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DNC08-Days 2 & 3 August 28, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in politics, Uncategorized.
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Day Two

Everyone, by now, knows that Hillary Clinton’s rallying call last night, to unite behind Obama is history, and that today the delegates will cast their official votes to select the democratic nominee for the Presidential election.

But back to last night for a bit. What viewers watching at home can’t see, is quite a spectacle. We were on the floor last night for the speeches, and after a day of other events that we needed to attend (along with the daily schelp to pick up our credentials), we arrived just in time to gain access to the floor before they realized that the were over capacity and closed the floor, regardless of credential level. (I imagine that key people, such as staff or press covering the event from the floor were still able to get in.) Being able to watch the event from the floor was exciting, but from the comfort-standpoint (and we were standing), sitting in the gallery as we were for Monday night was much better. We could see better, and, well … we were sitting. But it was still exciting to be in the “thick of it” even as we were all herded along to songs of “keep moving, folks, keep moving.”

Once the final benediction is given, and everyone leaves, the feeding frenzy starts. The staged media, with their “on location” sets have to do their post-mortem reporting. The “on the ground” media have to find delegates and members of the general public attending to interview. Camera crews film, or try to get back to their posts and catch up with their producers. And the political junkies swoop down like predators to carrion on the campaign signs that have been discarded and litter the floor and remain on the seats. They travel upstream, against the flow of traffic, nearly climbing over chairs, squatting on the floor to collect the very signs and slogans that you see being waved during the key moments when you’re watching on T.V.  Of course, many people keep the signs that they’re given, maybe grab one or two extras for the kids back home, or that loyal supporter/friend they have who couldn’t attend and said, “if you can get a Hillary-Obama-campaign-Michelle-whatever sign, bring me back one,” and then there are the crazy people — and believe me, there were lots. Being a political wife, I get the “celebrity” of politics, but I also know that these folks are just like us and put on their pants the same way. And, while I do share profound sentiments of admiration for many other professional public servants, I also try not to be that person, you know, that “fan” — the one who sees that you’re having dinner with your family, but decides that now is a perfect time to hover over you for longer than it takes to say, “hello _______” (insert title/honorific) and shake hands.

One of the amazing things are the people who are there, who just soak up being around political figures. (We actually had a tiny accident, because someone not with the people that we were traveling with learned that my husband’s a nominee and just wanted to talk and talk and talk. Which, in itself is not a problem, and my husband was being very gracious, despite the fact that we were trying to get a photo done in a space that was becoming increasingly crowded. To make a long story short, personal space was invaded, and my poor husband got knocked off of the chair that he was standing on (so taht I could get the photo), with such a commotion, that Katie Couric herself (who was behind us) turned around mid-broadcast to make sure that he was okay. (I turned all shades of red). The chatty one, bending my husband’s ear, didn’t quite realized that he’d caused the accident, and oddly enough, just watched instead of offering him a hand out from between the chairs. It was both the most personally embarrassing and comical moment of the trip. (So far anyway.)

Day Three

Yesterday was busy. We had morning and afternoon events to attend, as on the other days and made our way to the Pepsi Center around 6 p.m. after picking up our credentials. Security was tighter than the previous evenings, which we thought was because of protesters. Actually, when we were heading to our first event of the day, we had to cross a protest, where the police — fully outfitted in their swat gear — were ready for the first sign of trouble. (Not fun, having to cross that line.) Anyway, once again our credentials got us on the floor and briefly, were able to sit with the delegation, during Bill Clinton’s speech.  We watched the rest of the speeches from a different spot on the Floor. Inspiring is the best word that can be used to describe the day and evening.

Brandana: A Discredit to Women in Politics August 1, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, politics, writing/editing/blogging.
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As I watch (and live) the local campaign season, I find myself completely disappointed in one of the Democratic candidates in the race for State Representative for Michigan’s 22nd district, a seat made vacant by the term-limited Hoon Yung Hopgood.  In full disclosure, one of the candidates happens to be my husband, hence my statement about living the campaign season. There are two men vying for the seat and one woman. Sadly, it is the woman, Jill Brandana, who is proving to be a discredit to women in politics regardless of how large the arena is or how high the office. I would say this even if my husband were not one of her opponents. There are five reasons and indisputable facts why. (more…)

Parsing shades of feminism April 18, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in politics, writing/editing/blogging.
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I rarely get this political in here. I tend to keep it on the lighter side, but I’ve found myself grappling with trying to understand a series of events that I did not witness, but have only read about in the last week or so. It has actually taken a week to reach the point of being able to express something coherent (at least I think so) in words, as I found myself up until the wee hours reading blog posts and following the links referenced therein. And while it may seem “a day late and a dollar short,” I think that the only way to really understand it all, is to write about it.
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Another Black Eye for Detroit April 3, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in education, parenting & family, politics, WAHM/WAHD Stuff.
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It’s been a whopper of a year for Detroit, and it’s only April. So far, aside from job cuts, strikes affecting the auto industry and the worst housing market, we’ve had three big national blows to contribute to the Motor City’s perception of being the nation’s Swamp of Suckiness. Perhaps since bad things come in threes, this will be it for a while, and Detroit can manage to get out of the quagmire…but only with a lot of help.

First, Fit Pregnancy listed Detroit as the worst city to have a baby/raise a child. Second, we have Mayor Kilpatrick to thank for the “Text Message Scandal.” (New York, we feel your pain.) And now, Tuesday’s report from America’s Promise showing Detroit to have the lowest high school graduation rate in urban public schools in the United States.

I’m sure people all over the country, who are aware of these events are wondering why people even live here. Okay, so I don’t actually live in Detroit, but what happens in Detroit does affect the rest of us in the Mitten. (Youppers might disagree, but then again, many call those of us in the Mitten “trolls” since we live “under the bridge.) But I digress. This recent news really has me steaming though. I can deal with Fit Pregnancy’s report–not everyone realizes that they have choices when it comes to where they give birth or how, and that’s an issue for another post. I can almost deal with the mayoral scandal, and will wait to see the developments unfold as they’re reported in every major paper in the state and on every network—including CNN. But as a parent with a child who will be going to school in the not too distant future, the statistics about our public schools are not only appalling, but scary and it doesn’t sit well with me one bit. (more…)

Smells like teen spirit February 22, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in parenting & family, politics, WAHM/WAHD Stuff.
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Actually, it smells more like dog spirit. My house that is. It’s been three days since the offending canines have left my house. (See “A morning in doggy hell” for that horrid story.) I’ve finally reclaimed the house, or rather, returned it to The Toddler, but the house still retains a ghost of the doggy odor. Thankfully, it’s only the smell of wet dog and not dog crap, but nonetheless, it seems to linger. I’ve febreezed. I’ve lit candles. I’ve lit incense. I’ve sprayed with fresh lavender mist. (Real lavender that is from my favorite little oasis.) Perhaps the smell is up my nose or in my brain, as I’m still a bit ticked about the whole experience from the weekend. I know, I need to get over it…except for the fact that when Darling Husband told sister-in-law about Saturday’s events, she laughed. No “sorry.” No “that’s awful.” No concern over her nephew eating her dog’s crap…just a laugh, (more…)

The Decision to Have Children January 26, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in parenting & family, politics.
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A few of my girlfriends were recently discussing having kids. We’re all in various stages of family expansion: one with two, two of us with one each at different stages of childhood, two who have no children yet, but want them and for various reasons are considering adoption.

I think that most parents (and grandparents alike) tend to get all giddy and excited when we learn that a new babe is entering the lives of our friends or family members. It even happens when we hear about it from acquaintances and strangers, whether the “new arrival” is by birth or through adoption. When one of our friends announced that they had started the adoption process, initially, I was excited and very happy for Adopting Friend and her husband.

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Race matters–some reflections January 21, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in parenting & family, politics, writing/editing/blogging.
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On June 23, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the infamous “I have a dream” speech after a Civil Rights march down Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Today, in 2008 on what is celebrated as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. January 21st is not his birthday, which is January 15, but MLK Day is always the third Monday in January, and on this day, I reflect upon where we have come from and how far we have to go from my perspective. (more…)

Puzzling Ballot for Michigan Dems January 11, 2008

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democratdonkey.jpgPrimary Woes

Tuesday, January 15 is the Michigan Primary, but it’s no secret that some Michigan Democrats not only may not see their candidate on the ballot they may see candidates who are no longer running on the ballot.  Several candidates including Obama and Edwards removed themselves from the Michigan ballot “to satisfy Iowa and New Hampshire, which were unhappy Michigan was challenging their leadoff status on the primary calendar,” the Associated Press reports.  And former candidates Dodd and Biden remain on the ballot even after dropping from the race after the Iowa caucus. That doesn’t leave Michgan Democrats with much of a choice, it seems, whereas Michigan’s Republican counterparts will get to see a complete list of the Republican presidential candidates—but this isn’t about them.

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So this is what’s meant by “No Child Left Behind.” December 22, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in education, Humor & Satire, parenting & family, politics, writing/editing/blogging.
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Yesterday, I had to do a few quick errands, which meant driving straight into the Lion’s Den, also known as the one-mile square radius of the major shopping mall in our city.  My usual route to that neck of the woods was backed up, so I took a detour, which led me down the street where one of our city’s two high schools is.  Driving along, passing some kids with backpacks and others curiously without any, I noticed the school’s street-side marquis.

It read, and I kid you not, “Holiday Recess. 12-22-07 Thru 1-7-08.”  Certainly my eyes were deceiving me. I must have been distracted by Viggo Mortgensen’s voice on NPR as he discussed his most-recent film.  Certainly a schoolhad not spelled “through” as “T-H-R-U” on its marquis, and especially not the school that is literally walking distance from the Board of Education.  I wished for one brief second that my cell had been close enough and that I’d been stopped in traffic in front of the marquis, so that I could snap a picture. It was fodder for a blog post. (more…)

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