Sunday, September 24, 2006

thoughts from David

Driving in the car today:

I don't like that look that old people get when they get bald and their head gets shiny and it looks like bread and it makes you want to bite it and then you're all like "aaagghh" cause you're biting somebody's head, and you just go like "get it away, make it stop..."

whine and cheese(burgers)

12:05am, ravenous, nothing is open. In desperation we order sandwiches and icewater at McDonalds drivethru. "We no longer give waters here." "Well, can we pay for them?" "Yes." Turns out they're .99 apiece, just like a soda.
Then apparently they had to cook everything from scratch, including possibly raising the wheat for the buns, because we had to park at least 10 minutes at the famous "second window", which is an eternity in drive-thru land. No one said "It will just be a minute." or "It'll be 10 minutes, sorry."
When our order finally came, they handed it to us wordlessly. No "Sorry for the delay." No extra fries or apple turnover thing thrown in. All in all, the least efficient drive-thru experience of my life.

All of which I share just to show that in whinging about the above I am actually no better than people I was making fun in my mind of the next day.

Person #1, on cell phone in airport: "Yeah, it turns out you can't check your bags more than 4 hours before your flight. Yes, so we had to wait around for an hour with our bags. But we got through that, and then..."
Bryan, to himself: You "got through that"? What was it you "got through" again? Let's see, I think it was sitting in one place for an hour. No discomfort, reponsibilities, no effort of any kind. Oh, the humanity.

Person #2, sitting next to me on the plane: "Well, I had a choice -- I could wait for my United flight, and get home two and a half hours late, or I could bite the bullet and take a middle seat on this flight. I decided to go with the middle seat..."
It’s this kind of courage that inspires us all...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

this is not a true tale

...but who needs truth if it's dull?

Actually it *is* true. AND dull, so I've got that going for me.

I get more hits on this blog from people searching for "Oliver Twist" than from any other single reason.
Recently, I've been getting a number of hits from people in Spanish-speaking countries looking for Oliver Twist. Not sure why.

I read that the most commonly spoken languages in the world are:
Isn't that interesting.

Anyway, bienvenidos, amigos. Que disfruten este blog. Favor de dejar unos comentarios, para que sepamos quienes son Uds.

Okay, then.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

the internet is back!

Finally got Comcast to finish configuring/registering my stuff so I have access again. Yay.
Figured I'd post my to-do list so if you're *reeeeally* desperate for something to do you can read why I don't have time to reply to anyone lately...

  • pay American Express so they'll honor my card again
  • book ariline ticket, hotel for austin next week
  • project proposal 1 (11 pgs)
  • project proposal 2 (2 pgs)
  • project proposal 3 (1 pg)
  • book ticket, hotel for new orleans 9/26/06
  • send pics of house to landlord so he'll remember what a mess it was on move-in
  • pay traffic ticket I got in Austin
  • set up new retirement acct
  • conference call, client 3
  • find two dressers at yard sale or craigslist
  • find e-fax service to potentially save $40/month
  • get garbage service changed to new address
  • set up VPN at client 2
  • finish moving stuff from garage & shed to new house
  • move stuff from mini-storage to new house
  • eye appt for Samantha
  • settlement spreadsheet(how to disburse funds from house sale) to lawyers
  • new spreadsheet -> Kurt
  • call client 1
  • call client 2
  • balance bank accts
  • pay outstanding bills (not sure with what)
  • shirts -> drycleaners
  • send QTR2 2006 hours and dollars to accountant for tax filing
  • re-pay personal loan 1 - 3,000
  • re-pay personal loan 2 - 5,000
  • re-pay personal loan 3 - 8,000
  • send $500 to lawyer to get retirement funds disbursed to Hannah
  • sign escrow papers
  • take pictures of lawn tractors to sell on ebay
  • book ticket for edmonton - oct 14
  • finish building desk part of David's loft bed
  • take load of trash to dump
  • organize garage (currently full of boxes and crap) at new house
  • dentist appt for Samantha
  • pay neighbor kids for feeding dog
  • client 4 followup
  • buy school clothes
  • buy school supplies
  • pay school fees
  • get on Texas contractor list
  • followup with potential client
  • change website host
  • get child control software for computers
  • get new laptop
  • do 2005 business tax return
  • client 5: followup tasks
  • get new virus protection software
  • email client 6 to say not available
  • install wireless network
  • find Ariel costume online for daughter of friend who has no internets
  • Notify of change of Address: clients; IRS; bank; credit cards; merchants
  • file change of Address (post office) for personal
  • file change of Address (post office) for business
  • print extra 8453-OL for H
  • mail 8453-OL (H sign)
  • pay other IRS penalty 1 (~500)
  • pay IRS penalty 2 (~380)
  • check, possibly change Verizon plan/minutes
  • book tickets for Thxgiving
  • find passport documents (Hannah left in desk somewhere)
  • get new passports (me + kids)
  • fix fax/printer
  • figure out Health Insurance situation
  • find guitar lessons for David
  • get new bike for Sam
  • take Sam on promised vacation to Mexico
  • send book to friend
  • get removeable wipeboard for office
  • order project mgmt book
  • fix stepstool (prized personal possession of friend) that I backed over in the truck
  • mail CD to Mom
  • soccer practice
  • get hedge trimmer, trim hedges so I can back out of driveway without dying
  • take dirt bike to shop
  • cancel homeowner's insurance
  • get renter's insurance, liability
  • split/close credit cards
  • chg billpay service to new use new (non-joint) bank acct
  • split car insurance
  • take Hannah off as signer on business account (print company meeting minutes for bank)
  • pay MBNA by 9/15
  • pay Nat'l City by 9/15
  • pay Beneficial by 9/20
  • get document from propane co so I'll get credit for propane in tank ($320)
  • followup on court records
  • write a will
  • find disability insurance
  • Truck: fix 4WD, get new tires, tuneup, fix radio, air-conditioning, heater
  • change life insurance beneficiary, remove spousal rider

So anyway, this is me getting busy...

Friday, September 08, 2006're good enough, and darn it, people like you...

Another post makes me ask myself: Do I under-value the role of stay-at-home-mom/dad? I think maybe I do, a little. Or rather, to cut myself a little slack: although I believe homemaking is as *important* as anything we do, I am guilty of considering it less demanding than other types of work.

I think this has to do with a number of factors, but first a little prolepsis to forestall your many angry protests:

Taking care of a house and kids can be hard work. They are a constant drain on your time and energy. It feels like your work is never done, and you may spend years doing the same thing over and over to minimal applause. It often takes forever to get a few simple things done. At times it can be highly unpleasant, mind-numbingly boring, and physically exhausting. There’s no question it is critically important work, and is usually under-appreciated.
Furthermore, I think we *do* place too high a value on the dollar, and too little on quality-of-life issues (ie, many of the things a home-maker provides).

And all that said, on to why I think homemaking is often valued less than market work:

1) Immediacy. It might take years to see the results of good parenting vs bad parenting. On the other hand, doing poorly in “market” work (ie, a paying job) may mean you have to give up eating and sleeping indoors, starting next month. The immediacy of failure looms large.

2) As well as being more immediate, the needs supplied by earning money (ie, food, shelter, clothing) are more basic and more universal. The needs met by good housekeeping (clean towels, made beds, ironed clothes) are luxuries. The needs fulfilled by good parenting (life enrichment, education, self-esteem, social adjustment, self-fulfillment, etc) are higher on Maslow’s hierarchy; while they may be considered just as essential as physical needs, they aren’t as generally understood or as universally satisfied.

3) Penalty for failure. With the significant exception of parenting, the rest of a SAHM/D’s duties carry a smaller penalty for failure than a typical market position does. If you don’t do laundry, cook, clean, or make beds for a week, the result is inconvenience for a handful of people; there are many market jobs where significant amounts of money, time, opportunity, or even life & death is riding on adequate performance.

4) Training. Again, with the significant exception of parenting, housekeeping requires less training and less experience to achieve a satisfactory level of performance.

5) Pressure. The pressure to be a good parent, to keep a clean house, etc, are mostly self-applied. On the other hand, unless you’ve been there you probably have no idea of the adrenaline and gastric juice a lone wage-earner goes thru in trying to fulfill their responsibility for the survival & well-being of several people, while balancing their portion of parenting, role as spouse, personal pride vs boss’s demands, and personal and professional integrity.

We all speak from our personal experience, and I’m no exception. I had heard from everyone how a woman’s work is difficult and never done, but I remember when Hannah was in the hospital, and I took several days off from work to keep house and care for our small children. I assumed it would overwhelm me. It didn’t – it was bliss. I had no deadlines, no cranky boss breathing down my neck threatening to fire everyone and close the company, no agenda, no difficult clients or insecure and ill-informed supervisors to work with (or maneuver around). I did not spend my day wrestling with knotty design challenges and making difficult decisions with inadequate data that left me mentally exhausted.

I dressed the kids, I bathed the kids (not in that order); I fed the kids; I vacuumed and did laundry. I took the kids to the park. I took the kids to the hospital to see Mommy. I put the kids in pajamas. I read the kids a story. I blew on their tummies and practiced counting and what all the animals say. I put the kids to bed. I sat down in the living room and read a book. I practiced my guitar. It was wonderful, and I hated to go back to work.

I readily concede that:
a) it might become boring to do every day
b) anything seems like a vacation if you only do it for a week
c) my standard of neatness/cleanliness was lower than Hannah’s
d) I didn’t have chronic back pain like Hannah did at that time

But then again:
a) boring doesn’t mean difficult
b) see above
c) one’s neatness standard is one’s own choice – nobody’s forced to scrub their floors till you can eat off of them, or buy bed sets with so many pillows & shams & ruffles that bed-making takes 10 minutes per bed per day, or have thousands of china plates, figurines, and houseplants that require dusting, watering, etc
d) when people talk about how difficult homemaking is, they’re not assuming the pain Hannah had

And great gosh almighty, the lack of pressure! If I made a mistake with the housecleaning, no one got fired, no client called the boss threatening to leave, no one noted it on a performance evaluation, there was no danger of not being able to buy groceries, of ruining our credit, of having the sheriff put our stuff out on the curb. I could run the house as I pleased. I could chat on the phone for an hour while folding laundry, and no one looked askance at my use of time. I could get a babysitter for an hour if I wanted, and take a nap. I could take the kids for a drive. It was great.

My point, as I look back on what I’ve written above, is probably really less to do with how easy homemaking is (not that simple to do well) as it is this: Because homemaking has been under-appreciated, we’re used to hearing a lot about how SAHM/D’s should be valued more. Which is all true. What I guess we (or maybe just I) haven’t heard acknowledged, is that the complementary role to the SAHM/D – that of single wage-earner – often carries a significant amount of pressure. And many wage-earners – or at least, me – have learned to just suck it up and produce, not whine about it. Until now, that is...

It’s also possible that I’ve been doing it wrong. That is, that I find the idea of home-making attractive because my jobs have sucked so badly; that other wage-earners have jobs that are satisfying and pressure-free. But I doubt it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same.
- Carlos Castenada

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Much ado

In Mexico they sometimes have a thing they call gyropeo (sp?). It's kind of like a big variety show, with shades of rodeo and bullfight, plus live music, etc.

Anyway, someone brought gyropeo to Austin last weekend and I was invited, so I went. But nothing happened. Or at least, while we were there it did. Or didn't.

It supposedly started at 3pm, and we got there about 5 -- there were several hundred people there (I think maybe a total of two other gueros) sitting on bleachers around the corral area in the center. During the time we were there, a kid came out on a horse and rode around a little, practicing some dressage-type moves, and a lot of people bought a lot of beer. Then they drank it. We all sat and chatted and sweated and waited, and listened to recorded music. Nothing continued to be what was on the entertainment agenda, for about an hour. People continued to arrive, but we felt we might soon die of boredom or old age, so we went home.

i think this guy is funny...

and this is worth reading: