Tag Archives: Tragedy

The day Megan cut her hair.

Having It All

Warning: To readers who wondered at yesterday’s not-always-family-friendly joke, today’s salty language may test your resolve. To readers who finish this post and wondered why there was a warning, you’re in the right place.

Yesterday, Megan cut her hair. Some of you are thinking, “Aw cute!” and similarly unhelpful things. Precious few of you will understand how deeply this wounds me.

I am the luckiest of men, however, in that my wife is one of those few. I love long hair. She gets it. I find it beautiful, she likes feeling beautiful…for us, it’s a win-win.

Jason! Wait! you cry. How did this tragedy befall such a happy union? Read More →

Stupidity Kills. Literally. And now we’ve lost another friend.

John Hipp's Car

Former classmate & colleague John Hipp was killed this weekend by a drunk driver.

You can read the cold hard facts here:

http://www.wsoctv.com/news/21965506/detail.html

http://www2.hickoryrecord.com/content/2009/dec/14/friend-mourns-loss-wreck-victim/news/

A friend quoted in one of the articles states:

“He’s one of the type of guys who would give you the shirt off his back. Always making you laugh every time you saw him. Just couldn’t ask for a better guy.”

johnhippI myself wasn’t close to John, but even I knew this. That’s how great of a guy John was. I have dozens of friends who were close to him because he was exactly the sort of guy who makes friends with everyone. I confess that I was a little bit jealous of John’s likability and popularity. But here’s the truth:

I couldn’t spend any amount of time with John and not begin to like him myself.

It’s a tragedy when a young man is killed even if that young man kept to himself and had few friends. When an outgoing, sociable, generous, talented, and fiercely loved guy like John dies, I begin to search for a word stronger than “tragedy”.

I feel very sorry for my friends who were close to John. His death in a car accident echoes a loss I experienced in high school, and I can tell you from experience: Nothing makes it right. Nothing makes it better. Nothing makes it make sense.

Nothing helps.

Time, as they say, does eventually help heal. But not in the magical “be healed!” way of charlatans and showmen. Time “heals” in much the way that chemotherapy “heals”: Through extended suffering which leaves you scarred.

It astounds me that there are still people stupid enough to drive while intoxicated. To the DUIers and DWIers everywhere, I have only one message:

Get your [triple expletive deleted] off the road before you [double expletive deleted] something like this. Is it really that [expletive deleted] hard NOT TO DRIVE? Take a friend or take a cab. Or take a nap in a chair for a few hours.

If you continue to drive after drinking, or under the influence of any mind-altering drug, you are despicable. There is no other word for it.

We will miss you John; all of us. Every last one of us whose lives you touched, because you were more than a colleague and a friend. You were a force of good will itself, and we all can see God in you.

The tragedy of civilized progress

Post-apocalyptic New YorkEvery morning, I wake up, get into a stale metal box and travel down a concrete corridor at high speed, at the risk of injury and death, in order to get someplace I have no desire to be.

There I stay for (usually) nine to ten hours a day before coming home. At home, I have two or three hours before bed, where I repeat the whole process again from scratch.

I don’t have children yet, but I cannot help but wonder what would be the point of having children if I will forever have so little time to spend with them?

I am not alone in these circumstances; my wife does the very same thing. So do my mom and dad.

So does my boss. And so does his boss. So it isn’t even a matter of hierarchy; climbing the corporate ladder won’t net me any more freedom.

Nor is their any hope in sight of ever living any other way. “Retirement” is largely based on faith in government funds which quite frankly cannot afford to support my generation or those who are schedule to retire before my generation without even further increasing the cost to me to do so.

Every morning, I stare at the bumper of the car in front of me, and silently I ask the human race:

“Is this progress?”

Consider the following figures, taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/40-hour_work_week#Annual_hours_over_eight_centuries:

13th century Adult male peasant, UK 1620 hours
14th century Casual laborer, UK 1440 hours
Middle Ages English worker 2309 hours
1400-1600 Farmer-miner, adult male, UK 1980 hours
1840 Average worker, UK 3105-3588 hours
1850 Average worker, U.S. 3150-3650 hours
1987 Average worker, U.S. 1949 hours

In the 1980s, the average American worker had to work 500 more hours per year than his European ancestors did 600 years ago. And I have to assume that it was actually easier for the blacksmith or wagonwright or farmer in the 14th century to stop what he was doing and go visit his child or wife in the middle of the day than it is for us to do the same.

What progress have we made?

Using the data provided by the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics, Erik Rauch has estimated productivity to have increased by nearly 400 percent. Says, Rauch:

“… if productivity means anything at all, a worker should be able to earn the same standard of living as a 1950 worker in only 11 hours per week.”

I must ask us, as a community, as a country, as a society:

WHAT IS THE GOAL?

We dash madly from project to project, from home to job and back again, taking classes before work, after work, at work, and what is all of this meant to accomplish?

At best, we’re going in circles. At worst, we’re going backwards. Our standards of living have improved, but the time we have per day, per month, per year to enjoy those standards has decreased.

Once upon a time, a father could support his wife and children with his work alone. At least the mother had time to spend with her children, even if she was also responsible for educating them. Now my wife and I must both work just to sustain ourselves — we couldn’t realistically support children at our current income.

When will our many inventions and increased production net any kind of universal payoff in the ability to enjoy all the niceties we’ve invented over the years? And how can this possibly come to pass?