Posts Tagged ‘development’

Ritual Habit

15 September 2011

Dear J-

Studies have shown that the more overtime you work, the less efficient you become. I’m not doing well on Sundays lately as part of it sees the time as time away from family and resents it while at least another part of me sees it as time away from family and takes advantage of the uninterrupted moments to listen to the music I want. Work suffers accordingly, but it’s work and at the moment work has become a steady drip punctuated by brief moments of time off. Next up is a dentist’s appointment on Monday and that should help alleviate the gnawing anxiety I have at work that I’m still directionless and not going anywhere.

I’ve been reading a couple of actual dead-trees books, though not exactly from the library — a few weeks ago we ran into a Friends of the Library book sale stacked with all kinds of surplus books, so I picked up some young adult fiction hardbacks. YA fiction gets rapped as full of useless angst but I find it strangely soothing: at that point in my life I was escaping the everyday drudgery of school and piano and store so reading it, in a way, takes me back to those places. The latest novel has been from the ever-reliable Chris Crutcher who writes triumphs-through-sports plots with the same reliable characters (damaged kids that everyone else has given up on redeemed through athletic achievement; wise,  cool mentoring adults, bullies and parents who are bullies).

I find comfort in the familiar. Routines become habits, habits become rituals, rituals become justification: that’s the way it’s always done or I don’t have to think twice about it, I’ve done it a million times before. They say that much of your brain development and habits are ironed into your mind by age five; the rest of it is fleshing out your knowledge and skills. The books we read are full of fantastic coincidence and fabulous luck but also clever characters; I hope that the stories we pass down the figgy and Calcifer are as thrilling as they’ll find in the years stretching out before them.

Mike

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New Pfizer

11 November 2009

Dear J-

I see that Pfizer has spurned New London, Connecticut, for sunnier pastures; though companies have been merging and moving for years, this interests me because New London wooed Pfizer by using eminent domain to move folks out of their homes in order to create a parcel of land for Pfizer to step in.  That same eminent domain case ended up going to the Supreme Court, where it was narrowly ruled legal, touching off a wave of panic around the country as visions of the government moving grandma in order to gain revenue.

That Pfizer would later spurn New London should come as no great shock; companies, like professional sports franchises, have shown no great loyalty, and why should they?  The business of business  is making money, ultimately, and they’ll go to the places with the least costs for them; it’s why we have very few US-flagged cargo ships (do we have any or are they all registered in Panama?).  It would be interesting to see the fate of those city officials who approved the eminent domain plan, though — voters have long memories, and the one place where companies have no voice is at the polls (then again, they do have product representatives, corporate lawyers, and lobbyists, so they’re not completely powerless).

Recently various local government entities have approved large developments (Quarry Falls, Rancho Guejito, Merriam Mountains — okay, Guejito is just a rumor, but a particularly horrifying one); the math certainly seems easy enough:  more taxpayers in expensive new homes means more revenues, but that strikes me as curiously short-sighted, like people who buy thirsty cars and complain about high gas prices — what do we do about the infrastructure needs and traffic woes?  As individual consumers we weigh multiple factors and decide, based on those reasons that are important to us:  price, economy, reliability, style, maintenance; and yet as governments we seem enslaved to the quick fix — does that make sense?

Mike

Seeing Things

29 July 2009

Dear J-

We’re told as parents that babies see high contrast items best at first, so black-and-white and illuminated items work out pretty well.  I’m not convinced that we need a whole industry specializing in black and white baby toys, except maybe as a prop diversion to convince kids that one day the whole world became colorful — not until the much-beloved but now-defunct Kodachrome, in fact.  Patterns are interesting, of course, but I think we teach ourselves to see using shape and size.

Based on genetics it is a strong probabiliy that figgy will develop myopia, probably before she’s ten; I got my first pair of glasses when I was eight and while the world snapped back into focus during the day, at night it became a pleasant blur once the glasses were off, a sort of visual filter showing once again shape, size, but no detail.  Friends with no glasses would be unconvinced and offer up guessing games for me to say how many fingers they were holding up (hey, not that finger!) with glasses off.  I won most of those games; as we all find out as our eyes age, it’s not having our vision go dark.

The level of political discourse in this country has sunk to the point where laser-like focus narrows in on a few choice phrases and words without context to support and reinforce a view — hey, it’s a little like the physics behind lasers, now that I think about it.  Indiscretions and gaffes are dredged up as levers to sway opinion, but end up repeating only what we want to see.  Take a step back instead; although it almost physically hurts, try to read both FOX and the New York Times; surround the story with different perspectives; remember how you learned to see:  everything, details fuzzy perhaps but as a whole.

Mike

Developing Issues

22 December 2008

Dear J-

I’m not convinced that developers pay their fair share of costs; the Union-Tribune talks about the brave developers who are gamely plunging forward with building new houses in the uncertain housing market, but I don’t believe that brave is the right adjective for it.  What if the city wasn’t there to fast-track permits and provide infrastructure?  How can banks lend money to them and not extend relief to homeowners?  I know, the answers are not as simple as I make them out to be.

Why is it a lesson to be learned in overextending yourself when it happens to a person, but warrants government intervention when companies are teetering on the brink?  I’ve mentioned before how I’m starting to understand the WTO protests — in this world where money is power, buying protection and access, it stands to follow that the moneyholders also hold the strings; it’ll buy better lawyers, it’ll buy favorable laws.  How are we, as individuals, expected to compete?

This is why brand loyalty amuses me, even as I find myself a vapid, rapid consumer of goods; companies appreciate your business, but your love goes unrequited.  You may buy (or avoid) anything with an Apple, Microsoft, Canon, Sony, Nikon, etc. logo on it, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to love you back by making sure that, for instance, you have a job to pay for your consumer habits.  Cost-cutting is rampant; even as we scale back on consumer spending, so too do companies chase the dollars down by cuttng payrolls and moving production.  Thus with developers — yes, they make homes, but to put those on a market already hypersaturated doesn’t make any sense.  The laws and regulations they seek to streamline are set in place not to protect bureaucracy, but to protect citizens.  I sometimes decry government as too big and too complex, but I still wonder if it does enough to regulate consumer protection, given that purse strings turn into puppet strings with time.

Mike

figgy Rises

20 July 2008

Dear J-

It’s fun to watch figgy develop her personality further; we’re not so far beyond the I-want, but there’s glimmers of the person she’ll be.  Eating meals with her now becomes a group affair; squawks of protest greet every attempt to eat without sharing some of what you’ve got.  Here we’ve got to tread a little carefully, as eggs (and possibly peanuts) make her break out in hives — that stuff is everywhere, man.

With increased mobility (now featuring the Frankenstein’s Monster walk), the cats are no longer safe.  Unfortunately, that generally means trying to pick them up by the fur, or demonstrating love through direct pressure across the ribcage with her 80th percentile head (our pediatrician measures height, weight, and head circumference, assigning a “this is how many babies, percent-wise, that are smaller than this particular measurement” number).  I swear, one of the cats got up and wheezed for a few moments after a love hug.

And meanwhile, she keeps up her busy routines:  organizing (books on shelves apparently offend her), cleaning (ditto for used baby wipes in the trash can), and identifying (excited about airplanes, dogs, and birds; other babies, grudgingly, but boy does she go to town on her food).

Mike