Thursday, May 29, 2008

Poor Hillary

When our second child was born, I remember my mother offering some encouraging words since we had hoped for a daughter but instead got a second son. She said, "It's a man's world anyway." I imagine she got to say that fairly often since she had seven grandsons and no granddaughters.

Recently, I've been remembering those words with some articles I've been reading in the news lately:

--The British Household Panel Study, which followed the same 5,000 families for more than 15 years reported that the tendency of women to carry a greater burden of the domestic chores is a major reason for the gender pay gap in that country. While single men do only four or five hours of household work a week, single women put seven hours into cleaning and maintaining the home, the study said. And wives and live-in girlfriends do more than 12 hours of domestic work every week, with destructive results for their careers.

--Last month, a study by University of Michigan (my fav school!) showed that having a husband creates an extra seven hours a week of housework for women. Meanwhile, men save an hour a week of housework by having a wife.

--An Indian newspaper in an article titled "Deleting Girls" reports on the practice in India of aborting female fetuses: "(son-preference) roots lie deep in tradition, and are entwined in inheritance laws and in women’s status. Modernity and economic progress have not made a dent in this arena. On the contrary, they seem to have further entrenched the desire for sons to ensure that wealth remains within the family. Prosperity and sex-selection seem to go hand in hand in this country."

Tough being a woman anywhere. It's nothing new though. Here's something I ran across quite by accident. I was listening to a CD of the legendary Carnegie Hall concert performed by the Benny Goodman orchestra in 1939. This was a unique event in that it was the first time jazz was ever performed at that noble venue.

The concert had sold out long before the event itself and the crowd was very appreciative of the music from beginning to end. However, after one artist took the stage to perform, the audience cheers reverberated long and loud, so much so that after the performance, Goodman had to apologize that they did not rehearse an encore with this performer.

It wasn't Goodman, nor Harry James, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, Count Basie who got the strongest ovation at this unique event. It was Martha Tilton, the band's female vocalist who really brought down the house. Yet her name is not even among the eight performers listed on the CD cover.

At Martha's website, her biographer explains, "Unfortunately, performers like Martha who sang with a popular big band got little recognition. While she lent her beautiful voice to a recording (and without her voice, a song may not have been nearly as popular), Benny Goodman got the credit."

Maybe that's what my mother meant when she said, "It's a man's world." I think Hillary's finding that out too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


This is Doogie the family dog filling in on behalf of Big Dave who was on a weekend retreat in Ohio with wife Wendy. Their eldest son Greg was charged with taking care of me. What follows now is a tale of terror and horror not for the squeamish. Read on if you wish but you have been warned.

Greg and his girlfriend Lindsay own a Boston Terr(or)ier named Simon. They say he's just a big hyper puppy. No! He's a ferocious brute-- constantly trying to pick a fight with me, shredding my chew toys and stealing my treats if I'm eating too daintily. So he was going to be my weekend companion. That's great, just great. What elderly toy poodle mix wouldn't want a hungry Cujo for a playmate.

At least they brought Cujo's, er, Simon's cage with them. He stayed there during the day while my dogsitters worked. I felt somewhat safer but I'd feel even better if the bars were reinforced with titanium, steel barbs, razor wire or something like that. Luckily for me, Lindsay stopped by in the afternoon to let us outside into the fenced-in backyard.

Maybe somebody should have told Lindsay that we have another occasional resident in our backyard. He's a big bunny who Big Dave and Wendy think was probably born in the ground cover by the patio and feels like home here in our yard with the squirrels, flowers and doves. It's like a Disney movie paradise where all the animals frolic together in harmony.

Unfortunately, Thumper was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So our Disney backyard morphed into an episode of Wild Kingdom. Actually, it was more like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And I a witness? Never was there more a candidate for doggie therapy afterwards.

It gets worse, trust me.

The screen in the patio door is occasionally loose to the point that dogs like myself can ingress and egress without troubling the masters to let us out and in during the summer. So Simon dragged his prize into the front room where Lindsay was watching television. And she didn't even notice! Hel-LO! Where is the supervision here?

Lindsay continued to watch TV with that brute at her feet. She knew that he had something there but figured it was just another of my chew toys. Uh lady, none of my chew toys are of the organic variety. Finally, Simon jumped up on her lap and she sees that he's been feeding on something (remember, I warned you). FINALLY, she looked down at her feet to see the remains of our poor resident rabbit.

That sent her fleeing from the house, taking her killer dog with her. She called for me to come out too. No thanks lady. Back out into the backyard? I don't think so. I've already seen Thumper assassinated. What's your attack dog going to do next--take down Bambi too? I'd just have my little psycho-meltdown inside.

Greg came by later and got rid of the evidence. No matter. I'm willing to testify in a capital case if any authorities are reading this blog. I'll even take a T-Bone or Beggin' Strip as my witness fee.

Next time Big Dave leaves for a weekend I hope he finds me better quarters. Even the Bates Motel would be an improvement.

Unfortunately, the only picture I have of the culprit is many months old. Don’t let the moony-eyed puppy stare fool you. Evil lurks within those eyes. If you see him, don’t take any chances. Get inside, lock the doors and call the police.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chump Change?

I took a spill on my bike this weekend. Wasn't hurt really as it was just one of those embarrassing type of falls where you get up quickly hoping that nobody saw (or worse yet, recorded it on digital for YouTube). I had been trying to cut off one of those early morning power walkers who was aiming for the same stretch of sidewalk I was when I lost control. So it served me right too. Next time the power walker gets the right-of-way. He's probably faster walking than I am on my one-speed rustabout anyway.

What bummed me out more than the bump on my shin and my bruised ego was that I also bent my front wheel rim. So the bike is in repair now. I can't indulge my favorite hobby of late. Not bike-riding. Hunting for lost coins.

I was on my way over to my favorite coin-spotting venue, the parking lot at the high school. I've always found a few stray quarters or dimes courtesy of the loose pockets of high schoolers. It's a win-win situation for me. I get the exercise I promise my doctor as well as collect some extra coin for my retirement fund. I found two quarters one day, five dimes another. Sounds great, doesn't it?

So why do I get the feeling sometimes that others I know are not as, well, enthusiastic? A little over a week ago I came across a canister placed on my desk at work. Like one of those canisters you see at cashier's stations where they seek donations for charities and the like. Except this one was re-decorated junior high art class style with "$ Found on the Ground Fund " drawn in colored marker.

Turns out it was my son's girlfriend's gift to me. Oh, well. I've already put close to $2 in change in it after less than two weeks courtesy of my bike and my eagle eyes. Too bad I didn't have that can after the spring melt when I found a five-dollar bill stuck in the schoolyard grass, waving at me with the passing breeze. Some poor student missed lunch that day. Awww, kids eat too much these days anyway.

Then I e-mailed my sister-in-law the following, bragging a bit on my coin-spotting prowess:

"Yesterday I was doing some running around and had to go to Target. I love the popcorn there, but I only had three dollar bills and I know a small popcorn there comes to $1.05. I didn't want to break a second dollar, so I said to myself, if I find some money in the Target parking lot, I'll buy a popcorn. Otherwise not.

Found a dime. Darn I'm good. The popcorn was too."

My sister-in-law responded: "I would save that story, Dave. It's a winner. How about a book called 'Chump Change."'

Yeah, well, I ran it by my buddy who's a literature professor and he commented on the title, "Chump Change, that is so awesome on so many levels." I'm not so sure. Maybe--but don't look for it anytime soon at your local Border's.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Moving On

It's been three years since our eldest son moved into his own apartment. His small bedroom at the end of the upstairs hallway has sat empty since. Though we've been told as in a Steven King novel that "sometimes they come back", Wendy and I decided it was time to update the space.

Down came the football curtains. Down came the highway road signs that read "Speed Limit 45" and "No Parking." Boxed up were souvenirs from his teenaged and young twenty years: a Sega portable game system, some CDs apparently not on his listening list anymore, a bowling pin, a soccer trophy, etc. Greg did take his University of Michigan flag with him to his new apartment, classic decor always being en vogue.

We took out the desk where he spent many a long night doing homework (yeah, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight). And we put in a bookcase I bought at Wal-Mart. With no kids at home presently, we need space for more books and other reading material. We have time now. I commented to Wendy that this is the first summer in a quarter century we'll be without kids, grown or ungrown. Our youngest son Scott is staying at East Lansing as he has an internship there this summer.

While we were working on the spare bedroom, I asked Wendy if we ever had the crib set up there as the room size seemed the perfect size. She said "no", adding that our youngest was about seven years old when we moved in.

"Oh yeah, right." I then remembered one reason we moved into a bigger house was that we'd have more room in case we wanted to add on another family member. But we kept postponing a try for a daughter until it was too late. Well, technically it's not too late but I'm not sure I want to be a father of a teenager when I'm in my 70s.

Time just has a way of slipping through your fingers like that. I remember thinking to myself once many, many years ago that one thing I wanted to do before I was 40 was run with the bulls in Spain. I haven't even made it out of North America yet and I'm going to be 55.

But I did take my first step in that direction. I got my passport this year. Watch out bulls, here I come. I just hope they take my HMO over there.