Monthly Archives: November 2011

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

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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!

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“Goodbye Natalie-Goodbye Splendour”

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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

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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

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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.