Thursday, June 09, 2005

How I learned.

When my wife went back to work after my daughter was three month's old; I was naively looking forward to being at home all day..with the baby. I knew that I would get all kinds of things accomplished, house projects, I would write War and Peace, My daughter and I would go on all kinds of outings to the zoo, museums, and for the first time in years I could go hang out at the local coffee shop.

Mostly I stayed home and played video games. Oh, and I took care of my daughter who really did nothing but sleep, eat, poop and cry. This went on for about three months, by then My six month old daughter was insanely bored. She would sit despondently looking at her toys then at me and back again. Then an idea bubble appeared over my head. " play with her." I got down on the floor and started to play. "Wow...Ruthanne You are no longer a blob vaguely resembling a frog any more." (it's true she looked like a frog when she was born, so did her older brother.)

Now she is two and we have a blast with eachother. Today we spent good portion of the day coloring. I draw something she colors over it , she dictates which crayons I get to use and the amount of time that I get to use them. (She has learned from mommy that it is better that I don't think.) Also she will spontaneously erupt into expressive dance routines, when she first started this habit she would only do it when she heard a banjo, now she does with all the music we listen to.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Crime and Punishment.

Living in Oakland has its merit's and its drawbacks. One of its drawbacks, besides lack of suitable funding for Oaklands schools, is the amount of petty crime. (burglary and muggings etc.) Not funding Schools is a greivous offense much worse than any petty crime and probably leads to it.

Before I get so deep into a tangent that will be difficult to wheedle my way out of I will stick to my original subject which has something to do with Gated communities.

I live in a relatively middle class/working class neighborhood which is fairly safe and is borderd by neighborhoods that are not as "safe." With the recent influx of new residents who can better afford the high prices of this area a "neigborhood action team" was formed to organize the residents to fight petty crime. We have a very effective email group that has been used to track some burgleries and has led to the arrest of suspected burglars.

Someone, yesterday, posted an e-mail observing the recent spate of burgleries and police activity, ( which we get a lot of, due to the street in our neighborhood being used by people who the police are persuing) the poster suggested, jokingly, that we should turn our neighborhood into a gated community. This comment of course set someone off, which is inevitable when posting to a large group of people.

In reply, the pissed off poster basically said "Hey, you are living in Oakland." That is not all the emailer said of course, I am leaving most of the content out. From this email it seemed that the sender was a bit upset about all the newcomers trying to change the neighborhood, and longtime residents being priced out of a place that has been home for many years. The sender also said that the new residents should get used to all the crime and if it is a gated community they want, than they should move to one.

I have been living in Oakland for almost six years now and when I first moved here I was aware of Oakland's reputation as crime central. Coming from the relatively safe back water of Salt Lake City I was convinced that the second I walked out of my apartment onto the street I would be, mugged/carjacked/my apartment would be broken into/hit by a stray bullet intended for someone else. In the time I have lived here nothing like that has happened, though the bakery I worked at in North Berkeley did get robbed by the same guy twice, nothing has happened to me personally or my family.

I don't feel that paranoid now, though I do play it safe I don't park my car on the street, I do make sure my windows are locked when I leave the house. There is a level of accpetance and I do expect that at some point I will come home to find it has been broken into. I know that some long time residents do just accept the amount of crime and are reluctant to report it when it happens to them, for various reasons. Why should I and my new neighbors accept it?