Ice Bucket Challenge

Not that we have been challenged, we don’t do facebook thank you very much. But all the same we are not fans. Not just because of the mindless herd mentality behind it but also because, well because of all these things that as usual the great Mike Rowe says better than I ever could:

Hi All,

Since yesterday was apparently National Dog Day, (seriously?) and since my second-to-the-last post triggered a variety of observations around my apparent failure to “rise to challenge,” as it were, I’m weighing in with another image of young Freddy, who like his master, has decided to forego The ALS/Ice Bucket Challenge.

I mean no disrespect to the 500 or so individuals who have publicly challenged me to participate. And God knows, I’m in near constant need of a cold shower. But as a guy who has represented some rather large, profitable companies while running a non-profit foundation, I’ve got some opinions on the subject of persuasion, especially as it applies to fundraising. And I’ve been struggling with how to share those thoughts in a way that will not make me look like a douche-bag.

First of all, I tip my hat to the marketing genius that conceived of this device. Thanks to The Ice Bucket Challenge, The ALS Association has collected $75 million dollars in donations. That’s up from just $1.9 million over the same period a year ago.That’s amazing, and totally unprecedented. And if we lived in a world of unlimited philanthropic resources, it would be fantastic news. But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where generous people of finite means must allocate their charitable giving with discretion – in the same way they allocate all other expenditures. In this world, more money for ALS means less money for Heart Disease. More for Malaria means less for Diabetes. More for AIDS means less for Alzheimer’s. And so forth.

It’s not exactly a zero sum game, but the cannibalism factor in charitable giving is a very serious problem. According to the experts, 50% to 70% of all the money collected as a result of the Ice Bucket Challenge will directly impact future contributions to other charities in an equal and opposite way. In other words, if The ALS Association collects a $100 million – as it’s on track to do – other charities competing for the same dollars will collect between $50 and $70 million LESS. Thus, the largest donations do not necessarily go to those charities that serve the most people or do the best research – they go to those that who market themselves in the most effective way.

This informs the way I give, and the way I solicit. It’s one thing to sell cars or trucks or jeans or paper towels. God knows, I’ve been there, and I’m comfortable with the consequences of pushing one brand at the expense of another. But in the non-profit world, the stakes are bit higher. I’m reluctant to participate in a challenge that’s raising so much money for a small association, especially when it impacts other research that will eventually save the lives of millions. That’s the cold and shitty calculus of charitable giving.

Of course – I understand those who see it differently. If my Dad or my brother was among the 6,000 diagnosed with ALS every year, I’d be standing under a shower of freezing water, waving my checkbook in the air and challenging the world to get on board. I remember when my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer – I would have done anything to fix it. In fact, I took off my pants and challenged the world to donate the cost of their favorite pair of jeans to help find a cure. I get it.

But here’s the thing – if you decide to give charitably, it’s important to understand everything you can about the way your money is going to be spent. That’s not happening here. The spectacular success of the Ice Bucket Challenge is not the result of a conscious, collective commitment to rise up against a terrible scourge; it’s the result of a marketing campaign. Consequently, a foundation accustomed to working for decades on a million dollars or so in annual donations, will now have to manage a $75 million jackpot. That worries me, as it should anyone who has ever studied the fate of lottery winners. That’s not their fault, but it doesn’t change the situation, and I’m not inclined to challenge more people to send more money to coffers that are already overflowing.

Some of you will remember a recent post about my friend, Jill Brown. Jill is a stuntwoman who got a brain tumor and lived to tell the tale. http://www.refinery29.com/2014/01/60263/brain-tumor-story Last year, she asked me to sponsor her in a walk to raise money for brain tumor research. She didn’t like asking, and I don’t blame her. Asking people for money is never fun. Even for a good cause. But Jill was very grateful for a second chance at life, and determined to support those suffering from the same condition that she overcame. So she personally called everyone she knew and explained why she walking, how the money that she raised would be used, and why the research was so important. Consequently, she raised a tidy sum for a great cause that was near and dear to her.

Point is, Jill did several difficult things. She vowed to walk, at a time when walking wasn’t so easy. She committed her time, her energy, and her passion to a cause that mattered deeply to her. And most importantly, she made the whole thing personal. That made me want to help her. Not just because she’s my friend – but because she was helping herself.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is different. Here, people I’ve never met give me 24 hours to either write a check to a charity I’m not familiar with, or dump a bucket of cold water over my head. Tell me honestly – if that precise challenge arrived to you privately, via the US Mail, what would you do with it? You’d throw it in the trash, right? But a public challenge is not so easy to ignore. Online, everyone is watching. Your friends. Your co-workers. Your clients. Maybe even your boss.

When it comes to asking people for help, I don’t like to put them in an awkward position. So the only challenge I’m issuing today is to Freddy. If he can refrain from peeing on the floor, I’ll send a check to the local shelter. Beyond that, I’m staying dry.

Again – to anyone who’s been affected directly or indirectly by ALS, my heart goes out to you. And to those who challenged me mikepersonally, I know your heart’s in the right place. So I’m going to reserve the right to dump various substances over my head at a future date for whatever reason I deem appropriate, and encourage you all to ignore the gimmicks, get informed about the charities you wish to support, and contribute generously to whatever cause resonates with you.

Mike

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Kindness of Strangers

After church today we decided to give Pizza Hut a try. We never eat there but I have been craving their pizza, or more accurately the crust. We walked in and were seated, the only people there besides a gentleman eating alone in the corner. After we ordered the place filled up and we payed little attention to the other patrons.

Our food took a while and I was a little grouchy about not getting our appetizer until after our pizza. I do tend to get just a little cranky when hungry. The manager walked over to our table and said our meal had been taken care of. Not because our order had been lost. Nothing to do with them at all.

The gentleman who had been seated upon our arrival had finished and paid for his meal shortly before this occurred. We had glanced his way,  but paid no attention other than to note that we didn’t know him. For some reason, completely unknown to us, he decided to pay for our meal. We will never be able to thank him, we can only hope to return his kindness to someone else. I hope this will serve as a reminder to us to do unexpected nice things for strangers or, even more difficult, for those we know and love.

The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.

I was Wrong

I decided to cook some of my mystery squash today. One I thought would be spaghetti squash like, the other I assumed would have acorn squash like qualities.

I had it all planned, we would have spaghetti for supper and acorn squash for dessert. I cooked them both in the morning and left them to cool. This afternoon when I returned to them I was in for a big surprise.

The bright yellow pumpkin thing was soft and smooth, with an incredibly sweet smell. Just like acorn squash.

The little acorn looking thing was still sweet smelling but stringier. Kind of like spaghetti squash.

These crosses are weird. I didn’t use either for supper but if I could recreate that big yellow one I would have the perfect pie pumpkin.

Category: Garden  5 Comments

Pumpkin Genetics

I love pumpkins, I may have failed to mention that. Probably not.

I love genetics, especially horse color genetics, they fascinate me.

So when I inadvertently took up pumpkin breeding the color genetics behind them intrigued me greatly. Why do most of the volunteers turn out white? Is white really the dominant color gene of pumpkins? I realize that most of the vegetables we eat today do not naturally come in the colors we are used to, but pumpkins not naturally orange? It boggles the mind.

So says I who lovingly grows pumpkins in every color of the rainbow, and grey. Mostly grey.

For a couple of years I planted Lumina’s, a large and beautiful white pumpkin. Or they were the first year after that the same packet of seeds produced lop sided little blobs nothing like they were supposed to look and now most of my volunteers look like this:

The other thing that amazes me are the seeds I saved and planted from ONE gourd. One Gourd. Every plant that came up produced a different type of gourd. I planted quite a few of the seeds hoping to get at least one plant. It worked. I wasn’t expecting this though:

Apparently plant genetics are going to take as much careful study and attention as horses. If they had put genetics in this context durring school I may have become a geneticist. Probably not but I would have paid attention at the very least. I need to do some google-ing.

Category: Garden  One Comment

August

I don’t think it is possible to keep up with every thing that always needs done in August. This is the least necessary so nothing gets written.

It has been an incredibly busy month, doing what I can’t even begin to remember. School is going again, we had a big birthday, The garden is going crazy. It is impossible to keep up with the produce.

A couple of weeks ago some friends came over and we had a canning bee. We put up approximately sixty pints of salsa, pickled beans and pickles. It was exhausting and it was great fun with brownies and homemade ice cream. There is so much more that needs canned I think we will have to do it again.

We, just us this time, canned our first batch of green beans in the pressure cooker. I have always been terrified of them but have friends who go about using them with not a drop of fear, peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing, so we gave it a try. We haven’t eaten any yet but they look good and we didn’t die. Always a good thing. I have been looking at other pressure cooker canning recipes and we are definitely going to try that again.

I put up our first batch of oven roasted tomatoes last night. It is the easiest and my favorite method for preserving tomatoes. Slice them in inch thick slices and put them on a pan in the oven for an hour or so, let cool, put in freezer bag in freezer. Sounds hard huh? They have great flavor and I can put a batch on while I cook supper, no extra mess or fuss.

The corn is ripe, finally. Getting past sweet corn stage quickly we need to start freezing some, soon.

The pumpkins are going insane. I love it. I left too many of the volunteers but I think the planted ones are doing okay out in that jungle anyway. I love the weird mixes we end up with though.

We have eaten our first watermelon but they and the cantaloup seem to be taking forever to get ripe. All this beautiful cool wet weather isn’t helping them any.

Category: Garden  One Comment

Happy Birthday, Small Goblin Child

Today was your birthday, I have not written you a long elaborate post like last year. We were too busy canning tomatoes, sorry for ignoring you all morning, and throwing you a birthday party. The tomato canning is nice to have done, the party too for that matter. I can only hope that as you grow older you will realize that my willingness to go through with this whole party thing is a great sign of my love for you.

Party we did though. I think/hope you enjoyed it. Much to my surprise I did. You and your friends seemed to have a blast on the play ground where you continually tried to kill yourself on toys to big for you. You are our little monkey with no fear and no sense. Anything the big kids do you are sure you can do with no knowledge of what it means to fall.

Tired of the hot sun and worn out from playing we went inside for cake and ice cream or more accurately ice cream cake and snacks.  Almost all of your friends were there, so much for the whole one friend per year rule (one friend to first birthday, two friends to second and so on). We packed the room full with everything from a new born to sixth graders. And their parents of course, even a few friends without children, just along for the fun.The candles scared you so we helped you blow them out, you weren’t to sure about the cake either. But decided it was fun to lick it off the candles.

This year you figured out how to open presents, even if they got tossed over your shoulder immediately after. Along with a couple of the new toys, the children, revived by food, quickly resumed playing. I was so glad not to be trying to host it in our house. You all ran and jumped screaming at the top of your lungs. There were only a couple of crashes, those crazy boys they like to play rough. Some of the parents, me at least, had a chance to sit and talk quietly planning play dates and canning bee’s. The other parents, mostly the darling husbands who are excellent fathers kept an eye on the kids. By the time people started to head out you were exhausted. Your, usually, favorite play mate kept touching your things and you were not your usual cheerful sharing self. How dare he want to play with you and your new ball. My, you get grouchy when you are tired.

We made it through clean up with out too many screaming fits as long as one of us held you at all times. We are not sure that we are going to let you have anymore birthdays, the fun and excitement is simply more than you can handle. You were sound asleep by the time we got home. Really, we are already planning next years party. I wish I had gotten more pictures but we were to busy having fun. Maybe I will get some posted another time, right now I am worn out and going to get some sleep.

Happy Birthday, our sweet little Goblin Child.

Category: Family  2 Comments

Manliness

I often think that I am THE MAN. I consider myself quite capable of most things farm, ranch, horse and home related. The other day I was driven by desperation, desperate to do the dishes no less, to great new heights. I tackled plumbing.

I hate plumbing, most any job that requires touching gross things and getting dirty for that matter. Let me make it clear that horse and cow poop are not gross, oil, grease and anything under my sink are.

The sink was not draining and the dishes were piling up so I pulled up my big girl pants and looked under the sink. My dad is a carpenter and all around handy man, I know what a P trap is. Putting on my rubber gloves I quickly had it dismantled cleaned out, it was rather full, and with some trial and error put back together. I was awesome.

The next day it wasn’t draining anymore. I was not the man.

Now that is a manly man, nothing could be better.

Now that is a manly man, nothing could be better.

After working a full and very busy day and coming home to greet his child with love attention and play, my much beloved husband got the battery charger on the car whose battery I had been solely responsible for killing. Did I mention that I hate batteries, chargers and most things electric? He then ate a quick supper and got down to some real plumbing.

I though I had braved the disgusting depths of our sinks bowels the day before but he dove deeper. And dirtier. And worked much longer and harder at it. As The Goblin Child and I played and watched T.V. he sweated in the filth and stench of the drain cleaner. As time passed and things worked slowly or not at all bedtime came, the child slept and I looked over his shoulder wishing that I could somehow ease his load.

Finally for no apparent reason, other than working the snake through to its full twenty five foot length, the water started to drain. He then scrubbed the sink clean. Now that is THE MAN.

My delusions of independence and self sufficiency are time and again proven to be just that as The Goblin Child and I wait breathlessly for him to get home. By the ease with which I allow him to take over chores that are too hard or too gross and I don’t want to do them. We depend on him completely for everything. Poor guy.

There is no way I would crawl in there

There is no way I would crawl in there

Same to my brother who works hard full time and comes home to remodel their house in his “spare” time. His latest project, I understand, involves crawling into a dark cramped hole under the porch to rebuild the footings. In our most recent conversation he was unable/unwilling to identify the things that crawl on him while he is under there. What a man.

 

Category: Family  4 Comments

Rain

It rained. During wheat harvest. The skies all around us were blue but overhead a little cloud dumped rain down, then a little hail but mostly lots of rain.

It was beautiful.

The child and I stood at the door watching the downpour. She stepped outside dipping a foot carefully into the stream of water running past. With a sound of dismay she headed back into the house. I stood to watch this rare and beauteous occurrence a moment longer than turned to follow. I met her coming back up the stairs towards me carrying, what else but her mud boots. She knew what she was supposed to wear to play in the rain. Throwing on my sandals quickly to keep up with her we headed out into the deluge.IMG_20140724_152452_209

Happily we ran and splashed in the temporary rivers that flowed down the drive way. The rain falling gently on our heads. The rain died off as did our rivers and sadly, reluctantly we headed back to the house.

Three’s

Darling Daisy Dog

Darling Daisy Dog

First our poor darling beloved Daisy broke her leg. I let her come ride in the combine. I KNOW it’s a bad idea, those steps are dangerous for little dog legs. But she likes to. Too often I use that as an excuse to let all my little creatures, and not so little ones do things they shouldn’t. Daisy jumped off the top step and hung her right hind leg in the step grate.

After an after hours visit to the vet for a splint and pain pills she is doing well. She hobbles along quite well on three legs and with luck will be back to chasing coons and catching rabbits in no time.

The goat, not Jenny the new one, went to live out with the horses. One morning, a day or two after Daisy’s incident, She wasn’t standing upfront with the herd. The Goblin Child and I took the four wheeler and searched the pasture, we drove every fence line, searched the high weeds and even drove through the cows in case she had gone to visit them. Nothing. Giving up we headed out the gate only to look back and see the goat limping towards us from the direction we had just come.

Apparently a horse had stepped on the bulb of her heel. There is a scuff mark and some swelling to her right hind, something may be broken in there but not much that can be done in that location. We brought her up to live in the yard again so she has less walking to do until she heals up a little.

Driving in to town today I noticed an unusual noise coming from the car. I checked the dash and sure enough the low tire pressure light was on. I pulled over onto the side road instead of a friends driveway directly across the street because I was planning on finding a tire a little low, we would then finish driving to town and put some air in it.

The tire was completely flat. Left hind this time, right would have been to weird. The people from across the street stopped by to offer use of their air tank. If I wanted to drive the car clear over there on the rim. He however had a semi load of cattle on and couldn’t stick around any longer. It was okay, I had my gallant husband on the phone and he was on his way to the rescue.

The tire was ruined, but we got a temporary replacement and will soon be getting new and we made our doctors appointment on time. That was three, hopefully our string of bad hind leg luck is over.

Category: Dogs, Family  One Comment

Wheat Harvest

It is important for me to note the start date. We are always trying to remember when it took place the years before.

Well, today was the day. We went to church this morning and my farmer husband came along because they didn’t think the wheat was quite ready and because bolts were on sale at Bomgaars. Because I was watching the nursery and Ava came along to help so he ran to get the shopping done other than sit and watch toddlers. It was fortunate that he did because the wheat was ready and his dad and the neighbor were jumping up and down ready to get started.

We got home and he headed out, The Goblin Child and I took our naps then went to join him in the evening. She still doesn’t sit well in a tractor.

Category: Farming  One Comment