Happy Mother’s Day!

Three picture collage, pink blossoms on tree, pink flowers in container on grass, pink petals scatterd on green grass beside a tree.

Hope all you moms out there have a wonderful day! I’m baking a cake right now and will see my family later on.

Recently on Twitter, I found the hashtag #FreeBlackMamas. It’s a movement to free black mothers from jail who are only there because they could not afford to pay bail.

This is truly unfair. Incarceration solely for the lack of money. Mama’s Bail Out Day is an offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement. The people involved have been raising money with the help of other organizations and bailing out women all over the country in time to see their children for Mother’s Day.

The work will continue after Mother’s Day, but I think it’s a great start. Part of the inspiration was looking back at history. During slavery, free black people would raise money to buy the freedom of their relatives. #FreeBlackMamas is in the same tradition of buying freedom for our loved ones.

From what I have read, most of the women were charged with minor nonviolent offenses. A Rewire article, gives a glimpse into the bail system and how it has needlessly broken apart so many families.

Most of the people in local jails have NOT been convicted of a crime, but they don’t have the money to buy their freedom. So they languish away in jail.

An estimated 700,000 people are condemned every day to cages and separated from their families often simply because they cannot afford to pay bail.

Prison Policy’s research shows that between 60 and 70 percent of people held in local jails have not been convicted of a crime. U.S. Code §3142 permits individuals who have been charged of a crime to be held if the judicial officer believes that the person will not return for trial. However, the criterion is very vague and allows counties to have broad discretion over the terms of keeping someone detained. Sadly, these laws disproportionately affect Black people.

If you’re interested in reading more, here are three good articles below.

For Mother’s Day, You Can Donate To Bail Out Moms So They Can See Their Kids
Why I’m Helping to Bail Out Black Mamas
In The Tradition Of Our Ancestors, This Mother’s Day We’re Bailing Out Our Mamas

Hundreds of thousands of dollars has been raised, but there is a lot more work to do.

Nift: You Got Me Miffed

Colorful circles in shades of red, green, orange and yellow, on a Nift Neighborhood gift card.

Have you heard of Nift? I hadn’t until this past fall when I received a Nift card as a gift.

When I went to the website to redeem my gift, I was very excited. According to the face of the card (see picture above) I would have $50.00 or more to spend. The “or more” should have put me on notice that something might be a bit off.

Anyway, Nift seems more business focused than consumer friendly. It’s a way of introducing local businesses to consumers. Which is actually a great idea.

But most of the suggested businesses weren’t that easy for me to get to in my normal day to day routine and I wasn’t that interested in the merchandise of many of them. However, there was one suggestion for a place that I had planned on going to anywayChill On Park. A new ice cream shop in Dorchester.

Within days of activating my card, I planned to meet a friend there. I arrived first, during their normal Saturday business hours and they were closed for some reason. Maybe Thanksgiving? I don’t know.

But my friend and I had to find another place to go, so we went to Dot2Dot Cafe, which was very close by and a place we had been to before and really enjoyed. I had planned to blog it, but never got around to it.

Anyway, back to my being miffed by Nift. You should note that Nift expires very quickly. I activated it around November 17, 2016 and the expiration date was December 22, 2016. It was only good for a little over a month. That seemed odd to me. And rather unfair.

It was my understanding that in Massachusetts, gift cards are good for at least seven years. This is true, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. I emailed Nift’s customer service about this and received the following response.

Thank you for reaching out! We are well versed in gift card law. If the gift expires any funds if paid are returned. If you have any questions about this, please refer to our Terms of Service.

I just extended the expiration date of your Nift to March 1st, 2017, so you can now use it at Chill On Park, in Dorchester. You can also find again your gift certificate here. After having used your gift, click on the “Redeem in Store” button. This lets Nift know that you’ve used your gift. We will then send you a new gift code, via email, including your residual value.

Please let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your gift!

Based on my understanding of their TOS, the business that purchased the Nift card is the customer, not me, and any money left on the card after the expiration goes back to the purchaser.

I didn’t get a chance to use Nift by March 1st either, so I sent another email and received another extension until March 30th.

You can probably see where this is going. I didn’t get a chance to go by March 30th either. When I sent another email, I was told that there were no more extensions.

Then I received an email stating that my “gift” had expired and would I please give some feedback. I told them that I didn’t have a chance to use it.

It seems to me that if you really want people to use a gift card, they should have more time to use it. It’s probably why Massachusetts state law allows at least seven years for gift certificates to be redeemed. Four months is hardly enough time. Especially when that time is the winter. Oh well.

For anyone considering buying Nift for their customers, buyer beware.

Breathe & Push: This Darkness is of the Womb Not the Tomb

Valarie Kaur speaking about darkness of the womb.

I’m not a mom. But I am a daughter. And I know how I got here. My mom’s birthday was yesterday. It was a good one. And we celebrated. I know how she got here. I know how her mother got here. And her mother.

And all those mothers from the beginning. We all got here the same way. All of us. Women. Men. Transgender. We were birthed by strong women.

For those of you who know me in person, or just through this blog or Twitter, you know that this election and administration has rocked me hard.

But this morning, I found a video of the National Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign Watch Night Service and saw a speech by Valarie Kaur. It gives me hope.

The video is just over six minutes and well worth your time. Especially if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of changes taking place in this country. The past twenty-four hours has refugees and other immigrants now detained at airports and not being allowed back in the United States after the latest of Trump’s Executive Orders.

Kaur’s website describes her as an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights lawyer, media commentator, Sikh activist, interfaith leader and founder of Groundswell Movement, the nation’s largest multifaith online organizing community.

In other words, she is amazingly awesome! By the way, she will be in Boston on February 9th and 10th at Northeastern University speaking at the New England Interfaith Student Summit.

Kaur’s speech describes some tragic and inspiring personal family history and then goes on to discuss the issues facing our nation currently. She finds cause for optimism.

And so the mother in me asks, what if. What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb? But the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead? But a country that is waiting to be born. What if the story of America is one long labor? … What if this is our nation’s great transition? … What does a midwife tell us to do? Breathe. And then push. Because if we don’t push we will die. If we don’t push our nation will die. Tonight we will breathe. Tomorrow we will labor.

If the Statue of Liberty represents our country, then we are a strong woman. Let’s focus. Breathe. Then push like our lives depend on it. Because they do.

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Screenshot: YouTube

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Street Lawsuits

+ + Updated October 27, 2019 + +

Color photo of cover of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Magazine.

If you’re into food and you live in the Boston area, you’re probably very familiar with Christopher Kimball from all his years at America’s Test Kitchen.

After parting ways with ATK, Kimball recently started his own food endeavor. It’s located on Milk Street in Boston’s Financial District and named Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street. The business includes a cooking school, a radio show and a print food magazine.

If you’re interested in getting a free copy of the charter issue of the magazine, you can still get one. My copy arrived a couple of weeks ago and I’m looking forward to reading it when I get a chance.

Then this morning, I was catching up on the news when I read in Boston Magazine that Kimball was sued by ATK! I haven’t read the Complaint, but according to the article, it appears that ATK is alleging that Kimball may have breached the terms of his employment contract by starting a competing business while he was still working for them.

Non-compete agreements are a big issue in Massachusetts and employers take them seriously. There was recent legislation which would have reformed the law, but it did not pass. Employees who sign contracts agreeing to the terms of a non-compete can be restricted for several years from forming a business of their own or joining a similar company that may compete with their former employer. Because of this legal restriction, many believe that businesses are going to places like California instead of Massachusetts.

If employees disregard the non-compete, they run a real risk of being sued by their former employer. Maybe this case will settle and we will never hear anything about it again. Who knows? But it’s a twist to this ongoing story of Kimball and ATK.

The Boston Magazine article also mentioned that this summer Kimball was sued by Milk Street Cafe for trademark infringement. This casual restaurant is also located on Milk Street in Boston, but it’s a restaurant, not a media company or cooking school. As far as I know, Kimball isn’t selling food.

Trademark law exists to prevent consumer confusion. Since the businesses are different types, it seems odd to me that anyone would confuse the two. Kimball uses his full name above the words Milk Street and a picture of his signature bow tie is part of his logo and below the words Milk Street.  They seem to be in two very different spaces to me.

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out. But Kimball seems pretty savvy to me and it looks like he has all his glazed ducks in a row.

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*Updated 1/24/2019*

As I had speculated above, according to a Boston Globe article, Kimball won his trademark case. His media company is now named “Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street” so there is even less chance of confusion with Milk Street Cafe.

[US District Court Judge Denise] Casper ruled Wednesday there was little risk of confusion, as the two parties’ goods and services, as well as their marketing approaches, are quite different.

Milk Street Cafe’s primary market is downtown Boston, she wrote, while most of CPK’s customers have probably never set foot on the actual Milk Street.

The only similarity, she wrote, is that the names of both ventures refer to the street where they are located.

Casper also ruled Milk Street Cafe had not proved it had been hurt by Kimball’s use of the name and said there was no evidence of intentional copying on his part.

The litigation with ATK is ongoing. According to Superior Court electronic records, the case [1684CV03325 Americas Test Kitchen Inc General Partner of Americas Test Kitchen Ltd Ptnr vs. Kimball, Christopher] is scheduled for a jury trial on October 1, 2019.

However most cases never make it to trial, so an earlier settlement is more likely. A final pre-trial conference is scheduled for February 12, 2019.

*Updated 2/12/2019*

From the Superior Court electronic records, it looks like the February 12th conference did not take place and the final trial conference is scheduled for 9/24/2019. I’ll keep checking to see if the case settles before then and will give an update.

* Updated 10/27/2019*

According to court records, the case settled and was dismissed in early September.

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You Wanna See Hamilton, But Don’t Vote?

House_Democrats_Sit-in

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I wasn’t the first to say it, but I believe it.

And standing for something is what many of our Democratic Representatives are doing with support from some Democratic Senators too. In solidarity they are standing up for the victims of gun violence and for those of us left with lives to lose.

When I heard that civil rights icon John Lewis was leading the call with a sit-in, I was enthralled. Still am. It couldn’t have been written any better. How cinematic and extraordinary.

Many of us have been complaining about our representatives lack of action when it comes to gun violence. Rise up! They have!

As I write this, they have been holding the floor of the people’s house for nearly 24 hours. We are witnesses to history. Isn’t it fitting that at the same time, Alexander Hamilton the musical is making history too? I’m listening to the cast recording as I write this. Not many of us can get enough of it. It’s engaging and addictive.

Tickets to the show in Chicago have been reported to be selling for as much as $10,000.00. With low voter participation being such a problem in this country, I wonder what percentage of people who attend the show actually vote. Is the show about a Founding Father completely lost on most?

The best way for us to get our shot is to vote and get involved with politics on some level. Are we part of the solution?

We have so many levels of problems in this country. If we all tackle something, I truly believe that we can make a huge difference. We the people. Three little words. The start of one of the most beautiful documents ever. It’s us.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. ~ Preamble to the United States Constitution

When they wrote “our Posterity”, they were thinking about us. Now. But it’s up to us to do something. Life is an experiment. This country is an experiment. All we can do is try to think about the kind of world and country that we want to live in. Insure domestic tranquility.

Is what is happening now the American Dream? I don’t think so. Republicans are content to have us gunned down walking home. Gunned down in a theater. Gunned down in church. Gunned down in school. Gunned down anywhere. They think it’s okay.

We can’t pursue Happiness when we are in fear for our lives. It seems the only lives the Republicans have concern for are unborn. After that, we’re on our own.

We have to do better. We can do better. It’s time. I’m a Sanders supporter, but you better believe I will still vote. I’m not giving away my shot. Neither should you. History has its eyes on you.

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Screenshot: Los Angeles Times

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