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My father made an interesting observation tonight. Or an interesting observation to me. Such an interesting observation, I felt compelled to chronicle it in case I forgot it.

But before I do, it occurred to me, as I pondered this thing my dad said, that this is around the same time I started blogging last year.

I've been blogging for a year. Here on the Kos. A year ago I had written all of maybe 4 or 5 blog posts my entire life, and had only just started reading the Kos for minute by minute electoral race coverage. In fact, a year ago, I had it in my mind that blogging was more or less the sort of activity angst-filled teenage kids engaged in, and nobody really read them.

Yes. When I started blogging here, I thought NOBODY was listening. Maybe a handful of night owls, drunk and bored, scanning the nets for some news.

Here's what I thought blogging was 1 year ago...

I imagined it to be like a gigantic building with thousands of rooms. You walk some dark halls smelling of lemon scented floor soap and find a room with a hastily scribbled door sign that says "Angry Michigander" and you walk in and there's maybe two, three people there sipping at weak coffee looking awkwardly at each other. And you walk in and make a statement and one of the people tells you what an idiot you are, and the other person asks if you want to buy some VI-ga--ra to increase your S-I- Z-E.

I know. I know.

I had no idea.

So I walked in and started yelling cuz, I dunno, I was frustrated and angry and felt helpless or something, and turned around and there was this audience of people there. Whoa.

That was weird. Like a dream. Like walking onto a stage in your underwear with an audience of people out there.


As a side note, it strikes me that 1 year ago all the talk was about how much of a Sell Out Obama was. Heh. Yep. Something about that insane homophobic purpose driven life dude. Warren. Rick Warren speaking at the inauguration. Even before Obama took the oath of office...

There's some comfort in knowing some things don't change.

I've learned quite a bit since then. Much about the legislative process, the Netroots community, and most of all that a person can actually have a voice in this democracy.

I've also met, virtually and in person, some of the most amazing people I've ever known. People who make a big and positive impact on America. Before a year ago, I had no exposure to people like that except as distant, detached faces on the television. They seemed so impossibly far away last year. Today I've shaken hands with some of them.

So here it is. My one year anniversary as a blogger. 258 diaries later.

Now...about that thing my father said to me...

He asked how my wife's store had done over the past few days, as we see Christmas just a couple days away.

I sighed and said it wasn't going to kill us or exalt us. It was just enough. Another year of the same. But, I told him, we made it last year, we'll make it next year.

He asked if my wife was able to try some new stuff, get creative.

I told him she's pushed to the edge with her time. She can't afford to hire somebody so she can't experiment.

"Like a feudal serf." he said.


"Like a feudal serf. You can work the land and it produces just barely enough to get by on. But not enough to feel confident that you can experiment...try crop rotations or new fertilizers because it could sink you."

I thought for a bit. I thought about my wife. My friends. Myself constantly surrounded by two very active boys. The people who work 3 jobs a week.

"Yes. Yes. Very much like a feudal serf. That's an interesting observation..."

"Sometimes" he said "when you're 65 you say a wise thing from time to time."

Like a feudal serf.

I watched some PBS show based on the book Guns, Germs, and Steel. A piece written by a fellow trying to explore why some regions and civilizations advanced faster than others.

The documentary talked about nomadic people. They wandered the forests in tribes, eating what was growing in season where they were. They'd eat nutrient poor pulp of a tree, and spend a long time getting it and processing it. They'd hunt, and spend vast amounts of resources chasing after meat.

Their whole existence was centered around survival. Finding enough food. There was no time for technological development, art, philosophy, mathematics. Meanwhile, the regions that had access to good, nutrient rich grains and easily domesticated farm animals found themselves with time to burn.

Populations with no time on their hands were at a permanent, fixed technological disadvantage.

It sounds an awful lot like where the American middle class is right now. Serfs, farming the land. So many are on the edge with neither the time nor the resources to break out of their financial ru.

Now...I'm sure most folks around here are already aware of that dynamic. Something about the "shock doctrine" which I'm still a bit fuzzy on. I'm a bit of a slow learner, but I'm coming along. Bumbling along the trails talking to myself.

While pondering this it occurred to me it probably doesn't do much good, in the long run, to motivate people who aren't well off to donate to people who aren't well off. That's not where the pool of wealth is.

All in all, it's been an enlightening year. I do hope the next year will be just as enlightening. And maybe, maybe, just a little bit better.

Originally posted to Muskegon Critic on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 10:14 PM PST.

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