Archive for December, 2010:
For a lot of people the holidays are a time of strife (all that running around, the demands of gifts) or depression (no running around, no one to get gifts for) and sometimes the holidays are just an inspiration, no matter who you are.
I had a moment like that, this year. It was Christmas Eve and I was out for some last minute supplies . . . and there it was: the best Christmas tree ever.
Let’s take a side moment now before you say ‘but I’m Jewish!’ or ‘I don’t have a tree, I celebrate Kwanzaa’. Let’s be honest, none of that really matters. A lot of non-Christians have trees for the holiday. The tree doesn’t belong to Jesus or . . . well, if Jesus and the Christians had been in charge there wouldn’t be a tree. The tree doesn’t say ‘birth of our savior’ it says ‘pagan fertility ritual’.
The glass balls are representative of eggs – a universal symbol of making babies. It’s a pine tree, because they are alive in the middle of the snowy season. And there’s an angel on top because Santa was in a bad mood when the angel said “I have this tree, where do you want me to put it?” and Santa said “You can stick it up your-“ . . . well, you get it.
It’s the holidays again.
You may be one of those smug people who already has all your shopping done and everything is mailed. Or you may be rushing around taking care of all the last minute details. Or you may be like me and realize that you forgot to get anything for a very near and dear relative. Ooops!
Whichever you are, chances are you will get rewarded one of two ways: 1) you will go and stay at a relative’s home or 2) they will come to yours.
I’m sorry – who thought this was a good idea?
Think about it . . . how many of your friends’ homes do you spend the night at? How many times during the year do you go and take up their guest room for two to five nights? Probably none. And these are the people you choose to spend time with. Your friends are the people that you like.
Spending time at someone else’s home is stressful. You parents have rules that you think are silly. If you have grown kids visiting, then they probably don’t like your rules. And it isn’t a ‘well, I don’t like that’ kind of thing, it’s more like ‘I grew up that way and had a lot of time to think about it and I still think it’s stupid.’
Have you ever done something that made perfect sense at the time? At each step along the way, what you were doing was the clear and right decision, but – somehow – at the end of it you looked back and thought “How the hell did I get here?”
I’m convinced this is the way our education system works. Teachers should be accountable. Good teachers should show improvement in children’s test scores. Children should be able to multiply – quickly. So far, so good. But somehow we have kids who have to do 100 multiplication problems in 2 minutes (written, not oral) or they fail second grade math. Yeah, I bet you’d fail second grade math now, too.
Honestly, it’s the way our government works, too. It seemed like a good idea to be capitalist and let the businesses govern themselves. Until we found ourselves paying for golden parachutes and feeling like we were getting golden showers in return.
But it’s the way of the world. And so I, too, find myself in one of those situations.
Let me explain.
I want my children to understand the value of money. I want my kids to be able to work together toward a common goal. And I want them to learn early to save for something big once in a while, rather than spending it on token items. (I really, really hate Pokemon cards!) Enter the “Adventure Jar”. The children have to put a fourth of their earnings into the jar, and when we have enough we go on a new adventure.
We all get bombarded with ads everywhere. And I’m not stupid enough to think that a website that streams my favorite LA radio station to my Nashville computer is free. Nope. There are a handful of ads on the site, and if I pull up the radio player then I have to listen to a 15 second ad before I can hear the music. Small price to pay, right?
Usually, I say yes. Half the things they advertise are all the way across the country. No, I can’t/won’t come pawn my jewelry in Van Nuys. Whatever. I just want my radio. Unfortunately, today I was asked to say “yes, yes! YES!!!” If you didn’t ask, it was an ad that said Astroglide Lubricant was a better gift than flowers or jewelry. Yeah, trying handing that to your wife on your anniversary. Ironically, I think it means you’ll be sleeping alone. Hmmm. The Astroglide might come in handy then . . . I’ll stop now.
I’m used to the ads on the side of my silent websites, too. I’d better be. Some of those ads are mine! A friend once called to say he saw my banner ad while he was logged in from his hotel room in Rome. The ads are why the sites are free. And that’s OK.
But some of it is wrong. I saw the same pic next to “Working mom in Nashville makes $7,763/mo working from home” and the same picture and title with “Charlottesville”. The things you learn when you log in from travel!
As an author, I am a reader. (I’m sure that’s no surprise). Like many readers I crawl through the bookstore trolling for . . . books! No, I’m not doing the Saturday night bookstore meat-market thing! It’s just about the books.
Though many of you do this, too (the books, not the hookups) how many of you have crunched the numbers? Yeah, I’m just that geeky . . . and sadly, my brain works in ways that I often don’t have to go looking for the numbers, a lot of them just pop out at me.
For example, in the fiction section, usually about 1/3 of the books are written by authors whose last name starts with A B or C. True. Check out your phone book . . . though the first half of the alphabet starts more first names (by about an order of 2!) compared to the second half, the last names are more evenly distributed. But not at the bookstore. This means that you Last-Namers with A-C names are far more likely to become authors than us end-of-the-alphabetters. Or – what I really suspect – is that writers and publishers are picking pen names that aim to put their books at beginning of the shelf. Of course, the irony here is that even ‘Carlton’ is now a good ways down the shelf.
Another thing that concerns me about bookstores is that this is where the future people will look to learn about us. They will find our books – or Kindles – and they will see what we read. Not so much because we read it, but because we found it important enough to document.