20 February 2014

In which I rant...about money...or the lack thereof...

Right, so last week, as everyone knows, the Southern United States was blanketed with the horror known as Winter Weather. I think at our house we had between 5-6 inches of snow plus a healthy dose of ice on top of that. Everything came to a screeching halt, as it should have done, because down here we get that kind of weather so infrequently it doesn't make financial sense for cities and towns to have the equipment to deal with it.

I will say that again, so that those of you sniggering at us for our panic over what you consider to be a daily event can digest it and move on and stop with the ridiculous comments.  It does not make financial sense for us to have the equipment to deal with snow because we get a large amount so very infrequently.  It has nothing to do with how well or poorly we can drive.  We good? Right.

Well, on those two days as might have been expected, the University where I work was closed. The roads were awful and I was thankful that my employer thought that my life was more important than forcing me to drive the 65 miles round trip to get to work because the buses weren't running.

I was thankful until we got word that the governor is not going to grant us leave with pay for those two days. Oh, sorry, that doesn't make sense, does it? In this state, if state offices are closed it is up to the governor to decide if we are given the time off with pay or if we have to use our accrued leave time (of which I have none, I'm not that sort of employee sadly) OR make up the time by the next pay period.

The last week of January saw the first of the Winter Weather and Clemson was closed for a full day (plus two hours the day prior). The governor "forgave" that time so that we didn't have to make it up or use our leave time. Really I could have made it into work that day, but other parts of the state were not so lucky and so it was a good call on her part to close the state offices and a nice thing that she didn't make us make up that time.

Last week it was IMPOSSIBLE for a great many of us to get into work and it was another good call to not only close state offices but declare a state of emergency. But not forgive the time? Really?

The third option is to take leave without pay. Now I'm sure that the governor and many state employees, even those that work in my office, could miss two days of pay out of one check and not even miss it. Me? Notsomuch. Two days means late bills and cutting out groceries and such. We are not destitute but we are not rich either.

I went to the governor's website to see if there was any statement about the leave time or even a place to lodge a complaint. What I found was a proud statement hailing her as the most fiscally conservative governor that South Carolina has had for a long time.

Nice. It's easy to be fiscally conservative when you have money. But does that also make it easy to send the message that you don't care overmuch about your citizen's lives during weather events...that you don't feel that it is important to reward them for doing the smart thing and staying home by giving them the days off?

Whatever. Here's hoping the next predicted polar vortex won't close the University because those of us down here at the bottom can't afford another day away from work.

03 February 2014

In which the language nerd...and proud American...in me rejoices





This was the clear winner, in my mind, for best Superbowl commercial this year.  I'm distressed, but not surprised, at the vitriolic backlash that it has received on social media and in the press.  Let me tell you why I loved it...and the one fault I found in it...

In spite of what is apparently popular opinion, the United States of America does not have an official language.  I will give you a moment for that to sink in.  English, therefore, is NOT the official language of the United States of America.  In fact, recent statistics show that English is spoken by 80% of the population, not 95% as in the United Kingdom where they DO recognize English as the de facto official language (and make you pass an English Language test to live there).

What makes me so proud of my country is the ability for people to come here from other countries and love this nation as their own while still being able to keep their language and culture of origin fairly intact.  While I know that those outside of the USA may look at that statement and scoff, it is true in some parts of the USA.

There are voices, at times LOUD voices, that disagree and would like for the USA to be a bit more homogeneous...more English speaking...dare I say more white?  But I would like to say to anyone thinking of visiting or relocating to my country that those opinions are not shared by all of us.

The places shown in the commercial last night were clearly chosen due to the fact that in those areas, there are higher concentrations of immigrant populations who speak Spanish, Hindi, Tagalog, and even native languages that were here before the English speaking explorers arrived.  Why shouldn't they be able to express their love for their country in the language of their birth and heritage?  Seriously?  Am I the only one that got the point, that this commercial represents what America is at its very heart?

Be sure to click on the link above to watch the commercial and then watch the interviews with each of the language representatives heard in the commercial.  This speaks to the language nerd in me as well as the interpreter...the meaning is the point, not the language or culture.

The fault I found?  No ASL.  American Sign Language is the fifth most used non-English language in the United States.  And yet, it is left off, again.  My second language and, by association, my adopted culture is often left out...did anyone that was only watching the Superbowl on television see the ASL translation of the national anthem? Three or four signs maybe.  But I'm growing accustomed to that being the norm.  Doesn't mean I think it is right and I hope that it will change.

If you're one of the ones "disgusted" or "outraged" by the Coca-Cola commercial (literally, people are saying those specific words and worse...have a look at Coke's Facebook page and Twitter feed) or you are thinking of boycotting the product, take a moment and look at your own family tree.  I bet you'll find branches that came to this country, eager to live in and experience and love "America the Beautiful" even though they may have had to express that sentiment in a different way.  Was their love for this country any less because they spoke a different language?  No.  Absolutely not.

Dia duit ó GARF.

Almost TOO Irish, that. Go raibh míle maith agat  to Chris Heffron (of the Southern Travel Guide ) for this great shot from last Sund...