Foreword Communications

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!


Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was missing a few necessities, so I ran to the local discount store this evening with my daughter, my son, and one of his friends (for clarification, my daughter came along to make sure that old mom didn’t forget anything; the boys only came to see what they could talk me into buying for them).  The store was one of those small discount chains that stocks everyday items but is famous for selling closeouts, buying in bulk, and passing the savings on to the customer.  Once we hit frozen foods, I realized that I had forgotten to snag some butter. 


I told my daughter to stay put and turned back to procure the Parkay (the boys were off searching for one of those cheapie legal fireworks collections).


I only had to go two aisles over; two very narrow aisles.  I would technically not even be out of sight of my daughter.  But my successful navigation of those two narrow little aisles was just not to be.  Halfway there, I encountered a sea of liquid which had crept across the floor, and down I went. 


As falls go, it was relatively graceful; a kind of scissors splits.  One leg behind, bent at the knee, the other in front, I was splayed across the floor like some sort of grotesque parody of a hurdle jumper.  At least it wasn’t one of those tailbone breakers where your legs come right out from under you and you land, unceremoniously, flat on your back.  I suppose it must have looked more like a feet-first slide into third base.


I never saw the offending liquid.  The “Caution – Wet Floor” sign was a good two feet away from where I fell.  I suppose perhaps the liquid may have originated where the sign was placed but, as liquids often do, it spread from the point of origin into the middle of the aisle where, lucky me, I met my fate.


So, what did I do?


After checking to be sure nothing was broken (I’m not as young as I used to be), I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my fall.  In my younger days, as most still-young people can attest to, that process would have been reversed – i.e., I would have checked around to see if anyone saw me fall before it even occurred to me to wonder if I was hurt.  But alas, broken bones trump embarrassment when you’re over forty.


This is not to say I wasn’t embarrassed.  Once I confirmed that nothing was indeed broken, the embarrassment set in.  Turns out two people saw me fall.  One was a store employee who was stocking shelves a mere four feet away and, in the other direction, a shopper who was planted in the pasta aisle, probably lamenting the ever-increasing price of noodles.


The shopper and I exchanged somewhat nervous glances, smiles, and chuckles, not sure exactly how to behave.  I’m sure that some part of that woman really wanted to laugh out loud, like so many of us who witness someone else’s splat.  What is it about someone else taking a tumble that we find so terribly amusing anyway?  Maybe we’re just relieved that we ourselves thankfully avoided such an apparently close call.


The store employee, however, kinda ticked me off.  She offered nothing more than a mere glance in my direction and then went back to her job.  Well, I’m so glad I didn’t interrupt.  Now, I know a gentleman who is a manager at another of the store’s locations, and I know for a fact that their employees, though dismally underpaid, do receive basic training in such issues as call-the-manager-immediately-if-there’s-a-clean-up-needed-in-aisle-five, even if the cleanup required is human.  And, doesn’t common courtesy warrant at least an “are you ok?”  Geeze, the pasta shopper gave me more attention than the store employee!


There I was, sprawled out in all my glory, thinking “what the heck?”  So, me, being notoriously unable to just keep my big mouth shut, spread my arms, looked squarely at the store employee, and said “excuse me?!”  I wanted to say “yo, dingbat, a little help here!,” but I refrained.  The fact that I restrained myself from saying what I really wanted to say, I believe, warrants a pat on the back for me.  But, what did I get for my efforts?  She glanced over at me, said “oh, sorry,” and went back to stacking the string beans.


Huh?  Is “oh, sorry” in the training manual?  Me thinks this one missed the help-the-customer-off-the-floor in-service.  And she’s definitely missing the empathy gene.  In her defense, however, she was pretty young.  This chain frequently hires high school kids because they’re cheap labor.  And most young people just haven’t reached the point yet where they feel comfortable reaching out to help us old folks; it’s just not cool.  So, she did what teenagers are programmed to do; she ignored me.


But that made it even worse.  I suppose maybe it was the embarrassment that made me want to wring her neck.  I probably needed someone to be annoyed with.  After all, when your own display of clumsiness puts you in a position of embarrassment, it’s only human to lash out at an innocent bystander, right?  Of course, I was probably more embarrassed than I once would have been.  There’s just something different about falling when you’re middle-aged than falling when you’re young.


Compounding my embarrassment was the fact that I ran to the store without putting on any makeup.  After all, I just needed to grab a couple of things.  I wasn’t going to the policeman’s ball.  It’s bad enough being caught without your makeup; being caught falling without your makeup is even worse.  I was wearing sweats too.  And a man’s t-shirt.  It’s not like I was dressed for the occasion.  Falling in public does require some decorum, and I just didn’t have it.  Nope, no fashionable falling for me.


And, when I was younger, I fell ever so much more gracefully.  The fact that I can no longer fall with finesse probably has something to do with the old bones, lack of flexibility, or the fact that I’ve given birth to three children (when in doubt, always blame everything on childbirth).  Falling when you’re younger is far less humiliating.  Maybe it’s because, when you’re younger, you’re already convinced that you’re the center of attention, so the extra stares that you are rewarded with when you unceremoniously land on your arse are just icing on the cake.  When you’re young and beautiful, everyone wants to help you up.  When you’re approaching menopause, people would rather pretend they don’t see you.  Whatever the reason, I think that I was a much better-looking faller when I was younger.


So, it was probably my lack of falling prep that made me more hostile than I might otherwise have been.  Caught calling attention to myself with no makeup, wearing sweats and a t-shirt; that’s no way to behave!  Still, WASP that I am, I picked myself up off the floor (a two-handed job now that I’m not as limber as I once was) and continued my quest for the butter.  Finally, prize in hand, I was headed back to where I left my daughter when I decided that keeping my mouth shut just wasn’t in the cards.


Oh, that poor girl!  Off I marched to that unsuspecting store employee who, by now, had probably completely forgotten about me, and squared off with her right in front of the canned carrots.  I firmly announced to her that “you can tell your manager that, if that mess is not cleaned up by the time I come back around this way, he and I will be talking lawsuit.”  Yep, that’s what I said.  Guess I told her!


Now that all humanity was safe from further falling faux pas, I was off in search of pizza rolls.  When next I checked, the young lady had vanished (whether to find the manager or escape from me, I’m not entirely sure) and a couple of aisles away, a young man was strolling toward the scene of the crime with a rolling mop bucket.  I suppose he could have acted as if he really had someplace to be before the store closed, but I’d had enough excitement for one day and didn’t want to be caught on every store security camera hysterically haranguing a mop boy to boot.  One humiliation was enough, thank you.  Best to leave well enough alone.


Still, one doesn’t easily get past falling in public.  Through the store, in every aisle, and especially at the checkout, I was firmly convinced that everyone present was a witness to the events.  Although, logically, I know that only the store employee and the pasta lady actually saw what happened, my natural human sense of self-centeredness insisted that every store employee must have seen the video footage already being played in the break room and that all of the customers in earshot had heard them all talking about the crazy falling lady.


The boys never saw the fall, and didn’t find out about it until a discussion ensued as a result of the word “lawsuit” when my daughter and I were talking about what happened.  Luckily for the store, I’m a firm believer that the nation’s courts are clogged with frivolous lawsuits and that accidents happen through no fault of anyone in particular, so filing a lawsuit is not my style.  Of course, the store employee didn’t know that or my words wouldn’t have felt so satisfying.


My daughter, however, is a different story.  After the fact, when we’d returned home and told my other daughter all about it, it dawned on me that she must have seen the whole thing!  I’m sure that I blocked it out due to the trauma, but I vaguely remembered seeing her out of the corner of my eye.  She looked right at me, there on the floor, and walked away!  She left me!  That silly little teenager abandoned her old mother in her hour of need!


She said that she didn’t really see me fall.  She had only glanced my way, just at the moment I caught her in the corner of my eye apparently, and wondered if I was picking something up off the floor.  She was actually surprised when I told her I fell, so it must be true that she didn’t really see the whole thing.  Although she did admit that something in the back of her mind made her wonder if I had fallen, her teenage brain must have preferred to deal with the sight of her mother sprawled on the floor of a public place by fooling her into thinking that I was “picking something up off the floor.”  In her defense, however, if it’s a dilemma for a teenager to figure out what to do with a middle-aged stranger who’s in obvious need of assistance, that dilemma becomes more than the mind can bear when the faller is one’s own mother!  The teen brain is just not equipped to deal with such an embarrassment.  Parent’s are embarrassing enough as it is without being firmly convinced, as teens tend to be, that everyone must be looking at you thinking “poor kid; mom just can’t stay upright, can she?”  My younger daughter (she’s 14) would have been mortified, but my older daughter (almost 17), being the rock that she is, allowed her mind to trick her into thinking she saw something completely different.  Gotta love her.


Luckily, I’m no worse for the wear.  A sore knee, easily managed with painkillers and a bottle of scotch (nah, just Tylenol), and a wounded pride were the only casualties.




I don’t have all the answers either.


©2008 ForeWORD Communications    

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Freelancing Doesn’t Mean Free


I’m a freelance writer. Now, that job title has never earned the respect that it deserves but, in this day and age of outsourcing and working virtually, being a freelance writer appears to signify to many buyers that one’s services are to be had at a very low cost.  One has to wonder why.


One of the biggest challenges facing freelance writers today, especially those of us who provide services online, is outsourcing.  Although a global economy is certainly down the road, for now, the field is divided into Western workers and non-Western workers. What I mean is that an economy is not competitive if the wages required to live in one economy are vastly different from those required to live in another. 


Yes, I’m talking specifically about the outsourcing of jobs – writing jobs, customer service jobs, assembly jobs, whatever – to countries such as India, Pakistan, etc.  Look, the reality is that making five dollars an hour in India is like making $50 an hour here in the U.S.  We just can’t compete.  Not because we don’t want to, but because we simply can’t.  I’ve been involved in many a debate about how American writers charge too much for their services as compared with offshore providers, but that’s a rant for another day. 


The plain truth is that American workers literally can’t work for $5 an hour.  That’s less than minimum wage and will earn us a nice cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.  It’s not a realistic wage for this country.  It is however, a realistic wage for someone living in a nation where the average annual wage is well under $2,000.00 a year!  Heck, $2,000.00 a year won’t even keep gas in the minivan, let alone pay for food, clothing, housing, utilities, etc.  What buyers of freelance services need to ask themselves is, can they live on less than $2,000.00 a year?  Can they live on what they expect to pay a freelancer?  If the answer is no, then we probably can’t either.


And, even if a buyer’s financial needs are met through outsourcing, their project needs rarely are.  Look, I applaud anyone trying to make a living, but ya just can’t write effectively to an American audience if your first language isn’t English.  As a matter of fact, quality (language or production) is one of the biggest barriers to outsourcing in any industry.  Personally, as someone who pays dearly for the products and services I receive, I hate it when I have to contact customer service and deal with someone who doesn’t understand what I’m saying and who I can’t understand either.  It’s unpleasant, and the entire experience leaves me feeling as if my business is not valued.  After all, if I pay good money for something, shouldn’t I receive a quality product with quality customer service – not merely service and production that has been outsourced to the lowest bidder?


Buyers who don’t think that their target audience notices their lack of dedication to their own projects are simply kidding themselves.  As I surf the web, I catch all of the spelling, grammar, and syntax errors made by writers who are either unprofessional or not English-speaking.  It’s noticeable, it’s annoying, and buyers who think that the American public – the paying American public – doesn’t just surf off to another site when we are insulted in this way need to think again.  In essence, if you want to appear professional – an expert in your field (whatever service or product you sell or promote) – you need a professional writer to help you.  If you don’t invest in yourself and your image – it shows.


Another huge challenge facing American freelance writers are books and ebooks that are being marketed to a cash-strapped public with empty promises of helping readers earn millions from home and accessing services for cheap.  Several of these marketing manuals insist that virtual freelancers are to be had for pennies and that anyone can work as a writer.  The only people getting rich from these ideas are the ones selling these books/ebooks.  The public is shelling out their hard-earned cash on a pack of lies.  Virtual freelancers are not cheap – at least quality ones (for all of the reasons detailed above) and you’re not going to make a million dollars as a freelance writer. 


Unfortunately, many people who have snagged one of these books/ebooks as a do-all-tell-all into the freelancing industry approach freelancing, freelance writers, and their own projects as if they’ve found the fountain of youth or something equally elusive.  The old adages, “nothing in life is free” and “you get what you pay for” hold just as true in freelancing as they do in any industry.  The average professional freelancer is a bit insulted when approached to write for $5 a page.  Since one page of good writing takes at least one hour to produce, such an offer makes our jaws drop and our hair stand on end.  Yet, the authors of the books and ebooks that indicate that ALL freelancers work for such wages continue to pull the wool over the eyes of buyers worldwide. 


Look, here’s the way it is – freelancing isn’t free.  If you want to purchase work for way under market freelancing rates, be prepared to deal with the fallout, i.e., poor writing, work that is copied and pasted directly from another (copyrighted) source, writing that sounds like it’s been written by a third grader, etc. 


Writing that has to be rewritten or that is completely unusable is no bargain.  Pay for quality work the first time around and you’ll save money in the long run.




But, I don’t have all the answers either.


©2008 ForeWORD Communications    

All Rights Reserved


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Friday, June 27, 2008

Transnational Gangs: How have gangs gone global? How does immigration facilitate the international spread of gangs?

The United States is not the only nation that has seen the proliferation of street gangs in recent decades. However, the explosion of street gang activity in other nations can, at least partially, be traced back to the U.S., where many of these foreign gang members receive their training and internship. Individuals who make their living through criminal activity cycle in and out of the United States and take back to their own country, or another country altogether, more criminal skills and network contacts than they left with.

Although there are many reasons why gangs have gone global, one of the main sources of their education comes from time spent in the U.S. Individuals enter the country either with some criminal skills already present or with the predilection toward criminal activity, and through their initiation into the U.S. crime world, they increase their skills and criminal contacts. If the individual is arrested for such activity, he or she may be deported back to his country of origin, taking everything he has learned with him, including the many contacts he has made, which, in many cases, are drug related. The United States deports thousands of individuals each year for participating in criminal activity making this a major source of the global gang member pool.

Another reason for the global spread of street gangs can be traced to the media representation and glamorization of the gang member stereotype. As far back as the many Hollywood pictures of James Dean as the romantic and misunderstood hoodlum, American culture has inadvertently idolized the gang member. What was once present only in the movies and American novels has spread to the internet and into popular music further widening the reach of the gang mystique. Interestingly, the gang members that are created by such methods probably wouldn’t even be familiar with the terms globalization or transnational, nor would they likely care. Even more interesting is the fact that these romanticized images in no way reflect the realities of gang life, which is another fact that up and coming gang members don’t know about, but probably wouldn’t care to know either since the goal is not to become one of the criminal element that lives in squalor and deals with the day to day avoidance of arrest. The idealized image of the successful criminal as having a garage full of flashy cars and a stable full of women is the image that these individuals strive for.

It is also likely that the majority of the globalization of gangs is due simply to the move toward an increasingly globalized world. As world travel became easier, and the spread of national cultures became more prevalent, it was inevitable that the movement of individuals would signal the spread of the good and the bad, including gang mentality, culture, and activity. Some of these gangs operate as a part of criminal networks and others operate independently using what they have learned in the states as a basis for their activities.

Gangs were once formed by a group of individuals who were generally short-term, temporary members. The average gang member was usually a young man who joined the gang as a sort of rite of passage. Most of these members would eventually outgrow the gang. However, in recent decades, gang activity has taken on a whole new meaning with individuals becoming more permanent members of a gang and more entrenched in gang life and gang activities. Women are becoming more involved in gangs. And the gang has become more of an organization unto itself with members as employees and the spread into the whole of the U.S. and numerous foreign countries.

Still, for the most part, it is not the gangs themselves that have gone international but the gang persona or mentality. The phenomena of the globalization of gangs has occurred because the gang culture has spread via the media, and, most importantly, the migration of individual gang members. As previously mentioned, the individual gang members takes what he has learned and incorporates it into gang activities in another country. Gang activity in the United States has increased more than four hundred percent since the 1970’s, and gang activity has been reported in such countries as France, Germany, Canada, Japan, England, Mexico and South Africa, to name only a few. It used to be said that gangs migrated in order to find new members and to acquire additional territory. However, although this does still happen occasionally, it is now thought that the international spread of gangs did not result from any intentional plan, but rather as an unintended result of the migration of individual gang members.

The international trend of gang migration has followed a similar pattern as that which has heralded the spread of gangs in the United States itself. Gangs were once a localized phenomenon. However, as the members of the gang migrated, ironically sometimes in order to get away from the gang itself, the gang member formed a new gang in the new location. At first, these new gangs were not offshoots of the former gang, but were new outfits altogether. Once gangs realized the benefits of forming actual networks of gangs and gang members, gangs went national, and then, inevitably, international. There is little difference between the international spread of gangs and the phenomenon of the spread of gangs within the United States. The majority of this type of international spread has occurred mainly among the Hispanic and Asian migrants. These former U.S. gang members then act as a connection between the new gang and the old gang back in the U.S.

Many countries report that it is these deported gang members who are linking up with other deported gang members that are responsible for the dramatic increase of gang related crime. Many of these countries are not equipped to deal with gang activity and have found that there has been a significant increase of violent crime in their nations. Some of these gang members continue to move illegally back and forth between countries transporting people and goods. This is especially prevalent between the United States and South America. It is interesting how, in an effort to decrease gang related crime in its own country, the United States has been largely responsible for the spread of gang activity into other nations. Unlike the media, such as movies and music, the U.S. policy of deporting those immigrants that have been found to be involved in gang-related crimes has spread the gangs themselves from a once relatively segregated phenomenon into a global problem. Gangs now have initiated internationally available websites that are complete with gang mottos, symbols, bylaws, and pictures. This new form of gang communication has become as complex as the internet technology that supports it. However, such communication is reserved for the privileged few gangs that can afford it. For the most part, gangs are a non-technical network of criminal activity; some far more profitable than others, but almost all of them violent. For most gangs, the best technology they can access is the cellular phone, but this method of communication has been sufficient enough to spread crime, including murder and drugs, across the nation.

Globalization has resulted in a number of modern phenomena, both positive and negative. As gang-related activity is known to occur as a result of the disenfranchisement of a particular group of individuals, the global disenfranchisement of particular groups of individuals is likely to result in the proliferation of international gang activity. Such activity can be evidenced in the spread of terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda. Some of the international members of Al Qaeda have been solicited and others have joined the organization without any group invitation. The spread of gangs on a global scale can be seen in the same way and may, eventually, operate on the same scale.


I don’t have all the answers either.




©2008 ForeWORD Communications    

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Monday, June 23, 2008

why cant kids write rite?

Filed under: CULTURE, EDUCATION, FAMILY, LIFE, MODERN LIVING, RANDOM, RANDOM THOUGHTS, THOUGHTS — Tags: , , , , , , , — forewordcommunications @ 10:22 am











My daughter has elected to complete a couple of extra academic credits toward her graduation requirements via a reputable online school this summer.  One of those credits is an English III credit.  The course focuses on grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.  A week before the course began, the teacher, we’ll call her Madame English Teacher, placed the following message on her site: 


“Welcome to English III.  I’ll be posting a discription of the course soon.  This class is defenitely harder than the regular version because it is much shorter, so be prepared to work a lot harder.” 


Now, my degree isn’t in English, it’s in Psychology, but even I can see that Madame English Teacher has two very glaring misspellings in those three short sentences.  And this individual is teaching high school seniors! 


So, anyway, I called the school principal listed on the website and although she seemed unconcerned about the errors, she promised to point them out to the instructor.  My daughter informed me later that day that the blurb had been removed and the English III home page was now blank.  I also received a call from Madame English Teacher herself explaining that the Science teacher had written the contents of the page because Madame English Teacher herself was busy trying to wrap up her end-of-semester duties from the regular school year.  I’m wondering how the Science teacher managed to pass English herself. 


My daughter has since completed the first unit and taken the unit quiz.  The quizzes are teacher-generated and then loaded into the online system.  During the regular school year, my daughter earned a perfect grade in English.  She does well in all of her subjects, but she’s an exceptional English student.  But this summer school course has her ready to pull her hair out, and here’s why: 

Quiz One, Question 3…

Select the option that best completes the sentence. 

The librarian _______ _______ work long hours.

a.      do not

b.      does not

c.       doesn’t not

d.      can’t not


My daughter, being a veritable genius, selected option “b”.  Her answer was marked wrong.  Thinking “what the…?”, my daughter emailed Madame English Teacher and, trying not to sound like she thinks the teacher is a complete moron, worded her email as such. 

Hi, Madame English Teacher.

I just took the unit one quiz and, maybe I’m tired, but it seems as if some of the questions might be scoring incorrectly.  I’m not sure but I think I got question three right even though the system said I got it wrong.  Can you take a look at it?


Genius Daughter


This is the reply she received from the teacher… 

i think youre just tired ill reset the quiz so you can take it again 


Ok, is it me or is something very wrong here?


I believe that the above written communication from Madame English Teacher contains two separate sentences, yet there is no placement of periods or capitalization that would indicate such.  Also, last I checked, the “word” youre is supposed to contain an apostrophe indicating that it is the product of two separate words; you and are.  Ditto for ill.  Although, “ill” is a word, I believe that the teacher meant to write I’ll, to represent “I” and “will”.  I don’t believe she was trying to tell my daughter that she wasn’t feeling well.  And shouldn’t there be a line of greeting such as “Hi, Genius Daughter” and a closing such as “Thanks, Madame English Teacher”?  I seem to recall, way back in the dark ages when we were expected to communicate correctly, actually studying how to write a letter.  Emails are electronic letters, not an invitation for sloppy written communication; especially on the part of a teacher!  Hello!


The ongoing inability of this teacher to communicate effectively using good written English indicates that she may have told a little fib about the Science teacher.  Either neither teacher can spell worth a darn or Madame English Teacher just needed to divert blame from herself.  Additionally, the fact that the English teacher cannot seem to recognize that there is a significant problem with the quiz indicates that, like my daughter suspected, the woman is far from qualified to teach the course.  And, finally, it scares the bejesus out of me that Madame English Teacher sent my daughter a reply email that was completely devoid of capitalization, punctuation, and proper grammar.


Shouldn’t English teachers, heck, teachers in general, be held to a higher standard? 


No wonder we’re raising a nation of people who can’t spell, write, or communicate effectively; or even adequately.  When even a teacher can’t manage to make the effort to set a shining example of proper use of the rules of the English language, something is very wrong.  One of the first things we learn – in psychology, in education, heck, as parents – is that children learn by example.  What kind of example is Madame English Teacher setting for her students?  How can she possibly correctly judge the standard of a student’s work when she obviously doesn’t know what such work should entail (as evidenced by her inability to display the standards in her own communications)? 


And, please don’t make the argument that teachers are overworked and underpaid.  First, that’s the state of most employees these days.  Second, that’s no excuse for an inability to do one’s job properly.  And, third, it’s not true.   


I spent several years working in the human resources department at a local urban school district and most of them were paid nearly twice what I was making, and I was making pretty good money.  Our human resources director used to say that teaching was the only profession where you could make more from year to year merely by virtue of staying alive.   


And, summer school teachers…!  Forgetaboutit!  They got paid their regular daily rate plus a premium for teaching summer school.  Teachers would actually fight to be placed in a summer school position!  It was like earning double-time plus.  Now, to be fair, beginning teachers weren’t paid a whole lot, but because of union rules, teachers got what was called a step increase every year, plus, because of contract negotiations, they received regular cost of living increases (those of us who worked in administration, at the time, had not seen a cost of living increase or a raise in more than five years).  Additionally, teachers had a top-of-the-line health care plan which included dental and vision coverage (they paid less than $50 a month for this superb coverage!), they received a certain number of free sick days, got winter and spring breaks and summers off, worked less than seven hours a day, got one free period for “planning”, and received numerous “bonuses” for any perceived extra duties they performed.  For instance, a teacher would receive extra pay if he or she had to cover another teacher’s class, even if it was for mere minutes.  Teachers were also paid their daily rate for taking professional development classes and received what was called a “schedule” increase once they earned a higher degree (i.e., anything above a B.A.). 


I’m not saying that teachers don’t work hard.  I could never do the job.  I would never want the job.  Still, being overworked is no excuse for the poor performance of teachers such as Madame English Teacher.  And, I don’t believe that this teacher is performing poorly because she’s overworked.  I believe that she performs this way because; first, she obviously doesn’t care; second, she’s not held to a higher standard; and, third, she’s not good at her job. 


The quality of my daughter’s education depends on the quality of the individuals who provide that education.  If a teacher can’t be bothered to facilitate a quality educational experience for every child, they should find another profession.


I don’t have all the answers either.


©2008 ForeWORD Communications


All Rights Reserved 


For intelligent writing solutions for your business, visit my website at


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fair is a Place…

Filed under: FAMILY, FUN, FUNNY, HUMOR, HUMOROUS, LIFE, RANDOM, RANDOM THOUGHTS, THOUGHTS — Tags: , , , , , , , , — forewordcommunications @ 9:00 am


Kids are always whining about how unfair life is.  When I was growing up, I was told that “fair is a place where men go to throw cow pats to win prizes”.  I’ve also heard “fare is what people pay to ride the bus”.  Either way, the point is that life just isn’t fair; at least not in the way we’d like it to be.


We obviously gauge what we consider fair by how things affect us personally.  It’s normal to feel that you’ve been dealt a raw hand when you don’t get the raise or promotion you’ve worked so hard for.  It’s understandable for anyone who has suffered a debilitating life event to feel as if someone or something is out to get him.  And we know such happenings as Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Thailand tsunami, and the massive earthquake the Earth released on China earlier this year are definitely not “fair”.


Yet, there’s a difference between how children and adults define fairness.  If a kid doesn’t get what he wants, no matter what that thing is, the situation is declared unfair.  Little Billy didn’t get that third ice cream cone – ding, ding, ding, unfair!  Polly doesn’t get to play with her friend Betty’s new doll – come on people!  Unfair!  Cindy didn’t get a new car for her sweet sixteen – alert the authorities!  Unlike children however, most adults realize that fairness requires more than our mere existence and desire to stack the deck in our favor.


In his book, Nine things you simply must do to succeed in love and life: A psychologist probes the mystery of why some lives really work and others don’t, Dr. Henry Cloud indicates that people shouldn’t “play fair”.  Now, before we all go off and rail about how unfair it is to others not to be fair, or, even worse, take the suggestion at face value and just start taking everything we want regardless of how doing so would affect other people, let’s look at what Cloud means by “playing fair”. 


Cloud actually believes that we should be more than fair.  Kind of like, if we make sure that we do unto others better than we want others to do unto us, we’ll trigger some sort of Karmic reaction that will lead to a better life for us.  Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get my meaning.


Now, I have an incredibly rigid sense of fairness.  I’ve always tried to make sure that the people around me get more than they are required to give in friendships, business transactions, etc.  But, all that my rigid sense of fairness has earned me is a head full of grey hairs, most of which I swear are caused by people who frustrate the bejesus out of me with their ability to take advantage of other people.  And it’s that darn fairness rigidity that leaves me open-mouthed most of the time, thinking “what the devil did I do to deserve this/that?” 


Something else I was always told when I was growing up?  “You will receive your reward in heaven.”  In other words, don’t expect it here.




But I don’t have all the answers either.




©2008 ForeWORD Communications     All Rights Reserved


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Friday, June 20, 2008

Wherever Two or More Are Gathered…

Filed under: FAMILY, FUN, FUNNY, HUMOR, LIFE, MODERN LIVING, RANDOM, RANDOM THOUGHTS, THOUGHTS — Tags: , , , , , , , , — forewordcommunications @ 8:51 am


Driving to pick up my son from a friend’s house this afternoon, I saw a group of men gathered in a yard.  These men had fashioned a couple of small ramps out of plywood and some other odds and ends.  The ramps were facing each other.  At the time I was driving by, the men appeared to be standing around discussing how to utilize their creations. 


I saw this and I was reminded that wherever two or more are gathered… there’s bound to be trouble.


Men, especially when gathered in groups of two or more, have an almost childlike ability to create chaos.  I was reminded of this universal truth because each of the men in the group I witnessed today had assumed his own version of the man stance.  The man stance is a physical positioning of the body a man assumes that he apparently thinks makes him look more intelligent, better looking, or like an important contributor to the task at hand.  Although the man stance varies according to the individual man, there’s no doubt that it signals impending doom.


Any woman who has witnessed such a gathering of men can attest to the fact that they should never be allowed to gather in groups to do man stuff.  When they do, someone is bound to get hurt or something is going to get broken.  Why is it that during this mine-is-bigger-than-yours contest, men are immediately drained of any sense that they may have had before coming into contact with another man/men?  It’s like there is some sort of inverse correlation between the amount of testosterone in any given area and the amount of intelligence being employed.


So, back to the group of men gathered in the yard.


I imagined that one of those men was going to be brainless enough to ride those ramps in some manner that was likely to prove disastrous.  I had a friend, years ago, who, whenever he said the words “watch this” he ended up in the hospital.  The words “watch this” were only uttered in the presence of other men and they always preceded his doing something completely stupid like back flips off a springboard (During the back flip incident, my friend was showing off for some cheerleader friends at a local university).  Add alcohol to the man-stuff-and-stance soup and the inverse correlation I’ve already mentioned becomes increasingly proportionate to the amount of alcohol that has already been ingested. 


I’ll bet at least one testosterone tarzan in that yard got hurt and I’ll bet a group of wives and girlfriends are sitting around at this very moment shaking their heads and thinking “he/they did what?!”


Sigh.  I look at my son and wonder if he will ever really mature past his current chronological age of ten.





©2008 ForeWORD Communications     All Rights Reserved


For intelligent writing solutions for your business, visit my website at


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Intelligent Writing Solutions for Individuals and Businesses

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