Saturday, January 24, 2015

Expat creates new lip-color line

Expat writer and makeup artist Rob Hensley has a new project for you makeup fans--organic, handcrafted lip colors.

Hensley on the benefits of some of the natural ingredients:
Cocoa Butter acts as a protective barrier by supplying and retaining moisture in the lips and skin. Cocoa butter also contains antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, which can help slow the signs of aging. 
Coconut oil is amazing for the lips. While it helps to reduce skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, it also softens the skin and relieves dryness and flaking. Applied topically it helps to prevent wrinkles, saggy skin and age spots. 
Beeswax is very moisturizing, can help protect the lips from the harmful rays of the sun, and has a pleasant smell. It can also help prevent infections and cold sores.
The two lip colors seem to be the first in Hensley's line of organic, handmade cosmetics. $15 gets you a little .35-ounce pot of color--which, according to the website, is more product than designer-brand lip colors for half the price. And natural ingredients are great. I have yet to try these, but I do use all-natural lip balms with cocoa butter and I'll never buy any other kind of balm ago, that's how soft and smooth they make my lips. Now imagine that moisture paired with color.

Order now, and use the promo code "PREORDER" for free shipping until March 1.

Friday, January 23, 2015

On today's episode of "Dumb Lawsuits"

A woman who rear-ended a car after it hit a horse while leaving the fair this summer is suing fair organizers and the horse's owner for $50,000.

The horse got spooked during the fair's fireworks and ran in front of an SUV, sending it through the windshield and killing it.

The woman's injuries from the accident include "fractures to her ribs and right foot, lung trauma, nerve damage and bruising."

This is unfortunate for everyone--people got hurt and an animal was killed. But to sue, especially for the reasons cited, is ridiculous.
The fair association failed to warn horse owners of the need to restrain their animals during the discharge of fireworks, the lawsuit contends. It lacked fencing to confine the animals to the fairgrounds, had no safe area to confine horses and failed to supervise horse owners. 
Wilson, whose horse died when it was thrown into the SUV's windshield, should have known “that fireworks were scheduled to be set off at the fairgrounds at the time of the incident,” according to the lawsuit. 
The Scottdale man was negligent for failing to confine the animal to a trailer or other secure area, and for allowing it to leave the fairgrounds and run onto the highway, Balzarini contends.
First of all, let's address the injuries. Obviously, I wasn't there and I can't say anything for sure, but I do find it interesting that it's at least implied she sustained worse injuries than the family who had a horse go through their windshield--and they didn't sue. I just wonder how fast one has to be driving to get such injuries from rear-ending an SUV, although the sudden stop due to a horse collision could admittedly be a factor.

But speaking of rear-ending, as far as insurance companies are concerned, that's always the fault of the driver, under the reasoning that they should be under control of their vehicle--although I'm sure being behind an SUV that just hit a horse makes that difficult.

Now, the fair failing to warn owners makes some sense, although I'm not sure anyone expected this kind of reaction from an animal or that it's grounds for a lawsuit. The fencing and confinement area? I'm not so sure. Aside from the parking lot, the grounds are pretty enclosed, right?

That "failed to supervise horse owners" bit is where it starts to really lose me. Because, you know, horse owners totally need babysat by fair organizers. I mean, it's not like they're, uh, horse owners who presumably know how to care for their animal or anything. This is just treating horse owners like irresponsible children who can't be trusted.

Which I guess makes sense considering the rest of the lawsuit, which says the owner should've known the fireworks were scheduled. I'm not so sure someone needs to keep track of fair events they're not involved in, and I highly doubt the man knew this would happen, because otherwise...he would've had the horse confined and gotten the hell out of there, like the lawsuit says. Man, it's like they went through a list of hypotheticals and picked out anything they could call a misstep and decided to blame both parties for basically the same things.

I mean, this guy obviously totally should've known better, right? First he fails to check the schedule, then he fails to confine his horse! Because, you know, horses appearing at a county fair are always confined at all times. They're never let out for events or anything. Nope.

But my favorite part? That he "allow[ed] it to leave the fairgrounds and run onto the highway." Because when you've got a scared horse running erratically away from the fair and toward a road, you're absolutely in control in that moment and are allowing the horse to behave that way.

Look, I'm no horse expert. I haven't been on or near a horse, for the most part, since, like, pony rides at a party when I was little or something. But I've been around--and chased down--enough animals to know that at a certain point, it's out of your hands and the best you can do is pray and catch up. And this situation was probably out of the owner's hands the second that horse got scared and bolted, so to insinuate the actions of his horse--an animal--are somehow his fault because he "allowed it" to do something is absurd. It's right up there with people who mess with wild animals then get bit--the animals are doing what they do.

It's unfortunate that this woman got hurt, and medical bills are expensive and insurance companies blow. But these things are called "accidents" for a reason. Let's not go trying to lay the blame everywhere we possibly can find--er, create it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We're moving up in the world

After some hassle getting it going, we're gonna be getting a Dick's Sporting Goods and a Hobby Lobby!

There's a crude joke dick joke involving Hobby Lobby's disapproval of letting their employees choose their birth control buried in there somewhere, I'm just too sleepy to think of it.

And in case you missed it, we're getting a Five Guys, too! That's the real thing to be excited about here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The solution to our drug problem?

We're all quite familiar with the County's drug problem, whether through anecdotes about only a handful of job applicants being able to pass a drug test to numerous stories of fake prescriptions to Facebook fury insisting welfare recipients be drug tested. HeraldStandard.com even ran a series of short documentaries on the drug problem. One recovering addict told his story, while police and emergency responders discussed well-known problem areas and referred to the issue as a "epidemic."

I've been saying for a few years I feel one of the keys to solving Fayette County's problems is in treating drug abusers as addicts rather than criminals, because arresting an addict doesn't end the addiction. I have a relative with a drug problem who's been in and out of jail my entire life for drugs, and clearly if we're dealing with 25+ years of a problem, we haven't found a solution.

Beyond that, a drug abuser has committed a victimless crime. Yes, addiction hurts the addict and their loved ones and some drug abusers commit other crimes to fuel their habit (or maybe even sparked by the habit), but the actual act of taking a drug directly harms no one but the user. The time, money, and manpower dedicated to addicts could be far better spent on violent criminals--people who are directly harming other people, and I'm sure we're all quite aware we have plenty of those, too.

Fayette County isn't the first county to have a drug problem, and it won't be the last. But other areas in the country are ahead of us in terms of actually solving their drug problems.

Some states and counties are using drug courts, and some have been doing so for years. Successfully.

Take Georgia, for example, which has established "accountability courts," including treatment-focused drug courts. They explain it best:
The mission of drug courts is to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs and related criminal activity. Drug courts offer a compelling choice for individuals whose criminal justice involvement stems from AOD use: participation in treatment. In exchange for successful completion of the treatment program, the court may dismiss the original charge, reduce or set aside a sentence, offer some lesser penalty, or offer a combination of these.  
Drug courts transform the roles of both criminal justice practitioners and AOD treatment providers. The judge is the central figure in a team effort that focuses on sobriety and accountability as the primary goals. Because the judge takes on the role of trying to keep participants engaged in treatment, providers can effectively focus on developing a therapeutic relationship with the participant. In turn, treatment providers keep the court informed of each participant's progress so that rewards and sanctions can be provided.  
Drug courts create an environment with clear and certain rules. The rules are definite, easy to understand, and most important, compliance is within the individual's control. The rules are based on the participant's performance and are measurable. For example, the participant either appears in court or does not, attends treatment sessions or does not; the drug tests reveal drug use or abstinence. The participant's performance is immediately and directly communicated to the judge, who rewards progress or penalizes noncompliance. A drug court establishes an environment that the participant can understand--a system in which clear choices are presented and individuals are encouraged to take control of their own recovery. 
Now, I'd like prefer it if counselors played a more central role as opposed to judges. That said, the drug courts are effective.

In Georgia, for example, 29% of prison inmates with addiction issues committed another crime within two years of their release, while only 7% of those who completed drug court re-offended--and 77.6% of those who enrolled completed it. Drug courts are cheaper, too, operating at $20 a day as opposed to $51 for prison. Finally, it's estimated that drug court saved the state $14 million in 2009.

I focus on Georgia's drug courts only because theirs were the first I've heard of. Pennsylvania does have some drug courts, but I haven't found much data. However, one study of the use of drug courts in Pennsylvania--which includes neighboring Washington County--did find they saved money, and all counties reported success stories of reformed drug users who were able to turn their lives around. But funding is also a crucial factor, although former governor Corbett did support expanding that funding.

Like everything, drug courts aren't perfect. Opponents cite the difficulty of the program and harsh sentences for relapses, as well as the percentage of enrollees who don't complete them. But if we look at Fayette County, we need a solution, and drug courts are a good start--especially when our current resources for addicts are little more than methadone clinics and lists of treatment centers.

I strongly believe drug courts could be a step in the right direction for us, especially when they're saving money and, most importantly, lives. And as citizens who are well-aware of the problem, I urge you to take action, as I plan to.

You can contact the county commissioners here by clicking on their names below their pictures. I know we're all frustrated with those commissioners, so because of that and the importance of state funding for the programs to be successful, I also encourage you to contact newly minted Governor Wolf.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Police need help finding county's biggest d-bag of the year (so far)

Police are asking for help identifying a man who stole a donation jar from an A-Plus Mini Mart.
Police said the man left the store and entered an older, dark blue Dodge Neon covered with mud. The license plate may include the letters JKD, police said.  
Information may be reported anonymously to the city police or to Fayette County Crime Stoppers.
Worst of all, the donation jar was to benefit Fayette Friends of Animals. I'm sure they could use the help, so if you'd like to donate, click here for their list of needed items and information on how to make a financial donation.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kickstart the Nam: Captain Fancy Stache's Handmade Jerky

My friend's brother--and both of them are Geibel grads, despite not being Fayettenamese or expats--is setting out to bring his tasty, handmade beef jerky to the masses. At least I assume it's tasty. I'm a vegetarian, so I wouldn't actually know, but I do know Dom is a butcher and solid human with the cutest baby to pop up on a regular basis in my Facebook feed.

So why not back Captain Fancy Stache's Handmade Jerky? And honestly, don't try to tell me y'all don't love jerky.

And if you know of any locals (or expats) diving into the world of crowdfunding, send them my way and I'll give them a post on the blog.

Now give Dom your money!


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Uniontown considers discipline for "I can't breathe" shirts

From the Trib:
Uniontown Area School District officials are examining how to respond to members of the girls high school basketball team who wore controversial T-shirts onto the court before a game this week, according to school directors. 
The girls wore shirts during warmups that read, "I can't breathe," along with about 15 people in the stands. The phrase is the last words of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in New York over the summer after being placed in a banned chokehold by police during an arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes. A grand jury decided not to indict Garner's killer, Daniel Pantaleo, last month and he is still employed by the NYPD, sparking numerous protests across the country.
“I just don't think that was the time and place for such a political stunt,” Director Susan Clay said Thursday.  
No, it probably wasn't and the girls were out of uniform, but the girls have every right to express themselves, which is why I support more recent news reporters indicating officials decided against taking disciplinary action. I was once a teenager with strong opinions, and I remember how frustrating it was to feel dismissed to to my age. These girls found a platform, and they used it. Good for them, I say.

Also, this:
“I believe in freedom of speech. That's all this is,” [spectator Harlan Davis] said of the girls' decision to wear the shirts. “It's not only about the girls. The reason is bigger than them.”
Tina Tucker, who was wearing the shirt, said the purpose was not to show disrespect for anyone, including police officers, but to pay homage to the memory of Garner.  
“It's to pay homage to a man, his family and what's going on in the world,” Tucker said. “It's a whole movement.” 
I do love the Trib's take on Garner's arrest, though:
The words were the last spoken by Eric Garner, 43, an unarmed black man who was resisting arrest and put in a neckhold by police.
A...neckhold? What a nice way to describe a man being choked to death by a cop after repeatedly saying he couldn't breathe--accounts say 11 times before he went limp and died--and didn't receive medical attention for another seven minutes afterward.