Thursday, October 22, 2009

NPR, my beacon of sanity


I can't remember a time I didn't listen to National Public Radio. My fierce fandom is nearly entirely due to my father, who is as hardcore an NPR listener as they come. When my dad is home alone, he'll either have NPR playing on every radio in the house or have it playing on his hand-held radio, which he carries around the house with him. Now that is a fan. The voices - recognizable and reassuring - are instantly calming and grounding to me. The conversation is relevant and piquant, refreshingly free of the mindless chatter or shrieking stereotypes that clutter up television. And if pressed, I must admit that no jingle makes me happier than the chords announcing "Morning Edition." NPR is how I begin my day, how I like to fill my day, and how I like to make the transition from work to me-time. NPR even made it into our wedding vows. Is that more or less fanatical than carrying around a hand-held radio?

It's NPR pledge week this week, as all of you regular listeners are already aware. As much as we always know that NPR only exists with listener (and not government or commercial) support, we also know this: more than ever, NPR rises above the fray of broadcast journalism. So put your money where your ears, head, and heart are. Every dollar counts.

Have you pledged your local NPR station yet?


Pumping Horror 2: Traveling

Mikaela says:
What's worse than trying to pump at the workplace? Trying to pump on a business trip! Not only are you at the mercy of other people's schedules, you also have virtually no control over the spaces you inhabit, which means you're going to end up pumping in public restrooms - asking wary strangers for the nearest family room and praying it has a working power outlet.

If you're on a car trip - you're invariably carpooling with three guys, one of whom is your boss, and the other two you've worked hard to make them believe you weren't going to quit after having a baby as they automatically assume, no matter what you say.

The last car trip I went on with three guys, I had to excuse myself from our presentation practice 15 minutes before we were scheduled to leave on our 2-hour drive so that I could pump, then worry that they were waiting for me, badmouthing me for ducking out, and talking about what I was up to, anyway. We stopped for lunch before our presentation, and I inhaled my food so that I could sprint ahead to the car to pump again. Instead of waiting a reasonable amount of time (read: longer than 5 minutes, people), two of the guys decided to come on back to the car. I had hopped into the passenger seat to be nearer the car power adapter, and the guy who'd ridden up in the seat actually came to the door to give me grief, not really understanding what I was doing! The other just hopped on in the back and proceeded to talk to me like nothing was happening. I've never been so glad that he was a little deaf! Both guys now installed in the backseat, I've got to figure out how to unhook myself and put everything away discreetly - and quickly - before my boss comes back to take the wheel. He comes back just as I'm putting the last of my things away. He looks at me to ask if we're all set and ready to go. Redfaced but relieved, I say yes.

After the interview (2 hours later), I'm praying that someone wants to stop for soda or chips or something so I can hook myself back up again in relative privacy, even if they come back to the car right away. No such luck. I sit in the backseat, calculating the hours in my head to see if I can wait until we get back and still have time to fit one more pump in before it's time to go home and feed my kid directly, as nature intended. But no. I have to do this in the next hour or my daughter's going to go hungry - either tonight or tomorrow when she runs out of food! Now praying that neither of the guys in front clue in or -- god forbid -- turn around, I surreptitiously get out my supplies one at a time - modesty cape first. I'm all set to go but have to ask the guy in front to plug me in. He acts put out, and I just have to hope that he doesn't make a big enough deal out of it that I have to explain why it's important! And then there I am, surrounded by men I work with, as I'm hooked up like a cow at a dairy, hoping against hope that the whirring and buzzing is much less audible and embarrassing than I think. And 15 tortured minutes later, I have to risk further exposure by unhooking and putting it all away once again. As unlikely as it probably is, I don't think those guys even figured it all out. Or at least they had the decency to act clueless!

The last trip, I got to experience the joy of pumping in airports. Thank goodness for family bathrooms. Damn those family bathrooms with broken outlets! In the second bathroom, the outlet worked, but there was an entire outfit in the trash that smelled like unspeakable body fluids, and the only place to put the pump was a sink that I would normally not touch for any reason. I was beyond all this and covering my mouth with my little girl's pajamas, imagining the phermones "letting my milk down" when the janitor started knocking. He'd wait a minute and then knock again. And again. And again. More and more annoyed. I yelled each time for him to wait, but I didn't really want to announce to all the passers-by the real reason why. When I finally emerged, he looked at me accusingly, knowing I was in there shooting up or getting off or worse. I looked him right back and said, "I was trying to pump in there."

Flustered, he said gruffly, "Someone said there was broken glass in there."

"I didn't see any glass," I said, walking quickly away.

Of all the things to be surprised about in being a new mom, it's the little indignities that are the worst. I thought they'd end with pregancy, then with recovery after the birth. But I think they're just going to continue. Next comes the stage where your kids puke in public places, then when they act badly, and finally when they end up needing public assistance or something.

Sigh.

At least the benefits of motherhood more than makes up for the rest!

Monday, October 19, 2009

What it comes down to


Mikaela says:
Oh to be a mom brave enough to order one of these for my new office door!

Today is the first real day in an honest-to-god office, with a lock on the door and blinds on the windows. I can leave the pump out, meaning pumping now takes 15 minutes instead of 20 because of set up and take down time, every time, every 2 hours.

You have no idea how annoying that is, not to mention the stress of fearing a work mate, or god forbid boss, will ignore the Do Not Disturb sign and the locked door and just come on in. You think this is unlikely? Think again. Happened to me. Happened with the big boss.

This was the third office they moved me to (and here I can only whine a little bit, because at least they were trying to provide a private place other than the bathroom to pump), but I'd just been informed I'd have to move again because the big boss was moving floors. It would be a few days, the office manager told me. So I readied myself and gathered my things but still went to pump at my regularly scheduled 10 am "de-canting" as one workmate called it. I'd gotten a bit lax about using the cover-up. I did have a locked office, after all, but thankfully I'd used the modesty cape that time, when I heard a key in the lock. Yep, my boss walks in, sees me, apologizes ... AND THEN CONTINUES TO CHAT WITH ME FOR A GOOD TWO MINUTES before backing out, locking the door behind him. He just wanted to check out his new office; he had no idea he'd be checking out just so much!

Then they moved me to a different floor, saying this room would turn into a conference room in a few weeks, but it was mine until then. There was a bookcase and a chair, so I set myself up in the corner, back to one wall of windows. Oh right, did I mention that this room was floor to ceiling windows on two sides? These windows faced one office to the northwest and one bank of cubicles to the southeast. Fun times! I picked my poison and faced the one office. Now, I thought the windows were reflective and no one could see in. I didn't really think to check that until I walked in one day (about a week or two after using this room at least 3 times a day) there was a window washer outside. I figured before I bared all, I should make sure just how reflective that glass was. To my horror, not only could I see into the bank of cubicles, I could see right into the office I'd been facing all that time, even to the desk where the head of Civil Engineering was sitting and had been sitting. No wonder his face got red every time he and I shared an elevator! I fled to share my embarrassment with my closest work girls. But the crazy thing? I had to go back to that room 2 more times that day, and every day thereafter! I learned to close the blinds, believe me! But as time went on, people started using the room for meetings. I'd run up on a break to pump only to find a room full of people, some of them facing my pump artfully draped with my modesty cape but still plugged suggestively into the wall. So horrifying...

Now you can imagine my relief to be sitting, trying to work on a contract job, in my very own office, where I can close the blinds, lock the door, strap on my boob shields, and pump away, SVU playing on one screen while I page through pictures of my beautiful baby on the other.

Ah, the modern world of a working mom!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Markets aren't everything...? (!)

marjorie says...

A fabulously straight delivery given to us on Forbes.com--with the insightful news that "Markets Aren't Everything"--, about the work of the duo who won the Nobel for Economics (parenthetical commentary belongs to me):

The common theme underlying the prize this year is that markets do not solve all problems of resource allocation and incentives well or even at all. That is not a new idea. (!) What is important is that people and societies find ways through organizational structures and arrangements, political and other institutions, values, incentives and recognition, and the careful management of information, to solve these problems. Professors Ostrom and Williamson have led the development of this increasingly important part of economics. In reading their work, you are impressed that economics is not really fundamentally about markets, but about resource allocation and distribution problems. Markets appear because they operate effectively to handle a subset of these resource allocation challenges. Alternative creative institutional arrangements have been devised and refined over time to deal with those that markets handle imperfectly.

Isn't this another way of saying that capitalism has to be mitigated through the government or other social formations?

Now that economists have won the Nobel for confirming this, can we stop having that debate?

Something tells me, no.

Hat Tip to John Fleck.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Marty Chavez: Mayorship isn't a football game, it's a relay race

marjorie says...

Mayor Martin Chavez said this last night as he was conceding the race.

"I believe in my heart these races and the mayorship, it is not a football game, it’s not a baseball game, with a winner and a loser...It’...s a relay race. And each mayor has to move that baton, have to move that team forward. And I am proud we’ve moved the city of Albuquerque forward immeasurably."

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Note to Self: Do Your Research

Mikaela says:
Damn. I am a bad voter! I did not look at the sample ballot or read the League's guide, so I was unprepared to vote on the proposed amendments to the City Charter, all of which passed with or without my uneducated vote.

(All the bonds passed, too, including affordable housing - yay! Does this surprise anyone else? I hear all the bonds typically pass, but when I vote, I picture all those pinched Republicans saying, "More money for libraries, community centers? Why I should I pay for those?")

Google leads me to believe no one's blogged about the story behind the charter amendments in depth, either. It's up a planning student's alley (hint, hint, kids), but I feel like there's a story there that I want to know, so maybe I should get off my you-know-what and have a little look-sie.

Here's where the trail is leading...

Phew! That was exhausting. I'm out of shape! Did I miss something? Please, god, let someone have done this already... Links, anyone?

A down and dirty summary (still looking for the dirt behind these... who's for them? who's against? who pays? who benefits?):
  1. Elections - adds a summary of where to find policy on elections in the charter, since it's scattered throughout.
  2. Salaries - creates an independent salary commission to determine Mayoral and Councilor salaries, which then get voted on by the public, to start with the next term after an election. [This was the subject of lots of debate - is this self-serving? an end-run around the voters? Umm... No!]
  3. City Clerk - makes the position coincide w/ the Mayor's term & subject to approval of 2/3 of the Council, which also gets the authority to remove the Clerk w/ the same majority vote.
  4. Petitions - clarifies how amendments can be made to the Charter and allows the City Clerk (with approval from the City Attorney and City Council) to fix clerical errors and delete outlawed sections.
  5. Budget - attaches dates to the current budget process for accountability.
  6. Ethics - changes the authority for election ethics from the City Attorney (criminal charges) to the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices (civil process).
  7. Zoning - adds an article clarifying the legislative role of the Council as the "ultimate planning and zoning authority (including adoption and interpretation of Plans, ordinances, and individual cases) versus the Mayor's role for implementation, enforcement, and administration of plans. [This is a big deal, and we'll see how it shakes out inside the Planning Departments... the Mayor's and the Council's!]
  8. Disputes - establishes a 3-person arbitration committee (1 appointed by the Council, 1 by the Mayor, 1 jointly) to resolve disputes about duties under the Charter. [Also very interesting! How often will this committee get used? All the time? Never?]
  9. Signatures - changes the signatures needed on a petition from a percentage to a number - 3,000 - to become a candidate for Mayor and 500 to become a candidate for City Council (making this equal across districts of different sizes).
  10. Attorney - changes the City Attorney's term to coincide with the Mayor, similar to the change to the City Clerk above, w/ the same approval & removal provisions by the Council.

Well, what do we think? Voters think they look okay...

(Incidentally, what's the knee-jerk response from voters on charter amendments? Is it, "They're fixing something that's broken, which is always a good idea!" Or, "They're *&^%$ing with our constitution, which is always a bad idea!" The approvals across the board seem to indicate the first instinct. Yikes!)

ABQ to Mayor Marty: No to Unprecedented 3 Terms!

Mikaela says:
Well, this may be a disaster, but the people have spoken (at least those who cared enough to go the polls this election), and they've all said, "More Marty? Not again!"

They couldn't quite go all the way to the left to vote for Romero, so it appears many people chose the box marked "Other," or in this case, Berry, sadly a Republican, yes, it's true. But I have to say, having heard all the candidates on KUNM's calling show on subsequent weeks, this guy said a lot of things that I was shocked to agree with. For the moment, he seems, well ... reasonable. And that's a breath of fresh air compared to Mayor Marty's childish and petulant grudge-keeping dictatorship.

Eric says the worst that can happen is he'll cut all the social programs, so when we elect a Democratic in the next mayoral election, then it will seem like Christmas again, or maybe a chance to re-assess our values and put money where our hearts are. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway.

This was a tough call. I knew I couldn't vote for bubble butt (there's a reason you never see him filmed or photographed from the back, don't you know!), but Richard Romero agonized me with his picking on the Council Service Planning Department, which I think is a really good idea when the Planning Department is inextricably linked to the Mayor's office, no matter who's in it. I think it's an important check-and-balance for our local government. And he also denigrated hiring outside architects and planners (something Maggie and I have both talked about) for city projects, and okay, he has a point, but what's his solution? The city does NOT have the capacity in its planning program, and won't if it doesn't offer competitive wages, which it can't in a budget crisis and hasn't, anyway.

So Berry's advantage? He's not the other guys, and he seems, to quote the Hitchhiker's Guide, "Mostly Harmless." We'll see if that bears out. It's fitting that it's balloon week. Just picture us all holding our breath while a new pilot gears up to blow hot air at us!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Go vote people

marjorie says...

It's October 5th, 7:30pm. Reed is playing his guitar. Kiki just had a bath, and is moping in his room because I won't let him go roll in the dirt until he's dry. I'm not going to check my email again tonight. If I do, there might be something else I want to put up in a blog. But this portion has come to an end. Albuquerque's municipal election is tomorrow.

Having written about the race since the first of the year, I can honestly say I'll feel some regret for any of the three candidates for mayor who doesn't make it into a run-off. They each have things to recommend.

Not gonna tell you who I'm voting for though ;-)

Go here to find out where you vote: http://www.bernco.gov/wherevote/

The polls are open from 7 to 7, tomorrow.