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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mental Health Crisis or Gun Control? Finding an answer to mass violence in America

Million-Dollar Question of the Day: What IS the answer to all these random acts of violence in America? Every other week it seems we hear about or see another incident on the news.. school shootings (& now stabbings!), Fort Hood shootings, wife drives car into church & then stabs husband because he's "worshipping Nascar."

Has it occurred to anyone that maybe we need better mental health care? To me it seems like the obvious answer. More often than not it appears that there's a single common denominator in all these horrid incidents: these folks are cray cray! The persons involved may not have a history of violence but I believe it only takes one episode to say someone's experiencing psychosis. And, I'd prefer they never even get the chance. But, I'm not a doctor though.. so what do I know? Something else to consider is the ever-increasing population. Not just in the U.S. but all across the world.. numbers don't lie. The larger the population, the more incidents will occur.. no matter what kind of control or lack thereof we may have over weaponry.

Health professionals use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates about 3 in 100 persons are at risk of psychosis, "the experience of loss of contact with reality, and is not part of the person’s cultural group belief system or experience," ( which typically includes hallucinations and/or delusions.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks there might be an issue of mental illness here! Pittsburgh Rep. Tim Murphy, the only practicing clinical psychologist in Congress and author of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, states “These are sparks, but there’s usually a long fuse that goes with that,” speaking in regards to the 2 most recent incidents involving a Pennsylvania teen who went on a stabbing spree at his high school this week and the Fort Hood soldier who opened fire on his comrades last week (the 2nd Fort Hood soldier to do so in 4 years). These 2 recent occurrences appear to have finally opened up the possibility of legislation being passed in the U.S. ..and it's also a good sign for bipartisanship on mental health legislation. Murphy says, "There's no left or right on this issue," and he's not the only one.

Key provisions of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act "would increase the number of hospital beds available for crisis psychiatric care, improve access to mental health care for children and adolescents, authorize an assistant secretary of mental health at the Health and Human Services Department, and encourage states to adopt a 'need for treatment' standard for care, as opposed to the current requirement that a person must pose a danger to themselves or others before they can be committed." ( Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy said, “I know from personal experience how hard it is for families to protect their loved ones from themselves,” who along with his siblings gained guardianship of his mother when she was unable to keep herself out of harm’s way.

And, maybe it's just me but it seems like we're hearing about these things WAY more often than we used to! I've often wondered if it was just that reports have increased due to all the gun control controversy or if these violent incidents are actually happening more often. The FBI reports a disturbing rise in the number of  “active shooter” incidents across America, according to Mark Greenblatt with Scripps News. Click this link for an interactive map showing active shooter incidents across the U.S: Using information gathered by outside researchers, statistics show an average of 5 incidents per year from 2000-2008. However, Greenblatt reports from 2009 to the present, the number rose to an average of 15 per year. Dr. Peter Blair, an associate professor of criminal justice at Texas State University attributes much of the rise to events that might escape attention from other researchers. "Most of these are the much smaller events that end, fortunately, before a lot of people are killed," said Blair.

On that note, and I may be opening up a big fat can of worms here.. but for all those elated & thanking God that the Pennsylvania school attacker had knives instead of guns, if the adults at that school had been armed with guns I guarantee you he would've only gotten to a few victims rather than 20. Not trying to be a smart-ass or make light of this or any other horrific incident. It's always been my belief that guns, knives, and all other weapons don't kill people.. people kill people (& sometimes lions and tigers and bears, but that's a whole other afternoon of discussions). Just remember to keep 'em locked up tight and/or directly on your person to help avoid them getting into the wrong hands.

Anywho, in all seriousness.. combining crisis training for school/ government employees and law enforcement (for everyone really) with improvements in and better access to mental health care would appear to be a step in the right direction. Big government and healthcare legislation may not be the definitive answer to America's problems with violence.. but it's a damn good start in my book!

Photo credits:;;

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

couldn't have said it better... Words by the Glass: The 2014 VS Swim Catalog: A Mom's Buying Guide

Couldn't have said it better...

Words by the Glass: The 2014 VS Swim Catalog: A Mom's Buying Guide: Get ready all you moms out there. The Victoria’s Secret 2014 Swim Catalog has arrived. In February.  I’m sure that whoever was having a goo...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Polar Vortex of Hell, a.k.a. Long Term Unemployment

If I've learned one thing about being unemployed it's never expect anything.. the second you do reality bitch-slaps you right back into the now reminding you there are forces you have zero control over. The sad thing is it's literally a world-wide epidemic of sorts.. a global state of conservatism with consequences of epic proportion. Employers need workers but aren't willing to sacrifice profit to complete said work-force.

"Unemployment falls to 7% in the US," is plastered all over the news. This news causes many of those still unemployed to ask themselves, "Then why the heck can't I find a job? What's wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?!"  Some reports state there are approximately 3 workers in waiting for every job opening. website reports, "When Walmart recently opened 2 stores in Washington, D.C., more than 23,000 people submitted applications for the 600 job openings. That means each applicant stood a mere 2.6% chance of being hired. Harvard has a higher acceptance rate." However, other statistics report ridiculously high numbers of job openings out there and more to come in 2014. Something doesn't add up! What does it all mean??

Well, one possibility could be that companies are posting available jobs with no real intention of hiring.. or maybe they're just REALLY picky. Making matters even worse, apparently the longer you're out of work the less "attractive" you are to employers. There's also the aspect of those long-term unemployed that became discouraged after looking for a job year after year and simply "dropped out" altogether (took early retirement, etc.) thereby falling out of the labor market and skewing the numbers posing an inaccurate perception on unemployment statistics altogether.

Who knows! In the meantime the long-term unemployed are running out of options. EUC, or Emergency Unemployment Compensation and otherwise known as federal unemployment insurance ran out as of December 28, 2013, and Congress can't make up their damned mind whether or not to extend these benefits to the millions of Americans still unemployed. It's said that Republicans believe extending unemployment benefits only hurts the economy giving the long-term unemployed the "wrong incentive" to stay unemployed. While Democrats believe it'll only lead to those losing benefits no longer being able to spend money thereby hurting businesses and local economies.. thus causing said conservatism. This doesn't stop the long-term unemployed from running through their hard-earned savings, possibly losing their homes or worse..

An unproven perception: Companies are looking for younger less-qualified people who are cheaper to higher and teachable. And, they're not interested if you've been out of work for more than six months no matter what age you are. So, those a little or a lot older, over-qualified, formerly over-paid unemployed persons would appear to unfortunately be S.O.L. What next? We can't just start lying on our applications/resumes right? How do you get the message out to recruiters that you're willing to take lower pay or less benefits and are welcome to change? What's certain is there's no simple solution here.. assuming of course there's any solution at all.

So, I simply continue to tell myself, "Never give up! Never surrender!" Like a river we must remain constant and at the same time willing to change direction at the drop of a hat. If you hit a rock or otherwise immovable object, simply meander around and just keep on moving. Don't stop.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Starting Over: "Pleasure's All on This Side of the Table"

Ever wonder what it would be like to start over again? Like the young woman who recently and quite publicly switched gears career-wise via YouTube (see here: Girl Quits Job on YouTube and subsequently offered a job by Queen Latifah!)... a relationship gone south, or maybe you just wake up one morning and decide to make that big change you've been dreaming of the last month/year/decade? Maybe it's expected or you're blind-sided by it... whatever the case may be you're faced with that "what the shit do I do now" moment. Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to wake up one morning and no longer have a care in the world like Peter Gibbons does in the classic take-this-job-and-shove-it flick Office Space. But I bet my once employee-sponsored 401K plan that a few of you reading this have so desperately wanted to give your boss the ole' middle-finger salute a time or two!
"Have you seen my stapler?" Office Space ~ © 2005 Buzztone" 

Which way do I go?
Lost my job over the summer and at the time I was pretty freaked out over it.. it had been a helluva year, not just at my property but for the student-housing industry in general. I had learned so much there and truly value the experience. Even had dreams of moving up in the company after getting another year or so under my belt. On the other hand, the job was particularly stressful and I didn't want my best years to be wasted away at the property level only to end up that bitter old crotchety landlord everybody makes fun of and secretly wishes would fall off the side of a cruise ship. And, to be honest my feelers were a little hurt when I first heard the property was being sold. I began asking myself what did I do wrong and what should I have done differently. After torturing myself a little while I finally stopped obsessing over the Why? and started looking at it as a GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY! At what though?! Fortunately, I already have a bachelors degree.. and no desire to rack up more student loans. And who has an extra 10 or 20 thousand lying around to spend on more education?? Not I, said the little red hen...

Just to get that chance, whether it be your choice or not, to hit reset and boom! Just like that.. change the game. Would you squander it away and take the first opportunity that comes a knockin' ..or go with Aunt Sue or cousin Bill's latest suggestion? "Why dont'cha just go back to school and finish that Basket Weaving degree!" or "Hey, it's never too late to join the circus!" Maybe you've had some second chances in life that passed you by. If so, do you regret not spending time to really figure out where your true passion lies? You may be sittin' there right now agonizing over what you're "supposed" to be doing with your life... maybe you're a husband or father (or both) and feel the Mt. Everest amount of pressure that if you're not working some ridiculously stressful job then you must be the most selfish son-of-a-bitch on the planet. And, your family and friends and people you shouldn't even give a shit about what they think of you are all looking at you with those judgmental eyes screaming, "What the hell's wrong with you anyways? Why can't you be more like your brother, Cephus down at the chicken plant? Why, he was awarded 'Employee of the Stoop' just last week...blah, blah, blah " and other unsupportive banter.

Alas, along with many of the other 7.3% of Americans currently unemployed I now find myself wondering what role I'll be playing in the next episode. That can be quite scary in this uncertain time-nugget of American history we currently find ourselves in. However, I am hopeful and feel very fortunate for what I do have. I've the utmost confidence I will persevere and find that fulfilling new job title in due time.. who knows, maybe I'll find the pot 'o gold at the end of the rainbow along the way! In the meantime I guess I'll have to keep networking...  and maybe brush up on my fax machine bashing skills. Knew I should've grabbed that annoying printer out of the computer lab before my last day.

Anyway, it's been really nice talkin' to you guys...gotta meeting with the Bob's in a few.

photo credit: <a href="">Lori Greig</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>,,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Do You Hate Commercials?

Do you hate commercials? Well, I don't! Sure, they're annoying and whether I'm surfing the net or watching a movie on the boob-tube, more often than not, I would rather hit that 'Skip Ad' button or DVR it and fast-forward through the loudly obnoxious and often overtly-interruptive nuisances (guess that law they passed last year isn't being taken too seriously by the networks... or the FCC for that matter! you may CALMly act by filing a complaint but it may not do any good since they're not enforcing it). How many times can they run that local pest control ad in the span of one show?! But hey, I must admit that I honestly enjoy commercials purely for the advertising and marketing lover in me.

"Opulence, I has it." ~ DirecTV 

Some are super funny (Old Spice dude riding reverse cowgirl and Direct TV tiny giraffe love are some oldies-but-goodies... and lately's new campaign with Jean Claude Van Damme just to name a few) and others make us go, "What tha...?" or in my opinion are totally ineffective. Let's take a look or two at the effectiveness of TV and online video marketing campaigns.

Who You Talking To? - Who is your target audience? Women buy stuff, and a lot of it. I'm not talking about just shoes, bags and other sparkly trinkets, or single women with nothing better to do either (don't get it twisted!)... and if you don't believe me take a look at some statistics: the-real-reason-women-shop-more-than-men. It's no secret that women enjoy shopping, but not just for themselves... they buy stuff for everyone including family members, friends, co-workers, and even their kids' friends (complete with their own personal note... 'cause we're just so danged thoughtful!). So, if you're not including women in your target market, you'll be sorry! However, women aren't the only habitual spenders.. men of all ages enjoy a good shopping spree on occasion. Point being, invest in a tidbit of marketing research to help determine who you should be marketing to.

Funny Factor - I love to laugh and enjoy funny things from all genres and angles (sideways is my favorite). The humorous ads always get me in the tickle-bone, and are therefore more memorable to me than others. Some recent laughable ones include: Kmart's "Ship My Pants," General Mills' "Toaster Strudel Ya!" with quirky German kid, Hans Strudel, Alka-Seltzer Fruit Chews' "Eating Chalk," and Yoplait Gogurts "Mom's Smokey Eye." Let's face it: humor sells (so does sex, but there's just not enough space in this blog to delve into that monster category). Just make sure your brand is also a major feature in the ad or people will only remember the humor. 

Music - How many times have you been watching the telly and heard that catchy song on a commercial that you must download immediately? Not sayin' this was recently invented but it became more popular when automobile moguls like Volkswagen started doing it back around 2006 (remember Pink Moon by Nick Drake?). There's some epic ones too like Chevy Sonic - Kick Flip featuring Rob Dyrdek, pro skater and TV personality's car-flipping stunt skills with a 'Glee'-full version of 'We Are Young' peaking at the end of what could be called the raddest car commercial eva! Check it out here: Chevy Sonic - Kick FlipAdding music to commercials is not only aesthetically appealing, but it literally may help people remember your ad over others. 

Branding - How many times is your product/ service brand name appearing and/ or being heard? It's imperative to get this right. For great tips on branding your biz check out these links provided by Branding Your Biz. Also, consider whether or not your ads lead consumers to your online presence in some way? Adding a simple #hashtag reference somewhere in the mix could help out with that.

Online presence is absolutely key in marketing and advertising campaigns these days. Ecommerce statistics are rising at remarkable rates.. amounting to the tune of $289 billion in the U.S. for 2012 and expected to rise above $360 billion in 2016 (borrowed from 'Statistics and Facts about Online Shopping by Jessica Kril). Not just in the U.S. though, online transactions for 2012 topped $1 trillion U.S. dollars according to eMarketer, and will predictably top $18 trillion in the near future. And, online shopping extravaganzas aren't just for millenials and gen X'ers either... granny likes to get her eBay on just as much as the rest of us do.

Creativity is crucial in marketing... it's no doubt challenging for businesses to effectively market their products and services to the vast majority. Consumers are pummeled so much these day with ads of all types and the biggest challenge could be keeping their attention on your brand. I mean, we're all a little ADD right? ...ooh ooh, was that a cute kitten video?  

Credits: 'Online Shopping Statistics' by joshmalan; youtube video courtesy of TvPromosNow
Photo credit: <a href="">kennymatic</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>, <a href="">Thomas Hawk</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Upper Crusades: 5 Ways to Stop a Constant Interrupter

Ever been in the middle of telling your friends, family or coworkers about the incredible trip you took over the weekend or the exciting sat-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-the-entire-time movie you watched and, next thing you know, some moron rudely interrupts right in the middle of it all to loudly tell their completely unrelated and clearly irrelevant experience they had last year at the local Stop-n-Shop? You know the one... the loud-mouth buffoon that can't let anyone else get an intelligent word in edgewise. They just CANNOT wait for anyone to finish a sentence before blurting out, "Oh! No, wait! Get this!!..." Yeah... that one. It gives me the sudden urge to bop 'em right on the nose like an over-stimulated puppy, and then condescendingly explain that they must wait their turn like everyone else on the playground.

Is it my turn? It's my turn right?!?
To be perfectly honest, I'm sure I've done it once or twice myself... as a kid maybe! And, my mother or grandmother appropriately snapped, "Susannah Lynn (in the most southern fashion and using as many syllables as possible), we do NOT interrupt when others are speaking!" as I cowered into the nearest corner dropping my head down in shame. I honestly don't believe these child-like individuals intentionally interrupt everyone around them whenever the slightest hint of an opportunity presents itself. However, it's extremely rude nonetheless. And, some of them appear to relish in their fatuous behavior... vaguely appearing interested (as though they really give a hoot or even heard a word you've said) waiting for that ripe moment to destroy any chance of our seemingly boring renditions, exclaiming, "Oh my Gawd! That's nothing compared to when me and so-and-so took that trip to (insert cliche Spring Break destination here) last summer and... blah, blah, blah" get the picture.

Here's a few ideas on how to stop these narcissistic convo-obstructers right in their tracks! Of course, there's the obvious and not-so-subtle option of crying out, "Excuse me! I'm not finished yet you little (insert expletive here)" but you end up coming off a bigger jerk than they are... So, why not try one of these suggestions for correcting your little interrupting Ingrid.

1. Humor (always my favorite!) - Upon the heckler's rude interruption, make a joke... something like, "Okay Helen, you've failed me for the last time! You're fired!" Yes, it's at their expense but no need to be rude or insensitive... just a little light humor to distract them while you take back the reins. Plus, it fulfills their need to be the center of attention, so as long as you're not all Cruella Deville about it they might actually enjoy the humor in the situation and bow out of the conversation.

2. Posturing - Next time Uncle Harry just can't keep his mouth shut about how he was so ticked off because the Quick Mart was out of his favorite pack of tobacc-er for the ump-teenth time this month, simply position yourself in front of him and continue on with your story speaking just loudly enough that you overshadow him... he'll hopefully get the picture and pipe down while you finish your conversation. Equally effective technique if you ever find yourself surrounded by wolves in the wild, but I digress...

3. Kill 'em with Kindness - Butter them up by quickly complementing them on how spectacular they look in their cute new dress, "Oh my goodness, you're sooooo pretty today!" Hint: this is not as effective if you laugh while saying it. Or tell him how smart he looks with his new tie... contrary to the female version, it is okay here to ask them if their mom helped them get dressed that morning (guys can take the sarcasm a little better). Then, just as quickly take over the conversation again while continuing your tale. They'll probably be a little dumbfounded at first. But, then their little egos will be bursting with joy while, there again, feeling like the center of attention. 

4. Time Out! - Bluntly, call them out (not to be confused with the Nazi-like response previously described, but more so in the parent-ly way of disciplining those that can't follow the rules of engagement). Simply present them with their dunce cap (you did have this prop already prepared right?) and banish them to the corner. I mean, if they're going to act like a spas-tastic kitten on catnip put their little butts back in the cage. Tell them they can come out when they learn to act like the rest of the grown folks.

5. Join in the Fun - Last resort: humor them for the moment... laugh and carry on about how epic their latest incantation of 'Girls Gone Wild' must have been. Giving in to their whims may seem like you're throwing in the towel, but eventually everyone will lose interest in their antics and scatter back to their respective cubes muttering along the way, "I can't believe Laura did that again... what a loser!" Don't think of it as failure, rather an opportunity to show how amicable and respectful you can be amongst such chodes. All the while, continuing to plan your attack for the next interaction with li'l Honey Boo Boo. It's a win, win here.

It can be unnerving to say the least, feeling like you're in some sort of competition with these flagrant infuriaters... However, consider it a challenge and come up more ingenious ways of dealing with all the one-uppers in your life while maintaining your composure. What would you do?

photo credits: <a href="">aisack</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a> <a href="">db Photography | Demi-Brooke</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a> <a href="">Rafael Robayna -</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a> <a href="">Malingering</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>