Monday, October 10, 2011

Migraines, Revolutions, and Monopoly Games

I had a sort-of grab-bag weekend, and since I'm a sharing person, I thought I'd tell you about it.

Let's rewind back to Friday for a moment. One of the longest-term clients of my little marketing communications business requested that I attend an online class on marketing automation for a CRM/ERP system (if this sounds like gibberish to you, that's probably a good thing). I happily agreed; I like learning new things. What I didn't know at that time was that the class was eight straight hours, beginning at 7am my time, and ending at 3pm. Yikes. So, my entire Friday was devoured by this class. As usual, Kat came over after work that evening, and we had a good night just kicking back. It was that night, in fact, that we started bouncing around the Interwebz, watching some of the goings-on of the nascent "Occupy Wall Street" protests. A good friend of ours was planning to be at the Occupy Atlanta protest, and we'd joked that we should watch the live feed to make sure there were witnesses in case she was maced and beaten. That didn't happen, of course, but watching that night did kind of give us a better perspective on what the protests were all about. More on that later.

Here I am, about five hours into my eight hour class on Friday. Suicide seemed like a viable alternative to completing the session, but I persevered.

It was my intention to wake up the next day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and perform live that afternoon at the BURN2 festival in Second Life. My pal Diana had booked me for the show weeks earlier, and I'd prepared a bunch of tunes for the occasion that I thought would be appropriate for the hippy-like vibe of the event. But that was not to be. In the middle of the night, I awoke with a pounding headache. I managed to get back to sleep, but in the morning, it had grown even worse, and I had some nausea to accompany it. Uh oh. Within a couple of hours, even I couldn't deny that I had some kind of migraine going, but tried semi-courageously to prepare for performing regardless. It pretty much came down to the last minute before I told the organizers that I was in no condition to sing and play guitar, and that was that. I was really unhappy, having been looking forward to the show, but I had no choice.

This is from my BURN2 show back in 2010. I was not at all happy to be forced to miss this year's show.

So, after grumbling for awhile, I decided that the best course of action (beyond the bunch of ibuprofen that I'd taken) was to spend the day relaxing. Kat and I fired up the Wii and spent much of the remainder of the day playing Monopoly. It's something we've done lately when we have some rare kick-back time, and we had a good time putting hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place and all that fun stuff. My migraine lasted for quite a long time, but by that evening, I was feeling mostly back to my usual self, and we went to bed.

Sure, it's just good old Monopoly, but Kat and I always seem to have fun playing it. When my son is around, he joins in as well. It's actually better than old-school Monopoly; since the computer is the bank, it speeds things up quite a lot (still, a good game can take a couple of hours).

I was very appreciative on Sunday morning to wake up after a good night's sleep and feel no sign of the brain-ouch that had plagued me the day before. I cooked us french toast and bacon, and we had a nice relaxing morning. With nothing big on our schedules that day, we plopped in front of our respective computers and started once again checking out live footage from the various cities that were having "Occupy" protests. If you're a person like me who likes to follow historical events as they're happening, you already know we live in a pretty amazing world in that regard. From our home in Redondo Beach, we flipped through Twitter feeds, seeing up-to-the-minute photos and live streaming video from cities like New York, Seattle, Portland, LA, and many more.

Being able to see what's going on in protests in dozens of cities across the country, all in real time: priceless. I was impressed by many of the amateur journalists and their ability to show what's happening as it happens.

A week ago, if you'd asked me my opinion on what was then known only (to most) as "Occupy Wall Street", I'd have expressed a good deal of confusion regarding what the hell it was all about. It seemed to me that there were many different factions of people who were unclear on what the nature and goals of the protest were. Some people seemed upset they didn't have jobs, but I didn't see how protesting was going to help. Some seemed mad that the world was unfair, with the small number of wealthy people controlling an inordinate amount of the money. There's nothing new about that... it's gone on since roughly forever. Some were protesting the war; some were angry about the environment. These are all classic liberal causes that have been in place for decades, so why the sudden need to be publicly confrontational about it?

Tom Morello, the legendary musician and activist, fires up the crowd at LA city hall on Sunday.

While I'm still in the process of learning more about this new movement, at some point, it did click together for me. I don't want to (nor do I have time at the moment) to go into a massive dissertation, but even I am appalled at the disparity of wealth today. It's not that I want or need more money -- I'm very fortunate that my small business has been able to sustain me for the past eight+ years -- but that's the point. I make enough to live on comfortably, and I don't see the need to accumulate massive amounts of wealth, or to try and exert control over people with my money and power. I suppose that's just my personal take, and I never begrudged people I knew who made extraordinary amounts of money. That was their trip, not mine. But today, it would seem that the money grab by that tiny number of people has left living conditions for the rest of the folks to be worse and worse. It would also seem that the people who, though their greed, caused what ended up being a worldwide economic collapse, should be held accountable in some way.

This chart should be self-explanatory. It also shows why action is necessary now to stop this trend that's snowballed over the past 30 years.

The people who are at the heart of this movement (who, like their grandparents in the late '60s, are mostly college age) don't see much hope in their future, and see the system of greed getting worse and worse. How can you blame them for feeling a need to shake things up, and call attention to what's going on? I think it's a very patriotic thing they're doing, an effort which will eventually lead to a better America, and it's a demonstrable action that shows the core values on which the USA was built. So while you probably won't see me in a march or speaking on a stage in front of city hall, I can say at this point that the Occupy movement has my support. My only hope is that things remain, as they were this weekend, peaceful and calm while defining and delivering the message in a clear and loud voice.

So, that was my weekend. Hope you enjoyed hearing about it.

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