Saturday, January 31, 2009

I had to laugh

I've been reading Rene Steele's little forum recently from time to time because someone told me my name came up on it. I used to visit the forum, even post there before I completely understood what a homogeneous group of narrow-minded rightwing reactionaries frequent the forum. But the board's biggest problem then still haunts it: the near complete anonymity allows people to say anything with relative impunity. For the most part, I posted using my real name there. And my experience on that forum helped me formulate a policy of avoiding anonymity.

If I have something to say online, I'll gladly attach my name to it.

About this time last night Rene started a thread that included my first name in its title. She talked mostly about the vacancy on the Board of Supervisors. An anonymous poster going by the handle "Bounty Hunter" responded today, and I wondered if his (her) words were meant as a threat:
In entering the political arena, everything Greg C. has communicated on any forum will become visible for inspection and interpretation. That is part of being a political candidate...
I had to laugh.

Is there stuff out there with my name attached to it that people might take issue with? Well, sure there is. My guess is that Rene herself has a folder somewhere of printouts of things I said on her forum - things about taxes or religion or gay marriage or global warming or abortion or - well, who can remember. And who cares. Taken in isolation they can be twisted. The quotes would be years old; I might have changed my mind and some of those issues...

If you're looking for damning words from me, there are plenty of words out there. A Google search of my name in quotes brings up over 19 thousand pages. I've blogged for the NY Times Company, participated in political forums, written for Suite101 and Creative Weblogging, and scatter my thought to the four winds in cyberspace. I think it's pretty clear who I am...

I'm a Yellow Dog.

I take a position on abortion that makes prolifer’s say I'm a baby killer and pro-choice people question my loyalty to the Democratic Party. I'd like to see a whole lot less abortion, but I'm not convinced that the Bible speaks as clear to the concept as the Religious Right would have us think.

My solution to gay marriage is simple. Let the government get out of the marriage business altogether. My wife and I were married in a church, by a preacher. I bought a license because Romans 13:1 says to obey the government. The government sells the licenses because they think they need the money. I'm a Baptist; what do you think that I think about homosexual activity? I'm also a card-carrying member of the ACLU. What do you think I think about the rights of individuals whose sexual orientation happens to puzzle me?

What issue do you want to talk about? I'm sure I can tick you off over it. I said I was a Baptist and I've set the alarm to get me up for church in the morning. I believe many Baptist things - the inspiration of scripture, the great commission, separation of church and state, eternal security, the sinfulness of mankind. Those kind of things.

But I set her writing with a glass of Merlot in my hand. Baptists make an unconvincing argument on that issue.

Anyway, I don't remember the last time I was afraid of having someone quote back to me something I'd once said. I'm entitled to change my mind (doing so is actually a sign of intelligence). I'm not adverse to apologizing if I was insensitive. And I'm quite happy to defend what I same most of the time.

Bounty Hunter's assumption that I had "entered the political arena" was wrong. I might one day. If he shows up when I do, we'll see whether people think he's stupid, or I'm stupid. Place your bets...

The end of a long month...

I started January well enough. I spent New Year's Day putting about a ton of top soil into a new flower bed. The bed is about half planted with bulbs now (mostly tulips), and as spring comes we'll pick out some annuals to fill it up with.

But January turned out to be no bed of roses. And by the 3rd or 4th I'd contracted a computer virus that Norton didn't stop. In the process of getting rid of the virus I somehow messed up Windows. And for most of the month I was without my PC.

The PC itself was not the problem. Emails, lesson plans, personal records, student records, account user names and passwords for various and asundry web sites, three or four thousand personal photos I'd take over the years, and ten gigabytes of music - I was locked out of it all. I spent January starting from scratch with a laptop I have, reinventing the wheel, etc. It wasn't until the 20th that I finally found a techie who would return my calls. I got the PC back up and running a few days ago. I'm still trying to get it set back up the way it was.

Today I spent sixty bucks on three 8-gig Scandisk drives and I backed up everything important. I suppose I'll start doing that monthly.

But the computer wasn't my only problem. It seems like routines changed. Basketball season has required my wife to work late at school. I take her dinner and stay there with her. It seems like twice a week we end up leaving the house by 7:30am and getting home 14 or 15 hours later.

We've also developed the habit of going to Bluefield on Saturday to shop for snacks that can be sold at school. We take a calculator. The snacks have to have less than 200 mg of sodium, get less than 35% of their calories from sugar, be under 200 calories per serving, get less than 35% of their calories form fat, get lest than 10% of their calories from saturated fat, have less than half a gram of trans fat, and a meet a few other requirements I can't quite recall off the top of my head. So we spend a few hours most Saturdays do that - time I used to spend doing other stuff. That's okay, but I haven't adjusted yet.

There were other distractions. There was the night my dumb dog got free and chased a rabbit up into the woods. It was 9 or 10pm and six or eight degrees and I spent an hour outside calling her event though I was already sick. My dad spent a few days in the hospital (he's fine now) and my daughter brought her boyfriend up for a visit (I enjoyed seeing her). Somehow I didn't manage to finish everything this month.

Maybe February will be nicer to me...