Well, we’re alive. I know you’ve been concerned. I’ve appreciated the emails, letters, and personal visits to our house, but the continuous stream of gift baskets is getting to be quite a burden. I can only eat so much cured meat and cheese. I tell the children to be strong, eventually we can eat fresh food again. It just seems to be wasteful to go shopping when we have a bounty of prepared food, all perfectly wrapped in cellophane. All of it waiting to be admired, appreciated, and devoured.
Actually, we’ve just been really busy with things other than this site and feeling quite harried. I decided that I should at least publish something new after *quickly checks website* four months.
This is a new series, published on a strict whenever-the-mood-strikes schedule. I fully intend to get back to a regular publishing schedule as well. This will be my brief thoughts on what I have read, listened to, or experienced since the last time I wrote a Harried Thoughts. The topics will either be too short to be a full post, or something that is percolating into a post.
Enough of the introduction though.
One of the things that has been diverting our attention from this site is that Em started a different website that fits more into what she likes to do and does on an everyday basis. You should check it out since it’s awesome and she has published over three dozen articles already. Visit her at: www.themodestcottage.com
Holy mother of magazine subscriptions there are a lot of fundraising “opportunities” that come home with the kids. We have three in elementary school at this point and I’m pretty sure we receive a ream of paper each week with various school announcements and fundraising. This does not include the kid’s school assignments and projects that come home. Even though our district has electronic flyers that they send via email, we still receive a lot of paper.
I’ve always wanted a “just donate” option for these things. As it is, the school gets some small percentage of the sale total. I would rather spend less on net, get the school more, and not end up with something I don’t really need.
I’ve thought this since I was in school and had to go around selling stuff to raise money for band camp or trips. Most people don’t want to buy a hoagie or candy bar from a door-to-door teenager. Even though it happens less frequently now, we always buy from kids that still come to the door.
All this stuff that comes home has another downside. It requires attention even when we are not going to do anything with it. Unloading the kid’s school folders is a constant question of “What are we supposed to do with this?”
Sometimes it’s as simple as tossing it into the recycling if it’s printed on both sides or into the scrap paper drawer (you have a scrap paper drawer, right?) if it’s printed on one side. There just seem to be piles of paper that grow at the end of the school day and must be surreptitiously tossed after the kids go to bed.
Main Hustle Side Hustle
There is constant talk online of needing a side hustle and multiple income streams if you’re really going to get ahead. I think it’s usually more efficient to work on your main hustle and really kill it instead of starting something new. Unless you really hate your main hustle. This should probably be a full post, but that’s all I have to say about it right now. This has been on my mind since my main hustle (you know, my job) has been taking a significant amount of my time lately.
Rationalizing Terrors and Spelling
What the heck could those two have in common? Only that I had tangential thoughts on both subjects while reading the same book.
I enjoy history and especially learning about daily life. My brother saved a bunch of books from disposal at the junior high library, and I borrowed a couple to skim. One of the books was The American Reader by Paul M. Angle, a collection of contemporary eyewitness accounts, letters, diary entries, newspaper articles etc. from Columbus to the 1950s.
First, the heavy subject.
There are several accounts in this book from people that discuss slavery in the United States. Most of the included accounts are anti-slavery, but one of the entries was from an Englishman who was pro-slavery. Here’s an excerpt:
The out-door laborers have separate houses provided for them; even the domestic servants, except a few who are nurses to the white children, live apart from the great house – an arrangement not always convenient for the masters, as there is no one to answer a bell after a certain hour. But if we place ourselves in the condition of the majority of the population, that of servants, we see at once how many advantages we should enjoy over the white race in the same rank of life in Europe…The laborers begin begin work at six o’clock in the morning, have an hour’s rest at nine for breakfast, and many have finished their assigned work by two o’clock, all by three o’clock.
-Sir Charles Lyell, 1846
When I first got to the slavery section of the book, I was worried that the editor had only included anti-slavery writings as history is often sanitized. Why was I glad that there was a pro-slavery entry?
To help answer the question “What were they thinking?” I don’t think it’s important to be exposed to both sides of an issue to normalize the opinions. It’s important to know what they were thinking at the time the actions occurred. It is easy to look back at horrible parts of history, say to ourselves “what were they thinking?” and not acknowledge that there were large parts of the population that thought the horrible actions were perfectly rational.
When we read the words and opinions of the time, it tells us what they were thinking and helps identify this type of rationalization when it occurs in our own time. It is important to realize that these were purposefully thought out rationalizations for these actions, not lightly held beliefs.
There is a current theory by some that we shouldn’t give any kind of attention to the side that is promoting terrible actions. I can appreciate that opinion. One theory is that if there is a thought-out argument for something terrible, it will sway people to that side. But it’s also important to understand that it’s not some crazy cartoon caricature that makes it happen. It’s large portions of the society that rationalize the activity. You can have what appears to be logical and rational theories that lead to tragedy. I was glad that this book did not leave that out. There are several excerpts from people that were against slavery, and this one entry for it. I don’t think there needs to be equal time, but it’s important to know that it existed in the real world with real people that thought it was a rational course of action.
Now for the lighter subject
One of the entries was from the Lewis and Clark expedition journals. I had previously tried to read the unedited full version all the way through but gave up after a few hundred pages. The entire thing is well over a thousand pages. While reading the excerpts in this book I had a realization: I spend far too much time worrying about my spelling and grammar in my personal journal entries.
The Lewis and Clark entries are an important part of American history and a record of an amazing voyage. They are also full of ridiculous spellings, but that does not take away from their importance.
Here’s an example from Clark:
We proceeded on about 12 miles below the village under a high mountaneous countrey on the stard. (starboard) side, shore boald and rockey, and encamped under a high hill on the stard. side opposit to a rock situated half a mile from the shore, about 50 feet high and 20 feet deamieter. We with dificuelty found a place clear of the tide and sufficiently large to lie on and the only place we could get was on round stones on which we lay our mats…
Great joy in camp. We are in view of the ocian
-William Clark, 1805
My personal journals have no particular importance to anyone but me, but I waste time fixing spelling and grammar. To what end?
The important thing is to get the idea on the page and out of my head. I have lost thoughts due to working on the wording of idea #1 while ideas 2-7 race through my mind. I’m pretty sure idea #5 was a million dollar idea.
Imagine if Lewis had worried about his spelling and grammar. There would be less useful information on the page. He might spell “ocean” correctly, but we wouldn’t have known about as many of the interesting discoveries and details of the expedition.
That’s it for Harried Thoughts this week and our posts for 2017. I hope you have a great 2018!