Tuesday, February 10

Morning of Living Dangerously

We're off to Moab, Utah tomorrow for a much anticipated hiking trip with the kids in Canyonlands and Arches. Watch this space for photos. When I awoke yesterday it was 5 below zero here. Since we are off to Utah next week, it's reasonable to assume that yesterday was the last really cold morning of my winter - so dammit I'm going to ride my bike. I'm not a particularly macho guy. No "man's man." But I do have a Y chromosome. And, though the conditions have been worse on my path this year than the three previous years, I really enjoy riding in the winter. So I wasn't going to miss this last cold ride. I remembered I had an 8:30 videoconference meeting, so I went into scramble mode. Forgot that the recycling needed to go out. Did that. Shorted Greta on her walk (she didn't complain - it was cold and she lacks a Y chromosome). I was cutting it a little close but I'd make it.

I didn't ride the previous day. Really cold and really windy. In fact, when I last rode Tuesday it was 34 and a little wet. Too wet, it turns out. My front derailleur was stuck on the middle chain ring and the rear stuck on the lowest gear I have. Perfect for riding up a steep hill. Not so good for the entire ride to work when time was of the essence. But "Bob Scoular" (the name I and some others use to personify The Scoular Company) needed me, so I did a quick maintenance job, getting the rear gear to the second lowest gear, and pressed on with now frozen fingers to my meeting. I upped my cadence, tried to be a bit more aerodynamic down the hills, and kept plugging away to do my corporate duty. I dramatically shortened my daily ablutions and scrambled through the front door of the office at 8:32. I rounded the corner in a harried state only to see my friend Jann, who was also a participant in the videoconference, working away at her desk. She informed me that at 8:18, while my legs were churning at 100 revolutions per minute in a ridiculously low gear, the meeting had been cancelled. The now freed up hour and my early arrival at the office gave me the opportunity to dash off a witty and sarcastic email to the Cancellers of the Meeting (one of whom is Scoular's version of the Chancellor of the Exchecquer) and put my work in good order for a guilt free vacation. And on the way home, after a day in the heated underground parking lot, my bike was once again in good order too.

And now for something completely different . . .

It occured to me the other day that the baby boomer generation is probably done having presidents. And the two we produced were Bill Clinton and George Bush. I find it hard to imagine two more different presidents. Pick any spectrum you want, and it seems to me that they would be on fairly opposite ends. Conservative / liberal. Likelihood to produce "great moments in presidential speeches." Moral / amoral. Need for the approval of others. On almost every level they are nearly opposite.

Their fundamental division perhaps is reflective of our somewhat polarized generation. A generation of protesters against "the man" and those who just wanted to be "the man." It seems to me that we were and probably still are a little too good at staking out our positions and not good enough at building bridges. Compromise for us, was "selling out." Flip-flopping. So we have failed to do what we should have to solve problems. Preferring to yell at each other across our own Grand Canyon (clearly, my mind drifts to the desert these days)

President Obama has tried to change that tone. Or at least I see it that way. I know some will say, with some justification, that the leftward direction he is trying to head the country is anything but leading from the middle. It is what he was elected to do. The result of these attempts so far seems to be lots of carping from Republicans on the right and even some from Democrats on the left. I hope he keeps trying. Because we need to realize that solving our problems will require give and take. And probably some sacrifice. And certainly consensus.

Madeline has just graduated from college, and is therefore no longer eligible to be covered under our health insurance. She has a minor medical condition which, while not serious, should be monitored. The result, she can't get Blue Cross or similar coverages. A rational economic decision by Blue Cross. So the default is Cobra coverage at $460 per month. Our family has the economic horsepower to deal with this. But it's come home to me as we have worked with Madeline to muddle through this that many families just can't afford this sort of thing. So they have no coverage. And when something goes wrong the results are disasterous for the individuals and on the health care system itself. It's a problem we have to solve. But it will have to be solved with compromise. Not with yelling at one another across a Grand Canyon.

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