Wednesday, April 30, 2008
April 27, 2008
Lilly Ledbetter worked in a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Ala., for 19years before she received a valuable tip from an anonymous source: She was making $6,500 less than the lowest-paid guy who had her job.
She did what anybody might do. She sued. She was in for a surprise. So were a lot of civil rights experts. If any cases were intended to be covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, they thought, it was cases like hers.
Indeed, even the women I know who are hesitant feminists, the middle-of-the-road womenfolk who insist, "I'm not a feminist, but . . ." usually tend to follow that "but" with, "I believe that women should receive equal pay for equal work."
But after Ledbetter's case made it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court last year, the high court ruled 5-4 that the law did not apply to her. She was too late. She should have filed her complaint years earlier when the original discrimination occurred.
Indeed? As a legal matter, the decision was defensible, but as a practical matter it was inexcusable. One might even call it judicial activism, tilting a law intended to protect workers against discrimination into one that gives a big edge to employers who discriminate.
The law said she had to file her discrimination complaint within 180 days of the alleged unlawful discrimination. The surprise came with the Supreme Court's interpretation of when the clock is supposed to start on that 180 days.
Since the 1960s, nine federal circuit courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had ruled that the 180-day clock started—or restarted—every time the employee received an unequal paycheck. After all, it was reasoned, every unequal check is an illegal act of discrimination. But imagine Ledbetter's surprise when the high court ruled that, no, the 180-day statute of limitations began with her very first discriminatory paycheck almost 20 years earlier.
In other words, if employers manage to discriminate against workers for at least 180 days without getting caught, they're home free, exempt from discrimination lawsuits.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called on Congress to step in with new legislation to clarify and restore the intent of the original civil rights act. A bill to do just that was named after Ledbetter and passed the House last year. But the Senate version failed last week to win enough support to survive a threatened veto by President Bush.
And, like almost every other issue of consequence these days, the Lilly Ledbetter bill looms as a defining issue in the presidential race.
As luck would have it, Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, missed the vote on the bill because he was on a trip through the South.
News reports described him as visiting places that Republican candidates don't usually see, usually because they don't have to. He traveled to locations identified with wars against poverty and discrimination—like Selma, Ala., scene of a historic clash between police and civil rights volunteers seeking equal voting rights in 1965.
So it's ironic that he missed the vote on one of the most important civil rights bills of our time. But that's OK, equal pay fans. If he had been there, he would have voted against it because, he told reporters, he agreed with Bush that it would prompt a flood of lawsuits. Actually, it wouldn't—because it hasn't. We know from experience with the original law that there was no flood of lawsuits before the high court overturned it, and there would be no reason to have a deluge now.
Besides, in an unsuccessful attempt to satisfy conservatives, new caps were put onto the total damages that can be awarded. The proposed law would limit claims filed to a two-year maximum. That means, even if the bill is revived this year and wins enough votes to override Bush's threatened veto, the most redress that someone like Ledbetter could hope for after 19 years of discrimination would be two years' worth of redress.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, would like to revive it this year, although that's a long shot. Members of Congress like to avoid controversy in election years even more than they try to avoid controversy in other years.
But because McCain is going to face either Illinois Sen. Barack Obama or New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in November, both of whom support the Ledbetter bill, there's time for the issue to receive a national spotlight.
Now that we know how much McCain appreciates civil rights history, it's time to see what kind of civil rights history he plans to make.
Clarence Page is a member of the Tribune editorial board. E-mail: email@example.com.
Monday, April 28, 2008
It's finally raining here. We needed it badly. I planted some grass seed in the lawn here, and did lots of transplanting other places and a slow steady rain is perfect for these kinds of gardening. I have nothing on my docket today, thankfully, so hopefully can go thru some of the remaining boxes I have yet to unpack and get rid of books and other stuff that I don't need. Several of the local libraries are taking donations, so that's where the books will go.
Dream last night: I don't know who I was with, but . . . these huge birds with large beaks began dive bombing toward the ground, killing themselves. This person I was with just wanted to carry around the dead carcases, but I kept saying, they will rot, they will decay, they will smell bad, you cannot do that. I think some expert in the dream was saying the birds were committing suicide. I kept telling the person carrying the dead birds that she should take them to a taxidermist if she wanted to keep them.
Lunch with M & S & P was pleasant. I dug up my dianthus and my Sum and Substance hosta, and my tarragon, to transplant here. M had built a fire and it was warming and relaxing to sit in front of it drinking tea. Then we played a game of Blogus, I think it's called. Kind of fun. Then to the Rumi event. I thought more Rumi poetry was going to be read, but the poets read much of their own work, most of which was really quite fine. Especially liked Lisa Starr and Coleman Barks. Glen Velez, the percussionist, was particularly astonishing. But here is one Rumi poem read that I liked:
What Was Told, That
What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.
What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was
whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever
was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them
so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is
being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.
The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,
in love with the one to whom every that belongs!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Community garden work party today. We weeded the (my!) herb garden, and put down Mainely Mulch, the chopped straw that is expensive but a very nice mulch. Transplanted the valerian that was in my own garden plot to the communal herb garden, and had wonderful interchanges with Tony D. He's a wonderful guy. Caught up with PC, and saw that my tatsoi is coming up, even from last year's seeds. Also got my Drama Queen poppy seeds in the mail and am eager to plant. They are so, well, dramatic!
Poor Camilla. She has licked the fur off her lower belly and the insides of back legs, and on her right inside thigh the skin is raw from so much licking. I guess time for the vet. She's such a delicate flower, and I think is just kind of being continually stressed out. (Sound like anyone you know! ha ha!)
R & F came over for dinner, and we watched bad tv together, which is always fun. I wasn't feeling that well today for some reason, maybe I got dehydrated from the gardening this morning, or inhaled something from all the weeding that did not agree with me.
Took one of my stained glass windows to a framer to get an estimate, and we both decided that going to a woodworker would be better than a framer, since I want to hang the windows in my windows, and need a sturdy frame and hanger hardware. Fortunately, I know a woodworker, Breakfast Woodworkers.
Lunch with M & S tomorrow, and digging up some perennials to transplant here. Have gotten some nice things off Freecycle, plants that is. And finding great stuff in people's bulk trash, things I needed. Perfectly working solar lights. Clean rope and twine.
Difficult week emotionally. Draining. Meetings. Anxiety. Saw LK briefly, which is always a pleasure.
The weather is turning a bit cooler after two weeks of outstanding spring weather; we need rain.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Photos of colobus monkeys from the Naples, FL, zoo. They had their own small island, and seemed active and happy. These were taken from pretty far away so I'm pleased with my zoom lens.
A visit to the PCP. Trying to consolidate dr's appointments. Got a thumbs up on the tongue doctor from the PCP, so will schedule that nonsense. And then, before another appointment, the most amazing thing:
I had been planning for a while to go back to where I lived on Norton Street for over twenty years to get a clump of the heirloom daffodils in the backyard. So I decided that today was the day, and I drove into the driveway. Found the current landowner on the second floor, and after he greeted me with suspicion I told him my wish, and he allowed me, then even helped, get the clump. We got to talking and he was totally renovating the house. I asked, did you keep those beautiful stained glass windows that were throughout the house, including a beautiful one between the second floor porch and the stairwell to the third floor where I lived? He said he only removed the two from the big windows in the front of the house, on the second and third floors, and he was going to see them on Ebay. I said, oh, can I see? He showed me them, I said, will you sell them to me? He said, make me an offer. I said, $50 for both. He hemmed and hawed, we were still chatting this and that, I said, $75, he agreed and it was a done deal. It was a wonderful interchange and now I have the two glorious stained glass windows from the house where I spent so much time. Felt like another gift. They are in perfect condition, I will have them framed and hang them in the windows I have in this house, and take them to Florida with me when I go. The colors are blues/greens/purples/golds.
With bestselling poet Coleman Barks and
Grammy Award-winning musicians Paul Winter and Glen Velez
NEW HAVEN – Just 800 years after his birth, Rumi, the Persian scholar who founded the Whirling Dervishes, is the top selling poet in America. On April 27, Rumi’s most famous translator, Coleman Barks, will read Rumi’s poems to musical accompaniment by Grammy Award-winners Paul Winter and Glen Velez. Also performing are Poet Laureates Lisa Starr and Marjory Wentworth.
Proceeds to benefit for Connecticut Food Bank.
Sun. April 27, 4-6 p.m
I have gathered a few women together to attend this event. Was drawn to it.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I am so sad. Through an unusual connection, Freecycle, I learned that Sue D'Antonio killed herself on March 29. She was the veterinary technician at the vet's office I used to go to when I lived in New Haven. I saw her frequently for years and years. She was the one who encouraged me to adopt DillBoy, even though I did not want a male cat. She let me take out of the office and show to a friend the Dr. Bob doll that was such a perfect likeness of him, and was precious to everyone there. She let me borrow a wire cage from the basement of the office when I brought Misty home as a kitten. She was a loving, beautiful spirit. All I could learn so far is that she was in a great deal of physical pain due to some illness. We cannot take anyone for granted. We cannot assume anyone is ok, even if they say they are. We must take care of one another in an intentional, conscientious way.
I took the paperwork to the lawyer today, whom I will consult with next week about my case against the university. Just doing that nearly brought me to tears. I could not wait to get out of town. I stopped at a tag sale near my street and bought a gorgeous picture frame for $1, and a tall table with drawer that I didn't really need, but wanted. Shop therapy I guess. The man, named Andy also, wanted $40 but let me have it for $25. It was so warm today. I raked leaves, went to the community garden, the pharmacy, Radio Shack, the supermarket. My 15 or so hostas that I got on Freecycle last fall are coming up strongly, as are the Asian lillies I transplanted from the community garden (I think) last fall as well. The landlord and his son came over last evening and took care of a couple of minor issues, including installing a doorbell for me and replacing the flood lights at the back of the house. His son, now 11, has been a vegetarian for six years. There is a small leak in the washing machine, and if it continues, we'll get the repair person. Good, as then perhaps the gentle cycle can be made operational. The gentle cycle can be restored. Restore the gentle cycle. Recycle gentleness. Restore gentility. Gentleness restored. Restorative gentleness. Recycle. Be gentle. Restore yourself and others.
Today is Tobi-wan's 7th birthday.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
K. and Mo-Mo came to visit, and a great time was had by all! Mo-Mo is a four month old grey beagle and he and Bindi romped and ate treats and drank water out of the cleaned fish bowl I got from the bulk trash last week. K. and I trashed the ivory tower, and extolled the sanity of mental illness.
I had a massage earlier not far from my house. A new person. She was pretty good, but she was playing razor blade music on the cd. If I go back to her, I'll take my own cd. And when I went to pay out front I was told it was $65, not $60 as I had been told on the phone, so I did not like that, esp. since you are expected to leave a tip. And then their credit card machine wouldn't print me a receipt.
K. was driving a Prius which she likes very much. I also liked a Toyota Matrix that I saw. Will drive both of them and see. Prius is much more expensive, but I guess you save the difference on gasoline.
Max called again from the Hague, before his trip to Kenya, but I missed the call.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Just bought this gorgeous dahlia (in tuber form) on Ebay. This variety is very hard to find, and is what I think I've seen in others' gardens and lusted after. It's called Dahlia Cafe au Lait. Also ordered blue freesia bulbs, and a caladium, which is a great shade plant. Of course all the bulbs have to be dug up in the winter in this zone, but worth the effort.
Ok, put on your best Brittish accent and say, "Does the doggie have a dodgy tum?" That means, is her stomach upset. Was watching a training show on the telly just now, made in Britain, and a woman was talking about having to use fish as treats for her dog cause his stomach gets upset easily, and she complained that it was expensive to do that. The trainer said it needn't be, as treats are now made for dogs with "dodgy tums."
Was searching online recently for "manatee cotton fabric," and my blog showed up on page four of the Google search. Ha!
Busy day of errands yesterday. Can't remember if I already told this story in another blog entry, but here it is again. An old friend from New Haven contacted me, wanting to know if I had any photos from the 1970s of the group of feminists we were part of. I did. She was going to be in town when I was in Florida, so I found the photos, put them in an envelope and dropped them thru the mail slot of the house of a mutual friend whom I knew she would be seeing while I was gone. While I was in Naples, I got this call on my cellphone from someone who said her mother had found an envelope on the ground under her car parked on the street, with my name and cell phone number in the return address section. I was perplexed. I said, is the envelope open, is there anything in it? Well, it was indeed unopened, and yes, my precious 30 year old photos were inside. I don't have the answer to this mystery yet, but again my GAs were on duty, and I was able to get the photos back from the woman yesterday. Amazing. Grace.
Went to the dry cleaners to drop off the beautiful wool blanket I got at a thrift store in Naples, and it took twice as long cause I took Bindi in, and one of the women there went gaga over her, got on the floor, and they were playin' playin'. Went to CVS for script refills. Had lunch from Gourmet Heaven, the best hot/cold food bar in town. Picked up a beautiful photo album from a freecycler, took Bindi to a newish dog park where some jerk was letting his big dog bully everyone else, so I and another woman with her dog left. Then took Bindi across the street to play with R.J.
My acupuncturist has advised that we stop the acupuncture on my knees since it does not seem to be working. We're both disappointed. We will now work on detoxifying my body. And I'll go back to the orthopod and get plastic shot into my knee joints for a temporary fix. Ugh.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Poison Arrow Plant also known as Climbing Oleander, photo taken at Naples Zoo.
Had lunch with M & S yesterday, and her friends M, K, & K, whom I like very much. K & K are twins, boy and girl, about S's age, and they had a bunch of stuffie animals dressed in diaphanous (sp) green fabric and said they were spring peepers. How cute is that? I had brought over a pan of homemade brownies which were a big hit. Bindi and I took a short trip to the beach before going over to look for beach glass, but didn't find much. Mostly green and brown, you know the beer bottle stuff. Had a funny conversation in the local small food market with a young man who was crouching on the ground by the cash register cause he was tired of standing, and I said, as usual, "There's a Seinfeld episode about that," and he knew exactly which one I was talking about! I told him and the other cashier that it was nuts that they weren't given stools to sit on, they agreed, and I said I would call the manager. Of course I won't use their names, and I'll wait a couple of days. If I had the wherewithall (? - I never hear anyone use that word anymore), I'd develop a "cashier's stool," market it, and make my millions. Then I could buy one of those fancy mansions on the beach in Naples, FL, and live out my days watching pelican and dolphin and killer sunsets from the comfort of my perfectly air conditioned art studio. From the interest on my millions, I would develop a "doggie water park" there, just for dogs, with grass and fresh water ponds and pools and slides and trees, all just for dogs. I'd make sure all the existing old septic tanks were removed and replaced or hooked up to the city water purification system, so that the red tide would never come again.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
This is the little critter living on Scott's lanai, under the pot shard. I took this image off a website, but have taken some photos myself, hoping I have gotten a good shot.
I tried to make it home today, but after getting to the Fort Myers airport and waiting waiting waiting for a plane from New York that never took off, I am back at Scott's for the night and will try again tomorrow. My 12.20 flight wasn't scheduled to leave till 6.00, and I couldn't keep myself and Bindi stranded for that long, when the plane hadn't even taken off from it's NY destination. Aaarrggh. And I couldn't even schedule anything else on a partner airline since American cancelled all its flights today so all the available seats on everything else were taken.
Went to Bambusa for dinner last night. Coconut shrimp and vegetarian black bean burgers. Yum yum. Our young waiter said to me, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Nathan Lane?" Whaaa? When I was 18, people used to say I looked like a young Natalie Wood. Now I look like Nathan Lane? Whatever. He also felt the need to show us his new composition computer program, and give us samples of the music he was creating. Well, I praised his efforts, but the guy has absolutely no future in electronic music composition.
Beautiful crescent moon last night.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
While the three of us were talking, another man came in with a scraggly little dog and smoking a cigarette. I asked him if he would mind putting the cigarette out (as I don't like second-hand smoke even outside, and knew this would not be good for John). He said, "Can I smoke over there?" and pointed to a place in the park about 50 feet away. I said ok. He said, "I like to smoke." He moved, then changed his mind, said, "Come on, Izzy, we're out of here." He huffed out of the park, slamming the gates, and then, although I didn't see it, the guy with the fluffy white dog said he flipped us the bird as he left. What a jerk. I do not under any circumstances support a person's "right" to smoke near me. Do it in the privacy of your own home, or don't go out in public. I like the places, mostly in California right now, that forbid smoking even in many outdoor public venues.
Yesterday afternoon I went to get an hour and a half massage at a place called Massage Envy. A strong small Ecuadorian woman named Juana gave me a great massage, and I got the introductory rate of $57 for the hour and a half, which is unheard of. I gave her a big tip. I admitted I didn't know anything about Ecuador, so I asked her some questions while she worked. I had been at the beach prior to that. The water has warmed up even more in just the time I have been here. Tomorrow I go home. Today was mostly overcast, which was fine, as I've been trying to find out why S's computer is working so slowly, and have spent much phone time talking with the Toshiba tech support. I'd call the Grand Lunar but don't want to bother him. He'd know exactly what to do, you can bet on that.
S. has a small pot of cactus on his lanai and living under a shard of pottery is the most stunning reddish gecko. I believe he must be a mail as a day or so ago he was strutting the ruffle down the middle of his back and inflating the flap of brighter skin under his chin. Handsome guy. I think S. will try to move him with the cacti when S. relocates this month to a freestanding guesthouse next to his sister's rental. Right now he has some clompy (a word?) walker over his head in this apartment, which drives us both nuts. Fortunately I have learned to use earplugs.
Monday, April 07, 2008
S. and I then went to Capri Fish House Restaurant on the Isles of Capri section of Marco. I had been there earlier in the day, after having discovered it on Saturday when I took a wildlife boat tour of the estuaries which stopped at the eatery for lunch. The food was some of the best I've had. I noticed some dogs on the small beach that day, and asked the guy in charge if I could bring my dog. Yee ha! [note to self: riddexplus] The boat tour was an educational ride highlighting the local birds, mangroves, oyster beds, environmental impact. Very very nice. The sunset cruise would be the one where we would see the most birds, coming in to roost at the evening, but finding a place to take Bindi into the salt water was worth seeing fewer birds than I would have liked. We did see herons, egrits, lots of osprey and their fledglings, pelicans, and seeing such a large parcel of protected land was encouraging. Amidst the development and weath in this area, every bit of conservation is precious.
When I took Bindi to Capri yesterday around noon, I was surprised to find a kayak festival taking place. There were scores of brightly colored kayaks, lots of people, which wasn't the optimal conditions for my dog, but she was a trooper and got into the water without much encouragement to a depth where she even "dog paddled" for a bit before becoming a bit overwhelmed by so much activity and stuff that we sat out with some folks in the shade. They bought me an iced tea. Perhaps its me, perhaps its the weather, perhaps its the region, perhaps its the beauty, but I've been having the best conversations with people, better than I've had in the northeast area for a very very long time. There's a lightness, a sense of helping one another, a brightness to the attitude that permeates.
In a discussion with three local guys, I made a contact with a man who regularly visits and camps on the Seminole reservation in the Everglades. He was very clear that one cannot get access to their reservation without being invited, but he said he has many Native American Seminole friends. I said, "Next time I am here, could I hire you to take me there?" He said, you don't have to hire me. I'll take you. He gave me his name and phone numbers. This felt like an extraordinary gift, and I'll keep track of that name and number with vigilence. People who do not bother to explore the natural world of Florida are missing some extremely special parts of this country.
I will not have time to visit the manatees this visit. But next.
I ate fettucini alfredo with grilled salmon last night, with a glass of white wine. You know how some alfredo sauce can be cloying and think and heavy? This was a dish prepared with with finesse. I could even taste the freshness in the salad. My new favorite place to eat.
More later. I'm off to the Naples Dog Center to buy Bindiloo a new harness and hopefully matching leash. A new softer design, which I hope won't bother her as much as the current one does.
Black seersucker? One evening S. and I went window shopping at tony Venetian Village, and a mannequin was dressed in a fabulously styled black seersucker jacket, with a jacquard white shirt underneath, paired with black linen pants. Wow. Then we went to Ben and Jerry's and pigged out.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Bad nighmares last night. Really bad. Extraordinary anxiety.
During my walk at the art fair on Saturday, which was mobbed with people, a huge branch of coconuts from a coconut palm on the sidewalk came crashing down. Amazingly, no one was hurt, but the pile of branches and coconuts was enormous. It was a bit of art in its self. Performance art, ha ha. A woman was selling her Sculpy salamanders which were completely detailed and lifelike, except that they were bright swirly colors. They were so cool. I'm doing pretty well at not buying things like that I see, so as not to keep accummulating stuff. But I sure did appreciate them. Ended up going to Oh My Gauze on 5th avenue and getting two cotton gauze camp shirts. The entire place was cotton gauze clothes, and it was full of women out of our minds with happiness. I told one of the saleswomen that this was the best store in town, and she said, "Say it louder," so I yelled, "THIS IS THE BEST STORE IN TOWN." Fun.
Went to the Naples Botanical Garden on Sunday. They were having a Brazilian theme, a juried flower arrangement show, and Jane Seymour the actor had been there on Saturday signing books and exhibiting her artwork. The best part was the Brazilian band, singer, and dancers, and the butterfly garden. Saw the green and brown crested wood partridges, and got to commune with a flamboyant conure. There were supposed to have been very large geckos hanging about, but they were hiding, or were camoflaged (sp) so well that not even the attendant could find them. There is a huge expansion of the Garden planned which will no doubt be magnificent.
Ate some Cuban food there from a vendor which was very good. I gaven them a tip, and the woman said that I was the first one to give a tip. I was astonished, esp. since this town is full of extremely rich people. The guy asked me where I was from, I said CT, and he said that he was flown in to North Stonington, CT, a few years ago to roast pigs, by someone who had been down here and tasted his food. Their motto is, "We will serve no swine before it's time." Corney, eh?