Monday, March 2, 2009

March Snow

Snow is something of an occasion in Washington, DC. It seems we go for three or four years with very small amounts each winter and then we get socked! Last night's weather "event" was somewhere in between.

And it's beautiful as you can see from this shot of the Obama place I lifted from the net (the BBC website actually).

I woke up this morning and looked out the window and the snow was coming down and being blown about by strong winds. I could hear the scraping of the plows going by and see the buses and cars struggling to make it up the hill I can see from my window. Another view afforded me snow-laden trees - all perfect and surprisingly un-windblown.

When I finally went outside, the sun was shining and it occurred to me that this was definitely Christmas Eve snow. It was the sort of snow storm perfect for the holiday - light, fluffy, and easily cleared. Perfect for leaving grateful parents to their doctored eggnog and meeting up with friends to compare the haul from Santa and try out a new sled left under the tree.

A sled under the tree? I guess I date myself with that one, don't I? Despite Washington not having record snow fall every year, sleds were common gifts at Christmas time, either wooden ones with red runners or, when I was a teen, the silver saucer shaped one which, if my recollection is accurate had minimal steering and non-existence breaks!

I look at kids now and wonder. There is an email that gets circulated periodically about kids born/raised before the 80s and how we pretty much "survived" our parents doing things that are now unthinkable - smoking during pregnancy, allowing us to ride in a car without seatbelts, ignoring us until the streetlights came on. I do not imagine that today's parents would let Santa leave a sled with only ropes for steering and no brakes to speak of.

It seems to me that two things changed in the parent/child dynamic. Parents became too involved (anybody here over 40 ever have Mom arrange a playdate?) and kids discovered an ancient truth hidden from earlier generations: they really can't kill us. In some subtle, mysteriously parental way, my parents - in fact, almost all adults - managed to transmit the idea that ultimately, they could kill any child they wanted. That message kept us from talking back (sassing was the term my mother used), acting out, and most importantly fired our imaginations for doing all sorts of things that they never got wind of.

I don't pretend to know what it is to parent these days. But, as I said, I wonder.

Generations of children are being denied the simple pleasure of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because of allergies - where were those allergies when I was a child? Perhaps playing outside, exposed to the world, also made sure that our bodies took care of themselves. Was life meant to be so . . . clean? Children so isolated and controlled?

I really don't recall my parents being either interested or overly involved in how my life ran, except to ensure that I didn't injure myself in any serious way. Mostly I had my friends and they had theirs - they were not worlds that touched very often and somehow that wasn't a bad thing. I guess I can't figure out how such a structured world seemed so unstructured - a clarity of roles, perhaps?

And bicycle helmets and pads? I'd have been beaten to death :)

Still, this is Christmas Eve snow and what a sweet memory of flying down a hill, sweaty from being bundled (Mom did do that), and wondering if I'd ever stop!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cold in San Diego

San Diego is one of my favorite cities to visit and the weather here is normally a few degrees warmer than DC at this time of year. The cold weather of the last several days, sometimes accompanied by rain, seems to have surprised these sun lovers! I usually try to extend my stay and hit Black's Beach, the local nude beach, but I suspect only the hardiest sufers are braving the Pacific chill. Of course, just hanging out and watching those fearless boys change clothes in the parking lot can be fun. For some fun reading, check out the "How to Access" section of the website. As you can see from the picture, the beach is at the base of 300 foot cliffs.

Anyway, a couple of conversations from my trip, one related to the chill.

I was talking with a local temp working in our staff office and asked how she was coping with the cold. Her eyes got rather wide as she described the ice on her car window that morning. I asked if she even owned an ice scraper (common gear in DC) to which she answered "no." She then went on to describe trying to both wipe it off with a rag and trying to get the wipers to do the trick. No success. I finally asked how she got rid of the ice. "Oh, I threw a cup of hot water on it!"

The second conversation reminds me of how quickly things change and how our frames of reference differ from generation to generation. I was on an elevator with a young woman - mid twenties from what I could guess. She was the only one in the elevator, but more than one button was pressed. I turned to her and said "Looks like we got a local." She smiled at me rather blankly to which I said "you have no idea what that means, do you?" In the 12 seconds remaining in our trip to the lobby I tried to explain the concept of bus travel back in the old days (the 80s?) and the difference between a local and an express. She still looked a little confused - how many kids these days have ever taken a long bus trip? I used to visit my best friend in Kansas via a two+ day trip that was always a lot of fun (I was a smoker and sat in the back with the unsavory characters!).

Our business represents one of the suffering sectors of the financial industry (rat bastards!). It's been a low key conference, filled with somber news, and I'm ready to go home to Ollie and the girls.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On the Shoulders of Giants . . .

A friend of mine sent me this cover from the January edition of The Nation. It's really an incredible piece of art. Find the magazine (and larger resolution) here. My personal favorites are #s 7, 8, 9 and 10. Enjoy.

It was on August 28, 2008, on the forty-fifth anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, that Obama accepted the Democratic party's nomination, becoming the first black American to be a major party's presidential candidate.

And on January 20, 2009--one day after Martin Luther King Day--Obama will be sworn in as the first black president of the United States. No doubt the spirits of the civil rights movement, and of movements for racial justice everywhere, will be with him then.

Artist John Mavroudis's cover illustration for this week's print edition of The Nation imagines this inauguration--one witnessed not in flesh and blood, but in the bonds of justice and peace. To identify the historical figures, match the list of names below with the diagram at right.

1. Barack Obama
 2. Michelle Obama
 3. Martin Luther King Jr.
 4. Thurgood Marshall
 5. Rosa Parks
 6. Barbara Jordan
 7. Cynthia Wesley
 8. Carole Robertson
 9. Denise McNair
10. Addie Mae Collins
11. Emmett Till
12. Susan B. Anthony
13. C.T. Vivian
14. James Meredith
15. Homer Plessy
16. Harvey Milk
17. Ida B. Wells
18. Malcolm X
19. Bayard Rustin
20. John Lewis
21. Mahatma Gandhi
22. Abraham Lincoln
23. Frederick Douglass
24. Cesar Chavez
25. Sojourner Truth
26. Nelson Mandela
27. Stephen Biko
28. Oliver Brown (Brown v. Board of Education)
29. Chief Joseph
30. Lyndon Johnson
31. Medgar Evers
32. Rev. James Reeb
33. Fred Shuttlesworth
34. W.E.B. Du Bois
35. Ralph Abernathy
36. Viola Gregg Liuzzo
37. Marcus Garvey
38. Andrew Goodman
39. James Chaney
40. Michael Schwerner
41. John Brown
42. Jackie Robinson
43. Dolores Huerta
44. Mary White Ovington
45. William Lloyd Garrison
46. Wang Dan
47. Stephen Samuel Wise
48. Harriet Tubman
49. Dred Scott
50. Booker T. Washington
51. David Richmond (and)52. Joseph McNeil (Greensboro Four)
53. Martin Delany
54. The Little Rock Nine
55. William Still
56. Thomas Garrett
57. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
58. Samuel Burris
59. Thomas Paine
60. Abigail Kelley Foster
61. Jesse Jackson
62. Eugene V. Debs
63. Lucretia Mott
64. Paul Robeson
65. Henry David Thoreau
66. Shirley Chisholm