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Posts Tagged ‘citizen’

dad – claiming heritage without going back

Posted by contentgrrl on December 23, 2007

One of the reasons I started this blog was to honor my heroes and heroines in life and literature. I’ve got a long list of names in my drafts, but I’m having trouble feeling like I can do any of them justice.

I have had the privilege this year to scan a photo album that belongs to my dad, the perpetual boy scout. His father was a scout cadet and leader as well. So my dad’s been in uniform all his life. And considering what happened during WWII, I don’t blame him for wanting to become a U.S. soldier and therefore a U.S. citizen.

It’s been interesting to see all the photos of old classmates and girlfriends, but the thing that really chokes me up is all the notes written affectionately from my grandfather to “Pepito” on the backs of these photos. I’ve scanned these notes as well, and will display in the photo albums I make for family.

After my dad came to New York for his medical residency, there’s a set of photos showing the house that was built with the money he sent back, with a note about the penthouse reserved for him when he comes back home. And there are several pictures of a young lady, apparently friendly with my grandmother, who writes with great affection for my dad. And then, abruptly, there’s a message “To Pepito and Judy” right around the time that dad married my mother, who was just out of nursing school near the hospital where Dad was a resident. And then there are pictures of my uncle and godfather, who also emigrated to New York around the time I was born.

I denied my heritage for a long time. By the time I was a teenager, Dad had settled in a small country town that is the complete opposite of cosmopolitan. I strived not to look too different. And, studious introvert that he was, he never spoke to me of our heritage or his story. And so, studious introvert that I was, I never thought to ask.

In college I dated a guy who had been stationed in my family’s country; what he knew of my heritage was gained from what a soldier might know, the underbelly.

I married a man who guessed my heritage; he thinks women from my family’s country are the most beautiful in the world. It’s a nice sentiment, but certain stereotypes haunt me. My dh’s grandfather had been stationed there in WWII, and also recollected that country’s horrifying underbelly.

Dad left the islands and went back only for funerals, to bring back pearls for his daughters. I suspect there is an unspoken pain he would rather not burden the present with. But when I asked him why he didn’t go back to live, he simply said he felt that there was better opportunity for him here in the States.

I have followed his example even while I was unaware of it; as much as I want him to be a part of my sons’ lives, I definitely don’t want to move back to that small town, or even the larger town nearby. I chose the town where we live now, within easy driving distance but not so close that we see each other every month. And it’s hard to let go of a steady job that I like so much, even when I remain isolated from family and friends.

I would love to go back to the islands when I have a good opportunity; there was another funeral for an uncle I never met recently, but with all the terrorists it has become very dangerous for an American citizen abroad there. My sons need a mother more than I need to visit that hornet’s nest.

But I will take the opportunity to ask what I can while I can, and make sure my children know their grandfather and great uncle. And I resolve to chip away at the walls of isolation that I have built up around us.

I’d like to share a related story that touched me: Reclaiming Ownership of My History.


Posted in citizen, community, culture, grrly, heroes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

3 citizen watch sites compared on S.680: GovTrack, Washington Watch, FantasyCongress

Posted by contentgrrl on November 13, 2007

I can’t believe it. My little subscriptions to finally showed me the story I’ve been looking for on federal procurement. And it gave me the impetus to find other sites that are fun to use as a citizen, including FantasyCongress’ play on FantasyFootball.

With, I like the ability to subscribe to actions by specific representatives or senators and specific topics related to legislation, since from year to year and House to Senate the actual titles and numbers are unlikely to stay the same.

GovTrack. us Nov 7, 2007 – Bill Action
Passed Senate: S. 680: Accountability in Government Contracting Act of 2007
Passed Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Washington Watch focuses on a bill’s cost per average family (or person, and so on), has space to comment on the bill, vote for or against, and find more information.

With FantasyCongress, the same way sports fans play with their teams, citizens can play with their government. “Only at Fantasy Congress can you draft, bench, or trade a Member of Congress. ” A Senator’s page shows his or her stats, legislation, amendments, maverick votes, and so on. A bill’s page shows the party slant based on votes, and a shiny graphical representation of its stage in the legislative process (it looks like a sport league bracket).

The example I’ve used in comparison, S.680, is only of interest to me for a story I’m writing. Similar legislation has been proposed for many years, and I was surprised to see action on it. says:

Federal Contracting Rules. S. 680 would amend various rules on using noncompetitive and sole-source contracts, including restrictions on the contract period for noncompetitive contracts and limits on the use of sole-source contracts. Imposing restrictions on the length of noncompetitive contracts and limiting the use of solesource contracts could increase the costs of administering contracts but also could lower procurement costs by encouraging the use of other acquisition practices.

The site for Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., has an article that gives some good detail. S.680 includes provisions for a more professionally trained acquisition workforce, stronger competition in federal contracting, and accountability for the resulting value of the purchases, and more transparency to curtail waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayers’ money. Two key provisions affect software system houses (like the company who writes my paycheck) and trading partners (like our customers and my audience):

  • Strengthen effective oversight and transparency when “sole source” contracting is appropriate by requiring publication of notices at the “FedBizOpps” website of all sole source task or delivery orders above the simplified acquisition threshold within ten business days after the award.
  • Rein in the practice of awarding contracts missing key terms – such as price, scope, or schedule – and then failing to supply those terms until the contractor delivers the good or service, by requiring contracting officers to unilaterally determine all missing terms, if not mutually agreed upon, within 180 days or before a certain percentage of the work is performed.

The senators also touted the bill as an answer to the Department of Homeland Security’s reliance on contractors, which was possibly why it got enough attention to pass.

Posted in citizen, games, heroes, heroines, marketing, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »