Monday, November 28, 2011
The last blog I submitted to the VA forum took about three days of reading, watching, and listening and another couple day and hours to complete. I can't believe that I used up about 15 yellow pages just to complete my draft. After all that, I condensed it so much, I'm afraid I left out a lot of important points I was trying to make. Why do I do it? I guess it's because after consuming all that information, I want some place where I can release it, for lack of a better word.
I think Legion was right; I miss the give and take I had at my old work place and I'm just trying to replicate that by writing multiple blogs. Back then, I had an outlet to release the worthless information, I was consuming. My wife got a little more interested in world affairs and politics and her ears still perk up every time a politician mentions Social Security but she still more interested on who will be kicked off " Dancing with the Stars." If a candidate promised to restore her soaps, they would get her vote. I forgot to check for her " Yellow Dog Democrat" card when I married her. Just when I think she's liberal; she disappoints...:-)
I did a lot of catching up this morning, since I didn't get my morning's paper. Poor miserable Gary White, he will never get it. I saw the same ol' battles fought by the same people about socialist Democrats and worthless poor people. Today's argument over the confederate flag license plate issue has some new posters but the message is the same. That's one good thing about writing a personal blog; it's a place you can get all that nonsense out of your system. It looks like Gheni is getting a lot of flack for her stories and blog. Victoria is a tough crowd.
I couldn't believe my ears when my older sister(75 years old) told me that she and her husband were taking computer classes. After my nephew passed away, they didn't want to sell his computer nor let it gather dust. They said they were going to get on Facebook, so now I'm the lone holdout. I can imagine what the computer instructors are going through because after Christmas, I'm going to have to teach my wife how to use the tablet computer that I'm buying her.
I'll end this blog because I'm exhausted after all the work I put in that last blog. I can't even imagine what a journalist goes through to write their daily column. I heard a columnist say that she wrote 200 blogs a month. Now, that's exhausting!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
I finally got to finish three parts (5 1/2 I hour) PBS documentary by Ken Burns titled “Prohibition." The documentary was an eye-opener. It made me realize as to how we have not changed a bit, all we do is change the characters. For example, remember all the hoopla about Muslims erecting a mosque at Ground Zero and Republican legislators changing the name of French fries to freedom fries. According to the documentary during WWI, the name for German sourdough bread was changed to freedom bread, and people were killing German dachshund dogs, and one man was hanged because he was overheard speaking German to his neighbor. That was our initial world war, and we overreacted and 9/11 was the first time our mainland had been attacked and we did the same .The 2008 Financial Crash was the first financial crisis since the 1929 Great Depression, yet we still don't have regulations in place to prevent "Too Big to Fail."
Ron Paul would've felt at home in the 20th century because the 18th amendment banning the use of alcohol (Prohibition) for public recreational purposes was considered the most liberty destroying legislation of our lifetime. Police chiefs across the nation reluctantly stated that over 40% of their forces were involved in the illegal sale of alcohol. It was legal to brew a small amount of alcohol for personal consumption, or for a doctor to prescribe rum and whiskey for medicinal purposes but those exemptions led the honest shopkeeper and the small-time doctor yielding to the temptation of making a lot of bootlegger money. The documentary was more about life lessons, than it was about the illegal consumption or the selling of alcoholic beverages. The people of that time over consumed alcohol which led to domestic abuse, poverty, medical problems, but it was a classic case for the reason we cannot legislate morality.
I would like to think that we're much more intelligent these days but we may not be. Democratic presidential nominee, Al Smith, lost his election to Herbert Hoover because he was a Catholic running on an anti-prohibition ticket. The KKK printed thousands of hate pamphlets that predicted the Pope would occupy the White House, openly burned crosses and marched in anti-Smith rallies. The Klan publication, Fellowship Forum, showed a Cabinet meeting with the Pope and a dozen fat priests sitting happily around the table, with Smith, in bellboy livery, serving them liquor. No Klan tale, however, surpassed the story that the Holland Tunnel secretly connected to the Vatican! The Republican Party never admonished the tactics. I can see the similarities without the openness, in the Mitt Romney campaign. It's funny because Al Smith's opponents would have liquor at all their strategy meetings.
Today, one of our biggest problems is income inequality, but we cannot get a handle on it until we know its cause. I'm convinced that this started in the Reagan era when they started implementing tax policies to favor the rich. During the past 30 years, the gap between the wealthy and the middle class is as large as it has ever been. Income inequality was one of the causes for the 1929 Great Depression where wealth accumulated at the top and never trickles down, so when the stock market crashed there was no one left to revive the economy. The scapegoats of that time were the poor farmers, and today we have a 9.0 unemployment rate, yet people are chastising the poor for not working.
I've seen where some posters are just parroting what they hear from the single source articles they read every day, or they try to incorporate their pet peeves into every argument. Let's take this “taxing the rich" argument. That's just a diversion that emphasizes the point by saying that if we confiscated all their assets, and we still wouldn't have enough money to balance the budget. That's not the point at all. For argument's sake, let's skip the reasons, of how we got in this predicament for right now but let's concentrate on how we will get out.
We need a plan to start reducing the debt and deficit just when we start showing signs of recovery because you can't do both at the same time. We can immediately cut out the wasteful spending but eliminating programs creates layoffs (consumers) who just might go on the public dole. We still have to invest in education, research and development, infrastructure and innovation. Revenues will have to be part of the mix even though some right-wing partisans are starting to say that a balanced approach is just a liberal socialist talking point. You don't have to be a mathematician to know that if you don't cut defense spending or tax the top 2%, the cuts will all come on the backs of the poor, the elderly, and education. We will never reduce the debt to zero in our lifetime, and the best we can do is to start seeing a downward trend in the foreseeable future. All the talk about reducing capital gains rates and reducing the corporate rates to zero are just smoke and mirrors because, once the economy starts to revive, the unemployment rate will go down, as well as deficit reduction as the tax revenues increase. We can restructure our income tax code later when cooler heads prevail. We're treating this economy like we reacted to 9/11 because it's not a situation that we are accustomed to. We don't need a reactionary economic policy.
There's not a day that goes by where we don't read about some elaborate plan to fix our economy in our local newspaper and public forum. It's as if it's a sure-fire fix without giving thought to history or established economic theories. Some posts their proposals multiple times, as if the more you see them, the likelihood they will take hold. The posters want a flat tax because they don't know or care about the income inequality we're suffering from. Some favor "austerity only" not recognizing that it will do more harm than good and one would have to look no further than to our European trading partners as proof. They talk about a "strong dollar" but fail to grasp that even though that is desirable in the future, it would leave our goods on the shelf right now. Think about it, Dillard’s, Macy’s, Tiffany, and Neiman Marcus don't have Black Friday sales but Walmart, Target and Best Buy do.
In the meantime you can't place all the blame on the Federal government and allow the multinational corporations to go untouched. We have a DEMAND problem right now, of which the government can't do anything about. On of our biggest trader (Europe) is having a financial crisis of their own. Once consumers start spending, some of our jobs will come back but we still don't have a lot of manufacturing jobs that usually gets an economy up and going like Germany did. We have a service based economy. I hope some of these little tidbits will help you understand some of the problems we are having,you might disagree,so feel free to share where I might be wrong. It's the only way we all learn together,so we don't have to keep repeating the myths of the past.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I'm going to stick with my self- imposed pattern of not posting controversial comments or blogs during the holidays. I'll probably use this time to catch up on my reading and doing other things to keep myself occupied during the festive season. It's going to take some will power because I'm itching to write a blog about last night's interesting debate.
As most of you know my only living sister lost her son recently, so my thoughts are with her and her family. Thoughts keep going through my mind on how best to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving without dredging up old wounds. I'm sure they will be sad, so there's probably not an appropriate time to make that call. Perhaps I should wait for her to call me but will that be selfish of me? This is just another one of life's problems where the answer is not in a handbook.
I don't know where the respect for the holidays became a natural part of my life. Perhaps it was that lecture I used to get from my parents about being nice to my irritating cousins. I remember the holidays being some of the best days to work because there was the double time and 1/2 pay, the supervisors and the annoying paper pushers were off, and we always had a table full of goodies to munch on. We also had limited duties but working with happy coworkers was the icing on the cake. When I built up enough seniority, I didn't see much of that because I would save my vacation and take off the whole month of December and the first week of January.
Perhaps I'm just getting older, and I want the world to slow down but it seems to me that this year went by extra fast. I know part of that is because I'm on Medicare, so my doctor thinks that I need to get tested for this and that, so he can eliminate some ailments that I don't have, but the symptoms may be similar to something else. There seems to be a machine or a specialist for all those tests. I know if I were paying cash, my doctor would have used his first assumption. It's not his fault because, if I was ever misdiagnosed, the board would've asked for the reasons I was not tested for this and that. It's a vicious circle, of which we don't have a clear answer for.
Happy Thanksgiving All
Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday morning I sat there horrified watching a campus police officer casually pepper spraying a group of University of California Davis students, as if they were cockroaches. I looked at the area in the back of the armed policemen and didn't notice any threat that they were under. The two officers have been put on administrative leave but is this what it's come down to? I know policemen have to enforce" trespassing and civil disobedience" laws but there's also human decency. I think the students were prepared to be arrested and there was cause but military-grade pepper spray should not be used at a distant less than 6 feet. As you can see in the picture, the officer used it at point- blank range.What's next,rubber bullets,tasers, or high pressure fire hoses?
The Campus police chief, Annette Spicuzza, immediately took up for the officers saying that the students have surrounded the officers from their support. She should know in this era of smart phones and small camcorders, evidence, to the contrary, will be produced. She might have taken the word of her trusted officers buts he should've put up a wall of silence before damaging her credibility on the truth.I know they are campus police but first responders of any sort should know better. I know pepper spray does not have long lasting effects but these are our children,grandchildren or our friends children. We don't need another Kent State.
I've kept up with the protesters across the nation, and I've come to the conclusion that they are a community onto itself. A community will have its misfits and as well as any other community. The Occupy Wall Street group in New York is not coordinating their efforts with Oakland, California. It's not to be compared with the tea party and because these protesters seem to be younger, unemployed, and unsure about their prospects. I also see a worried Wall Street because they see a large movement that will not go away. For now, the protesters are a leaderless group without a formed agenda. Several conservatives think of them as the old left wing, liberal, hippies they used to put down in the sixties.
I don't know the answers, on one hand, peaceful demonstrations in public Parks should not be met with batons, pepper spray, or police brutality. On the other hand, the protesters should not impede businesses, and if they don't want to respect trespassing laws, then they must except to be arrested and charged. That all sounds easy until the adrenaline starts flowing, causing people to lose their tempers. A retired police lieutenant from Philadelphia was recently arrested in New York. He told his fellow officers not to be a pawn for the corporations; yet, he understood that policemen cannot back away or retreat. He also said that the white shirts" police supervisors" are not supposed to be making arrests, they are supposed to be supervising or else the street officers don't have anyone to turn to for appropriate restraining methods.
I heard where 18 mayors were trying to coordinate their efforts in dealing with protesters. Really! Do they call the other mayors when they deal with a local domestic hostage situation? I think the mayor's just wanted to be on the same public opinion page.
Friday, November 18, 2011
The other day I noticed a young lady, I assume in her early thirties, sitting outside of a business establishment, crying and yelling into her cell phone. It could've been anything, but I wondered if she just didn't have a cell phone, she might have taken a break from her problems. I was reminded of that young lady while I was reading a Reader's Digest waiting for my turn to take my yearly routine eye test. I was reading an article by Rory Evans titled "Where are Our Manners"and decided it might be a good subject to blog about.
The author said that these days we demand a faster broadband, so we just can't tolerate slow people. We expect that clerk to be as fast and effective as Google. If we see a driver in front of us hesitating a little bit, we just assume they're texting. It cans be so innocent, for example, I should've been grateful that on my 66th birth date last week, my grandsons came to see me, but I was distracted every 10 minutes or so, when they glanced down at their cell phone scrolling through their messages. I saw a little of that last night at my departed friend's services. I'm sorry,I may be old fashion but I think they were being rude, even thou to them it’s business as usual. According to Emily Post about 75% of American adults believe mobile manners are getting worse. Except for those that have no frill cell phones, people are being programmed to think that every message they get is of vital importance.
The article death with anonymity on the Internet stating, "We should post comments using our real names or with the idea we are." I know I do that; I wouldn't post a comment that I wouldn't, using my full identity. It's not saying that we shouldn't react, but we don't have to make it WWW III. If we're getting into daily skirmishes, then were' re part of the problem because it takes two to tango It's just my opinion, but I think our forum is improving because we don't have as many trolls as we used to. We might be in the eye of the storm, but I've noticed a lot more civility. We don't have the closeness we once had, but we've had a high turnover of posters unless it's the same people using different name. I have also noticed that some regulars don't post as often as they used to. One regular told me that we're just recycling the subjects, so it's become boring. That's true to an extent because I remember when I started, we were commenting on the news of the day.
The nastiness of politics is nothing new but these days the outrageous comments are part of the breaking news on CNN. An intelligent roundtable discussion of today's problems will get poor ratings; whereas three people shouting at one another will guarantee you, two million viewers a night. People are starting to think that the whole world is reality TV. It comes, close sometimes. I can't believe a national politician would stand up and say," We need a leader, not a reader" and that the crowd behind him would stand up and applause that line. When did facts, history and knowledge take a backseat to folksy?
Everyone thinks bad manners are what other people have; we will never find a cure for the arrogant, so all were left with is acknowledging our own shortcomings.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Last Wednesday my wife and I got up early for the annual trip to pick up turkey dressing ,that's almost as good as my mom used to make it. We went to Luby's in Sugarland. I know some of you are thinking, turkey dressing is pretty easy to make but for some strange reason, my mother might have put some exotic ingredient in her dressing to make us say," that's not how grandma use to make it." I once heard some Dr. Phil- like person, say that “it's not that mother's food was any better; it's just what we got used to.” Whatever, if we want to get all philosophical about it, it might've been the holidays, family that blended together and played on our minds. Perhaps in our own way, we're trying to bring back a part of yesteryear that will inevitably take a different direction.
My mother was into multitasking way before the computer age. She would wake up at some ungodly hour to warm up her gas oven. It got where she had to light the pilot with a strike anywhere match. My stepfather would have to wake up with her because he carried the title of “assistant chef," whose job was to make the coffee, clean the vegetables, get down roaster and place the turkey inside. Then he would be on standby, just in case she needed him to go to Dicks for that last minute item. My family knew if we got to my mother's house by 8:00AM she would have fresh tortillas, eggs, potato round fries, mashed beans, and chili piquin salsa ready. It was amazing because no one ever knocked at the front door because everyone knew grandma would be in the kitchen preparing breakfast and dinner at the same time every Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. My mother used to have a long cord attached to her land line but we finally switched her to a cordless. Her cordless came in handy because she didn't have stray too far from the oven when she took that important call from one of the family members that wasn't going to make it that year, but they wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. It's funny because it was only the men folk who ate the breakfasts, and then we would go out to the front porch and greet the family members as they made their way inside.
We didn't have a television show-like Thanksgiving because my mother's house was too small. About eight of us sat at the main dining table, three more sat at the kitchen table, the children were scattered around the living room, and some took their plates to the front and back yard to eat. The latecomers found open places as people finished their meals. I can't remember my step dad or mother ever sitting at the table with us because they were busy serving everyone, making more tea, or answering the grand children's questions. At the end of the meal, we made our long one-hour goodbyes and promised our distant relatives that we would see each other more often but that never happened. We could always tell when it was nearing 2:30 PM because just about everyone wanted to get home to watch the 3:00PM Dallas Cowboy game.My mother caught on very quickly, although she wasn't a sports fan she knew football was part of Thanksgiving. She once told me that she was pooped by 3:00PM and she needed her rest anyway. My mother didn't have a television set, and she sent it through the grapevine, that she didn't want any alcohol at the meals. She said she didn't want a drunk messing up the happy events. If you spent the holidays at my mother's house, it was because you wanted to because good company and good food was all that was on the menu.
I was shocked this morning when I noticed a man I'd met at a seminar died; he was only 58 years old. My good friend's name is Roy. L. Pickens, who was a supervisor at Dow Chemical. Roy always had a smile on his face, and every time we met, we couldn't simply have a one a two minute greeting, our conversation invariably lasted 30 minutes or more. It's funny because he was just an acquaintance who grew into being a good friend. I will miss him and may he rest in peace. It was my pleasure to call him my friend.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I still can't get over the fact that in 28 year old graduate student, who is well over 6 foot and weighs over 200 pounds, would not have jumped in that shower to stop the raping of a young child. Mike McQuary allowed former Penn state coach Jerry Sandusky to continue abusing the boy. All McQuary could think of was calling his father and then coach Paterno. What a pathetic individual.
You will ever get me to believe that the other coaches did not know anything about this incident. Locker room gossip spreads just as rapid as work place gossip. Questions should have been asked and answered when Jerry Sandusky retired at age 55, for personal reasons. Successful assistant coaches don't retire; they go on to be head coaches. I wonder if Joe Paterno would have given his fellow coaches a heads up, when they inquired about Sandusky. After all, when Coach Paterno reported the incident to his boss, all he did was take away Sandusky's keys to the athletic room. No one picked up the phone to call the police or at least the Second Mile charity to make them aware of the incident. Coach Sandusky received a $150,000 lump-sum payment at retirement and still gets almost $60,000 a year. Jerry Sandusky is free on a $100,000 unsecured bail by a judge who was a volunteer at the Second Mile charity.
I guess it would've done any good to call the Second Mile charity because when its president, Jack Raykovitz, was told about the incident, he never contacted the police either. Penn State athletic Director Tim Curley told Mr. Raykovitz that an employee of Penn State was uncomfortable about seeing Sandusky in the locker room shower with a boy but an internal investigation revealed no wrongdoing.
This long overdue investigation should at minimum provide the names of all the people in positions of authority that had knowledge of Sandusky's wrongdoing. Every one of those people should be fired immediately for covering up a hideous crime. Until then, the university shouldn't even talk of a bowl game, even though it might hurt the players who had nothing to do with this scandal.
I can see the similarity between the catholic church priest scandal and Penn State because it was all about protecting the institution at all cost. The hierarchy put their stamp of approval on decisions made by their subordinates. I don't buy the " could've have known" excuse because a leader that comes through the ranks, knows what happens at the ground level. They could start by calling in all the people in positions of authority and tell them that cover-ups will not be tolerated. They can follow through by publishing their memorandum.
I remember when the local firefighters had their little scandal and many posters said" Boys will be boys." That's where it all starts, as our parents used to tell us " give them little rope and they'll hang themselves." A spouse wrote that we should appreciate the work and sacrifice our public servants put in. We do, but horseplay of a sexual nature, muddies the water on what will be tolerated and what action calls for discipline. If we tolerate it, we get people like Herman Cain, who will laugh and threaten their accusers.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
As I was watching, Freed Zakaria's CNN’s special on education, I couldn't believe that all the things we emphasize are not necessarily true. We’ve always talked about increasing the number of hours our school-age children needed but we are decreasing hours because of the cost. The special showed where South Korean parents take education very seriously and they pass that onto their offspring. The South Korean child attends school from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and they take their lunch at a study cubicle. After school lets out, the students attend a night class that specializes in advancement studies, they then go, home and study even more. This has led to a high suicide rate among the teens. South Korea has cracked down on the night schools because there was one on every corner. South Korea has now tried to inject more fun time for the students. On the other side of the pond, Finnish students did not adapt the Asian model, yet they always score near the top on the international tests. They start their school a year later than most countries, emphasize creative work, and shun tests. It didn't take long in the program, to see what was common between the two models of achievement. They both had great teachers, for instance, every teacher in Finland has a master's degree, and the turnover rate is very low. The teachers have a quarterly competency test not only on subject material but also on presentation. A child yawning in the back row is not learning.
We all know that American's education is on the decline, yet we just throw money at it, and never do anything about the causes. We don't have any answers for the high 25% dropout rate. Our college graduation rate has been flat lined and while other countries focus on math and science, our interests are in sports exercise and leisure studies.
We no longer have a kick- the- can down a road option, because our labor force is too expensive and educated for today's marketplace. Bill Gross, the head of Pimco, the world's largest bond fund said,” Either we will raise our educational level are the markets will lower our wages."
What's the solution? It's like a diet. We have to work hard at it, because as Thomas Edison said," genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Malcolm Gladwell found that behind a natural-born talent lay lots of practice- and by his calculations, about 10,000 hours of practice. Our schoolchildren spend less time in school than their peers abroad. They have a shorter school day and a shorter school year. South Korean children spent almost two years more in school than Americans at the end of high school. We just dropped to 26% in the world ranking and falling away behind Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada and Singapore. I don't think it takes a genius to know that we are in catch up mode, so less education is not the answer. We know that the common denominator is good teachers; we must pay them accordingly. We should also evaluate them on a periodic basis and weed out the bad teachers. That’s pretty fundamental but almost impossible, unless we come to some type of agreement with the teachers unions.
Last year, Los Altos, California decided to use the Khan Academy videos and software in their classrooms. This is a revolutionary model that might change the way or children are taught. In the old way, a teacher would lecture and the student would take notes, but this method wastes a lot of time. Under this new system, the student watches the videos at home and solves the problems in class. I saw where the gifted students would go around the classroom helping other students. The teacher, using her iPad, could see if the student was having problems in real time, allowing her to do one- on- one teaching. The software will not allow the student to go onto the next subject without answering each question correctly. This might be a new concept of great placement. Instead of passing each student by an age limit, we could pass them by their specialized achievements.
I wish that I had the expertise to understand what's wrong with our failing schools. Then, I wouldn't have to take someone's ideas and say, “let’s try that." This issue will be solved by those who know the pros and cons of any proposal. I'm not that person that can say that proposal was tried in 1985 and failed and give the reasons why. I do know what we've been doing for three decades is wrong, and we have the stats to prove it.
Monday, November 7, 2011
I've always wondered what these gun aficionados would consider off-limits for carrying a loaded weapon. There are laws in place that will allow people to carry guns to their church meetings, a bar, or a statehouse. They're pretty well set if they want to pack 24/7. I think the workplace is the only place they can't carry, but I'm sure some Republican Texas lawmaker, is working on it, as we speak.
My condolences to 21-year old jogger who recently became a victim of rape while she was jogging. The place is well lit up and has been freshly mowed, but that might have been after the fact. A lot of posters changed the topic of the thread to their favorite subject, guns. The young lady was hit in back of her head, not knowing any details. I'm only guessing, but she might not have been able to reach for it. At that point, you would have a rapist owning a loaded gun. People can't say that she shouldn't have been out that late at night by herself but putting that aside, if a person's got to pack a gun; do they really need to jog? I used to ride my bike in that area, but if I see a bunch of paranoid people caring guns, I won't go there anymore. The bike and walk trail is located in a residential area where a stray bullet might hit an unintended person. A loaded gun might accidentally discharge falling out of a runner's pocket. I've seen joggers stop picking up their iPods. I don't feel safer around amateurs with loaded guns. The amateurs might be able to hit the bull's eye on every shot but when the adrenaline starts pumping and there're in a situation they're not used to; anything can happen.
Now I don't have a problem with people owning as many guns as a law allows, but I don't want to live in a society where it's commonplace to see people armed. As I used to tell my coworkers; you are not the only one that has a gun. Why don't we use some common sense, instead of trying to prove how macho we are or our knowledge of guns? If you want to protect your home, that's fine, but don't try to persuade others, of how they are at fault because they choose not to own or carry a gun.
I think it's reasonable to make the trail off-limits late at night, perhaps form a volunteer safety patrol, or consider fencing in the area.
Well, I’ve gotten that off my mind; I'll just mark it off my bucket list.
It looks like I'll be entertained with news of a forth woman accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment. This time there is a name and details attached to it. Her name is Sharon Bialek and her lawyer is, you guessed it, Gloria Allred. Herman Cain has dropped nine points in his approval rating since the incidents, but he's still on top, running one and two with Mitt Romney. It's hard to believe the conservatives hate the mainstream media so much, that they will cheer him on because they don't believe the accusations.
"If Mississippians vote to pass an unprecedented initiative on Tuesday that would declare a fertilized egg a legal person under the state Constitution, nobody -- including the authors of the initiative -- knows exactly how that law would be interpreted and enforced. But legal and medical experts are concerned that the "personhood" amendment could spur a litany of expensive court battles, bogus lawsuits and moral and political conundrums beyond the scope of women's choice. "
How crazy will man get in 2012?
Saturday, November 5, 2011
I had a lot of time to think between classes and my overnight stay in Corpus Christi. This was the first seminar, that I didn't hear a cell phone to go off, although we've been told to turn them off for several years. I don't know whether it's normal or not, but I'm getting to the age where I reflect a lot on the past, present and all the changes. I even remember my step dad always having a white handkerchief in his back pocket, but I can't remember ever having one. I could see some good uses for one, such is wiping off my iPad or iPhone screen and my glasses, but I don't even know if they sell them anymore. I remember when I was about 30 years and on to my fiftys, it was common to see men, wear baseball caps or hats, but I stopped wearing one about 15 years ago, but I can't tell you why.
Change can come abruptly, like when my grandson told that it wasn’t cool to wear a cell phone holster. I looked around for days and found out that most men keep them in their pockets. I change when I hear how cruel the opposition sounds or if it will lead to a peaceful resolution. Today,my children say “ Whoa,you have mellowed.” Those changes took years.
I didn't see any changes on my way to Corpus Christi. On any given day, you will see the same oil company pickups getting gas and whatnots in Refugio but not much else, and it's pretty much open road, until you hit Highway 37 into Corpus Christi. This is one time I had to look for a parking space at the Airport Holiday Inn, because even though was 7:00AM, the lot was full. A lot of it was due to Halliburton having their meeting at the hotel. As I checked in; I saw a sea of red work uniforms. At least, they had their own buffet spread. Across the room, I went to the regular breakfast dining area where I saw a lot of business type people with laptops on their table, or they were talking on their cell phones. I wouldn't have to worry about a power outage because there was enough light coming from the electronic devices. If they turned off the two television sets, no one would have noticed.
This one seminar was different because several of the attendees were using their cell phone throughout the lecture, and one lady was knitting. I was surprised to see the lady knitting. I didn't know women still did that. I had a friend who came up to me and asked me if I had brought the Victoria Advocate. I said no, but I have the digital edition on my iPad. He went away disappointed because he wanted the newspaper. I can understand that, and I wasn't going to lend him my iPad anyway, so I should've just said no.
At the break, we all talked about the judge spanking his daughter. We all told stories of our spankings and how we accepted that,because it was the way it was done back then. We all thought that the judge went way overboard, and his wife was complicit. That is common in an abusive relationship. I guess all of us were in our 50s or 60s, but we realized that what we thought was normal and correct back then, really wasn't. I certainly don't have any proof, but I think that spanking is one of those old child rearing remedies, that is not often used today. As I told the group at the break, I think it's like drunk driving. I remember a lot of us used to tell funny stories of driving while intoxicated Today, I wouldn't even think of driving after drinking( I don't drink anymore, per say) and I certainly wouldn't laugh at drunk-driving stories. The lady, who organized Mothers Against Drunk Driving, did one hell of a job.
About six years ago, the subject of homosexuality and gay marriage was met with a lot of poster deletions because it really stirred up some folks. When those subjects are brought up today, a few will get out a line but most just want to move on without much fanfare. In five years ,it won't be any issue. Remember, when the subject of Muslims was first brought up and especially the mosque at Ground Zero? I bet most of those posters, who adamantly complained, don't know that it was finally opened without resistance. If things go according to plan, we will be out of Afghanistan in the year 2014, and the hating of Muslims will go with it.
The world is changing, in case you haven't noticed we are now 26th in education worldwide, last year we were 25th. We are evolving but will we accept the good change and reject changing just for the sake of change? What do I mean by that? Perhaps instead of using the word repeal, we should try to use the word reform. We didn't get to be number one by accident, so the answer is within, or as Bill Clinton put it “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
The other day a young former coworker asked me if I missed being at work. Looking at his grin, I knew it was a rhetorical question, but I played along, and said, " hell no." As I'm preparing for a two-day seminar in Corpus Christi (tomorrow and Friday) I know I should've said “I missed the seminars, we went to."
I worked for a company who had "money up to the Yazoo" and wasn't afraid of spending it on its employees, goodwill, or experimentation with the latest techniques. I remember being chosen to go on a seminar for the mere reason that it would be my first. I went to the library and checked out a big book, bought some pens, pencils, and a notebook to take notes. To my surprise, I didn't read a page out of the book and the writing tools, and the notebook became part of my children's school supplies. I remember feeling guilty because the company was paying for what I thought was a vacation because we were staying in a four star hotel,eating some great food,getting away from the workplace,touring a big city ,all on the company’s American Express card. As we were approaching the Victoria city limits, the guys handed me some notes to be part of the presentation I was going to write. I knew there was a catch. I should've put so much work into the presentation because the only parts that perked up my fellow coworker’s ears were the parts about where the cheapest cold beer and best breakfast establishments were. The rest of the presentation fell on deaf ears and was filed away.
I acquired what little computer skills I have, on the company's dime, by going to seminars that taught Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but I was expected to help my fellow coworkers every time they needed to use those software applications. It was a wonderful tradeoff. Seminars soon became tiresome, so I went for years without volunteering to go on one, but I did enjoy my last two seminars on " Cohesion in the workplace" and another called " A matter of Respect" the latter was mandatory. Women were just coming into the workforce as a matter of standard practice, and we did need this seminar because I was dumbfounded when I heard some of the questions from some of my old prehistoric coworkers. One question was” what should we call 'em,"Ms Jones, Mrs. Jones, or ma'am?" The lecturer said, " how about Linda?"Then an old war horse stood up and said, "If they want to come into a man's world, how much are we expected to help them?" The lecturer was ready for that question; he promptly said" as much as you expected your fellow coworkers to help your favorite nephew." At the first break, I over herd the speaker say that the old coots were more afraid of what their wives thoughts than the made-up problems they were asking about.
Come to think about it, I'm fortunate enough to witness some major changes in the workplace. We've come a long way from that initial meeting when I was working for the Texas Highway Department where the foreman said," we were forced to hire our first black man; we don't have to socialize with him. I choose not to myself, but he is to be treated with respect, and I won't be easy on you if you're caught being disrespectful to this man." That wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement but in the late 1960s, that's about as good as it was going to get, especially in the south. We never had any racial tension, but it wasn't because we were warned; it was because we weren't racist to begin with.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's seminar because it breaks up the monotony of retirement. I enjoy listening to the lecturers as they put some clarity about the subject that I'm interested in. I especially enjoy mingling with people from San Antonio, Houston Austin, Kingsville, and places in between. I enjoy getting their perspective about all sorts of topics.
I've learned that you don't have to overindulge in coffee, cookies and sodas merely because it's there. However, as always, come Friday afternoon around 4:15 P.M., my books will be stored away, and I'll be looking at that clock more than I will be listening, because it's a great feeling, knowing that in a few minutes, I will be on my way back to good ole Victoria, Texas.
Saturday morning I'll hear the usual complaints ,when I take my wife's Prius ( I gave up on dual ownership a long time ago) "I had to readjust the seat,mirrors, and change the radio stations back to where they were."