Saturday, May 3, 2014

Leaves or grass? Not Walt Whitman, but it delayed the yard work

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

It's going to be a great day. The air is cold early this morning, but there is not a whisp of a cloud in the cornflower sky.  It will be perfect May weather by noon.

There is a lot to do outside today.  There has not been much time between storm outbreaks and my normal schedule to do yardwork, so I must make up a lot of ground.  Or more aptly, rake up a lot of ground.  But that's okay.  It is a perfect day to be outside.

I think I will start with the roof.  There are pockets on my roof that collect leaves.  It is time to get them down.  From there I will move to the front flower bed, which is also full of leaves, and then to the front yard, which is covered with .  .  . you guessed it, leaves.

I was busy last fall.  Give me a break. Or better yet, a rake.

I hate raking leaves.  It seems so pointless, so hopeless. Even if you are responsible and rake in a timely fashion, it is only a few months before it must be done again.  But if you take a stand and do nothing, shaking your fist at the futility of it all and at the trees, the true culprits, standing there so innocent and unaware of the trouble they have rained down like a flood of sweat and teardrops,  all you end up with is a lot of leaves and very little grass.  Hmmm. . . .  No I do want grass, but the thought of no raking or mowing did give me pause.

I suppose if I could cut down all the trees within a few hundred yards of my house.  Then I would never have to rake my roof, flower garden, or yard again.

But then I would not have trees. Or shade. Or the beautiful colors of Autumn right outside my window. Or acorns or hicker nuts for the squirrels. Or places for the birds to nest. Or the soothing rustle of a gentle breeze. Or a place to hang a swing or my ENO.

So I'll rake the leaves.

Life is not simple.  No wonder I didn't have time to rake leaves last fall.  It is tempting to consider a chain saw policy for  life, cutting down everything that causes a complication.  No leaves to rake, no roots making uneven places that hang up the mower.  No hicker nuts or acorns to shoot out of the mower and break a window.  Just a nice, smooth yard full of the same kind of grass, with no weeds, everything perfect. Everything the same.

But then, I wouldn't have the trees.

Better get started.

The rake. Not the chainsaw.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Faces (obtuse title about Don Sterling and the NBA Clippers . . . and other unnamed choices)

Advertising companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and untold work-hours trying to find just "the right face" to represent their product.  Some are famous, like Michael Jordan for Hanes or Jennifer Aniston for Aveeno.  Some start out as little known but become a household name, or at least a household face, like the guys that play in the band for or Flo for Progressive or the Gecko lizard for Geico. The right face is critical to making your point.

One of the biggest news stories of the past week has been the horribly racist comments by L. A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling which were made public and created a furor in the NBA, the media, and to millions of others.  As a consequence, a discussion has erupted in public forum about the discrimination against African American players in the NBA.  Eighty percent of the players are African-American, and only one team owner is African American, less than five percent.

I understand that.  It does not seem right.  It is a legitimate concern about which a larger discussion should continue and hopefully result in some changes.

But I regret that this is the face that has been chosen to represent the injury that racial discrimination inflicts upon young black men.

NBA players make millions of dollars a year.  That does not mean that Donald Sterling should not get what is coming to him, nor does it excuse racial discrimination in any way.

But still, NBA players make millions of dollars each year.  This is not something new.  Been going on for a couple of decades now.

I spent a few days in a state correctional facility a short while back.  About eighty percent of the inmates that I interacted with were young African Americans in their twenties and thirties.  Most of these young men were from Alabama.  Most had little or no opportunity.  Many grew up in poverty, in areas where the schools were sub-standard, and opportunities for employment were slim.

And I have no doubt that all of them have been the subject of the meanest, crudest racial slurs that can be uttered.

Nothing new. It has been that way for decades. Centuries.

And as far as I know, the media has not visited one of them this year to get a good quote about racial discrimination.  And the radical chic  have not asked to come visit for a photo op either.  I guess they prefer a guest list to a DOC visitors list.

There are a few hundred African-American NBA players.  There are tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of young African-American men behind bars like the ones I spent time with a few days ago.  There are thousands more not in prison who never got in trouble, despite the lack of opportunity and seeming lack of hope.  Nobody has sought them out for a quote either.

So they have no voice. They have no face.

Because they have no money.  So they have no power.

And that's shameful.  Not just the lack of money or power.

But that it makes all the difference,  no matter what kind of face you put on it.

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