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Strange parenting skills November 18, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Nablopomo, parenting & family.
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When you have a toddler, you find yourself doing all sorts of odd things to amuse them and often to diffuse them in an attempt to redirect behavior that’s otherwise unwanted. At least that’s the case in our house. Yesterday, during a near tantrum, I decided to juggle to distract him from whatever it was that he wanted to do and wasn’t supposed to do. It was such a minor thing that not only have I forgotten what it was, I was able to distract the boy while my husband removed whatever temptation it was from the room. I realized that juggling is among the list of skills I never expected to use in real life—ever—and certainly not as a parent. Parenting has all sorts of surprises apparently. (No pun intended.) (more…)

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So victors we weren’t… November 17, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Nablopomo, sports, Uncategorized.
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Not today anyway. 

The Wolverines let us down this year (again) for the 104th meeting against OSU. And while the fans certainly showed up for the game, staying through a steady, cold rain, the team was physically there—on the field that is, but they didn’t show up mentally or emotionally.  Sure, it was raining, field conditions precarious, the ball slippery—blah, blah, blah…but that doesn’t excuse an 11-point loss to those hairless nuts—the buckeyes.  OSU really didn’t do anything spectacular, except show up. And there was no reason for the loss…except Henne and Carr. I hate to say it, since he’s been our beloved Number 7 since his days as a true freshman. But with his injured shoulder and throwing as poorly as he was today, last-game-of-senior-year or not, Carr should have pulled him out, after the first quarter-full of “Number Seven Incomplete” calls.   The man just could not connect.  By the middle of the third quarter, you could see that the Wolverines hearts’ just weren’t there. But the fans rallied on, many of us defying common sense to get in out of the rain and staying on through the bitter end.  So with a 14–3 win for OSU, they get to claim bragging rights for this year’s Big Ten title, even if we do have the better record in the history of the teams’ more than century-old meeting. 

While the clichés are flying and the tag lines for next year’s crop of T-shirts are being made, we will put this season to bed (and bury this last game) and hope for true victors and champions to return to the big ten gridiron next fall.  In the meantime, we’ll focus on Wolverine hockey.  Go Blue! 

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Copyright © 2007 Erika-Marie S. Geiss

More Outsourcing stuff…point missed November 16, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, education, Nablopomo, politics, Uncategorized.
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A few days ago, I posted about outsourcing and made a suggestion to industry. And, I think what was a good conversation occurred through the comments board between me and a reader.  (Thanks Steve!)

Then today, checking out my blog stats, I discovered a new comment. I was psyched. The comment read:

5. virtual assistant staff – November 16, 2007
Nice article.., you shown have important outsourcing is.. two thumps up.. Check out our site.. 8)

You know, we writers love to get kudos…especially “two thumbs ups.” But somehow, this one wasn’t sitting well with me. So, what did I do? I checked out their site.  Now, normally, I wouldn’t go on and on about a comment that someone made on my blog. But with the sick feeling growing in my stomach, I felt the need to out them.  

The link in their comments takes me here to the company Web site.  Apparently, someone at the company has time (or is outsourced, I mean paid) to search the Web and the blogosphere for random comments about outsourcing and they found my little rant. I could hardly call it an “article” with a straight face. (But hey, I like the praise.)

I had to do a little quick research. (And I do mean quick.) I couldn’t find out where exactly this company is located.  I wondered: Is it here in the U.S.? (With a name like DC Global Management you’d think so.) But that just shows how well they rely on our the gestalt that occurs when we, as Americans, see those those two letters when put together.  The company has nothing to do with Washington, nor are those the initials of anyone in any position of power at the company–at least not that I could glean. It turns out that they are indeed in the U.S. and the Philippines. They are in fact an outsourcing firm.

A quick scan of the company’s offerings revealed a long list of services that they provide–from customer care reps to virtual assistants to web design and more. Among their specialties is a listing for media professionals including copy editing, which made me chuckle. Being an editor myself, I instantly found errors on the site…so I guess their outsourced editing staff isn’t as top-notch as they claim.  (I hope that none of the companies on their scrolling list of “satisfied clients” hired them for their editing skills. Even if the company didn’t design its own site, you’d think someone on staff would have been charged with proofing the text.)  I couldn’t tell where exactly their employees are from either, but when you look at the alleged staff photos of people busily working in cubicles, it doesn’t look like your average American office space.

A little more quick research revealed that the company is in fact part of a larger conglomerate–The Hubport Group, which seems to specialize in having several outsourcing companies–nine to be specific.  What’s sad is that they are a U.S. company that specializes in outsourcing our jobs. (Um… does anyone else see a problem with that or am I a lone wolf on this one?)  When I checked them out further, I found an interesting article about how large U.S. companies will profit by outsourcing to Asia, written and posted by a Bill Bonner of The Daily Reckoning, what seems to be an on-line periodical based in Australia.

He mentions the growing Chinese middle class (sounds like the U.S. two generations ago) as well as our own faltering housing market. He also mentions how companies can spend less by outsourcing. Well…duh…we already know that…it’s all about the bottom line in business.  The article relies solely on quotes from an alleged Minneapolis newspaper, but never attributes the quotes to which paper. (I searched and couldn’t find a match.) Did anyone at Hubport responsible for posting articles do any fact checking which would be, pretty standard practice? (I think those outsourced employees, again, aren’t so top-notch.)

So not only has the commenter, who will probably now retract the glowing “two thumbs up,” miss the point of my days-old blog post, which was to show how outsourcing is failing us, by checking out their company as quickly as I did, the company proved that the quality of outsourced work may not match the standards that we expect (and in some cases demand) here in the U.S.  Once again, the various lead-paint related recalls are perfect cases-in-point.

The question is, at what point does low cost outweigh standards, safety and keeping the American workforce employed? I think those are questions that industry as a whole is coming to grips with. 

This is how I see the outsourcing situation:

When we outsource–whether it’s the blue-collar work of manufacturing or the white-collar work of what Bonner quotes as “high-level things like design, research, marketing, [and] legal work” we are displacing our own at the peril of our own economy and our own workforce. To me, it’s a pretty simple equation:  If you fire people here, and hire people overseas to fill those positions, people here don’t have the wages to buy the products you make or services you offer. It doesn’t make any sense. Why push ourselves into poverty by displacing our own middle class in favor of supporting the rising middle class of somewhere else?  I know it sounds xenophobic, but really, it isn’t. I firmly believe that non-industrialzed nations have the right to become industrialized, join the “first world” so to speak, but how about doing it the way that we did…through hard work and ingenuity…the good old “pull yourselves up by the bootstraps” method without sucking off of someone else?  (Before I get challenged about America’s corporate historical record, no, the corporate historical record in the U.S. is not without its blemishes, as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and the Enron scandal aptly illustrate as two decades-separated examples, but those whom industry has oppressed came here to work and to find a better life.  We also have ways of dealing with such atrocities here.)

For industry to “sell out” as it has done by mass outsourcing, as I see it, for the sake of cutting costs, to in turn offer us “low, low prices,” is really unfathomable, especially with the net trickle-down effect that outsourcing is causing.  It’s one thing if there is a quid pro quo, where on the whole we are getting something out of this outsourcing business besides “low, low prices.” And if you ask me, getting “low, low, prices” isn’t that much of a bargain since people tend to buy more (with the less that they have) when they think they’re getting a deal.  I can see how outsourcing (overseas) can be attractive to a company–cheaper labor, and as Steve pointed out, a more educated workforce.  But perhaps if we educated ourselves better here, companies would be finding a broader pool of talent here and jobs would remain here. The outsourcing issue is quite multifaceted, and of course, it’s not going to change quickly until a large enough group of people get hurt by it or find that they’ve been duped.  And they are getting duped, because as my earlier quick research shows, the talent pool overseas, isn’t necessarily any more qualified than our own American workforce.  Think about that the next time you get a call (or for that matter, call) an American company, and the person you speak to is overseas (and allegedly better educated than we are), but can’t figure out phonics or how to decode a word enough to pronounce your name properly.

Okay…that’s my rant for the day.

Copyright © 2007 Erika-Marie S. Geiss

Networking Rewards: WAH Expo day three November 15, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Nablopomo, networking, Uncategorized, WAHM/WAHD Stuff, writing/editing/blogging.
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Today was the third and final day of the WAH Expo.  Again, another day of great speakers and presentations. I had my first public presentation about theWAHMmagazine and shared about its conception, format and a bit about the big launch.

The rewards of networking programs like this are manifold. You not only benefit by learning from others, but getting to put yourself out there, if you’re a presenter and share your information and expertise. For writers, especially non-fiction writers, this kind of forum is perfect for platform building.

This is going to be a short post tonight. There is a lot to process. Contacts and leads to follow up on. Connections to maintain.  And a brainstorming session to attend. 🙂

Copyright © 2007 Erika-Marie S. Geiss

Networking Rewards: WAH Expo day two November 14, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Nablopomo, networking, parenting & family, Uncategorized, WAHM/WAHD Stuff.
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Today was the second day of the WAH Expoand it continues to be among the most valuable professional experiences that I’ve had in some time.  Today was also a challenge for me, as Mama’s professional needs were at odds with the toddler’s needs. He was having a particularly “no good very bad day” and it was definitely an exercise in balance. 

Among the greatest presentations that I was able to attend was the last presentation of the evening by Whitney Hoffman on working from home with children with special needs. Her tools and tips showed how to achieve balance, order and personal organization…for yourself, your work, your household, your kids even if you don’t have a child with a disability. She spoke about the realities of working from home with children who require a different kind of attention, but I found them applicable to any work-from-home parenting situation.

 Another great day of networking and learning.

 Tomorrow, I’m on deck to present at 1:30 about theWAHMmagazine.

Networking Rewards: WAH Expo day one November 13, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Nablopomo, networking, WAHM/WAHD Stuff.
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Imagine a room mostly full of succesful women–work-at-home moms teaching each other, learning from each other, networking, sharing their expertice.  (There were a couple of men as well.)

Now imagine this room in an internet conference room.

This week is the fourth annual Business and Learning’s Work At Home Expo. Tuesday through Thursday, November 13-15.

(Incidentally, I’ll be presenting about theWAHMmagazine on Thursday at 1 p.m.)

Among amazing presentations by other presenters during the day, tonight we learned valuable information about your personality in business from Kelly McCausey and how that effects your business style among other things. And PR guru Shannon Cherry taught us about effective press releases and strategizing them. 

In a world where as women, we can often be catty and ultra competitive, earning certain unflattering monikers, it is refreshing (as it is every Tuesday night at the Business and Learning’s networking chats) to come together for the common purpose of helping each other succeed and shine.

More tomorrow…

Toddler + Open Bathroom Door = Recipe for Disaster November 12, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Nablopomo, parenting & family, toddlers, Uncategorized, WAHM/WAHD Stuff.
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Or a near disaster anyway. Today, I made the numero-uno mistake in our house. I left the downstairs bathroom door open. It was right before I left the house to pick my son up from my mother-in-law’s house. Given how traffic can be near rush hour, I decided to make a “pit stop” before leaving. Then the phone rang. After the brief call, I grabbed my keys and the other essentials and headed out the door.

Picked up my little sweetness, got back home, unloaded the car and started to make dinner. He was content, playing in the living room…or so I thought. The next thing I hear, is the unmistakable *splash* *splash* “wheeeee!” from somebody making mischief.

Oh, no. I thought.

Then came the “uh, ohhh!” as I ran into the bathroom. (more…)

A Suggestion for Industry: Outsourcing, Unions, Recalls, Made-in-Where? November 11, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, Nablopomo, parenting & family, politics, Uncategorized.
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A child of the ’70s, I vividly remember the “Look for the Union Label” commercials. Members of the various unions sang a portion of the Union Song, with the culminating scene a shot of the entire group of representatives from each union, united in song. In other words, we were instructed, encouraged and compelled not only to buy American, but to specifically support Union-made products.

Fast forward almost 40 years and many of us parents are not exactly looking for the Union label, but we’re avoiding the “made-in-China” label. Sadly the made-in-America and Union labels have become a rarity thanks to overseas outsourcing. (more…)

Networking: Detroit Literary Jam Writers Conference November 10, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Nablopomo, networking, WAHM/WAHD Stuff, writing/editing/blogging.
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Today, I attended my first literary conference.  The Detroit Literary Jam is actually a three-day conference held every fall. This was its fourth year.  I have been professionally remiss as a writer in not attending such conferences. I never realized that you didn’t need to be an established author to attend such events, which is why I should have been learning and networking at them at earlier stages in my writing career. And, as an established author, I now know the importance of such events for building platform, meeting other writers and the give-and-take of being able to learn from those more experienced than yourself and being able to assist those writers who were you at an earlier stage.

Unfortunately, I missed the first day of events, because of other previous commitments, but today’s workshops and programs were excellent. I learned from author, Vincent Alexandria about the author’s public presentation, whether at book signings, in random public situations, on media appearances and such. Funny and engaging, Alexandria imparted tips, tools and great wisdom.

There were so many sessions to choose from, among which I also participated in a children’s book writing workshop by one of the founders of Zoe Books.  At lunch, we all participated in a marketing seminar with authors and marketing specialists Hajj Flemings and Stephanie L. Jones about how to create a brand identity and how to reach the media.  

I met a lot of people, and lament not bringing nearly as many business cards and promotional materials as I should have.  My original intent in going was to listen and learn, which of course, I accomplished, but I think that I’m ready to jump in, feet first for my next conference.  I realize that as a local and established author and editor, there are ways that I can contribute to helping my fellow writers.   I’m already excited about next year’s Detroit Literary Conference.

And while there is more to be said, I’m keeping this blog entry short, because it was a busy and tiring day…and Mama needs to spend some time with her little guy, a nap and some time with the big guy too.

Green Satire? November 8, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Green & Frunchy, Humor & Satire, Nablopomo, politics.
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I can see the staff meeting for 30 Rock now.  The writers are all seated around the room, iBooks and convertible PCs on laps and the conference table, all vying to come up with the funniest way to make a social commentary on environmental zealots and industry’s role in climate change, and the media portrayal of climate change and what to do about it.

So, how does NBC save the planet?

a.  A week of green programming equipped with a green peacock?
b. The super hero weirdo, Greenzo?
c. Off-handed quips about the energy industry?
d. A cameo by none other than Oscar-winning, Nobel Peace prize recipient, former Vice President Al Gore?
e. All of the above.

Well, it looks like they picked “e.” But somehow, while the episode was funny, they fell a little short of the mark. A few important messages were imparted–little energy-saving snippets about keeping the ‘fridge shut while you think about what you want from it; how appliances (the T.V. specifically), still draws power even when it’s off; and to buy Energy Star products, which of course, parent company G.E. sells among their product lines.  Hmm. Talk about product placement.  

So for all the green talk and suggestions, stabbing humor about some of the green extremism that’s out there (yeah, “out there” as on the skinny branches) and a chance for Mr. Gore to poke a little fun at himself with his, um, bionic hearing, much wasn’t really said.  

Or was it?

In 30 Rock, if you were really paying attention, they were getting at the issue of balance, not just the issue of being green and saving the planet. They court the dangerous territory of calling groups like Greenpeace quacks and simultaneously show that the often demonized energy industry and  corporate America are in fact making strides towards environmentally friendly products, services and overall measures to combat the effects of climate change. 

Tongue-in-cheek and perhaps a little too subtle, the message probably soared right over the heads of most viewers.