Monday, March 19, 2012

TED Gets a Day Off

Sunday, to be precise. I don't mean an extra day off, not at this time of year. At my office, a common Monday conversation goes something like this:

"How was your weekend?"

"My Sunday was fine."

The implication being, you understand, that there was no reason for me to ask about Saturday since we both spent the whole day in the office laying railway line working on tax returns.

It is not uncommon for tax accountants to roll our eyes when we hear complaints about how hard other people are working. This is especially the case in the DC area where we mostly hear government workers whinging about how terribly busy busy busy they are at their forty-hours-per-week jobs with all those holidays and all that vacation time.

Really, though, none of us work all that hard any more. As recently as the early twentieth century, a six-day workweek was standard for the working class, and each of those days could be twelve or more hours long, except some people got a half-day on Saturday, and, yes, that's more or less my current schedule, but only for six to eight weeks out of the year. Besides which, I'm sitting at a desk for all that time, I'm not digging ditches or shoveling coal or even working an assembly line in dangerous conditions without breaks. So I try not to whine about the few seventy-five hour weeks that I put in over the course of year.

The reason that a seventy-five, or even a forty-five, hour work week seems like an imposition has to do with something the economists (or somebody) call habit formation. Habit formation means that once you've gotten used to some benefit, giving it up puts you in a worse situation than if you never had it. In other words, if you're a bazillionaire, and you get used to a top marginal tax rate of 35% (or 15%, if your income is predominantly capital gains), and suddenly your top rate skyrockets to 39%, you perceive a greater loss than if your rate had never dropped below 40% in the first place.

Similarly, if you get used to a forty-hour work week and generous vacation and holiday benefits, having to work more hours or getting fewer days off pisses you off, and it's small or no comfort that your ancestors felt blessed to get a half-day on Saturdays.

Note, please, that I'm not advocating that people work more hours. There are plenty of conservative economists to do that. I happen to think that everyone should work ten percent fewer hours and that we should employ ten percent more workers to compensate (and, yes, I'm aware that it's not as simple as that). You combine that with ending the wars and taxing the rich, and you improve the vast majority of people's lives. And the uberrich who can no longer afford an eighth vacation home can just suck it up, frankly.

Anyway, on my day off/one-day weekend, I had to get up pretty early so that I could get YFU to church by 8:15. This was the week that the senior high class leads the service, and they still had some rehearsing to do. Then I headed back home, showered, woke EFU, and the two of us headed back for the 10 am service.

After church, the girls wanted to go thrifting, so I took an allergy pill (the thrift stores all make my eyes water, and I'm pretty sure it's not from joy over the low, low prices), and we headed towards Value Village.

I have this dream that some day, somewhere, I'm going to walk into a thrift store, and there's going to be a pristine pair of Doc Martens in my size.

But that's never going to happen, or at least it didn't happen this time, so while the girls checked out clothing, I went to housewares. I saw some cake pans. There are always cake pans. This time, there was a Power Ranger:

I never really experienced Power Rangers, so I don't know which one that was, or even if they were different, except for the colors. I also didn't have more than a passing awareness of the Ninja Turtles, but I'm guessing that this one:

is Michelangelo.

I used to collect food molds. I mean vessels meant to present a food in certain shapes, not molds that grow on foods, you understand. And if I didn't already have waaaaaay too many (i.e., > 1) fish molds in packing boxes in the basement, I might have been tempted by these salmon mousse molds in slightly different colors.

They could work as a school on the wall, I guess. But I forbore. I wasn't going to buy anything (I mean, aside from whatever clothes the girls wanted: they always find plenty, it seems), but I saw a perfectly fine set of six white Williams Sonoma cereal bowls, so I got that, and, among the much less interesting cake pans, I saw what you see at the head of this post. That's right, readers: Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup!

I really wasn't going to buy it, but I thought that if I put it in the shopping cart, walked around with it for a bit, showed it to the girls, and then put it back, I'd feel all virtuous, so I did that, except when I showed it to YFU and said that I could use it to make a cake for her party later this year, she thought it was a great idea. Powerpuff girls, ftw!

Anyway, we finished shopping, and everybody came away with something he or she wanted, so we trundled off to Chipotle for a late lunch, then home. My plan at this point was to take YFU back to her Mom's house, then get a nap, and then possibly head up to Baltimore for some HQT with a nice guy I'd been out with once before, but when we got back from the ex-wife's house, the weather was so nice that I went into the back yard with a pair of clippers and spent the better part of an hour freeing a couple of my ginormous maple trees from their attractive but unhealthy ivy infestation. It looks so nice, but it kills the trees, ultimately, and I don't want the trees falling onto my house, as much as I like maple.

I could still have gotten a nap at that point, but damn wasn't the weather awesome, so I asked EFU if she still wanted to head up to Rocky Gorge for a round of mini-golf, and she did. We were en route to the course when I got a text message from the aforementioned guy, but I was already exhausted, and I still had nineteen itty bitty holes of golf to play. I was pretty much going on fumes and fair weather at that point, so I begged off. In my experience, falling asleep on a guy (perhaps literally) on the second date is a bad move, anyway.

Beside, mini-golf is so much fun! It is wrong to take joy in beating your own child at any form of pseudo-sports competition, but, hey, she's twenty-three, and she always beats me at cards.

Sadly, there was no money at stake.

We went home, and she worked on lesson planning for the coming week, while I watched perhaps the least defensible movie ever made. I mostly watched it because I refuse to read the book, but whether or not you've read the book, you do not want to watch this movie. I expected the ham-handed political philosophy. What I didn't expect was the total snoozefest. I'd like those ninety minutes of my life back, please.

Ayn Rand notwithstanding, it was a pretty good Sunday. I even got to bed early. And I get another day off next Sunday. Woot!

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