Nagoonberry

This world. This place. This life.


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Noticing service dog fraud

On this trip, Liesl and I have seen evidence that service dog fraud is on the rise.

Example one. On the Alaska Marine Highway, all pets have to stay in their owners’ vehicles on the car deck. Throughout the day (and night) the purser announces car deck calls when pet owners can go down and visit their animals. It’s hard on the animals, and not easy for the owners, either.

The only animals allowed in the passenger areas are service animals.

One woman on the ferry regularly had her dog with her, with no vest identifying it as a service dog, and its behavior with other dogs on the car deck (where the dogs relieve themselves) was certainly not that of a trained service dog.

Uh huh. Fraud, we figured.

Example two. At the Holiday Inn Express in Corvallis, Oregon, I overheard a conversation in the lobby.

A man checking in asked, “Do you charge for dogs?”

When the answer was “Yes,” he said, “What if they’re service dogs?”

The front desk clerk asked if he had verification that they were service dogs.

And the man said, “Well, I’m a veterinarian. Does that count?”

I have no idea if he had to pay for them, but later I saw him with the two dogs and his wife, sitting outside on the back deck, enjoying breakfast. Neither of the two border collies wore anything identifying them as service dogs.

The service dog legislation was written with flexibility in mind, so that people with disabilities wouldn’t have to constantly fight for their right to be accompanied by service dogs. But unscrupulous people take advantage of that flexibility, and it’s just not right.

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How I use Twitter

I’ve been wrestling with Twitter questions lately. What is it? How am I supposed to use it? Am I using it right? How do I read it all?

And then John Scalzi liberated me. There isn’t a right way to use Twitter. There’s simply what works for me—and for you. And those don’t have to be the same.

So here’s how I use Twitter.

  • It’s a condiment here on Nagoonberry. Thoughts and experiences, sprinkled on the right side of the page.
  • It’s a way to track experiences, to encourage myself to pay attention, to focus on small moments.
  • I check in with a few people through Twitter—some I know in real life, some I know only online, and some are one-sided relationships (I follow them, they have no idea who I am)
  • When I get tired of being stuck in Facebook Land, I head over to Twitter to see what’s happening there.

And that’s it. Very much a work in progress. How about you? How do you use Twitter?

 


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A stile in the Facebook garden wall

I like using HootSuite to post simultaneously to Facebook and Twitter, and today I figured out why.

Thanks to Chris Walton, I’ve been thinking since December about Facebook as a walled garden.

Chris said—and I’m paraphrasing here—that much of the public conversation of UU blogging had moved into the walled garden of Facebook. Particularly into the walled gardens of Facebook groups.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I love the energy of UU Facebook groups. They are an amazing place to meet people, have great conversations, spark new ideas.

But there is a downside, particularly for a religion where newcomers often say, after years of wandering in the wilderness, “I was a UU, and I didn’t know it!”

The downside is that we’re spending a lot of time and energy enclosed in private spaces, talking only to each other.

We’re having tea parties in our walled gardens—and tea parties have their place.

But we also need to host concerts in public parks.

We need to find ways to bridge private and public.

Which brings me back to HootSuite.

I think HootSuite is a stile in the Facebook garden wall.

Image

What do you think? Are there times when you want to say something to your friends on Facebook—and also to the public at large? What are you using to bridge public and private?

Photo by Tim Green, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.


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Burn your stories

Writers give the world a gift: they name experience.

They find words, string them together, and share them. And when they get just the right combination, their audience says, “Yes! That’s exactly right!”

Naming experience feels good. It scratches the itch in the back of your mind. It brings a fuzzy image into focus. It builds a bookshelf, and organizes your library.

But naming also has a downside.

Once we name an experience, it’s frozen. The name makes its meaning so clear, there’s no room for other explanations.

Last week I told a friend a story from my childhood.

It’s a great story. It makes so many things clear. It helps me understand why I struggle.

And my friend heard it that way. “Oh,” she said, with a shake of her head. “Oh, my.”

But then she said, “You know, you’re almost forty years from when that happened.”

And those few words helped melt the ice trapping me in one perspective. They gave me room to see myself in a new way.

Words are certainly a gift. We need tools to bring the world into focus. We need ways to understand the stream of experience in which we swim.

But the stories we tell ourselves are dangerous, because they are so compelling. We clutch them in our hands, holding on for dear life.

It’s not that we should stop telling stories. But we do need to hold them in open hands, to sweep them from the table like mandala sand.

So tell a story. And burn it. Tell another. And burn it. Again and again.

Don’t worry. What’s true will survive.


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I’m still plugging through the WordPress Zero to Hero project with my buddies from the UU Blog Incubator, but most of the assignments have been behind the scenes.

Today I’m working on the assignment from Day 19: publish a post using a format you’ve never used before.

I’m playing with the quote format, and it will be interesting to see how it looks. I wish I’d thought to use it for yesterday’s post, which included an extended quote from a Facebook conversation.

Here’s a quote from fellow Zero to Hero Blogger and UU, Justin Almeida:

I’ve come to identify that “wisdom” is taking what I know, and letting that knowledge be guided by my heart. However, it’s not just a one way street. It’s also taking the passions of my spirit, and running those intense feelings and emotions through my rational mind. In all the decisions I’ve made that have been positive and constructive, I had taken the time to let my mind and spirit have a conversation about my actions.

I’ve just previewed this page, and it looks to me like the Yoko theme doesn’t do anything special with quote formats. A block quote still looks like it would in a standard format post. And I don’t like the way Yoko does block quotes. It uses a different font, and the text is larger. It doesn’t look good, IMO.

I suspect that if I purchased the upgrade that lets me play with fonts, I could fix this, but I’m not planning to do that. For now, what works is what I did yesterday: italicize the quote, and indent. This non-designer thinks that looks much better.

What do you all think? Do you agree? Disagree?


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Mama’s Costco meltdown

I was raised to be nice.

You know that photo that’s going around on Facebook? The black and white one with a roller coaster cars full of women? The women in the first car laugh uproariously, their skirts flying up. The women in the second car are more subdued, but smiling, and clearly enjoying themselves. The unsmiling women in the third car sit with knees pressed together, hands clasped politely in their laps.

We were third car kind of people.

So when I had a mini-meltdown in the parking lot at Costco today, it was a big deal for me; a first-car person watching would probably still be laughing about it.

The meltdown was set in motion a few days ago.

Brady needed to go to the vet, so I made an appointment for Wednesday at 2:30 in the afternoon. That felt like a time that would work with Willa’s schedule. After her morning nap I would drive to town, stop at Costco, head to the vet, and be done in time for her to nap on the drive back home to Girdwood. Seamless.

But then I watched the weather, which forecasted a big snowstorm on Tuesday night. (And it was a big one. I think we got about two feet of snow.)  Friday looked better.

I called the vet. They didn’t answer, so I left a message. They called back when I was pulling my hair out trying to do something with Willa. “Friday at 11:10 a.m.?” I said. “Sure, sounds fine.”

Except it wasn’t.

Friday mornings I finish up The Interdependent Web. At 11:10, Willa’s just starting to think about wanting a nap.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up at about 5 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. Then Willa woke up early. I fed her, and put her back to sleep, and I got about an hour’s more sleep.

We rushed around, getting breakfast for me, tea for Liesl, a bit of solid food for Willa and a few minutes of nursing, and then we bundled ourselves up and headed for Anchorage.

Willa started getting fussy at the vet. She was more fussy at Babies R Us, where we stopped for a diaper change and feeding. And by the time we got to Costco, she was in full meltdown mode.

When we finally got back out to the car to head home, I was relieved that the person parked next to us was leaving. I could pull the cart up to the side of the car, and swing Willa’s carseat out of the cart and into the Subaru.

I was in the middle of doing that when, over the din of Willa’s screams, I heard someone say, “Excuse me?”

I turned around. A woman in an SUV asked, “Could you move your cart so I could pull in there?”

I snapped.

“My baby is having a meltdown,” I said. “Just chill out.”

She apologized, said that she’d been there with her kids, told me to take my time.

I realized I’d been snippy, and apologized, too.

And that was that. But I’ve been thinking about human nature today, and so I wondered how much of the world’s evil comes from accumulated stress. From the crankiness that builds up in us from lack of sleep and disrupted schedules and parking lots that are always over-full. From snippy comments and unkind words that we trade like toddlers trade germs at daycare.

I don’t know. But I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep tonight, and a fresh start tomorrow.

costco


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Finding courage

Yesterday’s Zero to Hero assignment was to comment on three blogs; today’s assignment is to write a blog post based on one of those comments.

I’m still thinking about “Michael Sam’s Necessary Moment,” written by Holly Anderson on Grantland.  I keep thinking about this:

“Telling the world I’m gay is nothing,” Sam said, . . . comparing coming out to harrowing moments he experienced growing up—more moments of heartbreak than any one human being should have to shoulder.

I commented, “So often people find courage to do something daunting by having faced far worse.”

Since then I’ve been thinking about the hard things I’ve done that give me courage—and strength—to continue to make difficult but necessary choices.

Here are the highlights of my list:

  • Coming out to myself, and to my family
  • Becoming a minister—when I was raised to believe clergy were wrong, as were women in church leadership
  • Making the long journey from my childhood faith to life as a non-theist Unitarian Universalist
  • Moving to Alaska, and living here for almost nine years (and counting)
  • Choosing to recommit to ministry, and completing the long process of transferring from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the UUA
  • Giving birth to my first child, at age 42, without pain meds

Liesl and I have hard choices to make. Where do we want to live? What kind of work are we looking for? Does Liesl want to stay in aviation? What kind of ministry do I feel called to? And how do we factor Willa’s wellbeing into where we live and what we do for work?

It’s daunting to think about pulling up stakes and starting over. But it helps to remember what we’ve already done.