Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stock Markets, Art Projects, and the Supreme Court

What a strange, tiring week it's been.  Let me reflect on the ways:

--Between paying attention to the ups and downs of the stock market and waiting for Supreme Court decisions, I've been feeling fragmented.  Luckily, it's been a relatively quiet week at work.

--I've also been feeling fragmented because I'm tired.  If you've been reading my blog, you know that it's Vacation Bible School week, and I'm leading Arts and Crafts.  That doesn't mean I just show up for the hour and a half of VBS arts and crafts.  No, I get there early, before we start serving dinner, and I leave late, after all the children have been picked up, which means I get to sleep at a much later time than usual.

--I've also been feeling fragmented because I'm a bit stressed about the home buying process.  I think I'm about to have all the tasks done.  But I worry that there's something I've overlooked or something that no one has told me to do yet.

--I've been paying attention to the ups and downs of the stock market because we need to liquidate some assets to be able to buy this other asset, our new house.  Yes, I know the folly of trying to time the market.  I've been fascinated to watch my brain in action, as my brain has acted and reacted in just the ways that Economics scholars tell us that we do. 

--I think of my grandfather who bought stocks.  My grandmother told me that when he started buying stocks, they didn't talk about it, because after the Depression, stocks were seen as something slightly shameful, like gambling.

--My grandfather was a Lutheran minister who never made much money.  Where did he find the money to buy stocks?  He kept bees and sold the honey.  With the profit, he bought stocks.

--There wasn't much profit, so he bought his stocks a few shares at a time.  He offered a powerful example of what can be accomplished in little bits at a time.

--My grandfather went to the public library each day to read the newspaper and to record in his little notebook how the stocks did on a daily basis.  It's a much more sane approach than the minute by minute information that we can access.

--My grandfather bought stock in companies that he knew and used.  He bought shares in electric companies, for example.  He bought shares of telephone companies.  I want to think that he bought Coca Cola stock, but that may have been out of his reach.  I wish I had the little notebooks that he kept.

--Electronic trading isn't the only aspect of modern life that would be a shock to my grandfather, if he could see us now.  What would he make of yesterday's Supreme Court rulings on homosexual marriage?

--I know the answer to that.  He would not have approved.

--I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with all the big Supreme Court decisions this week.  For more on my thoughts on the marriage decisions, see this post.  I like the decision on college admissions policies, but I don't have a lot more to add.  While I understand the history that made the Voting Rights legislation necessary, I agree with the Court that it's wrong to punish states for history that happened over 50 years ago and it's wrong to impose rules that only a few states must follow.

--I don't agree with liberals who see widespread voter disenfranchisement.  I voted in my first election in 1984.  I had to register WAY ahead of time, and there was only one place where I could register.  I had to get an absentee ballot from the state of Virginia, and I had to send proof that I needed one because I was in school, not because I didn't want to go to the polls.  Now I can mail in my ballot ahead of time or vote online at home, and I don't have to offer any reason for why I want to do so.  I can go to the polls early. I can vote on election day.  I can register in any number of places and fairly close to election day.

--It's been a bit surreal to talk about these political issues at work, and then go to Vacation Bible School, where I try to keep everyone on task and try to keep the mess contained.  Yesterday we worked with beads.  It was the same night that the children had trail mix with M&Ms for a snack.  I had several panicked moments where I thought children were eating beads but it was an M&M.

--Years from now, when someone moves the storage cabinets in the Fellowship Hall, they'll find all sorts of things:  beans from last year's percussion project, glow in the dark beads, crayons, glittery bits, feathers, a few fabric scraps, all sorts of refuse.  If it's the next generation moving the cabinets, I hope they remember me fondly.

--I hope they say, "Ah, yes, I remember that enthusiastic woman who let us experiment with all sorts of ill-advised art supplies and always told us that our creations were beautiful and took every opportunity to remind us of how deeply we're all loved by God and how that love should motivate us to behave likewise."

--If I'm ever asked to write a personal mission statement, perhaps that will be mine.  If it's a workplace exercise, I might offer it anyway.  It would be fun to see the reactions.

--I suspect that most of my office co-workers and colleagues know me well enough that they would not be shocked by such a mission statement.  Baffled, perhaps, but not shocked.

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