Tuesday, February 28, 2006

wisdom of the child

My son asked me this morning why the work week is 5 days. Why can't it be 3 days, he wanted to know. Hmmmmm. I see his point. Why can't it be 4 days? and not 4 10-hour days, either. Why can't the work week be 32 hours? I could understand if there weren't enough people to do all the work that needs doing. But there is no shortage of people that want work and can't find it.

In talking with people, I notice that folks are universally tired, overburdened, wishing they had more time. Maybe we need a super-union, to lobby for all of us. We don't want to harm productivity, or hurt the bottom line. We just want to be fully functioning human beings. Maybe we would be more productive if we weren't over-stressed. Maybe we would be better to each other.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I've got it bad and that ain't good

The last thing I expected at this point in my life -- baby fever -- has struck again. I think its because my body is slowly gearing down the baby making machinery. All I know is every picture of a baby, every glimpse on a TV screen, is giving me that familiar tug. I know that this is a bad bad idea. I know that the rational part of me does NOT want another child. But. Still.

I have successfully battled this before. It helps that my husband wants no part of the idea. He adores our son, and thinks one child is the perfect number. I agree, but my body is disagreeing with me. Hopefully I can avoid any actual infants for a month or two until this passes. If I don't hold one in my arms, I should be able to resist.

I've got it bad, and that ain't good.

Friday, February 24, 2006

good things

You know, life is really full of good things. I tend to focus on the bad stuff, because it's easier to notice what's wrong, and harder to put a finger on what's right. I believe that this is biologically hard-wired. For us to survive, we must quickly respond to the negative (hunger, thirst, danger, pain). Responding to the positives may improve quality of life, but it's rarely as urgent.

So a bad day at work may occupy all my thoughts, when I don't even notice that I came home to a wonderful husband and a terrific kid. I have a good job that pays well, but I notice that it doesn't pay well enough.

Experience and effort can trump biology. I can turn my focus, if I really want to, and if enough experience shows me its the right thing to do. I can appreciate the good things, and sit back and enjoy what is

Monday, February 20, 2006

life altering cash

I read today that someone won the $365 million dollar Powerball lottery. 1 single winner. It got me thinking about what a "life altering" amount of cash would be. Oddly, its not much. My life would change dramatically with $150,000. That would pay for the next six years of my son's tuition. It would free me to take a lower paying job if I wanted to, or travel more, or buy a vacation home. My life would change dramatically with $75,000. Same thing. I would only have to pay half the tuition each year, freeing up $12,500 for travel, home improvements, a slew of dinners out and movies seen.

could I alter my life with $40,000? Hell yes. could I alter it with $20,000? hell, yes.

Now, could I alter it with no more cash? If I really think about it, the answer has to be yes. I could alter my life as dramatically with no cash, as with cash. The money just makes the transformation easier.

food for thought.

Friday, February 17, 2006

arguably, allegedly and other waffles

People are afraid of making declarative statements. We now have phrases like "arguably the best", which really means nothing. If you think something is the best, just say so. Some folks will disagree, some won't. We now say "alleged" criminal, even when the person has confessed, or been caught red-handed. Are we that afraid of being sued? or of being wrong?

We are taking the teeth out of our language, and we are stripping true meaning from our discourse. We say "collateral damage" when we mean more stuff got destroyed than we aimed for. "Mistakes were made", not "I screwed up".

We can't even apologize properly anymore. What happened to "it's my fault" or "I'm sorry"? I don't think "if anyone was offended, that was not my intent" even vaguely resembles an apology. If you did something wrong, step up to the plate and admit it, and accept responsibility for it.

I swear I'm going to make t-shirts that say "Just Say It".

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Seeking Grace

Grace has a number of definitions. It can mean "a disposition toward kindness and compassion". It can mean "a sense of propriety and consideration for others". It can mean "elegance and beauty of movement and expression".

I think this week I am striving for grace. It is a quality much underappreciated, I think. When Michelle Kwan pulled out of the Olympics, her reasons embodied grace more fully than she has ever done on the ice.

I have always been a thoroughly ungraceful person, lumbering through life rather than gliding. But I think I can live in a graceful way.

I can try, anyway.

Monday, February 13, 2006

my week for learning stuff

This is my week for learning stuff.

Things like:
  • you are never too old to want a snow day
  • lots of snow is infinitely better than a little snow
  • no one can make you feel better, or worse, than your kid
  • ...except sometimes, your spouse
  • laying around doing nothing makes you hungry
  • ...for chips and cookies
  • the olympics can be amazing, if you ignore the announcers
  • living within walking distance of stores and restaurants is good
  • nobody looks good in snow gear
  • ...no one I actually have met
  • don't go hunting with Dick Cheney

Friday, February 10, 2006

let them eat cake

Today's subject is Tort Reform. My disclaimer -- I am a leftie, a liberal with a capital 'L'. That said, let's start with a few assumptions:

  • you have the right to pursue happiness. This does not guarantee that you attain it
  • the universe is not always fair
  • the courts do not exist to "even it up"
  • nothing guarantees you the right to move through your life unoffended

It seems to me that one of the biggest issues facing this country is tort reform. Or you could state it as "our propensity to sue", whichever floats your boat. We all bear the burden, every single day, of a broken system. When you sue because you slipped in the grocery store, everyone's grocery costs go up. When you sue the doctor because your child has a birth defect, we all pay higher medical bills. When you sue McDonald's because your coffee burned you, or sue the toy company because your 3 year old stuck a marble up their nose, we all pay. Not just monetarily, but in all kinds of ways that we bump into every day. Schools drop programs for fear of lawsuits. Playgrounds cost 3 times as much to build because they have to meet ultra-stringent safety regulations. Beaches close to the public because there are no funds for a lifeguard. A needed drug doesn't come to market because .01% of the people that took it in the trials had serious problems. Professors can't teach certain things, or say certain things because one group or another might be offended.

Bad things happen, sometimes to perfectly nice people. If your child is the one that stuck the marble up their nose, I'm sorry for you. It was probably embarassing and frightening for you. Next time you will probably watch your child more carefully. But the toy manufacturer doesn't owe you anything because of it. If you spilled hot coffee on your lap and burned yourself, that's unfortunate. Be more careful next time. The company that sold you the coffee doesn't owe you anything.

When you sue because a bad thing shouldn't have happened to you, you are not "sticking it to the man", you are not "winning one for the little guy". You are picking each and every one of our pockets. You are guaranteeing less choice and less freedom for all of us.

I am not saying that all lawsuits are bad. There are times when it is essential to sue, and we should always have that right. The workplace is a much safer place because of lawsuits. Suing Phillip Morris for intentionally making their cigarettes more addictive, for intentionally targeting underage consumers, for hiding results of research that showed the dangers of their products, was necessary. Suing to desegragate the schools was a brave, difficult act that set in motion a whole host of positive changes.

I am saying that reform is necessary to stop frivolous suits. If 9 out of 10 people think the suit doesn't pass the smell test, throw it out. If a nine year old can't see the logic of it, there isn't any. If the suit is meant to place fault where there is none, drop it. Find some way to limit awards to actual damages. If there is a need for something punitive, require action, not dollars, to make amends.

We need a change. Think about it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I'm seriously worried. I've been watching HGTV as lot lately, especially househunters. That's odd, sure, but not what has me bothered. It's that even the couples just starting out, the ones with very little money, are looking for spa tubs and granite counters and all the other "features" of the lifestyle they clearly cannot afford. Its the same thing that drives poor high school students to go to extremes to rent a Hummer limo for the prom , that drives parents to spend more on a pair of sneakers than some of them earn in a week.

We long ago moved past the point where people were happy to have a job, a roof over their heads and food on the table. Now we want BLING. Diamonds and gold and more cars than we can drive. Houses that could easily house 3 families, not one. $400 shoes, $1500 watches, $150 bottles of champagne.

Everybody wants to be a rock star, a celebrity, a star athlete. Nobody wants to be a teacher, a plumber, a car mechanic. Everyone wants FABULOUS . And feels entitled to it. They deserve the lifestyle they crave.

And when they have it, they will want more. Its all driven by stuff, and stuff is rarely satisfying for long. If I get a diamond and love it, how long before I see a bigger, better diamond and want that? A new car is awesome, but then a new model comes out and its better, and suddenly my car doesn't look so good.

No answers today, just unease....

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

mom moments

I am under specific instructions to never talk about my son. These instructions, of course, come from my son. Apparently he lives in fear that I will embarass him by hinting that he hasn't always been the mature eleven year old he is now, or I might reveal what he likes or doesn't like, or indicate that we are related in some way.

I have always had a hard time following instructions. Especially now. I am having lots more MOM highs and MOM lows recently. My son recently told me, unprompted mind you, that no one could have a better mom than he does. He wasn't in trouble, and he didn't even want anything. I felt like I won the Nobel prize.

On the other hand, he made me turn off the radio again when we got to school this morning. We usually have to sit in the car outside school for 5-10 minutes in the morning, waiting for the doors to open. He is apparently deathly afraid that someone might hear me sing along with the radio, or god forbid, see me move with the music. Even with the windows rolled up, and tinted glass.

I know my parents were a huge embarassment to me. But, well, they're embarassing. I'm one of the cool moms. Right?

Friday, February 03, 2006

late night calls

Last night the phone rang. At 2 AM. Thank GOD it was a wrong number. Calls at 2AM cannot possibly be good, at least in my life. Ed McMahon is not calling to tell me the prize van is on its way. If I am getting a genius grant, it is coming at a civil hour. I don't have a secret lover calling to whisper hot sweaty things in my ear. Anyone calling me at that hour is calling from a hospital, or from a police station. So the adrenaline surged. Okay, not enough to get me out of bed and answer the phone. My much quicker husband took that on. But my heart started beating a mile a minute, and my brain was instantly awake. AWAKE. Who was hurt? Who was in trouble? Please please please let it be okay. And then I heard "You've got the wrong number. There's noone here by that name".

Worry turns to anger, skipping relief entirely. F***ING DRUNK -- learn to f***ing dial a f****ing phone!!!! Now I wonder, why wasn't I happy? Me and mine were safe, at least for another night. The scythe had whiffed. Thanks to adrenaline, I had many uneasy hours to ponder the question. My guess is that thankfulness is a much longer road to drive. Anger, worry, rage, doubt -- they are all shortcuts, quick easy jaunts to make.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

sweaty boogie, dirty funk and other marvels of the universe

Some fundamentalists ban dancing because they fear it will lead to immoral thoughts and behaviour. Their fear is misplaced. They should fear the music.

There are people who approach music intellectually, and those who approach it spiritually. There are those that don't approach it at all. And then there's me. For me music is visceral. I have to feel it. And nothing does that like a little sweaty boogie, or some good old dirty funk. Gimme a whisky and cigarettes soaked blues belter, with a little piano, some electric guitar, and I'm in heaven. Well okay, somewhere farther south, with my mind in the gutter and the rest of me soon to follow.