Friday, February 22, 2013

Achieving Unemployment

The Board of Directors at Fish Emergency Service (finally) hired an executive director last night. She will begin serving part time next week, and I will phase out after some overlap.

The volunteers at Fish said that I had renewed bounce in my step yesterday. I don't dispute that. I have been at Fish for 7 months on a 5 month contract. I was beginning to doubt whether I would be able to see the project to a successful conclusion. The organization was beginning to stagnate. They needed to move on as surely as I did. And they did.

So I have again achieved unemployment. I am deeply appreciative of Sally's willingness to afford me this flexibility. And I will do another interim, but not this week....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Losing another friend....

On Friday we made the decision to have Juni put down. We had been struggling with the issue for weeks as Juni's condition declined. At first she had to be helped to her feet. A few days later she had to be supported as she walked until gaining her stride. By Friday she could barely stand. She could walk, but had intermittent collapses. The hardest thing was leaving her in the house: In our absence she would try to stand, but end up sliding across the floor backwards until she reached a wall or chair, where she would remain trapped until we got home.

It was an inglorious end for a dog who had been incredibly energetic for over twelve years. She had lost her ability to run, chase squirrels and birds, and sniff the borders - all characteristics that defined her  being.

As sad as the loss of Juni was in and of itself, it also brought up for us the post-traumatic distress of having lost Cayenne just over a year ago. We have had dogs close to the center of the family for the last 26 years, and all but about two years of our 36-year marriage.

Its only been a few days so I'm not surprised that I look for a dog when I enter the house or come down from the bedroom. Perhaps I'll grow accustomed to their absence in time. Perhaps the freedom to travel or be away from the house all day without figuring out what to do about the dog will grow on me. In the meantime I can't help but feel that my life is significantly diminished by the absence of the love, loyalty and presence of our long-time companions.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Stupid Party?

We've got to stop being the stupid party. It's time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.
- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, 1/24/13

The government can't change the weather... America is a country, it's not a planet.
- Florida Senator Marco Rubio, 2/13/13 

A point to Mr. Jindal!

February 13, 2013 - A Public Policy Polling survey found that just 37% of Louisiana voters approve of Gov. Jindal's performance, down from 58% in 2010.

Never mind.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Desperately Seeking the Past

I loved the movie, Dave, starring Kevin Kline. A favorite scene involved Dave, the imposter President, trying to convince the Cabinet to cut the budget in order to save a program for homeless kids. The Commerce Secretary defended an advertising effort to make people feel better about American made cars they had already purchased, as if making people feel better about their past decisions was more important than helping people in the present.

This scene returned to mind as I listened to coverage of Pope Benedict's announced resignation. Though I've not been a fan, I'll pass on commenting on his decision. He probably doesn't have much regard for me either.

During the coverage, however, it was noted that a major emphasis of Benedict's papacy, and one that would likely continue, was the attempt to restore consistency with the Church's past, something that was lost in the course of Vatican II and other modernizing efforts.

How sad it is when an organization's hope for the future is reduced to recovering it's nostalgic recollections of its past. How sad when any of us fall into this trap. The past cannot be changed by our greatest efforts. But the future! The future awaits our action, our decision, our energy!

So many in the Church wring their hands about the growing numbers who have left religion behind. I'm surprised the numbers aren't MUCH higher.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Timberline. We left our guns at home.

Had a lovely day yesterday skiing at Timberline. Lots of sun, mild temperatures, short lift lines, and nice snow. The view from the top is pretty much awesome.

The front page of this morning's Oregonian featured several people carrying automatic weapons in and around the Oregon Capitol. It left me wondering.... Instead of asking people if they support automatic weapons bans, ammunition clip restrictions, or universal registration, what if we started with the question, "Do you feel safer seeing or knowing that others you encounter are carrying guns?"

The great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." This was within the context of arguments about free speech. In truth, no rights are absolute, for the rights of one invariably impinge upon the rights of others. Let's stop talking about the "absolute" 2nd Amendment rights of any and all gun owners and recognize the rights of the rest of us to go about our lives with a modicum less anxiety.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Coming Back Into View....

It's been quite a while since I posted anything. You may not have felt you were missing anything, but I have been the worse for not writing.

For the past six and a half months I've been working at Fish Emergency Service in Portland. Fish provides food boxes, clothing, household and personal hygiene items for people in economic crisis. It's mostly been a good experience. I've met many people who genuinely care and honestly try. Fish has an amazing number of donors who are extremely generous. What could be better?

My work here has been in connection with the Executive Transition Service of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon. One issue of concern to anyone in the nonprofit sector, including funders, is the proliferation of nonprofits. There are thousands in Oregon, and wherever you live as well. For some time now I have felt that the reason we have so many nonprofits is that we have systematically dismantled the social service safety net that was once provided by public (read "government") entities. The nation has decided at the ballot box that we don't want to pay taxes to support those in need. Such work should be the responsibility of churches and charities.

Churches and charities have no taxing authority. All they can do is vie with one another to attract the attention of donors. Then vie again. Send another appeal. And another.

Individual donors, businesses, and granting organizations all worry about duplication of services, waste of resources, the amount of money spent on administration and fundraising. Those working for agencies like Fish struggle with the enormity of the task, and the small bandaids we can afford to apply to society's gaping wounds.

Well, friends, all of this goes with the territory. We made this bed, and now will have to lie in it. Unless we're among those with no job, no health insurance, no transportation, no kitchen, no bed....