Tuesday, October 28, 2003


I found this essay on the internet. It's about what it's like raising a child who has Down Syndrom, although the publisher pointed out that it could be about raising a child with any disability. Here's the essay, the pertinence to my life will follow...



by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability -- to try to help people who have not shared the unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this:

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip -- to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. Michelangelo's "David." The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant comes and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?" you say. "What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plans. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. You must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.


I've been noticing lately that the source of most of the depression and anger in my life is expectation. I set myself up for failure by expecting the driver in front of me to realize that I'm in a hurry, and let me pass. Or I expect other people to go out of their way to keep me on my diet. I even go to stores expecting them to sell the shirt that I have pictured in my head. It all adds up to a lot of frustration. By eliminating expectation, or at least recognizing that the expectations are unrealistic (not expecting my expectations to be fulfilled?) I can lead a happier, more relaxed life. Or at least that's the plan. We'll see how it works out...

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The Governator

Today is the California governor's recall election, and I must say that for some reason I'd really like to see Schwarzenegger win.

At first I thought that my feeling was simply due to the fact that as the Governor of California he'd be too busy to make his cheesy movies. But no, I think it goes beyond that...

I don't know much about Davis. In fact, I don't even know why he is going through this recall... All I know is that I like what I've heard from Schwarzenegger. I like how he's reacted to the accusations of him mistreating women, and I like his stances on the issues. He sounds like an ordinary guy, not like a politician and I think we need more of that in government.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

One of those days...

A man tried to set fire to the US Embassy in Tunis today in a suicide attack. He failed to do any harm to the embassy, and was only slightly injured from the impact of his car hitting the outside wall of the embassy.

I guess even terrorists have bad days...

Monday, September 15, 2003

Will work for... time off!

It occurred to me on a Monday morning: How are we supposed to treat life as something precious when we waste over 70% of it at work? I absolutely dread going into work each week, and I don't think I'm alone...

According to Forbes.com, of 1,100 people from 1,004 companies with 500 or more employees, 55% described their work in negative terms--using phrases such as exhausted, confused and unsupported. A full third felt "intensely negative."

From my own experience I'd have to say that companies just don't care about the morale of their employees. They've all read the studies that say that improving morale improves the quality and speed of employee's work, but they don't heed the advice. Perhaps the problem is that "improved morale" can't be quantified? Maybe they are not willing to invest time and money on something that's difficult to prove as ROI on their books...

You'd think that they'd at least see the lost productivity when employee turnover causes them to pull productive employees away from their desks to do training. The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) reports that the median tenure for workers 24-34 years old is just 2.7 years. Why? There's no feeling of loyalty anymore. As we get dressed for work we hear about companies laying off more people, then we turn off the TV and head for work wondering if we're next. At work, we're treated as if we are disposable. The clock is watched diligently as we come and go, our time off is written into inflexible policies, and g*d forbid you get caught making a personal phone call on company time.

All this is leading to a disgruntled workforce. We've been burned, or know someone who has -and we've made a mental note. Employment equals money. That's it. Just do enough not to get fired. Our employers aren't there for us, and we're just returning the favor. Breaking this cycle will be hard, and I don't believe we'll ever get back to the day where employees spend their entire lives working for one company, but one way for employers to start...

Vacation time please! According to the BLS U.S. vacations are the shortest in the industrialized world--8.1 days after a year on the job. Overall, the average US worker is given 10.2 vacation days a year. 10.2 days to get rid of a year's worth of stress. 10.2 days to enjoy your favorite hobby, or persue your travel intrests. Hmm... That doesn't seem like much time. Let's compare the US with other countries: The Chinese are given an average of 15 vacation days a year. That's 50% more than we get. Japan, 17.5 days. Then you look at Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the UK -workers there get 25 vacation days a year on average. Feel like you're getting ripped off yet? To complete the feeling of outrage I'll give you some more. Workers in Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, France, and Switzerland have an average of 30 vacation days a year! An entire month off? Nope, more like a month and a half -remember, weekends don't count!

Okay, so I wonder how companies get anything done when their employees take that much time off. In reality, I'm not looking for 30 days worth of vacation. I'd be happy with 10 days for year 1, 15 for year 2 or 3, and 20 after 5 years of service. That would make me want to stay! (Currently I start with 10 and get 1 extra for each year of service.)

Other suggestions: Have a casual dress code if there is little to no contact with customers, I'm so much more productive when I'm comfortable. Have meetings, but keep them short and productive -I hear removing chairs from meeting rooms works wonders. Do what you can to DIScourage employees from coming into work sick and infecting other workers -that secretary who refuses to go home sick isn't displaying a great work ethic, she's guaranteeing that half of your staff will be out next week!

Gotta go, my boss is coming! Look at the "Work To Live" website: http://www.worktolive.info/poen_vaca_mini.html to read about the "Minimum Paid Leave Act" that's being proposed to Congress. I'm not one to look to another law for the answer when the American workforce could demand such a change, but it is interesting none-the-less. Besides, the law will fit in just fine since the government is already dictating minimum wage, health insurance, safety guidlines, and so on...