Friday, November 19, 2010

Black Friday is Capitalist Overkill

I've been going through my rss feeds and the only think that keeps popping up is stuff for the after Thanksgiving sales - known to the retail world as Black Friday.And if you happen to be an unfortunate soul that works retail this day is known as pure hell. Dear Public: you are full on turkey and carbs, and have just come out of a food coma, is this the best time to go shopping? If you are even going to find a place to park. Maybe you'll get lucky and finding a parking spot will take less than 30 minutes.

When I was growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was putting up the tree in my Grandparent's sitting room. Eating leftovers, and relaxing. This will date me, but I remember sitting in the living room with my dad and grandfather watching the Cotton Bowl. My mother was not franticaly trying to get us up and out of bed at 4am so we can get to the mall for the early bird specials. Or to rush the gaming console counter to try and to get the last XBox.

I never worked a Black Friday until I was 18 working at World of Science in Lafayette, Louisiana. That was hell. I was also the stocking manager which was a bit of a nightmare.The next Black Friday was worse as I was now at a toy store. Luckily, my manager from the previous store came with me to this one. We spent a lot of time smoking cigarettes in the delivery entrance. The day went like this: open store at 5:30am and get bum rushed by the crowd who's been waiting for 45 min. They're all ready very cranky. Kids are on the loose, the Barbie aisle gets taken out, and the stack of tonka trucks is not a jenga set kid. He toppled over a 6 foot display of tonka trunks for really no reason whatsoever. In fifteen minutes the store had been destroyed, it was too crazy to stop and eat, people were arguing in line, and hustling the cashiers telling them that they're selling the same item 4 stores over for 5 bucks cheaper. Are these merry Christmas shoppers? Hell no. These are the same dumb fucks that go crazy over tax free weekend (an 8% off sale is not a great deal). 

Think about it, whatever you didn't max your credit card out on Black Friday they have something more up their sleeve. Prices fall all through December, not because of demand, but because the stores need room for new inventory, so anything Christmas has got to go. I refuse to go shopping during the holidays. It's stressful, people are at their worst, they are blowing their paychecks on cheap toys made in China (probably with lead) that WILL break with in 5 days instead of keeping up with the mortgage. At this particular toy store, most items were returned because they were cheap and broke. I sold $42 worth of toys right after Christmas, the returns were a -$2,000. Bottom line: don't buy crap.

The credit companies are loving this. They wait for the news to announce how much Wal-mart made that one day. If sales beat last years it's going to be a great year. Lots of people defaulting on their credit cards. More fees and overage charges that you won't be able to pay for months. It's a scheme!!!

And this is why I am not participating this year. No Christmas for Grace. It's bullshit. Those good ol' Christians decided to but baby Jesus' birthday closer to the winter solstice, perhaps to get some of the pagans in on the gift giving pandemonium. I'm not saying Jesus didn't exist, I'm just saying that I don't think this is what he had in mind. Let's all empty our bank accounts to buy stuff for other people that they don't need, that you don't need, that no one really needs.

I will be donating a few coats to Goodwill and I'm compiling scans of family photos for my Dad, brother, Uncle and cousins. But that is it. Christmas used to be a big family meal, a trip to church, and reasonable presents for children. Like teddy bears. Why does a six year old need a Wii? Let's see: teddy bear $6.99 or a good children's book at $11.99, Wii will set you back $150 - $420 depending on the accessories. And another thing you'll need the games at $50 a pop.

Which one would you go with if you want to spend more time with your kid? Because if you get the Wii, you won't see him or her at all except when they need food. Like they say in the army: Keep It Simple Stupid. There's no reason for anyone to go broke over Christmas. Boycott it! Except for the big family dinner. Those are important.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What I Have Learned In 2nd Grade

1. Never promise something you can't deliver
2. When you promise something, come through 100%
3. Try to be fair as much as possible
4. Lead by example
5. Be understanding
6. Always follow through
7. Listen
8. Read as much as possible
9. Always greet people with a smile & always tell them goodbye when they leave
10. Ask lots of questions
11. Remember the details
12. Say "please" and "thank you" 
13. What you feed will grow
14. Remember the Golden Rule
15. Laugh
16. There is a lesson in every problem
17. Vote
18. Make time to play
19. Use your imagination
20. Tomorrow is a new day

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

True Blood?

It was an interesting Easter weekend for me. Firstly, because I went to church TWICE for the first time in years and no one died or got married. Secondly, it reaffirmed my faith in agnosticism by leaps and bounds. There is no doubt in my mind that religion is offensive to God whoever he or she or it is.

I suppose I'll start with church #1. It had a very general name, non-denominational, in the suburbs of San Antonio. I sort of new what to expect when I got there: lame "contemporary" music, altar call, a pastor that had either had too much coffee or something illegal in his system. And I got that...and a whole lot more. It was terrifying.

When we were walking in of course, I found the Easter eggs scattered everywhere hilarious since they represented an ancient Greek fertility ceremony that included orgies, psychedelic drugs, and drunkenness in worship of the god Dionysus. What a wonderful activity for young children to participate in. There is no Easter bunny in the Bible. The bunny is a fertility symbol because, what do rabbits do best? That's right. Nothing to do with chocolate eggs. Unless you're into that.

So, we sat down. I tried not to cringe as the music started to play. Then the service started, or so I thought. They talked about tithing. Common of course in Christianity and mentioned in the Bible. However, I'm pretty sure Jesus would not have talked about it for 30 minutes because the disciples wanted a $20,000 playground for the kids. Also, having read the Bible twice in her life, I knew that Jesus never said that giving money to the Church would make you rich in return. In fact, there was that whole eye of the needle/rich man getting in to heaven quote.

Needless to say I was offended. Having been brought up an Episcopalian, I looked back on Sunday School as an annoying part of growing up but also where I learned a lot about right and wrong. I don't think a $20,000 playground is going to teach those poor kids anything. But it must be great having the kids occupied while the pastor and his wife brain wash you into their money scheme.

Yeah, I said it: money scheme. These people put on their fancy flat screens that lined the sections of the church fake scriptures that said God wanted you to be prosperous, if you gave to the church he'd make you rich, and the words profit, money and promotion were used like they were going out of style. As if you could get "promoted" in to a better place in heaven if you gave more money. When the pastor asked "How many of you gave money this week?" I wanted to raise my hand and tell him I put some money in my savings account and my boyfriend but some in his IRA. And I wanted to ask him which car was his in the parking lot, the Audi convertible or the Benz?

I mention fake scriptures because nothing they posted was in quotations - it was all paraphrased to support the point that the pastor was trying to make: the almighty dollar not the almighty God. The pastor then went on for an hour about what he called the "Blood Covenant". When we walked in, we were handed a flyer about this covenant. On the page their were two people's wrists that were slit open and a paragraph about how people used to bind contracts by cutting their wrists open and sharing blood. Somehow he related it to Jesus.

He didn't really talk about the miracle of resurrection, the sacrifice of Jesus, or anything relating to this Christian holiday really. The whole thing gave me the creeps and when it came time for communion I just told them "I'm Episcopal" as in I'm not participating in this ritual with you people.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ay Dios Mio!

I start school tomorrow! Holy f-word! As much as I am worried about taking Spanish IV, I am more worried about the after school program I am just starting to work for.

I thought I was going to feel more excited about this. I feel scared shitless. I have never had to deal with more than three kids at one time. Now I will have 18 to 26. How on earth am I going to entertain them?

Growing up I was sent off to numerous summer camps, but I don't remember any of the songs or games! That was over 15 years ago! Pearl Jam & Nirvana were the newest jams. I haven't even listened to the radio in at least four years. My ipod doesn't have commercials. 

I suppose I had the same fears organizing for the labor union. What did I have in common with men who collected garbage for the city of San Antonio? Not a damn thing. I'm a white girl from upper middle class Houston. Both my parents have university degrees. Some of my garbage workers didn't finish junior high. 

But I connected to them somehow. I gained their trust. I was consistent. I listened. After awhile, I realized I had more in common with them than I thought & economic background didn't play as big a role as I had first guessed. A few of them I cussed out. I will have to remember not to use this tactic with the children. 

I suppose I need to calm down and stop worrying so much. I know how to build relationships. I know how to cultivate trust and I know how to put someone in their place. Plus, I have no problem being a goofball. If you have seen me do karaoke you know this is true. Wish me luck.
-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Losing Streak Is Over

Yes, I have not only found a job but I have also gotten back on my chosen career path. Looking back on my stints in the "for profit" field - what a waste of time. I HATED those jobs. I put in 100% effort, but they weren't rewarding. It was just work for works sake.

Last Sunday I interviewed for a child care specialist position at a San Antonio non-profit and was offered the job on the spot. I will be part of the after-school staff at a local elementary school. I am so excited. I've done administrative management in the non-profit sector & have worked as a union organizer, but I've never worked with kids.

Oh, and it pays minimum wage. Which is totally fine. I'd rather be paid peanuts and doing something meaningful than making a pile of money and coming home drained and wondering what I was really adding to the world.

I know some days are going to be tough. I have already heard horror stories about severed fingers & broken arms, but more importantly physical and sexual abuse victims. Some kids will have normal childhoods, some will not. The Bob Dylan song "Shelter From the Storm" comes to mind.

As I start this job & finish my BA, I am going to remind myself the bottom line is PEOPLE. Money comes and goes. Building relationships, building strong families, communities & cities - this is what will save America. Not some over-educated prick on Wall Street or the privileged class in our Congress.

I know I will be poor college kid again for at least another 2 1/2 years. Fine. I get to keep my soul. My self worth does not come from Gucci or Cadillac. I will never be a hamster in a wheel & they will never make a zombie out of me. I am impervious to selling out.

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pretty Vacant

I hate to admit this, but in eight days I will be vacating downtown for Alamo Heights, or Alamo Whites, whatever you prefer. I know what you are thinking: isn't that a little too waspy for Grace Ingeborg? The answer is yes, but with good reason.

I am sick of smelling urine while walking down the sidewalk. I am sick of the city pressure washing the sidewalks at 2am outside my window. I am sick of the stupid tourists and their rugrats trying to pet my dog. He doesn't like it.

I am sick of the gorgeous old buildings that lay empty, rotting into crack dens. I am sick of seeing the same homeless people over & over. They opened Haven for Hope months ago, but I haven't seen much of a difference. 

I am sick of seeing the vacant expressions of young men & women high and completely numb to the world around them. Do they have a mother somewhere? Doesn't someone in the world love them? 

Last week I saw a guy maybe a few years older than I. He was decked out like he had just left Whole Earth Provision Co. Maybe he was on his way to Austin or Boulder or somewhere equally crunchy. Since then I have seen him laying on the sidewalk grate in front of the Travis Building high on god knows what. Hiking apparently was not on the itinerary.

When I moved downtown I started seeing a blonde guy, about my age as well. At first we just thought he was down on his luck. A year later I still see him occasionally. Sometimes coherent but sometimes completely vacant, still, like nothingness. Now he looks like he's fifty instead of thirty. 

I used to wonder how people get to that point, but after this summer of unemployment I feel lucky to not have fallen into that trap. There are a lot of horrible circumstances that can make a person feel worthless.

Truthfully there was at least a week or two this summer I didn't get out of bed or didn't leave the building. Getting fired, unfairly, really took a toll on my self-worth. It was just devastating. Especially since there are literally no jobs out there. Before this summer I had never been unemployed for over two weeks. Two months felt like purgatory.

We wrap so much of our identity into what we do for a living. And if we love our job, what's wrong with that? But getting the "its not personal, it's business" line is a slap in the face. Jobs are personal. It's how we feed our families, and pay our rent, & put clothes on our back. What could be more personal than that? 

So, when I see these people living on the streets of San Antonio I can't help but wonder if something similar happened to them. Pair job loss with feelings of worthlessness and you have a potentially dangerous situation. Can't go to the doctor if you lost your healthcare. But there's always a needle & a spoon somewhere. 

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kids These Days

I am hanging out in San Diego this week while my boyfriend is attending a conference here. That's right: I'm unemployed AND on vacation. As if sitting at home for four weeks hasn't been vacation enough. Actually, it's been painfully boring. I'm a recovering workaholic.

San Diego is beautiful, although California is a strange place. It's sunny all the time but never hot. Being a Texan, I consider 68 degrees chilly. Today I went to the San Diego Museum of Art and saw their Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit, along with some Fragonard, Tintoretto, Modigliani, and El Greco. I'm sorry, but I still think that Georgia O'Keefe is boring. I know that must be anti-feminist or anti-American or something. Art is in the eye of the beholder anyhow.

We ended the day relaxing in the hotel hot tub. Almost everyone at the hotel is apart of this conference the boyfriend is at. So it wasn't surprising that the other hotel guest was in on it too. Actually, his Dad was. He was an 18 year old with some sort of tribal something or other that covered his shoulder down to his elbow. Not quite original. He told us he'd been coming to the conference with his father for the past ten years, loved San Diego, asked what my boyfriend did for a living, etc.

Somehow we got on the subject of Iraq. I honestly did not bring it up. In fact, I refrained from commenting. Not a new subject by any means, but the boy's perspective was a bit of a surprise to me. He said we wouldn't even have had to go to Iraq if they hadn't blown up our beloved buildings. Usually, I am very vocal about such a subject but this left me speechless. I had nothing to say. State of total shock. Sure, he's 18 and probably doesn't listen to NPR but seriously? I mean there's a lot of speculation (CIA planned it, neo-conservative agenda, etc.) but that is all conspiracy theory. Not one of the hijackers was from Iraq and Fox News can't even refute that.

As we got up to leave (because of the deafening silence that had blanketed the conversation) he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a student finishing my degree in Political Science with plans for a Masters in Social Work. He replied "How boring". Ignorance is bliss honey, ignorance is bliss.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Land of the Free?

Sunday night I watched the fireworks at Randolph AFB here in San Antonio. How American, sitting on a blanket in a baseball field while the wind carried well-known patriotic songs across the field. As the finale came down, I could hear the Star-Spangled Banner and one phrase sort of struck a chord: the land of the free. I don't really feel free, do you?

Perhaps that's a terrible thing to say - after all, my own father is a Vietnam veteran and he suffered a lot because of his time served for this country. However, I can't help but feel locked into some sort of system, a system that works against me. I've done what I was supposed to. I got good grades in high school, went to college...a lot. I can't find a job. I'm hoping that my unemployment goes through and I'll get a check tomorrow, but for now I'm just waiting for something to happen. I've been quite diligent in my job search; job hunting is a relentless task. So far, no dice.

I'm not free. I am held down by credit card debt, by ever increasing bills, and by a job market that has tanked. I'd be lucky to get a job that pays $12 an hour right now. I'm trapped. I couldn't even afford to move to a cheaper apartment! The only thing I have going for me is my decision to go back to school and get more education because trust me, I've looked and the only jobs out there are non-skilled (i.e. poverty level wages) and jobs that require graduate degrees. The middle ground has disappeared along with the middle class.

Who are these richest 1% of Americans that control the rest of us and just who the fuck do they think they are? Democracy my ass. This is slave labor. Minimum wage is still under what economists agree is a living wage. Minimum wage in Texas is $4250 above the federal poverty level for 2010.

When I was a union organizer here in San Antonio I was shocked how many people I came across that couldn't read or write. It was embarrassing for them, but I knew why they were illiterate. It might surprise most people, but our poverty problem still causes 15 and 16 year olds to drop out of school to help the family get make ends meet. Such was the case with these guys.

Although "union" is such a bad word in the South, I think it's the only thing that will save us. I don't mean union as a entity that you pay dues to, but union as a group of people working toward a common goal. Goals such as a strong middle class, closing the gap between the rich and the poor, elevating people from poverty through education.

In business school you learn that to improve production you fix your weakest link in the supply chain. America's weakest link is it's inability to diminish poverty and our selfish nature to just look the other way. We forget that on our Statue of Liberty it is written: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." We don't need to look across the ocean for these huddled masses. They are in our own backyard and they want a way out of their slavery.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ode to Superwoman

Recently, I went to my first comic convention with my friend Jen and was dismayed, I warn you I know nothing about comics, that Superwoman (or maybe Super-girl) was blond. I actually found one action-figure that had black hair but it was pixie short. I was very disappointed. Every time something in my life goes wrong I ask "Why can't I be Superwoman?"

In my mind, Superwoman can do it all: have the career, the relationship, the family and somehow makes it all work. I guess she's my symbol of feminism, and a little sexier than Rosie the Riveter (admit it, Rosie's a little butch). She's fearless, she doesn't worry about how it's all going to work, she has a plan and a backup plan for everything and if it all falls to pieces she's creative enough to think of a new direction. This is the woman that I want to be.

There's a catch though. I have many women in my life that I look up to because they are brilliant and have had very successful careers. However, these women either lack a significant other or children or both. Therein lies my biggest fear: you can have one or the other but you cannot have both. The defiant bitch in me says "I can do anything I damn well want" and the skeptic agnostic in me says "give me proof". I have no proof, I only see one or the other.

On another note, I have decided to quit banging my head against a brick wall and go back to school, finish my undergrad and get a Masters in Social Work so I can actually land my dream job. This will take 2 1/2 years, which puts my Superwoman plans on hold yet again. And on the other front, let's just say it's been just me and the dog lately.

I should know better. Life never goes according to plan and I have had many examples of that in my life but I can't help but feel disappointed. I don't see any reason why I can't have it all - I just can't figure out how to get it. I know going back to school is a step in the right direction, but it also feels like three steps back. I was annoyed when I was 25 sitting in a class with eighteen and twenty year-olds, now I'm almost thirty.

So I guess I'm one of the faithless waiting for proof that it's is in fact possible to be Superwoman - with long black hair. I don't want to say that's it's easy for men, but it sure seems that the career thing is easier for them. Then again, they don't get maternity leave.

Someday I will have accomplished all of this, and when I do, I am going to go find a Superwoman action-figure with long black hair and put her in my big corner office.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is This All There Is?

"That's Life, that's what the people say, you're riding high in April, shot down in May" One of my favorite Sinatra tunes - when it's April that is. Did you know I just turned 29 last month? And I am two classes away from having a degree in Political Science, which I have been putting off since 2007. I've had five jobs in the last 2 1/2 years.

When I was twenty I thought I would be Superwoman by now - career, married, kids. How naive. Is it just me or is this a completely impossible order? Yes, the mood at the moment is self-deprecating, bored, and despairing. Honestly, I feel pretty pissed off that I am starting over yet again. Have I angered the career gods? Is or are there a god(s)? Or is this just a constant flow of meaningless ups and downs?

I guess I've hit an existential crisis and I feel like kicking Sisyphus' ass. This is bullshit. This is not what I signed up for. I'm not asking to be Hilary Clinton or Emma Goldstein or Rosa Rosales. Just please, please throw me a damn bone. Or how about some stability? Long term, not short term. Dependable. Lasting. I don't know whether to cry or throw something.

Ugh, I should have listened to my parents.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here I Go Again On My Own

Can you hear Whitesnake in your head now? Good. Yesterday I got fired or laid off, not really sure which. Needless to say I am again unemployed. I am pissed. However, I have learned some very valuable lessons:

1) If it's too good to be true, it probably is. (i.e. two raises in first four months)
2) CEO's that make hasty decisions are to be avoided, especially if they have a temper. They lack wisdom.
3) Co-workers that get demoted from CFO to your management level don't want you to succeed where they have failed - watch out.
4) Start-ups are iffy.
5) When you see a ton of money going out and nothing coming in, jump ship.
6) Constructive criticism is necessary for the growth of any office. The lack thereof is a huge problem and leads to inefficiency, arguments, and blame.
7) Upper management members being labeled "old school" in regards to email, being able to use their computers for business functions, and the need for a company website is bad news.

So, next time I interview for a position I am planning on grilling my interviewer on the company's training process, business concept, etc. In hindsight, I would never work for this company again and I feel much less upset about the whole situation than I was yesterday.

Luckily, I got a decent severance package so I am not in panic mode taking any job I can get no matter how little it pays. This is how you get trapped into a dead end - and broke to boot. Patience will be my motto as I try to get back into the non-profit sector. In the meantime, I have Netflix, a gym membership, and job alerts sent to my email address to avoid hours scouring the internet which can leave a job seeker feeling like they're getting no where.

I expected to be moping around my apartment in my bathrobe for at least three days in a very depressed state, but I feel pretty confident. I have it better than most and I'm not sleeping on the steps of the Bill Miller's BBQ across the street tonight. It's just frustrating to be in this position again, and so much sooner than I had anticipated. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Republican Boss Gives Employees Free Healthcare?

You heard it right here folks. My boss greeted me this morning with "so who do you think is going to win in Massachusetts?" (he's rooting for Brown)and before leaving for lunch told me he had decided to cover our new health care package 100%. This means all I pay are doctor visit co-pays and prescription co-pays. Not a dime will come out of my paycheck towards health care premiums.

Amazing, isn't it? I've only had one other job that covered health care 100%, usually companies cover 50-80% and many don't offer health care coverage at all. Often, the companies that do not offer coverage are very small companies or companies with a low-wage workforce. I happen to work for a very small company. There are only three desks in the office in fact. I also work for a company in the medical field.

There are several reasons I can come up with to why this Republican decided to pay for my health care. One is that it's the right thing to do. People need health insurance. At our office, we know just how expensive surgeries are because we sell the medical devices that are used in them. We also know that sometimes the worst does happen, people DO get scary things such as cancer like our CFO and his father. One has beat cancer, the other is fighting it right now.

Another reason could be that unlike enormous corporations where workers don't have names they have ID numbers, and the girl filing papers and faxing paperwork never meets the CEO and probably doesn't know his or her name, my company is so small I see the CEO almost everyday. It's hard to give a shit about someone that is faceless, that is just apart of the mob that toils underneath you. I have a name, life goals, a dog etc. I don't have an ID number. I'm a person. And that's easy to remember because I'm just in the next room.

Perhaps it's because we work in the medical industry. We know how awful the insurance companies are because they nickel and dime us too. Just last week I received a fax from an insurance company offering to pay less than half of what one of our products cost. Why? Just to see if we were dumb enough to accept such a poor offer. We weren't. Trust me, they weren't trying to save the customer money.

So, as I sit here listening to Keith Olberman and the silly pundits argue about the possible death of Ted Kennedy's dream at least I have access to health care. The pundit right now is saying "It's a bad night" - and it is. I have health care but too many do not - my parents and my only sibling do not have it. Eighty percent of the children in the city I live in don't have it.

I still wonder how this could be. I mean, we're in the United States. We're Americans. We declared that our unalienable rights were to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The first right is a right to life. Vague, I know, but that's a big statement. Americans have a right to life, but not a right to protect that life. Not yet.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Greed Is A Deadly Sin

Today, in the New York Times there was a story about Wall Street and bonus checks. Now that we are in the recession, and bailouts were sadly widely misused, are companies going to start rethinking exorbitant bonus checks to their CEOs? No. "Goldman Sachs is expected to pay its employees an average of about $595,000 apiece for 2009, one of the most profitable years in its 141-year history. Workers in the investment bank of JPMorgan Chase stand to collect about $463,000 on average".

Jesus H. Christ, a half million dollar bonus check! I would like to know where the line between fair and greedy is. These are just bonus checks, they are icing on the cake for their normal salary. It would take a person making minimum wage 31 years to make half a million dollars - if they didn't spend any of it.

The difference between the top and the bottom are staggering. During my recent job hunt, I pondered working at a bank - good hours. But bank tellers make like $9.00 an hour. So, a bank teller at Chase makes about $18k a year and the bank executives on Wall Street get $463,000 just as a bonus. Somewhere in college I read that the average joe's paycheck had not really risen in the last 20 years, but CEO pay has risen 300-500%.

The more and more I look at it, these gross injustices are all our fault. The rich people have seemed to hijack everything in this country and the rest of us are left to survive. Did not one worker at Chase Bank stand up and say "You don't even pay me enough to raise a family on! How dare you hand out bonus checks in a recession!" Probably not. Or they did and got fired.

Again, I have no answers. I think bank workers would benefit from unionization. Then maybe the high-rollers would have someone to answer to - the workers. I do know, however, if we keep shrugging our shoulders it will just get worse. One thing in the article that made me happy was:

"Some bankers worry that the United States, like Britain, might create an extra tax on bank bonuses, and Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, is proposing legislation to do so."

Thanks Kucinich! If these guys are getting paid so much, they can afford to give some back. It's not going to hurt them. But back to shrugging shoulders, many of these things that make our stomach turn happen because we allow it to. No one says anything. When was the last time you wrote your Congressman?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On another note...junk scanners?

I am for airport security as much as the next person, but this body scanner thing rides a very fine line between security and our right to privacy. It doesn't seem to hide much. And the cost to the tax payers are going to be exorbitant. Furthermore, is it really going to prevent more terrorism? This Nigerian fellow allegedly got on to the plane escorted by "men in black" (Yes, I think it was an inside job).

I used to have a supervisor who refused to wear a seat belt. One time, we were going to meet some workers downtown and carpooled together. When I reached to put on my seat belt he laughed. I gave him a funny look. He smirked and asked me if I always wore my seat belt. I thought about it, I never used to wear it but now I have a new car that really annoys you when it isn't fastened so I wear it now.

What do seat belts have to do with body scans at airports? This supervisor's seat belt theory was that the government had no business telling you to wear your seat belt. Your body was your responsibility to protect or not protect. Like the flu shot - we are told by the government or the CDC that a flu shot is a good idea - but they don't require us to get one. Yet.

"Give them an inch they'll take a mile", is what my Libertarian supervisor would say. Soon they'll be telling you how many doctors should occupy a municipality, or how many teaching degrees and engineering degrees to hand out. In China, they tell you how many children you are allowed to have. Their government decides the size of your family. Perhaps this is going a bit far (in our case, but the Chinese need to revolt). Perhaps it is being a gullible conspiracy theorist.

Now that the government has access to our naked bodies - for our own protection at the airport. When are they going to install these scanners in public schools, and shopping malls, workplaces, and sports stadiums? So, is our own naked image our property anymore? Doesn't sound like it. Sounds like the government has taken over our right to our own nakedness. I won't even get into the pedophilia problem this practice will cause. What's next? How far will we although them to go??

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Nine More Days

Well, the job is going great. My bank account, however, is pretty shallow. Empty in fact. Nine more days until I get my first paycheck. It seems like forever. Luckily, the freezer is stocked with meat and vegetables. The dog has enough food too.

One step forward and three steps back it seems. I feel like my life is finally back on track. But I'm trying to finish college this semester. Classes start on the 11th, I get paid on the 15th. The money my father had given me for school all went to bills. I have nothing but two credit cards that are almost maxed out. And this job requires a commute and regular gas refills.

So, I feel like I'm in a catch-22. I could afford class on my salary, but I'll only make it if I can get on a payment plan. I don't want to ask for my dad's help. I'm 28. It makes me feel pathetic. I think they need a new label for this sort of stress: economic stress. I have the economic blues.

I also have started to get migraines again. This freaks me out. I've had two "baby" migraines, but they usually follow with the whoppers a week or so later. No medication left, no money for the doctor, 90 days before health coverage kicks in. I can't help it, it's hormonal. I cut out all caffeine when they start popping up. For those who have never had a migraine, it feels like Rambo kicked you right between the eyes with some big ass steel toe boots. Oh, and you get so dizzy you can't turn your head. Driving, like to work, is out of the question.

So here I am, employed, and praying nothing happens. No headaches, no car brake downs, no trips to the vet. Maybe I need another santo candle, (which saint is the one for I hope nothing goes wrong?) I feel like the athlete you watch during the Olympics that misses the gold by a split second, a toe over the line, a missed baton. You can have everything and still have nothing. 2010 is going to be the year of the bills. And that's ok, as long as I can pay them.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pavlov's Front Desk Agent

As most of you know, I started my new job this past Monday. I have to say that it is going great! It's a growing company, the CEO is only 32 and is the oldest in the office, and I feel very well taken care of as an employee. I feel like I won the lotto.

As standard in many office jobs, I get an hour lunch break. This I am especially thankful for since my previous job I had a "working lunch" which mean during my 11 hour shift I was allowed to go downstairs, microwave my lunch, and take about 10 minutes to eat. Let me repeat that: 11 hour shift and ten minute lunch. There are labor laws for a reason, but some people just don't give a shit about them.

Anyway, this past Monday lunch time rolled around and I did a interesting thing. Instead of taking off for an hour, I ate at my desk and when I was finished went straight back to work. The next day, I went downstairs to the building cafeteria ordered a club sandwich and planned on eating there and reading my book which was in purse. However, right when I was walking to sit down I saw the CEO walk in and I immediately changed my course, got on the elevator with him and ate at my desk as I did on Monday.

Why on earth did I do that? I had been waiting to have a job where I actually got a lunch break for 7 months. Seeing the CEO in the cafeteria made me feel like I was breaking the rules and should go back to the office asap. But he didn't care if I went back to my desk or stayed downstairs to eat. After I got home that day, I was thinking about it. I felt quite silly for feeling like I would get into trouble if I didn't go back and eat at my desk. Why was I holding on to the rules from my previous job?

I was Pavlov's Front Desk Agent. I had become an example of "operant conditioning". The definition of Operant conditioning, according to Wikipedia, is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior. Operant conditioning deals with the modification of "voluntary behavior" through positive and negative reinforcement. So, at my previous job I had been conditioned to believe that taking a long lunch was not being a "team player" and was not "how things were done' and therefore I agreed to work an 11 hour shift with only a 10 minute break.

This learned behavior carried into my next job. Wanting to convey to my new bosses that I was a team player and cared about the rules I cut my lunch hour short. I'm sure if I explained this to them they would think I was nuts. And they'd be right almost. It is simply irrational behavior.

That takes me back to my union days. I would get so frustrated talking to workers about the benefits of being a union member and get replies that were simply irrational. Many of them seemed content with the status quo even though they were being given a chance to better themselves and their working environment. Why would someone choose to continue a low standard of living? I got some pretty sad responses. One guy told me that he was a Mexican and he would always be a Mexican. I asked him if he thought that being a Mexican meant that he deserved less in life. He shrugged and told me "that's just the way life is".

When we get used to accepting a lower standard of anything it's hard to break the cycle and we forget that (1) we deserve better and even worse (2) that there's even something better out there. It's hard to break out of the cycle. Especially when know one is there to tell you there's something more, something better. We're like the people in Plato's cave that believe the shadows against the cave wall are real entities and not just shadows because they had never seen the fire behind them that cast the shadows.

I have no answer to this problem except to practice your beliefs. Be fair, be honest, not only with yourself but everyone you come in contact with. When you see something is wrong/unfair/unjust say something. Otherwise you just enable the behavior and the cycle continues. You become part of the problem and a promoter of it if you stay silent. Never hold back.

I have no

Friday, January 1, 2010


1. Do more yoga
2. Read more books
3. Learn to sew
4. Take the Christmas tree down before February
5. Stop smoking cigarettes COMPLETELY
6. Travel outside of SATX more
7. Kick ass at my new job
8. Write less blogs that are really rants/whines/complaining
9. Get signed up for spring classes at SACC
10. Spend more time with Keishu, my adorable Akita