Tag Archives: north dakota

Ways We Can Improve Our Society: Part One


As election time rolls around and debates separate the wheat from the chaff and political ads slander opponents mercilessly, it becomes apparent (particularly on social media) that everyone in America knows what is best for the country and if you disagree you are a worthless pile of fool. To add to the “excitement” of another 11 months of campaigns, here is the first stage of “making America great again,” and if you disagree, you are a worthless pile of fool.

First up, budget cuts. I hear about this concept of “budgeting” and apparently it means “planning for a fiscally sound future by not buying so much makeup,” according to my husband’s line of thinking. What it actually means is balancing income and expenses — in other words, allotting an adequate amount of money to each area in order to responsibly pay bills in a timely fashion. The following are some ways I think the local, state, and federal government could increase revenue or cut needless expenditures, or improve our society as a whole.

First, when an individual is caught speeding, he or she should be required to pay a fine of no less than $50 for every excess mile per hour an officer clocked their speed. (Bonus: the main roads will be much safer, as compulsive speed demons will likely stick to back roads — I’m not convinced they can change.) That money can be earmarked for educational funding, including a newly required defensive driving course for all caught recklessly risking their own and others’ lives by cruising along at 75 in a 65 zone.

Second, why do prisons provide cable television? Many hardworking, law-abiding citizens can’t afford such a luxury. My cable bill each month is astronomical (particularly after adding an additional box) and increases semi-annually. Felons don’t need cable, they need to sit and think about what they did wrong. If they get bored with repenting, they can pick up a book and read. Our world would be a better place if everyone in it read a book a month. Rather than setting up convicts with expensive entertainment, force them to watch local channels and, when they tire of that, to educate themselves. I know, the option of schooling already exists in the joint, but I feel more people who are incarcerated would put forth the effort of seeking an education to better their lives on the outside if it was the only option available during their free time (and by free time, I mean the time they don’t spend lifting weights and fashioning shivs out of toothbrushes). Admittedly my knowledge of the inner workings of life in the clink is limited to, ironically, what I have viewed on cable networks. What would the government do with all the funds they freed up by making the pen “hard-copy only”? They would redirect that cash to fuel public education. By funneling more money into our children’s schooling, we could hope there would be fewer ex-cons in the long run — and wouldn’t that make for a brighter future overall?

Third, hire only highly skilled and professional construction companies who will work on one mile of road at a time, from dawn until dusk every single day until the job is complete. The longer that stretch of patch work takes, the more road rage I suffer. The citizens pay taxes to fund quick, sound reconstruction of the roads, not to hire a bunch of sweaty, chain-smoking sign holders. When I drive by at 10:15 in the morning, I know they cannot possibly be legitimately still eating breakfast. So why are they just sitting in their trucks, laughing at my aggravation? Why do they tear up twenty miles of the interstate at a time if they have no intention of fixing it that week? Why must I slow down to twenty-five miles an hour when workers are nowhere to be found? Why doesn’t the foreman insist they remove the “reduce speed ahead” signs before leaving for the afternoon siesta (which is the only logical explanation for why machines are sitting empty in the ditches when I drive home at 4:30 in the afternoon)? Why is my tax money paying for months of unnecessary inconvenience to travelers and a lack of oversight resulting in lazy incompetence from poorly managed road crews? I’m becoming suspicious that maybe they intentionally take so long because they get paid by the day. Government officials, do some reference checking on the companies you pay with my money, or I will vote you out.

Check out part two here.

Peace and love.



Ode to Winter


It is about this time every year that I start to reminisce. I think about fall, with its beautiful, muted, earthy colors. I remember hot, lazy summer days spent swimming or reading or napping and cooler nights huddled around bonfires. I envision the first bright blooms and brand new baby birds in spring.

In the north, where winter can — and often does — last six months of the year, the tendency for complacency takes hold. Lazing around indoors is not so much a luxury as a necessity when wind chills are in the double-digits below zero. The repetition of shoveling and scraping car windows clear makes each day seem longer than the last. Ice on sidewalks and snow on roadways cause travel to be treacherous. The biting wind, which steals your breath immediately upon stepping outside, chills deep to the bone and can cause lasting bodily harm.

What, then, is there to love about winter? For one thing, winter makes the world slow down. Driving conditions can deteriorate quickly, forcing traffic to a crawl. Walking safely can only be done at a tediously cautious pace. Being snowed in during a blizzard can make time seem to stand still. For another thing, winter brings people together. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays draw families home to celebrate joyfully. Helping a neighbor shovel his driveway or pulling someone out of a snowbank makes for lasting friendships. Building snowmen with a loved one is an enjoyable way to pass time, and warming up with a mug of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows makes for a memorable afternoon.IMG_20150209_155213_253

And finally, the most remarkable aspect of winter is, undeniably, its beauty (which is, admittedly, best enjoyed from inside while sipping cocoa topped with whipped cream). It can be serene and peaceful watching the snow fall from the sky in giant, fluffy flakes. When caught in just the right light, it can seem to sparkle and shimmer. Indeed, few things are as striking as a pine forest covered in fresh, glistening snow.

Until I move to a warmer climate, I will try to make the best of each North Dakota winter. To do so, I will need a few comfy sweaters and a whole lot of marshmallows. Peace and love. IMG_20150218_165654_636