Blogging from Lincoln, Nebraska

This may be the first time that I’ve had to blog tethered to a desktop computer in several months. I have wireless at home, there was wireless at the motel I stayed at in Kalamazoo (and more such installations seem to be cropping up in America’s motels every day), and there’s wireless in my mother-in-law’s house in Des Moines. But here in Lincoln, Judy doesn’t have wireless. She doesn’t need it. For the longest while, she only had dial-up; her switch to always-on cable was only a recent concession to the times.

A wise comedian once said, years ago: “did you ever notice how it used to be that you’d be annoyed when you’d phone someone and get an answering machine, and now when you phone someone, you’re annoyed when you don’t get one?” It’s true. It’s amazing how these technologies ingratiate themselves into our lives, making themselves so useful that we wonder what we ever did without them — not realizing that we did just fine until we had them.

Anyway, we’re snug in Lincoln at grandpa Wendell and grandma Judy’s place, and will be until tomorrow when we’ll be making the trip back to Des Moines to attend the great O’Connor Christmas gathering (think of a feast attended by dozens of friends and family members. As someone who comes from a much smaller family, I’ve never seen the like, and that certainly adds to the excitement). Vivian is doing well, despite fighting off a mild cold. Both Erin and I have some holiday sniffles as well. But we’re enjoying ourselves. We braved some Boxing Day crowds in the shops yesterday, but otherwise took it easy. Erin and I are hoping to get away to a coffee shop this afternoon to do some writing while the grandparents take up some babysitting duties.

Here are a couple of things which caught my attention over the holidays:

Town wants to let seniors work off taxes

GREENBURGH, New York (AP) — Audrey Davison lives alone, gets a $620 Social Security check each month and worries about the sharply rising taxes on her four-bedroom house. Davison, 76, raised her family there and after 43 years, she really doesn’t want to leave Greenburgh.

Greenburgh doesn’t want her to leave, either.

The town is pushing a program that would let seniors work part-time, for $7 an hour, to help pay off some of their property taxes.

Hands up how many of you had the same initial reaction I had, to wit: “dear God, we’ll have seniors on walkers working the grist mills.

Of course, the truth is nothing of the sort. We’re essentially talking about a beefed-up volunteer program getting seniors out of their homes, and also offering some tax relief. I was surprised at how little concern was raised at the possibility of compelling seniors to work. But here’s what the advocacy group, the National Council on Aging, had to say:

Scott Parkin, spokesman for the National Council on Aging, said the program sounded interesting, as long as it wasn’t limited to menial work. “It’s certainly in line with what we stand for, keeping seniors involved in work or volunteering as a part of healthy aging,” he said.

Well, I guess people can see that the program has a lot of potential benefits. But I’m still not quite comfortable. Am I off-base for seeing a lot of potential for abuse?

On a completely different subject, I’d like to point to Balbulican’s post on Stageleft, who offers the most sensible take I’ve seen on the controversy that blew up around the Canadian Blog Awards last week. Go read it and thanks to Balbulican for a welcome dose of perspective.

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