Part-Time Problem

Richard has another really good piece in the Chicago Tribune today. This one is about the significant increase in part-time workers in Illinois.  The link is http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-involuntary-parttime-0808-biz-20140808-story.html.

It’s hard to argue that the economy has rebounded fully when so many willing, able workers want to find full-time work, but can’t. Those of us who are fortunate to have full-time work can’t fully appreciate the angst of not knowing what might be in your next paycheck.

How do we help these people realize the American Dream?  The only emploment-related proposal being addressed is raising the minimum wage, but that’s no panacea. A raise in the minimum wage isn’t going to help these people — it will just cause their employers, who are trying to hold on themselves, to be even more grudging in allocating hours to the people at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Mass MoCA

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Kish and I were blown away by our visit today to Mass MoCA — the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art — in North Adams, Massachusetts. It is an awesome powerhouse of a museum with a fine selection of contemporary art and, most importantly, the space to display the pieces properly, with plenty of room and light.

In20140808-125502-46502950.jpg fact, the Mass MoCA buildings are as jaw-dropping as the art. The museum occupies a sprawling set of brick industrial buildings with plenty of windows and ceilings that are sky-high. The space allows for display of the most titanic pieces imaginable — like Teresita Fernandez’s Black Sun, shown in the photo at the top of this post — and allows ample, crowd-free room from which to admire them.  Mass MoCA has so much space it will be featuring a huge exhibition of the wall drawing conceptions of Sol Lewitt for 25 years.  25 years!

Adding to the adventure are the many nooks and crannies and passageways and bridges that reflect the buildings’ industrial past, and the canal that cuts through the property. Be sure not to miss the rusting boiler room building, which has been converted into a kind of musical art experience, and the Hall Art Foundation building, an aircraft hangar-sized structure that features gigantic pieces by Anselm Kiefer.

During our visit we particularly enjoyed the display of the very evocative art of Darren Waterston, with paintings that are deep, layered, and mysterious, and his full-sized, carefully constructed decomposing room called Filthy Lucre that riffs on James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room and reimagines it as a crumbling ruin.  We also appreciated a huge exhibition of the work of Izhar Patkin that demonstrated, in particular, what the Mass MoCA space permits. In one huge wing, shown in the photograph below, the curators built separate rooms to display Patkin’s beautiful and haunting painted fabric creations. How many museums have the space to permit that?

If you are an art lover, Mass MoCA is simply not to be missed.

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Dogs In Hotel Rooms

Yesterday afteroon we checked into a hotel in North Adams, Massachusetts, where we’ll be getting our culture fix at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCa).  Last night, when we returned after a really fine dinner and let ourselves into our building, we heard a dog begin to bark furiously in one of the other rooms.

The20140808-064448-24288192.jpg dog’s frantic barking continued as we walked up the stairs to our room, entered it, and closed the door.  I could still hear the barking as I sat down to read in our room, and to make matters worse another dog joined in.  Given the long history between humans and canines, we’re conditioned to hear dog barks — and once you notice them they are impossible to ignore. You can only hope they stop.

These days more hotels are allowing people to keep dogs in rooms.  I am fine with that, so long as the hotels makes sure that the rooms are fully cleaned of dog hair after the visit.

But not all of the responsibility for a successful dog-hotel visit lies with the hotel.  To the contrary, most of the responsibility should lie with the guest.  If you know your dog is a barker, you simply cannot leave it alone in a hotel room to bark itself into exhaustion at the random movements of other guests while you are out with friends.  It’s not fair to the other guests like us, but it’s also not fair to your pet.

If people want to travel with dogs, basic consideration requires that they know their dogs’ barking tendencies and do what is necessary to keep them quiet in a shared setting.  If that means staying with them to keep them calm in strange surroundings and missing a night out, so be it.  A person who leaves a dog prone to barking in a hotel room, to the loud misfortune of both the dog and other guests, is providing telling information about the kind of person they are — and it’s not positive.