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Saturday, March 23, 2002

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Buses and the street fair

Last Monday I turned on my computer and my screen was black not even a blink. I bought it in 1996 and it's been bad for a while. I could not get it sharp and it was so small. I really hated to spend more money on my computer but I felt so lost. I finally got a flat screen 17" for only (only?) $159.00 with the rebate. It's not a thin one, they were just too pricy for me. It is so cool! I had to turn down the brightness, which was only at 50%, because it was making my eyes hurt. It is very sharp and so easy to see, plus, I can actually see whole screens without having to scroll so much. It was so big I had to call a taxi to bring it home since I just couldn't see hauling it on the bus, but $5.00 for a taxi wasn't too much to get it home in one piece.

We had a TABRU meeting this morning and had some people there. We've been getting publicity at a couple protests and some panels and such. I haven't made it to a protest yet but hope to make the April one. It's interesting to see how different people are against the propositions for different reasons. There are, of course, the people who are against the sales tax increase just because they are always against tax increases, and some are against just sales tax increases as it is a regressive tax. There are people, such as me, who are against the transportation plan because it gives 18% to transit and that will barely keep it where it's at right now while spending $20-$40 million each on four grade separated intersections so people in the county can buzz right in to their jobs. There are people who are against the GSIs because they will be bad for small businesses and neighborhoods while speeding up traffic through areas that are as close to walkable as Tucson gets.

We were going to show a video of the Los Angles Bus Riders Union but the place we were having the meeting didn't have a key to the closet the tv and vcr were in and the only person with a key was on the other side of town getting their car worked on. That's planning!

After the meeting I walked up 4th Avenue and checked out the street fair. This year they have outlawed dogs. Little by little they are sanitizing it to death. It used to be so much more fun with performers performing and nonprofit groups handing out info right and left. Now only a few performers are allowed and it's very difficult for a nonprofit group to get a table. They really hassle people who try to move a little off the avenue and set up a table or hand out stuff at the fair. I still go but it's usually just a quick walk through since it's so commercial anymore. I used to spend hours but now it's just to see if there's anything interesting. I did buy a couple earrings from a lady who makes them out of antique glass she picks up, but I didn't buy food, just a beer, and the earrings were only $20 total.

I finished reading "Growing Up With the Country" by Elliott West. He shows us how the west was won from the children's point of view. They worked harder than most adults do today and were often plowing, herding cattle, etc. by themselves, often miles from home, by the time they were eight or nine years old. West shows the dangers of both disease and accident on the way west in the wagon trains and when they got to the farm, mining town or cattle country, but he balances this with the children's own stories of how they loved the independence and the new country they came to in a way that children in the east never had. The western children helped build where they lived and were vital laborers in the society that they helped build. He shows how the families were generally very caring and that we can't judge them by our standards of what a child should do. He does this from the children's own point of view, from their letters, journals and memoirs and it is a fascinating story.

We underestimate not just children's ability to do things and overcome difficulties but everyone's ability to do so. I think too often we are making a country of victims when we could be making a country of people who know they are capable of surviving much more than we think and we will find a feeling of joy and achievement that few people have anymore. Not that we should deliberately impose difficulties on people but I do think we need to push ourselves beyond what we are used to. I know when I do something that seems scary or difficult I have a real sense of accomplishment, even if it's even just figuring out how to get someplace without a car instead of staying home or expecting someone to take me.

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Rachel Aschmann 2002.
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