Even though I was sick with a cold, I was so happy to get out in the sun and see shadows such as these yesterday afternoon.
On Thursday evening, I realized that I had a cold. My throat started to
hurt, and I felt unusually tired. I took off yesterday from work as a
sick day (though I did make an important hard-to-set-up meeting at
9am.) I slept a fair amount and tried sleeping even more. I suspect
that I'll need to nap throughout today and tomorrow to make sure that I
get well ASAP.
My mind continued to race while lying in bed. My body was saying, "You
must rest." My brain says, "You must work." I hadn't counted on being
so drained by the code4lib conference, followed almost immediately by
Mashup Camp, combined by the rigorous demands of teaching a new course
plus a whole lot of other circumstances. Even as I write this
paragraph, my eyes and legs feel droopy and draggy. Time to nap a bit.
At a party late last fall, someone asked me what I thought about the
stories that were breaking in the San Francisco Chronicle about how the
perks that senior administration at the UC system were getting. I
expressed my natural outrage at the situation but didn't think a lot
more about the matter since I didn't think anything would ever
change. (I've gotten sufficiently cynical to expect bad behavior from
the people at the very top. Isn't that sad?) Recently, I started to
follow more closely the ongoing coverage in the Chronicle (including
the latest article SENATORS DEMAND ANSWERS ON UC PAY / Unreported compensation raises ire at panel's hearing ), as well as the PR responses of UC Berkeley and the system as a whole.
The more I learn, the more I'm longing for some deep wisdom in this
matter. How much I get paid or you get paid or anyone gets paid -- or
should get paid -- is a hot-button issue. I've been fascinated by the
types of arguments that have been marshalled to justify various
positions. At the risk of incorrectly characterizing the debate, it
seems that those who are justifying the high pay of senior people argue
that we need horizontal parity; UC leaders should be paid at
comparable levels to leaders at peer institutions. Those who express
outrage at the compensation of senior leaders draw our attention to the
lack of vertical fairness; is it right for the pay at the
highest levels to be going up, while the rank-and-file (who could
really use the money!) are not similarly benefiting?
I know that it's more complicated that what I set out here -- and
that's what I'm trying to get at as I sort through the arguments. More
fundamentally, I've been searching my own heart on how I currently feel
and how I would feel should I ever going higher (or fall lower) down
the hierarchy. I keep asking myself to what extent are my views -- and
those of everyone involved -- more self-serving than reflective of a
concern for others. There's a lot more to say. I will close with
bemusement the following quote from the Wikipedia entry on Peter
Drucker: Peter Drucker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
- His most controversial work was on compensation
schemes, in which he said that senior management should not be
compensated more than twenty times the lowest paid employees. This
attracted criticism from some of the same people who had previously
(I'm looking for the source for the 20:1 figure and plan to follow up once I find it.)
Last night, some former housemates of mine went with Laura and me to
hear people recount their experiences with relief efforts in
Mississippi and Louisiana. At first, I did not want to look at still
more pictures of the disaster area but found myself emotionally
immersed in the muck and destruction. (I plan to take a look at Flickr: Photos tagged with katrina for further local coverage of the recovery efforts.) I learned that a major part of the volunteer effort has gone to "mud-outs"
the stomach-wrenching and labor-intensive process of removing the
furnishings from houses damaged by flood waters. Seeing pictures and
videos of workers wearing respirators, boots, and gloves and standing
beside walls covered with the biggest mold spots I had ever seen
brought home how hard the work was. There are more students heading
down to New Orleans in March.
I've been pondering things Laura and I can do to help in the relief efforts. We can certainly give money to the American Red Cross.
We can also support the students who are going on the trip directly. I
need to remind myself not to forget prayer, which is often the last
thing in which I engage, alas. Finally, I'm part of a community of
folks who care about issues such as the ongoing relief efforts around
the hurricanes. I can do my part to keep them informed and motivated to
One of the things I most love about the early morning is the bit of
breathing room it provides for me. I have been saying to myself and
Laura that I need to learn how to draw sharper boundaries between work
and non-work part of my life. Isn't there something wrong when I resort
to calling the rest of life "non-work"? Hmmm....part of my problem
comes from not being able to properly conceptualize what I'm dividing
my life between. Although I initially rejected the division as that
between "work" and "rest", I now say, yes, that's a good way to put it,
noting that by "work", I don't just mean the stuff I do professionally
or for a paycheck but all forms of striving to be productive. By
"rest," I do not mean the cessation of action but the richness of
Sabbath. Maybe I should totally take the focus away from work by
thinking of my life as "rest" vs "non-rest".
I used to live a block away from Berkeley Bowl. Now that I live in Albany with my lovely wife, I don't get to hang out at Berkeley Bowl so often. When I do get there once or twice a week now, I do make a point of sampling the cheese of the day -- both for old time's sake but also to live in the presence of tasting the darn good cheeses being hawked. It's really quite interesting to me how popular the cheese tasting is at Berkeley Bowl. One wouldn't think that people like me, who don't need any more food during the day, would be so into sampling the cheese. But that's not the point of the sampling, is it?
Two days ago, I submitted a letter to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle to bring more attention to the "ambiguous genocide"
in Darfur. Since I have yet to see the letter in press, I suspect that
it won't be published. I am trying to keep myself from speculating too
much on why my letter might not have make the cut.
I hope that others will be able to write punchier, wittier, catchier
letters that will make people pay attention to the dire situation in
For me, writing the letter is naturally much more important than
getting it published because it was the writing itself that forced me
to decide and commit to some action. I'm pleased that one of my usual
dear readers followed some of my links I posted, including the Darfur conflict - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Last night, by telling friends that I had submitted a letter to the
editor, I was granted the opportunity to explain the Darfur conflict
around a dinner table, prompting some thoughtful reflections on the
efficacy of divestments. This morning, remembering my promise to pray
for Darfur, I spent some time in quiet asking God to intervene, to
bring peace and justice to the region, to grant those in power wisdom
and courage. As I sit down to study the Wikipedia article so that I can
do a continually better job at telling others what is happening in
Sudan, I consulted the BBC New's "in depth" coverage on Sudan: A Nation Divided
to corroborate the Wikipedia. I also need to answer an email from the
Justice Task Force at my church on what actions we should take in the
coming months. One baby step at a time for me as I try to be faithful.
For a long time, I have wanted to write a letter to the editor of the
San Francisco Chronicle to raise awareness on Darfur. I wanted to write
a letter that was concise, moving, analytically flawless, and timely. I
couldn't do it because I was too wrapped up in my own process rather
than the very pressing issue at hand. Over the last few days, I have
worked on a simple letter, which I include (with some minor editing)
- As an ordinary citizen
of this world, I have felt helpless and hopeless as the global
community has failed to stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur, in which
at least 180,000 have died and 1.8 million have been displaced from
their homes. The exact mechanisms by which we should use to stop the
violence are up for debate. Though I reflexively disagree with many of
Debra Saunders' columns, her call ("UC out of Sudan" -- Tues, Jan 24)
to the Regents of the University of California to divest from funds
tied to business in Sudan seems sensible to me. On the individual
level, I have resolved to continue praying for the people of Darfur, to
join in A Million Voices for Darfur (http://www.millionvoicesfordarfur.org/)
and other efforts to put pressure on our leaders, to keep myself
informed, and to tell friends about the situation. Let us work together
with hope and determination to bring peace to Darfur.
After I sent the letter, I realized that I neglected to mention the role to be played by church groups such as the Justice Task Force at my own church, which has been instrumental in my knowing what little I know about Darfur.
Let me add links that are mentioned above or which support the letter:
SF Gate: Chronicle: Feedback Submission Guidelines for those of you who want to write to the SF Chronicle yourself.
Let's see whether my letter gets published.