PRESS RELEASE – City of Northampton to open Warming Center on Monday

18 Jan

            MAYOR DAVID J. NARKEWICZ

City of Northampton

       Office of the Mayor

         210 Main Street Room 12

           Northampton, MA  01060-3199

           (413) 587-1249     Fax: (413) 587-1275

          mayor@northamptonma.gov

 

For Immediate Release – January 18, 2019

 

City of Northampton to open Warming Center on Monday

 

 

After consultation with the City’s emergency Management Team, Mayor David J. Narkewicz announced that the City of Northampton will be opening a warming center Monday, January 21, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Northampton Police Station Community Room located at 29 Center Street.  The warming center is open to all members of the public and anyone who is in need of a warm place to be during this extreme cold and winter weather.

 

What you should do if the weather is extremely cold:

  • Minimize outdoor activities for the whole family, including pets.
  • Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing instead of a single heavy layer. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens (not gloves), and sturdy waterproof boots to protect your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Take recommended safety precautions when using space heaters, a fireplace, or a wood stove to heat your home. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Make sure emergency generators or secondary heating systems are well ventilated.
  • If you lose heating, move into a single room. Seal off unused areas by stuffing towels against the cracks under the doors, and at night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets.
  • Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspapers covered in plastic to prevent them from freezing. Let a trickle of warm water run from a faucet to keep water moving through your pipes.
  • If your pipes freeze, remove any insulation, pour hot water over them or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, and completely open all faucets. You can also use a hair dryer, with caution, to thaw pipes. Never use an open flame to thaw pipes.
  • In the event of a power outage, you may need to take additional precautions or go to an emergency shelter to stay warm.
  • Know the symptoms of and watch out for cold-related illnesses. Call 9-1-1 to report emergencies.
  • Be a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions, and those who may need additional assistance.

Extreme cold is also concerning to fire officials, Fire Chief Duane Nichols, recommends the following during bouts of cold weather:

  • Make sure smoke alarms and CO alarms are working.
  • Keep thermostats set at the lowest comfortable temperature as furnaces may struggle to keep the house warm; wear warm clothes and put an extra blanket on the bed. If you run out of oil, or lose power, consider going to the home of a friend or relative who has heat rather than relying on alternative heating sources.
  • When using a space heater make sure to keep a 3-foot circle of safety, free of anything that can catch fire. Space heaters are not designed to replace your central heating system, they are only designed to provide a little extra heat on a temporary basis. Be sure to turn them off when you leave room or go to bed at night.
  • Space heaters and other heat-generating appliances should be plugged directly into the electrical outlet. Overloaded extension cords cause many space heater fires. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is rated for the same wattage as the appliance and use only one.
  • When burning wood or pellets make sure ashes are placed in a metal container with a lid away from the house, the garage, or the deck.
  • Don’t over fire your wood stove. An overtaxed wood stove can easily start a chimney fire taking advantage of creosote build-up or minor cracks in the flue or causing a breakdown in the chimney liner. Heating appliances are the leading cause of carbon monoxide in the home and the risk increases when they are working harder.
  • It’s never too late to have a licensed professional clean and inspect your furnace or chimney. A professional can clean the chimney of creosote, and check for cracked or broken mortar. An efficiently running furnace is cheaper to run. Heating equipment is the leading cause of carbon monoxide in the home.
  • The use of unvented space heaters that use a liquid fuel such as kerosene inside homes and buildings is illegal in Massachusetts. They pose an extreme risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as well as a fire risk.

For additional information on the Warming Center, or if you need assistance due to the extreme close, please contact Northampton Public Safety at 413-587-1100.

 

For more information on winter storm safety tips, please visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/winter-storm-safety-tips

Helpful information is also available at www.northamptonma.gov/snow

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Facebook’s Secret Phone Number

3 Jan

So turns out Facebook has a helpline, but I found out from Techwalla. Facebook doesn’t give out the number on their tech support page. You can’t actually talk to a human though. You can only leave a message. I told them that until I hear back from them, I will continue to talk to as many people I know, including press, politicians, and celebrities, about Facebook banning me for coming out as a non-binary person. For all who want to know, Facebook’s phone number is 650-543-4800.

This ban not only keeps me from collaborating with other writers and publishers in special discussion forums, and keeps me from staying in touch with friends from far away, it also stops me from accessing my author page and has cost me my ability to be the social media person for a non-profit that serves the homeless community.

All this because I changed my name from Robert to Robyn.

And now Facebook is sending me text messages letting me know that my friends are posting updates, but when I click on the link, my account is still permanently disabled. So now I guess they are going to keep sending me text updates telling me to log on to Facebook, even though they won’t let me log onto Facebook, and there’s no way to get them to stop doing that either. Fuckers.

And the shitty thing, is, I suspect it’s not really about transphobia at all. I’m sure that I got deleted by a computer algorithm designed to weed out Russian hackers and “Nigerian princes”, but because Facebook isn’t managed by humans, they can’t tell the difference. Because really if they just had an appeal process that involved a human taking five seconds to scan my page, they’d see immediately that I was using Facebook exactly as it was intended, as a social network.

Facebook’s Arbitrary Cruelty and Bigotry

28 Dec

I’m poor.  I’m disabled.  I suffer from social anxiety.  All of the people with whom I share the most in common I’ve found to live far away.  People in my neighborhood, my town, my community… do not get me, and I do not get them.  But through social media, I have found close friends from throughout the world who I can geek out with.  People who get me, and I get them.

Facebook has disabled my account.  First they said it was for my security, and then it was for violating their terms of service.  These are my violations:

I am bi-gender and queer.  Though my legal name (which I use as an author) is Robert E. Wronski, Jr., to express my feminine side, I use the name Robyn.  My friends all call me Robyn.  So my profile name was Robyn.  Facebook didn’t like this.

Because I have a male body but identity as both male and female, I used avatars of female characters like the Doctor (Jodie Whitacker) or Supergirl as my profile pictures.  I wasn’t trying to pretend I was someone I’m not.  My Facebook photo album had plenty of real pictures of me.  But Facebook didn’t like when I used a female picture.  (Note they never minded when I used male fictional character avatars.)

And the worst offense apparently was that I was too social on a social media site.  Apparently I liked too many people’s posts, as if that’s a bad thing.  I participated in too many discussion groups and I shared too many funny memes.  The social network site told me that being social and being true to myself were violations of their terms of service.

I tried to create a new, straight account.  After a day I guess they caught on that it was the same queer me, because of their facial recognition and gps locator tech.  So they disabled my new account.

Facebook has cut me off from my social world.  This is what a social network has done.  They can claim they think I’m a fake person, because clearly they use computer algorithms to make their determinations.  If a human actually looked at my page they’d see I was a real person using the site the way they say it’s intended.  But meanwhile they allow Russian hackers, Nigerian scammers, and Sunglasses spammers.

I don’t do well in face to face social situations.  I don’t get along well with the people in my community.  I’m a poor person who has to eat at soup kitchens, where most of the folks around me have interests that involve shooting up heroin and fighting.  I found a way to get past my circumstances and found an outlet where I could connect with people who liked to talk about alternate timelines, shared realities, and all sorts of important trivial fiction.  But Facebook took that away.  Because they don’t like people who are gay and they don’t like people who are transgender, and they seem to want to target people who actually use Facebook as a social network.

I no longer have a connection to my friends.  I can no longer have my forum where I can collaborate with the other fanboys, geeks, crossoverists, authors, publishers, and podcasters.  I no longer have access to the forum where people discuss my website, my books, and my podcast.

And also, I am no longer able to be the social media person for my church, a volunteer position that I’ve held for a couple of years now and that’s given me some purpose.  That’s gone now too.

So I am asking someone out there to make a better Facebook.  Make a social network site that allows people to be true to themselves, that allows people to be able to be friends with whoever they wish, and are allowed to geek out and collaborate with other creative types about whatever geekdom that tickles their fancy.

Now I’m just going to be alone, isolate from all those I care about, because Facebook has decided that I don’t get to have friends, because I’m queer.

Psalm 23 as it relates to me…

3 Dec

I think most of you know that I am in the ELCA New England Synod School of Lay Ministry. Our last homework assignment asked us to rewrite Psalm 23 in our own words. I was the only one in my study group that took up the challenge. I shared it with my group and they thought it was worth sharing online. For those who need a refresher, here is Psalm 23, from the NRSV.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff –
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.

So my rewording goes as so:

1. God gives me what I need.
2. He is my guide.
3. He fills me up spiritually when I am at my lowest points.
4. When I suffer from depression, He is always with me.
5. When I am challenged, He keeps me safe.
6. God is always by my side and always will be.

I applied the psalm to my life, and simply thought about what comfort it brings me, why, and when, in what circumstances.

It’s ironic that this assignment came to me just as I was coming out of a six month period of depression, one of the longest bouts of continuous depression I’ve endured in many years. It was my relationship with God, and the people God has put in my life, that allowed me to endure. God didn’t necessarily give me what I wanted but he always provided enough for me to survive.

I’m Just Pretending.

24 Nov

I’m just pretending.  I’m old on the exterior but I never grew up.  I work hard at being taken seriously, but I go home at night and watch cartoons and read comics.  I’m great with kids because I am a kid.  I watch super-hero movies with the intense seriousness others would apply to doing their taxes.  I would rather have an in-depth conversation about golden age versus silver age Superman than spend five minutes on anything remotely adult.  Heck, I’m wearing Spider-Man underwear right now.

I never grew up, and because of that I also never emotionally matured.  I still have tantrums if I need a nap.  I still have secret crushes but get too scared to ask someone out.  Financial security eludes me because I will order a pizza rather than worry about my phone bill.  I’d rather put off doing dishes to watch Doctor Who.

Today, I wanted to stay home and sleep, but I had to grown-up and come here.  I’m glad I did, but my inner child missed being irresponsible and impulsive.  Adulting is hard.

But sometimes, I’m grateful that I haven’t grown up.  It’s my childishness that allows me to be joyful and optimistic, playful and creative.

I like being a kid at heart, and more and more I’m finding that balance, being an adult, but letting the kid out to play without guilt or shame.

My mother always wanted me to grow up.  But she was always angry and bitter at life.  I’d rather embrace my youthful spirit than to lose it.

Sincerely,

Little Bobby

Birthday Wish List

16 Nov

November 18 is my birthday, and though I don’t usually receive gifts, if anyone feels so inclined here are some gift suggestions:

A roll of quarters (for laundry and bus fare)

PVTA bus pass

Stop and Shop or Big Y gift card

A gift card for any place in Northampton that sells coffee

A pound of coffee

Cinemark gift card

Jeans (size 44 waist, 30 length)

Domino’s Pizza gift card

Cash

Sneakers (size 10 1/2)

Stan Lee

12 Nov

Image result for Stan Lee

Stan Lee loved a shared universe. Prior to 1961, comic book crossovers between series within the same company rarely happened. Team books like JSA and 7 Soldiers had team-ups of series leads but that never spilled over into individual titles. There was the one time that the JSA met Hop Harrigan, and that time the Sandman interacted with the Newsboy Legion and the Boys Commandos. Over in Marvel, we had the Human Torch fighting Sub-Mariner. Fawcett had a few rare team-ups as well outside the Marvel Family.

Image result for Human Torch fighting Sub-Mariner

In the 50s, Worlds Finest brought the worlds of Superman and Batman together, and that would sometimes spill over into other titles. And Adventure Comics played with some inter-series crossovers between Superboy, Green Arrow, and Aquaman. When pre-Marvel tried to bring back the Golden Age in the 50s, we got to see Cap meeting Human Torch and Sub-Mariner.

Image result for Worlds Finest

But then Stan Lee, tired of the same old comics, decided to quit. His wife convinced him that before he does that, he should try doing comics his way. Because of the success of the JLA for DC, Lee was able to put out his own super-hero team, the Fantastic Four, and it took off.

Image result for Fantastic Four

Creating realistic heroes with personalities that we can identify with, and placing them in a realistic city was just part of the appeal of what made the Marvel Silver Age great.

Image result for Marvel Silver Age

But Stan Lee had a wonderful opportunity of writing all the comics, and having placed them all in the same city. So having heroes team up (and fight, because we all love super-hero fights) because a regular thing. Even having characters make minor cameos, just because they happened to be in the neighborhood, was a thing, reminding us constantly that they all shared a single universe. Villains introduced in one series would make their way to another. Let’s face it, Doctor Doom was everyone’s enemy.

Image result for Doctor Doom was everyone's enemy.

Nowadays, the comic book shared universe is a given, so much so we don’t even count them as crossovers. But it was Stan Lee who normalized what had previously been a rare happening.

Image result for comic book shared universe

It’s not surprising then, that Marvel became such a well known cinematic universe. Granted, it’s not the first shared cinematic universe. We had the Universal Horror and the Toho Kaiju before. But the MCU, just like the MU before, took a rarity and created a trend. Now, everyone’s trying to create their own shared cinematic universe. DC’s doing it. Universal tried to do a revival. Hasbro has been working on one. But Marvel was able to start the trend now because they were able to do the same thing in comics then. And that’s because of Stan Lee.

Image result for MCU

There is a lot of controversy of course, regarding giving Lee all the credit for Marvel, and of course, I don’t give him all the credit. He had a bullpen full of other writers and artists who helped create the Marvel Universe. It wasn’t all Stan. But when it comes to the crossovers, to the creation of the Marvel Shared Universe, that, in my opinion, was mostly to the credit of Stan Lee.

Image result for kirby and marvel bullpen

And for me, as a crossoverist, I would have never gotten into crossovers if it weren’t for Marvel Team-Up, the Avengers, and other similar books that showed a young me the greatness of shared universes.


Image result for Marvel Team-Up