posted December 5, 2003 at 12:35 PM
You Better Watch Out: The Hazards of the Season (articles)
While I personally don't have a problem with a prohibition on live Christmas trees in apartments (heck, I don't want one of those fire hazards on the other side of my bedroom wall!), this article is priceless.
Joel Achenbach writes You Better Watch Out: The Hazards of the Season for the Washington Post.
posted December 5, 2003 at 11:48 AM
snow update :-) weekend stuff (life)
We got maybe 7 to 10cm of snow overnight last night, at least out in Fairfax. This storm seems very hit-and-miss, with some areas getting none at all and some being dumped on with blizzard-like conditions.
This morning, the snow turned into a back-and-forth of rain and sleet. I thought it was sleet because the pieces of precipitation were relatively solid and bouncing off my car, but when I started driving they impacted on my windshield as a semi-frozen splash... so it was raileet (?).
Regardless, the roads weren't too bad. The street to my apartment complex was not in great shape, it was a slushy mess of something or another. The main roads had a thin glaze of nastiness, but were easily drivable.
The hardest part of getting to work today was walking from the parking garage into the Metro station. The walkway had become a compacted, lumpy sheet of semi-ice-semi-slush.
In Washington, everything is wet, and there's no sign that it's anything but a rain storm. Eh.
They're saying that tonight, it'll turn back into snow (it's mainly rain now, even in Fairfax) and dump another 7 to 10cm on us. That should make tomorrow fun, I'm driving Melissa and myself to Plexus's holiday party in Maryland.
The only real school work I have to do this weekend is my take-home exam for Government 490, and it's an easy little 4-pager with a nice open-ended question. That and I have to read briefs so that I can present oral arguments in my communication law class.
My hope (and this is only a hope, so don't hope in return just yet!) is that I can get a new Front Page Rant finished and posted either tomorrow or Sunday. I'm also hoping to put some work into a short story that I just started the other day, and maybe finish a first draft. On top of those two hopes, I'm hoping to start some of my preliminary brainstorming for Website 14 ;-) just to get some ideas plopped down in Photoshop.
But, for my loving readers, all you might get out of this is that Front Page Rant. The short story and the updated site are still a long, long way off.
I'm also going to get some of my school papers prepared for posting, but I won't make them available until all my grades are in.
Did I mention that I love snow?
posted December 5, 2003 at 11:31 AM
November site statistics (site)
Just a quick report on the site stats for last month, since I never got around to mentioning them. The upward trend continues in the unique visitors count, with another record-setting month.
The eeltank.com server received 3,038 unique visitors last month. This is the first time over 3,000.
There were 6,054 total visits (1.99 visits per visitor) and 11,586 pageviews (1.91 pageviews per visit). Both of these are somewhat up, but within normal ranges.
The site is averaging 386 pageviews per day.
The site is most popular in the early afternoon, with visitor spikes between 1:00 and 3:00pm. There's another, smaller set of spikes in the evening between 7:00 and 8:00pm.
The most popular pages on the eeltank server are my front page (725), Melissa's front page (190), my blog (172), the eeltank.com main page (138), and Melissa's traditional artwork gallery (90).
Not many strange search terms that led people to the site this month. 49 people found their way to eeltank looking for "wisdom teeth," 48 looking for "frightened" (yes, just the word "frightened"--go figure), 22 looking for "Saved by the Bell buddy icons," and 16 looking for "swollen face."
visit the full life & news blog page to read past entries.
posted November 11, 2003
Selling Families Short
There was a time--really not so long ago, in the grade scheme of things--when default working hours were 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Eight hours. Included in these eight hours were a break or two, most notably a lunch break which would either be a half hour or hour in the middle of the eight hour day.
You wouldn't have to leave your house to go to your job until 8:30 or so. You'd get home around 5:30. In totality, you'd be away from home for about nine hours for the five work days of the week.
This was "full time employment."
Today, "full time employment" is not a nine hour daily engagement for five days every week. First off, in metropolitan areas like Washington, DC and vicinity, travel time is almost never only 30 minutes. If organizations in Washington still had those standard 9-5 hours, a worker would usually have to leave their homes at 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning, and would not get home until 6:00 or 6:30 in the evening. In totality, you'd be away from home between ten and eleven hours during those five work days.
In the case of where I work, it takes almost exactly an hour to get from my apartment to the office in DC. So, eleven hours for me.
Now, this work-day-stretch is caused entirely by the commute. It's not something that can be controlled, and it's not really all that bad. But I do have a problem with a different kind of work-day-stretch.
You see, an eight hour day remains the standard in government jobs and some other fields, but at most businesses and organizations there has been an extension of actual work hours. Instead of 9-5, it might be 8:30-5:30. Or 8-5. Or 8-6. Etc. The lunch break is still there, but now you essentially aren't paid for it.
In some places, this stretch is set in stone and required. At others, people do it voluntarily or subconsciously in response to a workaholic atmosphere. When combined with a minimum hour commute in each direction, it's increasingly common for people to leave for work at 7 in the morning and not get home until 7 at night.
That leaves these people only 12 hours for checkbook balancing, errands, family, friends, relationships, recreation, and a full night's sleep. It's no wonder that so many people in our society don't get enough sleep, hover on the verge of divorce, are thousands of dollars in debt, and morbidly obese. (That so many simply grab some fast food on their way home, instead of an old-fashioned home-cooked meal, surely doesn't help on that last point.)
As if this weren't bad enough, where it used to be one member of the household (historically the man) working the 9-5 work day, now it's both heads of the household working the bizarrely extended hours. It would be difficult enough to keep a family like this together were it just the two adults, God forbid that children get mixed into this destructive cycle.
Having money is important in our world. I understand this. Without it we cannot provide food, housing, and internet access to ourselves and those we care about. But how much is really necessary? Does a family have to be raking in $90,000 combined to live comfortably? No! Not even in Fairfax County, land of the rich and pampered, is a $90,000 combined yearly salary required to live at a reasonable level of comfort and provide the necessities.
I did not pick $90,000 at random. Last I heard, that was the approximate median family income for Fairfax County, Virginia. If I recall correctly, that's the second highest median family income for a county in the United States. Los Angeles County, California comes in at the number one spot.
That doesn't mean that everybody here is working cushy jobs that pay 90 grand a year. It means that, while there are a lot of those cushy jobs too, many or most people are in 2-worker households. They export any children they have to day-cares (they're on every corner) and maybe have a short conversation with them in the late evening hours before everybody trudges off to bed.
What a loving environment.
I know that some families are in a situation where it is actually necessary that both parents toil their days away at work to pay for the necessities (or, of course, situations where there simply aren't two parents, for whatever reason). But, at least here in Northern Virginia, the majority of these 2-worker households aren't working so damn much to pay for corn flakes and mortgages. Too often it's for golf club memberships, that second home in Ocean City, or the brand new Hummer or Cadillac Escalade or some other type of gaudy SUV.
Nice things, I have no doubt, but is it worth giving up on a real family life to have them?
Last semester I took a class in public budgeting, and one of the key points of the course was that budgeting is a way of setting priorities. This applies as much to the budgeting of time as it does to the budgeting of money. If you spend an exorbitant amount of time at a job and occasional moments with your family, and don't have a true need that requires you operate that way, you are saying to yourself and to others that you value money over family.
It is usually about that simple.
If your priorities are on your family--which, in my humble opinion, is where they should be--then you would cut back on work hours. If it's financially possible (and for most people it is, with a couple strategic cuts in expenses) one parent should stay at home with young children, and--again if possible--be home within an hour or so of when the children get home from school each day until they are old enough and mature enough to be by themselves for semi-long periods of time. Before the feminists jump at the chance to complain, I never said the mother should should be the one staying at home with the children. Any parent will do, but either the father or the mother should be home--at least in general--to raise their children until they are of reasonable age.
In many parts of Europe, life doesn't work the same way it does here in the U.S. Work hours are shorter, in some countries it is even customary to allow a lengthy siesta in mid-afternoon. The great surprise is that workers in these countries are just as efficient, if not more so, than their American counterparts. The ongoing workaholic American quest for more and more moolah serves nobody.
There is no harm in being dedicated to your job. There is certainly no harm in working long hours if it's required to provide for yourself and for your family. If it's managed properly, there probably isn't too much harm in having a 2-worker household either. But, there is something fundamentally wrong with a society that shows so little dedication to families and such a disproportionate dedication to work.
People would never consider selling their families for $90,000, but they seem to have no problem selling them short.
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