Does a college degree mean someone is literate? Think again..a rant

Standard

This blog is a rant. It is a disturbing glimpse into what type of student we are turning out of the Colleges here in the United States. We are the so-called most “educated” country in the world, and yet what I see these days does not bode well in many instances as we compete on a global level for the few jobs available here in the United States.

For the longest time, I was just as upset as the next person about the many jobs we were giving to people from other countries as there are so many people who need to work here and who will spend their money here and grow our economy. But, with that being said, those companies are looking to hire people with the best skills and the best minds just like they always were. Sadly, they struggle to find them!

We have slipped and our educational system is truly broken from where I sit. I see it on a daily basis. All persons coming through the program I work with are REQUIRED to take a basic math and reading test to determine literacy for many of the trainings they wish to take that will be funded by tax dollars. The test is on a high school level through the 12th grade. There is no algebra or any really hard math on this test. They are not allowed to use a calculator but are able to use a pencil to do the math problems from scratch. It is not pretty.

We used to exempt those people who held a “bachelor’s degree or above” from taking the test as the thought was that they would of course be literate enough for any of the short-term vocational training that they wish to pursue. As a few of those “educated” persons began handing our Job Developer resumes and cover letters that looked as though they were written by a child of say 8 or 9 years old, we began to take a hard look at those people holding “degrees” and realized that many of them are barely literate!

What I am about to say is a rather biased opinion that I have but it is borne of personal observation. It is not the more mature college graduates of whom I am speaking. It is the more recent, younger thespians that I am referring to. Some of them can’t string two sentences together! Math? Forget about it. Most test out around the 5th grade level!! What I have been seeing is truly disturbing. What in the heck happened to our educational system?

How can someone who has a high school diploma, let along a BS or BA not be able to add and subtract, multiply and divide? How did we let this happen? I know it is systemic. I know it has a lot to do with the demands placed on our educators of being both Police Officer, Mommy, Daddy, and so many other things. Children no longer “fear” consequences.

When I was a child, if you had to go to the Principal’s office or if you received detention, not only did you have to fear that, but you had your parents to deal with too. Now, my good friend who teaches tells me that if you give a child a poor grade or detention, you have to fear the parent’s wrath. They head straight to the Superintendent’s office to file a “complaint” on why little “Melissa” was sent to the principal’s office for texting during class after she had been warned repeatedly to “stop.” God forbid the teacher “confiscates” that cell phone. The lawyers would be involved at that point!

We recently had an opening at my agency for an Employment Specialist, a position I currently hold as a “Senior” Employment Specialist. This person must write case notes. We asked for a “writing sample” during the interview based on a scenario they were given. What we saw was absolutely shocking! Frightening! It seems that little “Melissa” grew up texting so much, that she now writes like this:
“Ur (for you are) BFF (best friend forever) nds (needs) the 411 (scoop) on 2-day’s (today’s) news. Catch u layter.”

While it is not all young people as there are many bright minds out there, it is still enough to scare me! It should scare you too. We need back to the basics and we need to pay for good teachers! Stop awarding degrees to those who can’t read or write. Off soapbox!

“Goodbye Natalie-Goodbye Splendour”

Standard

this one is about Natalie Wood and the recent decision of the Police to re-open the investigation surrounding her November 29, 1981 death. She supposedly fell off of the Yacht and drowned. The boat was aptly named “Splendour” as Natalie starred in the film “Splendor in the Grass” with Warren Beatty early in her career.

Author Marti Rulli wrote the book entitled Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour in 2009. She co-authored the book with an old friend o f hers, Dennis Davern, the Captain of Splendour who was there on that fateful day. Dennis has not had an easy time living with himself since the day Natalie drowned. He has alternated between serious bouts of depression and severe alcoholism and drug abuse as the events of that day ate at him, 24 hours a day. He knew that the story told to the police was a sheer fabrication of the facts and that he went along with it out of loyalty to Robert Wagner, Natalie’s husband and fear that his meal ticket would be lost for good.

This Saturday, November 26th, author Marti Rulli was the featured guest on our blog talk radio show for a whole hour. Last night, Marti also appeared on 48 Hours Mystery as well. She and Dennis have been making the rounds these last few weeks and have been instrumental in getting the case re-opened and the investigation going again. Dennis has been trying to do this for a very long time to no avail. No one wanted to listen to him. Robert Wagner and his attorneys have been able to squash any efforts to re-investigate Natalie’s death for all these many years. Funny how money and power can do that.

The truth of the matter is Mr. Wagner was more worried about his “reputation” than he was about his poor wife’s drowning death, which Mr. Wagner could have prevented according to accounts by Mr. Davern, a witness to the events of that night off Catalina Island. He has passed a polygraph test when he told his story to the authorities most recently.

The fact that we had Marti Rulli on our show yesterday morning was quite a coup for us. She had been on my co-hosts show, Three Wise Girls a year ago and never forgot that she was invited to talk about her book by Debbie Barth, my co-host way before the mainstream media got involved. Now, she is the hottest ticket in town but she was still willing to spend an hour with us and with YOU answering questions. This is a call in show and it also has a chat-room feature.

I am reading Marti Rulli (and Dennis Davern’s) book as we speak. It is filled with eye opening information about the night Natalie Wood drowned. Christopher Walken was also on the boat that night and he was the reason that Natalie and Robert Wagner fought as Mr. Wagner became drunk and accusatory toward Natalie about what he felt was an affair between her and her recent costar in the movie “Brainstorm”

Natalie Wood was a child star and was in 56 films in her abbreviated life. She was beautiful and she was talented. She married Robert Wagner twice, the first time in 1957 and divorced in 1962. They remarried in 1972 and were married until her death in 1981. She was most famous for playing Maria in the movie “West Side Story” and for her role in “Miracle on 34th Street” a Christmas classic when she was just 8 years old. She made over 20 films as a child actress.

This death should NOT have happened! Natalie was only 43 years old and in the prime of her life. She was a good mother and her children adored her. Mr Wagner must answer for his negligence and culpability of that fateful day. No one is too big for the law. No one!

The web address is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/onthegrid. You can listen to the archive of the show. Marti Rulli was a wonderful guest!

Thanks!

The Holidays – Tasers, Clark Griswold and keeping Fed-Ex humming

Standard

I love the holidays and Christmas is the star jewel in the crown if you are a Christian. But, what has happened to the spirit of the holiday? Yesterday as many of you know was “Black Friday” although to me it seems very anti-climactic since the stores have had the Christmas decorations up for eons and have been advertising “door busting sales” since Halloween ended for Pete’s sake.

I know that for many of you shopping the day after Thanksgiving is a family tradition and that you enjoy it immensely. I personally think you are much braver than I am to venture out into a mall or ANY store for that matter. Those shoppers looking for a $5.00 video game or DVD will SHOOT you for it! I am serious. There were several altercations throughout CT where I live.

Someone actually pepper sprayed people to get in the store ahead of them. What? Are you kidding me? EVEN if you are saving a good chunk of change, is doing something like that worth it? EVEN if the police don’t arrest your sorry azzz, you could live with yourself for pepper spraying people to save a lousy few dollars?

I guess I am old-fashioned. I would rather spend MORE on a quality item than brave that for an insane trek through a store that is stocking two or three of those cheap big screen televisions of some unknown brand to entice you in the store at some unholy hour. People camp OUTSIDE in tents for this. What? What?

Someone had to be tasered by the police in front of a child in a Walmart in CT. Customer Tasered in Milford Walmart The police had to taser him as he kept on punching people in front of a little boy, even after the cops arrived! I am just beyond words on this one.

So, the spirit of Christmas is just not seen very much these days. People are desperate and many are out of work. In order to buy a few things on their kid’s wish list, the stores (more of them than ever before) are enticing you to freeze in an overnight stay in their parking lot to fight over a few televisions or X-box games. I for one have NEVER shopped the day after Thanksgiving. It is imprinted in my DNA that I would never do that. It just seems too crazy for me. I am a mellow person like Clark Griswold in the movie Christmas Vacation. I love the lights and the family part most. I love to slowly choose gifts for my loved ones in a thoughtful and peaceful manner.

I do most of my shopping online anyway. It is easier for me as I am too busy to go to any store for much of anything this time of year except stocking stuffers. I know that many people enjoy the tactile feeling of touching what they are buying, but I figure I will touch it soon enough…after all it will arrive (before Christmas Guaranteed!) via that nice man from UPS or FEDEX and hey, they need to work too! LOL

I have been doing the majority of my shopping online for several years now. I find it convenient, cheaper (coupon codes are better than being trampled for a low price) and gives me peace of mind. Last year, I saved over 300.00 with coupon codes for not only percentages off the items, but FREE SHIPPING! These companies want your money and bend over backwards to accommodate the online shopper. They know we are their future as more brick and mortar stores face the reality of doing business in a world where people are busy and lazy.

I shop during the summer and early fall in the store itself to get ideas and to view the items I will be purchasing online as I want to see the colors etc. I take a photo with my cell camera and I have an instant list! I love shopping this way! Easy with low stress. The only thing that is vexing is when Amazon sends things in 10 separate boxes. They could save a bundle of trees if they would just learn how to pack! I know, some things come from different storage facilities etc. I’m just sayin…

So, if you braved the stores yesterday and lived to read this, I am happy for you! Not me. Now, in a few days it will be CYBER-MONDAY…watch out, cause here I come!

Photo is Clark’s house in NL Xmas Vacation Ho Ho Ho!

The power of the metal monster

Standard

t only has the power WE ascribe to it. It is a benign hunk of inert metals and plastic sitting on the bathroom floor. My scale can’t even give me a number unless I feed it with a battery! Over my lifetime I have sneered at it, revered it, loathed it and worshiped it.

I have had a very long love-hate relationship with that thing forever and a day…I still do. Every once in a while, I smile at it. I know, that is kind of crazy. It can be while I am washing the sink out or brushing my teeth. I will look over and there it will be. It is dark as no one is standing on it to make the LED reading light up. But, it knows I am speaking to “it.”

At times, it has mocked me. During my climb UP the scale, I rarely climbed ON the darn thing. But, I would still give it power even though I had no clue what it would say to me. Through most of the year 2010, the metal monster sat in the corner mocking me, daring me to climb aboard and light up the LED lights that would give me my “number” and tell me my self-worth.

Yes, I am sad to say that I allowed that hunk of plastic and metal parts to define my self-worth and my self-esteem throughout much of my adult life. Even when I was still tiny by today’s standards, I loathed getting on that thing and having it give me my “number” for the day. Even when the thing read 112 or 115!

I have alternated between daily weighing, hourly weighing and not weighing. Since joining WW, I try to do the weekly weighing but I don’t always make it. I still get weak and tend to do a “scale peek” sometime around Saturday or Sunday (weigh in day is Tuesday) and that can set the tone for the few days that follow before I climb aboard her for an official reading of those LED numbers.

The scale has haunted my dreams, much as a lover might. I have been as angry with it as I have been someone who has hurt me or upset me. I have even kicked it a few times. I definitely talk to it. I have found myself saying things to it like “You are going show some love to me this week, right.” Or, “Don’t you dare show me up cause I have been so OP all week.” It stares blankly back at me as if to say “You are going to weigh whatever you deserve to weigh.”

I have even been known to try to bribe it! I once looked down and noticed it had a little dust on the black part (my scale is white with black around the LED display area) and I “told it” that if it was nice to me tomorrow, I would give it the best cleaning ever! Ummm, ok. Thank goodness DH did not hear me or he might re-think having married me!

The scales that give me my love or my hate have changed over the years although not all that often. I tend to have my scales for a very long time. The one I use now is about 10 years old but very accurate although it does not weigh me in tenths of a pound so I never get the joy of losing .2 (or the agony) as it will not show a loss at all. It only reads in half pound increments. I know it is accurate as it is always the same as the doctor’s office or my friend’s doctor balance beam scale. I weigh myself fully clothed before leaving for the doctor and each time, it is accurate to within half a pound. So, I keep it.

I have some disdain for my friend the scale this week as a peek this morning shows me up a little bit..or a lot, depending on how you look at it. But, I am not in a panic over it yet. I will be if it stays there on Tuesday. I should NOT give it the power I do. If I am up, it is a part of this journey. Our bodies are NOT on a time table with our body weight and scientifically, there are reasons we fluctuate a few pounds each DAY, let alone in a week. But, I am human, and I am on a weight loss program, so I want it to be DOWN, not UP!

I never get to see numbers like -5.0 anymore in a weekly weigh in. I see things like -0.5, but not 5 whole pounds in a week as I did in my youth. But, as long as it shows a lower number than it did the week before, I will be smiling at my friend in the corner. If not, a few sneers won’t matter. It is used to them.

My trip to “One-der-land” and why I have become a permanent resident!

Standard

I am making a permanent move soon. It is a place that is filled with health and where most people look great, at least people like me who are only five feet tall. It is a destination that I have visited once over the last 10 years. I visited and stayed there for more than a whole year back in 2002-2003.

I had lived there most of my life until around 1990. For twelve years I moved to “Two-ter-ville” and then for a brief time, I visited “Threes-land” but I did not like it there at all! I moved quickly back to “Two-ter-ville and began my quest to head back to One-der-land shortly thereafter.

In December of 2002, I weighed 179 lbs for what seemed like a few minutes. I was a little bit shy of 60 pounds from my goal. I remember the day I entered One-der-land for the first time in a dozen years. I looked around and I saw clothes in stylish hues, chairs that were comfortable, no matter what type, movie theater seats that I did not have to squeeze into…but the best thing at all about One-der-land is that people seem to never stare at you like you are a circus freak when you live there.

Now I am getting ready to move there again in a few weeks. This time, I sold my house in Two-ter-ville and I will not return. I am one pound shy of 100 pounds less than my highest weight of 303 pounds. I am 5 pounds away from One-der-land. I really liked it there so this time I am making that move PERMANENT!

Moving back and forth is exhausting. I am tired of it. I am too old to play the yo-yo thing anymore. Visitng One-der-land is no longer an option. I must put down roots and no matter how hard it will be to live there, I must. I am moving to the southern tip of One-der-land where the short people congregate..we like to live south of 120th street. That is where the charts tell me I should live at five feet tall and where all the healthy short people live. I have been scouting homes there and I like what I see.

When I get there, I am going to throw a party! There will be wine and dancing and 94% fat free popcorn and a great big bowl of fruit! Can’t wait!

***This was from March when I was a few pounds away from entering Onederland! My excitement is obvious. I thought I would share it with some of you who never read this cause I think it sums up how I feel. I am now 29 lbs into that “one-derous” place and heading south. Hope you enjoy my little trip. I did when I just read it again!

The importance of self-validation in your weight loss journey!

Standard

Often when someone is obese, they live in a world where they do not feel validated by anyone around them. Nothing they contribute to a project or to a conversation is recognized as having as much merit as those of a “normal weight”

This is borne out by statistics sadly. Perhaps you have not personally been invisible in your job or in your social circle, but the fact of the matter is that the world at large discounts much of what an obese person says and gives it less credence than if someone of the same age and gender are of regular weight and are also giving an opinion.

There was an experiment on one of those weekly shows years ago where a woman put on a “fat suit” and applied for jobs undercover. She applied for everything from entry level jobs to executive level jobs. Each time, a professional resume writer gave her credentials from heaven, an ivy league pedigree or made her a business school valedictorian from Wharton or somewhere equally as impressive. Each time, they gave lesser credentials to a slim pretty woman but they gave her resume enough to get an interview. Same degree etc., just not as many accomplishments and less experience.

You know how it ended. Every single time, the slimmer woman received the offer of employment. It did not matter for what job either. It did not matter if the
hiring manager was male or female. It happened across the board and every time.

They also had two women have a car break down in broad daylight on the side of the road. One was heavy and one was slim. Not a single person stopped to ask the heavier woman if she needed help or could they call someone. At least 6 people, both men and women, stopped to ask the slim pretty woman if she needed help.

The funny thing is that a truly beautiful woman or handsome man may not be taken as seriously once they land the job. They may be viewed as less intelligent than their more “normal” looking counterparts and a bias exists toward them too. When polled, people were asked if they would rather be considered beautiful or intelligent, that poll showed that the majority of people valued intelligence above physical beauty. Looks fade but smart is forever was bandied about quite a bit in that article.

The point of this piece is that often we are looking outside of ourselves for validation. We want people to notice that we are smart and good at the things we do. While kudos for a job well done and promotions at work for doing above and beyond are important, the most important thing we can do is to practice SELF LOVE and to give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done.

My friend Pam pointed me to a blog article recently written by another April in this community. She wrote about recently hitting 100 pounds lost and was wondering “now what” because she was originally looking at it from a perspective of others to validate this amazing accomplishment. While some people did, others reacted to it as more of a (am paraphrasing here) “Wow, you lost that much and you are still heavy so you must have been super heavy” type of response, maybe not out loud but she saw it in their face when she told people about her 100 pound loss.

When I read Pam’s (Pmahn2009) blog last night , it reminded me that we always need to validate our own accomplishments and feelings and stop worrying so much what others think about our weight loss. She further pointed out that we have each-other to celebrate with and our loved ones who truly care.

I really found these two blogs profound. They really hit home with me (Thanks April and Pam) and made me realize that the only one who is truly important is ME when it comes to my accomplishments. No one else matters. If I am happy with my progress, even if it is 20 lbs when I need to lose 100, that is what makes all the difference.

Loving myself is the lesson I took from this. I know what I have done is amazing and very few people lose that much weight. (except around here cause there are a lot of big Losers)

I rock! So do you! Celebrate YOU!

Get your hand out of the Reese’s PB cups!

Standard

Photo courtesy of YP Mazzulo, writer extraordinare!

Halloween is almost here. On Monday, millions upon millions of tiny little candy bars will be bestowed upon the lucky children who demand them as they Trick or Treat through the neighborhoods, attend parties throughout this weekend and in general yuck it up and have a great time. Adults will likely be attending lots of parties this weekend too although they will be long past bobbing for apples.

There will be drinks a’plenty, colored with red food coloring to mimic a vampire’s feast and spider webs and cob webs become fashionable as a decoration instead of making us gasp and grab a broom to get them down when we see them in a corner in our hallway!

Now back to those “tiny little candy bars” that I spoke of. I did some research and the average person consumes about 1/3 of a pound of those babies at Halloween time. Since 10 of those little Reese’s that are individually wrapped and popped into the mouth like kernels of popcorn contain 13PP it would be unwise to mindlessly begin to eat handfuls of these things as you wait for the children to ring your doorbell.

Since most of us do not “plan” to eat candy bars by pre-tracking, (my friend Poppy excluded here cause Mare will plan her little truffle indulgence in advance and it always amazes me that she can do this so successfully) we will have to add these confections to our tracker “after the fact” as we did not mean to pop several of them into our mouths. When you see the points you have consumed for empty calories, it might freak you out a bit so be forewarned. CANDY IS VERY POINTY!

Let’s talk about the adult habit of drinking cauldrons of alcohol at Halloween parties this weekend. It is is one of those holidays where people tend to overdo the alcohol as well as the sweets. Another “pointy” risk. Hardly anyone thinks they will have more than one “planned” drink when they are following WW. They will track in advance and allow for one or two tasty pumpkin martinis and feel they have it under control…umm, sure you do! LOL

Alcohol is one of those things that “just happens” often times. You are having fun and before you know it that one tracked drink gives you just enough of a glow to say yes to a second or a third or even a fourth (of course I know you are not driving if you are drinking, right?) and before you know it, points a ‘ plenty have been imbibed in the form of liquid fat. But, it gets worse. Alcohol lowers your willpower quotient by 100 fold.

You know darn well that when you drink, salty, fatty, doughy things seem very important to you at the moment. You may find yourself next to the platter of hot wings with a glistening chin, not realizing how many you have consumed. You will just see a pile of chicken bones in your plate and think “Did I eat all that?” If you were dipping them in the full fat blue cheese dressing, holy cow, now you have gone and done it!

No matter what your weekend plans are for Halloween weekend, please just make sure you do it safely and sanely. It is so much easier to pre-plan a couple of mini chocolate bars than to try to dig the empty wrappers out of the trash for accountability. And, do not fall into the trap of thinking that since you found yourself consuming dozens of the little critters that you do not need to track them all! YOU DO!

So, enjoy your Halloween my friends. Do not make it a weekend of “regret” in terms of your program. Since I feel that Halloween officially kicks off the Holiday season, it is a long few months so don’t start it off by going hog wild and having to dig out from under a weight gain when you were doing so well! I know you will all eat mindfully this Halloween cause you all rock!

This morning our radio show is all about our experiences with the paranormal. I have a story about my grandparents and it REALLY HAPPENED! You won’t want to miss it. Tune in at 10:00am EST to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/onthegrid

Lots of spooky happenings today. You have been so supportive of my endeavor with this. I love you all for tuning in! THANK YOU!