Butch

When I was a kid, in elementary school, we used to play outside a lot. And one person who often seemed to enjoy hanging with us was Butch.

Butch was older than we were, but I think maybe he felt safe with us. He was – not quite normal.

He rode his bike, and there were bullies that tried to chase him. He got scared from them.

I remember when he got a job. He was so proud of his work, sweeping. He knew it was important. It made him feel important. He even got a paycheck, and I remember that he showed it to my mother. (She advised him not to show it to people. She knew someone could have taken advantage of him.)

Butch was never going to be able to get a higher caliber job. He did not have the ability. Something had happened to him as an infant, and he didn’t have the wherewithal. (I asked my family if they remembered more about him. My brother remembered someone called Bobby S (I will omit the last name) who was dropped on his head, and had a misshapen head, but didn’t know more. I am going to assume that Bobby went by Butch, and was the same person I remember.

Why am I dredging up this old memory?

When there are discussions on the minimum wage, I often hear “They need to work to better themselves so they can get a better paying job. These are unskilled jobs.”

The thing is, someone like Butch can’t work to get better paying jobs. He never had a shot at that.

Another argument often made against raising minimum wage is that it is only for teens and people who have their livelihood taken care of. They don’t need more.

That, however, is not what the original intent is.

From FDR:  It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living. 

A living wage. That was the intent of minimum wage.

Right now, people working full time on minimum wage often end up needing help – in the form of SNAP (food stamps) and maybe other assistance.

If you are going to pay for assistance, why not pay for a higher, reasonable wage to start with. Give them back the dignity they deserve. I will gladly pay an extra quarter (the estimate of how much more a big mac will cost) for a burger if it means people will be able to pay their bills.

And when someone says “My business can’t afford to pay more than minimum” – that is akin to slaveowners saying “We need the slaves or we won’t make money.” Are their lives less than yours? You need to rethink your business model if you can’t afford to pay people a living wage.

Just some thoughts I have had.

And Butch, if you are still around out there, I wish you well.

Priority Paralysis

I know, I’m a bad blogger, abandoning my site for so long. Mea culpa.

It isn’t that my life has been dull, or I’ve had no thoughts on any topic in the news in the last interval.

Quite the contrary. It is, in the words of a comic strip that I cannot find on the vast expanse of the internet, priority paralysis.

Too many thoughts. Too many ideas. Think all the things. Write all the things. Do all the things.

Of course, I could just blame my daughter. You see, in the fall, she kindly taught me to crochet, even gave me some leftover yarn she had.

I was, ahem, hooked.

A month later, I broke my ankle. And had nothing to do but sit. So, I crocheted more. She gave me yarn and hooks for Christmas. I crocheted more. And more. And more. I learned different stitches, different patterns, and I wanted to crochet all the things.

In case you can’t tell, it turns out, I quite like it.

Combine this new passion with physical therapy for the ankle that won’t quite heal (more on that another time) and doing the scariest thing in the world for me (making calls to my state representatives on many different issues that I consider highly important) and frustration with things that are happening and joining a gym and going regularly and OMGmydaughterjustmovedoutofstate! – and a few other things, and – well, hard to focus these days.

So, now, I am writing about how I haven’t been writing.

And how I have been crocheting. A lot.

True story here. I have no babies. My only baby is fully adult. And I’m not counting on any babies from that quarter.

But – I discovered I love, absolutely love, crocheting baby booties. They are just so darned cute. But, again, the whole no babies thing. And those booties don’t fit me.

I even designed one pattern of my own. (Still fine tuning it.)

So I had only one option, really. And now, I have an Etsy shop.

Feel free to stop by. Over time, I probably will take orders for different colors. Right now, it would be on a case by case basis. (Part of the case being – can I get the right colors you want.) But who knows what else I will end up adding to the virtual shelves.

And I promise, I will try to not go so long between posts again.

Here is my shop!

The Responsible Health Care Approach

I consider myself a fiscally responsible person.

My dh and I have had debt three times (four, if you count our student debt separately, though much of that was accrued before we married) – student loans, first car, and first house. We paid all back early.

We are interest averse. We use a credit card (that has a cash back bonus) that we pay off in full each month.

We save more than we spend. We are currently in a fortunate position to be able to do that. (Granted, when he was unemployed, we dug into savings. But – we had savings to dig into. I recognize that not everyone has been able to do that.)

And I am fortunate enough to have decent insurance through my husband’s employer. Hopefully, that won’t change with the new administration and Congress, but I am not holding out a lot of hope. The current bill being floated, that passed the House, would potentially throw out protections against people with pre-existing conditions, let life time caps come back, and all sorts of fun things like that. I have had a number of rather expensive problems, and have several pre-existing conditions.

What I would really like to see Congress do is enact a universal health care program, a single payer, health care that is not attached to one’s employment. In the long run, I believe this would be fiscally more responsible than the hastily cobbled mess that passed last week.

Given that 75% (approximately) of all bankruptcies were due to medical costs, guaranteeing all coverage seems a fiscally responsible thing.

If all Americans were covered, regardless of employment, small business owners might feel more comfortable expanding, increasing hiring, because they wouldn’t have to worry about the high cost of insuring those new employees.

Entrepreneurs would feel more free to spread their wings and start a business, because they wouldn’t have to worry about insurance for themselves and their families.

Don’t Republicans always claim they want to encourage new businesses, innovation, and so on, that it is the engine of our economy? Wouldn’t doing things that encourage said growth bring growth to the economy?

Yes, that small business owner may pay a bit more in taxes. I suspect the amount more would be less, though, than the amount to pay for insurance for each of his employees as well as himself and his family.

I don’t see this happening in the near future. But please, please, I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong.

Drum Beats

We’ve all heard it – so-and-so hears the beat of a different drummer.

But I was thinking, perhaps we all have our own drumbeats. And maybe, some of us just have more than one rhythm.

My daughter definitely always fell into the “different drummer” category. I claimed that she had to be awfully bright, since she obviously read all the baby books in utero and said, “I’m not doing anything like that!”

I had fantasies when I was pregnant, dreams of cradling my little infant.

So, what did I get?

Boom! The baby who was happiest up on the shoulder, checking things out.

Boom! Drool. Lots of drool.

Like, puddles. The neighbors down the street had a cat, Felix, who was very sweet. Would be happy to be pet by anyone. But when he was pet, he lost control, and drooled.

So, when my daughter pet Felix, there were two puddles coalescing into one large drool pool.

Boom!  When she played with the neighbor’s daughter, a girl two years older than my little one. Little kids are supposed to follow the older ones, imitate them, be lead by them.

Not my girl. She found a doily, put it on her bottom, and said she was Winnie the Pooh, stuck in Rabbit’s house. The other little girl followed suit.

Independent. Didn’t care what the others were doing.

When we homeschooled, for a number of years, I tried like crazy to get my kiddo to write. She would do the bare minimum – unless it suited her own purposes to write more. She looked at the topics from other angles. I remember one chemistry test, she could have answered a brief one sentence.

Boom! No, she started with, “The answer the book is looking for is x, but…” And went on for two paragraphs to explain the actual right answer.

She was right.

Now, she listens to the analytical side of her – when she needs it. And she continues to have her creative side. Those two beats make an amazing rhythm together.

Go ahead, follow your own drummer. We need more music.

Help a Mother

Priority paralysis. It’s a real thing.

Right now, there are so many urgent-feeling issues, and I want to solve them all.

Of course, I won’t actually solve any. I may, however, be a small part of the solution to one or two. By small, I mean, one of millions. But then, the sort of problems I tend to think about require millions to act.

And sometimes, they just require a few to act – if it is the right few, acting in a helpful manner.

Right now, I am very concerned about the health of someone I love. I rely on this loved one, for so much in my life. Sustenance, joy, peace, solace. Air. Water.

My mother and yours – Mother Earth. Mother Nature.

She is struggling, you see. She has had a hard enough time, what with some of the kids wanting to rip her flesh from her bones, burn it, and blow the smoke back in her face. But we have had a number of years of people trying to slow that desecration down, help improve matters.
And things had improved. In 1970, total CO (carbon monoxide) emissions were 204,042 (thousands of tons.) In 2016, the number was down to 58,983.

Sulfur dioxide (remember acid rain?) went from 31,218 to 2,709.

Those are significant improvements. (Thank you, President Nixon. We remember him for Watergate, but at least he did some good, too.)

Not everything is great, of course, but we had been working to move the dial in the right direction.

That changes now. With President Trump, we have a president that wants to eliminate regulations, nothing that might come between corporations and profits. (Never mind that there are actual costs associated with the pollutants that they produce, and that by letting them off the hook, we, the every day taxpayer, are going to have to either pay to clean up their mess, or pay to mitigate the damage caused by it. Damage like crop damage, health damage, and so on.)

I feel like I am tilting at windmills (which, by the way, are a good alternative to polluting by burning more coal – a finite resource), but perhaps if enough of us get on our horses and joust with the anti-environment folk, we can make a positive impact.

Let’s hope so. My mother and yours is counting on it.

True Confession

“The first one’s free.”

That was my daughter, admitting that yes, she is a pusher.

She got her friend started. Then she got me started.

Now, I’m a hooker. Yes, I admit it. Openly. I’m trying to keep things above board.

I – I <sobs> crochet.

It started so simply. Just some leftover yarn, single crochet, a simple scarf.

Hey, that wasn’t so bad. By the time I got to the end, I was starting to get a hang of things.

Then, for Christmas, she gave me hooks and yarn. And helped me come up with a project – a sampler afghan. I liked the idea of trying lots of different stitches, but not being committed to a whole scary project of just one.

And now, over a dozen blocks later, I’m hooked.

Oooh, look at this pattern. It looks so cool. Popcorn stitch? Easy, peasy. Basketweave? Wow, looks cool, and even this klutz can do it.

And so it goes.

If you are looking for me, I’ll be in the yarn section, scouting out my next score. Er, project. Yeah, that’s it. My project.
crochet samples

Tomorrow’s NASA announcement

NASA has announced an upcoming announcement. Tomorrow, whatever they are going to tell us, they will tell us. So far, they have just told us they will tell us. Which, to me, makes no sense. Just tell us, already, darn it!

But, since we have to wait another day, I thought I would speculate. In no order, from serious to absurd, here or possibilities.

They are going to announce that:

There are no more exoplanets, and all of them have been mapped.

They found one that is very Earth-like, and plan to send a probe there.

That we are living on an exoplanet. We only think we are on Earth.

That all funding for research on exoplanets has been withdrawn.

That funding for exoplanet research has been increased, with the new mission to find valuable ores to pillage.

That the alien overlords have returned, and are using them as a mouthpiece, that they had just popped out for a three-alien-version-of-martini lunch, and it took a bit longer than expected to get back, because that intergalactic traffic was murder.

That the president is actually an illegal alien, from a distant planet, and is being returned.

That all of us are actually aliens, and the Earth is being returned to its original owners, and we are all being relocated to a lovely condo near Rigel.

That the galactic police are here to enforce planetary cleanup policies effective immediately. (Why that one would have to wait for tomorrow, I don’t know.)

That they received a message, and all our computers are running slow, and they have an offer to help fix that. Odd, how they sounded an awful lot like they were from India…

What do you think? Is it one of these? Or you could post your own in the comments.