Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Media Goes Wild!

I detest the exaggeration of our news media.

For Example:
Black scholar agrees to beer with Obama, policeman

The first sentance reads:
A prominent black Harvard University scholar has accepted an invitation to have a beer with President Barack Obama and the white police officer who arrested him in a racially charged case.

I don't really have an opinion about what happened. I do have an opinion about what the media is doing to make the problem worse. That statement is just as charged with negative momentum as the story itself. As a test lets switch things around a bit:
A Prominent white police Sgt has accepted an invitation to have a beer with President Barack Obama and the black man he arrested in a racially charged case.

Now the black guy has no credentials and the white guy stands out. Does it sound racially charged?

What if the story started like this:

Professor Henry Louis Gates has accepted an invitation to have a beer with President Barack Obama and police Sgt. James Crowley who arrested him in a racially charged case.

Our news media doesn't try to maintain a neutral - only the facts - kind of reporting. I suppose that would defeat the purpose of marketing. In reality this whole story is pretty bloated and is getting much more attention than it deserves. Racism is an important issue. This news story reeks of perpetuating the problem rather than solving it. What do they care? As long as it sells advertising right?

I am guessing there is no money in reporting just the facts. The more the news media is concerned with the income generated from a story the more we will need to sharpen our skills at fact extracting. That is the real story here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hard Work

A month has passed and I have been working steady on my home.

We are doing things the "hard way". We are patching plaster, we are stripping wood and sanding it with a palm sander. We are using the resource of time because we have little of the resource of money. None of this is happening very quickly, but with daily attention, it is coming along nicely.

While talking to others about our home projects, we have noticed an interesting pattern. The older crowd, like our parents and grandparents and older family members seem to encourage our efforts and give us tips on how to do things the "right way" or the "way it was meant to be". Our peers and younger tend to tell us the "easy way" to accomplish the task without as much effort. We haven't been able to narrow down when the shift went from "hard work" being a virtue to "fast and easy" being the epitome of success.

I am all for fast internet. I like fast deliveries. I enjoy fast rides. Not everything has to be fast or easy to make it better. In some cases, it is the work that makes something worth doing. By the time we are done with this room, there will not be an inch of wall or floor that hasn't had my hands working on it. There is a real sense of accomplishment when I see the grain in the wood show up under the layers upon layers of varnish that was hiding it. I have claimed this staircase. It is mine. The wood and I have become blood sisters. The same goes for the walls, the floors and the moulding. If I have my way, it will continue to every room in our house.

When I get old and die, or if we end up selling this house, the new owners will probably not find it important to know how many splinters I pulled out, or nails I pounded, scratches I sanded or holes I patched. They will probably knock down all the plaster and cover the floors I am so determined to get a nice finish on. When they are done, this will be their room, their house, their creation. I am okay with that. My work will not have been in vain because I will have truly lived in this house and experienced it, rather than just owned it. I would not wish to deny the next owner the same opportunity.

Someone recently told me that something I was trying to do would be a "lesson in futility". Their remark had merit and I did eventually decide upon another way to accomplish the task. That comment, however, still remains in my mind. Isn't life itself a lesson in futility? We do everything we can to live as long as we can and yet, in the end, we die. I don't mean that to be a negative idea. In fact, its quite positive. If we are going out, we might as well die trying.. right? In the long run, we are remembered for the things we do. When you think of the Wright brothers, do you think "They didn't knit." No, you think "they made an airplane that actually flew!" I bet that was a lot of hard work. I would even be willing to bet they were told it would be a lesson in futility.

I am not sure why hard work has become such a terrible concept in our society. In some sense it seems we have gone backwards. I find it ironic that paying for gym memberships is a popular practice, but learning to plaster walls is oudated. I realize that there can be several reasons why a person might want a gym membership that go beyond the need to be physically active to keep their bodies in shape. It just seems funny to me that people will diet and go to desperate measures to fix their bodies, while avioding the activities that will give them a healthy body and a product to show for it. It seems just as absurd to me to go to a store and get a gift card to avoid spending the time to pick out a gift. Again, I realize there are perfectly good reasons to give a gift card. It just seems that we get things upside down at times. We are willing to put in time to collect a paycheck so we can avoid putting in the time to do things personally. Unfortunately, I don't think we will ever see our children giving their children the same "Gift card that my grandmother gave my mother and then my mother gave me.. " on their first christmas in their own home. In the end, time is spent one way or another. I guess it is all a personal preferance how that time is used.

I should probably get busy on some more projects I have going. These are just some thoughts brewing in my mind as I push the sander back and forth.