From Musings

Crowd of people at an airport gate

Dear United: It Didn’t Have To Be This Way

Last summer I had a Delta flight out of La Guardia bound for Detroit. It was a Saturday morning and the airport was swarming with passengers, the gate area for my flight was like a mosh pit. As we approached the time to board, a gate agent announced that the flight was oversold by seven passengers. An audible groan rippled through the waiting area as we all clutched our boarding passes and jockeyed further for position in the boarding process. This was not going to be easy.

The Delta / traveler negotiation process began when the agent offered the usual $400 travel voucher for anyone willing to take a later flight. In a delightful New York accent, a lady standing beside me smirked, “They’ll pay more.” Sure enough, moments later they announced that a $500 voucher was now available to any travelers with flexible travel plans. I smiled as I acknowledged the prophetic power of my fellow traveler. As my plans did not feel flexible, I gratefully made my way onto the plane.

After the plane was fully loaded, with the last few passengers jamming bags into the overhead bins, a voice rang out over the airplane announcement system that Delta still needed one more passenger to give up their seat. This time, however, they had upped the ante.






Logo for The Intercepted podcast

Celebrate art and culture. It defines who we are.

When you live in times of authoritarian rule one of the first things that end up in the cross hairs is culture. We believe firmly that artists and writers and dramatists and actors and musicians play a vital role in defending the integrity of who we are as human beings.

— Jeremy Scahill, on the Trump’s Cabinet of Killers and Why Orange is the New Anti-Black episode of The Intercepted.

I have never been more grateful for organizations like the ACLU and the plethora of lawyers we have in this country. Likewise, I am inspired by the power of our marches and protests as we stand up for our values. But, in addition to the direct tangible actions we can take, we also need a 100 million voices writing and singing and laughing and, in general, sounding our barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world.






What is the purpose of an economy anyway?

I heard a reporter on a recent Economist podcast say that, in light of the growing UK economy, creating jobs is a good thing.

It seems to me that creating jobs is not only a good thing, creating jobs is the thing. What other purpose is there for an economy?

Here’s what I mean. An ‘economy’ is kind of a meta-thing that emerges whenever two or more people get together and decide that working together to meet everybody’s needs is more efficient than everyone trying to each meet 100% of their own needs (like, say, some kind of off-the-grid survivalist). Economies emerge in all kinds of places: prison economies, school-yard economies, national economies, global economies.






D•R•Horton

We went to our first HOA meeting this week for our new home in Carillon Forest. It was great to meet some of our new neighbors and we learned a lot. Mostly we learned that there are still lots of requests pending with the original developer who built all the houses in the neighborhood a few years back. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be responding to our requests.

It occurred to me that buying a house from DR Horton is like buying a band instrument from Professor Harold Hill. The Music Man comes to town, sells you a shiny new band instrument, and then moves on. Once he’s gone, he’s gone!






Heather’s Law of Efficient Markets

Economists continue to debate the extent to which free markets are truly efficient.

It seems to me that two things are certain:
free markets are remarkably efficient at …
1. accumulating wealth, and
2. consolidating power.

Beyond that, it seems to me that free markets are not that efficient at all.






In some ways, Canada is a small country

When it comes to land mass, Canada is slightly larger than the US — 3.9 million square miles in Canada vs 3.8 million for the US..

But when it comes to population and the economy, the is US much bigger. Consider this:

  • California has more people than Canada.
  • California’s economy is larger than Canada’s.






Calculating the Distance to California

Something like 90% of the nations fruit and vegetables are grown in California’s Central Valley. Here is a simple calculator to determine how far you are from this fertile land:

  1. Buy a 1/2 pint of raspberries from your local supermarket
  2. Count how many raspberries are moldy
  3. Multiply the number of moldy raspberries by 250. This is your distance in miles from California.

For example, I am in Northern Michigan this week. I counted at least 9 moldy raspberries in the pack. 9 x 250 = 2,500. This is the approximate distance from my location to California’s Central Valley.

Q.E.D.






Just Be

Sometimes the best thing we can do is to stop “doing” and just be. You don’t have to “be” anything. We don’t have to “be” quiet, or productive, or useful, or nice. Just be.

In his brilliant album that gave music and lyrics to Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Neil Diamond wrote:

Be, as a page that aches for a word that speaks on a theme that is timeless.






Listen with Intensity

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg’s classic collection of meditations on finding the writer within, she has an essay on talking and listening with friends as a means of bringing stories to life. She says, …






Embrace It!

I love it when I meet people who understand winter, as in the only way to thrive during winter is to take it head on, get out in it. Dress warm and get outside. If you are cold, dress warmer, get moving.

— Jeff Smith, editor, Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine

From A Cross Country Ski Tale

I’m a northern girl. I was born and raised in an environment whose seasons were punctuated by the first frost and the spring thaw … and the highlight of the year was the day the ice broke on the river.

The secret to happiness in these “harsh” environments is to meet them head on. Dress warm and get outside. Do not let the weather control your emotions or your happiness. If you are cold, dress warmer, get moving.

But isn’t life itself a harsh environment? Life is hard. The secret to happiness is the same. Embrace it. Meet it head on. Get out in it. Dress warm. If you are cold, dress warmer, get moving.