Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Here and everywhere after

From today's stellar Arizona Repulsive, an article that hits close to home. Closer when I realize the last quote in the article is from a girl I taught last year.

I agree, Yoshi, but life isn't fair. And you are too smart to not graduate from high school.

Valley teens again cut class to protest immigration bill

Mel Meléndez
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 29, 2006 12:00 AM

For the second straight day, hundreds of Valley teens Tuesday risked school suspensions, joining thousands of students throughout the Southwest in immigration-related protests.

High school walkouts took place in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas with thousands of students ignoring campus lockdowns or risking disciplinary actions to protest House Bill 4437.The bill would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally.

"This bill is unjust because it discriminates against Latinos," said Maryvale High School junior Alex Keller, 17, who's Mexican-American. "You can't help but feel like you're being singled out when it will basically impact your people."

More than 500 Valley demonstrators, most of them from west Phoenix high schools, gathered at Desert West Park off 67th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard in Phoenix. Hundreds more, including teens in Mesa, Glendale and Tolleson, also walked out of school. Protesters also included middle school students.

"We are protesting that law that makes us criminals," said 12-year-old Joel Ñonte, who walked out of Carson Junior High School in Mesa. "The giant has awoken today."

Many Valley demonstrators Tuesday said a student-led protest Monday inspired them to walk out. By midday Tuesday, Phoenix police estimated 2,000 students had gathered at the Capitol.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Union High School District administrators met with city officials Tuesday to discuss how to keep kids in school. The district's 10 schools are all closed campuses, but hundreds of students walked out Tuesday anyway, with some even scaling North High's fence to avoid turning in their student IDs on the way out.

Federal law requires public schools to enroll all students regardless of their legal status, and students can't be asked how they arrived in the country, said Phoenix Union's spokesman Craig Pletenik.

"We need to engage these kids to know that there's a time and a place to protest and school's not one of them," he said. "You're basically walking out of the one institution that promises you an education and a future."

But some students at the Phoenix rallies said high school is a dead end for many undocumented students who can't afford to attend college or secure a job should they earn a four-year degree without legal status. Several carried DREAM Act posters to highlight the federal act that would allow undocumented high school graduates living in the United States for at least five years to apply for legal status.

"Too many kids feel like, 'Why bother graduating from high school if I'm not even going to be able to get a decent job without my papers?' " said 18-year-old Jajaira Cardenas, a senior at Premier Charter High School in Phoenix. "The law needs to change. It's not fair."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Twinkies sustain the masses

Well, not really. But here are some things that are currently the creamy filling in my spongecake of life:

When the rest of the world lives in reality, where does the government spin? "Bushies in Wonderland"

You absolutely must check out my sidebar. With all the new sweet, thrilling tidbits of musical genius, I can't even stop listening long enough to answer my phone at work. Please don't call me - I'm busy.

While I undoubtedly will write a better tribute, following is the obituary I wrote for my beloved, funny, delightful, daring and darling great gram who just passed. I miss her to the point of heartbreak.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ruth Gerity Cook on March 13, 2006. She was 102 years old. Ruth was born in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania on November 21, 1903. She lived most of her life in the Swanton area of Ohio. She also lived in Phoenix, Arizona and more recently in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is survived by her daughter Mary Swiatek, and her sons Lawrence and Thomas Gerity. Her beloved family including 9 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, 6 great great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews, brought her much joy and happiness. No services are currently planned. She will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The new definition of Napoli

The work number is actually Bill Napoli's company - an antique car museum.

Feel free to use!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Anywhere but here

In our beloved United States of America, the average American worker receives 12 days of vacation on an annual basis. Most of us are allotted 7 days to wheeze, hack, sniffle, puke and play hooky under the guise of sick time. And finally, most of us mostly-honest taxpayers are given 8 paid salute-your-flag, countryman, favorite-bible-character holidays per year.

In Canada, people receive an average of 20 days of vacation. In Japan & Korea, 25 days. In the U.K., 28. Brazil, 34. Germany, 35. France, 37. And people in Italy get an incredible 42 days of vacation per year.

I receive a total of 15 days of personal time off (vacation & sick days) and 11 holidays. I also have a whopping 3 days of bereavement leave should someone I love happen to die and screw up my employer's plans for me.

My question is: Why does our culture say that we are only allowed to spend 80 hours of the work year doing the things that really matter?

Most people don't give a shit about the work that they do. Ask your office neighbor or holler over any cubicle wall. What to most people like about their job?

My expertly administered quiz resulted in the following:

- People like their paycheck, no matter how tiny.
- Some like working with people and enriching the lives of others
- There are those that like researching ways to solve problems and how their job helps them to think about life in a different way.
- Here's a quote, "It gets me away from my wife and kids." (yikes)

The things that matter - family, friends, life outside the cube (and the office) - those are the things that most people really care about - or at least used to care about, before Corporate Dronedom (and/or depression about real life) took over the last viable part of their brains.

Unfortunately, our culture no longer accepts these things as acceptable. Americans have found other ways to compensate. On average, Americans waste 2.09 hours per day at work engaging in non-work activities.

Let's round down and say that we only waste 2 hours a day. That's 8 hours (1 day for you non-math majors) per week we waste playing on the internet, answering personal email, writing/reading blogs, chatting with family/friends on the phone and walking around the office snarling about coworkers behind their backs. Show of hands, how many of you waste more than 2 hours a day? I can almost see you ducking behind your computer screen.

Why are we wasting so much time? Is it an effort to feel connected to something outside of our work? To use that time to communicate with the people and things that are important to us? I know I scroll through world news and send emails during the day. I still don't feel like I have enough time to be an informed, participating member of society.

I can't help but blame our culture and the American work "ethic" here. Our work ethic sucks - probably because we are expected to work pretty much nonstop throughout the year. We are asked to emulate corporate CEO's - work long days and be dedicated, no matter the compensation - whether monetary or personal gratification. There are no siestas, only meetings conducted through lunch on how to increase productivity. Someone died? Sucks to be you - get back to work in 3 days (generous employers give 5) or we won't pay you for your leave.

Will a revolt ever happen? Or will we continue to work more and more hours to produce less and less product until we drive ourselves, and our environment, into complete destruction?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Penny for destruction?

The Senate narrowly passed a budget resolution Thursday that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, setting up another showdown in Congress this year over the most fought-over piece of land in America. Republican leaders approved the measure 51-49 after securing the vote of Senator Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, by offering up to $10 billion in projected revenues from drilling in the Alaskan refuge and in offshore waters to rebuild the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast.

I ask you, what are we going to do when we run out of oil? Is your life sustainable? Mine sure isn't.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Scottish Italian

Alasdair, my dear college friend, is here for a visit from Scotland for an entire week. He will get to participate in my stupid American Sopranos Party and see the glory that is Arizona.

In other news, we had torrential rain yesterday. The grocery stores were packed and the shelves were empty. I just went to get some chicken parm fixings and felt like I was attending an End of the World party. I know it's Arizona people but jeebus, it's just some rain. No ark required.

Tonight's menu for the Soprano's party:

Antipast platter including roasted red peppers, caprese salad, breadsticks, prosciutto & melon, homemade cheddar biscotti.

Chicken Parmagianna

Strawberries & chocolate fondue


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Of the Abnormal Variety

I agreed to teach a class at my university. Not a half-assed how-to-develop-business-skills class, but a full-fledged freshman intro course to business in America.

I have prepared countless slides, case-studies, examples, and relevant stories from my personal experience with Corporate America. I'll focus on the definition of business, entrepreneurship, technology, accounting, contracts and laws, risk, organizational design, supply & demand, marketing, mergers, takeovers and the global economy.

What I'd like to say is this:

To understand business, take this course.

To understand the people you will encounter in every business, take psychology.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cute Infections? No such thing...

Sunday evening, when I could no longer hold my head in a full upright position, I decided to let go of the delusion that my aching chest pains and hacking 45-packs-a-day-like cough were going to mysteriously disappear overnight. As much as it pained me to admit, I knew I had to go to the one place I avoid more fiercely than a church building. The doctor's office.

I can't think of one person who loves to spend hours in an oversized germ-infested holding pen of sniffing, snivelling, and spittling freaks just to eventually be diagnosed by a physician's assistant who obtained his license from a vocational school. Besides, my motto is that if I'm missing work, why would I waste my precious time visiting my pretentious doctor who berates me for not getting enough exercise and preaches that I shouldn't even be in the same zip code as someone who is smoking? (inhale deeply on a marlboro ultra light here, please) I completely loathe my doctor.

Since I needed cough syrup with codeine like an addict needs his crack, I compromised and went to the Urgent Care clinic by my house. The lady at the counter was pleasant enough, not like the bitch in the front office at my primary care physician's office. And, I found myself nearly sympathizing with a nurse at the counter who, during the entire time I was filling out the requisite paperwork, kept calmly repeating into the phone receiver "Ma'am, you'll have to bring your son in to get a prescription. We can't diagnose him over the phone." These are the people who would undoubtedly be in the waiting room later today. I'm secretly pleased that I had enough foresight to show up when the clinic opened.

I sat in the infested holding pen watching an infomercial for some pyramid scheme for at least 30 minutes before Nurse Paco called me into the side room to take my vitals.

"Have a seat," he says, gesturing to a chair with an arm cuff attached.

I glance furtively at the scale in the corner.

Perhaps he isn't going to weigh me? It is a silent prayer/question.

The blood pressure cuff squeezes my arm as Paco rubs a high-tech thermometer gadget across my forehead and behind my ear. I giggle and Paco smiles. "More accurate than a regular themometer," he says. I smile. This is like foreplay before the inevitable "get on the scale fatty."

He looks down my chart, verifies that I'm wheezy and breathless.

I confirm.

"Height and weight?"

I pause. Paco trusts that I'm going to give him an accurate weight?

"5'10," I say.

Paco waits, pen poised.

I give him a number about 30 lbs less than what I really weigh and say that is the best guess I can give him. Paco starts to write it down, looks over at me and says, "You can step on the scale if you aren't sure."


"No, honey," I say calmly, throwing my fat arms in the air, "no one really needs to verify that number."

Paco tells me to rejoin the other piglets in the holding pen.

Another 20 minutes tick by, followed by 20 more in a patient room at the sunny end of the building. If my temperature was normal before, it wasn't by the doctor finally arrived to give diagnosis. The room was about 120 degrees with no air flow. Since it was Urgent Care and they don't require that patients don the paper gown, I didn't even have a good reason to get naked to cool down.

The physician's assistant with the same name as me finally shows up, listens to me hack for a moment, and procures a magical instrument and a diagnosis of Acute Bronchitis.

I tell her there is nothing cute about it. She looks at me.

"This is a breathing machine," she snaps. "It has a steriod solution in it to help release the pain in your chest. Breathe normally," she hands me the tube and mouthpiece, "and I'll be back in about 10 minutes."

I place my lips around the mouthpiece, watching the smoky liquid rise through the clear plastic tube. I'm reminded of the first time I hit a bong. I start to giggle as I inhale deeply. Am I supposed to hold my breath to let the steriod get maximum exposure to my lung tissue? I chant to myself, hold it hold it hold it, exhale. Ahh. I'm just a bit shaky, but I continue to suck on the mouthpiece so that I can breathe freely. I repeat, taking hits off the Bong of Breath.

I wonder what those oxygen bars are like. I wonder if I've gotten all the steriod fluid out of the little medicine cup attached to the mouthpiece. I start flicking the medicine cup, much like a well practiced addict would flick her syringe of heroin. It was then that the PhysAssist decides to return to the room, armed with the prescriptions for the antibiotic and codeine cough syrup.

She looks at me. I stop, midflick, and hand her the plastic casing of the Breath Bong. She looks at the completely empty steroid cup and looks at me again. I take the prescription from her and run out the door.

I probably should find a different Urgent Care clinic the next time I need a fix.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Of Epic Proportions

No, it isn't the fact that we haven't had rain for 133 days here in Arizona.

No, I didn't qualify for Playmate of the Year.

And no, I'm not going to jail.

My news is bigger than all of these things put together.

I got an A- in Accounting.

I'm sure I'll get hit by a truck later and die because aside from converting to Mormonism, receiving an A- in Accounting is really the last thing I'd ever expect from myself.

About Me

Stupidly self-centered for over 3 decades!