It’s been a long spring quarter, and I’m glad it’s over. It’s getting up in the 90s here in Portland so everyone’s in their underwear dancing around beer fountains as the smell of pot fills the sunny air. And though the smell is better than the B.O. or Patchouli which normally wafts though the air, Portland city council decided to ban all smoking in parks and nature areas.
I’ve been busier than usual, so I haven’t been able to write as much, but I think that’s been good. “Less is more” is the cliché. And the essays I’ve posted lately have had higher readership than years past. Plus, I haven’t had much time to read anything other than a textbook and some chunks from The New Yorker during my lunch at work–if I’m not reading, I’m not writing. And while the articles have been great I’m very happy I’ve finally found a book to read.
I wanted to dedicate part of this summer to breaking down misconceptions and bad thinking surrounding prison systems, specifically here in Oregon. So to kick off my research (and potential future blog) I’m reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Last year someone attacked my friend while he was out drinking, and he opened fire, wounding his attacker, but because of Oregon’s mandatory minimums he’s forced to do time in prison–while his attacker received no sentence. Sadly, mandatory minimums have overwhelming support, so it’s going to take a lot of work to change people’s minds on prisons. I firmly believe a shift from typical incarceration to mental and social rehabilitation will benefit everyone–except the companies who use prisoners as labor.
In between summer reading and researching I’m also working on communications for Retail Workers for a Democratic Union (RWDU). We came together after some of our grocer union’s best representatives were “laid off” by upper leadership a couple of weeks before this last Christmas because of their protest against our union president’s priorities–none of which are relevant to the members. When we gave the president the vote of no confidence petition we spent the past winter collecting signatures on, he sarcastically applauded us out of the room. That was after spending over an hour trying to awe us over our mediocre dental and prescription plan, drooling over the prospect of pot money, and making every effort to dodge or dismiss our questions about our contracts and bargaining. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
It would be a terrible time if summer were entirely work, which is why my wife and I have purchased tickets to see Modest Mouse at the Waterfront on August 23, and we’re also attending the Rose City Comic Con. I plan on having a box set of Nightmare on Elm Street signed by celebrity guess Robert Englund. And sometime in between all this I hope to squeeze in a camping trip to the coast, then it’s back to school.
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