What do you value?

It’s the end of the college football season, and that means it’s time for the annual dance known as coaching changes.

I keep reading comments from fans and media pointing out how the coaches have to do what’s best for their families and make sure they’re getting paid fairly. Leaving aside the question of how much money is fair for anyone to make–how much more care does a family need if you’re already making over 2 million dollars a year?

Sure Scott Frost, Willie Taggart and all of the other coaches in the States want to take care of their families. Sure they have places they love. Places where they have extended family. Lots of us do. But let’s not pretend that going after a multi-million dollar paycheck has anything to do with taking care of their families. They can take care of them just fine for 100K. Luxuriously for 500K.

“But their families are from there!”

A lot of people live in places they don’t have extended family because of their jobs. Professors. Traveling nurses. Photographers. Many professions require being where the work is. Coaching is one of those professions.

If they wanted to take care of their families, maybe they should have just stayed at home in the first place! Or maybe they should have selected a profession that doesn’t require them to travel.

What is teaching young men to play a game at an elite level really worth? Does it have more value than, say, educating young adults to become doctors or architects? Is it worth more than the nurse who takes care of your sick baby in the NICU? More than the paramedic who gets you to the hospital alive?

The average yearly wage for a full professor at the University of Oregon is around $115,000. The Athletic Director makes around 700,000.  The new head coach of the football team makes around 2.5 million a year. As an assistant coach he made $717K. Many of the coaches and assistant coaches are making more money  than the man who runs the entire athletic program. Certainly more than the athletes who are putting their bodies on the line in order to play.

In a society where we prove what we value by throwing money at it,  we may wish to reconsider our priorities. What are the things we really value?

Paying for healthcare for everyone who needs it doesn’t seem to be valued by all of us. Hint: everyone needs it, so why isn’t it valued more?

Taking care of the veterans who defend out country? We love to say we love our veterans, but not if it means providing money for the care and housing they require after they leave active service.

Making sure the teachers working with our children make enough money to take care of their own families?

Making sure our nation’s infrastructure is in good repair?

Everyone would probably say all of those things are important, and they are all wildly underfunded. So why don’t we put our money where are mouths are? Why are we so willing to pay a college coach $5 million a year, or an actor $30 million for a movie, but not pay a teacher enough money to support her family? Why will we pay a corporate executive $10 million, but a nurse only $70,000?

Am I saying that sports and other forms of entertainment are without value? Absolutely not. We need authors, artists, athletes, actors and all of the people who keep our minds engaged. The people who make us laugh. The ones who make us cheer. They are part of what makes life so much fun.

What we need to do, though, is make sure that we balance the value of entertainment and entertainers with the value of the people who really run things around here. Oh, not the politicians and bosses–the plumbers, electricians and carpenters. The computer people. The farmers. The doctors and nurses. The pilots. The truck drivers.  The people who feed us, take care of us when we’re sick and make sure we are warm and comfortable. The people who make things.

We all have a role to play in the world, but we’ve lost sight of what is really valuable.

It’s something we all need to start thinking more about.

An imaginary conversation about skeleton dogs

You’ll never believe what I saw on my way home from work today!


A monster skeleton dog!

A monster skeleton dog?

Yeah! In the sky!

In the sky.



It was a cloud!



Another person might have lead with that.

What, that it was a cloud?


But when I saw it, my first impression was that it was a giant monster skeleton dog.

Of course it was.

You lack imagination.

Did you get a picture?


No? You have pictures of every other cloud you’ve ever seen…but no skeleton dog?

Monster skeleton dog.


No, you told me not to take pictures of monster skeleton dogs anymore.

I’m pretty sure I did not ever say anything even remotely like that.

You told me not to take pictures while driving anymore.

Yes, I can see how  you’d interpret that as “don’t take pictures of monster skeleton dogs anymore.”

Oh, good.

You’re usually better at picking up sarcasm than that.

I was politely choosing not to hear it.

You’re a nice woman.

I know.

Seriously, though…


You saw a skeleton dog cloud in the sky, and you expect me to believe that you  didn’t take a picture?

Not a good one.

That’s more like it.

Well, it was a giant monster skeleton dog after all. I had to take a picture, but I waited until I was stopped at a light and couldn’t see anything but the ribs.

You can’t have pictures of every cloud.

I know, but…


Actually, now that I think about it it was really more like the starving dog on the cover of Diamond Dogs.

Not a skeleton?

A very, very skinny dog. Still, kind of monstery. And quit shaking your head.

I can’t help it.

You’re lucky to have someone in your life as interesting as I am.

That is definitely one way to see it.

You don’t think you’re lucky?

Very, but not because you see emaciated David Bowie cloud dogs in the sky.


Because there is no one else like you.

In a good way?


I am unsatisfied with that response.


No one’s perfect, but you are pretty damn great.

That response was excellent. You are good at placating me when you work at it.

You make it easy.





Holy shit moments

Have you ever seen or heard something something so staggeringly gorgeous that it made you say “holy shit?”
We should all try to be open to those moments. Sunsets. Waves crashing. Snowfall.

On my way to Mom’s from the coast the other day, I stopped a few times between Depoe Bay and Newport to look at the waves and to take a few pictures of the sunny morning. Coming through the hills between Newport and Philomath there’s a spot that was clear cut a decade or so ago. Hills and valleys. The sun was streaming over the hills, lighting up the trees and last of the low hanging morning fog. Making the water slick black rock towering over the road glow.

Holy shit. Beautiful.

Some people want to get where they are going as quickly as possible. I have the opposite approach on a road trip: get there in a way that gets me the most “holy shit” moments. I am infamous for stopping at every scenic viewpoint. Pulling over to take pictures. Taking pictures from in the car. Saying “wow” a lot.

I have more pictures of dramatic cloud formations, sunbeams and rainbows than anyone you know.

My approach to a long drive annoys some people. Those are not my people.

My people are the ones who say “did you see that?” and “let’s leave early so we can stop a few times on the way.”

The ones who will pull over to watch the sun go down just to try to see the green flash.

The ones who make room for those holy shit moments.

Enjoy life.