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.”

 

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!

September 11, 2016

15 Years Ago… Gone but not Forgotten

Filed under: New Jersey,New York,Shanksville,Terrorism,Washington D.C. — alvb1227 @ 4:13 pm
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Here we are again, fifteen years later. I sit and listen to the names, the memories from family members, and the music. It seems like it gets harder every year. I didn’t know anyone personally who lost their lives on that terrible day, but I feel like we all lost someone on that day. I feel like all the people lost became part of all our families. I was lucky, the father of one of my best friends from high school, who I have called “Papa Kane” since I was a young teenager, came home that day. He was my first thought after I heard what was

9-11-morrisplains

The 9-11 Memorial in Morris Plains, NJ that remembers two of our Cahners colleagues and the sister of a Cahners colleague.

happening. My other thought was for my two colleagues who were on a plane to Cleveland for business. As soon as we found their flight information and made sure they were safe, I immediately drove to the elementary school where my Momma Kane taught to be with her. I tried to get her to leave and come to my mother’s house, but she wouldn’t budge.

 

As I watch those who read the names, I am struck by all the children. I think about the generation that is growing up now who either weren’t old event to remember, or weren’t even born yet. For those of us who do remember, we are now entrusted with an important task; to help those children understand what happened that day and share our experiences.

When I was in high school and learning about the Vietnam War, one of our teachers invited in two veterans that were former students of Belleville High School. They told us stories and their experiences. I was struck by how different they viewed their service. One was proud. The other, I could still feel his anger. That time became real to me, rather than just facts in a history book. Maybe that’s what teachers should do today. Not talk about the politics of the time, but what we all felt and went through. Help make it a real event for the next generation instead of just facts in their textbooks.

9-11-memorial

My visit to the 9-11 Memorial in February, 2016.

In February, I went to Ground Zero for the first time since shortly after that terrible day. My Momma and Pappa Kane brought me to Ground Zero after The Pile became The Hole, shortly after Pope John Paul II came to visit and pray. I had been there countless times before the attacks, but it was hard to orient myself and imagine where the streets were and where the buildings stood. I saw the tower lights up close. It was overwhelming. I am forever grateful that they brought me to that sacred place so I could pray for those who didn’t come home and be thankful that Pappa did come home. The sheer size of the space the Memorial was overwhelming. While it sits in the middle of the city that  never sleeps, it is quiet there. People spoke in hushed tones and were caring and respectful.

 

I wonder what will happen as time marches on. Will the names stop being read? Every December 7th, I think about Pearl Harbor, but that generation is quickly leaving this world. We remember as Americans, but do we really remember? Will 9-11 face the same fate? I pray not. I pray we always remember. Not just the events of the day, but the people we lost and the people who came home.

September 11, 2015

Fourteen Years Later – Do We Really Remember?

So here it is. The night before the world changed. I’ve been watching my Facebook feed fill up with photos of New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville. Photos of the World Trade Center, New York firefighters and police officers. Comments that say “we will never forget.”

This year, I ask one question – do we really remember?

I get very melancholy as “the day” approaches. I usually ask myself why. Do I have a right to feel this way? I didn’t know anyone who died. I know “people of people.” I wasn’t even in New York. I was in my office in Jersey.

I left work almost immediately. As I drove back to Belleville, and came closer to the smoke – and that smell – it really started to hit me. I felt numb, like thousands of others did, I am sure. I drove directly to the school where my friend’s mother worked. Her husband worked in the Twin Towers and I was worried for him. I had no idea what I could do, but I felt like that’s where I needed to be. I tried to get her to come back to my house, but she wanted to stay put. Thankfully, he was found alive.

I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night, but I remember every minute of that day. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

But by next week, with September 11th in the rear view mirror for another year, I wonder if people really remember or if it is just one day out of each year and that’s it.

I remember a country truly united. I remember standing in line to buy desk flags for every person in my department. I remember seeing flags absolutely everywhere. I remember people bringing food to their emergency responders and saying “thank you.” I remember people being proud to be American.

Now? Not so much.

I feel like we are a country more divided than ever. That this horrific day is nothing more than a political football to push forward whatever the “agenda of the day” is. That there are people who have tried to take advantage of this tragedy for personal gain.

This year I am bouncing between sickened, depressed, and angry. Each emotion for a different thought. A different memory. A different feeling. Even as I write this I know this post is more of a ramble and far less organized than posts in the past.

This year, I’ve seen this graphic going around Facebook:

AtThisMomentMaybe this is part of what got me really thinking. I always think about “that day,” but not really what was going on the night before – all the normal things people do on any given evening. Everyone was worried about their day-to-day crap. The next day none of it mattered.

This morning I had some jerk try to run me off the road because he didn’t like how I merged. I was angry and shaken. You know what? As I sit here writing this, it doesn’t matter at all. I was able to come home at the end of the day, kiss my husband, and say hello to my bird.

The people who were killed by the men (and I don’t even like to call them “men”) who represented pure evil prevented those innocent souls from getting home, kissing their loved ones and having a normal day.

Maybe that’s what it is all about when people say “never forget.”

Never forget what happened that terrible day. Pray for those families who wake up every morning without their loved ones. Remember those who knowingly gave their lives so a plane would go down in a field in Pennsylvania instead of the Capitol Building or the White House. Pray for those who lost their lives due to their service on “the pile.” But also remember to live a good life. That our being here is a gift that should not be squandered, because you never know it will all be over. Live a life your family would be proud of. Try to do something good every day and expect nothing in return. Be a good American.

I think that’s the best way to “never forget.”

January 27, 2014

The NEW JERSEY Super Bowl

I love football. And even though my team isn’t in it this year (they were robbed by bad calls in Seattle), I was looking forward to watching the game taking place in my home state. Note the use of the word “was.” My gripe? The fact is everyone from advertisers, to the news media to the NFL seems to have forgotten that the game is actually in New Jersey – not New York.

From the moment I saw the logo with “NY” listed first, I knew we were in for an uphill battle. The Verizon commercial deciding if Terry Bradshaw or the little girl will go to New York sent my blood pressure to the stratosphere. And as much as I love Bradshaw, I turned off the post-game activity the moment he asked about how Seattle feels about going to New York.

Um, you realize if they go to New York they will miss the game, right?

The teams are landing in NEW JERSEY.

The teams are staying in NEW JERSEY.

The game is being played in NEW JERSEY.

New York is shutting down Broadway for a huge NFL/Superbowl event. Meanwhile, the parties in New Jersey were denied use of the logo by NFL.

Seriously?

As expected, New York will gain the majority of the financial windfall that comes with hosting a Super Bowl, meanwhile, New Jersey will get stuck paying the bill for security and logistics. It reminds me of co-hosting a party where one person does all the work and the other person, just because he or she is an extrovert, gets all the credit. Meanwhile, you’re out a ton of money and are stuck cleaning vomit out of the carpet.

Just like Rodney Dangerfield often said, “no respect.”

September 11, 2013

Are we Forgetting?

Filed under: New Jersey,New York,Terrorism — alvb1227 @ 8:00 am
Tags: , ,

As we as a nation face another anniversary of 9-11, I have an overwhelming feeling of sadness and worry. And unlike previous years, they go hand-in-hand for a different reason. I worry that we are forgetting and that makes me incredibly sad.

Living in north Jersey and having seen the smoke rise from the pile, I remember every previous year there was a lot of coverage leading up to the anniversary. This year? I have hardly seen anything about planned events or how they will be covered on the news. I hate going to work on 9-11. I would much rather stay home and watch the coverage on television or go to a local memorial service. I am sure just like many others, I play that day’s events over and over in my mind.

I first heard about it from a confused report on 104.3 as I was just reaching my office that there was some kind of “fire or accident at the World Trade Center.” By the time I parked the car, made it inside, and launched the Internet, I saw a still of the second plane just before it crashed into the South Tower. My head was full of confusion and stunned silence.

The President of our division came over the PA system and said “it is obvious something is going on today, if anyone needs to leave, just go.” I immediately thought of two colleagues who were flying out of Newark that morning. We all scrambled to find their flight information and find out if they were safe.

The Internet was painfully slow and we had no television access. I went up to the local Radio Shack to see if I could get some cables to rig up a local television channel. No luck. We drove up the hill from my office to see if we could see anything. I was stunned by the amount of smoke you could see all the way to Morris Plains, NJ. We went back to the office and I called my mother and she held the phone up to the television. I put my office phone on speaker and people crowded into my cube to listen. I suddenly thought of my best friend from high school. Her father worked at the WTC. Her mother was a teacher in my hometown. I could feel the blood drain from my face. I asked my mother if she heard anything yet and she said no. I grabbed my purse, ran up to the division president’s office. Gave him my colleague’s flight information, told him no one had heard from my friend’s father and that I was leaving for the day.

9-11 memorial

Plaque from the Reed Business Information 9-11 Memorial, Morris Plains, New Jersey

I drove straight to the school where my friend’s mother worked. When I approached the school and rang the bell, I heard the familiar voice of the principal. I told him that it was me and who I was there to see. He buzzed me in and I ran to his office. I found my friend’s mother clutching a paper plate with a phone number scribbled across it. I knelt down next to her and asked how she was doing. She looked truly frightened. I will never forget the look on her face. She just said “this is where he is supposed to be today, but there’s no answer.” I asked her to come to my house and sit with my mother, but she didn’t want to leave. The principal also suggested she go with me, but she refused. I just went home and sat in stunned silence. I really didn’t know what to do.

Well, thankfully for us, my two colleagues and my friend’s father were all safe. But that wasn’t the case for two employees from a different division and the sister of a colleague. They all perished at the WTC site.

I remember every minute of that day. I play it in my head like a video. And I am sure I am not the only one. Sadness doesn’t even describe…

But I am also worried.

I am worried as time passes, the dragon will once again return to slumber. I worry that the politics related to this horrific event are beginning to overshadow the event itself. And what truly disgusts me is that there are some trying to profit from it – like a golf course in Wisconsin.

Does the “Day of Service” help us remember? I honestly don’t know. I understand the idea behind it, but I am not sure about the correlation between thousands of innocent civilians being murdered with cleaning up a local park. Maybe I am looking for something too deep or something that just isn’t there.

I pray we never forget.

I have a friend who is working with her small band of loyal New Jerseyans to identify and clean up small cemeteries where Revolutionary War Veterans are buried. Over the hundreds of years since their sacrifice, their final resting places have often become overgrown, forgotten, and lost to time. That is, until she found them and reminded everyone of their sacrifice.

I hope the memory of that horrible day and those souls that were lost do not become forgotten like an overgrown cemetery.

September 11, 2012

September 11th – 11 Years Later

Filed under: New Jersey,New York,Politics,Security,Terrorism — alvb1227 @ 1:58 am
Tags: , , ,

Tomorrow is the 11th anniversary of the day that changed America. Last year, on the 10th anniversary, the New York City memorial opened. It was an amazing structure and a beautiful way to remember so many on such a heart breaking day.

Well, since then, many have equated the memorial to an amusement park. People have been seen leaving their Starbucks cups, letting their children throw stuff in the reflecting pool, and my personal favorite, seating toddlers on top of the plaques holding the names of the fallen. To me that is like someone standing on a headstone in a cemetery. While I am sure this poor behavior is a minority, I think it is important for visitors to remember this isn’t a tourist spot. It is where 3,000 lost their lives and to treat it with the proper respect it deserves.

I think it is also important that during this year’s ceremonies politicians aren’t going to speak. I believe these events shouldn’t be politicized. No matter what a person’s political affiliation, this is an American event. Politics should stay out of it. When Usama Bin Laden was killed and the President, the New York and New Jersey Governors, and the New York City Mayor went to lay a wreath at the memorial, before the event began, and I am sure they didn’t know they were on camera, they were laughing and joking. The moment they realized they were on camera, they became serious. It left me feeling icky.

Many worry – and I am one of them – that as time progresses and people move forward, people may forget. I hope that isn’t the case. The moment we start to forget, the dragon goes back to sleep and we are vulnerable.

I pray we never forget.

 

September 11, 2011

9-11: Ten Years Later

Today is a cool, cloudy morning here in New Jersey, much different from that fateful day 10 years ago. Each year on this day I have tried to provide stories and impressions of that dark day and the light that came of it. As I sit here watching the reading of the names, I am reminded of every moment of that day. As a friend on Facebook said the other day, I can’t remember what I had for lunch two days ago, but I remember every minute of that day.

I am reminded of the acts of heroism by everyday people at I am sure they never expected to do. They are people who went to work, got on a plane, committed their lives to protect us as fire fighters, police officers and members of the military. They never expected to be tested to that extent.

Last night I saw a television program about two men who worked at the World Trade Center who could have easily survived, but they chose to continue to go up the steps of the North Tower, saving the lives of 77 individuals. Architect Frank De Martini and construction inspector Pablo Ortiz are true heroes that came out of that dark day, showing what the American spirit is all about. What those animals could never take.

Yesterday was the dedication of the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA. Those 40 people took the information they collected, took a vote, knowing full well they would perish, and thwarted the plans of the fourth hijacked plane that was likely headed to the United States Capitol. Again, people put in a position they never expected became heroes and are a shining example of what the American spirit is all about.

These are only a few examples of the heroic actions taken by many on that day and the days following. There are many more we will all come to know as time progresses.

We can all learn from those who lived through – and those who did not – on that day. We can make sure to stay alert, help our service members, fire fighters, police officers, EMS, and other first responders whenever possible.  Most importantly, we can never forget. Never forget what those animals took from us. And what we have gained.

May God continue to bless the United State of America.

September 8, 2011

American Atheists and the World Trade Center Cross

As we move closer to the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history, the organization American Atheists have filed a lawsuit to exclude what has become known as the “World Trade Center Cross” from the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, claiming separation of church and state.

I had an opportunity to review the American Atheists’ website and they are what I call an “equal opportunity offender.” They have quite a high opinion of themselves and belittle those of any faith – Christian, Judaism, Muslims (or as they refer to Muslims as “Mohammedans”), Mormonism – the list goes on and on.

According to an article about the lawsuit on their site, the buildings of the World Trade Center were made of steel girders, so it would make sense that “in the rubble some Christians found a pair of girders still welded that closely (not exactly, but closely enough) resemble a Christian Roman Cross.”

They continue to say that this Cross had been blessed several times by “so-called Holy Men” and “presented as a reminder that God, in his infinite power of goodness, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists, or stop the fire, or hold up the buildings to stop 3000 people from being crushed, cared enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. Ridiculous.”

Now, I don’t begrudge anyone who has a belief in anything – Jew, Pagan, Christian, or Muslim. As long as your belief is pure and not “warped” (a.k.a. terrorists), that is fine with me. But for these people to not only belittle someone else’s belief system, but claim separation of church and state on this issue is shameful and plain wrong.

Over time, the concept of separation of church and state has been molded into whatever a specific group is trying to push; when in reality, it is not what our founding fathers had intended. The original plan of separation of church and state was based on a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist organization in Danbury, CT in 1802 (from which the First Amendment was based). The letter notes the government shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

In the instance of the World Trade Center Cross, the government is not creating a law or prohibiting the exercise of religion. Therefore, their lawsuit is unfounded.

Ultimately, the World Trade Center Cross is more than a cross; it is a symbol – an artifact from a horrible day that brought comfort to many who toiled on that pile of rubble for months on end to try and bring some closure to the families that lost a loved on that day we will never forget. It is that reason alone why it should be included. It is more about  hope than a specific faith.

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