Most Loiterers are Criminals

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The E-block in downtown Minneapolis has been getting a bit of publicity recently because the police department is trying to clean it up. There has been at least one murder in this part of town. I’ve heard that, at times, the cops have patrolled up and down Hennepin Avenue, 5 abreast, on either side of the road, stopping to talk with dozens of ‘the public’ along the way. I’ll start with my subjective description of the area. We’ve only been there a few times. We didn’t notice anything in particular after it first opened a few years ago, but the second time we were there we started to notice small groups of young 20-something ‘kids’ loitering on the sidewalks. We don’t see this as much in the better parts of downtown, such as, for example the Nicollet Mall area. Most of the young folks that I describe as loiterers were black men and the vast majority were wearing jeans with the crotch down to mid-calf or –believe it or not—lower, with much underwear exposed.

On a related note, I was fascinated to learn recently that some of these jeans are actually designed with the inseam extending the entire length of the leg and just 3-4 inches of (separate) legs at the bottom. I saw a young white man wearing a pair of these on the light rail one day. I was dying to tell him that if he just cut across the crotch area he could create a skirt which would look pretty much the same but give him a whole lot more flexibility with regard to his movements.

Anyway, back to the E-block loiterers. These young men either hold the crotch of their pants or walk like penguins to prevent the jeans from falling down completely. I find this manner of dress extremely distasteful on a youth of any race (or sex for that matter—but I’ve never seen a woman dress like this). I suspect that these kids are aware of the fact that most people find this manner of dress distasteful (at the very least); just as the young folks who dress in black, wear extensive black make-up, have abundant facial piercings and tattoos realize that many folks are offended by their manner of dress. I really don’t understand this need to dress in a manner that is completely outside of the ‘norm’ for our society and I consider it anti-social.

But I digress. The last time we went to E-block, one of these young men jumped out and ducked down in front of us, pretending to use us as human shields while feigning shooting his friend (without a gun) who was behind us. Not far from this, another small group was loudly harassing a young woman. They were using profanity and telling her how ugly she was.

The press regarding the clean-up attempt has been interesting. One interview described two episodes of harassment similar to those I witnessed. An interview with a cop suggested that the majority of the youths that they had stopped to ‘talk with/question’ have had either extensive records or arrest warrants. The police officer described being extremely lenient. He gave one young man who was carrying just enough marijuana ‘for personal use’ a warning and he described many of the people he stopped as cooperative. In general, the most he did was ask them not to return to this part of town (unless they had an arrest warrant). There was an interview of one young man who had been questioned and he complained that he was ‘profiled’ but when pressed (by the reporter) he wouldn’t go so far as to say he was ‘racially’ profiled. I think he is correct that he was profiled, but most likely for the loitering and his manner of dress, both of which are entirely under his control. Sure, he has the right to dress like a ‘gangsta’ and loiter like a gangsta, but if he chooses to do so, I believe he should accept the fact that he is likely to be profiled as a gangsta. My guess is that he was part of the majority who are criminals with lengthy records.

Another kid (who had been questioned) made a comment that I found somewhat strange. He said something about how certain stores (he specifically mentioned 3 by name) had been closed in order to get rid of his people (something to this effect). Footlocker is the only store of the three that I remember. I’m not sure what he was implying, but it seems to me that if ‘his type’ was spending money at these particular stores (rather than loitering in front of them and preventing people from spending money) the stores would not have closed.

The comment that really made me angry was made by what sounded like a ditzy young white girl. She said that the police presence was overkill and ‘who do they think they’re protecting anyway, people who live in the suburbs who have no idea what urban life is like’. What an idiot! Of course they are protecting those of us who prefer a quiet safe neighborhood. I’m not going downtown to learn about the dangers of living an urban environment. I’m going downtown to have a nice quiet dinner and maybe catch a movie with my husband and I would prefer not to be harassed. If I want to experience the dangers of urban life, I’ll go to a North Minneapolis where I can buy drugs and get shot.

I have already decided that I will never go back to the E-block and many of my ‘older’ friends (who live in relatively safe neighborhoods) have made the same decision. If the police department were to do nothing about the situation, my prediction is that the E-block would be bankrupt within a few years.

So…. in this part of town, most of the loiterers are young black men (with a particular manner of dress) and in my experience, many of these loiterers harass and intimidate people. I also believe (what I hear from the press and indirectly from the cops) that many of these folks have criminal records. Does this make me a racist?

Type B personality

I took this personality quiz, just to prove what I have always suspected. I have a type B personality. (my score was 20/100) . I usually feel like I am surrounded by type A personalities. I wonder what the ratio of type A’s to type B’s is in the US or in the world for that matter.

http://discoveryhealth.queendom.com/type_a_personality_access.html

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda!

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AQNT (aquantive?) is a stock that I’ve been buying and selling for about 3 years now (some sort of internet advertising company?). It was at about $18/share when I first started watching it. I usually make a few hundred dollars every time I buy it low and sell it high (notice the little $1-2 bumps in stock price). I sold it before I went on vacation, but it started going up again in May. I was going to wait for it to come down a bit before buying it back. Notice that it jumped from approximately $30/share to $63/share this Friday! Apparently it was bought by Microsoft!! I could have made thousands of dollars!! Oh well… win some, lose some. I still like playing in the stock market–I rarely lose money — so it’s a much better ‘gamble’ than slot machines. Also, more fun.  I use the free software programs provided by ameritrade to watch trends.  Stock options are another matter. I’ve lost a few hundred dollars trading options–it’s pretty tricky in today’s market.

Chicken chips

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We found chicken flavored potato chips (not these particular brands) when we were in France (and ham flavored in Mallorca). We thought they were hilarious! Maybe it’s just the name–chicken chips, chicken chips. I can’t image chicken chips would ever catch on in the US–although I’m not entirely sure why not–they weren’t bad. I think the Rave is Canadian (ever tried these Bill?). I’ll have to check the snack isle more closely next time I’m at the grocery store.

Take Responsibility for your own health

I watched the Ted Koppel special on Living with Cancer the other day (we recorded it) and it was thought provoking and inspiring. It brought up a lot of important issues and I learned a lot from what the panelists and attendees had to say. However, toward the end of the program Lance Armstrong irritated me when he started talking about early diagnosis of cancer. A man from the audience (who had colon cancer) asked whether or not Lance was angered by the lack of early diagnosis in this country. Lance insisted that we should all be angry about this. I agree that it would be great if we had better tests for early diagnosis, but who exactly are we supposed to be angry with? For Lance, blaming the medical community is hypocritical. If he is angry; it should be with himself. He admittedly ignored an enlarged testicle and respiratory symptoms for quite a while. The best screen for testicular cancer would be self examination. Is he angry that his team doctor didn’t do regular testicular exams? Is he angry that colon cancer isn’t caught earlier?

Most screening tests are not specific and sensitive enough to use on an entire population so there are specific guidelines for when people should have their first (and subsequent) colonoscopy, breast exam, mammogram, prostate exam etc. I don’t believe the medical community is failing people who show up in clinic for a yearly physical. There are two much bigger reasons why early cancers are missed. One is that some cancers don’t cause significant symptoms. For example, ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose early. Colon cancer can also be difficult. The other reason is that some people just don’t go to a doctor. You may want to blame this ‘lack of access to health care’ on the medical community, but I would disagree. I suppose you could blame the government or insurance companies, but I don’t entirely agree with this either.

I would bet that if a person with no money (and no social security card for that matter) walked into a local hospital and requested medical care (even if it was non-emergent), he would eventually find his way to a clinic that would see him. I’m not saying it wouldn’t take weeks or even months of red tape or that he wouldn’t get the run-around initially. I’m just saying that in this country it is possible to get medical care if you are persistent. I think Lance should focus his energy on education. He is the poster boy for how NOT to get an early diagnosis (ignore and deny). Over the years, women have become pretty well-educated about monthly breast self exams, yearly breast exams and mammograms. Maybe boys/men need to be better educated about testicular self examination and prostate exams. People should know to ask their doctor about screening tests that are appropriate for their age and risk factors. Better screening tests would be nice, but I don’t think this is a priority because of the sensitivity/specificity and cost/benefit issues. I’m sure the Lance Armstrong Foundation is doing important work that is worth supporting. I just think Lance should be careful when he is looking for someone to blame for a failure of early diagnosis.

The Syrah I made is good. Over ice. With 7up.

If you like that kind of wine.

We think it might be good in Sangria in the summer and Gluvine in the winter.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my Mom and all my friends who are moms!

(see adorable photos on photos page)

Haus Frau is coming to the Twin Cities!

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I’m so excited! Haus Frau just registered for the Twin Cities Marathon. I registered Saturday. Hopefully Haus Frau, Kiwi (the hubby from New Zealand) and pumpkin-squash (the progeny) will stay with us a few extra days before and/or after the marathon. October (7th) is a perfect time of year to visit Minneapolis. Our patio/courtyard should be ready for happy hours and BBQs and we always like to take visitors to Nicollet Mall since we have such a cool downtown. Also, our little neighborhood ‘restaurants-shops-movie theater’ area is getting better and better all the time so we’ll take them to the local pub for cheese-curds and beer. I’m not sure if they’ll want to see the Mall of America, but that’s fun too (every now and then). The TC marathon is billed as “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America” and if you don’t believe it, check this out…

http://brass612.tripod.com/start.html

Almost makes you want to run 26.2 miles doesn’t it? Haus Frau is the person responsible for getting me to run my first marathon (Chicago). I was so flattered when she suggested the possibility that I couldn’t say no. Now I use marathons as my sole motivation for staying on a regular exercise program and …I’m gradually disliking exercise/running less and less every year. My latest training schedule only requires 30 minute runs most days with one really hard ‘wind-sprint’ day and one long or super-long run on the weekend. Overall, it’s a much easier schedule, but I think it’s working just as well as the 6 mile/day schedules that exhausted me and made me HATE running. I’m optimistic that I can still run Grandma’s in less than 5 hours and maybe the TC marathon too (although it’s not as flat).

The photo of River Road is from the link above. I just noticed that you can’t see the Lakes or the Mississippi in any of the photos, but you will see them while you’re running (unless it’s mile-18-plus and you’re staring at your feet because you’re too exhausted to lift your head).