Working Here

Undertaken DONE

I am finally done the first draft of Undertaken! After a spate of writing over the last two days that amounted to over 10,000 words (almost 8,000 just today!) I have a manuscript totaling just under 126,000 words.

Let the editing begin!
First Step

Reality Check

The Harry Potter Alliance posted a graphic on their Facebook page juxtaposing what people think about minimum wage workers vs. the reality of minimum wage workers (most are not teenagers, most work full-time, etc.). However, as I posted as a comment there and as I said when I shared the graphic on my own Facebook page, this graphic is not really adequate to communicate the benefit to raising the wages for the working poor so that everyone makes a true living wage. The folks actually making minimum wage are just the tip of the iceberg concerning who is helped by raising it.

1) When more of the money a large corporation makes goes to improve employee salaries, there will probably be less money available to pay dividends to stockholders. Dividends are capital gains and can only be taxed at about 15%. Those employees' paychecks are generally going to be taxed at anywhere from 20-28% (depending on how many kids a worker has, whether they can write off their mortgage interest, etc.) That increases the taxes being paid on that money by 5-13%, which means more money for the federal budget than if stockholders were the ones getting it.

2) More money in the federal budget means it's possible to pay servicemen and women more and invest in repairing our country's crumbling infrastructure, which means the creation of still MORE jobs paying a living wage.

3) Minimum wage workers making more money also means fewer working poor needing food and housing assistance, which means still MORE savings to the federal budget, more raises for those in the military, more repair to the infrastructure, etc. So far we're talking a win-win-win.

4) When workers are paid more, they also pay more to their local municipalities and state governments in taxes (in states that have an income tax, which a handful don't). This provides more money to pay police, fire fighters, teachers and other municipal workers, making their local community a safer, better-educated and in general nicer place to live.

5) When low-wage workers are paid a living wage their ability to help the economy and their local tax base by buying more goods increases, expanding the amount of money that is collected locally and statewide through sales taxes (the benefit of which is already explained above). The increased business also creates more jobs when business owners need to hire more people to keep up with the greater traffic they will experience. More new jobs created! (At a living wage!)

6) When these workers are able to buy more, the very corporations that increased their pay may very well find that they CAN give their stockholders dividends because of all of the additional business generated both through people having more money to spend AND the goodwill created by paying their employees more, which in turn also increases employee loyalty and longevity and skill.

Municipalities and states where the minimum wage has been increased to give workers a living wage experience a surge in their economies across the board. There is NOT runaway inflation or an increase in the cost of goods because of the other benefits outlined above.

To sum up--who REALLY benefits when the minimum wage goes up? EVERYBODY!

The Holiday Spirit

I believe that it is perfectly reasonable to draw the line at consenting to listen to Christmas music sung by The Beach Boys. Please take note, Trader Joe's.

Also--when did Elf on a Shelf become a thing? I seriously want to know--I feel like I've suddenly woken up, a la Rip Van Winkle, and found myself surrounded by this as if it's always been with us, though I am fairly certain it has not.

Facebook Facepalming

Okay, okay, I get it, your little baby is turning three years old today! He's the love of your life, he's watched over by angels, blessed by fairies and dressed by birds and small woodland creatures. He's adorable and photogenic, and on top of that his mother is a professional photographer, so roughly five kajillion pictures of him exist since the moment of his miraculous birth.

But does this really require over twenty posts about it over the past three days and a countdown clock? I enjoy seeing the adorable photos that are posted of my friends' kids and my great nieces and nephews, but right now there are as many pictures of this one kid in my feed as all of the other kids combined--and I have 19 great nieces and nephews, with number 20 on the way.

Just saying.

Almost Empty Nest

Ben has signed a lease on an apartment in the neighborhood just north and west of ours, only about a 15 minute walk from our house. And I was recently in the Amherst area with Rachel and her roommate to secure a student apartment for the two of them for the coming year.

We looked at some pretty grim spaces. Dirty dishes left on tables, bongs, a shower in the kitchen (just a curtain for "privacy"), a spacious basement apartment that was, nonetheless, a basement. And then we found a beautiful, newly renovated second floor apartment near the Mount Holyoke campus, less than all of the other places AND heat/hot water included! Evidently there was something wrong with the contact info on Craig's List, so the owner changed the listing to include his phone, and then he started getting calls about the place. But he liked us best and Rae and Melanie got the pretty apartment. :)

We'll see about Ben's place. They had applied for the first floor apartment but someone else got it, so he and his roommate settled for the second floor, which is smaller but also cheaper. However, I didn't learn until this morning that he'd only seen pictures of that apartment, he hasn't actually been IN it! And he's got some furniture being delivered from IKEA thus afternoon, which he bought without taking any measurements! :sigh: So we'll see how this goes...


Measuring Sticks

Now there's a woman saying that women who get equal pay--or even make more than men around them do--will never find husbands. Wow. Possibly even worse than the woman claiming that the equal pay movement is "demeaning" to women. IMO, both of these women have more than a little growing up to do.

Let's state some opposing ideas here: a) not all women are looking for husbands, so a warning about a large paycheck repelling a man will fall on a lot of deaf ears (and also make a lot of people ROFL); b) many women making good money already have spouses or life-partners, and may make more than those spouses or life-partners; c) lots of men are mature enough that their egos don't demand a partner who earns less than they do; d) some men may LIKE having a wife whose income allows him to be an artist, activist, or stay-at-home dad; and e) many (probably most) women are likely to be less insulted by the push for equal pay than by the idea that their work might be considered more valuable by their employer if a man were doing it.

My husband grew up in a house where his mother was the chief bread-winner, while his father was the artistic one, though that didn't mean a large income for him as an individual. It worked for them. Though my husband earns most of our money now, when we started dating, I was the one who had a job and then my own apartment, which I paid for on my own, without any help from my parents or anyone else. I frequently paid for our dates because I was the one working. It didn't matter to us.

It's about time our ideas about gender and money came out of the Stone Age and into the twenty-first century. Give men some credit for not all equating their paychecks with their penises, and just give women credit for the work they do, period.

The problem with wood

Those of you who also see my Facebook posts know that I am working on turning a box room in our house into a home office. (It has also been a playroom for our kids, when they were little, and a dressing room back when our bedroom was next to it, since there is a connecting door between the rooms.)

For a while today, this was actually what the office looked like, which was very exciting for me. I was actually able to sit here and write!

Now it's all taken apart again, because the casters for two of the legs came off, and a large chunk of rotten wood from one of the legs. This actually isn't too surprising because the table sat in a dirt-floored basement under our church for about 25 years before we brought it home for our kids 15 years ago, to use in the playroom, which was fine, but drilling into the legs wasn't a good idea, it turns out.

I did already have a plan B in case this didn't work, so that's what's next. I will need to use some 1x3s or 1x4s to build little wooden "pockets" for each table leg to sit in, and then I will attach the t-nuts and casters to the good, stable wood of the pockets. (The t-nuts are hammered into the wood after a hole is drilled to receive the caster, and there are threads in the middle of the t-nut that allow you to screw the caster in place.)

Which means that my office won't look like the above photo again for a while, until I finish cutting and building the pockets. And then I'll probably prime and paint all the wood, both pockets and table (black) before putting the shelving back on top again.


Two steps forward, one step back...


Memo from the home office

The work on my home office is coming along. I have cleared out vast quantities of junk that were in here when we were using it as a box room, and now that the electrician has verified that I won't risk burning the house down by plugging my drill into the room's sole outlet, I can get to work repairing the table I will be using as my desk.

You'll notice that I said "in here"--that's right, I was actually using my office AS an office today, writing 1551 words of Undertaken! I am determined not to let the room's incomplete state stop me from using it to write. Just because I cannot actually plug in the computer in here yet doesn't mean I can't operate it on the battery!

Pictures when the work is further along!


My mom's 89th birthday

At my brother's house now waiting for him and my brother-in-law to bring my mom. She's the only one not here yet. No, it's not a surprise party. My brother simply neglected to talk to his son, who was supposed to be driving his grandmother here, before we were expecting them to arrive. (Actually, he didn't talk to his son until almost an hour after we were expecting them.) Turns out my nephew thought we were doing this tomorrow. He can't make it tonight.

With luck they might be here soon. It's 45 minutes in each direction and they left to get Mom almost an hour ago. But we just heard from them and they're stuck in traffic from the Flower Show, so we'll see.


It's always something...