Tuesday, August 20, 2019

What Goes Up...

Three years ago today, I finished the Pikes Peak Ascent and was so high I promised I would do the full marathon.

Two years ago today, I finished the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Who Changes Your Sheets?

It's no secret I travel, quite a lot. I stay in a lot of hotels, and I eat in a lot of restaurants, which means someone else is often making my bed and preparing my food. These people work hard, are on their feet most of the day, and are exposed to environmental hazards that go long with their work.

  • Housekeepers are exposed to harsh chemicals, disease and illness, have to clean bodily fluids, and are frequently targets of sexual harassment, as well as physical and sexual assault  - primarily because the overwhelming majority of the 924,000 people serving in this role according the the US Labor Department's 2018 statistics are women.  For some horrifying case examples, I suggest you read Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky, an excoriating expose on the hotel industry. 
  • Prep cooks face cuts, burns, exposure to toxins, food-borne illness and work in hot kitchens with slick floors, often with poor ventilation. Anthony Bourdain explores these worlds in Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw, which are good if vulgar, reads. There is something on order of 1.2 million prep cooks in the US.

Interestingly, these two positions, hotel housekeeper and prep cook, have nearly identical average wages: $12.30/hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor (although other sources cite lower average hourly wages).

$12.80 an hour means a gross annual pay of $25,584/year, but only if you work exactly 40 hours a week, all 52 weeks a year. No vacation, no sick days, no time-off to take your child to the doctor or enroll them in school. It also assumes you are 100% on-time, your car never breaks down or the bus is late, you never have to attend a funeral or jury service, and nothing unexpected ever happens on a work day.  This also assumes that you can get scheduled for 40 hours a week, meaning the restaurant is never slow on a Monday or the hotel has a midweek slump in reservations, or the boss just hired an additional person so everyone's hours get cut by a few.

However, if you are just getting your first job in the industry and you are a new employee, chances are you are making under the average salary.

In sum, it won't take much less than that 40 hours/week for 52 weeks to qualify these full-time restaurant and hotel workers for Medicaid or food stamps, depending on the state you live in and the formula the state uses to determine eligibility (133% percent of the poverty line? 200%? Only if you are pregnant or have children? That determination alone is a cluster that the federal government has basically admitted is totally not clear NOR consistent!)

And you know the overwhelming majority of people in these positions?

Immigrants.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Donkey Deuce

So, I am back to training for another marathon (NYC in November), but this was not a part of my training plan. However, as many of you know, Eric and I have developed something of a tradition when it comes to running with pack animals. Four years ago, we tried our hand (hooves) at at the Donkey Derby, and ended up winning the thing. The trophy is still in our basement. Since then, I've participated in a couple of runs with burros, which were essentially 5Ks with donkeys mixed in.

However, since that first race, Eric has been talking about defending our title.

In the intervening years, it hasn't worked out for one reason or another, to go back to Cripple Creek to see if we still could get lightning to strike twice.

Until this summer.

Donkey Redux.