Sunday, September 25, 2011


I'm toying with the idea of allowing Facebook to languish in its thirst for useless change while I return to blogging more frequently. My comments won't be seen by as many people, but I suspect most people who see my comments now don't find them particularly enlightening or interesting. I can be boring right here on Blogger.

It's not that I can't adapt to change. I can and I do and I really welcome change. But when change appears to be made for its own sake and, in the process, reduces the utility and attractiveness of a product, I rebel. Maybe I'll get over it. Maybe not. In the overall scheme of things, my reaction to Facebook isn't all that important. But we'll see whether it's important enough to me to let Facebook go on its merry way without my regular presence.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Walkery and Things

I woke up a bit earlier than usual this morning, around a quarter to five. On weekdays, I try to walk two to three miles early in the morning, but I put more demands on myself on weekends. On a typical Saturday, I would wait until around six o'clock to get going, but today I opted to get right into it. So, just before five, I set out for what I told myself would be a minimum of four miles.
It has been awhile since I went north on my morning walks, so I decided to inject a little change into my morning routine and headed north.

Despite the fact that I've been taking morning walks for quite some time, I'm never quite "up" for them. It might be different if they were leisurely strolls, but they're not. I push myself, though not too hard, to start with and keep up a pretty brisk pace, almost always 15 minutes per mile or better; that's four miles or more per hour. By the time I'm ten or fifteen minutes into the walk, though, I fee much better about it and am glad I pushed through the doubt about whether I really wanted to go out.

Most mornings I stay on low-traffic residential streets or on one of the nearby hike-bike trails, but today I spent the majority of my time on fairly busy main arteries, though at the early hour of my walks there's not a great deal of traffic. The one big difference, though, is that the critters I often seen on less-traveled streets are largely missing when I hit the main roads. No bunnies, no raccoons, no possums scampering across the street. Just the occasional car or caravan of cars, plus a walker or runner every now an again.

This morning, I saw a runner I've seen on many previous walks. As usual, this young, thin, closely-shaven-headed guy who runs carrying a light pack on his back did not acknowledge me when we passed going in opposite directions. I always acknowledge other walkers and runners and bicyclists but often am disappointed that they do not return the greeting. I wonder if they are so deeply into a meditative routine that they either choose not to interact with others or are oblivious to others around them.

At any rate, this guy followed his pattern of staring straight ahead and not acknowledging my wave and "good morning!" as we passed. A short while later, though, as I was walking against traffic, closely hugging to the curb, I heard a loud voice right behind me. I was not expecting it and was startled by it. I had my headphones on and was listening to "World Cafe," so I was admittedly a bit distracted, but I keep the volume low so I can hear vehicles and people nearby. I did not quite understand what he said, but later decided he must have said "on your right" as he was about to pass me. When I heard that loud sound, though, I twisted around quickly and saw him (the same closely-shaven-headed guy who had been running the other direction earlier) and said something like "Oh! You startled me!" He said, at about the same time and just as he passed by, "I'm sorry I scared you." It woke me out of my distracted state and probably increased my heart-rate by a good fifty percent.

As I continued on my way, I began thinking about all the people I see while out on my walks. Rarely do they seem very friendly as we pass by one another. I try to smile and wave and say "good morning" whenever I pass, but rarely do I get a reciprocal attitude. While the guy with the backpack may be in his Zen state, the guy strolling along at a leisurely pace, looking at the sky and the trees and the birds, probably isn't. Nor is the woman walking her dogs. Or the chatty women walking together. Most of them, if they acknowledge me at all, seem nervous and suspicious.

I wonder why. I wonder how they would react if I asked them to stop and talk to me. "I'm writing an article on interacting on the exercise trail and wonder if you'd have a word with me?" Would I be rejected?

I may find out. I may not.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cleansing...Will a Year Do It?

The time is approaching, apace, when I will no longer be obliged to lie about business. No longer will I be required to advocate for business models I abhor, pimp for marketing strategies I find personally offensive, and prevaricate in the name of business development.

This may be a good thing. Or it may be an opportunity for me to look inward and realize what a prostitute I have been for virtually all of my professional life.

As I recall, the first time I was expected to be the mouthpiece for a cause I found offensive was just before the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The organization for which I worked at the time was petrified by the ADA. Its members felt like they were being targeted. They felt like the "disabled" were asking for too much and unwilling to pay for what they asked. They felt like they were being, spend money to make their places of business accessible without any reasonable justification for the requirement. After all, they reasoned, people in wheelchairs or people who were deaf and needed sign interpreters were unlikely to visit their places of business. Why spend money on accommodations when there was no one to accommodate?

Of course there was no one to accommodate. Absent accommodations, the people who really needed the accommodations weren't likely to be there, were they? And if they would come AFTER the ADA, it would only be to serve as needlers to the members I was representing.

Had I been blessed with balls and a strong sense of morality and personal responsibility, I would have fought the directive to defend members' positions. But I was ball-less and amoral. It was my job. I had to defend my employer. In hindsight, and in shame, I can say with conviction: "Bullshit!"

It didn't stop there, though. Aside from opposing ADA and arguing that the law was making too many unfunded demands, I argued that individuals who worked long hours for a single company doing the company's bidding should NOT be treated as employees. No, they should be classified as independent contractors because they agreed to be classified in that fashion when they were "engaged" by the business. No matter that they were bound to stay with home-bound people for 24 hours or 48 hours or more at a stretch, and no matter that their contracts provided that they would be paid only for 8 hours of work at a "contractor" rate within any 25 hour period. No, I was asked to...and I did...defend companies that didn't want the tax and administrative and insurance burden of employees. I was a peach, wasn't I? My morality was unmatched.

Looking back, I see hundreds of examples of abandoning my own principles and morals and sense of decency in favor of my employers' expectations. On those few occasions in which I argued as forcefully as I felt I could that my employers' positions were morally corrupt (even when I didn't use or suggest such terms), I was dismissed. "What's he gonna do, quit?" That's what the boards must have thought. If I had even a slim, brittle backbone, that's exactly what I would have done.

How can I make up for an entire life lived on the underside of morality? As much as I might want to do it, I don't know that I can.

The question is whether I can continue to live with the acknowledgement of my inability to made suitable amends to the world around me.

Maybe a year, more or less, on the road will allow me to clear my conscience. I guess we'll soon see.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Tonight, I watched The Other Side of the Border, a documentary produced by the local PBS affiliate, KERA. It told the story of a number of people who have long been forced to fight the realities of their "undocumented status" and what that status means to them, to their families, and to their futures. My emotions are fragile after watching that program because I really feel for the people whose troubles were profiled, but for much more, as well.

It troubles me that the program was produced in 1987. Nothing has improved. NOTHING! If anything, the people whose lives are turned into poker hands due to bureaucratic lunacy and capitalistic racism and greed on steroids are facing WORSE conditions today. Does no one really give a fuck what happens to these people? Are they really, truly on their own? Does our economic system really just drink their blood and throw their corpses on the stinking pile to be carried off by carrion-eating governmental policy wonks and corporate greed-feasters?

I wonder what burdens people carry? Does anyone feel guilt at putting families into an unending cycle of poverty? Does anyone care that children are being guaranteed futures of illiteracy, poverty, and fear?

Today, just for today, I'm on the edge of wanting my connection with humanity to end. I feel right now that I don't want to be associated with the filth that masquerades as humanity. I assume this shall pass...but it will be a temporary lull in an otherwise loathsome state.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Today's Thoughts

A friend of mine posted a link on her Facebook page yesterday; I found it quite interesting. Surprisingly, the link is to a blog written by a minister in an Indiana church, a church affiliated with American Baptist Churches and the Church of Christ. Anyone who knows me as the heathen I am might wonder what I could admire about a sermon. Let me tell you.

While the Christian platform upon which the post was based is at odds with my own beliefs (or lack thereof, I should say), I found the writer's comments to be rooted deeply in "truth" as I believe it to be (which is to say "humanity," but outside the religious framework).

I did not post any "blather" about 9/11 yesterday, but I'm posting this today because it struck a chord with me. In response to another friend who expressed appreciation that I did not post any such "blather" yesterday, I said "If I had chosen to write about September 11, it would not have been required reading. If someone decides to mark the anniversary of something meaningful or painful by putting up blather, so be it."

Unlike many people, who deliberately chose not to watch or listen to any of the ceremeonial tributes to the 9/11 attacks, I watched and listened to more than one. I found some of what I watched and heard profoundly moving. I do not consider all the victims of those attacks to be "heroes," but I do consider the events of that horrific day worth recalling. The arguments made in the blog linked above that I found particularly appealing were those that acknowledged our own responsibilities, as a country, for our role in a global maelstorm. This, in particular, appealed to me:

When presented with an opportunity for humility, an opportunity to turn the other cheek and respond with lovingkindness, we as a people did not do so. When presented with an opportunity to look seriously at our shortcomings as players on the global stage and reconsider our historic methods of coercion, we as a people did not do so.

Instead, we have spent the better part of ten years responding from a place of fear and intolerance. We have waged wars that have not made us safer. We have said things that cannot be unsaid.

In short, we have dug ourselves further and further into debt. We have shamed ourselves.

Oh, by the way, another piece about 9/11 I watched yesterday intrigued me. It was a short (about 11 minute) video about the "boatlift" of people from lower Manhattan that day. According to the video, the boatlift was the largest water evacuation of people in human history, dwarfing the Dunkirk evacuation.

So, there you have just a sampling of where my thoughts about 9/11 were yesterday.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Just 2 Months

Time is moving at the speed of light. Just 2 more months and I'll be unemployed, with no income and no prospects for any. I'm trying not to panic, but it's not easy. There are so many things I want to do, write, experience, see, discuss. But I feel like I'm ADD in a big way. I hope that disappears; I cannot afford to bounce from idea to idea without taking any action on any of them. I cannot even write. Ugh.