Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I changed the template because I was pretty sick of the other one.

Nickel and Dimed, a book review

Wow, can I just say Barbara Ehrenreich, you are my hero. She is not only a good and smart writer, both humorous and easy-to-read, she went where few upper middle class members have gone before: blue collar- minimum wage world.

Nickel and Dimed is Ehrenreich's book-length attempt to uncover how the US 'minimum wage' cannot support even a single person attempting to live on it. Let alone a parent with children or families. She travels to Key West, Minneapolis and Portland, Maine to uncover this truth: that blue-collar workers making minimum wage (basically) cannot afford TO LIVE.

She works as a waitress at two different restaurants in Key West. I personally loved this section because I've been a waitress for so long. And a lot of things she nailed on the head. I particularly like what she wrote on restaurant management, since I have found that to be true in at least one place.

Her sections on being a house cleaner and Wal-Mart worker were poignant as well. She concludes with a 10-15 pg evaluation on what she found, and basically cries out for a rally by low-class workers against the unfair minimum wage imposed upon them. And she also explains her feelings that those taking welfare benefits only do so because trying to get a job would mean having to live off minimum wage, which is (as she sees it) impossible.

Let's be honest, I am perhaps not the best audience for this book as I already went into reading it believing 100% everything she was trying to prove. I have always (since I've had a political consciousness anyways) believed that the minimum wage is ridiculous and wondered why, if there is a MINIMUM wage why isn't there a MAXIMUM wage? Don't we all agree that there are some people out there with more money than they know what to do with? Do they DESERVE 50 antique cars and 2 yachts? Do people in other countries (and even our own) deserve to die from poverty and starvation, when someone else has so much? I am (obviously) of the opinion that no, no one deserves to die when others have so much that they don't need.

Do I think that many a non-liberal, non-socialist will pick up this book, no. But they should. Until someone goes out and proves her wrong, I think that this book's message should be something on every politician's (and citizen's) mind.

She makes a good point in this, that the real philanthropists are the minimum wage workers that work for less than they should to make things like clothes available for cheap for middle/ upper classes. Please ignore the cheesy music video starting around 6:00


Some other things I love right now:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Attempting to be "greener"

While flipping through Glamour's April 2010 issue, I stumbled upon an article entitled "13 Easy Ways to Live Green and Save Up to $1700." I feel that in my upcoming move to NYC (and move-IN w/ my boyfriend) I would like to make a concerted effort to be more "green." Not that I've been particularly "un-green" in the past, I would just like to step up my efforts. Here's Glamour's suggestions:

1. Use a mug instead of paper coffee cup. (In my old 8-5 office job, I was very good about bringing my coffee into work in a mug, so this one should be fine.)

2. Think before you buy. (Basically they are saying to buy less, or buy local, or even just buying things w less packaging. I think this will work for me.... and hopefully Will- the bf:)

3. Recycle your old gadgets. (I think I've done alright with this one in the past, I recycle old cell phones and I've donated old computers to family and friends.)

4. Try fabric cloths to clean up around the house. (I could definitely employ this one a bit more, I tend to use paper towels for cleanup. Also, maybe I will try to use cloth napkins as opposed to paper napkins and paper towels.)

5. Use hand dryers in public restrooms. (I will admit, I HATE hand dryers and love using paper towels, but I will try to use hand dryers more if I must.)

6. Drink tap water. (I do drink a lot of tap water, usually I just refill old bottled water bottles, but I guess I could buy a nicer water container which would inspire me a bit more).

7. Eat your leftovers. (I am good about this, and will just have to make sure Will is alright with doing this too!)

8. Go organic when you can. (I will definitely TRY to do this more.)

9. Eat more whole foods. (i.e. less processed foods- I think this will be easy for Will and I, we like cooking, and I don't think either one of us is too attached to many processed foods.)

10. Buy in bulk. (I think Will will like this challenge, because he is all about us signing up for a membership at Sam's Club!)

11. Have two vegetarian meals each week. (Not gonna be too hard for me since I became a vegetarian last November:)

12. Choose chicken over beef. (I don't choose either, so not a problem.)

13. Eat what's in season. (A bit harder for me, because I don't actually know what's in season most of the time lol. But I will work on learning!)


Anyways, that's Glamour's list, which I liked and will work on. My own add-on's will be:

14. Use re-usable grocery bags. (I was really good about this in London, so hopefully it will continue in NYC)

15. Walk or ride bike, when possible. (I have to get a bike first of course, but walking is always an option. And since I won't have a car, walking is definitely the preferred method over public transportation!)

16. No paper towels, paper plates, etc. (I'm way too dependant on these and I can just as easily use cloth towels and actual plates.)

17. Eat food with less packaging. (No brainer, but could prove a challenge.)


All I could think of for now, if I think of more I'll update in the future!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Birth defects in Fallujah.

On a much more serious note than the last article, I hated reading this one. It just makes me so frustrated and upset that our weapons and our war has caused some babies to be born with birth defects such as severe heart conditions. Children are going to die because of weapons we used years ago. It really just makes me realize what a cruel and unjust place our world is. It makes me really sad to think that my country of citizenship's destruction in other parts of the world will continue to cause death and devastation even years and years after it is 'done' with its 'operation freedom' or whatever stupid name they've come up with now.

It's like our government/ military industrial complex feels it can do whatever it wants, when it wants, using whatever weapons it wants without any regard for who it hurts/ kills. Including deaths of our own soldiers. I, in no way blame the soldiers who fight the wars, because in many cases, they have not had a choice in the matter. No agency of the government pays like the US military does and its definitely not as easy to get in any other facet of a US government agency. So I do not blame anyone who signs up, as in our country with this economy, the military would seem like a good economic choice, as opposed to let's say, a minimum wage job or something similar.

I compared going into the peace corps vs. enlisting in the army post-high school (even not counting the lengthy application process of peace corps vs. the speedy application process of the army). In peace corps, you get a stipend which is similar to the living wage of the place you are living (and since most places are poor that peace corps is stationed, this may equate to 100 or 200 bucks a month). As opposed to the army, where at the very least, they start you out at 1500 to 2000 a month. In peace corps, you receive a $6000 stipend for edu loans/ college at the end of the 2 years. In the army, in 2008 at least, they gave you a $40,000 sign on bonus for signing up for a 4 year contract. (See article.)

It just seems to me that at least money-wise, going into the army seems like the logical choice. So where does the blame fall? The military-industrial complex. The companies that produce weapons capable of causing birth defects years after their use. The government that allows and mandates that such weapons be used.

Anyways I feel that's enough ranting for one day.

Bad tippers....

Okay so I figured I would chunk up my articles because the first one was getting a bit lengthy. So we are onto number 2:

Okay, I have to say up front, that my annoyance with this whole story revolves mostly around the fact that I'm a waitress and have been for some time, and I gotta be honest, I loathe people like this woman.

I am completely and 100% on the restaurant's side. I have never been lucky enough to work in a restaurant that would refuse service to someone who didn't tip (not that the places I've worked are bad, just that it is defintely atypical restaurant management/ owner behaviour). I mean usually the mantra goes that 'the cusomer is always right,' meaning if the customer chooses not to tip its their personal choice. This is where the problem comes in though.

Clearly this lady had no problem with the service, seeing that she was a regular customer. If you like the service, you leave a tip. This is standard restaurant etiquette. Believe me, I have read Emily Post and the like.

I guess the only part I somewhat agree with the woman on, is the mystery gratuity charges she received. (On a side note, does the way she says "grat-oo-it-tay" annoy anyone else?) I don't think it's fair to charge her and 2 other people the service charge when its their policy to charge only groups of 6 or more. And not tell her. They should have let that one slide, and then not let her in next time (i.e. what actually did happen).

But I am all in favor of the restaurant not letting her come back. I loved when the owner said something about how she couldn't eat there because all of the servers and cooks refused to serve her! LOVE IT!!!!!! hahahahahaha, as a server, I must say, it makes me want to go apply at that restaurant.

In all actuality however, I doubt this would ever be the norm. I have never worked anywhere that would have refused her service. As lowly servers, we must grin and bear it (or should I say scowl and spit in your food?) when it comes to class-less cheap asses like this lady.

The End:) (until the next rant...)

Guns, Bad tippers, and birth defects... why do they exist in my world?

So, today, I will be enlightening you with some news stories I've recently come across that have generally just pissed me off. I'll give ya the links and let you decide what you think, but as always I'll go on and on about what I think.

1. Supreme Court Expected to relax handgun bans
Okay, first of all, when reading this short article aloud to my mom, her first response was, "are you sure this isn't from The Onion?" Because indeed, it sounds ridiculous enough to be made up:

"Starbucks is embracing 'open-carry' gun laws, and allowing patrons to bear arms while ordering Frappacino's

WHAT???!!! What the hell? Anyways, it just goes on to say that now the Supreme Court is most likely going to make a decision that there should be a national right to bear arms- i.e. cities, states, other locales should not be allowed to make this rule on their own. I'm sorry but this makes no sense at all to me. Why is our country regressing? Shouldn't we be moving in the opposite direction towards stricter gun control laws, as in NO open carry laws? In England, they don't allow handguns to be carried anywhere or even owned (I'm fairly certain) without extremely strict regulations. And can we please compare their gun crime to ours? They have next to none, and we have people dying everyday from gunshot wounds.

I don't live (currently) in a place where people walk around with handguns, so I don't know too many people personally affected by gun crime. But at my old job where I encountered many a city-dweller, poor neighborhood resident or former felon, I met many people whose lives were affected by gun crime. One guy I employed and saw a few times at a store in town, I later found out was killed in a drive by shooting. It made me really sad, to see a young guy (he was 21), who was also a father, killed simply because he was in the line of a gun's fire. This happens way more than any of us can imagine I'm sure.

I definitely don't buy the argument that people should be allowed to have handguns in order to protect themselves from criminals who carry guns. If the criminals weren't allowed to have guns, then there would be no need for any law-abiding citizens to have them correct? And while I do admit that knives can be lethal (see London), it is much harder to get within that less-than-one-inch range in order to stab than to shoot from yards away with a gun.

Anyways, I personally feel a 'conspiracy theory' coming on. (I don't like that phrase but many people would probably think this sounds conspiracy theory-ish). I think its an agreement between the US government and gun companies, in order to keep them in business. Call me crazy, but why else would this ludicrousness be occurring?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The problem with academic writing...

First of all, I apologize for the length of time it's taken me to get back to blogging. Life and my never-ending job search calls. I'm applying to non-profit jobs- mostly HR, marketing/ communications and program assistant positions. But so far, no bites.
On the book front, I've mainly been reading non-profit job search books. Not necessarily uninteresting, just not what I would normally spend so much time with. In other reading material, you will find the subject of this blog- an excerpt from a book (a reading assignment) sent to me by my sister- who is taking a Feminist Studies class (something I might like to teach someday). I figured I would just have her send along her syllabus and class readings to mollify my need to be constantly learning (and preferably in school). But when I started looking at the article, I first noticed the title, which brought me back to my thesis writing days- and not in a good way- The Lexicon of the Debates.

I'm sorry, but how many undergrad freshmen know what lexicon means? Or use it in everyday conversation? I recently graduated with my MA and even I had to look up the meaning of the word 'lexicon.' After passing the 'intimidating' title, one would find the article is not too difficult of a read, but the title still continued to annoy me. How many college freshmen would be immediately be put off reading this summary of the debates on feminism simply because of the word 'lexicon'? I know at least one, and certainly there are more. Academic writing- MOST academic writing that is- is constantly guilty of throwing in lengthy, unfamiliar words simply because the piece of writing wants to be considered 'academic.' Who decided this? What's the problem with writing in plain English so that the writing is accessible to all? I got really frustrated with academics who wrote as if they were a stuffy 1960's Oxford professor when discussing a real and relevant topic like domestic violence today. Even when writing about philosophy, could it not be 'jazzed up' a bit to be accessible to college and graduate students (who are the majority of the people reading the material?) All I know is that some day I hope to be in academia, and I will strive to write in plain English, as I (attempted to) on my thesis.

Anyways, enough ranting for today, have a nice Friday!