Thursday, October 19, 2006

ethos of work

What is it about our society, which paints the "something for nothing" mentality in such a beatific light? Is it the wish to have heroes that stimulates this prevalence? I can understand the idea of wanting someone or something we can project our selves onto, I believe that may be ingrained deeply in what makes us ourselves. It might even be a bit biological (think progeny here). The strange thing is how catty we all can be with our hero worship. The dollar can be whimsical and wealth can be easily squandered--wealth can be depleted, income can disappear and time in the limelight passes. We need only think of people like MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, or Debbie Gibson to realize this is true (These folks for all I know are really quite hard workers, please entertain my example here for illustrative purposes). I know...I am showing my age here by citing these particular artists.

The phenomenon to me worth mentioning is that these people held a fanatical following at some point, and their meteoric rise plummeted just as quickly when the en vogue faded. Why?

Lets look at another example. Las Vegas and it's two cities, Henderson & North Las Vegas own two of the top ten biggest growth rates in the US per the 2000 census. People want to move to Vegas baby, Vegas. No longer is it the "Jan and Dean" or "Beach Boys" era where "Mamas and Papas" are California Dreamin’, people are all about the benjamins baby. They want the big break, the big cash, and they don't want to have to wait for 65 to collect annuities from a lifelong investment.

Another example. Credit is well known as one of the easiest things to get these days. In case you just made an evolutionary leap from our troglodyte brethren, let me bring you up to speed. Banks and Financial institutions can offer bankcards which allow you to draw money against your established limit at a cost. This cost is an interest rate which compounds daily against your original balance. Brilliant right? Lend money easily and people pay you forever. It is a pre-changed Scrooge's dream, and Dickens is spinning in his grave at Westminster Abbey.

Credit has never been easier to get. The companies are trolling for easy fish, offering introductory terms that look as shiny and tasty as they innocently seem, but they contain a treble barbed hook of introductory rates, late fees, and minimum payments.

Add this to the fact that most up and coming Gen-x'ers grew up shell shocked and monetarily oblivious from the sonic boom the Baby Boomers generated, and we have a recipe for disaster. Many of the people in my generation (myself included) don’t really have the know-how to master their own money. Many even are so bemired in their own debts it will take many years to get through it (chapter 7 or 11 anyone?).

So, back to the idea of ethos. The basic etymology of the word means the fundamental character or underlying belief of a culture.

We all know Americans are Capitalistic folk. Generations of people before us have worked hard for the "American Way"--set down some roots, and earned the wealth that came to them by hard work and ingenuity. Sweat-of-the-brow stuff. Instead of this mentality now, I feel we all tend to the prevalence of the immediate payoff--the "play now and pay later" thought process (if you will), and it basically scares the shit out of me. What’s going to happen to my country, my America, when the ideals that help to make it successful are characteristics my generation doesn't care to possess?

Now, I know this is a broad brush, and I am painting the entire country in stereotypical fashion. I may be pulling a chicken little here, but what if? We need to think about these things.

Most likely the folks who followed the old ethos did not even know they had a mentality. That generation just did what needed to be done. They only knew that the thing needed to be done and it fell to no one else so they did it.

Today my generation can do the same thing. Refuse the excuses that I have listed above. Work hard, vote, put off spending your money until it is earned, use a thing up and wear it out. Most of all, don't be afraid of the previous generations of people before us. They were just leek you and I, they struggled with hopes and dreams, with the displacement and interruption of those dreams, and they succeeded in creating an America which you and I enjoy today. It isn't perfect, but it is what they worked for.

One final shot, then I am done on this soapbox. What will you and I leave behind as our legacy? Trillions on debt? Urban Sprawl? War and disease?

Lets invest less in the heroes built up from the almighty dollar. Lets think more green. We don't need to turn into ganja-growing hippies, but lets do something to believe less in this need for wealth and fame. If we can do that, I'd count our generation successful enough to proudly stand alongside the others that came before. We would be doing what needed to be done...


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Beware the strength in your fingers!

So...this morning I was trying to correct a schedule (which had been hastily written on by a colleague) with some white out. More specifically, I was trying to use a White Out pen. If you have never had the pleasure of doing your own admin work and don't know what I am quite talking about, allow me describe it for you.

A White Out pen looks quite similar to a Bic ball point pen, except that instead of ink, it is filled with a larger reservoir of watered down white out (not the gummy sticky stuff you brush on from the regular small cylinder, think watery). The dispensing of the stuff is achieved by squeezing the bulbous reservoir and rolling the ball point applicator over the error on the paper. Some folks never get to use the things, as they never make mistakes, I have as of late graduated to digital format and have left the detestable behind, but in the past was well acquainted with the unfortunate devices.

I am sure if looked at an advertisement in Woman's Day or Business Week there would be something there about White Out pens--perhaps there would be a picture of some grinning goon of an individual who appeared in near euphoria at the opportunity to be using the device. Their face would be lit with a cherubic glow and they would seem to be in ecstacy while they are scratching out row after row of mistakes.

Now flash to my desk this morning--back to the aforementioned schedule and White Out pen. My fingers are closing around the bulb, I am pressing, and none of the erroneously scrawled words are disappearing. I shake the pen, look at the roller ball and press harder. Still nothing. I press even harder, thinking perhaps some of the white out dried and I can work the dried stuff past the pen nib. Blame the next action on the fact that my mind was muddled by the blessed felicity that is proximal to the White Out pen. Instead of hearing sirens alerting me of the hazard or my own robot shouting "Danger Will Robinson", I hear angels singing. I am a cherub in the clouds! My reverie is shattered by a nasty crunch and I see white...spraying everywhere. On my desk, on the computer screen, on my two phones, on my speakers, on my I pod (Blasphemy! Bismillah!). I do believe I stood rooted to the spot for an entire 10 seconds in shock, the stuff started to run, and then it dried while I was watching it. The good feeling was gone (so much for the afterglow), supplanted by dysphoria.

In retrospect, I am glad none of the crap got in my eye. These damnable devices need a warning label, perhaps they could read: "Warning, The State of Jayblairia has found usage of this device can create inexplicable feelings of fury and birth defects. If you have minimal finger strength and are prone to rapture induced by advertising, please don safety goggles and use at own risk".

I know I'd at least feel better.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sean Connery...

In the past week, I have watched Indianna Jones and the Last Crusade and The Hunt for Red October and I realized just how much I enjoy this guy. He has wit, charm, candor and an on screen presence that can only be called debonaire. If I were The Queen, I'd have nighted him too. Now, if he can only keep up the uber-masulinity and not follow Sir Lawrence Olivier down that path form which no traveler can return...ahem (need i say more than King Lear??).

I had hoped to ramble off something poignant tonight, but the words elude me. So, I must humbly request you go rent these two classics (strange that 1989 and 1990 are considered thus) and report back forthwith.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

The perfect postum recepie

Ok, so most of the world drinks coffee. What are you to do if you don't indulge in a heavily caffeinated double espresso but you like drinks which aren't sugary sweet cocoa? I have come up with a personal favorite, and though the recipe may already be adrift in the flotsam and jetsam of the cyber sea, here goes.

1 spoonful of postum (a toasted barley powder, available at a store near you)
1/2 spoonful of honey
dash of nutmeg
2 dashes of cinnamon
3/4 cup of hot water, preferably from a tea kettle, it just seems so...traditional
1/4 cup of milk (I prefer skim, any will do, try buttermilk if you hanker for something strange, or are loath to induce vomiting...syrup of ipecac will produce the same results)

Put all the dry ingredients together with the honey in your mug, next pour in the hot water and stir until mixed. Thirdly add the milk, and finally, sit back and enojy (preferably with a nice bestseller or in front of a great movie with someone you love).

Peace out ninjas,

Friday, October 06, 2006

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring...

OK...I rode my moto scoot to RC Willey just a few minutes ago between rainstorms and I stood behind a guy who I swear was Noah. Or at least a New England Lobsterman. He had a slicker and a beard, and a hook on his hand. And a parrot. Definately Noah. He was muttering about all this rain, oh wait, that was me. I mean, what the blazes? This is a friggin desert, not Seattle! Go home Noah! Give me that shiny yellow slicker first though ok?

Saturday is tomorrow. N I C E. I loathe dudgery and the panacea for the rat-race of the nine-to-five involves copious doses of my Melissa, time with the kiddles, hanging out with Dann-o, and working with my older bro. Dave (he is so fun, always has a story to tell me and has a lot to teach about building things). Being with the some of the people I enjoy the most. No punching the clock, no being fixed to "the man's" (lowercase, notice) puppet strings, no monotonous monochrome questions from my co-workers. I am my own man for 24 hrs--until Sunday, then I am owned by "The Man Upstairs" (uppercase), doing the things I like to do. Can I get a hallelujah?!?

Anyways, I am sure to the faithful few readers, this blog is about as enjoyable as listening to a male cat chasing a female in heat (if you've heard it, you know what I mean, HOLY RACKET!! The kind that makes you want to take off your shoes and whack the dumb moony vociferous animal dumb!)

Thanks for your support


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fall is time for reading...voraciously

I have been consuming books like a man posessed these past two weeks. Nearly everything I have cracked the covers on is fiction, the stuff made up of the imagination and ether of the author's dreams--nothing dry and heavy like "New Morality in the Workplace", or "How to Rid Yourself of Peptic Ulcers". I choose to escape into a book, believe in the imagination that God gave me, and dream. There can be great beauty in lore and myth, many will write the spun tales off as trash, but myth has survived for thousands or millions of years (depending on your camp, it could be either) and has been passed down and along since time was first counted. Stories can communicate and unite with understanding, foster empathy and elicit a de-ja-vu response based on the fact that all of us share common threads of existence.

I think it is beautiful.

You can call it trash, good on ya. I don't care what you think Mr. or Mrs. Critic. You wax poetic about the political works, I will about the fiction. Perhaps you are enthralled by John Fiske, but I prefer Mark Twain. Like I said, good on ya.

As the poop flies, I have read the following in the last 2 weeks:

Wizzard at Large by Terry Brooks
The Tangle Box by Terry Brooks
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Eldest by Christopher Paolini

I am currebtly reading

The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien
Wiches Brew by Terry Brooks (EDIT: NOT Tolkien, apologies, I fat-fingered that one)
Culloden (non-fiction, GASP!) by John Prebble

-Jay "bookworm and self proclaimed nerd" Blair