Finding America: Minimum Wage

I’ve been coming across a number of memes about minimum wage increase in the past couple days. Many point out that a minimum wage increase would create inflated prices and job loss:

Some suggest that the CEO’s and Business Leaders of the world are increasing their wage while letting the hourly employees suffer:

But the main point, I think is this: that cost of living has increased while wages have stayed the same.

I don’t yet know the full story, but I’m certain that raising minimum wage will solve nothing on it’s own.

Instead of asking how to raise minimum wage, we should be asking how we can increase the US Dollar’s value; how we can improve transportation and production to decrease food costs; how we can budget our private finances to live within our means; and how we can live with less waste and more efficiency.

These corporations and the 1% are the product of capitalism: they and/or their predecessors invested and built a massive wealth for themselves. I think we are in the middle of a paradigm shift where we can choose to re-embrace the damning freedom of entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, and self reliance; or continue this trend towards dependence, blame, and self-entitlement.

Personally, I want a USA where the mindset is that of the entrepreneur.

Book Blurbs (Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson)

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson brings the reader observations on the interconnection between a technological and cultural history of cooking.
Wilson opens by bringing one of the most basic kitchen tools into focus: “A wooden spoon – most trusty and lovable of kitchen implements – looks like the opposite of “technology,” as the word is normally understood. … Countless decisions – economic and social as well as those pertaining to design and applied engineering – will have gone into the making of this object” (ix).

She goes on to discuss, chapter by chapter: Pots and Pans, Knife, Fire, Measure, Grind, Eat, Ice, and Kitchen. In each chapter contrasting tool usage across Western History, as well as comparing Western use with Eastern use. It is a book that brings the reader a fuller view of the products nestled away in the kitchen.

Wilson concludes, “The food we cook is not only an assemblage of ingredients. It is the product of technologies, past and present” (276).

Wilson, Bee. Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat. New York: Basic Books. 2012. Print.

Finding America: University Diversity

Finding America (Series I: Idaho)

I work in a restaurant, and in this industry I encounter all manner of people. Here in Boise it’s a mix of university students, locals, and those traveling through town on business. Today, I just so happened to encounter a pair of gentlemen from Kuwait. One fellow had a set of beads, called subha, which are prayer beads. I asked him about them, and he said “some call them religion”.

I didn’t talk to them long, just long enough to learn they were attending university here. This encounter, along with the blizzard across the Oscars, and the general question of immigration, I am thinking about the sheer variety of people in this country.

It seems to me that this country’s media- our literature, our movies, our programming, depict America as a country of white people, governed by aging white men, all of Anglo-European descent, and that this is the story we tell.

We know, of course, that these descriptions like Caucasian, Asian, or Black reduces a number of origins to a single physical trait. Caucasians can be Anglo, Scandinavian, African, Hispanic, Siberian; Asians can be Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Korean, Thai; Blacks can be African, Jamaican, Haitian, Australian, European.

Instead our genetic history is reduced to a pigmentation and facial construct, when the reality is that our appearance is only part of the story. It is a complex thing, and I wish it was as simple as reminding ourselves that America has become a country of variety.

That we share a political system, but we do not share one culture, we not share one religion, we do not share one ethnicity, we do not share one history- We are a mosaic that gains beauty from variety.






Finding America: Election Year Reflection.

This year is 2016. It is an election year, and the candidates are concerned with “making America great again”. But as I think over my travels in this country and others, and reflect on my glimpses of History, I have to wonder whether the USA has had the time to be “great” in the first place. We are a young country, still rowdy and teenaged, with an identity built on some vague ideas of “freedom” and a strange nostalgia for a greatness we think we earned during the World Wars.

As I write this series and explore my country, I hope to find the things that make America America today, and the things we can do to shape America for tomorrow. Which is to say, this series is about the inhabitants of a continent: all the passions, conflicts, and failures that have shaped a nation, and my own hope that we will labor to make our country a great nation today and tomorrow, and not mourn some imagined greatness we accomplished half a century ago.

Finding America: The Potato Drops

Finding America (Series I: Idaho): The 3rd Annual Potato Drop

The United States is full of awe inspiring places, people, and things- ghost towns turned tourist trap, archaic worshipping sites, old battlegrounds, vast canyons and mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, and the stories of the people who have lived and toiled here. Thinking of these things, I realize that I have not yet met my country, and there are a many things to explore. But discovery is a process, and since I cannot learn it all at once I will start with where I am: Boise, Idaho.

I’ve been in Boise since September, 2015. During the past three months I’ve only brushed the surface of the sites and people that occupy this postage stamp of land. Though I could write about the Capitol building, or the Botanical Gardens, I will save these and others for another time. Instead, I will start this New Year with a new Boise tradition: the annual New Year’s Potato Drop.

I first heard about this event on December 30, 2015, and found the idea novel enough to attend. This year’s festival, ringing in 2016, was the Third Annual Potato Drop, and featured a 15ft Potato lowered for the countdown that initiated a fireworks display. Though I arrived at 11:45pm that evening and missed most of the vendors, it was great fun.

In final 10 minutes before the drop there was a short New Years Bachelorette program, where a young woman asked a series of questions to three eligible bachelors. She ultimately selected bachelor number three to sit with during the drop, while the other two bachelors were introduced to the runner-up bachelorettes. Immediately after this, came the countdown for the New Year and the ceremonial lowering of the Potato.

It was a bit silly, yes, and cold, but it was a nice way to remind us that life is more than ceremony. That life is full of cold days, times of loneliness, and other sufferings we must endure, but life is just as full, if we look, of the little things to make us smile, and of the 15 foot potatoes descending on a crane.

The Pot-stickers are Delightful

I work as a server, and part of my job is to check-back with guests to ensure they are satisfied with their selections. The goal is for each course to be “excellent”, or “phenomenal”, or “delightful”, or virtually anything aside from “good”, “alright”, or, worse, “okay”. This goal in mind, we are trained to ask specifically “Is/are your <food/drink item> __insert descriptor_?”.

This past week I’ve taken to using “delightful” as my descriptor for many items, so it is that, tonight, I approached my guests (a couple celebrating 25 years of marriage), said “Are your pot-stickers delightful so far?”, and initiated a discussion on the usage of “delightful”.

“Reflect on this a moment-” The Husband told me, “A walk on the beach can be delightful, hot coco by a warm fire can be delightful, conversation can be delightful, but potstickers? Yummy, or tasty, or savory, perhaps, but not delightful.”

So it is that the dire importance of word choice has settled more fully in my mind, and I have learned that a childlike sense of joy is part of something being delightful.

Even so, the potstickers are one of my favorite items. They are savory with a hint of ginger, filling without being heavy, tasty and tangy, and, quite simply, yummy. So I will say again of these ravioli-esque nibbles: they are delightful.




A Sea Shanty

This is an impressionistic rewriting of the subtitle translation of Binks’ Sake from One Piece. I hope to have rendered it more agreeable to English singers while keeping the original tune. I do this strictly as a fan of One Piece and of the tune in hopes of spreading a catchy shanty.

Yohohoho, yohohoho
Yohohoho, yohohoho

Taking whiskey to a man,
Who told us not to come by land
By the sea it has to be is what this man required
Now we sail the salty depths
As the sun falls in the west
Painting circles in the sky the seabirds sing along

Bade farewell to my old home
When I return I’m sure I’ll’ve grown
But cheer for me as I set sail and pray we’ll meet again!
Waves will fall and waves will rise
Like cheerful hearts and worried sighs
As we sail our cargo to the far ends of the sea!

Yohohoho, yohohoho
Yohohoho, yohohoho

Taking whiskey to a man,
Who died before we reached the land
A pirate crew is who we are with him we sailed the seas!
His grave is in the silver sprays
We’ll pour a drink in memory
Raising up our pale skull to wave as we pass by!

Now there comes a mighty storm
Blacking out the silver morn
Could it be our fallen friend now dances in the waves?
Though the sun is blotted out
Keep your nerve and give a shout
Hold on fast and greet the wind the sun again will rise!

Yohohoho, yohohoho
Yohohoho, yohohoho

Taking whiskey to a man,
Far we’ve come from any land
Dreaming as the days go by and vanish into night
Waving with a tearful eye
We will never meet again
Dry your tears for in the night the stars will surely shine!

Taking whiskey to a man,
Who told us not to come by land
Give a cheer to greet the waves and welcome what’s ahead
Who you are is no concern
Time will take his toll in turn
The road goes on, and ever on and wares us down to bones!

Yohohoho, yohohoho
Yohohoho, yohohoho

Book Blurbs (Eloquence by Mark Forsyth)

The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase, as disclaimed by Forsyth,is not a dictionary of rhetoric, nor was it meant to be” (234). Instead it aims to explain and clarify a number of rhetorical figures at work in the English language, “a clarity and knowledge that has been abandoned for a couple of centuries now” (231).Eloquence

The book is made of a preface; 39 chapters that discuss different rhetorical figures; a peroration; and an epilogue concerning terminology. It reminds readers that eloquence is a quiet undercurrent of language, and that these patterns of use are only part of writing well.

As Forsyth writes, “For though we have nothing to say, we can at least say it well” (232).



Forsyth, Mark. The Elements of Eloquence. Berkley Publishing Group: New York. 2013


What follows could be a rough translation of a clay tablet found near modern Yeman, or it could be the product of some rube’s boredom. You decide on the authenticity of this unusual document, which mourns the dangers of laziness, and offers a solution which modern audiences will likely find familiar.


1 The words of The Scribe, son of Levi, Shepherd of The Hills.
“Slumbering, slumbering!” says the scribe, “Slumbering, slumbering, how the world slumbers through all the night watches!

What securities do the people gain by a sleeping guard,

Who sees dreams and not reality?

The sun sets and the eyes fade and lack of attack is false security,

Then those who feel secure imbibe their precious ales,

And bring about a waking sleep for cheerful heart.

Yet the rival troops are gathering in the dark,

And the thieves lurk out of sight knowing the guards will rest.

The slumbering guards will groan in their sleep,

Only briefly, before they are over come.

And the celebrants will perish with a sleep-joy cheer,

Thinking their destruction a part of the feast!

Slumbering, slumbering! Is there no hope for the slumbering?

2 Slumbering, slumbering!” Says the Scribe, “Slumbering, Slumbering, how the world slumbers though the day progresses!

What comfort can a wife provide,

Who sleeps and dreams of idly all day?

The sun rises and her eyes stay dull and her children run unchecked,

Then her house turns apathetic, sinking into a bog of drudgery,

And take to calling idleness a vocation.

Yet the rivals are gathering in the fields, tilling ground for grain,

And the scholars scoff at the dull, neglected youth.

The dreaming wives will stumble in the light,

Barely blinking, before they are overcome.

And the children will perish with a dull-joy cheer,

Thinking their destruction a children’s game!

Slumbering, Slumbering! Can there be hope for the slumbering?

3″Slumbering, slumbering!” Says the Scribe, “Slumbering, Slumbering, how the world slumbers though the sun is setting!

What can a man of craft or art design who slumbers at the table,

Who sleeps though there is light for labor?

The sun sets and his eyes are closed and his tools lay untouched,

Then his canvas stays blank, his foundations unleveled,

And labels his laziness craft

Yet the rival men of art are calling for deeper, stronger arts,

And the painters wait to take the sleeping artist’s easel

The snoozing craftsman’s muse will fade there with the sun,

Ignored, before they are overcome.

And the creations will perish as unimagined things,

While the creators call their nothings things.

Slumbering, slumbering! Is there no hope for the slumbering?”

4 “Slumbering, slumbering!” Says the Scribe, “Slumbering, Slumbering, how can the world awake from slumbering?

For the guards, and wives, and husbands slumber,

And the towns, and children, and crafts all slumber,

The sun and moon and stars all slumber,

And eyes and heads and hands all slumber,

Yet there is hope for those who slumber,

A way to stir the mind and heart and head and hands,

A gift of G-d from time of old, a modest bean both dark and bold,

A metaphor for human soul, and the conclusion of the matter:

This bean is taken from a modest bush,

Then purified by fire for a finer taste,

Then ground into a powder for service to the LORD,

Immersed in water boiled pure

Then taken as a slumber cure.

So husbands take this rich brown brew,

To keep a wakeful hand,

And keep your house well stocked of it,

And brew it for you wives.

And wives will keep a watchful eye, and guide her children well,

And children will be taught to watch when they are called to guard.

Book Blurbs (Biblical Preaching by Haddon W. Robinson)

Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages (1980) by Haddon W. Robinson is a text designed to lead students through a course of effective preaching. In the preface, Robinson opens with a mild disclaimer and says “If I can claim any qualification, it is this: I am a good listener” (9) and says that years of teaching and listening to sermons has informed the text. Namely, “What to do and what to avoid.” (10). 51J7VPEW75L._SX200_

Written clearly and plainly, the text offers advice for sermon development and effective presentation.

Robinson, Haddon W. Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages. 1980. 6th ed. Baker Book House: Michigan. Print.

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