Monthly Archives: November, 2008

Time to Be Thankful

Thankfulness is a good thing. In fact, I highly recommend it to anyone who has a job, a little love in their life, or even just a nice pet. Being thankful for these blessings will only enrich your life further.

Now that I’m a little older, I’ve come to appreciate the feeling of being thankful for something that I was initially disappointed about — realizing that being sick or being in an accident or losing a job can be the thing that preceded great change and improvement in your life. People say, hopefully, that we’re in a time like that right now in our economy, with the rising unemployment and millions of Americans losing retirement security in the financial turmoil of the stock markets — it’s a time of crisis that precedes the needed change and improvement of our nation.

I’m also grateful that I have my work and that what I do is valuable, and that I have the opportunity to learn and evolve in my work. It has been a wonderful year in that regard.

I’m grateful for my family, both the kin relations and the friend relations. I am lucky to have so many beautiful, funny, passionate, creative, and earnest people gathered around me.

I’m also grateful I don’t have to be swallowed up in a porn underworld to make a living. There are some awful jobs out there. One that I recently brushed paths with was that of a “porn rewriter.” It was a job I saw posted on a blogger job board for an “online copy writer” for a “reputable publishing company.” On a whim, I sent in my resume and got a reply telling me I could work for $10 per post rewriting 750 word “adult entertainment” pages so that they didn’t infringe on copyright and could be republished. While this might be just the right job for some crafty sort who figures out that all he/she has to do is substitute one racy adjective for another, (just switch “engorged” for “tumescent” and “perky” for “pointy”!) the thought of me doing this for a living and the fact that someone out there right now is doing this for a living, made me so thankful again for my life and my work.

So, yes, on this Thanksgiving, 2008, give thanks.

Obama Will Act to Create Jobs, Reduce Oil Dependency

Here’s our new President, hoping to set us on the course to financial recovery. It sounds like he has an action plan to create jobs while simultaneously reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

H/t Matt Jerzyk (soon to be former owner of the RI Future Blog) for the link.

Child Abandonments Surge in Nebraska

This is scary: give people the option of dropping their children off at a local hospital, no questions asked, and people will take it. Nebraska has had 35 children of all ages dropped off in hospitals since they passed a “safe haven” law this past summer, meant to prevent infants from being abandoned unsafely. Yesterday, the Nebraska legislature voted to limit the age of children acceptable for drop-off to 30 days after birth.

CBS News investigated some of the dropping-off parents and found that many were struggling with unmanageable and violent behavior from their children. Here is a link to the full story.

As a clinical social worker, it doesn’t entirely surprise me. It is clear that some parents really don’t know what to do to help their children and have struggled with them for so long that they are ready to give up, especially if they think there might be a better option out there provided by the state. Also, you have to wonder if the sinking economy and the pressure from shrinking budgets to limit mental health services are also factors in these situations.

Don’t Call Her ‘Stewardess’

Having grown up with such female role models as ‘Coffee, Tea, or Me’, it’s been particularly sweet to see flight attendants gain better working conditions and respect. It’s a tough job, as this story shows…

DUBLIN, Ireland: An Air Canada co-pilot having a mental breakdown had to be forcibly removed from the cockpit, restrained and sedated, and a stewardess with flying experience helped the pilot safely make an emergency landing, an Irish investigation concluded Wednesday.

Rather than filch from AP, I’ll give you a quick summary—The co-pilot totally lost it. The flight attendants tackled him and tied him up. One of the flight attendants got hurt in the struggle. No one on board knew how to fly a plane except for one of the flight attendants who had a commercial pilot’s license and experience reading cockpit instruments. She helped the pilot safely land the plane.

You can read the whole story here.

It seems that flight attendants rival ‘maintenance’ in their multi unsung skills and usefulness in a crisis.

When ‘Coffee, Tea or Me’ was published in 1967 women as we know them today hadn’t been invented. There were girls, chicks and ladies, but the current generation of women in power was still in school — nursery school some of them, or in college as ‘co-eds’. Stewardesses had to wear miniskirts, stay thin, and when they got old they didn’t get seniority — they got fired. That’s why they got unions, I guess.

‘Coffee, Tea or Me’ became a franchise, spawning sequels and movies. Maybe in its small way it added an irritant to flight attendants — one more straw piling up before they decided to organize. Ironically, this frank expose is sort of a book in drag. The real author is a ghostwriter named Donald Bain, who has enjoyed a long, prolific career and is probably still hacking them out.

Women’s Fund Holds Leadership Training

Want to be a leader? First — take a little personal inventory. In order to be a leader in public service, I would argue (based on my three months running a mayoral campaign) that you need to be a strong visionary, fundraiser, relationship-builder, communicator, problem-solver, manager, campaigner, and group leader. It’s a tall order, I know, but there are women out there with all of these skills. I hope we will have more of them running for office in Rhode Island in the future. Our daughters are depending on no less.

To that end, women should be aware of Go Lead, a program of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. They are having a training this Saturday, November 22, for women interested in leadership roles in Rhode Island. Here is a link to the application for the training.

UPDATE: Rachel McNally reports that this training has been postponed to a date to be announced in January. So, lots more time to apply. Thanks for the info, Rachel.

H/t Rachel McNally for sending me the info on this.

Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State

From Reuters…

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sen. Hillary Clinton, who lost to Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary, is being considered to serve as secretary of state in the Obama administration, NBC News reported on Thursday.

I was noting that Senator Clinton had not been mentioned lately in speculation on the Obama cabinet. She would be outstanding in this role. She’s a gifted politician with unique experience, and she carries huge good will internationally. Bill Clinton is a rock star in many parts of the world.

It was a rough campaign, but that’s politics. Senator Clinton deserves recognition for her contribution to equality and we deserve to have her in her best capacity.

Trending the Flu through Google

Who knows where the flu is raging before the Centers for Disease Control? Google knows.

SAN FRANCISCO — There is a new common symptom of the flu, in addition to the usual aches, coughs, fevers and sore throats. Turns out a lot of ailing Americans enter phrases like “flu symptoms� into Google and other search engines before they call their doctors.

That simple act, multiplied across millions of keyboards in homes around the country, has given rise to a new early warning system for fast-spreading flu outbreaks, called Google Flu Trends.

Tests of the new Web tool from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic unit, suggest that it may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu a week to 10 days before they are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While you are looking at your computer, your computer is looking at you. Where is this all leading?

Financial Rescue for Rhode Island

It looks like Connecticut is trying to get ahead of us, but there’s still an opportunity to cash in on the passing of Proposition 8 in California.

It’s a setback for fairness, yes. And I’m sorry about California, but it’s an ill wind blows nobody good. In other words, we have to make the best of it.

Rhode Island with its beautiful coastline, excess of hotels, and growing tourism industry is right in position to become a wedding destination. The Governor should sign an executive order right now, before it snows.

Not only will marriage equality bring in out of state couples to spend money here, it will put pressure on Rhode Islanders to make it legal. Lots of tux rental dollars generated. And gay people are well-represented in fashion and entertainment. That means there could be a fad for being married in the smallest state. We could be like Vegas, only more Catholic and chillier and darker and more pessimistic. At least we have Waterfire.

We’re already doing the organized gambling thing, and every time some casino owner comes around we go for it. Gambling has documented social costs. Gay marriage is alleged to be a threat to straight marriage but where is the evidence? Who do you know who picked up the ‘Weddings and Celebrations’ section of the New York Times and turned to their loving spouse and said, “That’s it, I want a divorce! Two guys named Brad just got married.�

No, we marriage veterans know that there are reasons far more immediate to call a lawyer. On a bad day, one might say, “Let ‘em marry–that’ll show ‘em.�

But divorce lawyers are people too, and they need to work for a living. Inevitably there will be a market for gay divorce services. We might as well make the best of that, too.

Please consider this, Governor Carcieri. You’re not afraid to be bold when cutting children’s health insurance. Write that executive order today. Don’t let Massachusetts and Connecticut get all the tourists this summer.

Wii Can Cure Anxiety and Depression, Too?

(cross-posted from my private practice site at kierstenmarek.com)

Now that we’ve gotten that pesky election out of the way, we can talk about really important things like Self Help Video Games!

Seriously, though, there is interesting news for therapists and gamers out there — a whole new fleet of video games are being developed to help people combat problems such as smoking and being overweight, with video games for depression, anxiety, and anger management not far off, I’m sure. Are therapists about to be replaced by Nintendo? Maybe for some people, but more than likely this transition will mean that for a select group of people, therapists will have a new tool to use to help people help themselves.

Read the full article at sfgate.com.

West Warwick has a Plan to Fix School Finance

Often one of the signs of a marriage in big trouble is when one of the parties starts spending money they don’t have. It signals a major breach in the trust that is the foundation for the relationship — that one person is knowingly doing something that may bring financial harm to the couple or group.

It could be argued that we have suffered a similar kind of breakdown here in Cranston with our schools and our city not being able to maintain a strong enough relationship to keep away financial harm. We are not alone. Other cities in the state, including West Warwick, have suffered a similar fate.

But now, in West Warwick, there are signs of hope:

[...] In recent years, the chasm between the town and schools widened, as council members resented the schools’ increased spending, and the School Committee replied that it had no choice because of costly mandates and shrinking state aid. The two groups barely spoke, except around budget season.

In exchange for paying the schools’ outstanding bills, the town was able to build in a communication structure. The deal, brokered days before the suit was set to go to trial in Superior Court last month, requires the Town Council and School Committee to send liaisons — the town manager and superintendent, respectively — to a meeting once a quarter with the other body. The groups also agreed to meet together “as many times as necessary� to talk about financial and other matters.

With better communication, “this could have been settled back six months ago,� said outgoing School Committee Chairman Daniel T. Burns Jr. “It wasn’t. And now we’ve paid a lot of lawyers on both sides.�

Town Solicitor Timothy A. Williamson said Thursday that he plans to provide the exact cost to the town next week, including the costs of experts, transcripts and an $85,000 program audit. He did say the defense cost the town “less than Cranston,� which spent more than $207,000 to defend against a Caruolo lawsuit earlier this year.

Apparently we’re the big spenders on Caruolo actions here in Cranston. Other municipalities make themselves feel better by comparing their Caruolo spending to ours.

[...] THE AGREEMENT also calls for the School Department to seek to renegotiate its current contract with the West Warwick Teachers Alliance. Unofficial conversations between members of the School Committee and union officials have already begun, said Burns. As for official talks, the teachers’ union hasn’t gotten a formal request, said its president, Donald E. Vanasse. But he said, “I stand by the proposition that it never hurts to talk, or at least meet.�

The agreement also calls for the town and schools to develop a joint plan to consolidate departments — such as finance, human resources and building maintenance — by the end of the month. The schools are also required to meet with a labor lawyer who will inspect their current labor contracts and advise them.

The talk about consolidating departments goes back 20 years in Cranston, and probably just as long in other cities and towns. Hopefully this money-saving consolidation will become reality now.

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