Tag Archives: money

AirBnB

13 Aug

After the gunfight under our windows I wondered if someone might have an errant AirBnB renter that had a party that went south. It had never occurred to me before to even think residential apartments might offer up short-term rentals. Because we’re renters. No lease I’ve ever signed allows subletting, which is what short-term rentals technically would be. But the news talked about over 100 shots fired down the street from here, and said the culprits were 2 warring AirBnB parties. Like, parties as in groups of people having fun, not parties in the court of law sense. So I looked on the website, and boy did I find out our lofts have an AirBnB situation! I could tell each listing that was definitely from our loft building because we have distinct orange-colored kitchen cabinets.

At first I thought the landlord must not know about these residents gone rouge. OUR lease is very specific that we are the only 2 allowed to live in our apartment. It limits guests to family and limits the amount of time they can stay here. There is no subleasing permitted on the lease we signed. And I just assumed it was like that for everyone in the lofts… Because what a liability! If something happened, the landlord could ultimately be responsible since he owns the building. It would cause a legal entanglement to evict a resident for something their AirBnB subtenant did.

After the gunfight I emailed and texted the landlord asking if any of the participants lived in our lofts or rented one of the many Airbnbs listed.

positions of me (circle) and people with modified weapons

He ghosted me.

July 31st I counted 10 listings that showed the building’s distinct orange kitchens (note how many guests each ad has listed for one loft):

In regards to the number of guests allowed for each individual loft, you can see that parties are actively encouraged by the hosts. This is not exclusively a high end vacationer thing-though at these price-points, it’s that too. These hosts have 6 guests listed frequently, which is NOT the size of any loft in this building. They are trying to solicit partiers to split the high cost, knowing damn well the nuisance and risk parties will introduce to the building.

As you can see, this is not a new thing. There were many “super-hosts” among those offering up units for short-term rental. And it wasn’t a seldom occurrence, as many of the hosts had 30-40-50 reviews from people who had already stayed in our building.

Annnd you can see in the above examples (not exhaustive) that there are actual businesses offering up our loft’s units on AirBnB. In my opinion, a lot of the hosts looked like they had their units professionally staged and the photos were magazine quality. If an individual did that, then I guess they are in the right business. But also, maybe this is big-business since travel companies were sometimes listed as host. How does that even occur? The landlord HAS to be in on it if businesses are using the building. He is absolutely taking extra deposits, or higher rental fees, or a direct cut of the AirBnB profits to allow that.

You can also see the money being made on these AirBnB stays. For the 10 listings of our address, the average per night stay cost $140! I couldn’t even believe it. So that’s precisely why we could afford to live in such a nice building: Crime + the real money is being made on all of the AirBnBs.

On Aug 9 there were 14 listings, including 4 new listings (one of the listings was for 2 different apt) from “J.C.”

And I noticed the pictures on these listings were the exact same pictures that were on apartments.com and renters.com etc, etc… Like the landlord was in on it.

And of course he would have to be, because we have gates and the doors and elevator requires a key fob to get in. How would all these AirBnB people be getting around the property if the landlord wasn’t assisting the host? Ooohhhh, all those things hanging on the gate are a means of entry! UPS and Amazon and other frequent people use them to come in without the key fob. So the literal 17 on outside gates are for the AirBnB people to get in also.

So if 15 units are posted on AirBnB for short-term rentals that means 23% of the units in our lofts are hosting AirBnb!

At first I was mad. Because that’s egregious. And it endangers all of us with actual leases since AirBnB does not do background checks. Also, it renders are gated property and key-fob entry useless. Random people are trapesing in and out of here every weekend. And one legitimate AirBnB can invite 60 friends into the building, and no one’s checking these people in any way. We need a door man checking badges and IDs and confiscating weapons and drugs! It’s really not safe for current leasors, and it’s very unethical to draw people here from outside the community who don’t know what they’re stepping into. These people are just on vacation, a lot of them, and some have kids and stuff. They’re just walking around unaware that a whole ass gunfight broke out. Right on the property. And last weekend. There really should be some kind of mandatory disclosures. Landlords should be required to inform tenants of the scope of AirBnBs allowed. The AirBnB landlords should be required to disclose safety concerns to potential short-term leasers.

Then, I thought about buying a building in a rough area of town. An area that is trying to revitalize, that has many empty warehouses, construction, drag racing, people gathering, and random gunfights. The locals probably know to stay away, so it must be difficult to fill all of the units in the building. And what a waste to have a quarter of the building sit empty! So I can understand trying to recoup some money and get people into those units.

Saint Louis isn’t really doing anything to crack down on AirBnBs, and the property owner is obviously making money from it, so I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon. I didn’t realize that’s yet another thing I need to research when looking for housing–are AirBnBs listed for that property??!

How I Did on 2020 Goals/Resolutions

3 Jan

In 2021, I felt like things should be at baseline again, but they were not.  The pandemic wasn’t over.  Work was kinda fucked up most of the time.  So most of the goals fell apart.  Can I tell you how much I love the Daylio app for being able to track everything and have actual statistics rather than just a general guesstimate of progress?!

-kept up on in-a-row runs

Today, 1/3/22, I have run 8 years and 2 days in a row.

-continued making a weekly menu, grocery list, and sticking to that at the store.  And shopping at Winco.

Our community spread is high and vaccination rate is low so it’s not too safe to go inside of a grocery store.  We got groceries delivered (at great expense) all year.  And because it was such an odd year with so much grocery and restaurant delivery, we really didn’t do the menu either.

-Continued to put on makeup and fix my hair every day for work.  
In a pandemic there’s really no need for this.  For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t even shampoo my hair daily.  And I felt OK about it.  What a colossal waste of time.  I don’t think I’m going to go back to primping on the daily like I used to.  What for?
-Drink 12 cups of water a day.
We did pretty well with this.  It’s hot mostly.  We exercise a lot.  I tend to get headaches if I don’t hydrate enough so that’s a motivator too.
-went to the doctor.
Video appointments!  How do we keep these forever?!  It’s tons less of a hassle than physically going to see a doctor.
-dentist twice a year.
I am freaking out.  I think opening your mouth in an unventilated room for an extended time is one of the riskier things you could do during a pandemic.  And I looked on Yelp for a dentist who takes Covid precautions.  They have a filter for dentists with all their staff vaccinated.  No matches in my state!  Yelp also has a filter to see dentists that require all patients to be fully vaccinated…  None in my state.  IDK if the filters didn’t have the info or if in fact there is none.  But I’m not going to chance it.

-Floss daily.

Since it is not at all optimal to skip the dentist for this long, I have started flossing diligently.  I don’t want to get Covid, but I also don’t want to lose my teeth prematurely.  I think this is actually the worst situation for me in the whole pandemic.  It’s just not good choices…

-workout at least 5 days a week.
Aside from running a mile every day, we also lift weights 6 days a week.  On tired Thursday we get a break to elliptical or bike instead of lifting.  It’s easier to get all of this done in the morning prior to work when we’re not so tired.  For awhile, we were also able to do planks and crunchies on all 3 of our work breaks every week day.  And lately, we walk every day at lunch time, and again after work–just to get some steps in.
-cook at home and meal prep on weekends to make the week easier.
Fail.  Complete fail.  And now we have to get off the restaurants and just try to cook at all again.
-pay off the Visa. 
I submitted double the minimum every month, but there is still money on it.  But it’s a work in progress.  It wasn’t for lack of trying.
-read.
Failed.  I mean, I read articles on my phone, and reddit, and blogs, and twitter.  But books were a fail.  I started off with very technical long book, then slogged through it.  This next year I’m going to try to read multiple books at a time so I don’t get stuck like this.

Ok, so all of that.  And in 2020:

Save money for a car before November.

So we saved enough money for a car, but then it wasn’t super-safe of a proposition to test drive stranger’s cars.  So we’re waiting for the pandemic to wane a bit before taking a risk.  Also, we’re still able to work from home, get prescriptions mailed to the house, and get groceries via delivery, so there’s not as much need for both of us to have a car.

More time for creative endeavors.

Spend 1% of waking hours doing each thing.  We’re setting the interval timer app to do 4 times of 10 minutes.  Each 10 min segment works out to 0.9% of our waking hours.  So even though I get antsy and feel like I need to be doing something “important” it is so much easier to think of it as a small portion of my day.  Makes it more manageable.  I think as we get in the groove, we can add more activities or lengthen time spent, but one thing at a time.  I just want to make a habit of including creativity into every day.  This went well in the beginning of the year, but as the harassment ramped up at my job, I couldn’t concentrate to do other things.  My head space was taken up by ruminations, or me planning what to say/do, or I kept lapsing into anger/sadness about the situation.

So between pandemic and work harassment, my goals were pretty much busted.  Except for the run and workout.  But this next year should be a little better.

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) & Shelter [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

10 Aug

How much does the HSUS contribute to your local animal shelter?  

Before that question can be answered, we need to define what the HSUS is, what its goals are, and how much money HSUS has.  On the HSUS website, they give the following mission statement:

The mission of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is to create a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We seek to forge a lasting and comprehensive change in human consciousness of and behavior toward all animals in order to prevent animal cruelty, exploitation and neglect and to protect wild habitats and the entire community of life.

The HSUS seeks to achieve our goals through education, advocacy, public policy reform and the empowerment of our supporters and partners. We do not engage in or support actions that are illegal or violent or that run counter to the basic principles of compassion and respect for others.

The HSUS strives for integrity, fairness and professionalism in pursuit of our mission. We will seek to be inclusive and to develop partnerships with a broad array of society’s institutions to further our goals.

                  26). https://www.humanesociety.org/our-policies

So what exactly does that mean?  Who is the HSUS and what are they trying to do?

There is a misconception of who The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is and what their function is nationally.  According to a national poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (CNN’s pollster) on November 23rd to the 25th, 2011, 71 percent of Americans think the Humane Society of the United States is a pet shelter “umbrella group” (27) that filters its donations to state branches, helping support local animal shelters (24).  

Despite the words “humane society” in its name, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not formally affiliated with any humane societies that operate at a city, county or regional level. HSUS does not run a single pet shelter (27).  The words “humane society” may appear on its letterhead and omnipresent dogs and cats are in its fundraising materials and television commercials, but the HSUS is not an organization that runs spay/neuter programs or takes in stray, neglected, and abused pets (25).  According to HumaneWatch.org, “HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter, nor does it serve as a national headquarters for humane societies that serve cities, towns, counties or states” (24).

A Feb. 2010 poll by Opinion Research Corporation determined that 63 percent of Americans believe their local humane society is affiliated with HSUS and 48 percent believe their local shelter receives financial support from HSUS (27). Furthermore, according to that November 2011 national poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, 68 percent [of Americans] believe HSUS contributes most of its money to local hands-on pet-shelter groups (27). Probably due to the commercials that show sad dogs and cats and strongly imply that giving $19 per month will alleviate their suffering (24).  

All of these statements are false (27).

Very little money given to HSUS will ever reach a pet shelter (24).  And quite unlike the common image of animal protection agencies as cash-strapped organizations dedicated to animal welfare, HSUS has become the wealthiest animal rights organization on earth (25).  HSUS has an annual budget of more than $100 million, and its affiliated groups have more than $191 million in assets, $160 million of which HSUS itself holds 24).

The HSUS disseminates merely one percent of its budget to pet shelters in the form of grants (27). More specifically, according to HSUS’s 2008 tax return, less than half of one percent (0.5%) of HSUS budget consisted of grants to hands-on pet shelters. And in 2009, again according to HSUS’s tax returns, less than one percent of HSUS’s budget (0.8%, to be exact) consisted of grants to shelters (24).

Most Americans aren’t aware of these facts, because the organization perpetuates the misconception the HSUS is directly affiliated with your local animal shelter, and the donations sent to HSUS will help shelter animals.

Even animal shelters believe that HSUS has helped perpetuate Americans’ misperception of what they do. In fact, 71 percent of animal shelters think HSUS “misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.” The animals featured in HSUS’s TV ads are almost always cats and dogs. Additionally, their fundraising letters often give the misleading impression about what HSUS does.

One recent letter claimed that “the only way we can make these critical life-saving programs work and help save the lives of puppies and kittens in peril is with the continued support of our very best members such as you.” Another letter asked, “How can we save these innocent puppies and kittens and find them good, loving homes?”

The most likely explanation for this is that donors respond with open checkbooks to dogs and cats more than, say, pigs and chickens. But while HSUS’s advertising plays on people’s love for pets, it uses much of the money in completely different ways.

               27). https://humaneforpets.com/the-problem/

The vast majority of HSUS funds are kept for its own agenda, and next time we’ll discuss what that agenda entails.

Sources:

24). https://humanewatch.org/the_humane_society_of_the_united_states

_and_pet_shelter_giving/

25). https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/hsus

-humane-society-of-the-united-states/ 

26). https://www.humanesociety.org/our-policies

27). https://humaneforpets.com/the-problem/

Funding Sources of Animal Shelters [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

9 Aug

In the last few posts we talked about how TNR is not all it’s cracked up to be, there are many downsides.  We went into how TNR started in the United States, and how Alley Cat Allies (ACA), which was integral to that process, seems biased, and according to employee reviews, is sketchy.  Last time we went over some horrible statistics about the number of animals that are abandoned and require shelter services, and the astronomical costs associated with running a shelter.  It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s not a simple problem to resolve. This time I’m going to share how animal shelters get the money to operate.

In trying to convey how animal shelters are funded, I found that two words are apt:  Inconsistent and incompletely.  Before I try to explain how animal shelters are funded, we have to look at semantics.  The term “animal shelter” is a generic term usually used to refer to an animal rescue organization that has a physical facility where you can go and adopt an animal.  To confused things further, some organizations even use the moniker “animal shelter” in their title.  Referring to an organization as an “animal shelter” or “animal rescue” has become common in the industry as a simple way to understand whether the organization has a physical facility where they house the animals.  So they’re catch-all terms, and may or may not be accurate to that particular animal shelter’s business model.

 

Despite the similar names, there are different types of animal shelters, and those classifications can help us decipher funding source–not always.  The majority of animal shelters are operated as rescues. They’re classified as charities and have 501c3 (non-profit) status.  Most animal rescue organizations are foster based and rely on volunteers to take care of the animals in their homes since they cannot afford a building, staff and all of the costs associated with running it.  

 

The second classification is animal shelter organization.  Neither animal rescue organizations or animal shelter organizations are funded by the federal government directly.  Though in some larger municipalities, local government does often provide funding to provide a public service of animal control.  Some cities even have organizations that are designated as animal control like in Milwaukee where MADACC (Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Care and Control) receives public funding for their operations.  

 

The third type are animal control organizationsWhile there are variations and exceptions, generally when you see the term “animal control,” the organization is funded by the local government to provide animal control services.  What this generally means is that the animal control organization is therefore required to take in strays or owner surrenders and they often have a “dog catcher” that is dispatched for animal complaints. Though the USDA does play a part in enforcing animal welfare laws, congress is not pouring money directly into your local shelter (though the USDA does offer some grants to shelters).  The shelters that do get some tax money, do not get nearly enough to sustain operations.

                  23). https://www.animalrescueprofessionals.org/myth-vs-fact

                   /animal-shelters-funded-by-the-government/

 

As you can see the funding is different depending on type of shelter, but also depends on the state, county, city, municipality, etc… There is not a consistent standard I can tell you about.  Everyone would have to look into their specific area to know the answer to that.  And the only way to truly understand the funding model of an organization is to dig a little deeper into their 990 form (if they are an IRS public charity) or hunt around on the internet to find more local or state information if they are not.

 

Bottom line:   

Recognize that your local animal rescue and animal shelter does not receive a big, fat check every month from the government to run their operations.  Most shelters get most of their funding from any grants (they can qualify for), fundraisers and events, and primarily:  Donations.  The vast majority of them rely on your donations and volunteerism to support their great work.

                 23). https://www.animalrescueprofessionals.org/myth-vs-fact

                 /animal-shelters-funded-by-the-government/

 

 This brings me to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  Next time I will share my research on the mission of the HSUS, and how it helps your local animal shelter.  

Animal Shelters [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

4 Aug

Ok, I think we’ve established that Alley Cat Allies (ACA) are integral in promoting TNR, and also a bit sketchy as an organization. We’ve talked at length about the disputed history of TNR, the ACA’s domination of Google Search, their manipulation of language, their exaggerated timeline of “success” and we’ve covered the employee reviews of that non-profit organization. There is more to discuss regarding them, but let’s take a pause with the ACA, because this paper is not about them-directly. Yes, ACA is linked very closely with TNR, but it’s TNR that I want to focus on in my research. So we’ll take a pause on ACA and discuss some other issues with TNR before going back the the ACA’s many problems.

Animal Shelters:

Bottom line is animal shelters are chronically overwhelmed, under-funded, and under-supported by both politicians and the community at large.

 

There are too many animals and not enough shelters, people, or money to support them:

The following grim stats were gathered by dosomething.org, and are an example of the scope of the problem:

According to The Humane Society, there are about 3,500 brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America.

It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.

The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.

Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.

About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.

According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners.

Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation, due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce, sees millions of these “excess” animals killed annually.

25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.

Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes.

21). https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-animal-homelessness

 

Costs incurred by the Shelter:

Running an animal shelter is expensive, and many shelters have to turn away animals due to lack of funds.  Shelters often have to resort to euthanasia if they cannot afford to keep an animal for the remainder of that creature’s life.

An approximate average cost of owning a feline is anywhere from $491.00 to $3125.00 for the first year and
subsequent yearly cost of $310.00 to $1169.00. (Foster & Smith). When it comes to canines the average cost of owning a dog for a first year $374.00 to $658.00 (www.icanimalcenter.org) and following years anywhere from $287.00 to 2485.00. (Foster and Smith).

Costs of owning a pet may include:  supplies such as food, bowls, litter, leashes, etc , vaccines, deworming, spay/neutering, preventative care like dentals, monthly medications such as flea medicine & heartworm, grooming. As an example, The total cost of simply animal supplies such as bowls, food, leashes, toys, collars, etc. for the Camden County Animal Shelter (CCAS) was $35,000, not including any form of Veterinary care. And the above list of potential costs of caring for a dog or cat was by no means, exhaustive.  And you have to think–that’s per cat or dog. See the above section for estimates of how many dogs and cats animal shelters house and multiply these costs.  The amount quickly becomes astronomical! 

The animals themselves cost money, but the physical shelter also costs money to maintain.  Since they are housing multiple animals they need to make sure that living conditions are suitable. This means that working heating and air condition units are an absolute necessity, along with utilities, feed storage, pest control, dog runs and shelters are just a few of the many things that need to be updated.  One example of routine shelter costs comes from Pearl River Township animal shelter.  In 2003 they had to update some of their equipment and published the costs. Pest control ran them $576, new dog runs and shelters $1,200, feed storage $1000, and A/C units $700 (Cashion).

There are still more costs of running an animal shelter: It is required by state law for animal shelters to carry liability insurance and workers compensation insurance in case a visitor and/or employee gets injured or bitten by an animal.  For the Camden County Animal Shelter, insurance ran $43,313 in 2006.  In addition, different kinds of licenses are required to run a shelter such as a kennel licenses, and those different licenses and fees can cost $298 and are required to be renewed every few years. (Egan, B).

Perhaps the most important cost a shelter has are its employees.  Without much money to support the needs of the animals, the salary of the shelter employees also suffers. Many shelters have their own on-site veterinarians along with executive directors, veterinary technicians, director of developments, general and operation managers, and animal control workers. All of them garner relatively meager salaries compared to those working in other areas of their field. From a national standpoint the average salary of the Executive Director (non-profit) is $51,146 and the Director of Development (Non-profit) is about $43,502. Veterinarian’s salaries are around $67,220 and their technicians receive earnings of approximately $25,018. General operations manager’s salary is $36,856, operations managers make $37,871, and animal control officers receive an income of approximately $30,723 (payscale). Animal shelter staff must be passionate about their jobs and their passion is what must drive them, not their salary (Germann, J). 

Animal Shelters are severely understaffed all due to lack of funds. It had been found that some larger shelters have a staff to animal ration of 1 employee to 600-1,000 animals, with an average ratio of 691 animals to one employee (Cashion, 2003). It is difficult to imagine that animals are getting the proper care, no matter how efficiently a staff member is working, with the sheer mass of animals one person is responsible for. 

Which is why volunteers are integral to a well functioning shelter. With regulations based on safety and (insurance liabilities) the type and quantity of volunteers may be limited.  Many volunteers are at the core of shelters and without them a shelter may crumble and unfortunately the animals are the main recipients of the repercussions of this occurrence. Without the care and attention these animals deserve, they are not getting an equal opportunity to find a home.  

Even if a shelter receives funding from local government based on taxes, it is not nearly enough to run a well-functioning kennel with all the proper necessities, resources, employees and supplies. Fundraising and donations are the main source of funds for those shelters as well as those (which are many) that do not receive money from the government. Depending on how well a shelter is at raising funds, has a direct impact on how well they are able care for and adopt out these homeless animals.

 

For many shelters the amount of debt they are faced with increases each and every year and piles on the debt they already encompass from past years.

Here’s an example of what sounds like a lot of revenue being exceeded by operating costs:  Total revenue and support for CCAS in 2010 was $101,232 in donations and $48,903 in grants ($150,135). The shelters total operating costs for 2010 was $1.2 million (1,049,865 in the red).

In a second example, compare to 2010 revenue and total costs for the Camden County Animal Shelter to their 2006 costs and revenue. In 2006 their total revenue reached $564,380 while their total operating costs were $548,099. This leaves a deficit of $16, 281 (Egan, B).

Because of all these overhead expenses, many shelters are in some sort of deficit year after year that never disappears. Monmouth County SPCA stated, “It costs approximately $250,000 per month to fund all the important programs of the MCSPCA. We need to receive donations of over $250,000 per month just to maintain normal operations throughout the year. Unfortunately, because the amount we receive usually falls well short of the minimum required amount, we operate at a deficit each and every month” (Germann, J).

                   22). https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/38418/PDF/1/play

                  /#:~:text=Most%20shelters%20receive%20donations%20to,many%

                 20they%20can%20adopt%20out.

 

So you see the problem.  Next time we’ll talk about how animal shelters are funded

 

 

Taylor Swift’s Evermore as Amalgamation: Dorthea Analysis

26 Dec

Who is Dorothea?  Firstly, remember each song on the album is an amalgamation.  Taylor has blended several people in each song.  So I’m pretty sure Dorothea is representative of a person Taylor knows in real life.  And from the sound of this song, it seems like during high school, in TN.  But I know some historical figure or story is probably also mixed in so I found some possible candidates online:

Lesbian of the Day, Dorthea from fire emblem 3 houses.  I saw this line in a search, and as far as I can deduce, Fire Emblem is a video game?  I didn’t get into it that much b/c I am disinterested in gaming.  But of interest,  I noticed that the female version of Byleth can romance other female characters like Edelgard and Dorothea.

Of even more interest to me was a slang term on Wikipedia.  In gay slang, a “friend of Dorothy” (FOD) is a gay man and more broadly, any LGBTQ person.  Which is kind of exactly what this song is talking about!

Thirdly I found a piece of media, that had connections to lyrics in Evermore:

Rebecca Shoptaw is at the helm of Middlemarch, but she creates LGBTQ+ short films on YouTube.  Many of her films have been featured at film festivals such as the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and the MiFo LGBT Festival.  Shoptaw is known for putting queer narratives on screen [and this] has translated to “Middlemarch: The Series,” where several of the characters are LGBTQ+ and gender-bent (http://fourteeneastmag.com/index.php/2017/08/06/middlemarch-the-series/).

One character in Middlemarch is, Dorothea stubborn and strong-willed, going against common advice to wed Casaubon, a much older man. Her marriage to him is driven by her desire to be taught by him, and she devotes herself to him entirely. Unfortunately, Casaubon doesn’t trust her unmitigated devotion.  She feels betrayed by his insinuation that she was unfaithful. In response, Dorothea refuses to finish Casaubon’s work, an indication that she is returning to her independent, pre-marriage self (https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/middlemarch/character/dorothea-brooke/). 

It could be any of those, or it could be none.

[Verse 1]

Hey, Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me?

When we were younger down in the park

Another time Taylor spoke of a park in song was “You Belong with Me” {Fearless):

Walk in the streets with you in your worn-out jeans/I can’t help thinking this is how it ought to be/Laughing on a park bench thinking to myself/Hey, isn’t this easy?

This song gets mentioned again later too.

Honey, making a lark of the misery

Often unplanned, a lark can happen when you are feeling adventurous. The act of trying something new like this can also be called larking. A lark is also a kind of songbird. Using lark to describe carefree fun might come from 1800s sailors’ slang, skylark, to describe playing in the rigging of the ship, up high like a lark.

You got shiny friends since you left town

These “shiny” friends could be new, rich, important, famous…  Whatever shiny means, it distinguishes these friends from the small town people.

A tiny screen’s the only place I see you now

And I got nothing but well wishes for ya

Taylor indicates there has been a split between them, they don’t see each other on park benches anymore, but Taylor doesn’t harbor any ill-will about it.  It’s another song that tells a detailed story, without being straightforward about who the subjects of the song are..  Someone in Tupelo?  An old friend?  It doesn’t seem to be about Karlie, but there are some similarities in the way Taylor describes Dorthea, and in how she regards her.. 

[Pre-Chorus]

Ooh, this place is the same as it ever was

Ooh, but you won’t like it that way

The subject of the song is restless, she longs for more than a small town life.

[Chorus]

It’s never too late to come back to my side

The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo

“Stars in your eyes.”  I think Taylor uses this line several times on this album to convey someone thirsty for fame or money or status.  And I think that’s why a song about an old relationship pops up here.  This girl’s hunger to get out of town and be famous, makes Taylor think of Karlie, who is always chasing a bigger, greater life–more fame, more money.

And if you’re ever tired of bеing known for who you know

You know that you’ll always know me, Dorothea (Uh-uh)

Dorothea (Ah-ah)

Again, Taylor emphasizes that if Dorothea wants to resume a more down to Earth existence again, Taylor is open to being there for her.  Taylor is not mad at Dorthea chasing something bigger (and maybe Taylor is conveying she’s not mad at Karlie for doing that same thing?).

[Post-Chorus]

Ooh, you’rе a queen sellin’ dreams, sellin’ makeup and magazines

Ooh, from you, I’d buy anything

Perhaps like a model?  A real life supermodel?  Who else has makeup campaigns and owns and poses in magazines?  Karlie has been called a Capitalist Queen.

[Verse 2]

Hey, Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me?

When it was calmer, skipping the prom just to piss off your mom and her pageant schemes

This line is about rebelling against norms.  Dorothea, skipped a very traditional high school milestone.  She also didn’t want to conform to a feminine standard by participating in pageants.

And damn, Dorothea, they all wanna be ya

Taylor is still jealous of everyone wanting her subject.  Just like in “Gorgeous,” and similar to the sentiment of “Gold Rush.”  Both songs seem to be about how Taylor thinks Karlie is beautiful and doesn’t like to think about all the other people that want Karlie.  It’s a (gay) pattern that started in her home town with Dorothea.

But are you still the same soul I met under the bleachers? Well

This question bleeds over to the pre-chorus:

[Pre-Chorus]

Ooh, I guess I’ll never know

Here’s where “You Belong with Me” comes back into play:

She’s Cheer Captain, and I’m on the bleachers/Dreaming about the day when you wake up and find/That what you’re looking for has been here the whole time

Ooh, and you’ll go on with the show

Taylor can’t decide if Dorothea is still the same person she knew before she was known for the wealthy/famous people she hangs around.  This “You’ll go on with the show” line insinuates Dorothea is putting on a front, living a lie, acting fake to keep up appearances, and hold on to this new, more recognized life.  Remind you of anyone?!

[Chorus]

But it’s never too late to come back to my side

The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo

Honestly, I think Taylor used a random MS town just to rhyme nicely to “who you know.”

And if you’re ever tired of being known for who you know

You know, you’ll always know me, Dorothea (Uh-uh)

Dorothea (Ah-ah)

This isn’t an angry verse.  Taylor hopes this person might get tired to living off her associations with wealthy/famous friends and offers to be there after Dorothea (or whoever is represented by Dorothea–Karlie?) gets tired of fronting.

[Outro]

Ooh, ooh

Ooh-woo-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Ooh, ooh

Ooh-woo-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh

Dorothea (Ah-ah-ah)

Ah-ah

Ooh

Mandatory Overtime

17 Sep

I hate O.T.–I’d MUCH rather have the time. I’ve done all the extra working (see every “veterinary” or “work” tagged post in my blog) and it didn’t get me ahead in my career or enough money to pay anything important. So why bother?

I start to think about Corporate making billions, off the backs of under-paid (relatively) worker-bees, and it doesn’t set right with me. We need unions to reign in capitalism.

At any rate, at work we are being mandated to work our regular 40 hour weeks, and then an additional 24 hours. It has to be within our regular work window (we have somewhat flexible schedules between 6AM and 5:30PM). Plus they opened up Saturday only from 6AM to noon.

So I am trying to spread it out in a way that will impact us the very least. We will still be doing our daily run and strength workout, and also maintaining our sleep schedules.

9/21-10/16 24HR = 1440 min

In every scenario:

*work 2 sat (every other) for 6 hr = 12 hr [24tot-12sat=12left]

*work 6am-3:30pm (1hr ot) all 4 Mon = 4 hr ot [12left tot-4mon=8hr left]

*fri short as possible

3 options to work the remaining 8 hr ot:

plan A] work 2 additional sat:

plan A1] (2hr = 4hr –>20hr tot & 4 hr spread over 12d)

20 min extra on t,w,r (3d) for 4 wk = 240 min = 4hr

exp:  6:10A-3P or 6:20A-3:10P

plan A2] (1hr only = 2hr –> 22hr tot & 2 hrs spread over 12d)

10 min extra on ,w,r (3d) for 4 wk = 120 min = 2 hr

exp:  6:20A-3P or 6:25A-3:05P

Plan B (no short sat)] spread it over t,w,r for 4 wk:

t,w,r*4wk=12 more days to get 8 hr

8 hr per 12 d (.667hr *60min/hr = 40 min

40min x-tra every t, w, r

exp:  6A-3:10P or 6:20A-3:30P

Labor Dave Weekend 2014

7 Sep

We went 2 of the 3 days. We spent the big bucks on seats. We made a sign for the opener (Brandi CArlile!) and for DMB. Which we worked really hard on and it turned out adorable. We chalked the car. Planned the hair, makeup, and clothes to look extra cute. It should have been the best year!

But it wan’t. Actually, I cried crocodile tears. Lesson learned: More money spend doesn’t automatically translate to better time, more fun. Maybe it translates to better pictures? Or just experience did.

We had previously gone to the show on Sunday only. And that’s what I would advise fans to do (unless you are a binge-drinker and love obnoxious crowds). By Sunday, everyone is tired, sunburned, hung-over–and it makes them more subdued. That’s my crowd–a little less amped up, at least to the point of politeness.

Friday everyone is full of energy. They have not been cooked in the sun yet. And they’re not hung-over and low key. Friday it’s all frat boys and pushing, and so so so much smoking. Like, yuck, it’s after 1950-who is still smoking?!! We’re in WAshington state, and WA is environmentally conscious, educated, and healthy. Don’t go on Friday.

The beautiful sign ruined everything. I was excited to hold it. We worked so hard, and it was super-cute. But the first time we held it up (between songs) some frat boy fussed. I wanted to say, fuck you, you’re too busy bing-drinking, yelling, pushing, and smoking to notice anyway. But Cool got very anxious, and refused to hold the sign at all after that. Which made me severely disappointed. I tried to get her to hold it, b/c we had spent a lot of time and planning on it–but she listened to the 1 frat boy and refused. It was a huge fight!

The weekend could not be salvaged after that.

We had seats for Friday and Sunday, and of COURSE Brandi performed Sat–the day we didn’t have tickets. It was windy. The friend we were staying with was sick with a migraine. It wasn’t the good time we had planned, hoped for, anticipated, or paid for.

So just know that you don’t have to spends loads of money to have fun. Our most fun year was our cheapest and our most expensive year went the worst.

YOU make your fun time!

We Are Getting Called Back into Physical Work :(

21 May

Even though we can do 100% of the job from home.  And we have been working from home just fine since March 15.  And we made production records.

Nothing has changed with the Covid pandemic since they had us work from home.  In fact, cases in Arizona are going up.

They are still adamant we must return to the building June 1st.

And our building is not conducive to reducing the risk of getting sick.  I am absolutely certain people will spread the virus.

We work in one open room.  157 on the claims side, then however many on the opposite side of the fairly open building in Customer Service.  Our cubicles are short, and management already said it would be too expensive to raise the walls.  As I complained here many times, I could already feel the cough/sneeze air of the gal in the cube behind me (because she doesn’t cover her shit).

The long hallways are open, kitchenettes with the water, microwaves, and refrigerators, are part of the big, open room and shared by most.  We all have to enter and leave by badging in and out of one central bottleneck.  There are 2 women’s bathrooms only with 5 stalls and 3 sinks.  They are crowded routinely.  We share them with the CSRs.  The janitor cleans the bathrooms twice daily, and when he does, he closes 1 of the bathrooms so the entire female claims and CSRs share 1 bathroom of 5 stalls and 3 sinks.

I am very concerned.  We already got many messages through the emergency system that someone in our building had been diagnosed with Covid-19 (this was toward the beginning of work from home).

Work says our health is the number 1 priority.  But I find that hypocritical since they’re dragging us back in with no justification in the middle of a global pandemic.

Leadership sent out a handout of the guidelines:

Do a self-survey and self temp check before entering the building (people are not careful, people lie, some carriers are asymptomatic)

Wear masks in common areas (except common areas got perverted to ‘not our big, open room where we all work and breathe for the majority of the day and there is recirculated AC.  Oh, and my supervisor diluted the manual’s instruction more by telling us that the masks are a recommendation, not a requirement)

Social distance and stay 6 feet apart (except the said our short cubicles are 6×6 so we’ll be the same distance as always.  And the bathrooms are going to be a bottleneck.  And the kitchenettes because so many of us have to share them.  And I’m worried leadership will come right to my desk to tell me things or help me with work.)

They said they’ll increase the air flow rate in the buildings they own.  (They don’t own our building.  Even if there is increased rate, it’s still a closed building, and the AC is still recirculated all day long as everyone breathes–without masks).

Work said they’re following federal, state, and CDC guidelines.  (Trump hasn’t really implemented any plan whatsoever, and he has ulterior motives to prioritize the economy over everything else so he can get reelected.  Our governor also prioritizes buisiness because the state ran out of money probably and he’s bought and paid for by corporations.  Our governor has already opened stores, malls, dine in restaurants, bars, gyms, pools, and casinos if that tells you where his priorities are.  And when people broke his recommendations by opening earlier, or having enormous groups with no health measures–he did nothing.  It was not enforced at all.  No fines, no orders to close down.  Nothing happened.  So we can’t depend on that douche to implement public health measures that are reasonable.  And the CDC has been politicized and muzzled, so their recommendations are weak and diluted.

So the federal isn’t doing anything for public health–they’re actively working against science and health measures.  Our red state is tired and inconvenienced and money over lives so no one is helping prevent the spread.  We are in a right to work state, so I have no protections if my work demands I go back–even if I feel unsafe doing so.  And I know even if I fight, they will say we’re essential health care workers so they really don’t have to make any accommodations at all to require us back in the building.  And obviously we HAVE to keep the job.  That’s not even close to an option.

But I don’t like it.

But I get so tired of capitalism and corporate interests jerking the little people around.  I want to have rights and a voice, and wish unions were mainstream.  We needed Elizabeth Warren to take care of some of this corruption and money over lives ideals that Americans just have to live by.  I want to feel safe at work.

I’m legit worried as soon as we step into work we will get the Covid-19.  So what was the point of us working from home at all, if we go back before the peak even hits the state?  I never thought moving to a red state might literally kill me…

LVT vs. Assistant

9 Apr

I wrote this at least 5 years ago, so things may have changed since my experiences (I doubt it) so remember that as you read.  I still stand by my assessment of LVTs.

In the modern schools, veterinarians are being taught to only do tasks that require their license.  Staff should do EVERY thing else, in order to be most efficient and practice at the top of the profession.  This philosophy is fine in theory.  In practice (they call it that for good reason) most vet hospitals do not PAY well enough to entice skilled employees to work for them.  With skills and licensing comes demand for better pay–and most vet hospitals are small, privately-owned operations that just can’t make that scenario work.  So what you get is what you pay for a lot of the time.  And that can be very scary if your vet sticks with the same mentality they were instructed to have in school.  Most of the vets I worked for did way, way, way more then just what was required by their license.  Because it’s ultimately their business, and because they cared about the animals and their clients.  They wanted things done right (and sometimes quickly).  When I worked for vets that didn’t do things that their license wasn’t specifically required to do, I thought they didn’t really give an eff.  And I looked down on them.  And I’m sure their clients wouldn’t have loved what they saw many of the times.

Back in the late 90s when I started volunteering in vet hospitals, most of the help were just on-the-job trained.  That’s who vets could find, and that’s who most vets could afford to pay.  As things have slowly tried to go the same way as the human side (and for-profit technical schools started popping up), there were more and more LVTs on the scene.

-Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT).  It’s veterinary medicine’s effort to standardize care. Which in theory is a good thing. In practice, I’m not sure how great those 2 year tech programs ARE. For example, teaching how to calculate anesthetic doses seems to be a primary portion of programs, but is certainly NOT a primary duty for the majority of teching jobs. If the vet trusts the tech to do it at all (many don’t) it’s like 5 minutes out of an entire day.  There is a big discrepancy between what the technical programs are teaching and what veterinary employers want in a tech (and are able to pay that tech).

I think mostly vets want someone who:

1)  they don’t have to train (there’s no time, they’re probably already short-staffed by the time they get to the hiring process)

2)  someone will will show up.  Availability during peak times (weekends, +/- holidays, +/- nights, and mostly full time (or more) hours.  Willingness to come early, miss breaks, skip lunch, and stay late is a bonus, and sometimes necessity.

3).  Someone self-motivated that they can trust and don’t have to baby-sit.

And the daily skills commonly required on the job are things like:  Restraint times a billion, autoclaving packs, vitals, blood draws, ie simple, repetitive tasks that have to be done with competence, but don’t require any sort of genius.  And CLEANING *pet-peeve alert*.  Always the cleaning.  And everybody in the building needs to help with cleaning–don’t you dare tell me any position in a vet hospital is above cleaning.  It’s one of the most necessary and frequent parts of any of the jobs.

-I think the technical schools have their ideals in the right place, but they also need a substantial program.  If people are PAYING to attend, they have to teach something that requires skill and support it with theory.  And so to make a more legit course-load and take up a decent 2 years, they teach unnecessary things.  Things that aren’t all that useful in the real world.  Unfortunately, the schools also (either directly or indirectly, I’m not sure) teach that LVTs are PROFESSIONALS.  And as such they are 1) superior to “unskilled” assistants 2) anything that doesn’t require their license is beneath them.  Both very, very untrue sentiments.  And detrimental.

Vet hospitals need to rely on EVERYone.  And at the same time everyone is just a body and easily replaceable.  Also, everyone from the vet to the techs to the receptionists need to be able to step up (or down) to do what is needed at that moment.  That means–(again) everyone cleans.  My personal joke:  What is the difference between an LVT and an assistant?  An assistant is willing to clean.  And that comes from direct and varied experiences in multiple types of vet setting and in multiple states.

-Another problem with distinguishing licensed and assistant techs (and the resultant pay-discrepancy) is:  1)  You can’t account for on-the-job experience, nor can you teach all on-the-job skills in a 2 year span.  2)  You can’t TEACH motivation or work ethic.  I would say I was easily the hardest working employee at (at least) half of my jobs–and the ones where I wasn’t the hardest working person, it certainly wasn’t tied with any LVT.  This isn’t a brag, it’s the truth.

Do I think assistants are as good as LVTs?  Mostly.  Sure, missing a formal education taught by accredited instructors may leave gaps in knowledge.  Assistants may not know the whys behind a task.  But I would argue, the LVT often has a shaky idea of what goes on in real vet hospitals.  Often, they have an idealized view of what should happen, verses what actually happens because of realities, and also because of limitations to client money and willingness.  I think vets themselves probably go through this as well, studying what should happen then seeing what really happens.  And I do think assistants come out on top as better employees than LVTs overall because they are trained on the job so you don’t have to un-train any bad habits/expectations, they are more willing to commit longer hours and forgo breaks and come in early, etc… which is a very desirable trait to vets.  And assistants are more willing to jump in wherever necessary (phones, lugging dog food, cleaning) because they don’t have allusions that their license somehow makes certain tasks beneath them.

But it’s beginning to be a new time in the field and the LVTs have saturated the market (and set a precedent for accepting lower wages) so it’s beginning to be easier and easier for vets to require this license for hire.  I would just say–don’t forget the assistants.