Crossed wires at the BPD

On Monday night I called the mayor's hotline to ask if I could have an unfamiliar car towed that was parked across my driveway, no flashers on, no owner in sight.

The person who answered asked if I'd called the police. I said no, the person said he'd transfer me. He transferred me to "hello, Boston Police," who I told what I wanted. The person said she'd transfer me. She transferred me to "hello, 911, do you have an emergency?"

I told this person that, no, not really, but I was transferred here from the police, and was looking to get a car towed that was across my driveway. She took the info and said she'd send an officer. I didn't ask her whether the officer would be bringing a towtruck.

20 minutes later, my phone rings. "Hello, this is the Boston Police. Someone there requested an ambulance.."

"...ummm, nope..."

"Yeah, someone called from your number and said they needed an ambulance at [eeka's address] for someone who'd been assaulted and had a head injury."

"No, I called to get a car towed from this address."

"Are you sure?"

"Um, yes."

They never did tow the car. The owner eventually reappeared and moved it and I uneventfully drove my car into my driveway.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, eeka participates in a bit of blogger drama without meaning to

Last Thursday, John A. Keith, the blogging real-estate agent, made a post about how Copley Square is a bad place because:

If you’ve been through Copley Square, you’ve no doubt been subjected to tens, if not hundreds of drug addicts wandering around.
The area is also popular with homeless people.
And, crazy people.
And, those rotten kids on their skateboards.

I posted a comment sharing some of my feelings about the labels, and also about the ableist implication that a place is bad because it's welcoming to members of our community who have disabilities and/or don't have permanent homes. I also asked if he had taken a survey of these people to see if they identified as having mental illness and/or being homeless, or if these were just assumptions.

Mr. Keith responded with a sort of apology, as any good business person would. He stuck his foot in his mouth though when he clarified that he wasn't talking about people with disabilities, but rather about "nutjobs," and assured me that he had plenty of sympathy for people with mental illness. He ignored the whole issue of the assumptions and of the fact that the vast majority of people who are chronically homeless have disabilities. When I asked him to clarify how exactly these people were standing out as "nutjobs" if they weren't presenting with outward signs of mental illness, he told me he had been perfectly clear, and said I was trying to pick a fight.

I think that publishing ableist viewpoints is really the least of Mr. Keith's problems right now. On Friday, he posted some cryptic remarks relating to an interaction with another blogger and strongly implied that he was shutting down his blog. Hey, maybe he'll reappear with a .emo blog address!

I also feel obligated to point out that while I was poking around on his site, I also found that he is "a graduate of Northeastern University, which borders both the South End and Fenway neighborhoods."

Northeastern's property also borders another neighborhood. We even have homes in our neighborhood, some of which are for sale. Our residents create work for real estate agents!

People with disabilities also hire real estate agents. If anyone is looking for a real estate agent who doesn't make disparaging comments about people with disabilities, I'd be glad to recommend the one I used. Let me know.

Hmm, www.eeka.omg kind of has a nice ring to it

During a recent discussion in which I asserted to my friend that although I was getting my medical information from the internet, I was getting it from Mayo Clinic's website, not the MY T0TALLY R0X0R 3LBOW DISLOC8N GROTTO OMG!!!111 website, I came to a brilliant realization:

There should be top-level internet domains such as .omg and .emo.

The kiddos would totally go for it, and it would narrow down the search results when people go to search for informational pages. It would work in the other direction too -- a teenager looking for any one of their friend's 200 personal homepages wouldn't have to flip through websites that weren't personal pages.

Actually, on a more serious note, it would be great if there could be a top-level domain that was reserved exclusively for webpages published by a business or individual agreeing to follow basic guidelines of professional publishing. For instance, the site would need to clearly provide the name and contact info of the major contributors and would need to have a mission statement and disclosure of funding sources in order to be registered as a .pro or .legit or whatever domain. They'd also need to follow guidelines in terms of citing sources of information they include and providing appropriate disclaimers. Basically, it would be a way of credentialling the sites that are already appropriate for use as sources in academic or professional writing, but it would allow people who don't have this sort of background to quickly and easily determine whether they were reading peer-reviewed professional information or whether they had come across some zealot with a geocities account purporting to be some sort of coalition.

This concrete distinction could also be helpful in helping establish ground rules in discussions on forums and blogs. If, a couple of years from now, all major websites had registered their domains this way, a forum could enact a rule that opinions needed to be backed up by a personal account or by information from a .headscrewedonstraight domain. This sort of protocol could balance out power between internet users who have a great deal of academic and internet background and those who don't, and could still allow for differing views while curtailing certain assertions that just have no factual basis.

The Metro printed one of my letters after all

Literally five minutes after I posted about how The Metro never publishes my letters, they e-mailed me asking for my full contact information and permission to publish one of my letters.

It's in today's paper. There isn't a way to link to the letters section, but the whole paper is available in .pdf format on the website. The site says registration is required to download copies of the paper, but it didn't actually ask me to register.

Also check out the great letter by Troy Daniels (also in response to Hiram Scott), which focuses on the issue of not allowing agencies to use tax dollars for discriminatory purposes. This is a good point to make, because people care about where tax dollars go, and it's a way to get people to listen. We'll just forget about the loud tiny faction of Massachusetts voters who are opposed to using tax dollars for curricula that teach tolerance, assertiveness skills, human anatomy...

Letters, we get letters...

I've been really swamped with a number of things lately and haven't been posting much. It will probably be this way for a couple weeks.

So, I thought I'd at least start posting my letters that The Metro never prints. I'm thinking I'll give them a week to not publish them, then they'll become Smooty goodness.


Chris Cuddy's letter stating that "no guy in history has ever, or willever, solely be 'friends' with a girl" represents a narrow viewpoint. While this may hold true in some crowds, this view neglects to consider friendships between men and women in which one or both are not heterosexual, in which one or both are happily partnered otherwise, or in which one or both are currently focused entirely on other obligations such as a career or parenting. I can assure you that my partner and the gay man she had lunch with the other day are, in fact, not more than friends.

Yes, it's been confirmed that the phone numbers are real...

From artist Stephanie McMillan:

(click for larger, and check out her site!)

On the subject of Napoli, here's an interview in which he describes when the abortion ban "exception" would apply:

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

Two things imediately jump out at me:

1. This senator thinking that sodomization results in pregnancy is exactly what's wrong with allowing lawmakers, rather than healthcare professionals, to make decisions about healthcare.

2. I'm pretty sure his wife isn't a virgin, having given birth to two kids. So if she were raped, would the exception not apply to her?

Hello, Children's Place? I'd like to order a dress for my son.

''A girl can still look girlie in blue with something with ruffles, lace, flowers or even with a headband. Men can wear pink - maybe that's because they're more confident - but little boys don't. At Children's Place, we embrace the idea that boys are boys and girls are girls,'' Strubel says.

''We do live in a society where your kid might be picked on,'' says Strubel, herself the mother of a grade-school son.

A boy might wear pink if his father does, or if he is older - say, in middle school - and confident in his machoness. If he does wear pink, Strubel suggests an ultra-preppy style, either an oxford button-down shirt or a polo shirt. It's even better if the pink is washed out or has a sun-bleached look.

OK, it's one thing to teach children what message certain clothing and grooming send, just as we teach them how others tend to view certain manners and ways of speaking. Sure, if your son says he's trying to express his manly self, help him pick out some clothes that are going to look manly. But what the hell is up with this woman deciding on behalf of society that every child with male genitalia is going to be happiest wearing macho clothing?

I've met plenty of people who resenting having to wear overly gendered clothing as kids. And who got teased anyway, probably because they were wearing clothing that just didn't fit with who they were and they came off as confused and awkward little people. I've not yet met someone who desperately wishes his or her parents had emphasized the importance of properly gendered clothing and who never could find a role model to confirm that it's acceptable for a girl to wear frilly dresses or a boy to wear broadshouldered blazers.

It's baaaack

That damn plane from Mass News Dot Com (no, they don't get a link, but I will freely use their graphic) just flew past my office again. This time, it says: DIMASI AND TRAVIGLINI VIOLATE LAWS

I think Carpundit said it best: "I wish they'd fly it every day until they go broke. No one pays attention exception their fellow nuts."

Verizon is screwing me over and I don't even have an account with them

Yesterday, I came home to find my DSL, which is through Speakeasy, disconnected.

Some background information: Speakeasy is a small business based in Seattle. They provide DSL service nationally. They are awesome in terms of customer service and technical support and everything, but they're limited in that they don't own the phone lines. The lines to my house are owned by Verizon (and leased by Covad, who sublets them to thirdfourth-party vendors like Speakeasy), and the box on the side of my house is owned by Verizon. Only Verizon can get in there to connect my house to the main lines to enable service. When I ordered my initial service, Verizon sent someone out to connect the cable pair in my telephone box, then Covad installed the loop to provide me with DSL service that doesn't require phone service.

So, anyway, this disconnection thing happened once before, on the same day that the person on the first floor of my three-decker got phone service. The Verizon technician pulled off my cable pair in the telephone box, probably thinking it was not in use, since I don't have a landline thus no dialtone at the box. Previously, it took two months to get service restored, because Speakeasy kept dispatching Verizon, who kept saying it was an inside wiring problem, since the wiring worked up to the box on the side of the house. They FINALLY opened up the box all the way and realized the pair had been ripped off and promptly fixed it.

OK, so, last night, the second time I came home to find it disconnected (this again happened on the same day as new people moved in downstairs, this time on the second floor), I called Speakeasy to let them know of the problem. They said that the Verizon-pulling-off-cable-pairs thing actually happens frequently, and that they'd try to dispatch someone, but in the meantime I might have better luck calling Verizon.

So I called Verizon at 800-870-9999. I spoke with a very helpful person named Nancy, who verified that someone had gotten Verizon service installed on the second floor yesterday*, understood exactly what I meant when I told her I had Speakeasy service without Verizon service, and apologized up the wazoo. She agreed with me that it sounded like they'd pulled my cable pairs off, since they didn't hear a dial tone. She said she'd call me back regarding getting someone sent out to fix my service.

She called back, said that she had spoken to all of the supervisors, and they couldn't send someone out, because I didn't have a Verizon account, and they couldn't send someone on the second floor's account, because her service is fine. She was very apologetic and suggested I call the president's office at 617-743-9800.

I did so, and I spoke to someone named Ted, who was a complete incompetent jackass. He told me that I had two options: I could talk to repair, or I could talk to the claims line, but the claims line only handles complaints from Verizon customers. I told him I'd talked to repair, including the supervisors, and they couldn't send the person back out. He kept repeating "well, the repair department is one of your options." Yes, one that doesn't work. He was nice enough to give me their number again. I told him "yes, I called them, and they said I'd need to call you." He told me, again, that he was "just giving you options." Right.

So then he gave me the customer relations claims line, 800-483-7988 (press 2), but said that they probably couldn't help me. I asked him repeatedly who I could call who could send someone back out. I explained over and over that Verizon is the only one with access to my telephone box, and that they RIPPED MY DSL LINE OUT YESTERDAY. He said that I wasn't a customer, so they couldn't really help me. If I'm not a customer, they shouldn't touch my property, either. Or own my telephone box. I called customer relations and was told that their call volume was too high and I'd need to try later.

I'm really tempted to see if I can break into the telephone box myself and connect the damn cable pair.

*We're just going to ignore for now the fact that the owners of the second floor should be notifying the other two owners if they're having any sort of work done on the house so that, for instance, they know that I have DSL without phone service and to make sure it doesn't get ripped out. The phone installation is the very very least of it in terms of the others in my three-decker blatently violating our condo docs. My lawyer is handling that issue.

Update: My service was restored after 7 days and Speakeasy provided me with a generous credit. I continue to have to restrain myself from throwing rocks at Verizon trucks.

I'm not antisocial; I just hate everyone

Had enough of all the internet technology aimed at linking people, friending people, arranging meetups, and so forth? New patented isolatr technology helps you "find where othere people aren't."

The FAQ section is particularly amusing.

Beware the Ides of March

Je m'appelle Brad Eaton

I'm listening to KING-FM, which I've listened to for about the past 20 years -- the past 10 have been online.

They've been running this "ad" where Brad Eaton talks about how he just started learning French with this great learn-at-home program. It isn't a recorded spot; he just works it into his morning blurb about what's going on around the city. Sometimes he doesn't even work it in, but rather just suddenly bursts out with a couple of French 101 phrases, then says why he's doing this. He mentions the brand name several times and uses a few buzzwordish descriptions of the program, so it's clear that it's paid advertising.

So far so good. Except that these ads have been running for about 10 or 12 years. Apparently, every 6 months or so, Mr. Eaton decides that he needs to start learning basic phrases in French. After a week or so, he's learned enough French, until the next time the urge rolls around, and he starts again in book one of the series. The guy doesn't need French manuals -- he needs Ritalin.

And the advertiser might be better off opting for a recorded spot, because it at least makes sense for some fictional person to not have progressed in his or her French skills between airings of the commercial.

Where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the artistic personality traits are over the top

On Saturday, I played in a show with Garrison Keillor. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. Here are a couple pictures from afterward:

Molly and Garrison Keillor
Molly giving her book to him to sign

eeka and Garrison Keillor
Me watching him sign it

A lot of the parodies he does are quite funny, and he's a talented improvisor. There's something just not right about the guy in person though. I mean, not that I expected his real-life persona to be exactly like his radio persona.

Except for how it totally was. The guy never came out of character.

During rehearsal he'd say things like, "well, the string section I work with in Lake Wobegon uses this arrangement that goes kind of like..."

Lake Wobegon? So then these musicians of whom you speak are...fictional? Although I suppose that being accustomed to fictional musicians could explain why he, in total seriousness, decided he could ask the pianist to "just make up" a piano part to the Dvorak symphony excerpt we were playing.

Seriously. He had decided that the pianist was amazing and was his best friend or something five minutes after meeting him (granted this pianist is very very good), so had deemed him capable of improvising piano parts to a harmonically complex symphonic works. And apparently capable of making a piano part sound welcome in a sustained, austere string and horn passage.

Overall, I think I have to say that I like his writing quite a bit better than his performance. His work is based on some very astute and intelligent observations, which makes it frustrating that he relies so heavily on histrionics to get his audience involved:

Garrison: So, this one time...
Garrison: I was sitting in my home in Lake Wobegon...
Garrison: *pouty frown*
Garrison: And of course, being a Lutheran...
Audience: AAAAAAAAAAA--*spontaneously combusts*

I'm not sure whether I can blame him entirely for this dynamic though. There's just something not right about a species of people who will laugh their asses off when someone says "homeland security."

Photos taken by the lovely Jodie, using her camera phone.

My obligatory post about Catholic Charities and adoption

So, as I'm sure everyone's read, Catholic Charities is backing out of providing adoption services, since the state laws require them to serve same-sex couples wishing to adopt.

And of course, the whackjob governor wants to seek an exemption so that religious organizations providing social services can be free to discriminate.

Um, folks? You do realize, don't you, that this is all a moot point? Adoption services are overseen by social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, physicians and others who are professionals licensed by the state. State laws, as well as other codes of ethics and standards of practice put forth by national organizations, prohibit professionals who are licensed or pending licensure from practicing unethically. This includes being discriminatory. These codes all contain language stating that a clinician will not practice in an unethical manner, even if a supervisor or employer has a policy requiring it. Clinicians are required to alert the employer to the unethical practices and refuse to carry them out.

In short, if Romney does find a way to enact this asinine exemption law, no clinicians who are licensed or pending licensure will be able to work for an agency that does choose to discriminate against a group of people. Other state laws pertaining to child welfare would prohibit an adoption agency from placing children with adoptive families without having the children and families assessed and supported by a trained clinician.

There just isn't any way to legally discriminate against same-sex families unless Mitt has some sort of magic wand that can change the standards of practice of medicine, social work, psychology and counseling. Even if he tried to enact a law like Florida's, this is a state with really strong professional organizations and training programs in the clinical fields, and we'd easily convince the legislature such a thing wouldn't fly in this state.

I must work for a progressive agency...

...because they've now officially identified me as a fruit on a departmental organizational chart.

Well, OK, what actually happened is that our department is large enough that we divide rounds into smaller groups that are pretty much arbitrary. So the directors sorted us into groups and named them apple, lime, and so forth, and then made a chart showing that the psychiatrist will be meeting with all the bananas on Wednesdays at 3.

I'm a lemon.

I've said this before, but THIS might, in fact, be the best typo ever

This line, from a clinical summary I just received, is dedicated to my childhood friend and favorite Mormon, Alanna.

"At the age of 20 he experienced a psychotic break that was precipitated by LDS."

His next project will be adding references to online dating to the lyrics of 16th century madrigals

A British composer has added Pluto to Gustav Holst's work The Planets - 83 years after the suite was first completed. Holst, acknowleged as one of the UK's foremost composers of his time, completed his seven-movement suite in 1917. But the eighth planet, Pluto, was discovered in 1930 - just four years before Holst's death.

Frisbees with a cause

I heard this on KING-FM this morning, and the only version of the article I could find online requires registration to view (bastards), so I'm illegally ganking it and redistributing it.

COLERIDGE, Neb. (AP) -- A high school, a town and a soldier came together to send 200 Frisbees to Iraq, to keep children there out of harm's way.

Concern for the safety of children prompted Sgt. Eric Pearson, a soldier in Iraq originally from Coleridge, to ask for Frisbees to put in care packages.

"Iraqi people are so poor. Send things for kids to enjoy. And please send things like Frisbees," he said in an e-mail. "I want to throw them far enough away from the top of a Humvee that they will hopefully get the kids away from the road."

Linda Beam of Coleridge, who had asked Pearson what to put in care packages, immediately took hold of the idea.

She contacted her stepdaughter, Kelly Ferguson, who owns a company that sells promotional items, then proposed the idea to the town's National Honors Society.

A check for $210 for 200 blue Frisbees was sent from the Coleridge Community School National Honor Society to one of Ferguson's suppliers, Pat Brennan from Ad Master Supply in Verona, Ohio. The owner of the supply company, Pat Brennan, sent the check back.

The bright blue Frisbees had messages printed in Arabic and English: "Stay away from the convoy." The printing on the Frisbee also says "189th T.C., donated by Coleridge School National Honor Society, Coleridge, NE, U.S.A."

I couldn't make such a stupid bumper sticker if I tried

I saw this sticker on a car in Lexington, of all places:

1. She wasn't? I'd generally heard her portrayed as a compassionate sort of person who I would think would be in favor of access to healthcare and opposed to an oppressive government. She raised Jesus to be quite a nonjudgmental guy and all.

2. Do you asshats really not understand the concept of "choice?" See, "choice" is where someone has the freedom to choose whether to give birth. It isn't the act of forbidding women from giving birth.

3. Putting aside the questionable historical accuracy of the Christmas story, if Mary had been infertile, there would be NO CHRISTMAS! Shouldn't you people want to ban infertility based on this same logic?

4. Is your God really stupid enough to send the Son of God to a woman who for whatever reason wouldn't have been able to carry him to term? And not to, like, try again if it didn't work out? How do we know that the Son of God wasn't implanted in several uteri and aborted and miscarried a few times before being born?

5. And, um, wait a second. Don't you people who take the Bible literally also preach that we don't need contraception or abortion because people have the option of abstinence? That approach didn't work too well for Mary, now did it?

Globe posts addresses of properties with lead pipes

I'm not really sure what to think about this article. On the one hand, it's just cool, because I'm a fan of public records and local knowledge in general.

On the other hand, as the article itself mentions, there are many sources of lead exposure, such as paint, pipes inside the homes (this list only concerns the pipes connecting the water mains to the properties), and plumbing fixtures inside the homes. The fact that they're posting property addresses smells of alarmism to me, like the Globe wants people to think this is some huge exposé, that this information wasn't previously available in any form, and that we're all going to die.

"On the other hand...there is no other hand!" ~Tevye

Do Republicans eat at crappy restaurant chains more than others?

From the "stuff I find funnier than most people would" files:

The Sizzler website restaurant locator instructs users to "Click on a red state to begin your search..."