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Sunday, March 30, 2014


Friend #1 has worked as a buyer at the same company for ten years. It was purchased by a huge conglomerate and the Hayward location is being closed completely by April 1st.  At age fifty, my friend was lucky. His former boss created an opening at a different business for my friend at three-quarters of his current pay.
Friend #2 looked for eleven months for a position, secured it, and was successfully building a book of business against a strong competitor. The competitor merged with her company. There are now too many sales people for the new arrangement. A forty year old mother of two is looking for work.
Another company was taken over by a national competitor. Friend #3 was promised continued job but it turns out the job is fifty miles from his house. Two of the office locations have shut down. It looks possible that the technical division he ran will be outsourced. He will be looking for a new career path at age fifty-eight.
This is 2014.
According to Forbes Magazine, “The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.”
NPR recently discussed the lack of motivation in the Millennium+ generation. Why do they need to be following the Puritanical work ethics? I grew up with my parents working hard to get ahead. My father and mother were better off than their parents as was I. I could build a better life.
The twenty year olds today cannot find work even after college. They watched as their parents purchased bad or illegal loans for their dream homes that were taken away. Many are homeless or in rentals. Companies close at an alarming rate. Downsizing is a business tool to stabilize expense. Job security does not exist in any field. Even government positions go away when a City goes bankrupt. Why in the world would you buy into—“go to college, get a good job and plan your retirement?” You are only going to be with your next job two to five years at best.
Our world is undergoing a monumental shift from an industrial age to information age. We are still educating our youth that they will hold positions that my parents held. We all know that it no longer exists but we want to believe that it is still possible. “Do you want fries with that? Or welcome to Wal-Mart,” seems to be a likely scenario for those of us hitting a shifting employment wall.  Many of us hide our higher education achievements because a bachelors or masters could force us out of the competition for a middle income job.
Friend #2 was promised a compensation package that will allow her to earn a six figure income. Once she finally met their top sales person—number one in world sales—he told her that he had never made more than $55,000 because the commission structure would change to limit his income. Now they both face job loss.
There are jobs out there. Many of which were created in this century. Spending money to be educated in a new field is an option only if you can recoup your costs within the four and a half years you will be employed there. The younger generation seems to be sitting on mom and dad’s couch waiting for the world to change. Meanwhile mom and dad have side businesses ranging from make-up, to jewelry, diet supplements, and online retailing, to make up for loss income and periods of unemployment.

The keynote speakers at three of college graduations I attended were—Steve Jobs, The Smothers Brothers, and a college student that founded Togo’s Sandwiches.  Not one of these people graduated from college. If success in our current society is outside of the mainstream, then why are we standing in the water?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Movie Night

My renter picked “Wolf of Wall Street” as the evening’s fare. I had chose “Captain Phillips” the last time.  From the beginning of Leonardo DiCaprio’s rant on the joys of money, drugs and whores, my lodger was engrossed giggling like a schoolgirl when Leo snorted cocaine off of a naked woman’s butt. I waited a polite fifteen minutes before getting up and baking some pies in the kitchen.
“The language was pretty bad.”  Mark had popped into the kitchen to grab some apple cobbler before returning to the movie.
I almost laughed. He thought my objection to the film was the use of a four letter word. “Actually, I think it is lacking in any morals.”
“Oh, yeah. I guess it is.” He took the dessert bowl into the other room and continued watching. I made a cherry cheesecake for the Wednesday night Lent soup supper.
From the beginning of the film, the story depicts sales people as perverse liars that laugh at customers behind their backs and only take from individuals without giving anything back.
I have been in sales my whole adult life. This story line may be true for some but for the vast majority of sales people…we need a purpose. “Changing the world one person at a time.” Apple’s mission and purpose for their team.  AFLAC 2013 mission statement is—“…to provide the best insurance value for consumers.” AVON—“The company for women.” “Taking care of people who cannot take care of themselves.”—Kindred Healthcare.  Lockheed Martin—“We never forget who we are working for.”
The ugly money-grabber makes a popular film, although I wish that was not true. Those real people who get up every day and face the phone or door-to-door customers need a reason other than money to do what they do. Yes, most sales jobs make more money than administration or design. It’s because it’s a hard job, full of peaks and valleys and constant pressure to perform—a job few people want to do. Once the sale is done and the commission check cashed, real sales people service the account—from returns to collections to claims.
Over half our time is spent making the client happy. 

I am guessing the party for the “Wolf of Wall Street” ended in some tragic way. Frankly, Scarlett, I didn’t give a damn. I hear “Mr. Peabody” will be on Netflix in April. Can’t wait. 

Monday, March 17, 2014


Thank you, Louis C.K.  Posted on Comedy Central Standup The comedian said, “...We have white people problems in America.  You know what that is? That is your life is amazing so you make shit up to be upset about. People in other countries have real problems. Like, “Oh shit their cutting off all of our heads today.”
There’s an old sermon I remember…
A minister takes his congregation on retreat. They are gathered during the afternoon around the cold rock circle that held the previous night’s bonfire. He placed a large basket in the center while helpers passed out 3x5 cards and pencils.
“I would like each of you to write down your troubles, your worries, and your problems on the card. Write down the burdens that you most want God to take away.”
A few of the members laughed. One shouted, “I need more cards.” More people laughed.
The pastor smiled and said, “Do the best you can with what you have.” He folded his hands in front of him and waited. Soon the forest became quiet with only the birds and squirrels to chatter in the trees. Eventually, his flock raised their faces from the cards and looked at him—an indication that they had completed their task.
“Now fold the card in half to conceal the contents and throw it into the basket. A few people handed their problems off to someone else to discard. Others carried their burdens on their own. At last, all the cards had been dropped in the basket.
“Heavenly Father,” he started to pray and lifted his hands toward the sky. “Bless everyone here today. We all have burdens. We have forgotten that how to handle the challenges in our lives. We demonstrate our love for you to others as we deal with our problems. Help us to pray for your guidance on this road called life. Amen.”  He put down his hands.
“Now I would like each of you to go to the basket and pull out a card. Whatever is written on that card will be your burden in life. Choose wisely.” He stepped away from the circle.
His congregation sat for a few moments. They talked amongst themselves. One or two asked for the instructions to be repeated, which the minister did. One stood, then another, soon the crowd rushed toward the basket. Each grabbed a card looked briefly as to the content or handwriting then cast it aside and went for another. Within a few minutes, everyone had found his or hers own card and clutched it tight within their hands.
When everyone had settled the teacher said, “It is not an unbearable burden if it is yours. You are not equipped to live someone else’s life. Ask God to help you through this moment in time.” The minister pulled the last card from the basket, lit it with a match and returned it to the container. “I give up my burdens to God.”
One by one his people threw away their problems into the smoke and prayed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Imagine you are in sunrise commute traffic in a city of over one million people like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Sacramento. It’s grey, kind of foggy, and damp. Your silver car is in lane number three headed into town along with a quarter of the city’s population. You reach for your cup of coffee nestled in the cup holder then BAM! The silver van on your left slipped in front of you at the same time the bluish-grey compact on your right plowed into the shared lane. You have less than two seconds to hit the brakes and pray.
How many times have you seen this played out as near misses or actual collisions that include two, three, up to ten cars twisted in the worse commute day ever? I count on the experience daily and hope that I am aware enough to avoid any entanglement.
“I think every major city in America should only drive Google-cars—those computerized cars that drive themselves,” I said to my friend yesterday.
“I don’t. I don’t trust computers. They are always down.”
“Well, then, proximity sensors all the way around the cars. At least the people who are sober and awake could avoid collisions.”
“It would be too costly.”
“That was the same logic used against seat belts. Once they became mandatory…”
“We don’t need government in our lives telling businesses what to do. That’s why cars cost too much. Manufacturers were forced to put in seat belts and caused prices to go up.”
“But once they were in place, the prices dropped significantly, and lives were saved.”

A report from Freight 2013 stated that 40% of trucking accidents discussed were from types—rear ends, crossovers, and head-ons—that could have been avoided with sensors. According to  “…more than 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs. More than 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs.” One in five surveyed American drivers admitted to drinking and driving. How many of us eat, drink coffee, text, yell at the kid in the back seat, or day dream while driving?
A whole lot of us are driving impaired, in a rush, and not paying attention.  You in lane two and you in lane four are out to get us in lane three. If my car can’t avoid the accident on its own, then, by golly, shouldn’t it at least warn me of impending doom?
My great grandfather drove a Ford Model A—14.9 Horsepower, top speed of 63 MPH, with a driving range of 20 to 40 miles. Two and a half generations later, I could drive a Ford Taurus—240 Horsepower, top speed of 200 MPH, with a driving range of 300 to 360 miles. I don’t know about yours, but my brain has not developed enough to make life-saving decisions three times faster than my ancestor for six times as long of period. I’m not that smart.

The human race can use a hand or a chip, in this case, to make our morning drive safer. If I can’t have my Google-limo, I want my proximity sensors. Please.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Friend #1 lost her beautiful mother to breast cancer triggered by a leaky silicon breast implant. Her mom was under forty and my friend about twenty. At age eight, friend #2 watched in agony as her momma physically abused the four daughters and drank her way to an early grave. Friend #3 visits parents who are drug addled and live hidden from the government in the middle of a desert. My cousins witnessed the Alzheimer’s disease erase the personality of their mother—a sweet and gentle parent—and yesterday it took her life.
What the survivors have in common is the open ache from the loss of momma. My octogenarian mother still bemoans the loss of daily conversations with her mom who died in 1962 at the age of fifty. Of my many friends and family who have outlived their parents, all speak of the emptiness that forms when that parent is gone.  It doesn’t seem to matter of if the parent-child relationship was cantankerous, loving, hateful, harmful, abusive, playful, miserable, wonderful, joyous, divine, or non-existent. Everyone misses something about that person and the special tie that is mother.
My much-younger husband buried both his parents and yet my parents remain healthy and active—Dad on a ranch in Missouri and Mom in a Californian townhouse. I love them both.
They drive me crazy—especially Mom whom I reach out and touch on a daily basis. It is said that the reason your mom can push all your buttons is because she installed them. No one can drive you around the bend quicker than the people that created you. Friend #1 loves to have me verbally trash my mom. She says it makes her feel as if her mom was still around bugging her. It is that extremely personal pat on the heart that we miss when the loved one is gone.
I don’t know how my cousins feel today as they plan the final services for their mother. I pray they get through the pain.
We have all suffered loss of someone. As we age, we know there will be more death. We need to find time to reach out to each other and share what made our momma special in our life. Even in the most negative of circumstances, a memory of joy exists that we can hold and share and fill up a bit of the emptiness.
God bless all.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Play Nice

After a year of failed attempts in marketing a room-for-rent, I decided to give it one more try. “Self,” I said. “when should you place an ad for a renter on Craigslist?” I have attempted many options before as well as ads in churches, senior centers, and So I sat in my office and thunk. “Valentine’s Day! That’s it. A day when single people looking for a home would have nothing better to do than read a Craigslist classified.”
Sure thing, I received four emails the next day—a better response than the entire year. Two of the applicants looked suitable but this was the best.
Hello! My name is Molly. I am a twelve-year-old chocolate lab who is active and loves to play fetch. My master and I are looking for a room to rent. Please…
Of course Poindexter had to answer and then the two met. They had some discussions about doggie doors and cat chasing. I met Mark, Molly’s owner. After a few meetings, I rented the space to Molly and her owner. March 1st, they moved in.
Of all the changes in my life in the last three years, I think this is in the top one or two as the most difficult. I realized that I have had more conversations with my letter carrier than with a man that will sleep fifteen feet from my bedroom door, use my kitchen, and hang out on my couch. Please note I am using the possessive pronoun—my. It explains my mindset and misgivings.
Molly and Dex played nice when the potential renter stopped in but since the furniture has arrived, Dex has realized the permanence of the situation he growls and snaps his territorial lines. I am afraid I am doing the same. With the change in cable to include sports channels, addition of a daily newspaper, someone else’s stuff on the counter, beer in the refrigerator, the remote moved, and noise, I am nervous.
This man moved his life into my home and trusted we could get along well enough to make it an equitable relationship. I hoped for the same.
It must be that he is anxious also. That seems to be a fair assumption.
My buddy, Beca welcomed Paul and me into her home several years ago. She made us immediately feel like part of the family. We had so many happy memories in that home including a smashing forty-fifth birthday party for my man.

If I could make Mark feel just a bit of that greeting, I know we could have a good roommate arrangement for some time. Dex and I need to play nice with our new friends.