Category Archives: Education

Smarties outrage just dumb

imagesMy cousin, Judy, forwarded this Wall St. Journal article to me recently, with the  comment that even she’d pass on worrying about this one. Apparently, some kids can blow “smoke” from Smarties candies.  Parents and teachers are outraged and fearful that this trend will make smoking look cool.  I don’t know. But if I were 10, I’d think the kid that could blow Smartie smoke out of his nose would be more funny than cool. The fact that the smoking Smarties article took itself seriously is a sad commentary on our society of worry-addicted parents and educators who seem to have nothing better to do, or at best are just avoiding real issues. News flash: Kids who want to look cool “smoking” will do it with a real cigarette; probably from a pack they stole out of your purse.

When they start snorting crushed Smarties, then I’ll raise an eyebrow.

On the other hand, I don’t think the You Tube videos showing how to smoke Smarties are particularly funny, and ok, maybe the kids are a bit weird, but I don’t think they’re dangerous. These kids might end up in jail, but I don’t think it’s because they’ve smoked Smarties.

 The Girls Club (where I took swim lessons every Friday until I was in high school) had a candy counter stocked with penny candy. With a nickel, you could get FIVE packs of Smarties. I would unwrap them, holding them together with my thumb and index finger and run the line under the water spout. Then I’d suck on the saturated Smarties until they dissolved into my mouth. Adults didn’t pay attention to kids back then, but if they had, would they have seen this as a sign of a dangerous, drug-like trend? Perhaps. But nobody did care. We must have had other things to worry about in the early 70s. 

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Filed under Education, Humor, Parenting

Oprah’s economic fix for family needs reality check

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it with all these talk shows and morning news segments that try to help me survive these “tough economic times.” A segment that aired yesterday on Oprah was downright appalling. (I’m still slapping myself for even watching. I’m done with Oprah.)we-need-groceries-she-needs-exercise-what

If you need some expert from the Oprah show to “teach” you how to cut what you spend weekly on “take out” from $400 to $59, you’re an idiot. You should be arrested just for being stupid. And so should Oprah for featuring these people. Are they kidding? These people need help making ends meet? Have you ever noticed that the people on these shows live in HUGE houses? Drive SUVs? Have big screen TVs? Airing it is an insult to those of us who know better.

 People like this don’t need financial help, they need mental help. People are STARVING in this country and this particular family was spending $20,000 a year on take out? I don’t care how much money you make, if you spend that kind of money  and then try to tell us that you know you need to cut back because these are “tough economic times” but  just don’t know how, you’re a dumb ass.  And, these experts that Oprah showcases? Wow. How hard is it to tell these morons to open up a box of pasta and jar of sauce and toss the take out menu from Applebees?  Just for fun, I would have loved to see Suzi Orman come in and wag her finger at them. Jerks.

 I challenge Oprah to send one of her experts over to my house. I dare them to look at my budget and tell me where to cut. Regardless of having a comfortable income, we never have or would ever spend that kind of money on take out or even on eating out no matter how many hours a week we worked and certainly not because our kids didn’t like what we cooked.  I live in a modest home, have never purchased a brand new car, and 50% of my wardrobe is purchased at consignment stores. Show me how to cut my $100 a week grocery bill in half. Go ahead. I dare you.

Oprah, if you want to really help us in these “tough economic times” then have some guts and make it hard for your experts. Have them tell us something we don’t already know. Excessive spending and selfish attitudes are to blame for the recession. People should never have been living like this in the first place. Stop showcasing them as faultless, helpless middle class Americans, stuck in the middle of an economic crisis. Instead, have a show that can help the millions of desperate people in this country who would be happy to eat the scraps of $400-a -week-in-take-out leftovers. 

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Filed under Economy, Education

Watch Obama be sworn in at your local library

As much as I would love to be at Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday, the fact is, I cannot handle the crowds. I took my daughter to the Million Mom March in Washington, DC years ago and if there’s one thing I learned that day it’s that being in the middle of 100,000 people is way out of my comfort zone.  Plus, there are no hotels available  within a 200 mile radius.

Spend Inauguration Day at your local library

Spend Inauguration Day at your local library

 

 

So this morning I looked online to see what kind of inauguration parties I could get myself invited to (sadly, I was not invited to any of the some 100 balls given around the country on Tuesday night). Harvard Book Store  looks like it’s hosting a pretty cool event but space is limited. I’d go if I thought I could get there early enough and not have to wait outside in subzero temperatures. (A DD coffee and a pair of Cuddle Duds can only keep you so warm.)

I also came across an article that said some local public libraries were hosting events, free and open to everyone.  Some were even serving food, which is always a big plus for me.  As an active advocate of public libraries, I was impressed that our libraries would play host and encourage people to witness this historic event. But I was not surprised by the heated, angry comments posted to this short little article by readers. Upshot: some  people are just not as excited about our 44th president as I am. But there’s also this: People get pissed off when a public institution gives forum to something they don’t agree with.

Why wasn’t this done for Bush (file this under ‘I’ve been living in a cave for 8 years’) and why should taxpayers pay for any of it were the top complaints. First, let’s be clear. It wasn’t done for Reagan, Bush Sr., OR Clinton, either. I suspect it was because there wasn’t this level of interest. This is an historic event. People are pumped. The libraries are leveraging that enthusiasm, as they should. Second, as far as I can tell taxpayers are not footing the bill for these parties. In most communities, it’s funded (and hosted) by local volunteer organizations, such as the Friends of the Library or the League of  Woman Voters.  Hooray for volunteers.

In cases such as these, too many people think they’re justified in protesting an event because they find the topic personally offensive  and use the “taxpayer dollar” as a scape goat.  Get over it. Obama is in and I’m watching it at the library.

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Filed under Education, Politics

Yeah, it was worth getting up at 4 a.m.

Rita the registered nurse thought it was a pretty productive way to spend a morning. Ditto that.  

When we emerged from the second floor elevator at the Sheraton Hotel at 6:10 this morning,

Kristen Brandt from ManicMommies talks to me about my job search. Listen to the podcast tonight at manicmommies.com

Kristen Brandt from Manic Mommies Media talks to me about my job search. Listen to the podcast tonight at manicmommies.com

there were already 800 people in line. Sharply dressed. Leather portfolios in hand. Brian, a GMA producer passed out lifesaver mints. I thought this was a brilliant gesture to start the day. It’s early, my breath might be kind of stale. It would have been better if it had been coffee and donuts, but hey, it was a free event.

 

Name tags, tchotchke bags and a job-finding tips sheet from Tory Johnson, GMA’s career expert. It was a brilliantly run production. For a room filled with people out-of-work it was an amazingly upbeat, energizing and friendly place to be. We all had one thing in common. It was easy to bond. We made friends. Hopefully, some of us found work. 

Some advice, a handful of observations and a few secrets revealed: 

1. One page or two?  Tory Johnson says one page resumes only. Millie, from the Masschusetts Department of Workforce Development, said two page was better for someone with lots of experience. My one page version said nothing, she said. My two page resume was brilliant. She really liked the font. I really liked Millie. She told me to call her anytime. 

2. There are a lot of people eager to find a job and will show up at the crack ass of dawn to get one. I admire that.

3. Robin Roberts was not there so I did not get to meet her. 

4. The demographic was broad. Some twenty-somethings, some sixty-somethings. Mostly 30, 40 and 50-somethings. 

5. The producers were extremely nice. Except one curly-haired blond guy. We called him Evil Producer. 

6. Tory Johnson was lovely, if not particularly insightful.

7. Gail Huff is gorgeous in person and close up. But I thought she could have worn nicer-looking shoes.

8. There were 73 companies represented, including PartnersHealth, Home Depot, Macaroni’s Restaurant, the FBI and Secret Service. EMC was also there, which I thought was interesting given it just announced it would lay off 24,000 employees this year.

9. Companies were looking for primarily administrative types, technicians, assistant store managers, as I suspected.

10. There was a really nice guy handing out high-quality stock paper for resumes. He also had thank-you cards that he did not give out but imparted on us the importance of writing thank-you notes. I told him he was preaching to the choir. 

11. Diane, a charming and energetic professional, is looking for a job in marketing, but is staying away from the real estate business. 

12. Some people still rely on the newspaper for job listings.

13. The oatmeal at Starbucks is delicious if you get it with nuts and brown sugar.

14. Camera lights get really, really hot.

15. Don’t carry a big shoulder bag in a room crowded with people. 

16. There were a lot of people laid off in December. 

17. Experts advise following up on online applications, but we challenge you to find someone to talk to.

18. Tory’s mantra of the morning: Quality over quantity. Better jobs, fewer resumes. 

19. The soap dispensers in the hotel lobby woman’s room need to be refilled.

20. Experiencing a morning like this with good friends and new friends made getting up at 4 a.m. definitely worth it.

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Filed under Careers, Education

Is Facebook the new resume?

Branding yourself. Not a new concept. Recruiters have touted for years that branding, at least for C-level executives, is absolutely vital to a flourishing career. But with so many people out of work, this branding idea has come to the masses, thanks to the web, and if you’re job hunting without an online presence, you’re nobody. Literally. Nobody.  52881_hi

You can avoid Linkedin.com or Facebook.com all you want and muss about the evils of social networking sites, but you’re just kicking yourself in the ass. 

Even the least savvy of organizations will do a Google search — at least you should expect them to. And “the complete absence of an online presence can raise red flags,” says Brad Reagan in this month’s Smart Consumer column in Smart Money  magazine. Branding is a tricky thing, though, so your online presence must be managed well, wisely and often. What a potential employer sees online can determine whether you get that interview (or job) or not. 

Discretion is the key word here. While I assume you know better, it’s my observation that networking sites can be used  for good or evil, depending on the level of stupidity. I’ve worked with people (in their early 20s) who think nothing of putting a picture of themselves in a drunken stupor on Facebook — and are aware that I (their boss) had access to their site (as a friend). Being a brilliant speech writer for president-elect Obama doesn’t preclude you from doing dumb (very dumb) things and posting them to Facebook, either.  This guy was caught clutching the ass of a Hilary Clinton cut-out and somebody put the photo on Facebook. What were they thinking? Oh, wait, that’s right, they weren’t. 

Maybe this is why a recent  Boston Globe article about using Facebook as your professional profile proved to me that too much of the job-hunting advice I’ve been reading is being dumbed down — for the really dumb. Saying a profile picture of yourself holding a beer bottle may not be good for your image, is like saying dropping a cement block on your foot will hurt like a bastard. Some things should just be obvious when you become an adult and expect someone to hire you.

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Filed under Careers, Education, Parenting, Social Media

Now I’m really depressed

There is an article in today’s Boston Globe about a job fair in NJ. The news is not good. It quotes an out-of-work tax analyst as saying, “”It’s hard to find a job. No one wants to hire anyone with any experience.” 

My friend Anne said to me yesterday that she thinks this sinking economy is a media hoax otherwise why would skiers be  swarming the slopes of Okemo like ants during Christmas vacation when lift tickets are $77/day.   I think she makes a valid point. My spirits are lifted as I think this all might be over in a day or two. But news late yesterday reported that EMC would lay off 2400 employees, 600 of them in Massachusets? Holy crap. Now I’m really depressed — especially if the line at that Dunkin’ Donuts on Rt 135 doesn’t get any shorter in the morning. 

Some stats out today according to the same Globe article: “A barometer on layoffs due out Thursday is expected to show that the number of newly laid off people signing up for state unemployment insurance last week rose to 540,000, up from 492,000 in the previous week, according to economists’ projections. The number of people continuing to draw jobless benefit is projected to stay near 4.5 million, demonstrating the troubles the unemployed are having in finding new jobs. Electronic unemployment filing systems have crashed in at least three states in recent days amid. 

What would it take to  put me in a more optimistic state-of-mind? To know that  someone is reading my brilliantly written cover letters and resumes instead of being lost in some black hole which is what I am convinced is happening.

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Filed under Careers, Education, Parenting, Social Media