Ok, ok...sorry for the lack of posting. I was waiting for M to put up the new blog...he was waiting for me to pick some pictures. And I feel like I'm spending a lot of spare time shoveling my sidewalk. Ahh, homeownership. Nothing too exciting is going on, so I'm going to tell you:
1. 1 fact about me
2. 1 book I'm reading
3. 1 somewhat inspiring story

First, a fact. Although I can be astoundingly cheap about many things - it would not occur to me to replace socks with holes - I often splurge on cut flowers. I love having them in my house, and I especially love having them on the mantle in my bedroom.

Second, a book. I have been eagerly awaiting Scratch Beginnings, which I requested from the library weeks ago (again with the cheapness...I am a total bookworm but rarely do I purchase books). This book is the same sort of social experiment that Barbara Ehrenreich did with Nickel and Dimed, except this guys starts out with even less, and actually sets out to dispute her conclusion that it's basically impossible to work yourself out of working class poverty. I'm on chapter 2 and so far, he's living in a homeless shelter eating fantastic food that volunteers make for them, and is basically getting screwed by the temp agency he is trying to work for. Didn't see that one coming. Anyway, it's kind of interesting to read in the current times, with so many people losing their jobs.

Finally, a somewhat inspiring story. I volunteer at a school. I took a few weeks off for the holidays and when I went back last week, all the kids shouted my name and gave me hugs. This is especially adorable because they are all third and fourth grade boys in a learning support classroom. That is to say they are normally making strong efforts to swagger around like gangstas and look tough, but they have too much babyfat to look anything but cute as buttons. After the warm greeting, one of them came up to me and said, "Remember how you taught me the difference between just guessing the answer and knowing which one to pick...I still do that." I did remember...the students in this class work on the computers every day, but I noticed that they mainly just click the buttons on the Very Expensive Educational Software that the district has carefully selected for them. They are so good at guessing and clicking, that it almost looks like they might be learning something. And there are so many shiny animations that they stare mesmerized, temporarily distracted from harassing their classmates. Win-win, right? Well, I spent a very long morning trying to explain to R the difference between what he was doing, and the way that the software was meant to be used...and he listened. Cue inspirational choir music.


The Times, They are A'Changing

Work on a new version of WHBOMAK is underway... stay tuned for a better blog in the coming days (weeks?) as this one is migrated.


Better here, because it was never great?

This article, from the New York Times, caught my eye this morning. At first, it made me want to give myself a high five for moving back here during these Woeful Economic Times. But is Pittsburgh really safe(r) from recession, unemployment, downsizing, and foreclosures? Or were Yinzers never greedy enough (or ambitious enough) to buy into the artificially inflated economy? And why does everybody outside of this region seemed obsessed with continuing to label us as the Steel City? It's been ages since that was a reality - by the time I got out of diapers, the Burgh was already being nominated as most livable city.

The truth is, things are still rocky here - even the sturdy university and healthcare sectors are laying off workers, or at least in the case of Pitt, instituting hiring freezes - but it doesn't feel as bad to fall, because we aren't falling very far. I think people like to romanticize Pittsburgh's steel history, but even though that era is long gone, remnants are every where, from the broken down towns along the Mon, to the smokestacks that tower over the Waterfront shopping development. Maybe once you suffer an economic collapse that great, it makes sense not to aim too high. Maybe the whole country could benefit from this lesson.