Category Archives: Me Picking Fights

Electronic Prudes On The March

I love digital photography, but the ease with which we can alter photographs does make for some sticky situations.

Case in point: Wasatch High School in Utah.

As does most every other school in the country, Wasatch High School has a yearbook. The students are required to have their picture taken for the yearbook with the expectation that those pictures would be used in the yearbook.

Since it’s a picture of an individual, it’s assumed (there’s that word.) that any alterations of the picture would be by the dude or dudette actually in the picture. Even that’s a pretty slippery slope. The purpose of a yearbook photo is to capture a likeness of the various students as they looked that year.

What’s the use of taking a photograph of yourself and then digitally altering the hair color, scrubbing the zits off your face and filling in the gap between your two front teeth? Okay, sure you might like the look better, but it’s not who you are.

The idea of the school going in and altering the pictures without the knowledge or consent of the person in the picture is abhorrent to me, a complete violation of expectations of privacy and common decency.

Which, oddly enough, is the concept that the Wasatch High School administrators are hiding behind in their failed attempt to justify their intrusiveness in the yearbook photos.

See, the folks at the high school started making changes to the photos to fit in with some sort of ill-conceived, ill-defined value of decency. V-neck sweaters were given a makeover so they were square cut and Shelby Baumexposed less bosom.

Tattoos were digitally erased. Young ladies wearing sleeveless dresses had digital sleeves clumsily attached to them.

All of which would be bad enough, but the changes were inconsistently applied. Some girls had their image modified and some didn’t, even though both might have had the same sort of dress on in their pictures.

“I feel like they’re shaming you, like you’re not enough, you’re not perfect,” sophomore Shelby Baum told the Associated Press on Thursday. Baum’s collarbone tattoo reading “I am enough the way I am” was removed from her photo. She also discovered a high, square neckline drawn onto her black V-neck T-shirt. Baum said she wants a refund or a new book with an unaltered photo.

Good luck with that, Ms. Baum. See, the school is climbing up on its high horse and claiming the high ground of morality. It’s immoral to wear sleeveless dresses or have plunging necklines.

It’s also saying the students had ample warning not to show up looking like a harlot.

On Thursday, the school issued a statement saying a four-by-five foot sign warned students on picture day that “tank tops, low cut tops, inappropriate slogans on shirts, etc. would not be allowed” and that “photos may be edited to correct the violation.”

Which, even if the sign was there (and that’s a big if as several parents who attended said there was no sign), it doesn’t give them the right to go in without permission and alter someone’s face or body. If the school didn’t like the student’s outfit, it should have sent the student home.

Where does this end? Do we lighten someone’s skin color the so he fits in better in a group photo? Eliminate a shirt that has colors associated with her religion?

What’s important is who you are, not what you’re wearing.

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A Thing Of Many Splendors

It’s not too late to talk about love, right?

I mean, sure, Valentine’s Day was a couple of weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean that love, itself, is out of date.

At least, that’s what I’m going with because I’ve got a good idea here and I’m going to roll with it, no matter what day it is. Because that’s how we roll here. So let’s roll. Rock and roll. Rock up the mountain and roll on down the hill?

Moving on.

Love, to return to my original point, is a thing. This thing that is love, you could say that it is splendiferous. That it has many splendiferousnessids. Or many splendors does this thing has.

Or something like that. I really think I’m close to an aphorism there. Just need to keep working on it. I’m close. Darn close.

Moving on. Again. Still.

Love sprang to my mind the other day when I was driving along the road from Charlotte to Wilmington as part of the never-ending treadmill of college and home.

There I was, just driving along and minding my own business when I almost ran off the road. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I mean, sure I grew up in the South, but I’ve always been the sort of liberal individual who doesn’t like guns and tries to avoid looking at them or thinking about them because they only get me in a bad mood.

Mostly I don’t ready the many, many billboards advertising gun shops or shooting galleries or gun shows. This one, though, I just couldn’t miss.

While this picture was taken in, I believe, Georgia, the sign I saw was Yes, it really does say that if you buy her a diamond, you will get a free hunting rifle, for those sorts of people for whom this would be attractive, I'm guessing this would be attractive to them.almost exactly the same, but in North Carolina.

Yes, it really does say that if you “Buy her a diamond,” you will “get a free hunting rifle.”

“Well, BillyBobRayBoy, I weren’t gonna propose to ArleneSue, but, hell, son, I needed me a new huntin’ rifle since I lost the old one running from them rabid ducks. . . You ‘member, right? Anyway, figured I might as well put a pull the trigger twice, nowutimean?”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s exactly how that conversation went. Or I might be stereotyping. But, either way, it’s a darn funny thing to see as you’re driving along the highway.

So. To love. And, no, I’m not going to end this by talking about how I “love” making fun of people who like things that are demonstrably stupid beyond measure different from what I like. Although, yes, it certainly looks like that.

Despite the somewhat cruel conversation I imagined up above, I’ll bet the purchase really was made with love in the heart. I’m certain the people who went and purchased a ring and a hunting rifle, did so for the ring.

Showing love for an amazing woman had to be paramount. The ability to blow the brains out of anything at 100 meters was just gravy.

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The Most Important Job

I still haven’t figured out how to answer the question.

When we meet someone for the first time, one of the initial questions of the getting-to-know-you phase is this: What do you do?

By that, we’re asking what the other person does for a living. What is their job? Strangely, we, as a society, tend to define people by what they do, rather than what they enjoy, or who they are. While I’m sure there’s another whole post in this somewhere, I’m more focused this time around on what the answer to that question really is when it’s directed at me or people like me.

See, as might have been obvious sometime in the last six years, I’m a stay-at-home dad. For the past 14 years, I stayed home being the principal caregiver to our three boys while my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Bringing Home The Bacon Etc., worked outside the house.

For us, it wasn’t even a question what would be happening when we had kids. We both believed that kids would benefit from having a parent at home. She’s a doctor, which meant her first paycheck as the lowliest of doctors (an intern) was far more than what I was making at the top of my pay grade as an information specialist for the state of Florida. Yeah, no question I was staying home.

Now, I’m pretty cool with the idea of a woman making more money than I do. Just like it doesn’t matter that she beats me at H.O.R.S.E. every time we play. (Of course, in a real one-on-one game, I thrash her without hesitation.) She’s just a better set shooter than I am. I’ve been beaten by girls in races and never worried but for one thing: A person was faster than me. The gender of the victor didn’t matter. Same thing here.

But, apparently, it does matter to some people.

When I’m meeting people for the first time and I tell them that I’m a stay-at-home dad, I get responses that vary in the specifics, but all contain the same condescension.

“Oh, that’s so wonderful.”

“You’re so lucky to stay at home.”

“That’s such a hard job and so important.”

“I don’t know how you do it.”

And, worst of all, “Good for you. You should be proud of that.”

It’s a good thing none of these people are playing poker for a living, or are actors, because, dudes, they just can’t pull it off. In their eyes, in the tone of their voice, in the way they subtly lean back away from me as if they’re afraid stay-at-home-itis is catching. . .

In their eyes, there’s something deeply wrong with what I’ve done for the past 14 years. In their eyes, it’s easy to read what they’re thinking: “Thank God it’s not me.”

I realize that moms in my position also are getting something similar from other women. Staying at home, either for a man or a woman, can be a controversial choice to some people.

Men, I think, might get it a bit worse. Because we’re supposed to be the breadwinners, the ones who work outside the house. I’ve even been asked, “Doesn’t it bother you being the woman?” and “Does she let you wear shoes and leave the kitchen?”

Okay, yes, those were extreme examples and they might have said they were kidding, but there is that old saying about there being more truth in jest.

Over the years, just to avoid arguments in a pleasant setting, I’ve begun telling people I work from home instead of stay home. And, yes, that won’t be a problem much longer as I’m moving back into the outside work force as Hyper Lad grows older.

But, still, shouldn’t staying at home — whether because of a money issue or that you’re just more at ease taking care of kids — be a valid choice for any person, male or female?

There were a (very) few times in the beginning when I felt resentful that I wasn’t working every day at a newspaper, which had been my dream. But then I would look on my napping sons, or hear them laugh, and realize it’s possible to have more than one dream, to find and follow a new dream.

A man or woman choosing to stay at home to rear a child is a valid choice, dudes and dudettes. Respect that.

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