Wednesday, January 30, 2013

on looking for work part 40040

Looking for work is harder than working.
Looking for work is a stressful enterprise that no one should be subjected to
Looking for work in America of the new Millenium goes somewhat like this.
You apply by answering pages and pages of information.
Then, you have a quiz.
It's not just a quiz, however.
It's a series of questions that are determined by a machine whether you're the ideal candidate for the job.
You get graded accordingly.
You, next depending on your grade, get selected for an interview that could come tomorrow or half a year from now.
You might actually make it for an interview WOW
Now you sit in front of one two or three people, all very serious looking and with paper and pen ready to write down their comments as you go along.
You start after a while to figure out that they only write what they think is pertinent so if they write something that goes on their database.
At this point you should be able to start using key words that triggers their little brain neurons.
They then, thank you and call the next person.
They tell you that it could take up to a month for them to decide or even a second interview. You go home.
You're hopeful
You're dejected
You're bummed
You're confused because hey, you've worked before and you know you're good and you said everything that was supposed to be said
Maybe you have a chance
you fool
they're going to hire their friend's daughter
that was just to
1. keep them busy and justify their salaries
2. pretend that they actually hire people for their qualifications
I'd better get out there and start NETWORKING!!!!
or I'll never get a job

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Behind the kitchen door

"Behind the kitchen door" is a book that will be soon coming out about the restaurant industry written by Saru Jayaraman, co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. I went to Berkeley to hear her speak and was incredibly impressed by her erudition, passion and commitment to change. I can guarantee that you will be hearing a lot more from her. Here is a small you tube video about the food industry:

History of Israel in cartoon by Nina Paley; Warren Buffett meme

Best Cartoon History Of Israel/Palestine In History By Nina Paley

Best Cartoon History Of Israel/Palestine In History By Nina Paley.
I would like to thank the cartoonist, obviously, and Barbara Sarah at the Oncology Support Program in Kingston NY. They do fantastic work there and I was honored to have Barbara as my supervisor when doing a Masters in Social Work.
I have long left, or so it seems, but I have taken with me much that I learned with both the wonderful women and men who dealing with cancer, had so much to teach me, as well as the other workers and interns. It that isn’t compassionate curiosity, I don’t know what is.
On another matter, I saw a comment made to  this letter written by Warren Buffett and it is so striking that I feel I should publish it here until I verify its “truthiness” as Mr. Colbert would say. so Scopes has the raw deal. It’s still great:
Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:
“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just
pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more
than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible
for re-election.
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds)
took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple!
The people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail,
cell phones, etc.
Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year
or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.
Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to
a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask
each of those to do likewise.
In three days, most people in The United States of America will
have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed
Congressional Reform Act of 2012
1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no
pay when they’re out of office.
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the
Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into
the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the
American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all
Americans do.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and
participates in the same health care system as the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the
American people.
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void
effective 12/1/12. The American people did not make this
contract with Congressmen/women.
Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in
Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers
envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their
term(s), then go home and back to work.
If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will
only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive
the message. Don’t you think it’s time?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Media Contexts

As I was walking around Lake Merritt, while listening to NPR, I heard two different dispatches, one that segwayd into the other? I will never attempt to discover the connection because there is none . Well there is; capitalism gone rogue; the media no longer being run by real journalists, but people who edit content as my mate clearly and wisely stated. So here goes. A tragic accident happened in China where 5  children died of carbon monoxide poisoning when the pile of trash they were digging through for food caught fire. At an auction, the cane that  Charlie Chaplin best known for his roles of the Tramp, used in many of his historic roles, fetched a  price of 60,000.00 dollars, considered to be on the high side of the bidding previsions. Oh I get it!!! Ahhhah..ah..ah...the children who died in the fire were the little Tramps of which Mr. Chaplin a life long socialist who was eventually thrown out of the USA and lived out the rest of his life in Swizerland. Sometimes it just takes getting up really early in the morning to put 2 and 2 together. Sad state of affairs that 100 years later, children are still dying of condition linked to extreme poverty, especially in a country such as China were that should not be happening. Oh yes, but it is. We only hear of the 200 million middle class and rich buying up all the Channel bags. What about the other what, 1,200 billion people. I would say that they are still living in abject poverty with no health care, no social security and all the safety nets we take for granted in the West and which so many people are working so hard at removing them from us!!!Life goes on...
Lake Merritt is beautiful though. I strongly suggest walking its 3.1 miles and enjoying the many beautiful gifts it holds forth, from the birds, to the collection of Bonsai trees to a cafe and other treats. Go and enjoy the mixture of people and nature.

The New Yorker’s “Little Strangers”

What starts out as a preview for an 800+ page book, as usual with the New Yorker, turns into a critique, a delving into the psychological aspects of what it is to be the fruit that falls far from the tree or as it is in the article  horizontal identity with one's parents. The norm, if there were such a construct in reality would be a vertical identification where the child would indeed, not only look but have the intelligence level of the biological parents. What happens when the child is autistic or a dwarf, or deaf or even gay? He brings in the concept of horizontal identity, which cuts through the parents and child's identity to challenge the capacity for understanding and communicating. The author, in analyzing his own personality goes into what it is like to look at your child and see not a similar reflection of what you are/ were, but an  Other, which will challenge the parents to limits that society often condemns and criticizes. He mentions the case of a complicated childbirth that delivers to the mother a child so ineffable, that she can only give it up for adoption. It has no cerebral cortex, no intelligence, no ego, no self. It is a shell of a human without the defining 'self' that characterizes what it is to be human.  "The beautiful mosaic of multiculturalism" becomes broader and broader as the inclusionary tendencies of post feminist intersectionality, regard the one in each of us composed of a myriad of identities that overlap and change with time and exposure to other changing identities. It is a dance of personalities interwoven to reveal a tapestry of layers and colors. The article goes on to attempt to define identity and how the term has changed in American culture. Finally, turning biographical again, he mentions his own horizontality and how it defined his life as well as that of others he has known of with the same problem. He ends by mentioning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed in 1999, and the more recent ADA amendments of 2008, (it seems from the dates that Bush might have inherited  and chosen to leave for posterity such policies). The author forgets to mention that in the middle of the night perhaps not on his watch, the laws applying to ADA which did not include mental illness, with substance use and abuse were sneaked among a larger, much larger Bill that little had to do with this matter. It is an interesting article that could easily be turned into a book or a thesis. As it is, it falls short of its attempt to define what indeed is horizontality, how it  affects parents and society and how the efforts done to alleviate the burden of individuals and families is sometimes seen as over diagnosing and others as lack of empathy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

the strength of a loving hand

I don't remember how long I spent with grandma and you in the village. I would have been about 9 and should have been enrolled in school but somewhat I wasn't. I have patched recollections of the time spent with grandma and gandpa but none of that helps bring the day to day memories back. Other people tell me that yes indeed I was there and that they had to go shopping for me. They had no sweets, they were my cousins, they were slightly older than I was and in one case a few months younger. How can I ask for forgiveness when I wasn't aware of the reality that was going on. Where was my mind, my conscience? Did I not see that they had no rights to sugar and that they were obligated to get if for me, with no percentage to go to their own sweet teeth? Did I not look at the cravings in their eyes, their mouths, their bellies. I cannot condemn an act that I am not conscious of or can I? A few months later, we were to join my father in France and we were to go on the great adventure. We were to cross the river and if anyone gets visions of crossing the Rio Grand or running through the Sonora Desert, let the thought be put to rest that this was a mere creek and everyone was in on it. Portugal wanted, as it does now for its people to go and emigrate. They would ship money home, they would have jobs that were actually available at home but somehow they did not have the technical know how for and the state would be getting rid of the many mumblings that grew louder by the day. So crossing the river in the Northern part of Portugal was not at all like crossing the Rio Grande. But the fear was there and so was my mother's hand. It was with she that I went. We were to join father, already in Clermont Ferrand, on the Massif Central of France where Michelin had its headquarters. My father would pay dearly for this job many years later but as it was, he benefited from vacations, payed, can you believe that?He wold be able to bring his wife and child. They took no responsibility for how they (us) got there ,but once there, I was given the choice of presents at Christmas, already disappointing my parents by choosing a bunk bed over a sawing machine! But I knew why I wanted the bunk bed. I dreamt that I would get more dolls and they would need to sleep somewhere whereas if I got a sawing machine I would be obligated to do what my mother did which was saw clothes. She hated it so much I figured it must have been a tedious endeavor. She never spoke one way or the other. But now, I am getting ahead of myself, as the tale I want to tell concerns my jumping the river, in this case a tiny creek located in the Northeast of Portugal. father had paid for the transportation by bus to the nearest village and many or a few I do not recall people, mostly women and children and a few men, would join up with the man that would get us across. It was a a joke of sorts. But you paid for the risk it was supposed to be. The communist leader, Alvaro Cunhal, wrote of this many years later under the pseudonym of Tiago Manuel. You can't be the communist leader and have artistic tendencies, although plenty he had. Many years later I sat mesmerized listening to an 89 year old man talking about art for three hours with not so much a mention of straight out politics. I bought a series of serigraphs which I should have better taken care of.  Back to the Northeast and it is time to get off the bus cross the creek, be on the watch out for the farce of the police  and make our way to the nearest train station where we would go directly to the city indicated in our ticket no questions asked. The French were reconstructing the country and they wanted people there and if they came from Portugal the better,. The crossing was tremendously scary and 30 years later I took an art and drew a woman holding a child's hand, as they are on the edge of a creek, with a dark, gloomy and utterly inartistic forest on the other side. The creek was agitated and had many boulders. It took many more years to figure that it wasn't my daughter and me but actually the moment where once again the hand of my mother's hand prevailed. The fear, the anxiety, we were one and we took the jump. I do not remember anything more but again I do remember my mother's fear and my fear both transfigured and increased, but with the assurance that mother provided, her warm hand transmitted, all would be well. It was and we got safely to the place father had rented, of which I will speak later. I still have the need of the feeling that our hearts beat as one at the moment of the crossing, looking around for the para military police, waiting for what, wondering about what. Fear was my mother's, I was somewhat bemused but became very scared when I felt her hand grabbing mine for dear life, as I'd felt before. The hand, always the hand!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Social Workers are Great but Mothers are Better Part II

I'm three and we're at the Lisbon zoo. As all kids are wont to do I look and see legs , these walking sticks with no faces. Some are covered in cloth, tending for the dark but some are wonderfully shapely and covered by this wondrous stuff that allows you to see the flesh underneath. They're nylons I will discover later. They come in all colors but in those years, they're mostly flesh colored or obligatory black to signal mourning of one year for a relative, for life if husband. Between covered sticks I make out other faces to whom I look in distrust. Those are people, little people just like myself and they wander sometimes running after those long sticks called legs, sometimes, attached to another stick with a clutching device at the end, a hand. That is usually the hand of the mother. These are wonderful people, if you're lucky, and the source of your accepted misery if the stars are not aligned. Whether wonderful, caressing and loving or cold, vicious and mean they feed you little or enough, they clothe you warmly or with rags, they choose whether you live or die. You , therefore do not want to loose this mother! But one day, a sunny Sunday you loosen the grip, the mother is enthralled by that other figure to be talked about later and your legs, tiny as they are do not keep up. You look around, your heart speeds up and for the first time in your life you are alone in the world. Time is an illusion and it stretches into infinity. You stare, you whirl, you cry. Nothing to nothing to say. Mother is the center of life and you have lost her. You are bad and you are never to eat again. No more hugs, no more kisses. Life is over. You are truly alone in the world, surrounded by throngs of people that mean nothing to you. The heart rate accelerates and water comes out of your eyes. Fear is all encompassing. Two tall strange looking people bend down to talk to you. They speak and yet nothing they say makes sense. The fear factor  is augmented by the possibility that they will take you away and will not feed you and you'll be cold. They know not your needs. They smile and you recoil...the minutes pass, the zoo is crowded and you, lost in the biggest of all possible universes have not learned a way out. That clutch was always there after all! That warm fleshed clutch that you know so well. You know the texture, when it's cold and when it's sweaty. To you, it's always warm and welcomed. It's mother's hand and the stars were nice to you. Mother is a kind one. That hand has become the most desired object in the universe as that hand determines whether you live or die. These people and their smiles and strange mumblings, who are they and what will they do to you. You have lost mother and it's  your fault. Suffer child, for now and forever...suffer for letting go of the thing that fed you, suffer for not squeezing hard enough you fool!
And then, at a turn of a second, there she is, scared, running towards you calling your name in a language you know. She smiles at the strangers and she holds you. your hearts beat as one , fast and furious. You hold for life and for love. The loss is over for now, but the fear, that will remain, tucked away in a corner the fear of loss, the fear of mother's love, the only love there is. It's a selfish love. It's the love that keeps you alive, the love that feeds you, the love that feeds you love and kisses and hugs. It's the only one you know. Many more losses will come. Gone is the illusion of protection guaranteed and irrevocable.
But you have regained mother and her heart, her pounding fearful heart still echoes inside you. It is louder than yours it seems because your hear is crushed against her belly and her heart reverberates through her being. You don't know it then and will not for along time, for most of your lives, but your loss and your fear is projected on her ten fold and echoes other losses she has felt. For she, too, was once a child and she too, suffered must have. The rest of the day is lost in the murkiness of the past and no longer matters. You have learned that to clutch that hand is to live or die. A lesson badly learned and for which you will pay later. Much later. But that it for another day!

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Social work is a fine thing, but mothers are way better

The options are various but the choice has to be well made and thoughrouly thought out. What do I want to do with the skills I possess. Where will they be put to best use? With whom would I like to work?
Am I open to new experiences or do I want to dig in and continue to flow my dreams? Now has come. Now is the time to choose. I've been to scattered, doing too many things, and it is now time to focus. I have many tasks ahead of me both intra and inter personal. I want to grow inward and outward. I want to create beauty but also for myself. I need this time to not get distracted by all that is going on and all those tugging at my sleeve, but to focus.  Focus on one thing and do it and that is how life slowly will sort itself out.  One never gets over a mother's death! It's as fresh today as a year ago. I miss my mother, I find myself asking her to do something, I talk to her, I dream her presence and she's there as if I was living a parallel life. Well those days come, I go to bed early so we can resume our live...Yes I have a lot of work to do still

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Oakland Bues

3 in the morning almost
can't sleep
so I'll post
a most delicate poem

Let's see my moves in only the last year
it's going to be frightful I know
so many places-oh dear

It all started in New Paltz
should I say maybe I was done
I moved on to DC
Thinking that I was home

'twas not to be so
for my mother alas got sick
Father calls me desperatly
tells me get on over here but quick

I go to the distant land
 that brought me into the world
I spend time with mother
not knowing what was to unfold

Apparently things got better
so the doctors they say
but we know how they lie
it's the sick that always pay

Back to the States I return
pass my licensing exam
only to be called back again
and to deal with doctor's scam

My mother dies in November
the fourth to be exact
I return to the States
all of me in severe shock

Back to DC I return
Bethesda is more accurate
life for me has no meaning
I've been thrown to the mat

Jobs galore I find
they don't bring any relief
if my mother is dead
I'll go somewhere to grieve

California is the place
my daughter comes along
she soon leaves me
her boyfriend's house is her own

So I continue to struggle
and to do what's right
end up in a mistake
which fooled me with delight

Nightmare it becomes
and soon I'm going insane
I've not grieved at all
it all feels like a game

Husband gets here finally
we try to sort things out
to Oakland then it is
let's ghetto it on out

No more excuses for me
here I wil abide
I'll work and play and shop
until I can finally retire

In ten or  fifteen years
 I would like to go home
be in the ancestral house
that with my grandfather shone

but I know how these things go
we plan the Goddess laughs

And to this resilient trunk
I will add a bunch of grafts

As a good gardener always does

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Saturday, February 25, 2012


Yesterday, I thought I would get that call that I had been dreaming about for a while now. The one that would say, "Hey, you've been hired!" I didn't and so decided to go and cook the family a nice vegetarian stir-fry with as many veggies as I could find, some tofu and some nuts. I also made a soup of spinach, potatoes, carrots and kidney beens. Blended it, put some olive oil and voila! What a delish dish! Everyone loved it. Today I woke up with the blues. For the first time in my life, I have not been able to convince 3 interviewers that I am the right choice to their needs. I really don't know what is going on with me but it's very saddening. Could it be because they see the dreaded 50 coming up?  don't know and I do care. It's a nasty world out there and I never thought that I would not be able to find a job in one of the only places in the country where the economy is still thriving. I am attempting on the other hand to make a lace dress with the lace that my mother bought before she died. Not sure how it's going to turn out. We'll see!

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