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.

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.

METRA:: Does METRA Need a Measure of Mission Control?

METRA and MISSION CONTROL

Article inspired by the airing of an interview on News Radio 780 WBBM, conducted between Political Reporter Craig Dellimore and METRA Chairman Martin Oberman, presented this past Sunday.

METRA, an organization of regional rail resources spreading throughout the Chicago -land area and touching thousands of lives each day, has seen its share of controversies.

But it like any business that has sincere interests in its customers/patrons/riders, the conditions that seeded the ground for corruption can be removed and the ground re -seeded and restored to ensure proper performance.

First of all, we have plenty of resources to understand what METRA is and what its purposes and missions are. Thus we can look at the other part of this article’s title- “mission control”.

And it’s not just for NASA these days!

Let us remember our space history, what inspired NASA and the moon missions to take off, a simple set of words spoken by President Kennedy in a speech to Congress.

The words that set in motion the principles of the concept we know as mission control are these:

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

The essence of mission control is this: that each person is so well -trained and efficient that their concerns for the safety of their colleagues and their customers is foremost in their minds and in everything they do, every single day. We must remember that NASA has had its share of political encounters and interference, and of successes and failures and sadness. As we as a nation lost astronauts, the people of NASA, who were the closest to those people next to their families, mourned an even deeper eulogy: in the times of Apollo 1, of the tragedy of the Challenger explosion and of the loss of Columbia, we all felt those events right to the core of our thoughts, prayers and values. We wondered if the space program was worthy of funding, yet on we went with it. We now have the challenges of dealing with how to supply and maintain the International Space Station, but we are not giving up. We are working on it.

Yes, we are working on it- actively, honestly, and every day. We are working on it.

METRA in its transformation must continue the role of providing safe and efficient transportation and facilities for the tens of thousands of people who use its rolling stock and stations every week. In the face of skepticism and resistance and the lagging specters of corruption METRA must stand and face what has happened square -on, let their ridership know that they are working to improve conditions, and continue to do so. We must of course see the efforts and see the progress so we will know that our money is being efficiently spent.

For the powers of METRA are ones of control, huge amounts of control. The members of the METRA board control huge amounts of power and resources and have the lives of all those patrons in their hands. It is control all right… goodness it is a serious duty to discharge with faith and honor.

In those hands they have the safety of children and parents, of those who need to have their guidance animals close at hand, and of the people who maintain the rolling stock and the tracks and staff the stations. Every day they must consider how to handle millions of dollars and to do so in ways that will satisfy their ridership and those who watch over their performance. And they must perform, no matter if they are elected or appointed: they must perform because it is the proper thing to do.

It is all back to square one: the safety of their riders and the backbone workers who keep the organization running on a daily basis. METRA’s directors are no doubt aware that every day there are men and women out there working on the cars, the rails, and in the repair houses trying their best to work to keep us safe. No doubt those are very difficult jobs. If you start to read about the statistics of the locomotives and the rail cars and understand their power and weight and size, you realize that much effort is required to maintain even one train’s worth of cars and a locomotive. That’s millions of tons moving at 55 or more miles per hour over rails that amaze with their strength and resilience, rails that had to be constructed to precise measurements by people who have the same concerns as should the members of the METRA board. They have the safety of the riders and workers in mind.

Now if those resources were properly used, I do not think we as regular riders would object to the monies that would be needed to buy new rail cars. OK, so $3 million is not a figure people throw around every day for spending on transit, and each rail car would cost that much. But consider the headaches and maintenance costs that go into dealing with the old cars and it is plain there is great need for new cars. This rider would be happy with new cars; no more doors getting stuck and the like.

More quiet cars of course would be welcome; people need quiet and calm and peace when they are getting off work in the noisy city, and we need to have more courtesy around others. Excessive use of mobile devices can be unwelcome, considering we are around them every day for hours on end and they are not always used in places of work and shopping. This patron certainly would welcome entire trains of quiet cars!

There are other issues that affect METRA’s workings, such as the daily doings of Union Pacific and BNSF railroad companies, and the ancient deals made with them that keep commuters hoping that there are no further or no serious delays in their comings and goings. The METRA board must do what it is able to keep commuters happy and safe while talks and deals with the railroads carry on.

Meanwhile, the miracles of mission control must be “up and at them” in everyone’s conscience. They must be repeated every day like a company creed or a mantra that inspires us to consider others and treat people better.

METRA’s board must get with it and be really “on the level” if they are to keep us happy with the “bi -level”.

RESOURCES

1. https://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/about_metra/leadership.html. 16 April 2014.

2. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/xzw1gaeeTES6khED14P1Iw.aspx. From the Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on 25 May 1961. 16 April 2014.

3. http://www.nipponsharyousa.com/products/pages/zusametra-pc1994.htm. Weight and other statistics of METRA passenger cars. 16 April 2014.

Wheels Carry Us to Invention, Inspiration, and… Progress?

Mankind invented the wheel. What have we done with that innovation?

We have come up with the horse and carriage, a transition to the motorized vehicle and which are still used in many parts of the country today. Though they have the horse which needs to be fed and cared for there is the need of the carriage with its two large wheels. We came up with the stagecoach… still needs horses, though, and at least four. More expensive care and feeding there, and for the tourist carriages that roll through some American cities there is the extra need for safety procedures that ensure the care of horse and riders.

Chicago is a city that runs twenty -four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, all the time but not always on time. Yet we as a city -race do run, and we can run ourselves ragged.

We as citizens of America’s third -largest city are surrounded by wheels. There are four of them on our cars; there are hundreds of them on the trains we take every day, and there are hundreds of them on the busses that come to collect us and take us to our destinations.

On television we also see the wheel. There is the wheel of fortune on the show of the same name. There is a wheel on the popular game show and one of the longest running television shows, the Price is Right, and there are wheels of prizes on Let’s Make a Deal. If there is not a wheel there is the “roll” of the dice in the hopes of winning something really nice. Among the prizes offered are, what else, cars and motorcycles.

We can easily forget in the limelight of potentially winning one of those spectacular prizes the elements of safety that come with owning them. If you drive you must realize that there are rules of safety designed to keep you and other drivers and pedestrians safe. There are rules and laws of decency that every driver needs to know and to follow. Never use a device that takes your hands off the steering wheel. You are in a moving automobile, a vehicle weighing at least three thousands pounds and much more the larger and heavier it is. Vehicles can travel the length of a football field in less than ten seconds at 55 miles an hour.

Left untamed, the wheel can take us right into nothing but trouble. Four of them moving at that speed can cause great catastrophes and harm and injury and destruction.

The wheel is a sign and symbol of taking risk, of making a journey, of traveling and of arriving.

Somewhere.

We get in our cars or on the bus or train with the intention of getting someplace and doing something. We “fight traffic”, we get into “traffic jams”, and we experience “train delays” and construction delays every day. Now delays can be caused by any number of reasons- the ever -present construction, weather situations, trucks stuck under viaducts, or flooded viaducts. And under us those wheels made of rubber and metal, decorated by hubcaps and inflated by air pressure, those wheels supporting the tons of metal, rubber, and… people who use them every day.

And under those wheels, the roads that need the very constant maintenance that causes those jams and delays and ties -up and other situations we encounter. Roads and tracks need to be in good order to support the thousands of vehicles traveling on them every day, and if they are not we can and do see the consequences.

Airplanes also have wheels. Isn’t it amazing when you look at those tiny tires under the millions of tons of jetliner and wonder how they support it? Some jets weigh close to half a million tons, so it seems a stat on the aptly -called jumbo jets came through once. Planes take off at over a hundred miles an hour and touch down on those incredible tires, and I to this day am inspired to watch when a jet comes into the terminal jet -way, gazing at those circles of rubber and metal. Remarkable.

We are a nation of travelers, no matter what we are doing. We watch shows that inspire us to travel; we get out of the house and go places to do things. We feel the need and have the right to freedom of movement and to move anywhere we want.

But some people misuse those resources others pay taxes on and work on and get to work and school and play and worship on. Some people use their vehicles to commit drive -by murders, use them to dispense drugs, use them to run the drugs to other states, use them to commit road rage, vehicular homicide, and hit and run incidents that take the lives of others and can leave others maimed for life. Some people consider that they can just throw waste on the roads, where other have to see and smell it every day. They throw it out lazily and without any consideration that someone else will have to clean it up, and when there are trash bags and receptacles they can put the waste into. You who litter and who just toss junk onto the roads should know better than that! Such habits show a total lack of consideration for the lives of others; throw the junk onto a road and you could cause an accident. You might think that little piece of trash is nothing but if someone runs over it or hits it a tragedy could happen, and you would be at fault for causing death and destruction.

You would be at fault for causing loss of life, of someone who might turn out to be a loved one or a friend or even someone you work with. Do you think of that?

But there are better ways to consider the roads we use and everything that goes with using those roads. Of course we can think of those roads but we do have other ways to travel, and those ways existed before the wheel.

We have feet and we can make trails and paths- we were doing so long before we had to invent the convertible. We were running and hunting and getting around because we had to, because we needed to get place to place and follow the animals and the spring rains and the trade routes.

We can use our feet to go some places so long as the walk is not super long… that is unless we are on a relay race that takes us across states and countries to raise funds for some worthy cause as happened this week to help the people affected by events in Boston last year. Thousands of people will this coming week run in the Boston Marathon, only a year after two horrid men set off bombs in that beautiful city, killing and maiming and doing great harm to many people.

And how will the racers and spectators get to Boston? Well, if they live close enough some might walk to see the Marathon. But my wager is that most of them will travel on or in a vehicle with wheels. Some will fly in and take busses and cars; some will drive sedans and coupes, and some will ride their bicycles or motorcycles as far as they can get them to the race limits. They will take the tens of thousands of miles of roads that cross the United States, roads they hope are safe and maintained and travel -ready, will share those roads with thousands of other drivers and passengers in millions of vehicles of every size and description.

Trucks, huge semi tractor -trailers, moving vans, fire engines, ambulances, cars of every size and shape and vintage; the sport utility vehicles, busses and campers used for recreation during nice weather, and the motorcycles, vans, and limousines will make their way to Boston. With them are the police officers and the security teams that will monitor the routes and the airports leading in and out of that fair city.

There will be risks getting in and out of Boston as there are any other city or any place we go every day. Those who turn the chance into a grand circumstance will see an event that will be so very special to the participants and spectators, not only because the racers have trained and prepared for that big day but because of those thousands that will join them live and on television and by computer to watch them in that effort to show the world that those nasty terrorists have NOT WON that day and WILL NOT WIN at any time and any place on United States land.

We love to travel. Let’s all stay safe doing so.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.