Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Right to Work

Most of my life I have lived in a right to work state. I have never experienced the acutely painful joy of forced unionism...until I received my first pay check here. After union dues, I made about 1.77 an hour. This is completely legal, as its only for the first thirty days that dues are double their usual size. This does not change the fact, however, that it takes me two hours to pay my normal union dues, a week. Double dues are actually closer to six hours a week than two.

I assure you, it hurt seeing that first paycheck. I was angry enough to give my coworkers pause for concern, and several of my friends. After I calmed down, (around 3 am) I began to research. I threw myself into it, trying to figure out what it was the legality of my situation.

The legality of it? It was perfectly fine for me to have a take home pay of 1.77. There was nothing illegal about it. There was nothing I could do to stop it either. In fact, I had no recourse by acceptance. Why?

Maryland is a forced unionism state. If I am not a member of the union, they will take out service fees, for the benefits I enjoy thanks to the union. No matter what, I won't be making much, and will have fees docked.

It is absolutely infuriating. When asked, my coworkers admitted that they didn't know what the union had done for them in the past year. The union representative, alas, gave me a spiel of nonsense. I was unimpressed. I understand the purpose of a union. I am a firm believer in the necessity of collective bargaining in situations where the workers are in a bad place.

But what happens when the union is the one that the workers need protection from? The answer? I'm not certain. There are places online and phone numbers to call. However, I would proceed with all caution.

After all, they say they are there to protect against corruption in the union, but how do I know they aren't placed there by a corporation? It's hard for me to say.

I do know something. No union should be able to dock a worker's pay for wages without their express consent. To do so is immoral, at best, and cruel at worse. All that doing so makes me want to do is leave the state for one where common sense, and the ability to unionize only if you want to, is there.

I believe in the power of collective bargaining, and I believe that workers do have the right to be treated well and paid a wage they can live on. What I do not believe in is forcing a person to be a member of any organization against their will.

The only losers when a union forces people to be its members by the way? The lower ranking peons (like myself) who depend on the union to do their job are taken advantage of. Those very people that the union is made to protect are the ones who are most harmed by this legal binding.

One Final Byte: I prefer a Right to Work state, definitely.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Absolute Terror of Shots

Also known as, "Are you sure you are 22?"

Why yes, nurse , I am 22, I am just terrified of needles. It's actually rather interesting to watch, or to think about. This Monday, I had to get an immunization shot. Why does that matter?

Well, I am more terrified of needles than is strictly healthy. Mentally, I know that is doesn't hurt, not really. I've hurt myself more stubbing my toes, skinning my knees, doing pretty much everything else out there. It doesn't hurt long, maybe all of one second. There's no real side effect, it doesn't hurt, and doesn't cause any sort of trauma at all.

And yet the very picture of a needles causes nausea for me.

However, holding on tight to a second nurses hands ( I am a bit of a wimp) I took the shot like...okay more like an 8 year old than an adult. Afterward, came the really fun event. I can take the shot, but after?

Well, I had a panic attack.

I could not explain to you why I am afraid of a needle. But I do know that letting such a minor thing affect me is not right. So I don't. Yes, I will have the panic attack after, and that's okay. It's a part of being scared. But will this stop me from getting future immunizations, or future shots? No.

I am scared of needles, but I do not cower from them.

There's a difference.

I know last week I went on about fear, but I think it's important to understand that there are lots of different kinds of fears out there. I talked about the fear of others last week. Of how that fear, that ignorant fear, could affect people who were innocent. My friend suffers due to fearful neighbors, who do not understand.

But that is not the only sort of fear out there. It comes in so many forms that sometimes we don't even realize that.

I am scared of needles.

But I will take my shots, face that fear, and be better for it.

That is the important thing. Facing what would stop you. Whether you are scared of being home alone, of being the the dark, or needles, or of the next door neighbor's weird speaking in another language, you cannot let this stop you from living your daily life.

The best part? You don't even have to be brave to face your fears. I don't consider myself brave to be sure. Just stubborn. I'm too stubborn to let shots stop me. I'm too stubborn to let much of anything stop me, to be honest. It's a bit of a failing, but it's one I don't mind so much, if it means I can get the job done.

So face that scary monster n the closet. I suggest a long stick, a stuffed bear, a flashlight, and determination. Those gremlins under the bed? Stomp on their wee little fingers, so they can't grab on? And that needle in the nurses hand?

Well, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and stay still. It'll be over in just a second.

One Final Byte: What the deuce is bravery, if not stubborness?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Who next?

I have a friend who is terrified of being picked up for being a terrorist.  The reason for the fear?  My friend can speak Arabic, and the neighbors have decided this makes my friend a terrorist.  The biggest problem I have with my friend’s situation is simple.

It's cause entirely by ignorance and fear.  This person is an intelligent US citizen with a skill sorely needed by our country.  To be targeted because of a talent, even just by the neighbors is not right.  This person is not Muslim, and love the USA enough to actually work for the government.  Trust me, that takes some true patriotism there.

Still, for my friend to be targeted due to a language she speaks is the height of ignorance.  The height of a very dangerous ignorance.

Because of laws passed in the wake of 9/11 and the terror caused by long wars in foreign climates, my friend could be detained indefinitely without being tried, charged, or an ounce of evidence.  There would be no knowing that is what happened to this person.  Instead, my friend could spend life in jail without so much as a charge leveled all because of the ability to speak Arabic.

What sort of sense does this make?  How is this legal?

Oh yes.  Fear.  Fear is how this is legal.  Fear, panic, and an awful lot of subtle propaganda.  And not so subtle propaganda.

The last time we feared any one group of people so much was during World War Two.  Then, we detained Japanese Americans, Italian Americans and German Americans in camps that met, barely internationaly standards for such places.  That meant there was no internal plumbing, no cooking facilities.  They were built to military specs, so families were often crammed into rooms.

Temporarily, they were often made to stay in horse stalls.  Imagine, an entire family housed in an area meant to fit a horse.  A single horse.  Now, I know horses are big, but most horse stalls aren't that big of  place.

The worst part of it all, of what happened to these people, is that it isn't taught, so it's forgotten.  I never learned about these camps in school.  People deny that such a thing would be possible in the grand ole US of A.  But that's a lie.   

I learned of the camps from a children's book of all things. The Bracelet by Yoshida Uchida told me a simple story that peaked  my curiosity.  I ended up learning the futility of arguing with my teachers thanks to the book, if nothing else.  I had teacher deny that it happened.

Do you think they teach about the detention centers for Muslims that exist in the US?  For suspected terrorists?  Does calling them suspected terrorists make it okay to remove their rights?

Do not get me wrong.  I am all for terrorists in prison where they can do much less harm.  (I won't say no harm, given that mobsters can still run their organizations from inside a prison cell, but still.)  However, I am not for anyone at all losing their rights for this to happen.  Due process is guaranteed.  Why should my friend be afraid of not having that process?

Guys, we cut off the head of the snake.  Yes, like a hydra, a new one (or two) will grow in its place, but that will take time.  Isn't it time we granted people, people like you or me, the rights promised to them on American soil?

Or will we violate all we stand for.  No one should have to fear being taken away over an accusation.

Do you believe that it will stop with one group?  With one talent?  I know of one nation that did not stop at one group of people, at one religion.  You'll forgive me, but I don't want to end up like that.

I don't know what I can do to stop this from happening, but I can tell you that.  Most Muslims are not scary.  Most Muslims I have met are calm people, with stress about their eyes from what they face daily.  The Muslim women I have met have all been kind, and they have the cutest scarves out there.  The Muslim men I have met have treated me with dignity and respect.

So do everyone, yourself included, a favor.  Do not treat your neighbor, a human being, with fear and loathing because of their religion, their skin color, their heritage.  Do not fear someone because of appearances.   

And if you think that it will stop with just one group?  Martin Niemöller has this to say:  

"First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me."  

One Final Byte:  Fear is a powerful device that controls many.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Sorry for the lateness of the post (again) but I completely forgot to write one up on Tuesday, like I normally do. I have a whole variety of reasons, but it boils down to I forgot the day of the week again. My bad.

As for topics, I can't help but think of the weird questions authors often have. See, to be an author you have to know what you're writing about, or else it doesn't make any sense. For instance, if you've never seen a gun, held a gun, or fired a gun, what would you know about guns? Not enough to write about them in detail, to be sure.

Before I wrote my novel on the Wild Hunt I spent a long time and a lot of hours researching the Good Neighbors and all about them. There are so many different types that I have about 50 pages printed out about them, all in a neat little format. I needed to know more before I could use them.

However, I've also looked up a lot of odd questions. I'm in the middle of co-writing a story in which there is a serial killer. I suppose it's a paranormal murder mystery. The paranormal part I looked up when I was much longer, but I admit I don't know all that much about murder, or how murderers think, or patterns in all of that.

My google history this month includes: Vampire skeletons, what happens in a probation meeting, more about probation, even more about probation (There is surprisingly little about what happens in probation meeting. I couldn't find an ounce.), stages of grief, necromancy symbols, how long does rigor mortis last, scary children, and sociopaths.

I've had worse. Once I searched 'bomb ingredients', simply to discover it for a story. I think most authors are on a government watch list of some sort, if only because of our search history. All of that has to do with a single story about a vampire serial killer who's spree is caused largely by grief. Or at least exacerbated by it.

I also spent a lot of time watching Criminal Minds, as that deals largely with serial killers. Purely for research of course. I'm sure.

But it occurs to me that authors all have really odd questions, and it can lead to very awkward moments. After all, where does one find such things, when the internet fails? You ask someone who would know. Experts are wonderful people.

But how exactly do you ask someone what happens in a probation meeting without offending them? I mean, I don't know anyone on probation, so I don't know who I'd ask. These leads me to having to ask a probation officer, which leads to the always awkward response of:

"Why do you need to know that?"

Well, because I am a writer. Why else would I need to know?

One Final Byte: Mass murderer, serial killer, what's the difference anyway?