Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Oh boy! A new, simple solution to incredibly complex problems. Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain demonstrated his knack for pizza pricing with this "simple, clear, fair" revenue suggestion. Nine percent income tax, nine percent sales tax, and nine percent corporate tax.

Of course, what this amounts to is a huge tax cut for most businesses and wealthy taxpayers, and a huge increase for middle class and lower income taxpayers. What could be more fair?

We always need to remember that figures don't lie, but that liars do figure. If everyone in your company receive the same percentage raise year after year, the income disparity among the staff will become extreme... sorta like the income disparity in the U.S. Giving everyone the same percentage sounds fair, but is inherently unfair. If one child is starving to death and another is sated, splitting an apple (or a pizza) between them is not fair. Of course, the GOP would say that the best idea is to reward the healthier child by giving him/her the entire apple, so as not to encourage hunger as a food gathering strategy.

There is an African proverb: "Tell me mother, which of your children do you love the most?"
"The one who is sick until he is well; the one who is away until she is home; the one in danger until he is safe."

We need such wisdom and compassion in our public policy, not additional simplistic rhetoric.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nitrile Exam Gloves

There was a time in my life when all my associations with nitrile exam gloves were negative. No need to go further with that line of conversation.

My opinion of nitrile gloves has changed. For example, my experience this morning renews my appreciation for these lightweight wonders. My hands are really sore from the last two days' remodeling efforts. I have splinters, scrapes, and dry irritated skin from cleaning products I used, multiple washings, and my day applying thinset mortar for the tile operation. By this morning my hands had had it. So, I slathered on a couple lotion products and put on a pair of nitrile gloves. Normally the greasy feeling would bother me. This morning it was true relief.

Then the fun began. Attempting typical day-to-day activities with gloves on is very interesting. On the positive side, folding laundry and feeding the dogs were quite pleasant. Surprisingly, flossing was easier than expected, AND I feel as if I've been to the dental hygienist. Even tyuppinbg on the computer is faiurly easy.

On the other hand (!) there were some activities that were really difficult. Buttons, for example. I now understand why surgical scrubs come without buttons or snaps. Can you imagine your doc entering the operating room with their hand elastically connected to their fly? I can now. No wonder 501 jeans are not part of their surgical garb.

Anyway, the morning has happened as usual, and my hands feel better. Now, about that rough skin on my heels... I wonder if they make nitrile socks?

Saturday, October 8, 2011


We've lived in this house for more than seven years. For most of that time we considered remodeling the bathrooms. Today, finally, we tore out the flooring in my bathroom in preparation for putting down tile. We anticipate getting it done in the next couple days. Seven years we waited, then hurried to get it done real fast. Signature move for a procrastinator.

In truth we kept thinking about replacing all the fixtures, some of the fixtures, moving walls... We suffered from paralysis of analysis. Now, not having the luxury of time, we just tore into it, literally.

Remind me someday to tell you my thoughts on taking out a toilet.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.

I suppose it tells you something that I was awake at that hour, trying to remember the tracks on the Simon and Garfunkle album of the same name. What is it about the middle of the night? I'm haunted by demons born of my anxiety. I imagine everything that can possibly go wrong, and believe me, I have quite an imagination.Three or four hours later things don't seem so bleak, though our circumstances haven't changed at all. That's the way of it.

Some weeks back I tried to explain to Sally that though I was anxious about the possibility of moving to Portland, all of my anxieties were related to the weeks and months of transition, rather than the ultimate wisdom of her seeking the new position. There are simply so many variables, so many of which are beyond our control. For example, why can't we get top dollar for our house in Spokane, AND a bargain price for a lovely new home in Portland. Is that asking too much?


It's growing light out. I'm feeling optimistic. We can do this!

But I remain haunted by the reminder and certain return of Wednesday morning 3 A.M.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Medicating the Cat

So the cat was not aware how deeply concerned I was about his health. It was the day for his monthly, oral flea medication. After feeding him I knew the medication would not upset his little cat tummy, and so I placed the pill in a pill popper, knelt down beside the old boy, and began the simple process of inserting the pill into the cat's gullet.

It was some time later that I began to consider the meaning of life, and whether cat's actually have nine of such. By that time the pill had gone into and out of the cat's mouth several times. On the bright side, it was becoming both slick and smaller, and thus, I assume, easier to swallow.

I was getting a cramp, and my glasses had flown off, but I wasn't giving up. Once more into the breach! I held his mouth closed for nearly a minute and finally sensed he had swallowed. Triumph! The cat walked away none the worse for wear, and I finally struggled to my feet... and stepped on my glasses.

I'm unsure how many lives my glasses have. Fewer than nine, I fear.


So the news that we will, indeed, be moving to Portland in the weeks ahead has begun sinking in. After Sally received word on Friday I jumped on my bike and rode downtown to be with her. The ride felt great, even though I kept thinking about it as a swan song.

We didn't have trouble eating on Friday evening, although Cayenne, our 13 year-old shepherd-retriever did. In my case the alcohol helped. By Saturday morning my appetite had departed as well. Perhaps it's already headed west on I-84.

Oh sure, we're excited and all. As we've said, this is a tremendous opportunity for Sally and a crowning achievement for a woman who postponed her career ambitions, choosing to stay home with her kids until they were all well established in school. Still, her crowning achievement means we're picking up and moving. It's that reality that has my digestive system all akimbo.

On Saturday evening I played music at a gathering on behalf of the City Council bids of Richard Rush and Joy Jones. I was invited to "make the ask" at the close of the evening on their behalf. The fact that this event fell so close to the day as the news of our impending relocation was poignant. It reminded me of other relocations where I went from being someone of note in a community to relative obscurity. That Portland is a big place makes it feel as if I will never make my mark again.

I sorta hate admitting how much I like being known and engaged, but there you are. Maybe the honest admission will soothe the butterflies inhabiting my middle. If not, I suppose I could attempt to drown them. Again.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 46 - Portland It Is!

Yesterday was Day 45 for us. Sally said it was already 46. Her patience was shot. Yesterday morning Sal received word that she had been selected as the Environmental Engineer for the West National Technology Support Center. Her start date in Portland is November 20.

The news triggered shortness of breath and heart palpitations for both of us. I'm very proud of her, and excited for her new challenge. The good news also means we are moving in six weeks.

In a very effective motivational presentation, Janet Ott, a consultant in Bellingham, decried our cultural obsession with safety and security. For example, every morning as Sally leaves for work the next to last thing I say is, "Be careful." Janet Ott urged us to create an ethic of expanding our boundaries and pushing our limits: "If you don't feel like you're about to wet your pants when the opening whistle blows, maybe you aren't playing in a big enough game."

This new position for Sally and our impending move feels like a big enough game.