Friday, March 27, 2015

No Food For You

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of 'Swan Lake' performed by baby pigs.

While this is mostly a humor blog, I do sometimes feel the need to address ridiculousness that I see out in the world. Today is one of those days.

For months I have seen posts on Twitter, Facebook and even in the news about how those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding (more commonly referred to as food stamps) should have to pass a drug test to qualify.

At first blush to many I'm sure that that sounds like a fantastic idea. Sadly, that first blush would only last about .05 seconds before the negative effects of that kind of legislation would bring would begin to show themselves. So today your friendly neighborhood social worker is going to explain to you why drug testing for food stamps is not a grand idea!

Just to give you all a little background, I have worked with impoverished populations for my entire adult career, have helped the government perform studies on homelessness (I even wrote some of the parameters for state and federal programs) and am considered enough of an expert in my field that I have been asked to teach students (yes, your children) about poverty in the United States by both public and Christian schools. I've taught classrooms full of first graders and given lectures to university students.

I say all that so that I can say this; drug testing for benefits will cost the government an insane amount of money and won't actually punish the people who some (wrongly) feel need punishment. Here is why:

1. It's already been proven not to be effective at saving money. In fact Florida tried it. No really check it out. Out of the 4,068 people tested, only 2.6% tested positive for drugs (most of the positive results were for marijuana, not hard illicit drugs). The state spent over $118,000 dollars on the drug testing alone only to waste a majority of that money on people who, surprise, were not using their SNAP funding to buy drugs.

2. The government systems to run SNAP are already overloaded. In Washington state alone there is such a backlog on six-month checkups for food stamp recipients that now an automated system has been put in place with a lottery system to audit whether the check-ups have even been performed. This means that about one in twenty participants will be audited a year. Why? Because Washington State lacks the money to hire enough people to review each and every single case. 

DSHS is the largest government organization in Washington. So tell me, how much manpower are they going to have to hire to cover their current deficit plus this new drug testing program? In Spokane we don't have enough money to fix our pot holes in the road, you want money to check for every pot head? Good luck with that.

3. Drug addiction is a complicated matter. You don't cure someone from drug addiction by saying "No food for you!" You only make already desperate people more desperate. Want a higher crime rate? Deprive drug addicts of basic necessities and see what happens. You want fewer people to use drugs, how about we stop closing down treatment facilities that supposedly 'cost too much.'

4. A mass majority of food stamps and welfare recipients are not drug addicted fiends. You want to know the biggest demographics of SNAP users? It just so happens that the highest percentages are Caucasian, working families with children or with an elderly relative in the home. 

So implementing a system for a tiny minority that is using some form of drug that is going to cost extreme amounts of money is short sighted and ridiculous. Not to mention the amazing inconvenience we would, as a nation, be putting people through just to get one of their basic necessities met. It already can take six hours to do a six-month recertification, and we want to add a pee test to that?

5. Taking away food stamps, even from people who test positive for drugs, has the potential to take away food from a child. That's right, sometimes people who use drugs have kids, and those kids' only source of food is welfare. Yes, it sucks. Yes it's not right, but there it is. The majority of those who benefit from programs like SNAP and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) are children. 

So before we blindly hurrah behind the "I don't want my money going to addicts" rhetoric, let's think about the consequences and who we would actually be hurting. Answer: Mostly working families with kids and ourselves for wasting our own tax dollars.

As always I can be found on Facebook and Twitter and check out my books on Amazon

Friday, March 20, 2015

Living Dangerously

Hello everyone! I hope your weeks have been better than the thought of 1920's jazz performed on kazoo's!

So it has become apparent to me that not even the hallowed 'Halls of Justice' are immune from my abilities to attract the bizarre in the world.

This past week I had to go to court to file something for work, which happens on occasion when you're the head of security for a homeless shelter.

All I needed was a judge's signature on one document, and I would have been home free. Knowing that life rarely allows for the simplicity involved with "all you have to do is just..." I had brought my trusty book.

It was a good thing I did so, because getting that one little dash of ink took nearly three hours. For my part, I was just dandy. I had my copy of "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" and this was the closest thing to a break I'd had from my crazy life in days.

There was this adorable little, very flamboyantly gay, court assistant who whisked back documents to the judge with flair. He greeted everyone with, "Why, hello there! Isn't today just a peachy day to be in court!?" 

With my book and no clients to tell to stop licking the walls, I thought so.

I was only two pages into my book when I heard a small disruption. By 'small disruption' I mean I watched someone run into a bench, apologize to it, then plunk down on the same bench with all the grace of a pregnant hippo.

There was a cloud of rum that wafted in my direction as the court assistant approached the person, who was suffering from the depressing side effects of living like a Jimmy Buffet song. The attendant almost choked on the smell coming from this man as he asked, "What can we... urp... help you with sir?"

The man blearily looked at him and said, "I's supposed ta come ta this here court room today..."

"What for?"

"I got dis bull DUI charge... I wanna give the jug a piece of my mind..."

Everyone in the room blinked at the inebriated gentleman as the court assistant blinked rapidly, "Well... umm... sir, you're in the wrong place, sweetie. You need to go next door to traffic court, okay?"

The drunk guy narrowed his eyes trying to decipher the words that had been offered to him. Finally something clicked and he shoved himself to his feet and staggered out the door.

The assistant fanned the air that the man had just vacated and went about his business saying, "Good luck with that case."

I returned to reading my book and made it a whole three more pages when the courtroom doors opened again and someone plopped in the chair next to me.

He was sixteen, with a round face and all the acne that an awkward teenage experience could provide. How do I know he was sixteen? Because he had his license out and in his hand and I could read his birth date. 

Now keep in mind I was wearing my security uniform that read, "SECURITY" in giant letters.

I kept reading my book, only acknowledging his sitting right next to me, in a room with thirty other empty chairs, with a slight nod of my head.

"So what are you here for?"

I kept my book open as I replied, "Work."

"What do you do?"

I pointed at the giant lettering on my shirt and said, "I'm the head of security for a homeless shelter."

Now, I'd like to think this would have made most people pause for a second and contemplate their future word choice. Nope, he was obviously too young to have learned that lesson yet. The tyke next to me said, "You're cute. Do you like dangerous men?"

I didn't respond, turning a page in my book and continuing on my Sherman Alexie adventure. Unfazed he blundered on, "Because I'm here for a ticket. I drove 50 in a 35 mile zone."

I blew out a sigh, "Yesterday I had someone at work try to jump over a bench to punch someone in the face. Driving slightly above the speed limit doesn't make you dangerous, that makes you mildly annoying. Also I'm twenty-five."

The court assistant, who had been helping a woman a few chairs down from mine, heard the entire exchange. The kid sitting next to me told the assistant, "I thought she was like, eighteen."

The adorable court assistant smiled and said, "Awwww... Kid, work on your lines. Also, you need to go one courtroom over for traffic court."

So what lessons can be pulled from the docket of experience?

1. Arriving drunk to contest a DUI charge is perhaps not the best plan of action.

 2. If your idea of 'danger' is driving fifteen miles above the speed limit, I might suggest not trying your hand at becoming an international spy.

3. Apparently the guards at the front doors of the court building do not check or care if someone walks in drunk or stupid to their court date, but heaven help you if you're wearing boots with metal lacing holes.

In other news, "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" received another 5 star review! Reader BookNoseRose writes, "This book is SO FUNNY! I loved Ms. Hawn's first book and this one is just as good! Definitely pick it up if you need a laugh!"

Remember, reviews save authors! 

Don't forget to follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and check out my books on Amazon.

Friday, March 13, 2015

And the Winner Is...

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a hundred-thousand gerbils running through Central Park to the tune of Queen's Don't Stop Me Now.

Well, for those of you waiting with bated (or non-bated) breath, the results of the contest are in! Thank you everyone who voted on Facebook, it was pretty close between a couple there right at the end.

The title of my third book, if I can ever get it off the ground, will be "Life is a Roller Derby Run by a Sphinx!"

Out of the 50 or so people who voted, I also drew a random name for a signed copy of "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" and that person is Kendra Wisenbaker!

So congratulations to Kendra Wisenbaker! Thank you all again for participating in my 'moment of indecision' contest! 

For future rad contests don't forget to come check me out on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and check out my books on Amazon.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Struggle Is Real... A Little Help?

Hello all, I hope you have all had more fantastic weeks than the thought of Emma Stone smacking Glenn Beck in the face with a fish.

Full confession: One of the biggest struggles I have as an author is coming up with titles. How difficult is it for me to title something?

Well, I have written an entire book (which is in editing phases right now) and have yet to title it. It is currently sitting on my computer literally labeled, "Book 3, You Should Probably Rename This At Some Point."

Keeping in the theme of the first two books, "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" and "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor," I want the title to mesh with those. To that end I have come up with, "Life is a ______ Run by a Sphinx."

Now, here is where you all come in. I have come up with three options with which to fill that blank; Library, Speakeasy and Roller Derby.

I have decided to let the public decide which of the three they would like to see on the cover of my next book! To have your Democratic say, all you have to do is vote here!

What's in it for you? Aside from knowing that you're helping to take the pressure off of my shoulders, I will be giving away one signed copy of "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" to one of the voters. Now to be entered in this contest you not only need to vote, but you need to like the contest post pinned to the top my Facebook page, so that I know that you voted.

That's all there is to it, vote and then like and you're entered!

Speaking of "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor," it got another 5 star review this week from reader Anna Burke who writes, "... A well-written, entertaining book that you should have on hand after one of those days at the office, on the road, in a line at the grocery store, trying to talk sense into a teenager or your boss..."

Read the full review here.

Don't forget to take part in the contest on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Amazon.

Friday, February 27, 2015

I Broke Mental Health

Hello everyone, I hope you're all having a more splendid week than the thought of "Cats" the musical performed by wallabies.

This week there was another 5* review for "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus!" Amazon reader Eclectic wrote, "You cannot be in a funk when reading this book! Allison Hawn's deliciously wicked prose will make you laugh until your sides ache."

See the full review here!

For those of you just tuning in, I am the head of security for a very large homeless shelter. How large? We see roughly between 250 to 650 people a day.

My job is basically to keep a round lid of calm on a square box of chaos. A couple weeks back I had to put my lid-fitting skills to the absolute test.

I had just opened the doors to the shelter, letting our usual breakfast crowd in, when one man wandered through, catching my attention. Now keep in mind he was competing for my notice that morning with someone came in dressed as a pony and another one who came in with a pot on his head.

Barefoot, wearing pants that he had most certainly recently peed in, he was wandering through our day room levitating his hands over sleeping peoples' heads and muttering. Worried that he might end up with a fist in his face, I wandered over and said, "Hey! You're a new face, what's your name?"

 "Jesus Christ."

It was at that moment that I knew I wouldn't get a chance to finish my first cup of coffee for the day and I might as well throw out the idea of getting anything else productive done.

I blinked at him a little and said, "Alright Mr. Christ, what are you doing?"

His hands hovered over a sleeping patron, "I'm healing them."

"Can we wait until they're awake to heal them? How about we let them sleep, okay? Let's get you a doughnut."

Eventually I was able to convince him, in all his majestic glory, to go sit down long enough for one of the staff members at the shelter to provide him with a doughnut. He held the doughnut in his hands, looked at us, then held it above his head and said, "I will feed all the hungry with this!"

Our first miracle of the day was that, as he crumbled the doughnut into crumbs and began flinging it everywhere to 'multiply' it, none of our other patrons threw punches back.

The entire day, our visitor was insistent that he was in fact Jesus Christ and refused to respond to anything else. We tried J.C., Buddy, Buckaroo... apparently he was dead set on being our savior, which we soon found out had some odd rituals with it.

Never in my life would I have dreamed that one day I would have to yell things like, "Jesus, you have to wear pants!" and, "No, Jesus, we don't try to lick people!"

Eventually, it got to the point where the staff collectively decided that he was really a danger to himself. Okay, he wasn't a danger to himself, he was a danger to others becoming a danger to himself. This meant that it was time to call on our trusty friends at the local mental health crisis response center.

This is how that conversation went:

Mental Health Crisis Response: "Crisis Response, what can we help you with?"

Me: "Well, we have a guy here who is claiming to be Jesus Christ who is persistently trying to heal people who are sleeping, refuses to put socks or shoes on and has now peed himself twice. We could use an Mental Health Professional."

MHCR: *Silence, that was then broken by uncontrollable laughter* I'm... *snicker* sorry... Can I get the individuals first and last name?"

Me: First name: Jesus, Last name: Christ. He won't give us any other name and this morning he called me a harlot for not allowing him to exorcise a demon from our piano.

MHCR: *Laughing* "Can I get a date of birth?"

Me: "I don't know!? 12/25/0 AD-ish? The guy just tried to multiply a doughnut by crumbling it into bits and throwing it into the air, he's not really into giving out useful info right now."


Me: "Are we okay over there?"

MHCR: *Absolute belly shaking laughter* "Sorry! I fell out of my chair! We'll send some MHP's to your *snicker snicker snicker* location!"

I officially managed to break mental health crisis response. After a while they came to take him to where he could be analyzed, at which point he tried to start a 'tickle-fight' with the escorting police officers.

So the next time I have people at my apartment door asking if I've heard the good news, I'm going to tell them that the good news is currently being evaluated by professionals for several delusion disorders.

Have you heard any good news lately?

Don't forget to follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and check out my books on Amazon

Friday, February 20, 2015

10 Reasons You Should Date A Girl Who Lifts

Hello all! I hope your weeks have all been better than the thought of a thousand gerbils tap dancing to Cake's "The Distance!"

This week Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor received another five star review! Amazon reader Eclectic wrote, "I have never laughed so hard while reading..." 

Thanks for the awesome review Eclectic! 

Remember, save an author, write a review! 

So I have seen a million posts about why you should date girls who do yoga. Okay, so maybe not a literal million, but I have had seventeen different ones pop up on my Facebook home page in the past week.

I have also seen five 'why you should date' articles for girls who dance, seven who spin and four for girls who zumba.

You know what, not every girl does the stereotypical 'girl' workouts. So in response, here are 10 reasons why you should date a girl who lifts weights.

1. Girls who weight lift are in it for the long haul. 

 Weight lifters know that anything worth anything takes hard work and patience.

We understand that there will be plateaus where nothing seems to be improving. We understand that sometimes something needs to change in our routine to get where we want to be. We understand the idea of working hard and having patience to reach goals.

Dating a weight lifter means you have someone who already has the dedication to make something hard (which, let's be honest, relationships are hard) work.

2. We can open our own stupid jars...

...And move our own furniture, and help you paint that shed and get all the groceries in the house in one trip.

This doesn't mean that we won't ask for your help if we need it, it just means there are a thousand little tasks that you're less likely to be asked to deal with and more things you're likely to get help with.

3. We eat like normal human beings.

Do I want just a salad and half a Saltine cracker? Heck no! I just did 105 pound cleans and 300 pound squats! I want protein! To the chicken teriyaki hut we go!

4. Say what you want about yoga practitioner's flexibility and spinner's abs, weight lifters have all the booty.

Between the barbell squats, the deadlifts, leg presses, the goblet squats, the calf raises... we have the most toned legs and tushes you could imagine. We make pairs of jeans happy that we're wearing them.

5. We are totally fine if you want a day here or there to spend on the couch, because in all likeliness we will need that day too.

Worried about dating someone who will never let you have a day to be a sloth? There will definitely be days where all we want to do is order a pizza, lay on the couch and let our muscles recover as we binge watch Netflix.

6. We aren't overly competitive.

We aren't going to feel threatened by your mother, sister, random casual female friend. Weight lifting is all about being in competition with yourself, pushing yourself to that next level and encouraging those around to do the same. We don't have time for petty comparisons with other people.

7. We're naturally ambitious, but not going to set ourselves up for failure.

"I'm going to be able to lat pull 175 by the end of this year, even though I can only do 120 right now," pretty easily translates into, "I'm going to work myself into that manager promotion."

We set attainable goals and then work our butts off to get them. None of this, "I'm going to set some incredibly impossible goal, not really put in the necessary effort and then whine and moan when it doesn't happen," crap.

8. We always have chocolate milk available. 

 What better quick protein recovery source for post-lifting is there?

9. We're excellent at mental math. 

Need to quickly add in increments? Easy. Converting kg to pounds? No problem. Finding rough percentages? We can do it in our sleep. Need that tip calculated? No problem.

10. We know how to parcel out our time. 

You can't spend too much time on legs and not enough on shoulders. You can't ignore your chest in favor of only back exercises all week long. Weight lifters know how to spend good time on all important aspects of life without ignoring anything.

My fellow lady (and guy) lifters, what other reasons would you say you're datable? 

Don't forget, if you want to follow my strange brand of crazy I can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@Allison Hawn) and my books can be found on Amazon!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Just Call Me Sherlock

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a week that was more fantastic than the thought of the Mutant Ninja Turtles performing Prince's "Kiss!"

Well this week I ended up with a bit of a mystery on my hands. Oh if only I had had a group of teen super-sleuths in a psychedelically painted van to help me! 

Sadly, I was Scooby and Shaggy-less.

It all started when I was pinned to my bed over the weekend by a migraine. I was lying there, attempting not to hate life quite as much, when I heard a crash from my kitchen. The sound was quickly followed by a series of frantic sounding thuds and a couple of thumps to boot.

Now, at this point, I have two suspects for you all: Voodoo and Santeria.

Sinister looking, aren't they?

Voodoo and Santeria are the three and seven pound, respectively, balls of fur and claws that currently reside in my apartment. Out of the two of them, Santeria is usually my trouble maker. If you need proof check below:

That is a basket of clean laundry that she is rolling around in making sure that she gets as much of her kitty hair on it as possible. Her other hobbies include: diving head first into bowls of cereal, stealing and hiding my glasses and toilet papering me while I'm asleep.

Therefore, it was my conclusion that whatever had just occurred in my kitchen, probably had something to do with the cat with the serious rap sheet.

But then, plot twist, Voodoo sauntered in and hopped up on my bed dressed like this:

With a Safeway bag flowing behind her like a cape and a look on her little face that said, "Whatever, I'm fabulous!" I began to suspect that Voodoo may have been involved.

In trying to remove the bag (which she was most insistent on wearing) I also found that she smelled like various things I had thrown away in my trash can earlier that day. With my powers of deduction fully employed, I believe I caught my culprit.

Her sentence for her crime? The loss of her cape and the dreaded bath.

This is a cautionary tale for all you young readers. Remember, crime doesn't pay. At the very least, you will lose your cape and have to take a bath.

As always, feel free to follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and don't forget to check out my books on Amazon!