Tis the Season

Maybe it’s because I’ve been unusually busy, or maybe it’s the weather, but I just cannot get into the Christmas spirit this year. Teri has also been busy, and between the two if us, it seems like nothing for Xmas has gotten done. Here it is the 19th of December, and we don’t even have a tree up. Are cards are printed, but need to have a little insert, a thing we add to them every year to makes them to let the more distant family and friends catch up with our life. Normally I handle the insert, but this year I just could not. The loss of my father-in-law has cast a long shadow over our year, and it just seems like we cannot shake it. That is why I could not write about this past year, because I am simply too depressed about it.

Last week I was working on the West Side (Culver City for those not from around here), and had a couple of golden moments in the midst of a otherwise too long commute. The first one was in the morning, Thursday morning I think. It had been raining, off and on, but cleared out almost completely as I took the transition from the 405 south to the 10 East. The sun was out, not in full force, but fairly strongly, and there was even large patches of blue overhead in between the big puffy cumulous clouds. The transition between the two freeways is an overpass that puts you up about 100 feet over the ground level at that spot. Higher than most of the buildings. It is also right underneath the main approach to the Santa Monica airport, which makes for a plesent time if there’s a plane in the pattern.

Anyway, this particular morning, I happened to look over my left shoulder almost due north, up towards UCLA and Westwood. The light was just perfect, and the air was wonderfully clean. The city just down below was all bright greens and light colors; the rain making all the houses and streets look scrubbed fresh and new. You could see the taller dark grey buildings in the distance, and the flat-bottomed big puffy clouds above and below them depending upon how far off they were. Behind the clouds the Santa Monica Mountains were in stark contrast, a nice dark green stripe with a top serrated edge, and behind those mountains, over the valley, the storm was completely socked in, making the distant sky a field of crumbly white and grey. Everything was lined up perfectly, to give that wonderfully breathless perspective you get every once in a while here in LA.

Then the following Friday evening, I had another wonderful moment I’d like to share. It had been raining all day, and I had driven there (to Culver City) and back 3 times already. This was my last trip home, and I was dead tired. I rolled onto the 10 heading West right about 6:00 pm, and the freeway was bummer to bummer. The freeway itself takes a little dip, and then rises again, just after the Robertson Exit. It was on this little hill that the cars all stopped in front of me. All 5 lanes. The road was wet, slick, but the rain has slowed to just the merest or trickles, so visibility was good. 6:00 pm in December meant it was already dark, with the rain making the road gloss black, and the lane lines difficult to see. When all the cars stopped, all of their brake lights came on, and their reflections on the wet cement we beautiful. There were hundreds of big glowly red splashes of light on the ground, following the cars as they slowly moved. Each glow bringing sharp detail to the many lines cast in the cement surface. Occasionally, a car would change lanes, and it’s amber turn signals provided a nice contrast to the red spots. It was so mesmerizing that I drove for quit some time looking only at the reflections, instead of the cars themselves.

On both occasions I really wished I had a camera handy, but it was one of those things were you know it would only last for a moment, and then the moment would be gone.

A letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I have some deep concerns about your recent change in policy vis-a-vis top tier tax cuts. I do not see this change as positive, moreover I do not see it as being fiscally responsible.

I understand that you are the President for ALL of America, and thus represent ALL American view points. I applaud your recent efforts to try and find some middle ground with the upcoming Republican Congress. However, I think your are selling this particular point too cheap. If you are going to “sell out,” then I believe you should get something more than unemployment extensions in exchange for the top tier tax cuts. There is a fine line between reaching out, and caving in (no doubt, some would say they are the same thing). I believe you have crossed this line.

Since there are a lot of voices supporting the conservative rhetoric that tax cuts to the wealthy are good fiscal policy, please allow me to provide an alternate view. I believe a closer following of the European “austerity” movement is in order. I suggest you kill all Bush era tax cuts. ALL of them. Every single one. When confronted by opposition to such a position you could simply say, “The price for being an American citizen just went up. And it has gone up for ALL Americans, not just for the poor and middle class.” To be honest, what I would prefer you to say would be the more simple, “Quit your belly-aching,” or “There aint no such thing as a free lunch,” ┬ábut I understand that both concepts are a bit too divisive for you to say. ┬áMores the pity.

I am a small business owner (sole proprietorship), and unlike a lot of other Americans, my business has been doing very well the past couple of years. Although I am not in the $250k/year range, removing the Bush era tax cuts will hit me harder then average citizen. So what? It is a distinct privilege to own a business and to make money in this country. I would not mind paying more for it. Well, that is not quite true. I would mind. However, I also understand that sometimes the river rises, or the rains don’t come. What I think is missing from the modern political rhetoric on this topic is this simple truth; there is no right to owning a business or making money in American. It is a privilege. And with this privilege comes certain responsibilities. Only a fool would buy the best tractor, and condition the soil to perfection, only to plant the cheapest seed.

Please, Mr. President. I urge you to reconsider your stance on this topic.

Thank you for taking the time to view my email, and give it all the consideration your busy schedule allows.

Sincerely,

Eric Tolladay