Monday, May 25, 2009

That Ole Squatting Toad

I read the poem "Toads" by Philip Larkin yesterday. In another reading today
of that same poem I found a bit more insight. I realized that courage, wit, talent, and the ability to say "Stuff your pension!" is still alive.

DeAndre Ramone Way aka Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, or Soulja Boy was on television this morning (Regis & Kelly -- ok you can quit laughing). Soulja boy is an 18 year old
American rapper, dancer, and record producer.

In September 2007, his single "Crank That" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. He first put his song on the internet and that is how his dream began. Dreams do come true. This young man is now a multi-millionaire. He is focused and soft spoken. He has received good press and bad (from Mr. T) but we has flourished with
a determination not to achieve success with profanity.

Keep on rappin' and kick that toad!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview Questions Post #6 Interview Questions

An employee of Family Court is the person I've chosen to interview. I've known her for
21 years and know her personally quite will. However, because of the sensitive issues covered in her job she does not share. I'm trying to cut a bit into her wall of reserve in this interview.

I know that Pat took this position more than 10 years ago in an effort to protect women and children. This job then was more of a 'calling' and Pat knew that her
emotions would be tested.

A sample of questions follows:

a. When there is a 'high profile' case (making the newspapers)does the court
handle it differently? Do these petitioners or respondents react differently
than the general population?
b. Do alot of petitioners fill petitions for support, visitation, custody, etc.
constantly in order to harrass the respondent?
c. Has New York State been successful in its efforts to enforce child support orders?
d. Has New York State worked with the law enforcement to ensure safety when an Order
of Procection has been obtained.
e. How do you handle it when you feel the person seeking a petition is downright
f. What are your best days in court. Do you ever leave with a smile on your face?
g. What are the worst days.... what are the triggers that set you off.
h. I know that you carry a weapon. Have you ever shot anyone... or was it enough
to show that your are carrying.
i. Have you succeeded in your initial goal to help women and children? What is
different in the ethnic population that you serve from a decade ago? And how
does the court help the new populations?
j. When you look in a mirror are you happy with the person there. Has she fulfilled
her own personal dreams? Or is there more work to do?
k. How do you unwind..... can you unwind?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Post #5 Question #1

The essay "Love and Gold" hit a raw nerve on its issue of child care and children
left behind.

I feel that the mothers who left their children behind in their native countries
and came to the USA to work sacrificed their emotional well being to better the economic lives of their own chidren. Starving children and starving mothers are
of no economic value to themselves and make money for videos on shows like 'Feed the Children".

As a single parent of three children I was fortunate to have a career that paid
well. In turn I was able to pay my three car givers a fair wages...$10 per hour
per child which was and is above the minimun wage. When I was paid my sitters were
paid that same day in cash. I had one sitter a legal immigrant from Sicily, the others were second generation Sicilian and Puerto Rican. All were lovely mature ladies who were good mothers to their own children.

I could not afford live in help and I drove or arranged for pick-up for three children to various schools and sitters each day. (My daughter is now 28, #1 son 22, and #2 son 15.) There was only one year when the three of them were in one school and that was the year I rejoiced every morning and gladly paid tuition.

Perhaps the Philippines or even the United Nations on a global basis could figure out a way to make parents more financially responsible for their own children. Even in our own county we have lists of dead-beat parents who have to be chased for child support payments.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Post #4 Question No. 1

In Philip Levine’s poem “what is work” the author takes an unpleasant personal experience of looking for work and turns it around and applies it to career dreams for his brother.

Levine suffers the indignity of waiting in the rain with others, when a low-paying job call he is responding to in the seems to be more like a “cattle call.” Job seekers are requested to report for an interview prior to the arrival of hiring personnel -- a situation brought about because the potential employer does not feel that anyone interested in working will show up at the designated opening time.

Levine sublimates his own physical (wet) and emotional turmoil (How dare they think that a poor man will not show on time?) with images of his singing-loving brother. He knows that his brother, a student of opera who studies German ‘so that he can sing Wagner’ is probably asleep having worked at a Cadillac plant all night.

The author’s frustration mellows with love toward his sibling and the hope is that his brother escapes from Cadillac, realizes his operatic dreams, and never ends up on a cattle call in pursuit of them.

Levine's dreams for his sibling are similar to the dream that Mike Lefevre (a character in Studs Terkel's book "Working")has for his son (xxxvii). Mike wants his
son to rise above him and work smart and not toil at hard labor.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Post # 2 Question 2

I am enjoying the Studs Terkel book, Working, finding it a wonderful walk back in
time. I especially loved the character of Mike Lefevre, the steel mill worker. His philosophy is particularly touching in that he says, “If my kid ever goes to college, I just want him to have a little respect, to realize that his dad is one of those somebodies.”

I heard that sentiment expressed many times while growing up in East New York, Brooklyn.

In the 1970’s I had many friends who had fathers working in tool shops, in garment
factories, as chefs, barbers, doctors, pub owners, airline mechanics and as mailmen. My schoolmates and I attended St. Michael’s and socialized with one another after class as well as on weekends.

With the exception of two or three mothers who taught in that same school (part-time)
or worked in the cafeteria, the moms were all at home waiting for our return. That’s
a major change from today where school age children are alone until mothers return from work.

St. Michael’s still stands today. However, many of the factories near the school have shown drastic transformations. They are now self-storage businesses, a “no-tell motel,” and discount furniture stores. Other locations have become vacant with “For-Sale” signs prominently posted. The factories that supported my classmates are sadly no more.

In the reading of Terkel’s book, I also found the story of the stewardess, Terry Mason, of special interest. While growing up I did not have any friends who aspired to this career, and for good reason. Many of my female contemporaries had dads who worked for the airlines and spoke of a stewardess role in a less than appealing way. Their supply of jokes about stewardess exceeded the blonde jokes of today. An example of one of the demeaning jokes concerned a pilot’s announcement to passengers on a plane’s loudspeaker, saying “sirs now is the time to pick up your tray and upright your stewardess.”

I recall seeing “stews” in my neighborhood with identical Clairol cuts, the same lipstick, and same plastic smiles. I feel it tragic that farm families in the mid-west were buying into the concept of a glamorous travel-related opportunity for their children. At the same time, careers as teachers, librarians, or other employment necessitating a solid education was not considered worthy of bragging about in small town USA.

Has the role and public persona of stewardess (now flight attendants) changed for the better? I believe so. Such personnel on today’s airlines are have lost the “cookie cutter” image and are able to exhibit greater individualism. They are no longer beverage servers with forced smiles. Pay scales have additionally made the field more attractive, and those jokes, if not completely gone are, at least, hardly ever told.

In reading Terkel’s book and and contrasting “then” and “now,” I also believe our working life has become worse with the heavy reliance on our equal joy and curse…computer technology. More is expected of us in the workplace, time is sacred and we have been pressured into thinking that each and every minute must be productive. Employers insist on it. It seems to me that in the 1970s there was always time that could be taken for a pleasurable recap of the sport page or moments to chat about major events chronicled in the local newspapers. That appears to have changed. Now, like computers, we also find ourselves programmed from the time we get to work until rushing out to the street at closing. We have become the machines.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wed., March 18, 2009 Post No. 1 Question 2

My image of work as a child was shaped by three adults, my grandfather, father and mother... with affection called Pop, Dad and Mom. In all respects they offered an image of hard-working individuals, devoted to their respective jobs and the betterment of their lives and their loved ones.

Pop was the chef at Schraffts Restaurant in downtown Manhattan. He was up before dawn, walked his dog, a collie, and then rode the IRT from New Lots Avenue to the restaurant. Pop never complained about work. He often commented on how he loved his job as well as the people he met as a consequence of it.

Pop came to the USA from Lithuania in 1909. He graduated from the Imperial Russian University, St. Petersburg, Russia as a foreign language major. The only students admitted to this college were those of noble background...thus the rich titled nobleman became a chef. Pop never complained about his lot in life, he wished only to better his life and in turn the lives of his three sons.

Dad worked as a building engineer in commercial real estate. I vividly recall him attending NYU in the evenings in order to obtain his licenses.

During that time he worked for a fellow named Harry Helmsley and had only distain for the way Harry operated his properties and dealt with employees. To my Dad, Harry was the "king of mean." His wife Leona followed Harry's lead and together they oppressed even those closest to them.

Dad's compensation was quite good as manager of 1410 Broadway. My siblings and I had private Catholic educations in primary school and the choice of whatever high school we wished to attend.

Mom gave up a career as the personal secretary to the Vice President of International Business for ITT at age 32 when I was born. She resumed full time employment after five children and eight years and went to work for Chemical Bank.

The talk at mealtimes often concerned dealings at the bank and how high integrity played a role not only in personal relationships but in the conduct of business in a wider sense as well. Mom rose to a position of authority and retired at age 65.

Did the three adults I looked up to do well? I truly believe so. My own thoughts about work, its rewards and and the qualities of a good employee were undoubtedly shaped by their careers. I followed their examples and also shared my mom's pursuits in banking (I worked for a Korean Bank until it collapsed in 1999).

One thing that I was not taught and have come to believe is that the must successful people on
this planet are self-employed. Gee if I had only known. I would have majored in Business and set up my own real estate company.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Work if we don't have some goal in our lives we are lost.
Sometimes we call that goal objective our work:
employment for just compensation, volunteer opportunities,
sitting with a child for the pure enjoyment.... hmmm
sounds right to me.