Archive for January, 2007

Money for Nothing

Apparently the Mariners just signed a new pitcher, Jeff Weaver, to an $8.325 million 1-year contract. This pitcher doesn’t even have a stellar record – he’s played for six teams in six years, and has posted negative stats throughout most of that.

This isn’t a sports blog.

One of my biggest frustrations with our western culture is the disproportionate – even obscene – salaries we pay for professions that in the grand scheme, aren’t really intrinsically important. Pro sports players, movie and tv actors, failing/exiting corporate executives… these are not the folks who truly make a difference in the world or even do the actual work that keeps our society functioning. In spite of that, they can make multiple millions of dollars a year – or a project.

For benchmark comparison purposes, per Salary.com, the average salary for some jobs that really do make a difference in the world every day include: Day care teacher $30,608. High school teacher $48,812. Social worker $47,880. Police officer $46,591. Oncology nurse $57,220. Emergency room physician $213,739.

What does this illustrate about the distorted values of our culture, and the price we’re willing to pay for entertainment above all else?

Last year, Bryan tried to explain to me his perspective on sports stars and their right to earn big bucks. They are the best of the best at what they do, and their marquee value drives profit into a high dollar business. They are entitled to a de facto revenue share.

I disagree. It is a fundamental dysfunction in our society that spoiled, mediocre boys of summer like Weaver can earn a fortune, while superstar, highly educated and highly effective teachers are capped at the civil service max of $50-60,000 a year no matter how fabulous they are and how many lives they touch. Yes, the dedicated folks in those career fields choose those paths in part because of less material rewards. Nonetheless, it’s time that our system was revamped to compensate achievement and dedication in fields that are truly meaningful – and place less emphasis on entertainment and entitlement.

Posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 by Jeri
Under: sports, work | 1 Comment »

Snow Days Followup

North Kitsap School District has published its action plan for making up this winter’s excess of snow days.

I’m not sure who actually wrote it, but he or she has a great future in writing instruction manuals for consumer electronics.

I’m not quite sure what to actually calendar!

Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: news, Poulsbo | 1 Comment »

Drive-by Texting

There was sound-off headline in the Seattle PI this morning that asked the question “Text Messaging While Driving: Should It Be a Crime?” Duh.

Last month a driver caused a major accident while using his BlackBerry on the road. And there are any number of other really ridiculous things I have seen Seattle commuters doing while driving – putting on eye makeup, reading the paper, writing checks, using a notebook computer… way above and beyond the usual distractions of a cup of coffee, an egg mcmuffin or even a cell phone call.

Unfortunately, we can’t legislate good sense. And even if we could, who would we get to enforce it? Our police force is stretched pretty thinly and can barely handle emergency response and egregious moving violations. I highly doubt Seattle’s finest are staffed to respond to complaints about text-messaging at the wheel.

We’re really limited to waiting until disaster happens – like the BlackBerry accident – and then throwing the existing book at the situation. Driving negligently? Sure. Recklessly? Yup. Vehicular homicide? I really hope it doesn’t come to that – but it could. It would certainly be a wake-up call.

I’m very grateful I rarely drive on the Seattle side and instead commute as a walk-on ferry passenger. I drive to and from the ferry on the Bainbridge side, but the commuters on the Kitsap side don’t seem to share the same white-knuckle anything-goes perspective as the the crowds congesting the Seattle highways.

Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: commute | Comments Off

Deprogramming

I am one of those overconnected, too-technical, always online people. I carry both a notebook computer and a smart phone that does phone, email, calendar, contacts and tasks (a Treo 700wx). I can work in my Seattle office, my Anchorage office, or remotely from my home office with equal ease. Being connected at all times is both my profession (IT/technology) and my personality type (A+). I am not, however, one of those who imposes it on others (unless you work for me and it’s project launch time).

And yet, I long to NOT be a type A. Do they have Type A deprogramming classes? I work a bit too much, I definitely travel too much, and I tend to lose sight of what’s really important – my family, my health, my home. I get very emotionally invested in my work, wrap way too much ego up in my projects and achievements, and have a tough time not taking things personally and letting go when it’s required. The ability to be online 24×7 from anywhere just exacerbates those tendencies. In the grand scheme of things, IT is not emergency medicine — nobody ever died because we missed a deadline on a new customer service system.

I have serious midlife fantasies of walking away from my career to be a fulltime artist & writer. Those dreams are probably not realistic – art and writing are passions for me precisely because they’re avocations, recreational, creative and therapeutic. Quite probably, if I were to engage in these pastimes as professions, my type A tendencies would kick in, with all the perfectionism, production objectives, and workaholism that make up my personality, which would make the whole set of endeavors no longer fun.

One epiphany I had during my early January metal arts class was the huge difference being offline makes in my sense of perspective. The first day, I was wrapping up details for a work event and was checking emails and voice mails on every break, and it was distracting. The next three days I was completely offline. I was completely focused on the tools, the project at hand, and the people in the class. It felt really odd and really wonderful.

It occurred to me that I view the world through a predominantly electronic window. My work, especially when it’s so often done remotely, is done through a 15.5″ notebook computer monitor and a phone. Face to face meetings are a rarity. At home, we spend a huge amount of time online as well – looking up information, helping with homework, planning trips or home projects, shopping, keeping up with personal email or surfing or IMing for fun. My personal hobbies happen to include online activities like blogging, web design and computer graphics.

Last time I was really, really sick, I had a really nasty migraine that knocked me completely offline and out of commission for a day. It was a particularly bad day at work for that (I was supposed to be flying) as well as a trying day at home to miss everything. I was feeling a combination of blind panic and complete surrender to being completely out of touch. My body had basically given up, and I think it was probably trying to tell me something.

The time I disconnect by choice to make art feels really strange to me. I’m looking at the world through a very different lens, using my own eyes, ears, sense of touch and sense of smell – and I think it’s a much clearer, more authentic vision. It’s helped me discover I’m too overly reliant on being plugged in, online, distracted by the various data inputs of our 21st century lives.

I think that, just maybe, I’ve stumbled upon my own Type A deprogramming method. It’s a very zen approach, unplugging, letting go and being completely focused in the moment, whether I’m making art, going for a walk, or cooking dinner for my family.

Posted on Monday, January 29th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: downshifting, inspiration, technology | Comments Off

Mt. Hood at Sunset

Zach took this absolutely beautiful sunset picture of Mt Hood tonight with my camera out the window of our moving car – at 65 mph – from the I5 bridge over the Willamette river in downtown Portland. He’s a good kid, and was willing to drop his Nintendo DS and grab the camera with no fuss when I asked him to. :)

I’m sure glad to be back home again!

Posted on Monday, January 29th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: travel | Comments Off