Location: Iowa, United States

61 years old (pretty old for a blogger) proud to be a grandpa

Friday, November 16, 2007

Generation Gap or Something Else?

I think it’s interesting to compare song lyrics from different eras. First is “All the Things You Are” written in 1939 and the second one is a modern rap/rock song I found online. Both have to do with love (honestly now, which of these romantic tributes would you like your sweetheart to sing to you?)

You are the promised kiss of springtime
That makes the lonely winter seem long
You are the breathless hush of evening
That trembles on the brink of a lovely song

You are the angel-glow that lights a star
The dearest things I know are what you are

Some day my happy arms will hold you
And some day I'll know that moment divine
When all the things you are, are mine


Got the key to your heart that's all
This kind of love makes me lose control
Got the key to your heart that's all
This kind of love makes me lose control
.... beauty...... no life
Wouldn't have a guide and wouldn't have a wife
Come..... all tonight
Got the key to your heart that's all
This kind of love makes me lose control
Got the key to your heart that's all
This kind of love makes me lose control

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Getting the Feel of the Place

I work in a building on a campus very concerned with compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. I think this is great. We have accessible rest rooms, ramps that slope at the correct angle, and entrances that are wheelchair accessible. We have lights that flash when an emergency alarm goes off. We also have signs by all of the doors that identify room numbers, stairwells, exits, restrooms and elevators. All of these doors are also marked in Braille--that’s the part I don’t get. I have thought about various scenarios in an attempt to justify these signs and I’ve come up empty. Are there any circumstances in any building where having Braille signs on walls would be of any use to a blind person. Do blind people ever walk into a building and begin feeling around the walls for Braille plaques to get their bearings? “Let’s see, I’ve walked into a strange building and I can’t see. Do I want to wait until someone comes up to me to offer directions or should I just start feeling around the walls?” Unless I’m missing something here, I’d say the signs are nothing more than a gesture to raise the awareness of sighted people to the fact that some people can’t see. Maybe that’s important or maybe it’s silly or maybe I’m just dense and insensitive.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What took so long?

“Smoking is the entire point of being an adult.” – Fran Liebowitz

When I was a kid, my dad smoked cigarettes (probably a pack a day) in every room in our house. When my grandfathers came to visit they smoked cigars and pipes. When I was in elementary school, my classmates and I made ashtrays to take home to our parents. When I went away to college my first roommate smoked in the room regularly. On buses, trains, and airplanes, passengers could and did light up anywhere they pleased. Shortly after I was married, my wife and I picked up a cheap ashtray to keep in our apartment for our friends who smoked. At professional meetings and conferences, cigarettes and tobacco smoke were considered a part of the indoor environment. Many of my colleagues smoked in their offices and in the break room and cafeteria. If you had to go to the hospital, the guy in the bed next to you lit up without the slightest hesitation. All of this was thought to be the norm. Yet none of these activities would be tolerated today for even a moment. So my question is, what took so long?

I think most people would say that it was only recently that second-hand smoke was found to be harmful (actually, the extent to which it is harmful is still much debated). This fact may explain part of the reason for the delay but it is certainly not the entire story. Even if cigarette smoke was completely harmless, wouldn’t it have been considered at least a terrible nuisance and subject to societal proscriptions? There weren’t any. Occasionally someone would ask, “Do you mind if I smoke?” but nobody every said no. The smokers smoked and exhaled into our faces. We sucked it up (literally), wiped our watering eyes, tolerated (then washed) our stale-smoke smelly clothes, coughed a bit and moved on. How could this be? I don’t think it was a general lack of manners. Like every generation we were taught to be thoughtful and respectful of others, to say please and thank-you, and to always lower the toilet seat. In a society that taught politeness, how could blowing smoke in someone’s face and stinking up the air around you be tolerated?

I was hoping after writing all of this that an answer would have occurred to me. It hasn’t. Maybe somebody else knows.