Sunday, June 22, 2008

Who's Paying the Bill?

"May I ask you a few questions?"

"Sure", I replied, "but first I have a question for you. Who's paying for this survey?"

*I don't know. I just work in a call center."

I wasn't pleased to participate in a survey without knowing who was paying the bill and the reason for the survey. However, I agreed to proceed out of curiosity and irritation.

The first question pertained to my opinion (Fair, Good or Excellent or some other scale) of the performance of Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona. I responded that I didn't have an opinion which was an honest answer. (This question increased my curiosity. Recently I phoned the governor's office and left a message requesting that she sign the legislation that would exclude Arizona from the national ID system. Did my call cause me to be included in this survey?)

The second question related to my attitude about abortion. This question raised a flag that was large and bright red. I chose to be honest without revealing my attitude which is vague, ill formed and not consciously known to me. "I'm a male and I don't have a right to an opinion about abortion and women's rights." At this point in my life that was an honest answer but not one of the choices given me.

This response elicited a quick "thank you" before the young lady terminated the call.

I assume my refusal to respond to her questions by choosing one the choices given me caused her to abort the survey prematurely.

A few weeks ago Julie answered the phone and was asked if she would support a candidate who aligned himself with the president or distanced himself from the president.

Who's paying for these surveys? Candidates trying to determine how to mold and market themselves to win an election? Or, candidates who are looking for ways to illustrate their opponent at a bad choice and by default illustrate themselves as the only option.

I enjoy reading social research and the results of serious academic surveys but I'm irritated, offended and cynical when confronted with election surveys, political pundits and articles analyzing candidates. It would be unethical for me to be used and manipulated by participating in these surveys. Give me the candidates! Give me their books, articles and speeches. I want the full text without edits or commentary.

I'll invest my time. I'll listen, read, think and reach my own decisions. I'm paying the bill.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Working Vacation

My daughter's marriage ended last fall. She put the down payment on the house nine years ago, had the loan in her name only and made most of the payments. In the end she retained the house that had been neglected in recent years due to mismanagement of funds and irresponsibility mainly by one party to the marriage. One pane of a double pane window was broken, another sash was separating, the roof leaked, a downspout had come loose and was removed, a frost-free faucet had frozen and split and there were other problems, several other problems. The major problem was a leak that had damaged the floor behind the washer.

Months ago I promised two weeks to repair these items. Repair of the roof leak was simple but irritating. Two of four vents had been installed incorrectly when the house was constructed. For nine years water had been flowing off the bottom of two vents underneatth the shingles. Fortunately the building paper beneath the shingles had protected the sheeting until recently. There was no decay and no mold. Amazing!

Several of the other items took a few minutes to a few hours to replace or repair. A section of flooring had to be replaced in the utility room and was the most expensive and time consuming. Luckily, when I cut out the flooring I was directly above the water line to the external faucet that had frozen. It made replacement of the faucet a simple task.

Has this been a vacation? Definitely. A vacation isn't necessarily about travel, recreation and relaxation. I always enjoyed being a father. Teaching, training, helping, guiding and offering encouragement were always rewarding. I've enjoyed making the repairs and I've enjoyed working with my grandsons. The first task I began was replacing the batteries in the smoke detectors. I did the first and showed my oldest grandson. He replaced the next one. I took him to the roof and explained the cause of the leaks and he helped fix them. One morning after a few days I called him outside. As he walked to the door he said to Julie "I guess I'm going to learn something new." Right he was!

For the last few months I've been tempted to write a article entitled "In Praise of Divorce". There are no winners in a divorce, only losers. However, in some cases a divorce is the best decision. Last fall I sent my daughter a few hundred dollars, part of one month's payment, to prevent the house payment from becoming 90 days past due. In the last nine months she has caught up on all debts, has money in her checking account and has opened a new savings account with regular monthly deposits. Not bad considering she initally thought she wouldn't have enough income to keep the house.

Yes, sometimes a divorce is a good thing and sometimes manual labor is a vacation

But, always it's good to teach and train; always it's good to watch young teenagers; always it's good to share life with a wife who helps graciously.

It's been a good vacation.

(I'm in a public library and cannot get FTP to connect to upload photos. Tomorrow, hopefully.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This and That

Phoenix airport, June 3, 10:56 AM, waiting on a flight to Kentucky. I haven't seen my daughter and five grandsons since Christmas 2006. We'll be spending two weeks with them.

My son visited recently. We spent the best time together that we've had in the last 20 years. My last major memory from the time before he enlisted in the army and left home permanently was in November 1989 or 1990. We had a tradition of floating a river hunting squirrels on the day after Thanksgiving . On this last hunt we chose the Green River , a bad decision, rather than the Little Barren. The river was high in it's banks and the current was strong. In a less-than-wise maneuver we managed to swamp the boat. The hunt ended and the tradition ceased. However, we had a good visit recently and we're planning another one in August. At the moment he's in Wyoming on his way to California. Hopefully, he'll make it to Kentucky during our visit.

Julie's sister and brother-in-law visited. The following week her daughter visited. She left on Sunday evening and the next morning her son and daughter-in-law arrived. The following week my sister and brother-in-law arrived. We've enjoyed operating a B & B.

Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam. (Larger version)

During my sister's visit we drove to Las Vegas to escape the cold weather and snow. Yes, snow. The weekend before she and Allan arrived the temperatures at home hit 92. The trip to Las Vegas included a stop at Hoover Dam where we saw about a dozen big horn sheep.

My sister has expressed a desire to find some pottery shards. One morning we walked a hundred yards south of the house and she found several small pieces about the size of my thumbnail. During our search we spotted the first rattlesnake of the season. Later in the day we saw antelope, elk, coyote and California Condor. Not a bad day!

My visit with my sister, Jean, and her husband, Allan, was the longest and best visit that we've had since I caught a bus for Fort Dix on an early morning in January 1968.

On June 1 we drove to the back country office at the canyon to get permit for a trip in October. I expected to arrive about 8 AM, allow one hour to get the permit and head home about 9 AM. We were give number 121 and had to wait. We got our permit and left at 1 PM. It was a long wait but worth it. We talked with several interesting people so the wait was pleasant.

I'm off work the month of June. When I go back to work in July I'll begin working 32 hours. I negotiated an 80% agreement. The salary reduction isn't that bad since I've been working 93% for the last two years. Next year or the year after I'll negotiate for half-time.

During the next two weeks I intend on catching up on friends' blogs. I stopped reading in February when I began working ten hours per day.

Julie noticed that her non-existant blogger profile has been accessed 651 times. She's going to create a profile and post a photo on her profile.

Enough of this and that. It's getting close to time to board the plane. Our adventure is about to begin. An adventure that includes two nights at a B & B in historic Ruby, Tennesse.

Best wishes to all.