Tuesday, February 26, 2013

GIVE THIS MAN A MEDAL


Did you see the NASCAR Daytona 500 on Sunday? Did you even see the opening ceremonies? Well, Give Clay Cook a bright and shiny medal – he sang the Star Spangled Banner just as it should be sung. He might have looked a bit scruffy – this is a sporting event, not the Elks Ball - but he was there and he was good! I’d never seen or heard him before, but you can be sure he and the Zac Brown Band will be on my radar screen now. If you have a minute you can check it out here on YouTube. There was no musical accompaniment, but he sang it without wandering all over the scale, and, moreover, he sang it straight – no jazzing it up with trills and high notes that aren’t there. The only way it could have gotten any better would have been for everyone there to be singing with him. I have a set of bookmarks for my favorite YouTube clips – great Coca-Cola, VW, and Budweiser ads, Jeanne Roberts and The Vicar of Dibley, great cartoons and such - this one is now included in the group.
You might want to read my rant The Star Spangled Banner - or Not. I do hope that this great rendition of our national anthem is a sign of things to come at NASCAR – but I’m not holding my breath.
 
The Curmudgeon says: "and add a red, white and
blue ribbon to that shiny medal."

Friday, February 22, 2013

THE GLASS CEILING


 
This is Friday, so naturally I had an essay all ready to post. It’s a brief bit, complete with pictures, about all the furniture and things my husband has made. You’ll enjoy it, but you’ll have to wait.  A featured article in this morning’s N.Y. Times  really piqued my interest and I had to hazard my own opinion on the subject: The Glass Ceiling.

Here are the lead paragraphs:
 
Before Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, started to write “Lean In,” her book-slash-manifesto on women in the workplace, she reread Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique.” Like the homemaker turned activist who helped start a revolution 50 years ago, Ms. Sandberg wanted to do far more than sell books.

Ms. Sandberg, whose ideas about working women have prompted both enthusiasm and criticism, is attempting nothing less than a Friedan-like feat: a national discussion of a gender-problem-that-has-no-name, this time in the workplace, and a movement to address it.

 
Let me preface my remarks by saying that I didn’t read the entire article and I’ve never read The Feminine Mystique. Just the topic alone can set me thinking, without need to refer to what others may have thought. I’ve got news for Ms. Sandberg in her quest to spur a women’s movement: all she’ll really be doing is selling books. As for the “gender-problem-that-has-no-name”, if it is still a problem of the proportions imagined, which I sincerely doubt, it will now be with us for nigh on to forever.  Why do I consider myself qualified to comment on this? As the saying goes: “been there, done that, have the business cards to prove it.” 

In the late 60’s I became the first woman officer of the bank at which I headed the computer department. This was all back in the day when a CPU, with less capacity than my cell phone, was the size of my refrigerator.  At that time the banks gave great benefits, but the salaries were relatively low.  Because it was the new field of data processing I was able to command a higher salary than some of my male banker counterparts. I was in the right place at the right time.

Also because it was data processing I got relatively little grief from males in my own bank because they knew relatively little about what was going on. Data processing was a male-dominated field because there were more males in the workplace, but because it was new to everyone, anyone, male or female, was respected if they seemed like they knew what they were doing.

In the fifty years since the publication of The Feminine Mystique, men have come a long way – and so have women.  The men are much more welcoming to women in the workplace. If the gal knows her job, most men are now more than happy to accept the fact. It would seem like the mothers of the late twentieth century have raised them that way. A few misogynistic men will always be around, along with a few misandristic women, and they will have to be dealt with when the need arises. Case closed. 

Many of the gals who’d been with the bank for years were a bit miffed, shall we say, when I was chosen for the computer department: why her?  It sounds mean of me to say this, but they didn’t have the mindset I had for the job. All the bank’s employees were tested before the bank converted to computerized accounting in the early 60’s – I was originally a clerk in the Loan Department – and I came out on top with the aptitude for the data processing field.  When I was made an officer of the bank I had a lot of the female employees asking me how I did it. I didn’t set out to do it: I was just good at my job, and in the right place in the bank’s newest department to be made an officer when they needed one there.

Over these years I’ve come to believe that while many women doing the same job as men do get paid less – that’s a sticky area addressed only when there are exact job descriptions and pay levels in force – many women think they are as good as any man doing their job, but many times they aren’t.  I believe that unless the higher-ups have their head in the sand, the latest crop of executives recognize the abilities of their workers and pay and promote accordingly. Unless they are totally oblivious to the bottom line – profits – they’ll want the best performing people.

As more women realize their potential, decide on what they want to do, and point themselves in the right direction, their numbers are increasing in the upper echelons of business, politics and medicine. I’ve also come to know that the vast majority of women don’t want to reach any heights in any field.  We females aren’t usually programmed that way, and all women aren’t created equal. It’s wonderful that today most women can pretty much lead the life they’d like.

I don’t feel I’m wasting my life because I prefer to be CFO at home – because of my banking experience I do keep the books. I worked to live, not lived to work! When our financial outlook improved, our retirement funds were growing nicely, and we could afford to live on my husband’s income, both of us were delighted for me to retire from the bank. Heck, six years later both of us were retired and we’ve been quite pleased to be unemployed for the last twenty-five years.

I’m sure Ms. Sandberg will be enjoying her “fifteen minutes of fame”, but I don’t thinkshe or her book will have the same effect as that of Betty Freidan, a woman in the right place at the right time with a message we all needed to hear.  
On March 3 last year I posted Women Have a History . March is Women’s History Month, after all.  You might want to read that essay – it was a pretty good one if I do say so myself. 
 
 
 
 
Today is also the birthday of George Washington, Edward Gorey, and Edna St.Vincent Millay.  That’s a diverse group indeed.  Happy Birthday lady and gentlemen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

THE CURMUDGEON AND LOUD TV



This past Sunday, the 17th, was the birthday of the British mystery writer Ruth Rendell. The biographic blurb in The Writer’s Almanac said this:
Rendell describes herself as a workaholic, follows the same routine every day, writing for about four hours every morning and then eating the exact same lunch: bread, cheese, salad and fruit. But she has said that, despite producing an average of two books per year for almost 50 years, she doesn't feel like she's churning anything out. "If I did," Rendell explains, "I would stop. I am quite happy to go on doing what I am doing now for the rest of my life. I don't see why I should stop."

What struck me as being particularly apropos to my own life was the “I am quite happy to go on doing what I am doing now for the rest of my life.  I don’t see why I should stop.”  Exactly!  I love doing what I’m doing and leading the life I lead.

It amazes me that there are so many companies out there who are bound and determined that I change my ways. These last few days, with Frank just back from shoulder surgery, I’m sitting with him more than usual. The TV will sometimes be on, even though both of us are reading. We’ve usually left it on after watching something on NatGeo or Smithsonian or on of the “educational” channels. He thinks I’m watching and I think he is, and then we both gat a jolt when the ads come on. One thing about these channels is that you don’t get the usual advertising for regular supermarket items like mayonnaise or cereal or decongestants. They yell their messages. It’s ‘In Your Face’ advertising. And don’t tell me the advertisements are now supposed to be broadcast at the same sound level as the regular programming. 
Balderdash!

I don’t want to stop, I don’t want to change a thing, even to save a few dollars. I’ve been happy for years with the things we own, but I’m told I can live better with these knives, that frying pan, and all those leftovers containers with attached lids.  I am pleased with what we have and the services we use now, but I am exhorted to switch companies to save money on all types of insurance, phone, and TV servers. I have to laugh at the thought that I can record up to five TV shows at once on one company’s DVR system. Good grief! If I don’t even have an hour to see one show, how am I going to scrape together the time to see five? I wouldn’t want to invest any of my time in searching out the so-called savings. Excess, excess, excess!
Whywouldya?   

And what have we learned these past few days?
We’ve learned to turn off the @#$%&-ing TV, that’s what we’ve learned!
 
The CALM act was supposed to have gone into effect here on December 13, 2012.
The Canadians were there ahead of us on September 1st.
Many TV stations have yet to get the message.
 

Friday, February 15, 2013

THE GIRLS WITH THE GRANDMOTHER FACES


I must tell you that the name of my blog is sort of a tribute to a gal who wrote several wonderful books, and had a newspaper column called Midlife Musings. Frances Weaver was in her 50’s when she started to write her column, and many of the pieces found their way into a book of the same name. I had a short and lovely round of correspondence with Frances when I was buying her books directly from her. Not much internet or on-line ordering then – though you can get her books through Amazon now – just letters out with checks in them, and chatty letters back along with her books – autographed, to be sure!  The title of one of her later books, one that I’ll always remember, was one she got from one of her granddaughters:  Frances was heading out to lunch, and the little girl, when told that her grandmother was going out with the girls, replied “oh, the girls with the grandmother faces.”  I’d like to have snatched that one for my blog’s name, but I’ll use it just for this posting. 

I must admit that at the (over) ripe old age of seventy, I see relatively few Grandmother Faces.  I’m sure it’s all a matter of perspective. When I was young the grandmothers dressed differently than the mothers, their hair styles were different too.  I know that my Mother wore slacks, my Grandmothers? Never! And around home they wore housedresses. My Mother wore open shoes; my Grandmothers wore black lace-ups.  None of my friends and acquaintances dress much differently than their daughters do.
I suppose the Grandmother Faces do have more wrinkles.  Here in Sun City Carolina Lakes we’ve gals from fifty-five to over ninety, and few are wrinkly.
My Grandmothers, both of them, were fifty-seven when I was born. As a child I never thought them old and wrinkly, but I guess they were.  Children don’t judge their loved ones by their dress or wrinkles – unless, little pitchers with big ears, they think of and retain comments they’ve overheard.
But I wouldn’t trade my Grandmother Face for all the tea in China.
 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A BODY AT REST


Slothful and smiling!
I don’t know why, but lately it seems to me that Newton’s first law of motion applies to me as well: a body at rest tends to remain at rest. When I’m lazy and/or reading that’s all I want to do for days. I don’t want to have to interact with anyone I can avoid. When I’m in motion and I’ve got lots to do – especially places to go, appointments, etc., – I am more inclined to keep on the go.
Sounds strange maybe, but all the appointments and driving I’ll have to do with Frank out of commission these next weeks are O.K. because first of all they’re not my appointments; second, I haven’t had a long time in which to brood about having to move me bloomin’ arse; and third, I can read while I wait. Oh, lazy me. I’m not even put out by having to shuffle what passes for my schedule of household chores.  In the past I’d be all a twitter. (No, not that Twitter!)  As I’ve reached Medicare age I’ve mellowed a bit and have taken on a new mantra: “It is what it is.”
They – the ubiquitous ‘they’ - say “if you want something done give the job to a busy person” – I agree totally.  Being on the go, running and doing, a busy person doesn’t even have time to contemplate the sneaky additions to the daily endeavors – they just keep on keepin’ on.  A slug, as I have become, on the other hand, has oodles of time to think about what has to be done vs. what they really want to do and what they can get away with not doing.  I have become the master of knowing just what really has to be done and how to do it so that it passes muster.
All this is by way of giving a reason for not posting on Friday. I was so sluggish that I completely forgot to post the essay I’d written a while ago – and that’s just fine because now I can shift everything one week later on the calendar: less work for the sluggish, slothful snail that I am.*

*Poor slugs, sloths, and snails get a bad rap or rep – they’re just going about life as they were meant to. And I’m not going to be able to emulate them too much in these next few weeks. Frank’s going to have surgery to repair a complete tear in his left shoulder’s rotator cuff – and he’s left handed – so that means he’ll really be out of commission for a while.  And that means I’ll be helping to substitute for that left arm – you know: dressing, feeding, and whatever else he’ll need help with. As I said before: “it is what it is.” We’ll do fine!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

INSPIRATION

I had a nice chuckle this morning when I read that several of my favorite bloggers are participating in the By Invitation Only topic of the month. This month’s topic is Inspiration.  Even though I am not an invitee, sometimes the month’s topic does inspire me – and this month is no different.
 
Note the pen and journal on the table - ready for nocturnal notes.

Inspiration – as it pertains to my blog – can be fleeting.  I know I’ve told you how I keep a journal and a lighted pen right next to my bed, just in case a random nocturnal thought inspires me.  Of late I’ve been relatively uninspired. If I could define inspiration I’d be ahead of the game. At this time last year I had blog essays ready right into January of this year.  This year I’ve got essays ready into March, and a few date-specific essays to post during the year.  Last year the list of ‘To Be Posted’ was at over 50 – this year I’ve got about 15.  I do have some in the ‘In Progress’ file.  Surely, I’d best stop what seems to be a reading marathon – over 20 books read so far this year, and it’s only
February 5th – and get into the writing marathon mode.
 
 
Accustomed as I am to post an essay most Fridays and a quickie blog on Tuesdays, I’d say this Inspiration inspiration came at just the right time for today's post. 

 

Friday, February 1, 2013

THE SNEEZE


 
Someday soon you really should pay us a visit and listen to us sneeze. My husband does this frequently each day so you will be sure not to miss his stentorian performance.  His sneeze would knock your socks off. 
His yell reverberates off the walls. It’s painful to the ears.
It almost scares the life out of our grandchildren.
 
 
 
My sneeze, on the other hand, is silent. You’ll have to be watching me to know that I sneezed. I don’t stifle the sneeze; I’m just silent about it. I don’t even murmur a tiny “achoo”, though you’d think my very Brunhildesque physique would be capable of it. 
The reason for this, you see, is that when I was young I knew there were monsters under my bed. Yep! There were! And if I sneezed they’d hear me. But I had to sneeze, you see, and so I learned to do it silently: very, very silently. All the energy of the missing sneezing noise has to go somewhere, and to this day I get a little chill right down to my toes.  I can say unequivocally that it is even a bit pleasant.  I don’t recommend you try it – this silent sneezing is best left to us life-long professionals.


I guess, as with Jack Sprat and his wife, my husband and I were meant to marry sneeze-wise: he cannot be silent and I cannot make noise. (One never knows when the monsters will appear, do one?)