Thursday, January 29, 2009


An article in today's NY Times describes how Obama is loosening the culture at the White House and it's becoming acceptable to attend meetins and functions without wearing a suit coat. I think this is a good idea. The more creative people I know are more casually dressed, and I have always felt constricted and restrained when wearing a suit. (Thankfully, I never had a job that required me to wear a suit. Possibly one reason why I'm not wealthy.) I know it's a cliche, but I also chafe at the ritualistic formality of it -- what the country needs now is great thinking, not great fashion or great conformity. Let Obama wear jeans in the White House, for God's sake. Just get down to work and start fixing the economy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Daze

Snow day today -- all my kids stayed home. All I wanted to do was skip work and go sledding with them, have a snowball fight, make hot chocolate, look out the window. Life sucks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I rushed out of my apartment this morning to drop my car at the Honda dealer and then take a train into the city. In my haste I left behind my BlackBerry and my cell phone, a fact I did not discover until leaving the car dealer. While I waited on the train platform for my train, I felt a rish of two conflicting emotions--panic over the urgent work crisis or home emergency I was surely now AWOL on, and a sense of relaxation knowing I could read the NY Times in peace and quiet. But I did feel half-naked walking to the office, not having a heads-up on what might be greeting me. Of course, nothing urgent happened at all; but as anyone who has turned their phone to vibrate for a few minutes, only to miss a call about an emergency room visit or a missed appointment, knows, it's all random. This time fate was smiling on me. As much as I loathe being even vaguely connected with those BlackBerry addicted robots I see, heads bowed, thumbs aflame, on the train every day, I know the feeling. Where's my data?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Swimming Toward The Horizon

How are you supposed to get any work done when everytime you check the news the Dow Jones is dropping and another company is announcing layoffs? You can try and take the long view and think about what is was like to live in France or England during World War II, but that doesn't really make you feel any better. And you can stop watching the news and reading the newspapers, but that's not really possible when you work in a media job, as I do. So every day becomes a marathon of anxiety management. It's like the summer of 1975, when Jaws came out; and when we went in the ocean and started freaking ourselves out about what was out there, we just got out of the water and ate ice cream. But now we can't--we have to keep swimming. The only thing that makes me feel better is that I'm healthy. Maybe I shouldn't write that down. It's like leaving my hand in the water and dozing off....

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Short Happy Life of a Starbucks Wrap

I go to Starbucks everyday. I like dark coffee. This thought isn't about Starbucks, though. This morning I was waiting for my coffee and looking at the wraps, sandwiches and other hot food on display in the counter. Instead of pictures of food, as in a diner, Starbucks actually presents samples of its hot food. I assume that the hot sandwiches and wraps, on display all day, are tossed out at closing time--they couldn't survive a 15-18 hour shift in the semi-open air. (The muffins and prepackaged cold sandwiches--I wonder.) When you go to a diner, or one of those big New York style delis, the pre-made sandwiches are there for you to buy--I pray they don't survive another day, but who knows. The deserts in the rotating desert station are there to be consumed. But the Starbucks sandwiches are like live advertisements for themselves. They have sacrificed their lives so that others may be eaten and we may feel full. Like the common fly, they only live for day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good Deeds Gone Bad

I drive around with a big bag of plastic bags in the back of my car. I collect them from my ex-wife (who would otherwise put them in the garbage), my kids and even friends. I feel a sense of accomplishment whenever I deposit them in the plastic-bag recycling bins that are now popping up everywhere. Of course I wish I could make the transition to reusable fabric shopping bags, but I'm just not organized to have the bags handy when I decide it's time to go shopping. I rationalize this behavior under the rubric of, "It's a guy thing," letting my dumb-ass heterosexuality get me off the hook, but this is really just a fancy denial of my essential laziness and becoming a fabric bag shopper is now a goal I hope to achieve in the next year. Recently I read that the recession has led to a collapse in the price of recycled plastic and that huge container loads of shredded plastic bags--not to mention plastic water and soda bottles--are sitting idle, without anywhere to go. The futility of that is just mind-boggling. How are we supposed to get involved on a micro level when the end result is that nothing changes? I've given up bottled water, but I won't stop drinking diet soda. Who's going to be the plastic-recyling guru that figures this out?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope And Cynicism

I was greatly moved by Obama's inaugural speech. I think most Americans feel hopeful that meaningful change will come. I was also very affected, as always, watching and listening to the "I Have a Dream" footage of Martin Luther King over the weekend and in seeing his sacrifices come to rest, in part, with this election. But a big part of me worries/suspects/frets that Obama is also just another politician, and that our culture and economy demand so much compromise and phoniness and deceit from anyone who wants to achieve high office that it is only a matter of time before we find out that Obama is, at heart, just a self-promoting dealmaker, albeit some noble and grandiose goals. I hope not, but reading about history suggests otherwise. The other interesting phenonemena is that my kids are very worried about Obama being assassinated, which is disturbing and saddening on so many levels.