I Have a Gripe

September 17, 2017

The Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl

According to today’s definition of the word, I am not a feminist. I’ve regularly been told I’ve “sold out the sisterhood.

Do I believe women are strong and capable individuals and deserve to be treated and paid equally? Absolutely. Do I believe women should receive special treatment in an effort to “level the playing field?” Absolutely not. A perfect example of this absurdity is NYU Film School’s so-called gender equality. Selecting women over men in the name of equality is utterly ridiculous. The concept is basically saying “women aren’t good enough to compete on their own merits so we are going to tip the scales.”

Now do I believe the “boy’s club” exists? Definitely. I’ve experienced it first hand. Do you know what I did to combat it? I did my job to the best of my ability. I’ve worked in male-dominated fields my entire career. I proved my worth of doing my job. I’ve told stories of my work multiple times over the years so I don’t feel the need to repeat myself. You can read more about them here.

I will admit early in my career I avoided wearing my wedding band on interviews. I didn’t want to be looked upon as a “baby factory.” Did I need to do that? I really can’t say for sure. Would I recommend this to my nieces? No. I don’t think it is necessary.

So why am I telling you all this and what does it have to do with two sculptures in New York City? Let me explain.

Earlier this year a new sculpture was installed (at the time temporarily) called the “Fearless Girl” on Wall Street in New York City. It was placed facing the iconic “Charging Bull” the day before International Women’s Day. Fearless Girl was commissioned by investment firm State Street Global Advisors to advertise an index fund which comprises gender-diverse companies that have a higher percentage of women among their senior leadership. It is an extremely well-executed sculpture by the artist. It quickly, however, turned into a point of contention and became a new rally cry for feminists everywhere.

My problem with it? It has completely changed the definition of the Charging Bull. What is the history of the Charging Bull you ask? Allow me to clarify.

ChargingBull

Arturo Di Modica and his Charging Bull (source: chargingbullcom)

Sculpture and Sicilian Arturo Di Modica developed the Charging Bull as a way to celebrate America, and specifically, New York. It celebrates the opportunities the nation offers to people of the world who are willing to come and work for success. It’s the symbol of courage Di Modica saw as the perfect antidote to the Wall Street crash of 1986. It is a celebration of the human spirit and determination of Americans.

 

Now the Fearless Girl is placed facing the Charging Bull. Instead of the celebration of the ability to survive whatever is thrown at Americans, it is now viewed as a little girl facing down the big bad men of Wall Street.

Shameful.

The sculptor has voiced his concern over the placement of Fearless Girl, saying it distorts and politicizes his art and has asked that it be removed. Will that happen? Unfortunately, I doubt it.

I agree with Di Modica. The Fearless Girl has changed the meaning of his art.

If it is decided that Fearless Girl is to remain on display indefinitely, I hope it will be moved elsewhere so the meaning of the Charging Bull is returned to its true inspiration. Unfortunately, I will be shocked it that happens.

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September 11, 2017

9/11 – 16 Years Later

Filed under: New York,Shanksville,Terrorism — alvb1227 @ 10:10 pm
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So today is that sad day in American history – the anniversary of the attacks of 9/11. This year the word “history” seems even more real to me.

For those of us who were adults, we remember exactly where we were that day. Just like our parents remembered where they were when JFK was killed and our grandparents remembered where they were during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

History.

Now, there is a new generation and for them it is exactly that – history. They don’t remember where they were. They don’t have that personal feeling adults had on that day.

I can tell you that I was just about at the office and the DJ on 104.3 cut in and said there was some kind of “fire or accident at the World Trade Center.” It was believed it was a small personal plane that had some kind of failure.

Within the next 10 minutes it took for me to park my car and get inside, it learned it was definitely something more.

I remember people crowding into my cubicle while my mother put the phone up to the television so we could listen to the news. The Internet couldn’t keep up with all the traffic and we couldn’t get a good connection.

I remember several of us frantically looking for flight information for two of our managers flying out of Newark.

I remember running upstairs to tell our division president our manager’s information and leaving to go to the mother of a best friend from high school because her father worked in the World Trade Center. Thankfully, he made it home safe.

I remember my husband calling me from school to find out what was being said on the news.

I remember crying. A lot.

I remember the smell of the smoke that wafted over from New York into New Jersey.

I remember my friends from our Chicago office calling me to check and make sure I was safe.

WaterfallJust like our parents and grandparents with the “day” of their generations, I can tell you every minute of that day.

Last winter I went to Ground Zero for the first time since it was fully opened to the public. The enormity was the space is simply overwhelming. I was brought to the space after “The Pile” became “The Hole” shortly after Pope John Paul II came to the location to pray by the parents of that same friend that left us sick with worry on that day. At that time it was literally that – a hole. A giant empty space. The only way I can describe the feeling I had was heavy and sad. Profoundly sad. But I felt honored to be given the opportunity to be there and say a prayer.

Now, the space is still sad, but it is a dignified reminder of the people who were killed, the people that survived, and the stories of triumph. Seeing it on the television simply doesn’t do it justice.

While I stood there in quiet thought and prayer, I watched the commuters who passed by in the usual New York speed-walking fashion and wondered how they felt passing that space every day. I thought again of a story I’ve told before. Several years after the first World Trade Center bombing, I went on an interview in one of the towers. The person I met with wanted me to make sure I understood that the job would be at that location. He explained that people were concerned about working in the Towers because of the attack. My answer? I told him I wasn’t worried. “Lightening doesn’t strike twice.”

Boy was I wrong.

I don’t remember the name of the man I met with or even the name of the company. I think about him each year and wonder if he was still working there and if he made it home that day.

For us, this is all history now. And we have a responsibility to share that history with the next generation.

It isn’t enough to say “never forget.” It is “I remember.”

 

September 3, 2017

Back to School Time

Filed under: Education — alvb1227 @ 9:01 pm
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It’s the time of year parents wait for with breathless anticipation – back to school time.

While parents rush out to pick up school supplies and new clothes for their kids, teachers are doing something very similar – buying school supplies. Not for themselves, but for their classrooms.

No, I’m not kidding.

My husband was a teacher for 25 years. And each year we purchased more and more supplies for his classroom. Everything from pens and paper, to Clorox wipes and paper towels. And he wasn’t alone. According to a 2016 article in Time, most teachers spend $500 per year for classroom supplies and one in 10 spend over $1,000 per year.

Now any regular readers here know I have a very strong opinion about the hard work teachers do. They are expected to be teachers, parents, diplomats, nurses, psychologists, disciplinarians, and more. They often lend money when kids are sent with nothing for lunch and offer a caring ear to listen to children’s problems. Add to that they often put themselves in harm’s way when school shootings occur, teachers are literally laying down their lives for their “kids.”

And now almost all of them spend money on basic necessities for their classroom.

Most commonly needed supplies include:

  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Pencils/erasers
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Printer paper
  • White board markers/erasers
  • Chalk
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Rubber gloves
  • Band aids/First aid kits
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Sticky Notes
  • Tape

So as you pick up final supplies for your kids, offer to bring in some tissues or pens for their classroom. Or better yet, surprise your teacher with some common supplies from the those listed above.

June 25, 2017

The Plastic Predicament

Filed under: General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 10:30 pm
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I am keenly aware that every item I throw in the garbage will end up in a landfill somewhere. I do what I can do keep trash to a minimum. Now I am not the type of person that doesn’t buy toilet paper because it is wrapped in plastic, but I do my best to make sure as much as possible in my home gets recycled, reused, donated, or upcycled.

Enter the plastic bag.

American BeautyPlastic plays an important role in our society. Plastic tubing and and syringes are used by the medical profession.  I loved the plastic bag scene from “American Beauty,” but I. Hate. Plastic.

Nothing bugs me more than when I leave Shop Rite or Target and see a shopping cart filled with plastic bags.

Why you might ask? Because, unfortunately, many of them wind up like this:

PlasticBag

I can’t tell you how often I see bags hanging in the trees, flying across the road, or worse, wrapped around an animal.

Now, I will say there are times I have been forced to use the stray plastic bag. I always keep reusable bags in my car, but sometimes I don’t have enough with me or some other odd issue. I will, however, recycle them the next time I head to the store.

So as the weather warms and more quick runs to the store happen on the way to the beach or the lake, throw a couple of reusable or canvas bags in the car and use them instead.

#KeepAmericaBeautiful

 

March 13, 2017

Working through an “Emergency”

Filed under: General Annoyances,New Jersey,New York — alvb1227 @ 7:55 pm

So as the Northeast prepares for a late-winter blizzard, the discussion of “emergency” and what “non-essential personnel” really means.

Allow me to explain.

When the Governor gets on the television and tells everyone to “stay off the roads” and “only essential personnel” should be on the roads, what does that mean?

For the average person? Nothing.

Let me tell you the story of two managers.

The first manager I am going to tell you about would require everyone to work, regardless of the weather…on time. Then two hours after everyone would trudge in, he would let everyone leave only to have a harrowing ride home. The last time I did this when I worked at this particular company, the snow wasn’t plowed on the highway and it was up over the hood of my Jeep. I generally do not worry about driving, but that ride home terrified me. I truly hated this man. It was obvious he didn’t care about his employees.

The second manager I am going to tell you about worried about his employees. He used to tell us that it was up to us if we were comfortable driving in – and actually meant it! It wasn’t a “do what you think is best” passive-aggressive mind game. He would tell us to work from home. He didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to come in and wind up in an accident. He didn’t want it on his conscious. I didn’t fear for my job if I didn’t come in and as a result, I was happy and worked hard to do the best job I could!

So while the news reports tell you to say off the roads and the Governor has declared some type of emergency alert, remember that doesn’t protect you from your boss.

So I know it is hard, but resist the pressure and REALLY do what is best for you. Be safe. Remember, if you are on the road and need assistance, you put the lives of emergency staff in jeopardy. Be safe and help keep emergency staff safe as well!

March 7, 2017

For the Love of the Library

Filed under: Education — alvb1227 @ 5:42 pm
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librariesThis morning I decided to head to my local library to do some work. I have enjoyed going to the library since I was a child. I loved the smell of the books and the quiet space. Growing up in Belleville, I would often ride my bike to the library during the summer and stay there for hours. I even remember taking a “certified babysitter” class there. At one point, I even considered going to school for library science. But the call of journalism was too strong.

When I attended Seton Hall University, again, one of my favorite spots on campus was the library. I would find a quiet corner in the stacks to read and do my homework. Last fall I

shu-library

The entrance of the Seton Hall Library. Source: Seton Hall University

headed back to the campus for Parent’s Weekend, and of course I had to visit the new library. What an amazing place! It is different building from my time as a student, but it is still a wonderful place.

This morning while working I had to stop at one point and look around. I saw a student being tutored in geometry, an elderly gentlemen helping a woman improve her English skills, people using the computers on site, and of course, people taking out books.

There are people who think the library is now passe. It is an unnecessary space that takes up tax dollars that could be used elsewhere. I completely disagree. The library provides a valuable resource for the community. From a child listening to story time, to adults attending a computer class.

So what is my gripe you might ask? That libraries today are undervalued. If you haven’t visited your local library lately, I encourage you to do so.

February 9, 2017

What Ever Happened to Being Polite?

Remember when Facebook first started? People would send each other pictures of Starbucks coffee and reconnect with long-lost high school friends.

My how things have changed.

Now social media is all about political hatred, being snarky to each other, and overall rudeness. It reminds me of how some people behave when they are in their car and get into fights with others stuck in traffic with you. It is easier to be mean to people when you aren’t face to face.

be-niceI know so many people who have fought with, unfriended, or blocked people they have known for years. Some are even family members. And even when you try to have a civil discussion with someone, it quickly turns hateful. Assumptions are made regarding political opinions, ancestry, religious beliefs, and the like; most of which are usually wrong. You know what they say about assumptions.

And while it has become worse since the presidential election, it was pretty bad beforehand. I even know many people who have given up on Facebook completely.

It is very sad. I feel like Grandma needs to give people a smack in the back of the head and remind some of good manners.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have no problem when people openly disagree with other’s opinions. This is a big part of what makes our country great. However, I do hate when things get snarky, rude, and downright mean. While I haven’t unfriended anyone, I have “unfollowed” and reduced the number of people that appear in my Facebook feed. I feel like there is more than enough hatred and negative energy in the world that I don’t need it showing up on my feed. For whatever reason, I easily pick up on other people’s energy and it is very hard for me to manage. I am also not going to set myself up for a beating by those who disagree with me. I find myself sharing less and less because I just don’t want to deal with the negativity that can come my way.

So I am asking for everyone who reads this to take a step back and think about what you are posting before you hit “post.” I haven’t walked in someone else’s shoes and I try to keep that in mind when I post something. Whether you call it the Golden Rule, Do Unto Others, Ethic of Reciprocity, or something else, I ask you keep that in mind.

It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.

February 5, 2017

Why Tom Brady will Never be “The Greatest”

Today is the greatest day in sports. And we are going to watch two teams fight it out for the Vince Lombardi trophy. The funny thing is if you watch the coverage, it sounds like one team has already won. The Patriots, and more specifically, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

I can’t stand either of these men. There, I said it.

In my opinion, both these men will forever have an asterisk next to their names due to the ongoing allegations (and proven allegations) that they are cheaters.

I have read plenty of articles about how Tom Brady is “the greatest football player of all time.” I couldn’t disagree more.

It is no secret I am a life-long Niners fan and I will argue to the death that Joe Montana is the greatest. However, there are several others that are in the same class.

Terry Bradshaw – This is a four-time Super Bowl winner, who played 16 seasons. He is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and a member of the Hall of Fame. I have always considered him the most underrated quarterback in NFL history. Yes, he was part of a great time, but he definitely brought them to a higher level than they would’ve achieved without him.

Roger Staubach – While playing the man was just stellar. He retired in 1980 with the highest rated passer of all time. For regular-season games, he had a .750 winning percentage. The man was brilliant when it came to his ability to scramble and a Super Bowl winner puts him at the top of the game. Above all that, he served his country admirably in the United States Navy. Imagine what his numbers would’ve been if he didn’t serve?

John Unitas – Now, I know I am reaching back, but let’s look at this man’s accomplishments. He is considered the QB who invented “modern-day quarterbacking.” He threw for 287 touchdown passes in his career and gained 14.2 yards-per-completion. You can’t argue with that.

Dan Marino – Now before you say “he never won a Super Bowl,” hear me out. When he retired in 2000, Marino owned almost every important passing record in the game’s history; most of which stood for 10 years. He had a quick QB mind, a cannon for an arm, and a grace under pressure that was just awesome.

Joe Montana – Last but not least, I have my man, Joe Cool. The man had ice in his veins. He played in four Super Bowls, won three MVPs and threw 11 TDs with no interceptions. Let me say that again – ZERO interceptions. His 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor is still the single greatest moment in Super Bowl history in my humble opinion. And no one handles the two-minute offense better – now or since. Period.

So where does Tom Brady sit? With Belichick as a cheater. A documented cry baby who will forever be associated with the Tuck Rule. Does the man have ability? Absolutely. Is he the greatest of all time? Absolutely not.

I want to also mention that these QBs played in eras where it was open season on quarterbacks. They had their clocks cleaned on a regular basis without a second thought. And my back still hurts from watching that hit Montana took against the Giants. Could Brady handle that? No way. He would cry home to his wife.

So sorry Brady fans, you will never convince me otherwise.

What do I say today? Go Atlanta!

 

January 16, 2017

My Problem with Pink

Filed under: Fashion,General Annoyances,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 6:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

I hate pink. There I said it.

Yes, I am a girl and I’ve never liked pink. I’ve always liked blue. My formal china has blue in it, most of my clothes are blue, even my car is blue!

pink-shirtSo when I recently went on Bass Pro Shops to place an order, I always check out the latest hunting and fishing shirts. I saw one that I really liked. The problem? It was pink.

You have a “reel women” saying…but it is pink.

Needless to say I didn’t purchase it.

Yes, I am an angler – do I really need to have a pink shirt? I looked at the other shirt options they had available. Almost EVERY other shirt had some kind of pink in it. Pink camo? Seriously?

I remember a similar annoyance brought to attention by Alyssa Milano. She was annoyed that the only women’s shirts for NFL teams were – you guessed – in pink. So she launched her own line of NFL wear. I love it! It is stylish and you get to show off the love for your favorite team with more than just a pink jersey.

So what do I say to Bass Pro? Recognize that the women looking at your merchandise do not want pink. You will make more sales if you offer more colors and grown-up styles.

December 17, 2016

Education, Not Politics

“The classroom should be apolitical.”

I’ve heard this quote several times over the years from an educator I highly respect. And I agree with this statement completely. This does not mean we should not teach civics, history, or other potentially complicated topics. What this means is that the politics of the day should be checked at the door when you walk into a classroom to teach impressionable children. The opinions of the teachers should not enter the lesson plan. I believe this for both sides of the aisle.

So why do I bring this up?

A high school friend sent me an article that sent me flying.

inaugralparade

Now regular readers of my blog know I am a huge advocate of music in public schools. My time in marching band were some of the best of my life. I had the opportunity to march at Epcot and DC. I never had the opportunity march in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an Inaugural Parade, or even Giants Stadium like other friends. But I still loved every minute of it and I cherish the memories I have.

Many schools are opting out of the opportunity to march in the Inaugural Parade. While some are citing budget restraints or other issues, some are saying, quietly, that it is related to politics.

I think this is deplorable.

Now I understand first-hand what band directors are facing today when it comes to tight budgets, time constrains, and all the other challenges that face music programs in public schools today. This is not what I am discussing here.

The chance to march in an Inaugural Parade is an opportunity few students get to experience. These teachers should not allow their personal opinions related to the election to have anything to do with denying their students this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

To the band directors who are letting their sore feelings over the election prevent these kids the chance to be part of a small very club, I say shame on you.

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