Friday, April 13, 2012

Maybe She Did Work A Day
But does she know what it means to hold a job?

Her husband has told us all she drives Cadillacs.

Her husband, by the way, made nearly half a million dollars a year in speaking fees – what he likes to call “not much” money. He also makes millions of dollars, maybe not every year but most, on investments.

She has worked, exerted effort. She raised children and volunteered in her community. However, she has not been compelled to fill out an IRS Form W-4 – that form one fills out when instructing an employer how much withholding tax to take out of her pay.

It may be wrong to say about this woman that she “never worked a day in her life.” But it is perfectly true that as an adult she never had to get a job. If she ever had to work overtime it was because she was tending to people she loved rather than foregoing time with people she loved. She never had to put up with a boss’s borderline abuse because she couldn’t jeopardize her paycheck or her children’s health insurance. If she needed a vacation she could afford a really nice one without worrying that she was using money the children would need for clothes when the next school year started.

She is a woman of privilege. She is not the person her husband should turn to for insights into the concerns of the vast majority of American women. For those multiple tens of millions of women control over their reproductive organs is very important. For them equal pay for equal work would make a huge difference. For them a car repair is a tougher choice than which Cadillac dealer to call and the color of the loaner car.

If her husband wants to lead us he better be getting advice from someone much closer to our reality than she is.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Worms
Inscrutable necessities

This morning's bike ride started shortly before the sun came into view over the hills between here and Purcellville. The calm dry air hardly moved. The dry pavement hinted at no overnight rain. A wonderful time to be pedaling.

And apparently the earthworms agreed with me: a great time to be on the road.

Thousands of earthworms had left their homes in the early morning hours and crawled onto the roads I often ride. Most of them were already desiccated* and had taken the twisted forms of commas, question marks and apostrophes - perhaps to punctuate my morning exercise. Others were still their squishy selves, crusted with road grit and struggling to get somewhere. A lucky few were flung from my tire onto various parts of the bike (and one onto me) for a somewhat quicker ride.

Okay, maybe they weren't really lucky, since each of these hitchhikers ended up dead, but let's face it: they were all going to die anyway.

Which makes me wonder: if they were going to die anyway, what the heck were they doing on a dry road in such numbers? I can imagine why a worm would come out of soggy rain-soaked dirt and find that a wet road is pretty comfortable. But what could possibly have driven so many worms out of the ground onto totally dry pavement.

Of course they didn't go to waste, except for the several still stuck to my bike and the one took off my shirt during breakfast. Crows have done a remarkable job of cleaning up the road.

*The Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists definition number 2 for desiccate as "to preserve (a food) by drying." I am thinking of the less culinary specific definition number 1, "to dry up."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Let's Honor the Troops With Accuracy
More foolishness on the internet

One of my Facebook friends, an artistic craftsperson with a generous spirit, recently posted a comment stating that the media has been overly absorbed by the late Whitney Houston and completely ignored a list of eleven names, "all Marines that gave their lives last month." He asked us all to repeat the post as a way of giving honor to the troops.

The post by my friend was studded with the " > " which often accompanies the body of a forwarded email, so I decided to look into it more carefully. So I did a Google search on the first name on the list: Justin Allen. I accepted Google's suggested refinement of "Justin Allen 23" which one could infer from my friend's original post was his age at the time of death.

The first item on the search results was a page at urbanlegends.about.com that mentioned exactly the same list of "Marines" being tacked onto a brief diatribe against Lindsay Lohan with a similar plea that we all copy the supposed tribute to the soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The date of the web page was September 26, 2010 - long before last month.

Like my Facebook friend I support our troops and encourage others to do so as well, even though my friend and I disagree on how best to manifest that support. However, I cannot help but think that eventually blindly copying and reposting inaccurate information will only hurt our cause.

Since the internet provides us with information so quickly we can take a moment to verify that what we repeat is true.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Analytics
Do more numbers matter?
Recently, tonight in fact, I heard about Google analytics which can be used to track the traffic to a website. At this point I have followed the directions to incorporate Google analytics to my blog, the one you are reading now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How Small Were We?

Last evening on the way home from the movie theatre my wife and I chose to stop at the Leesburg outlet center to see if Gymboree had restocked its shelves. The day before she had been to Gymboree hoping to find something for her two nieces (aged five and two) and two nephews (ten and eight years old). What she found were nearly empty shelves.

We found stocked shelves and only a few patrons – precisely what my mental health needs while Christmas shopping.

Not being a parent, children’s clothing has never been a priority for me. And though my varied travels have brought me in contact with a wide range of people, never among them anyone involved in designing children’s clothing. In fact, aside from recognizing that children usually don’t run around naked I’ve hardly thought of children's clothing over the fifty years since I stopped wearing it.

It turns out some of it is cute: little girls’ t-shirts that say “Sweet & SASSY” and chest-covering depictions of T-Rex on shirts for boys for instance. Now my mother would have died before letting my sister wear a “Sweet & SASSY” shirt even if “sassy” were in lower case or merely a footnote. And Hiroko wasn’t at all convinced that her ten-year old nephew would like a giant dinosaur on his clothes. I know she is wrong about this, but Christmas is no time to declaim that men come from Mars at a very young age.

But the real eye-opening discovery of my first ever trip to Gymboree was finding such small clothes. At one point I stood thunderstruck that a boy’s shoulders could fit in the narrow gap between the sleeves. Fold one of the little girl’s shirts once or twice and it would fit in a pocket. My hands, nothing noteworthy in my keyboard-using profession, looked huge over the seat of those empty blue jeans.

The young people wearing those little clothes are literally in our huge hands whether we be parents or Uncle and Auntie. Juxtaposing the power in our hands against the delicacy of those tiny bodies reinforces the responsibility to treat them with reverence. For within each of those small frames God has placed a delicate spirit depending upon us and preparing to shape our unfolding world.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cell Phone Sanity
Would this work?

I understand greed. I'm just not sure why we are so supportive of it.

We all want to talk on mobile phones. Many of us want to surf and do email on mobile devices. Some want to use Droids, some iPhones, some Blackberries. All of that is cool.

But why do we put up with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc, using our airwaves to provide competing services when we could have one system on which any manufacturer's phone could work. The carriers subsidize the phone purchase price to get us stuck with their service contracts, virtually none of which are understandable.

I'd rather have our taxes provide the service and let each of us choose which device suits our need - much the way we choose which cars to drive down the common highway.

Of course without Verizon Wireless and the others advertising heavily some other industry would have to pick up the tab for our TV shows. Maybe we can't win.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Prize Is Mine!

This year's award for the last yard mowed on our Street goes to me. I will spend the rest of this Easter Sunday basking in the good life that awaits me.

Even though I now work at home most days I have been assiduously avoiding yard work during the normal working hours. Do you think this was because I don't want anyone to see me working on the lawn when I should be in the office on the second floor? Nah, not really. It's because I just didn't want to do lawn work - perhaps a gift from Poe's imp of the perverse.

Over the past several weeks I've been in my office listening as a retired neighbor drove his lawn tractor around his yard cutting grass. The professional lawn service companies would come to other yards and work their magic. I'd hear their high-powered equipment droning. I'd give them a look through my street-facing window, and wonder if there was a chance in hell that they would come over and do my lawn also. That hasn't happened yet.

Finally on Wednesday evening the last neighbor with long over-the-winter grass got home early enough to ride his tractor over all of his yard. That meant that the prize was mine. All I had to do was mow my own lawn so that people would know that I wasn't dead or uninterested in the competition.

Today, Easter 2011, I rolled the Honda self-propelled mower from the garage, filled the tank and cut the grass.

My prize? You may be wondering what I won. A free at-home service call for my lawn mower? An azalea for that needs-something spot along the west side of the driveway? A glass of Gatorade?

No. There is no prize. In fact, there was no competition. I didn't attempt to win anything by taking so long to mow my lawn. I have just been too tired and lazy.

But having mown once in the season the next time will be (or at least seem to be) much less of an ordeal. Isn't that so often the case with those chores we put off over and over?