Reminder to self: it would be inappropriate to use the power of the high holy days to pray for the healing of a car

Dammit, my Beetle got maimed. Last night I was driving home (from having gotten some sweet new brakes put in the Beetle, incidentally), and I pulled over on Parker Street near Wentworth to let an ambulance go by. I was aware that the car behind me was a cab. I pulled over, was almost to a stop, when said cab rammed into the ass end of my Beetle, propelling the right front tire/fender into the left rear fender of a parked Jetta. By the time I'd registered what had hit what and why my car had suddenly moved, said cab was driving away. I didn't get any information on it other than that it was a white Crown vic. Helpful, I know. A young man riding around in circles on a too-small bike, no helmet, red t-shirt, white earbuds in ears definitely saw the accident, but wouldn't stop when I called to him repeatedly and chased after him.

I left a note on the Jetta. The only damage to it is a very shallow scrape on the fender. It looks like I didn't contact the tire or wheel. According to Massachusetts insurance law, I'm of course at fault for hitting the Jetta, since the actual at-fault driver left. I'm really hoping the Jetta owner is sympathetic and lets me pay for it without going through insurance.

I had a cop come and take a report, on the off chance that the cab driver later decided to be honest, or somehow became otherwise involved with the police. The officer was pretty decent, except he said that my car was definitely driveable and was just out of alignment. Actually, the front wheels are out of alignment from one another, so they're both pointed out, and it made squealing and clunking noises when I drove it. The steering wheel was ripping out of my hand any time I drove over a tiny crack or cup lid or anything in the road. It felt like the tie rod might have gotten messed up.

I got home last night, realized I didn't get my license back from the officer. Called the police station, they were really nice and got him on the line, but he said he gave it back. Maybe it will show up in his car or something and he'll mail it back. I'm going to wait a week or so before replacing it.

This morning I took my car to my mechanic, driving slowly on backroads. It's amazing what assholes people are. I was actually right around the speed limit on most of these residential roads, but got honked at pretty much the whole way there by people who eventually passed me to do 45 on residential streets where kids were walking to school. Nice.

When I got it to the mechanic, I attempted a tight turn for the first time, to turn the car around and pull it into a spot in his lot. The right front axle made a big clunk and a crunch that sounded like the CV or something going. When I turned the steering wheel, the right wheel didn't move at all. When I left it at the mechanic, the right wheel was pretty much pointed straight forward in the wheelwell, except that the top of the wheel was leaning out of the wheelwell and the bottom was contacting the ground in the correct place. The left wheel was turned sharply to the left. This does not look good. I guess it's possible there's not actual major damage to parts, and it's one of those things where I broke just the right bolt or bracket or something to make it seem like the axle fell apart. Let's hope so.


Don't forget what day it is tomorrow.

Article on males working in female-dominated fields

This article is pretty good overall. It's kind of shallow and one-sided in typical MSN fashion, but it's always nice to see this sort of thing covered in the short-attention-span-theatre media.

Would you expect anything less out of One Smoot during the high holy days?

No, I will never stop thinking my little Photoshop project is funny:

A good year to all!

My plan to save $29 on my Massachusetts car inspection

My car inspection has always been due in August. This year, I put it off until the end of the month, then didn't have time to take it in until a few days into September. I didn't have any plans for the car to be anywhere other than my driveway until I could take it in, so I didn't have to worry about being ticketed.

Since I took my car in in September, this means I got a September sticker instead of my usual August sticker. Which leads me to my brilliant idea.

Next year, I'm going to get the car inspected during the first few days of October. Then the year after, November. After 11 years of doing this, I'll have saved $29! Brilliant, no?

BostonNOW ran a great story about accessibility; too bad it wasn't edited by someone with knowledge of appropriate terminology

On the front page of today's BostonNOW, there's a story about automotive dealers providing temporary/moveable hand controls for people who wish to test drive vehicles. It's great that they ran the story to raise awareness, and astonishing that they quoted owners of car dealerships who didn't realize that the ADA requires them to have hand controls available.

However, in true BostonNOW fashion, the story clearly wasn't edited by anyone who has any knowledge of preferred disability terminology. Or anyone who could look up disability terminology in the Associated Press stylebook or by doing a quick google search.

Here's the story, shamelessly reprinted in its entirety, with my copy-editing:

DisabledPeople with disabilities given access to test-drives
Dealerships apparently have to provide hand controls
Jon Tapper, Correspondent

An agreement reached between the one of the Commonwealth's biggest auto dealers and a disabled shopper with a disability who filed a discrimination complaint against his company could have significant implications across the state.

"I'd argue any dealership is at risk because of this case," Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Chairman Walter Sullivan said.

Ernie Boch, Jr., who owns and operates eight dealerships in Massachusetts, had been the subject of a discrimination complaint from a disabled woman with a disability who wanted to test-drive a vehicle and was denied access to hand controls.

After initially contesting the matter, Boch began making the hand controls available. The Commission Against Discrimination, which received the complaint, lauded Boch for offering the service all his dealerships - not just the one that had been the subject of the case.

"I didn't realize how many people actually needed (hand controls)," Boch said in a recent interview. "I don't think I placed any importance on it at first."

The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association said it had not heard of the issue, and was not aware of other dealerships with similar policies. A BostonNOW survey of 10 area auto dealers found that none had hand controls available for disabled test-drivers with a disability, but one - Expressway Toyota in Dorchester - said it plans to.

Advocates for the disabled people with disabilties contend [I'd go with "state" or "report" here, since you did contact one of the leading authorities on the ADA. Also, it's a bit slanted to call them an advocate "for people with disabilities," since they're a neutral organization advocating for correct interpretation and application of disability rights -- the ADA doesn't unlimitedly favor people with disabilities. I'd refer to them as advocates for disability law.] this accommodation is required by state and federal law and that all car dealers should have been doing this for a long time.

"Car dealerships are covered under the ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act), so they have to accommodate people with disabilities," said Paula Pearlman, the deputy director of Disability Rights Legal Center, a national advocacy center based in Los Angeles.

Hand controls, which allow a disabled driver with a physical disability to attach handles on the steering wheel to accelerate and stop a vehicle, cost about $2,000 to permanently install, but cost very little to temporarily set up.

"It costs nothing for a dealership to have these on hand and install when requested," Pearlman said.

At issue in the complaint against Boch was whether the dealer violated the state's disability rights statute by not offering "reasonable accommodation" to Betsy Pillsbury, who is confined to a wheelchair [DID YOU SERIOUSLY JUST SAY THAT? - e] uses a wheelchair. Pillsbury, according to the April 2005 Commission Against Discrimination filing, was only seeking temporary installation of the devices, while Boch employees thought she wanted the devices permanently installed for the test-drive, "which indisputably would permanently alter the vehicle," an MCAD motion reads.

But in the same motion, Boch maintains "even the requirement to make available and install portable hand controls constitutes an undue burden on its business and is therefore not a reasonable accommodation."

Nine months later, however, Pillsbury dropped her complaint after Boch agreed to offer the temporary devices, commission chairman Sullivan said. Pillsbury, who ended up buying a car at a different dealership, could not be reached for comment.

Hand control devices, which allow disabled drivers to press the gas pedal and the brake without using their feet, work on a single-lever push or pull system. They can also be helpful in engaging turn signals, windshield wipers and adjusting mirrors.

There are dozens of other adjustments and modifications that can be made to a vehicle to accommodate disabled operators, including adding a wheelchair lift and installing swivel seats so it is easier to enter and exit the car.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination received 3,198 complaints in 2006, a decrease of 200 complaints from 2005. Greater awareness of the laws is the likely reason.
Almost one-fifth of the cases - 19.7 percent - involve charges of discrimination based on disability. Complaints about gender discrimination (18.9 percent) and racial discrimination (18.5 percent) followed. Other complaints focused on retaliation (12.6 percent), age (9.6 percent) and national origin (7.8 percent).

Those who feel victimized by discrimination can call
MCAD at (617) 994-6000. Complaints should be filed at MCAD's office, located in Room 601 of the McCormack Building.

(Robert Boismier contributed to this story.)
Published on Mon, Sep 10, 2007

Tags: disabled disability,
accessibility, laws, cars

I e-mailed them to comment on this, and I provided the following references:

The American Psychological Association article listed above alsocontains links to articles about nonbiased reporting related tosexuality/gender and race/ethnicity.

Books and stuff

40. Jewish With Feeling: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Joel Segel

41. 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill (Author) and Nancy Carpenter (Illustrator)

42. A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer

43. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

44. The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder, Revised Edition by Carol Stock Kranowitz

45. The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family by Dave Pelzer

46. 50 Ways to Support Lesbian and Gay Equality: The Complete Guide to Supporting Family, Friends, Neighbors or Yourself edited by Meredith Maran with Angela Watrous

47. What Makes Someone a Jew? by Lauren Seidman

48. Lyrical Life: A Rock and Roll Love Story Told in 200 Song Lyrics by Casey Jones

What the hell is this radio station I found?

This morning I turned on the radio and surfed through the low part of the FM dial to find some folky/worldly kind of something to listen to while I sat in the living room sun and drank my coffee and read a book. I quickly found sitar music, so I left it there. This was followed by a few more mellow world selections from various backgrounds.

My living room radio is a Kloss Model One, so no digital tuner. Whatever station I found was between WBUR (90.9) and WXRV (92.5). As far as I know, the 91s are all school and community stations.

After a few selections of the kind of thing I expect to find on these stations, the station switched over to an astrology report. Not just any astrology report, but a 15-minute-long report telling me exactly what I should do and not do over the next week, all while seeming to view the planets and stars as anthropomorphic ("and by lining up and facing us in this way, Saturn is giving us a clear message..."). The best part though was how she pronounced yoo-RAW-nus. Honestly, how can anyone trust an astrologist who can't even pronounce yeranus correctly?

She's still talking about planets and stars as I write this. Oh, and has told me to close business deals and engage in creative pursuits on Rosh Hashanah. Hmm, I think if I were to get into astrology, I'd need to find a pluralist astrologer. Anyway, my own beliefs about taking astrology literally aside, I'm really quite pleased to come across an organized presence of a minority belief system. Even if it's not an orientation that works for me, I'm always reassured by evidence of people actually thinking about things.

Does anyone know what this station is?

Men avoiding interaction with children out of fear of being seen as predators

This article from the Wall Street Journal is full of anecdotes of men who either suspect they were viewed as perverts or were outright accused of behaving inappropriately when they interacted with children -- including one guy who was approached when he took his own daughter to a restaurant. I wonder how much of this comes from women who've not healed from past experienced and learned to have trusting interactions with men, then have passed their attitudes onto their children and others. Regardless, it's sad.

EDIT: Oh, I see it got Farked too. The comments thread gives a lot of good insight. There are a parents talking about how all of the males in their schools and community programs have quit out of fear, and males talking about how they've quit jobs with children for this reason. Which of course leads to more and more children who don't have many experiences with safe interactions with males, and parents and children who start to get the impression that not very many legitimate males choose positions with access to children.

"We're going to raise your interest rate, unless you tell us in writing you'd rather we not."

I just got this letter from my Sovereign Bank Visa card. Maybe this practice is commonplace, but I don't usually open these "changes to your account terms" things, since I don't carry balances on most of my cards. Either way, I found the approach kind of strange. I'd always thought credit cards made their money by screwing people who pay late, but apparently they also screw people who don't read all of their mail. Oops. Good thing I actually opened this one: (click images to enlarge)

Since I actually carry a balance on this card, I wrote them a letter rejecting their, um, offer: