Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's a Strange Christmas

It's a strange Christmas. The temperature is in the high 40s and there isn't a flake of snow to be seen. That may not seem strange to folks in more Southern climes but here in Northern NY about 20 miles from the Quebec border, green Christmases are a rarity. Plus there seems to be a dearth of Christmas Joy. I noticed driving around the last few days that only about 1 in 5 homes have holiday lights up, perhaps as many as 1 in 4 if you count non-lighted displays and people I meet don't seem to have that infectious happiness I associate with the season in the past.

Perhaps it is the world situation. In this morning's paper there was a story about a Christmas tree seller in Baghdad. He is a 77 year old Moslem who lives in a mixed neighborhood and has been selling Christmas trees for the past 10 years. Normally the street where he is selling trees would have tree sellers all along it but this year he is alone because Christians are a target for insurgents and he is risking his life to sell trees to those who are willing to risk their lives to buy one.

Two other stories that caught my eye were the one about the huge bonuses on Wall Street this year (average of $300K for Goldman Sacks employees) with an accompanying upsurge in sales of high end cars and other luxury items and a story about how thrift stores are doing a booming business selling used items for Christmas gifts because people are having trouble making ends meet. They were weren't in the same section of the paper but I was struck by the contrast between the two stories none the less. It is a strange Christmas.

For my part I've found it a bit difficult to get into the mood but I did put out some Christmas lights in attempt to cheer things in my neighborhood. As you can see in the photo I had the help of my loyal buddy who supervises all my outdoor chores. May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Long time, no post

I've been busy. Too busy even to do much Christmas decorating although I have finished wrapping, shipping & card sending.

I thought (briefly) that I might have a PT job to fund my lust for new & better photo equipment but it didn't pan out. A stock photographer wanted someone to manage his database of images part time and I thought that would be right up my alley but he wanted someone to work as an independent contractor for $7/hr. and estimated the work would take 20 hrs/week. Since I have signed up for Social Security I can't work in self-employment over 45 hours a month without losing my Social Security. Combine that with him wanting to pay less than minimum wage ($7.15 as of 1/1/07) and it was a no brainer to nix the deal. I think the insistence on a substandard wage was the breaking point for me. From there it just went down hill. The level of skill he was asking is worth at least $10/hr. Initially I was willing to do it for less than that but when he insisted on $7/hr. I was insulted and got my hackles up.

I do not understand these business people who think that because you have a pension and/or Social Security that you should be willing to work for peanuts. I worked all my life for those benefits. They are mine. Why should I give someone else the benefit my pension by working for less than what I'm worth so they can make more?