get rid of the pigeons is necessary… either that or bring in a natural solution, the amazing Peregrine Falcon and the super Cooper’s Hawk.

These birds are bird -eaters, and will go after anything when they are hungry, and there is a plentiful supply of pigeons. We could then return these birds to a natural setting or watch them breed and enjoy the balance they will bring to controlling the pest population.

We must also assess the pollution in our city in order to find the right ways to clean up such problems as petroleum coke, or petcoke, which is documented as causing caustic pollution to an area of Chicago near a plant that harbors piles of this black sooty stuff that gets on people’s homes and into their yards and into their lungs. Chemicals pollute our water, trash litters our beaches and litter clogs our streets and alleys. Corporations need to be held seriously accountable for their practices, for no matter whether they say that their studies show they are acting within the law, doing so does not mean that what they produce and how they manufacture is good or right or best or decent. Those who produce and harbor the petcoke say they are acting within the law and are doing nothing wrong, but in using such language they are completely ignoring the residents of that area who suffer from the black dust that floats into their neighborhood.

Also, excess light is a form of pollution. It is now shown that light pollution harms the circadian rhythm and causes stress to the human body and mind. We need our dark spaces and our real night spaces so we can rest, have quiet and transition from work to rest. In those areas where the mayor wants these light displays, people do live, and the mayor wants to attract more tourists to those areas. People need their space… residents need their space away from tourists’ eyes, and people do live downtown.

Do you wonder why our city has that odd dirty -bronze rusty -golden color at night? Light pollution, plain and simple. We are thrown into thinking we have to act and work all day and all year no matter what, because of this overblown presence of artificial light. We need to turn it off, not turn it on, and we need more efficient lighting, using mirrors, reflectors, solar power, whatever it takes to conserve energy and make our use of it more efficient. Besides, as the news story related, Paris, the famous “City of Lights” is trying to cut down on its golden reputation and reduce use of light. This is more energy efficient. Why Chicago wants to use excess light, even more light on buildings and bridges and historic structures, is not logical. We need less light , not more light.

There are times and places for tourists and times and places for residents. Residents’ needs and wishes come first, plain and simple.

Trash along a Chicago street.

So, Your Honor, before you get some high-minded plan to light up the city, be sure that what you want to highlight is what you want the world to see. Be absolutely sure that you want the world to see trash on the riverfront, homeless veterans roaming the lakefront and the riverfront and the Loop digging in trash cans and sleeping on corners. Be sure you want the world to see places where gangs shoot up innocent people and teenagers roam in flash mobs terrorizing law -abiding tourists and citizens shopping and dining along Michigan Avenue and towards the Loop. Be completely sure you want the world to see the petcoke, the trash on the bridges, the dirty buildings, the oil on the lake, the glass fragments and other debris on the beaches, the bird poop in the Loop and the trash along the highways. Do you want the world to see and hear about the gangs, the drugs, the labor disputes and the airport noise?

We could spend months getting the trash picked up from the roadsides and still only begin to make a dent in the pollution that plagues Chicago.

Let’s get up and get to it, folks. The roads and bridges are not going to clean up on their own.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. Wikimedia Commons, searched through GOOGLE images.

2. http://waronfilth.com/tag/broken-glass.

Memorial Day: Occasions to Ponder and Give Thanks

It’s true, we do not need a day called “Thanksgiving” to be gracious and humbled. We can have gratitude every single day of our lives, if not for some things, than for someone.

In this case it is for the people who have served in our national military services, giving and straining for the highest achievements such a career can provide. You give the effort, someone else gives their efforts to help you be your best, and in the end, you serve and you sacrifice.

As many ads of the past month or so indicate, many uniformed personnel return and are reunited with their families… in one bodily piece. We can also hope these folks are mentally fit as well as they are physically fit. These ladies and gentlemen are so happy to see their families, and those kids sure are happy to see them, running up to the arms of mom or dad.

On this day of auto racing in the Indianapolis 500, on this day of barbecues, swimming, pickup baseball and pro baseball and other outdoor activities which Americans are privileged to engage in this long holiday weekend, we must remember all of those who are serving now in this country and overseas in the name of freedom and the preservation of those rights we as American citizens hold dear and near.

We should take time to remember the first responders of our emergency medical services as well as those in our Army, Navy, Air Forces, Marines and Coast Guard. We can find special ways to honor them. Think about the veterans languishing in hospitals or at home care, and consider what you can do to help them. No veteran should be alone, or waiting for care when they are in pain or suffering, or homeless and searching for their next meal in a trash can dirty with pet waste, chemicals, and broken glass. Everyone needs someone at some point… what can you do for one of these in need?

Place a flag in a military/national cemetery. Honor your serving relatives who happen to be in the states with gifts, a dinner, something really nice to show your appreciation. Serve them breakfast in bed tomorrow morning, go on a picnic, go to a parade and spend some time on this fine day watching the marching bands and the ROTC corps in their dress uniforms troop the colors and the streets they might someday defend like those who have paved the way for them to receive an education. If your loved ones are overseas, send them an extra special message of I Love You and Thank You, and gather the family for a photo. And hope all of those who are in other nations come back soon and are healthy.

I viewed one of those ceremonies and parades yesterday in Chicago when in the Loop I watched Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth in her sharp, spiffy dress uniform go to the eternal flame area with Mayor Emanuel at her side to place a wreath. Then came the singing of God Bless America and then a profound playing of Taps. All around were proud young soldiers and older soldiers in their fine uniforms and giving salutes and showing such poise during so profound and intense a moment as that was. The parade down State Street followed, with the usual fanfare, the floats, the bands and the folks in command, stirring their charges with reminders to keep in step and to halt and proceed at certain times, and stirring all who attended with their voices meant to get attention and remind us, in a way, to do our best as well.

Wherever you are this weekend, at an airport, on the roads, with your friends and family; whether at home snug and comfy in your library engaging in a good book before a nice dinner served by your cook and staff, or whether you are cooking your own supper in the company of your television and a movie, no matter where you are or what you do, think about those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure you can do just those things.

Pray for peace as you go about your day as well, for world peace and peace of mind, for yourself and for everybody.

cropped-flagam1.jpg

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.