Sepia

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 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
Sepia

20 years

Our rental house in Essex Junction, VT -- May 16, 1998How 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 getting to us 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 I was starting at IDX, and now it’s been twenty years.

Sepia

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?


 

Sepia

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 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 to 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.

Sepia

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?

Sepia

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:



Sepia

(no subject)





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:



Sepia

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.

Sepia

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.

Sepia

Proof that I'm insane





Carole and I live in the woods, in Vermont. We’ve got about three acres in the town of Richmond, up on top of a hill with a deep gully behind the house. Trees all around. We see all kinds of wildlife criss-crossing our lawn: deer, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, foxes, wild turkeys, even the occasional bear. We may have moose now and then but we haven’t actually spotted any and we haven’t been motivated enough to go out after a fresh snowfall to examine tracks.



Anyway, Carole bought me a wildlife/game camera for our 20th anniversary last September, something I’d put on my wish list on Amazon and hoped to get one day. It’s got all kinds of features — infrared pictures, video, all kinds of groovy things.


And I haven’t installed it. I know where I probably will install it, on a post in the middle of our back yard or by the back of our deck, both places that I know we get a lot of critters. But I haven’t taken the minute or two it would take to go strap it to a post and configure it for nighttime shooting.


Why?


Well, Carole bought it for me in September. In Vermont, the cold weather rolls in pretty early; we’ve gotten snow in October before. And it hangs on for a while — we’ve gotten snow in May once in a great while. And I haven’t hung the camera up yet because I’d feel sorry for the animals stuck out in the cold. If I got a picture of a bunny hopping across our snowy yard, I’d just feel so sorry for the poor little cold bun looking for something to eat.


Obviously, this hypothetical bunny is out there whether I’m taking photos of it or not, but if I don’t take photos, I don’t have to think about the bunny.


But in a few weeks when the weather does warm up, I’ll hang the camera up then…


Watch the first picture I capture be one of some weasel or fox or something eating our hypothetical Mr. Bun.