The Bunnies Have A Strong Union

{Carole and Jay, outside working on the lawn. Jay is mowing; Carole is mulching and manuring roses.}

Carole: Why didn’t you mow everything? You left these patches with the little yellow flowers.

Jay: The bunnies insisted.

Carole: What?

Jay: The bunnies insisted I leave the flowers alone. You don’t want to piss off the bunnies. They have a strong union.

Carole: …

Carole: I guess having a bunch of bunnies picketing our house would be damaging to our social capital.

Orchestrating Change: Final Push

Many of you know that a documentary on Me2/Orchestra and mental illness has been in the works for a couple of years. The film will be called “Orchestrating Change” and I was one of several members of the orchestra who were interviewed for it.

The filmmakers are getting very close to having it finished, but need funds to complete post-production.

Please consider contributing to their Indiegogo campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/orchestrating-change-phase-3-post-production#/

They have a donor who will donate $1500 if they can get $1500 from other sources first. Please help out!

11 years and still walking

2018 marks my 11th year taking part in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. In the past 11 years I’ve walked in 17 3-Day events, served as volunteer support crew 10 times, and raised a hair short of $50,000 thanks to the generosity of donors like you. (A strict accounting of miles walked puts me at 955 miles or so — in two events I managed to injure myself or get sick.)

I began taking part in the 3-Day in 2008 when I turned 40 and felt an absence in my life, an absence caused by a lack of opportunities to make the world a better place. Working in a job that puts me on the road four weeks out of every five, it’s very difficult to get involved in my community. I felt a need to do something more than just eat, sleep, work, and repeat.

In the past 10 years, I’ve met hundreds, if not thousands, of brave women (and some men) fighting breast cancer every day, determined to do whatever they can to be present for one more birthday, one more anniversary, one more graduation. I’ve met people who I can legitimately call heroes, who didn’t stop fundraising and giving others rides to chemotherapy and volunteering in other ways even when they were so sick no one would have blamed them for slowing down. I’ve met women whose husbands abandoned them when they got their Stage IV cancer diagnosis and who had to go on alone. And yes, I’ve had to say final goodbyes to quite a few of them.

I consider myself very lucky to have had so few cases of serious cancer in my family and my immediate circle of friends. Others haven’t been so lucky. I want to do what I can to make a difference where I can.

It would be very easy to look at the miles I’ve walked and the money I’ve raised over the past 10 years and say “I’ve done enough for now.”

But I don’t feel like I can make that choice. Women and men affected by cancer don’t get to say “you know, I’d rather focus on my hobbies and personal life than deal with all this chemotherapy crap.” It’d be the height of selfishness to essentially say “I’m too busy, ask someone else.”

And so it goes: 10 years of walking and crewing down, and an unknown number to go. Until we live in a world without breast cancer, the fight goes on.

Please sponsor me in the 2018 San Diego 3-Day — you can do so by clicking here. Everyone deserves a lifetime.

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day

20 years

Our rental house in Essex Junction, VT -- May 16, 1998

 

How time flies!

We moved to Vermont twenty years go yesterday — we pulled up in the driveway of our rental house in Essex Junction on May 16, 1998. I started work at what was then IDX Systems Corporation two days later, on May 18 — and despite it technically being a different company now as a result of the acquisition in the mid-2000s by GE Healthcare, I’m still in the same job (and technically, the same position).

We got married in September of 1997 and by midwinter we had decided it was time to relocate. North Carolina traffic was just plain getting to us (it took close to an hour some days to drive five miles to work) and we couldn’t begin to afford a house given the central NC real estate market at that time. I happened to make a business trip to Massachusetts in February of 1998 or so and had time to drive through Vermont one afternoon. I called Carole that night and said “We’re moving to Vermont.” Carole said “OK.” A couple of months later we both had jobs and a rental house and thanks to the help of our friends loading the truck up, we got out of NC and to Vermont without too much pain or difficulty.

Our rental house in Essex Junction was nice and all, but it had a tiny lot and a landlord who thought nothing of walking around the backyard whenever the mood struck him. So, we bought a house in April of 2002 and are still there. I know it sounds blithe to say “so we bought a house” but we were extraordinarily fortunate: we found the house we wound up buying on our first day of our search and we knew right away it was the one for us. The owners were selling it themselves and, frankly, were selling it for a good bit below market value. It was located out in the country, in the woods, not far from the Winooski River and the Long Trail, with three acres of lawn around it and beautiful views of the Green Mountains out the dining room and living room windows.

Carole and I always sort of planned on having kids, but it just never came to pass. I work in a job that’s sometimes 75-80% travel, and Carole works as an accountant. Without some serious career changes, it would have been hard to be good parents. We acquired cats instead. Much less overhead, and they rarely if ever get into trouble at school or traffic accidents.

Long story short: Time flies. It seems like just yesterday we were peering out the back window at our landlord Richard on one of his random walkabouts… and all of a sudden we’ve been here twenty years.

Cornhole Glory, Follow-Up

A couple of months ago, I bragged about my amazing skill and unparalleled mightiness at the greatest of all tailgating sports, Cornhole. Yesterday, the Match of the Titans took place at the park opposite the Burlington (Vermont) airport, where the Lund Family Center pitted 64 teams against one another to crown the Ultimate Cornhole Gods (2018 edition).

Jay had signed us up as a two-person team (“Otter and Lemur”, naturally) more or less for the heck of it; neither of us had actually played Cornhole before. The Lund Family Center is a vital part of our community’s social network, so the money raised and donated goes to a good cause, but I don’t think that really had much to do with Jay’s decision to enter us. Random whimsy plays a large part in his decision-making.

Upon signing us up for the tournament, Jay did order a Cornhole set (boards and beanbags) and told me we’d train like madmen so I’d be ready for the tournament. Unfortunately, with the late arrival of spring weather, we didn’t break out the set until last week. I think we practiced about 4 evenings, from after we ate dinner until the mosquitoes started to eat theirs (us, that is). Well, it was better than nothing.

We wound up in a round robin against three teams:

  • The Corn Dogs, a team of young girls, I’d say about 12 to 16 years old, whom we managed to beat on points (meaning we didn’t make it to 21, the official game score; the ending score was 9-3 in our favor).
  • The Kernal Sanders, a team of five guys who didn’t have a ton of experience either but still managed to whomp us fairly readily.
  • The Unicorns, a mixed team of five employees of the event’s main sponsor, North Country Federal Credit Union. They beat us soundly. We threw in the towel when it was 20-9 and the organizers were making ever more strident remarks about how the third round games needed to get finished, like, now. Nevertheless, I DID get one ringer shot in that game (see video above).

The elimination rounds were to take place after the round robin, based on the results thus far. We didn’t stay around for them, having worn ourselves out over three rounds of HEAVY aerobic activity; also, we didn’t want to exhaust our wildly cheering fans.

But we had fun. And I got a great sunburn on one arm and one side of my neck. 🙂

Woo-hoo! Op-ed in the Washington Post


Guess who got their op-ed about ethics printed in today’s Washington Post?

Woo-hoo!

You can read the column here or see the print image of the column here.

A few people have asked how it came to be — the answer is, I idly put in a few tweets the other day, found them somewhat amusing, and decided to submit them as an op-ed to the WaPo. They liked them too and the thing ran on Saturday, May 12. (I had published them here on furrs.org, too, but was asked to take that copy down until after the op-ed ran. They’re back up now, for what it’s worth.)

The amusing/disturbing thing, to me, is that in the 300 or so comments on the WaPo website so far, virtually all have been positive. First comment section I’ve seen on a public website that wasn’t full of racist trolls and flames. Amazing, huh?

 

Ethically Not Weighing Coal

Copyright: oleandra / 123RF Stock Photo

I am a Vermont resident (been here 20 years as of May 16) and, as it happens, duly appointed Weigher of Coal for the town of Richmond, Vermont (population 4000 or so). Said job has no actual responsibilities or duties whatsoever — it’s a carryover from long-bygone days. Since the town voters have never seen fit to get rid of the position, the Town Manager finds some sucker to take on the title each year and the Selectboard ratifies the appointment. Then the Weigher of Coal gets down to the hard work of not actually weighing coal.

From the Vermont Statutes Online:

24 V.S.A. § 1032 § 1032. Weigher of coal. A weigher of coal shall be sworn and shall not be directly or indirectly interested in the sale of coal. Upon request of the seller or purchaser, he or she shall weigh all coal sold in his or her town.

32 V.S.A. § 1677 § 1677. Weigher of coal. The fees of a weigher of coal shall be $0.10 for the first ton and $0.04 for each additional ton, to be paid by the person applying for the weighing.

This dates back to the days when homes were primarily heated by coal and you wanted to make sure you got a fair weight for the price you paid. Towns would have official municipal scales and the Weigher of Coal would be in charge of them.

As it happens, Richmond doesn’t have official municipal scales. No town in Vermont does. I’ve thought about showing up at the Selectboard meeting and asking them to buy some, but I figure I’ve only got so many opportunities to be the town kook and I want to make the most of them.

So anyway: today, after being the Weigher of Coal for three years or so, the town finally got around to asking me to read and agree to abide by the town officers ethics policy. I take my non-performance of my duties VERY SERIOUSLY so I read and signed.

You can read the policy yourself: Code of Ethics 2018

I’m very glad to have finally gotten a copy. My masters degree is in public administration and I know about these sorts of things. It makes sense that there would be one; it’d just never come up before.

I will need to take all this very seriously — I want no conflicts of interest when it comes to my not weighing coal. I want to show no favoritism to family members and other individuals in the non-pursuance of my duties.

This is Very Important.

But even as I sit here, enlightened and filled with a new sense of responsibility regarding the public trust placed in me as Weigher of Coal, it occurs to me:

… There are more stated policies for ethical nonperformance of coal-weighing than there are for the office of President of the United States.

From the “Things I Will Never Understand” Department

Like most people, I’ve uploaded a few videos to YouTube over the years: mostly videos of the Burlington Concert Band performing at Battery Park, but a few other things as the occasion has arisen.

Most of my videos have gotten ten, twenty, sometimes as many as forty views. (Who knows how many of those were me, looking at my own videos and tweaking something?) Video of our local concrete ‘n’ cement company doing festive things for New Year’s and St Patrick’s Day have done a bit better.

Then there’s my all-time champion:

That little video of the ice cream truck was taken one sunny day in June of 2016 when our building arranged for an ice cream truck to pay a call. I stopped and recorded a short video as it pulled up. Totally pointless. So, of course, I uploaded it to YouTube for posterity to enjoy.

I grant you that just shy of 25,000 views is nothing in an era where Rebecca Black can get sixteen million views spitting phlegm into a Kleenex, but it is perplexing when such a video is head and shoulders above everything else I’ve uploaded in terms of viewership. Is there some unmet need out there on the Internet for ice cream truck videos? Am I missing my calling?

Memphis Follies

I’ve been in Memphis, Tennessee for work most of the last couple of weeks. Two days out of three, I’ve stopped by a Starbucks at the corner of McLean and Union to grab a green tea latte and a chai tea latte (iced) before heading on to the customer site to work.

And apparently my normal morning zany/attention-hungry behavior has gotten me some attention:

Meticulous Accounting, Home Edition

So yesterday I picked my car up from our mechanic and paid a not inconsiderable amount of money for a new exhaust pipe/muffler assembly, plus labor.

And this morning I sat down, as one does, to enter the transaction and the other expenses of the week into Quicken.

And upon entering the payee, the amount, and the date, and moving on to choose a category for the expenditure, this is what the program served up to me:

Apparently Carole, over the years, has found it necessary to enter certain automotive-related expenditures with extreme accuracy.

Slices-o-Toast

I had lunch today at Cafe Eclectic, an unassuming little joint in Memphis, TN.

I had chicken pot pie, but that’s not what made me want to post about the place.

What did was this:

Slices-o-Toast.

I mean, man! With a name like that, the item could have consisted of them staple-gunning a loaf of stale Wonder Bread to my head and I’d still have ordered it.

The reality wasn’t that dramatic, but what do you expect for $1.50?

A+ for marketing, Cafe Eclectic.

I footnotes