Saturday, December 31, 2005
It seems the older I get, the faster time flies by. I remember being in the first grade, and it seemed as if it lasted for ten years. By the time I was a senior in high school, that year seemed to last only a few weeks in comparison.
Now, I'm at the age where I'm uncomfortably aware of how many years I've used up and that I most likely have fewer years ahead of me than behind me. I'm not quite at the age where that is a certainty yet, but I'm not too far from that dividing point.
Right now, the best I can do is just not think about it too much, and to simply live life one day at a time.
That's about all anyone can do.
Friday, December 30, 2005
These are examples of what is commonly known as "busy work". Most employers expect employees to engage in some form of this pointless activity any time there is no real productive work to be done. Such "work" accomplishes nothing of any actual use to the employer; its only purpose is to keep the employee busy.
I've always resented the hell out of busy work. I fully accept that one should attend to one's work when there are actual productive tasks to be done; after all, that is the point of one's employment. But if there is no real work to be done, I don't want to be doing useless busy work.
All types of businesses have periodic downtime, when all work is caught up and there is no new work to take its place. Depending on how long the downtime lasts, an employer could either allow for some idleness, knowing that employees are standing by and ready to resume working once new work is available.
If there is going to be an extended period of downtime, instead of making employees waste both their time and the employers', employees could be allowed to leave work and return once new work is expected. Indeed, at my last job, I didn't think I was being paid 12 dollars an hour to spend all day sweeping already clean floors. They had janitorial staff paid much less to do it only when actually needed.
After all, the first thing an employer is paying employees for is their time, first and foremost, before the actual work one dones. Workers give up a large part of their waking hours to be available for an employer's purposes; time that could be spent doing other, more enjoyable things.
To spend that time doing busy work that accomplishes no goal for the employer, but only serves to keep workers from idleness, isn't the point of having a job and, as I said before, wastes the time of all involved. As the saying goes, time is money. Busy work that adds nothing to their profit wastes the employer's money and your time. It is in no way an improvement over idleness.
I remember one time working in a plant when we ran out of work. As we were expected to do, we kept busy with inane tasks: sweeping an alredy tidy work area, cleaning the tables and machines. The downtime extended to the point where we'd emptied every trash can in the entire plant and taken the trash to the compactor. After we'd all taken extended bathroom breaks, there still wasn't any real work to be done, and we'd exhausted all possible forms of busywork, so we sat down to wait for work. A supervisor from another department walked by and gave us all hell. I looked at him, telling him we'd emptied every trash can in the place and asked what he would have us do -- throw the trash back on the floor and pick it up again?
Thursday, December 29, 2005
|Our Endangered Values : America's Moral Crisis|
Date: 01 November, 2005 — $15.00 — Book
I picked up this book the other day with the gift certificate I'd gotten for Christmas, as I'd been looking forward to reading Carter's take on the subject.
Like many Americans, former president Jimmy Carter is dismayed by the sharp right turn our government has taken in recent years, which has been largely fueled by the influence of the fundamentalist religious right.
Carter critically addresses the blurring of the lines between separation of church and state and covers such issues as preemptive war, women's rights, terrorism, civil liberties, homosexuality, the death penalty, abortion, science and religion, the environment, nuclear weapons, America's global image, religious and political fundamentalism. He contrasts extreme fundamentalist views with that of his own moderate Christian perspective and as one who fervently believes in the separation of church and state.
I found myself in general agreement with his take on these matters, but I could not give it five stars because of Carter's spartan writing style. I thought certain things could have been addressed in more detail and some chapters ended rather abruptly, in my opinion.
Still well worth a read, however.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
While chatting in IM with a friend last night, she mentioned an elderly relative who'd spend many years trapped in an abusive marriage. It made me think of how few resources women in such situations had many years ago to improve their lives.
My paternal aunt was an exception to that rule, however. She was married at age sixteen during World War II to her childhood sweetheart. The fairytale romance eventually turned into a nightmare, after he began physically abusing her.
By the early fifties, she'd had enough. They had four small children and she knew she didn't want them raised in such an atmosphere. But during that time, most women didn't have much choice. Society believed that people should stay married no matter how bad it was, and to simply adjust to it.
Few mothers with small children worked full time, and those who did, usually didn't make enough to support themselves without the husband's salary. Unless a woman had a sympathetic family who could help, she usually just had to make the best of it and hope for early widowhood.
My aunt was one of the lucky ones. My grandmother had been widowed a few years by then and was willing to move in with my aunt to take over the mother and homemaking duties, while my aunt went to work in a cotton mill to support them all.
It was tough at first, but she pulled it off. Four years after her divorce, she married a man a decade younger than her, who was willing to take on all four kids. They ended up having a son of their own in the early sixties.
But never again did she entrust her livelihood or that of her children to a man, as she continued working until she retired in the mid 90s.
I've never gotten along all that well with her, but I've always respected her for making a courageous and necessary choice in spite of societal disapproval when it mattered most.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Though Christmas went well this year, I still got melancholy thinking about my parents, as I do each year. It would have been their 63rd anniversary, and, with the help of old photos, I imagined just how that day in 1942 must have gone down.
It rained most of the day yesterday, but I'm not complaining, as that's a lot better than last week's ice storm and power outage. Indeed, I remember one Christmas in Dallas when my son was little when we didn't have any power on Christmas Day because of an ice storm.
I was able to talk to my sister on the phone, who was spending the day with her daughter. Finances are tight up there, so she had rather a grim Christmas. She and I both mentioned how much we miss the happy Christmases of our youth, when our parents were still alive.
My Christmas haul was a respectable one: the leather jacket mentioned previously, a pair of slippers, a couple of books, a gift certificate, a couple of DVDs, and bottle of my favorite cologne, a cell phone/plan, and plenty of *censored*.
I chatted on IM for a good while last night, which I always enjoy -- even though one conversation unfortunately went sour.
Today, I intend to find a way to spend the gift certificate -- I'm thinking the bookstore. I visited Amazon.com last night to get some ideas for books I'd want. Plus, my local Books a Million is having a sale today, and I have a coupon for a free drink at their coffee shop, so that should work out fine. I'll also visit Publix, as I do every year the day after Christmas, to get a tray of their excellent Christmas cookies, marked half off. I also have plans to meet with another lover this afternoon.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Last night, I met my primary lover's parents for the first time. It wasn't something I was eager to do, as they heartily disapprove of my relationship with their daughter, but I did it simply because she asked me to.
She and I have been seeing one another for a year and a half, on and off. At first, she was nothing more than a casual fling to me. Indeed, when I first became aware that her feelings for me had deepened, my first reaction was to cast her away, to put her out.
However, I couldn't stay away from her. We soon resumed our relationship, after which I slowly acknowledged that I also had feelings for her, and one day I realized that I considered her my primary lover.
Despite the wide gap in our ages -- she is a year younger than my son -- we get along well and understand each other. With the typical open mindedness of the young, she accepts me as I am; that I have slept with and will continue to sleep with other women, even as our relationship together deepens.
As I stated in an earlier entry, I'd bought her a sapphire ring for Christmas to match her eyes. Because her parents would be visiting on Christmas Eve, before continuing on to her aunt's home in Atlanta on Christmas Day, we exchanged our Christmas presents early. It was a private moment that neither of us wished to be witnessed by others, the details of which I'll share at some time in my other blog.
Meeting her parents last night, though a tense, uncomfortable affair all around, went about as well as could be expected. Though I'm sure they don't approve of me any more now than they did before last night, there were no overtly ugly scenes.
Her parents were corporate conservative Republican, and I saw their eyes raise at my long flowing hair as I arrived, wearing the leather jacket she'd given me for Christmas. I ignored their reaction, just as I ignored the expression on her father's face, as she hugged me and gave me a kiss.
Inside the restaurant, the conversation was stilted, the atmosphere awkward as we endured a Christmas Eve dinner together. Inevitably, as they got around to asking my age, I thought her mother was going to choke on her steak when I told them. It turns out I am three years older than her mother.
No matter. I wasn't there to gain their approval. I was there to please her and to underscore a reality to them that they couldn't change. In both these purposes, I succeeded.
After the meal was finally, mercifully over, I went home alone for the night, to allow her some family time with them. I'm sure my evening afterwards was much more pleasant than hers, as I imagine they spent the rest of the evening attempting to persuade her to break it off with me.
Not going to happen.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
--- John Cage
I've always wondered why conservatives want to conserve what is bad and unfair about our society, and are seemingly uninterested in preserving what is good, like the environment.
Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent.
-- Sophia Loren
So, that's what my problem is!
There are two kinds of light--the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.
-- James Thurber
Which one is George Bush?
I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.
-- Franklin P. Adams
I can identify with that. My web surfing is very much like this. I google one thing and end up getting sidetracked in many directions.
The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
-- David Friedman
Hear that, little Georgie?
I base my fashion taste on what doesn't itch.
— Gilda Radner
Works for me!
Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.
— Michel de Montaigne
Why is this especially true about songs I hate?
Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious.
— William Feather
There's nothing more sure to bring out the curmudgeon in me than a chirpy morning person.
Understanding human needs is half the job of meeting them.
— Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.
And this is one of George Bush's biggest problems. He just doesn't get it.
Happy Holidays, everyone.
Friday, December 23, 2005
I come by it honestly, my mother was always talkative, as I remember. My father was more reticent when I was growing up, but once he retired, he became more gregarious and talked to people wherever he went.
I most commonly talk to strangers in waiting situations: in line at the grocery store, sitting in a doctor's waiting room, etc. Indeed, I met my current primary lover when we were both waiting in a long line at the supermarket, and she's not the only lover I've met similarly.
Quite often, I also talk to people in bookstores, at the flea market, and in other places where a common interest provides an excuse to start a conversation. Though this type of venue has also generated new lovers, it's also made me new platonic friends as well.
About ninety-five percent of the strangers I strike up conversations with will respond politely, though most conversations do not result in further interaction later on. Even if nothing comes of these conversations, it's at least a pleasant way to pass time.
However, about five percent of those I attempt talking with will totally ignore my efforts at friendliness, though I'm certain they can hear me. Some will even look at me as if I'm crazy for trying to talk to a person I don't know, and will doggedly refuse to speak.
Apparently, these people went overboard when obeying their parents' admonition not to talk to strangers so many years ago. A few times, I've gotten exasperated and said in a sarcastic tone of voice, "Your mama taught you not to talk to strangers, didn't she?"
And, even then, they don't respond. It makes me wonder how such people make new friends, if they won't allow themselves to talk to strangers.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Usually, working on Christmas Day was slow and there would always be a large buffet set up in the roll call room. Every year, we'd empty out the jail as much as possible for Christmas, freeing all those serving time for minor offenses.
But one year, something happened that reminded me of just how crappy some human beings are.
One of the guys on my shift was driving idly through his patrol zone, when he came upon five children, all siblings, walking in the middle of the road. They ranged in age from a year and a half to fourteen.
Though the temperature that day was in the low 30s, none of the kids were wearing coats. Indeed, the littlest one wore nothing but a disposable diaper that should have been changed the day before. And what clothes the others had on were dirty, as were their faces and hair.
The officer put them all in his car and brought them to the station until their parents could be located. They were put into a small waiting room, normally used by those waiting to see the judge.
No sooner than they'd been seated, than the older two started trying to pull the wallpaper from the walls. Indeed, the kids acted as if they'd been raised by wolves. The only one who seemed relatively normal was the five year old girl, who was trying her very best to take care of the baby.
Eventually, the parents showed up at the police station. They were crackheads: skanky and rawboned, with greasy, stringy hair, wearing clothes just as filthy as what their kids had on. The father got right up in the face of the sergeant, telling him the police had no business interfering with how he raised his kids. It was all the sergeant could do to keep from beating the shit out of this guy.
The children were taken from their parents that day, with the three youngest being put into foster care. The older two were turned back to their parents, as I imagine it was thought it was already too late for them to be anything different.
To this day, I wonder how life turned out for those five kids.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
A fundamentalist group, American Family Association, has been picketing Wal Mart because their holiday promotional advertising says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas".
Yes, you read it correctly. Instead of collecting food, clothing, and toys for poor families during the holiday season, they are wasting their time nitpicking over a major retailer's advertising content!
A spokeswoman for Wal Mart said that the contested advertising promotion set to run from mid-November to early January was simply misunderstood: its slogan is "home for the holidays." She went on to say that a slogan was chosen to incorporate all holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day and that no religious slights were intended.
Indeed. These Christian fundamentalists apparently have forgotten that other faiths also celebrate holidays at this time of year, and that "Happy Holidays" is the best phrase to use to include everyone.
Happy holidays to all my readers.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
His parents had never charged him rent, and he'd also been quite successful with his stock market investments. So, with his lack of major living expenses, combined with his police salary and stock income, he was in a very comfortable financial situation.
You would have never known just how well-off he was by looking at the cars he drove, however. In all the time I worked with him, he never drove anything but junkers on their last wheels. He once told me he'd never paid any more than five hundred dollars for a car, and he never would.
He'd drive the hell out of these old bombs until they inevitably broke down. Unfazed, he'd simply leave them where they died, removing the license plates, then go buy another one. I saw this pattern repeated several times in the decade I worked with him.
One time, he had a car that would not go in reverse. When asked what would he do if he ever had to back up somewhere, he replied that he made sure to park in places where he'd not have to back up, adding that this wasn't his first car with this particular type of malfunction.
In another car, he had grass growing on the back seat. When he'd bought the car, there was a lot of dirt in the seat that he'd not bothered cleaning out. This car had reverse, so he could park anywhere, and he usually chose a sunny spot. When summer came, his back seat started sprouting grass, which he left undisturbed.
One time he bought a car with broken windshield wipers. This wasn't a problem for him until one Friday when there was a torrential downpour. I remember standing in the doorway of the station, watching him pull out of the parking lot with his left arm out the window, wrapped around the windshield, moving up and down in a wiping motion.
As one who has always driven the best car I could afford, I just watched him, shaking my head, not believing that anyone could be that cheap when they didn't have to be.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I'm not feeling particularly chatty today, so readers will be seeing yet another selection of quotes and comments.
In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.
-- Paul Harvey
In other words, there's nothing new under the sun. Or, as Harry Truman once put it, there's only the history you don't know yet.
Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything.
-- Floyd Dell
I am a human being. I am not a human doing.
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
This pretty well sums up my entry "Cool?" from several days ago. If you take care of the things of substance, the image takes care of itself. And, as others don't pay our bills for us, nor can we please everyone, we sleep better at night when we've pleased ourselves first.
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Don't judge a book by its cover; never underestimate others.
An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't.
-- Anatole France
The beginning of maturity for me was when I realized just how much I didn't know and that my father wasn't so stupid, after all.
Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
-- Thomas H. Huxley
For any progress to be made, one must be able to think outside the box, to question the sacred cows that say "That's the way we've always done it", so as to be able to think of new ways of doing things.
It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
-- Abraham Lincoln
I'll fuck to that!
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Yesterday, I checked my mail box and found a Christmas card from my brother. To most people, that would be an unremarkable event, but I've not heard from my brother in about two years.
Even when he became a grandfather for the first time about a year and a half ago I did not hear from him. I only found this one out from our sister, and only in passing. When he had a minor stroke a few months back, I also had to hear the news about it from my sister. In the months since his stroke, I've called up there several times, only to get the answering machine every time. And none of my calls were ever returned.
I'd just about given up, so the card in the mail was a big surprise. Of course, it was in my sister-in-law's handwriting, but that wasn't a surprise, as my brother has always been the kind who lets his wife take care of things like that. There were pictures inside the card as well, and I hardly recognized my brother; he looks old enough to be my father, instead of the actual 13 years that separate us.
I'm figuring his close brush with death has made him think of what's really important in this life.
I'll get them a card on my next day off and send it off right away.
Yesterday, I was looking at the obituaries in my local paper. I read one where the woman was 103 when she died, the same age as what 3 of my grandparents would be. The obit stated that she'd died at the nursing home where she'd lived for several years and that she was a homemaker. Not a retired homemaker, but a homemaker.
I sat down and thought about this. Obviously if she's been living in a nursing home for several years, she hasn't had a home to make for quite some time now, so "retired homemaker" would be more accurate.
But being a homemaker is the job that one can never retire from. There is no pay, no vacation, one is on duty 24/7, and any benefits are totally at the discretion of the "employer".
After reading this obit, I read all the others. For those past retirement age, their occupations were all listed as "retired whatever". All except the homemakers, that is. Every one of them, regardless of how old they were, were listed without the word "retired". Ugh.
My primary lover has told me that her parents intend to come down here for Christmas. They will be spending Christmas with her mother's sister in Atlanta, which is a fairly short drive from here.
So, I'll get another holiday with her. I don't know if I'll meet her parents or not; I'd really prefer not to, but I'll not rock the boat if she really wants me to do so.
However, my gift to her will be given privately, before they arrive.
It is blue to match her eyes. It is a colored stone ring, a sapphire, so she doesn't get any foolish notions in her head about marriage. I'm hoping she will like it.
Friday, December 9, 2005
The first is that traditional, legal heterosexual marriage is the ultimate relationship form that all successful relationships must eventually become. Those who believe in this group people into four categories:
- Those who are married
- Those who are waiting to be married
- Those who have been widowed or divorced and are waiting to be married again
- Those who were never lucky enough to marry in the first place.
The second is that all successful relationships must be daily -- seven days a week.
Never mind that dailiness can makes us too familiar with one another and lead partners to take one another for granted. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is more than just a cliche.
The third myth is that all successful relationships must be domestic, that one must live full time with their partner.
We've all heard people say, "I love Soandso, but I could never live with him(her)", and they break up the relationship because of this, which is based on the domestic myth. Dispense with the myth, and continue to enjoy such relationships on their own terms.
The fourth myth is all successful relationships must be exclusive -- sexually and otherwise.
In addition to the customary expectation of sexual exclusivity, most people unrealistically expect their partners to meet every other need they have. This is unrealistic, because our partners are "mere mortals who love you, but are not gods who can make your every dream come true." This myth is probably one of the largest causes of relationship disappointment, as no one could possibly live up to these expectations.
The fifth myth is that all successful relationships must be forever -- until death do us part.
This expectation came about when the life expectancy was nowhere near what it is now and when marriage was more a practical relationship of survival, rather than a love match. People then promising "until death do us part" had, if they were lucky, 20 years of "forever", and did not face the prospect of many years living in an "empty nest".
But people live longer now, life is about more than just mere survival, and people evolve, change,and grow during their longer lifespans. A partner who was right for us at 20 might not be the same one who is right at 40, 60, etc. To end a relationship that longer fits doesn't mean it was a failure; it was right in its proper time, and it's simply time to move on.
For more details about what I've written above, read Kigma's book. Those who read it will never look at intimate relationships in quite the same way again. The only fault with this book, in my opinion, was an excessive amount of superfluous psychobabble, but I simply skipped that to get to the book's core message.
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
A "cool" person never did anything considered to be "uncool", for they had an image and a reputation to uphold. Cool people were never free to simply be themselves and do their own thing.
Essentially, "coolness" was a straitjacket, a facade that one had to always maintain in public, lest their popularity with others be destroyed. Coolness, above all, was based on what others thought of you.
Even as a kid, I thought the price one had to pay to attain this definition of cool was too high.
I've always marched to the beat of my own drummer, done my own thing, regardless of any cost to my popularity with others. For me, to blindly follow trends, was not to be cool; it was to be a follower, a conformist -- a sheep.
To this day, I do my own thing. I do what I think is right for me and I don't give a damn what others think about it.
To "be yourself", to do your own thing, regardless of what others think and to accept whatever consequences that entails to one's popularity, takes courage. And courage is always cool.
Self esteem has to come from within, and those who worry unduly about "image" and "reputation" are allowing others to determine their self-worth, which is decidedly not cool. Those with a solid sense of self know that if you take care of the things of substance, the "image" will take care of itself. Too many people put the cart before the horse, and overemphasize image to the detriment of substance, which is like buying a car for the paint job, without making sure it's mechanically sound.
I could go on more about image vs. substance, but that would be an entry of its own.
Sunday, December 4, 2005
-- Mark Twain
Hmm, did he know Pat Robertson?
He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
-- Chinese Proverb
In other words, when you "assume", you make and ASS out of U and ME.
It is hard to begin to move when you don't know where you are moving, how to move, or if you are going to get there.
-- Peter Novio Zarlenga
Kind of reminds me of my employment situation and the need of making a change.
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.
-- Tom Robbins
Thank a liberal for the march of human progress.
There are two types of people--those who come into a room and say, 'Well, here I am!' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are.'
-- Frederick L Collins
Hot damn, here I am!
Education... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.
-- G. M. Trevelyan, English Social History (1942)
Too many schools teach children what to think, rather than how to think. It's the same as the problem of either giving a man a fish or teaching him how to fish.
Thursday, December 1, 2005
These classifications are based on the individual's personality and natural tendencies, not necessarily in the job they actually perform. I elaborated by saying that work dissatisfaction comes when one's actual job does not match one's natural inclinations.
The three categories are:
- Kirk types -- Leaders
overall responsibility, organizing, and the like. They know when to
delegate and when to take charge.
- Spock types -- Followers
who approach work with a broad, big picture perspective, Spock
types are the detail people of the work world; they're the ones
who actually get it done. They tend to be generalists, who can
flexibly work in a wide of variety of job classifications, usually
working in groups.
- Scotty types -- Independents
any organization. They work best alone, without close supervision.
They often work on their own timetables, independent of that of
the Spock types. Their work is usually specialized and
emphasis is placed more on quality, rather than quantity.
As for myself, I'm a Scotty type who has been obliged to work in Spock type jobs for my entire work life. Pimme, whom I suspect is a Kirk type, was also miserable working in Spock type jobs, and has become happily self employed and has suggested I might be happier that way, too.
I understand the sentiment and desire, but I don't think I'd carry it off as well as she has. Though Scotty types are independent, they prefer to let others take care of nuts and bolts matters, so they are free to focus all their attention on the work itself. Scotty types lack the organizational skills the Kirk types excel in.
In other words, I lack the inclination and the discipline to properly attend to the go-getter aspects of self-employment and the mundane details of taking care of my own taxes, arranging my own insurance, and the like. A better solution for me would be to find a flexible position in a loosely structured work environment, in a job where I could use my natural talents.
Which of the three categories do you think you fall into and why?