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Posts Tagged ‘current events’

Teach a man to fish

You know the saying, I’m sure:

Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day
Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for the rest of his life

Well, there’s another benefit of teaching a man to fish, and it isn’t the peace and quiet that comes while he’s out of the house, sitting in a boat and drinking beer all day.

Teach a man to fish, and he’ll teach his daughters and sons to fish. Then he’ll feed his elderly mother. Then his brother will take note and want to learn. Then the neighbor kids will want to come along. Next thing you know, you have a fishing community – a whole group of people who have a marketable skill and the ability to be self-sufficient.

This is why education is so important, especially for minority and immigrant communities. When one individual is lifted out of the devastating cycle of poverty, the ripples spread to others around them. When one person finds a way out, many others can follow in their footsteps. But someone has to be first, and they generally have the worst time of it.

What can help them? Scholarships. Mentors. Support groups. Public transportation. Business incubators. Advisors. Apprenticeships and internships. Anything and anyone who can inspire, encourage, educate, and hold them accountable as they develop their dreams into plans, and then into reality.

So let’s quit pretending education is a cost that we should cut, and let’s start treating it like an investment in our future.

Aaaaand then life happens.

Two weeks ago, I was going to start the year with a bang.  I had plans to dig into these new wedding ideas and get cracking right away on new products.

Work had other plans for me…

I’m currently working ten hour days, which when you add my commute means I get home and two hours later have to be in bed.  In fact, even eating dinner and taking a shower only leaves me with about seven hours max of sleep a night.  Cut that a bit shorter because of the time lying sleepless, and the situation gets even more grim.

I’m leaning on the small “energy shots” rather than my usual carbonated energy drinks, since B vitamins seem to be the lesser of two evils.  And if I’m honest, driving nearly an hour and a half in the morning is less hateful when traffic at least keeps moving the whole time!  But it’s still wearing on me pretty badly.  I’m a week in with possibly another week left.  And why?  Because of this:

jetkiss1

That’s what two decommissioned A4 Skyhawks are supposed to look like when they’re broken into pieces, painted a couple shades of pink, and installed in a 60′ deep hole in the ground.  Erm, I meant a rail station.  (Same diff.)

Apparently, they’ve been cut and reassembled, painted, and carefully packaged up for their trip to the Great Northwet, where I will likely get to watch them get installed in a few weeks.  This is a recent photo:Jet kiss

Out of respect for a fellow artist, I’ll just say that it’s not my cup of tea.  More power to him for making his vision happen successfully, and I really hope it all turns out exactly as he saw it in his mind.

In the mean time, we have to get all the lighting in place so that future train travelers will be able to see “Jet Kiss,” as the installation is called, in all its glory.  This is where all the overtime comes in!  And my currently insane schedule.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/119481257@N08/  (There’s supposed to be a photo I took of the inside of the station box here, but the internet hates me.  I’ll consult my media and technology guru and get it on here within a day or two.)

As you can see, the space isn’t very well lit right now, so we have our work cut out for us,  But we’re getting there!  And since permanent power has been turned on, we’re in the process of getting all the lights working.  So in a few weeks, hopefully this space will be flooded with light!  Which, for me, is the really exciting part of my work – watching as the project comes together in its final form.  Huzzah!

If you’d like to read more about the project, here’s a recent article with good info, as well as more renderings of the design.  Also, check out the Sound Transit page, which includes a webcam so you can be all creepy-like and spy on my colleagues and I.  ;-D

Why hello blogosphere, it’s been some time.  Sorry to have neglected you so, I’ve been trying to survive and all that.  But I’m at home sick today and have thus had a little time to internet (yes I used it as a verb) and OF COURSE posted something political that caused a friend to respond which caused me to want to respond back which led me to learn more about the subject with all the copious spare time I had this afternoon.  (That would be a couple of hours.)  So.  Here is the product of said interneting (Mommmmmm, she did it again!) and I hope not only that you will enjoy it but that you will in fact respond.  Because as it turns out (SPOILER ALERT) the end is a great big question mark.

With no further ado, I present “Several Reasons Why Health Care is So Expensive in America.”

 

1.  We’re living longer.

Not only do you pay for the statins that delay your heart attack, and the angioplasty that deals with it when it does happen, but then you also pay for the cancer and the knee replacement and the Alzheimer’s that you wouldn’t have lived long enough to get in an earlier age.  None of these treatments existed in the past; you often got ineffective care and then died.  D’oh!  Modern medicine can do wonderful, nearly magical things – gene therapies, transplants, and more – which simply didn’t exist twenty or fifty or a hundred (or two!) years ago.  So of course with more options for treatment available, there’s more spending going on.  And the older we get, the more spending goes on per person.

What do we do about it?  Well nothing directly – living longer is a good thing!  We don’t want to stop that, it’s the entire point of medicine, right?  But we wouldn’t get some of those diseases if we lived better (ate healthy food and stayed active) in the first place.  Unfortunately overcoming this will take a herculean effort to change the entire food system – a system that has convinced people that just because a company’s food isn’t fried, it must be healthy.  (I’m looking at you and your processed meats, Subway.  Eat fresh, my ass.)  So even an indirect solution seems unlikely in the immediate future.  Incremental improvement?  Possible.  But self-driven for the most part, and therefore entirely unpredictable IMHO.

 

2.  Medical administration is inherently inefficient.

Self-insured companies pay a percentage of their fees, not a flat rate, to the companies that process their employees’ claims.  Just as in any other cost-plus system (like NASA) this leads to the generation of artificial costs that do nothing but drive up costs and therefore profit.  Who cares if you’re spending twice the payroll to administer costs, if you’re getting paid three times what it actually costs you?  Cutting your payroll at that point will actually cut your profit, because if your costs go down so does your pay!

That’s right, the more they spend, the more they waste, and the more they ultimately make.  Ain’t nobody gonna change that from the inside.  Efficiency expert, thy name is Mudd.

 

3.  We pretend that we have a free market, but we really don’t.

A free market presupposes that the buyer is able to make judicious and rational decisions based on the costs and benefits of various options.  By balancing the cost you’re paying with the benefit you get, you can choose the product that’s right for you.  Seems legit.  But wait, when was the last time you were told the cost of a medical procedure before you decided to have it done?  When was the last time you found out how much of that particular procedure your insurer would cover?  The doctor tells us, “You need this done,” and we generally say, “Okay.”  Some few people ask, “Is that expensive?  Is there a less costly – or less invasive – option?” but these folks are few and far between.  And in most cases, the doctor’s office doesn’t even know how much the procedure is going to cost.

Try it.  Next time you go to the doctor, ask him or her point-blank how much the procedure is going to cost you out of pocket.  Ask the desk attendant how much the visit will cost you before you go in.  If you have an insurer that they work with a great deal, they’ll probably give you a number for the visit itself, but they’ll qualify it.  “It should be around $XXX or so.”  Don’t want to be too sure and end up wrong, do we?  If you want anything more than that, they’re likely going to say they don’t know, and heaven help you if you have an insurance they aren’t familiar with.  If you’re lucky the staff is very friendly and will be willing to do some research for you to find out, and hopefully you’ll get an answer in a few days.  You know, after you already spent the money.

Why are we so eager to write blank checks for our medical care?  Maybe because this is a place the free market *shouldn’t* rule?  Maybe because our medical decisions are too fraught with emotional impact to make logical decisions and live by caveat emptor?  Maybe because it’s ridiculous to think a patient’s family can make sensible financial decisions and negotiate prices when their parent is dying of cancer, or their child is injured in an accident, or their wife has an emergency in the middle of labor?  Hmm…

 

4.  We get care we don’t really need.

By “we” I mean people with excellent medical coverage who have doctors more concerned with malpractice suits than patient care; doctors who order tests that are unnecessarily expensive, or effectively duplicate results, so that they can “prove” that they did their very best by the patient.  How about you spend more time with the patient instead?  How about you more carefully review their personal history for possible causal factors?  How about you “doc up” and tell them that they’re sick because they eat terribly and don’t exercise?  (No, they’d probably find another doctor who sugarcoats them lies.  “It’s not your fault, you have a glandular problem.”  For every person who really does have a genuine problem in that area – and there are plenty – I have no doubt that there are three who use it as an excuse.)  Nope, the only thing that impresses some people is dollar signs.  And with all the medical advertising that goes on (“Ask your doctor if XXXX is right for you!”) and the kickbacks doctors are getting from the drug companies (Notice those branded pens around your doctor’s office?  They don’t appear magically, you know!) I guarantee the care you get is strongly influenced by factors OTHER than your best interest as an individual.

I won’t even get into the fallout from false positives and rabbit-track diagnostic distractions, but they add significantly to the problem as well.

 

5.  We don’t get the care we do need.

In this case “we” refers to people with substandard or no medical coverage; people for whom a visit to the doctor for a minor sickness or injury gets put off because of the high cost, leading to a more severe, or even chronic health issue.  Head cold turns into pneumonia; puncture wound goes septic; etc.  When people have to decide between paying the power bill and going to the doctor, or between eating and going to the doctor (which is a rising problem among seniors), they buy another bottle of aspirin every time.  Then, when they finally get desperate enough to seek medical care, they end up in the ER – and after filling out financial aid forms they learn that they still owe several thousand dollars.  (See #3 above.)

 

6.  We pay more for procedures than anyone else does.

I don’t even have anything more to say about this; just check out the link and see what I mean.

 

So what do we have then?  A system where the people with no coverage get no care, where people with average coverage get too little care, and where people with good coverage get too much care that often is of the wrong kind and costs too much anyway.  The extra costs generated in the system are magnified by the inefficiencies inherent, and we are treated as children rather than informed consumers able to make our own decisions.  In fact, we’re indoctrinated to not make our own medical decisions by the mystery that shrouds the entire profession!  “Well are YOU a medical professional?  Then why are you telling me which procedure is better for you?  Trust me, I’m a doctor!”

The system is broken.  It’s really, really broken, busted beyond repair as far as I’m concerned.  The Affordable Care Act does seem to be having an impact as of February, but IMHO it’s too little too late.  If we wanted to fix the real problem, we’d have to overhaul every level of it from top to bottom and rework the way every bit of it is done.  From “Ambulatory Surgical Centers” that step people up from office procedures by telling them it’s cheaper than a hospital stay, to those stupid commercials with lists of side effects that sound worse than the condition being treated, everything would have to change.  Complete overhaul of a multi-billion – oh, I’m sorry, did I say billion?  I meant TRILLION – dollar economic juggernaut?  I don’t think so.

Not to mention the fear-mongering.  Oh yes, any proposed change gets branded as BAD FOR US.  Terrible, in fact, and to be avoided at all costs.  Death panels!  Socialized medicine!  Waiting lines!  Malpractice!  God help us if anything changes – and by “us” I mean the corporations whose controlling officers paid over 5 billion dollars to lobby Congress between 1998 and 2010.  By comparison, THE DEFENSE LOBBY spent less than a third of that during the same time period.  How on earth do we dislodge an industry that makes so much money, and that has us so thoroughly under their thumb?

 

That wasn’t a rhetorical question.

Election Night Message

I’ve kept (mostly) quiet about my political preferences this year.  Not because I’m ashamed, and not because I don’t want to discuss them or the issues at hand.

The reason I haven’t put them out there is that most of the people who do want to (I shall put this politely) “engage me in discussion” on political matters are actually only interested in two things: 1. beating other people over the head with their beliefs, and 2. hearing the sound of their own voices.

I have a handful of friends who I’m sure would have loved to actually discuss these matters rationally and calmly, with respect and appreciation for each other’s views, and with an openness of heart that would allow the possibility that not only could I be wrong, but they just might be wrong themselves.  These are unfortunately not generally the people who respond to my Facebook posts on religion, politics, or any other subject that might possibly engender disagreement.  The people who generally respond to such posts do so with personal insults against me or the person I support, ignorant statements that demonstrate a complete unwillingness to find the truth, thinly veiled talking points regurgitated straight from the source without any personal analysis, and lousy jokes on the level of, “That’s what SHE said!”

In short, I keep quiet ’cause I don’t want to feed the trolls.

That said, I do have something to say to those who supported Governor Romney this election season, and I figured I’d go ahead and say it.  In fact, this specifically goes out to the angry and frightened people, some few of whom are now expecting Armageddon to descend upon all of our heads in the form of hordes of undocumented illegal immigrants and flaming, tutu-wearing, glittery ‘mos who will steal their guns in the middle of the night and force their daughters to have abortions.  (Most of you are not that extreme, but some of you – please admit it to yourself if not to me – are actually afraid of the next four years.)

Okay, I’ll allow that you’re worried.  In fact, if you feel that your candidate was the best choice for the country, and the guy who won does not have the right answers, and therefore you are concerned with where the country is headed, then I actually applaud you.  People who think that way are concerned with the state of our nation because they want to see America succeed.  They want to not only be proud of our past, and proud of many things we have done and are doing, but to also be proud of our present.  They want to stand up and say, “We’re doing things right.  We have our shit together.  We take care of ourselves and each other, and we make this world a better place.”

Guess what?  I am 100% with you on that.  I want America to be a great and powerful and strong and well-run country too!  I want our citizens to be healthy and have the opportunity to succeed too!  I want a nation that is both safe and respected around the world too!

We won’t always agree on how that can happen or what we need to do to improve things.  We may not even agree on what “improved” means!  But I want you to know that, just like you, I want a strong and safe and healthy and successful America.  I also think that we have a great foundation and we do a lot of things right.  And I also think that we face a lot of challenges because we do a lot of other things wrong.  So we should be able to sit together over a drink or some coffee or a meal and talk about it like civilized humans.

Now let’s deal with this fear issue.  In 2004 I was afraid that Bush would be re-elected.  I didn’t like what he’d done with his first four years (I voted for him the first time!) and I was really worried about what a second term would do to the country.  Well, we found out.  It screwed us up, big time.  It left us with a huge national debt and no way to get out of it, bad blood with other nations, regulations that are friendly to corporate entities and the richest of the rich, and policies that drain the average worker of their life’s blood.

I don’t like these parts of our nation.  I don’t like the callous way our poorest and neediest people are treated.  I don’t like the way money can buy you damned near anything while the have-nots suffer indignity and privation.  I don’t like the way our elections go to the people who spend the most or the way our ballots themselves aren’t protected at the most basic levels.  (I’m looking at you, states with unverified electronic machines, and at you, Wisconsin that doesn’t let the military have their absentee ballots in time.)  I don’t like the attacks on women’s rights or the way a certain religious tradition has (since the ’50s) been legitimized.

Several of my friends and family members have talked about leaving the country if Obama lost.  Several different friends are now talking about moving because he won.

Don’t run away, people!  Stay here and work to make the country a better place!

Don’t like the way your Congresscritter voted?  By god, pick up the phone!  Take two minutes of your life and tell them why you thought they should have voted differently.  Or better yet, call them before they vote and tell them the following:  “As your constituent, I expect you to represent me.  I expect myself and my fellow constituents to be your highest priority and your most important so-called interest group.  I expect you to do what is right for the people of this district.  And I expect you to vote for/against this issue.  I and my neighbors are watching you, and we’re watching who contributes to your campaign, and we’re going to know if you throw us under the bus in favor of deep pockets.  We’re watching.”

Yes, people, I am telling you to get involved.  Once a month, sit down and look up a pet project or cause or idea.  Are you from a military background?  Do you ride a motorcycle?  Do you have kids?  Are you worried about the number of homeless you see on the streets?  Did you hear about a methadone clinic going in down the street from your favorite store?  What is on your mind?  What is bothering you today?

Look it up.  The entire internet lays before you – LOOK IT UP!!  Find two articles that support your position and two that oppose it.  Read all four of them.  Think about them.  If they spark any questions, look those up too.  Get yourself some answers.  And then – you guessed it – make that call!  Call your Congresscritter, call the President, call the Mayor, call your City Councilperson, call your County Commissioner, call the Governor.  Call whomever is in a position to do something about the problem – and tell them you want them to do something about the problem!

Or you can write a letter.

Or you can send an email.

Or you can show up on their doorstep (perhaps on Lobby Day with a bunch of your like-minded friends?) and tell them to their face.

Or you can wait till they do a town hall meeting in your area and tell them to their face then.

Are you catching on to my theme?  Find some issue that pushes your buttons, learn about it, and do something!  Voting is an important part of our civic duty, but if all we ever do is vote and then bitch about the results, we are not doing enough.

We.  Can.  Do.  More.

Please, don’t be afraid of what the next four years may bring.  Don’t focus on getting away from America, don’t focus on what might go wrong or what might happen later.  Focus on what’s happening now.  Focus on what you can fight for, or fight against, or change.

Six years ago, when the REAL ID Act was being discussed, I was able to go to Olympia for a Lobby Day.  I was able to meet with Rep. Eickmeyer and sit in his office discussing the bill with him.  We talked in particular about the technology used and the security problems it poses.  I will always remember the satisfaction I felt when I was able to teach him more than he already knew about it, and I will always be proud that I influenced his vote by talking to him that day.  That’s right, my visit changed the way my representative voted.  It’s an incredible feeling.  It’s powerful, and it’s humbling at the same time.  Because you feel like you’re part of the process, part of something bigger.  You start to own your government.  You don’t feel so much that the government owns you.

That’s a feeling every American should have.  In my personal opinion, the apathy and low voter turnout and acceptance of crappy results or poorly written legislation and its unintended consequences and all of that garbage would disappear if we got involved in the process.

So write a frikkin letter already!  Make a bloody phone call!  If you’re upset by the result, now is not the time to grab a beer and bitch with your friends about how bad it’s going to get.  Now is not the time to go to church and pray for the country to miraculously be saved.  Now is not the time to put all your life savings into gold bars and hide them in your custom bomb shelter with forty years’ worth of canned foods and bottled water.

Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and go talk to the people in power.  Now is the time for you, my Joe the Plumber Republican friends who work for everything you have and worry about the future your children will inherit, to step up and get involved.  Now is the time for you to tell your elected officials that you are paying attention to them.   Now is the time to learn more about the people on the other side of the aisle, to figure out what they want, and to push forward in those areas where your interests coincide.

Now is the time to make a better America.

Because people, we are all being played against each other.  And those who sit on the sidelines are exacerbating the problem, letting the people who pull the strings keep doing what they do.  So get on the field and start playing the game.

Wow, has it really been a month?

Apparently it has.  So here we go with the updates:

I have yet to hear back form the Navy Band about whether I’m accepted or not.  My recruiter hasn’t heard anything either, and he may or may not be getting tired of me calling him.  😉

Albert has moved back in with family in anticipation of me leaving.  It’s really weird to be broken up, but I am enjoying the peace and quiet.  Not to mention the lack of TV in my home!

I’m trying to get out more, especially spending more time with musical people and friends who I’ve neglected.  I’ve said “Sorry, I can’t” to so many invitations over the past few years, it feels great to say “I’ll be there” instead!  It’s running me a little ragged, but mostly because I’m not managing my time well enough.

My workouts have been inconsistent at best, though I’m seeing a little bit of improvement in the holding-of-breath-when-swimming department.  The brain is still NOT PLEASED with the fact that I’m doing hard physical work and am unable to breathe whenever I want.  Kinda turns me into a gasping mess at times…  So I go play mermaid and wear flippers and swim around underwater so I can’t cheat and take a breath when I’m not supposed to.  It’s hard, but still kinda fun.  And I try to go with daMama and Rosi instead of alone.

I’m back into too-busy-to-bother-with-food mode, so if I turn into a skeleton just buy me a sandwich k?  Make it a club with cheddar and light mayo please.  I’m not starving myself on purpose, it just kinda happens…  I’ve been watching the Food Network while on the treadmill tho, which makes me hungry for two reasons and then I’ll eat something.  Plus, it gives me all these great ideas which makes me WANT to cook later.  Not that it helps all the time!

Spending more time with musical people has made me want to write better.  In fact, I spent some time with Mike Pratt last week, and I’m basically feeling shamed into improving!  LOL  Not that he’s less than gracious about his own abilities, but he’s a very talented and skilled songwriter and I’m feeling motivated by exposure.  In fact, tomorrow I’m going to a songwriters’ show and (if I can get the cojones up) I’m going to play a few of my songs – to a room full of other songwriters.  This, my friends, is a very frightening prospect for me.  All y’all people who don’t want to sing in front of me?  I’m in your shoes now.  I have to take my inadequate, half-written pieces that need more help than I’m presently able to give them, and present them not only publicly, but to a group of people which will include at least a few folks who have done this for much longer than me and are consequently much better at it.  I am not looking forward to it.

I’m going to leave things there, since I have to jet to Silverdale and teach a class now.  I know I say this all the time, but I’ll try to update more often going forward!

Depression

K, so if admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, then I shall do so.

I’m dealing with some depression right now.  I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I’m feeling ready for a change.  But the change is taking so long in coming, it’s getting frustrating.  I was just saying last night, I’ve gone through the part where I let go of my plans and embrace the new paradigm.  So I’ve turned the mental corner and I’m ready for the new thing now.  But it isn’t coming!  So I’m still stuck here in my old life, the one that won’t work and isn’t working and that I’ve already given up.  But I can’t go on to my new life yet.

So I’m feeling really out of sorts and it’s really messing with my head.  I guess the only thing to do is soldier through and deal with it, huh?  At least I have friends who I can turn to and get it off my chest, which I really need to employ more often because it’s a much better coping mechanism than my usual ones.

Know what?  I think I’ll go clean the affirmations off my mirror and write a new one.  Something along the lines of, “You will succeed if you apply yourself.”  With the IF really big.

And then tonight I’m going to go see my wonderful family and celebrate my nephew’s birthday and bask in the love and appreciation and togetherness and understanding and BELONGING that makes me so happy to have been born into this bunch of people.

Take that, depression.

Announcement

Big changes are a-coming…  There’s no way to work up to this, so I’m just gonna pull the bandage right off in one yank.

I’m auditioning for the Navy Band.

Yep, I’m going to enlist in the US Navy and join the band and be a Navy rock star for the next few years.  Didn’t know the Navy had rock bands?  They do.  In fact, they have 11 fleet bands around the world, each of which has 2-3 vocalists.  One of those fleet bands is stationed at NBK-Bangor, right here in my backyard.  If they station me there, I’ll only be gone for about 7 months (8 weeks of basic, 21 of A school) and then I’ll be back home again for most of my tour.  If they don’t, I could end up in California or Europe or Hawaii or on the East Coast.  Who knows?

At any rate, I’m offering what I feel is my greatest talent and skill in service of my country.  It’s a decision I have not made lightly, and in fact one I was on the verge of making two years ago.  In 2010 I decided to stay here, but I guess it was just a matter of time!  I keep telling people that if I’d known at 18 that I could do this, I’d only be a few years out from retirement right now.  But no, I had to talk to the Army recruiter…  And the Army doesn’t have a dedicated vocalist position.  You know, it never occurred to me to walk out the door and into one of the other branches.  But hey, life is funny that way and playing the “what if” game is stupid and unproductive.

So this is the plan:  I serve for 5 years, and if I like it then I stay in until I want out.  If I don’t like it, then I’m back here in 5 years buying a house and picking up where I left off.

Either way, I’m excited and ready for a change.  Both Etsy stores will remain open for sales in my absence (big thanks to Albert who will be shipping packages out for me until I’m able to take back over) tho there obviously won’t be any new items available until I get to my duty station.  Keep an eye out for future communications as to when I go – it’ll be business as usual for the next couple months, or however long it takes for me to get on the road.

Bad news

Let me be brief: I’m not opening a store any time soon.

Yup, after spending the last year writing a business plan, doing market research, and building interest, I’m going to have to set aside the plans to open The Bead and Bean (and Broads and Bullets and Brews and I forget what the other thing was), at least for now.

Apparently I should have taken a few steps earlier that I waited to take till I had my stuff together better.  One of those things was sitting down with somebody from the bank and talking turkey.  ‘Cause it turns out, the turkey is me.

The short version is that after a brief presentation of my business plan to a panel of four mentors, they’re very impressed with the work I’ve done and the passion I have for my dreams and ideas, but – here’s the kicker – money talks.  And I’d have to have an awful lot of it to get a lease.  In my case, around $50,000.

Once the hysterical laughter subsided and I picked myself back up off the floor, I realized they weren’t kidding and there’s no way I can do this.  I mean, really?  Fifty grand?  Ain’t gonna happen unless I win the lottery, and you can’t win if you don’t play.  So I’m out.

Now, the good news is that by waiting, I’ll be able to open the store at a better time, when the economy is stronger and I’m in a better position to make it all work.  I mean, there really isn’t any advantage to opening a store now.  Let’s be realistic.  Consumer spending is starting to come back up, but it’s still pretty darned low.  And the commercial real estate market isn’t like the residential market; all those empty buildings are not causing lessors to lower their rates.  So there wouldn’t be an upside to opening now anyways.

Still, it’s pretty disappointing for me to have to do a 180 on this, especially since I could have spent the past year improving and refining my presentation for market.  But you know, I’m still teaching, and I’m still offering classes and parties, and I’m still selling online.  And I’m not giving up, not by far.  Just going to focus on those aspects of the biz for now, and leave the store for later.

So it’s bad news.  But it’s better than opening the store in ignorance and failing miserably!

Why yes, I do say “Happy Holidays”

Sure, I celebrate Christmas.  But I’m aware that quite a few people around me don’t.  In fact, It’s happened more than once that I’ve inquired about people’s Christmas plans, or how their Christmas went, then felt a bit chagrined when they reminded me that they were Jewish or pagan, and celebrated something else.

Understand, I have never once had someone think I was rude for doing that.  I mean, when you look at the demographics, it is a pretty safe assumption that most of the people you’re gonna run into in Kitsap County do celebrate Christmas.  So some people think I’m silly for catering to everyone and saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

What they don’t get is that it’s more for me than for anyone else.  I won’t have to feel embarrassment for forgetting which religion that particular friend or acquaintance lives.

What I don’t get about the whole mess is why they think it’s okay to be rude to people who are just being friendly.  I mean, really?  When did it become okay, when a person greeted you with good tidings of cheer, to throw it back in their face because they didn’t shine a proverbial spotlight on your personal beliefs?  What the hell, people?  That person was being nice!  Show a little bit of freaking grace and smile!  Wish them a Merry Christmas back, but don’t go around like the greeting police trying to make them all say what you want them to!

I knew we were losing our sights of common manners and decency when it became socially acceptable to ignore the people right in front of you (cashier in the middle of a transaction, friend trying to converse with you, significant other when you’re on a date) in favor of cell phone conversations, Facebook, and Words With Friends.  And this is reinforcing that marked lack of expectation.

As we get closer together through artificial means like Twitter and Skype, we simultaneously are becoming more and more distant from each other in real life.  I know it’s nothing new; this was a concern with TV, with wireless phones, probably with radio, maybe even with newspapers.  I don’t know how many connectivity inventions have prompted this concern, but I know it’s been around for a long time.  In fact, that’s why the Amish don’t have phones in their homes.  Not because phones are evil, but because having them in the home would prove a disruption to a good family life.  So they have a central phone for the whole village, and you go to the phone if you want to use it.  That’s right, you stop what you’re doing, and go do one thing at a time.

I guess my point is that we’re becoming a rude society.  Not just a society where people are rude, but one where rudeness is accepted, even expected.  A society where there’s no reason to be polite.

And that, more than any other social ill I can think of, frightens me.  If we don’t have even the most basic of concern for each other that we can even look each other in the eye, how can we ever form communities?  How can we ever have good relationships?  How can we ever trust each other to uphold the social fabric?

Maybe I can’t trust my neighbor to give two shits about watching my property for potential burglars while I’m out of town.  Maybe I can’t trust my kids’ teachers not to molest them.  Maybe I can’t trust my clergy member to teach me truth.  Maybe I can’t trust my elected representatives to make decisions with the public’s interest in mind.

Oh wait…  We can’t.

Does anybody else see the big picture connection of rudeness and disrespect?  Religious right-wingers would have you believe that the only way we can save society from complete breakdown is to get on our knees and beg “God” to take over.  (Not that the massive financial gain affects their reasoning…)  Because their knowledge of good and evil comes out of a book (and because they think they have a monopoly on moral knowledge), they refuse to see that morality – knowledge of right and wrong and behavior according to an accepted code – can exist without their special book.

I’ve really gone down a rabbit track here, I know.  This whole post took a much deeper twist than I intended it to.  But can you still see my basic point?  When somebody says something nice to you (defined by them meaning it in a nice way and also by it following an acceptable social format), it is inexcusably rude for you to tell them to be exclusionary and selective.

So get off my back.  I say “Happy Holidays,” and I’m not stopping any time soon.

It’s NaNo time again

October is nearly over, and you know what that means…  It’s almost National Novel Writing Month!

This year I’m writing about the first permanent colonists going to Mars.  There will be a deadly accident (potentially involving the Traveling Shovel of Death), lots of interpersonal conflicts, and plenty of nerdy science.

So my posts throughout November will be short and possibly incoherent.  Bear with me, I’ll be creating elsewhere.

If I actually feel confident in what I come up with, I might put an excerpt or three here for your perusal.

At any rate, have a safe Halloween!  I’ll be at the E Brem Shari’s at 11pm to kick off the 30 days of insanity.