Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blue Collar vs White Collar

This week's topic was my suggestion. Back in the day - the days of high school and college - there was a general thought that blue collar work somehow required less intelligence than white collar work. High school classes included things like welding, auto shop, machine shop and the like. People interested in those things had a path to careers in those fields. Other popular blue collar careers were in auto assembly, the gas and electric company and the phone company as well as law enforcement.

In my case my first choice was law enforcement but alas my wife simply stated if I became a cop she would divorce me. She was not prepared to live life wondering if I'd come home alive on any given day. So I started looking for a job in white collar fields with one huge problem - I had no passion for anything available to me. My BA made consisting being a lawyer something to consider but that was no more appealing to me than was repossessing mobile homes - a job I actually held for a couple of years.

Entry level white collar jobs paid quite a bit less than blue collar jobs but they still were relatively easy to fill. As the years progressed the selection of good blue collar jobs began to decline. Two local auto assembly plants closed down.
Good paying jobs still existed - garbage collectors made very good money for example but that career was somewhat unfairly disparaged. I played softball for years with a career garbage man and Bobby loved his well-paying job that had him home by 2PM every day.  My white collar jobs had me home daily 3-4 hours later at about half the pay.

In 1976 Lynn was offered a promotion and what seemed like a good job across the country in Connecticut so off we went. Talk about culture shock - LOL.  After a year on a different planet we jumped at the chance to go back to California - even though it was in LA.

 A while later, Lynn had had enough and resigned. To get back at her I was laid off a month later. Lynn moved back to the SF Bay Area with our newly born daughter and I started working at RadioShack. While not passionate, I did enjoy audio and the micro computer industry was just beginning. White collar lite at best.

Over the years blue collar jobs were still there but again often disparaged. It was not until a TV show - Dirty Jobs and its host Mike Rowe   went to bat for blue collar jobs that they began earning some respect. Check out this typical Mike Rowe commentary

Now in the age of millennials expectations are high and patience is low.Millennials seem to expect instant gratification in everything. Unfortunately, the world still does not work that way.  Perhaps that is why millennials move back home at such a high rate.

The auto industry has made a comeback as foreign companies0 like BMW, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagon and others build so many cars here. POTUS 45 would do well to consider that when he takes shots at foreign countries and companies over so-called trade deficits. And several old friends are absolute geniuses when it comes to auto customization - Rich Adkins and  Lyn/Del Schuler do amazing stuff.

Any young person that is not a computer genius would do well to do some research into the job market and not rule out a job in the trades. A rewarding life is out there for the serious job seeker.

Check my cohorts at their blogs - RamanaPravin and Ashok.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hidden Potential

This week's topic was suggested by Ramana.

At this stage of my life - the circling the drain mode - I doubt there is much hidden potential left in me. It has all been exposed, left for dead or ignored. There are not any likely new paths down which I shall wander to make new discoveries. I can, however, look for hidden potential in others - or in other things.

Potential - that which can be. Something capable of becoming reality/actuality. Hidden potential - that which is not immediately obvious. What do you see when you look at something? An old house for example - do you simply see an old house or do you see what it has the potential to be? I am not one of those gifted with the vision or talent to see such things - I simply see an old house but I know folks who have a greater vision in that regard.

Did you ever know someone who excelled at something yet seemingly had no real training in that field?
  How about early computer programmers - those involved when the computer industry was still on the taxiway - grew a huge industry all driven  by their hidden potential that turned into full blown  mastery of that industry. Think Bill Gates, the Apple team and others.

Perhaps our future lies in the as yet untapped hidden potential of some youngster with a crazy dream running through his or her head. The trick is to inspire that youngster to follow that dream wherever that dream may lead. The journey will be rewarding for us all.

That is my quick shack take on Ramanas topic. Check my cohorts at their respective blogs - Ramana, Pravin and Ashok.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Weekly LBC Post

Sorry folks - no blog this week as I am having a bit of ticker maintenance performed at the local ticker shop.  See ya next week, same bat time and same bat channel.


Thursday, June 29, 2017


This week's topic was my suggestion. What is education?  Wikipedia says  "Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits." And why should we be educated? To search for truth and improve the human condition? To prepare students to effectively enter the workforce?

Discussion on the purpose of education is as old as civilization itself. A successful society needs folks pulling together at times and yet being independent and thoughtful individually. That means an individuals education needs to be broad enough to teach independence and cooperation - and hopefully to recognize when one's interest is better served by those notions.

My education has been fairly typical for one here in the USA. Primary school - grades k-8 built the basic foundation for more complex subjects in high school. My high school was fairly typical for its time - there was a broad array of subject matter offered so one could supplement the core courseware with "elective" classes, including vocational training. Because of my performance on various tests I was earmarked for college prep type clases, vocational courseware not being practical as I was a three-sport jock (football, wrestling and baseball) so there was always  a conflict with course times. I typically had PE at 7 AM and practices starting a 3PM after school  classes.  Hence I was not a car guy like several friends - I could change tires and put gas in the tank. That is about it.  High school was extremey easy for me although I did have uissues with calculus - math just did not interest me. Luckily my pal Benny (Jim Benson) was a math whiz and I got through it. Interestingly enough, from the ACT and SAT on I typically scored better on the math portions of the tests than the other parts. Go figure.

So in June of 1967 I graduated from Mt Eden High School and prepared to enter college. Wholly unprepared.  But,i was still a decent football player so I muddled through a few years still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. The fact that I had grown up was lost on me. It seems my education focused way to much on grades than on finding something I really cared about. Along the way I failed the physical when trying to join the Army and then got into a huge blowout with a football coach named Les Davis who guaranteed me I would never find a coaching job as long as he had a say about it. Yes - he had that kind of influence but truthfully I actually had very little passion to coach football anyway.

Around that time I developed an interest in Political Science and that became my major - I earned a BA in 1973 afte being a part-time student while working several part time jobs after being married in 1972. But what to do with that degree? I did not (and do not) have the patience to teach. I toyed with the notion of law school until 1976 when Lynn was offered a promotion to New England. So off we went to the far side of the planet - where the ocean was in the wrong direction but lobster (Lynn's favorite) was plentiful.

Why - you may ask am I chronicling this experience? I was still looking for something that I could be passionate about. As luck would have it just as I was figuring that out we were offered a chance to move back to California, Adios Connecticut - hello Hermosa Beach. Oh - and Lynn was pregnant so that was added to the equation. Suddenly family responsibilities trumped job passion. Adios Broadcasting School - no dejay job in the future. Russ the Moose Syracuse's  would remain the top all night dejay ever IMHO.  Russ the Moose Syracuse It is somewhat ironic that one who hates to fly s much as I do  would happily join the nightly midnight flight captained  by Russ the Moose.

Long story short, in November of 1977 I started working at RadioShack in Marina del Rey.  Electronics became the closest thing to a  passion I would ever discover.

My point in this rambling is to simply say that education  must be designed to challenge students and make them curious. To peak their curiosity and point them in a direction that sparks their passion. Exactly how that is done is the topic for another discussion, While the world still sends students here to learn, our own students are falling behind. Our technical institutes of higher learning are populated more and more by Asian students. The American way still works for those willing to work at it.

And whaa do my cohorts have to say?  Check them out - Ramana, Pravin, Maria, and  Ashok

Friday, June 23, 2017

Melting Pot

This weeks topic was suggested by Ramana. Melting pots.  Merriam Webster defines a melting pot as a place where a variety of races, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole. 

That sounds great, but does it really work? For years we in the USA were cited as a shining example of a successful melting pot. 
For decades ethnic peo[les flocked to America for work, landing in geographic locations that matched their existing job skills. In other words they went where they were needed, some eventually staying and some  going back to their original homeland when the available jobs plateaued. Those that remained  essentially assimilated into the culture here, while still maintaining their own national identities. That is why there are pockets of ethnic groups in cities all over the USA. States reflect the ethnicity of the early immigrants. And of course the American Southwest shows the Mexican influence that has existed since most of the Southwest was part of Mexico.

After several generations assimilation is complete - Italians become Italian-Americans, Poles become Polish Americans and so on. But do old ethnic rivalries remain in the new American's minds? Are new rivalries created? How are they created?

One obvious problem these days is the terrorism of radical segments of Islam. Suddenly, so-called Christians that lived in peace with Muslims suggest - in fact scream - that the Muslim faith is one of violence and hatred. And Mexicans have been vilified by POTUS 45 from his campaign and even still. Mexicans steal jobs from American workers and are responsible for the decline and fall of the once enormous middle class if one is to believe POTUS 45 and his followers.

Has the lid been put on the melting pot? Is he recipe so complete that there is no more room at the Inn? Or is this a temporary situation brought on by the current political climate?  

Having spent decades in California and Texas I have known and lived/worked with many Mexicans, both legal and illegals. You would be hard pressed to find a harder working, more conservative group of people. Yet they are feared by the right wing political pundits as they are assumed to be (the legal ones anyway) left wing voters. Interesting.

The fear of Muslim immigrants is easier to understand. They are easy to identify ethnically and remember what we did to Japanese Americans in WWII.  Muslim immigrants/refugees are fleeing horrible conditions and as we have seen in  Europe there has been a significant amount of terrorism linked to their communities, although a concerning number of terror events are from second generation folks, so a significant percentage of Americans are for a ban on Muslim immigration even beyond the temporary ban called for by POTUS 45.

So here we are - the once great melting pot that has suddenly boiled over and has had a lid slammed on it. And what does that do to our national identity throughout the world? Is the extreme  nationalism touted by Steve Bannon and POTUS 45 damaging the perception of the USA around the world? Clearly Bannon hopes so - he is after all trying to tear down the system. One can only hope cooler heads will prevail, but we are still a melting pot of sorts and hopefully that will not change. Otherwise France may want to repossess the Statue of Liberty.

Please check my cohorts on their blogs to see what they have to say - RamanaMaria, Pravin and Ashok.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Angels and demons

Image result for Angel and Devil ConscienceThis weeks topic - angels and demons - was suggested by Pravin, Besides being an excellent prequel to Dan Brown's terrific novel The DaVinci Code, angels and demons make a good metaphor for the notion of choices in life. Choices both good and bad, the important notion being the choice is ours to  make. It's that pesky free will thing. We get to make our own choices.  Some might go so far as to say we  have to make our own choices and others might say their god makes the choice. Those folks lay it all of on god. Anything good is the will of god, anything bad is their bad choice. With free will comes responsibility - and in  theory we make thoughtful decisions based on the available information. At least in a perfect world we do. Sometimes. Of course the minefield of life certainly keeps us on our toes - until we manage to blow those toes off with a misstep.Dang – life can be complicated can’t it?  Oh well – it would be boring otherwise IMHO. What fun would that be? The eternal struggle of our conscience = do this – no, do that  - and so on. And now you know where my saying “Life’s a bitch, Then you die” comes from. The ongoing WWE tussle in my brain literally wears me out sometimes. Not often, mind you, but certainly on occasion. It is my contention we live our lives largely by habit – not having to ponder every decision, simply keeps us functioning and allows us to ponder those things which require pondering. Chicken or fish for dinner, white or red. Lager or stout. Glenlivet or Macallan - or a nice blend like Johnnie Walker Blue.
Now about that  conscience thing. The part of us that helps us distinguish between right and wrong - the repository of that set of principles/values hat guide our moral judgments. We all have one. Its that thing that, hopefully as the late Christopher Hitchens said helps us make the right decision when nobody is looking.  Some conscience comes from a religious view, some from a secular viewpoint.
One of the growing fights these days is the battle between globalists and the national populist movements being waged  politically. In many folks the conscience has not yet advanced beyond national borders. While his weeks blog is not intended to address that issue, merely point out its existence, one sill cannot but hope more folks come around to a global vision IMHO. The planet grows smaller every day and is it really such a leap to go from the US B9ill of Rights to "Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination."  How does our conscience help shape our consciousness?? Alas, I am  afraid that is the cliffhanger for this weeks topic (at least foe me).
As you may have noticed, I am typically of  late the only LBC blogger posting from a western state of mind. This weeks comments from my cohorts should be interesting.  Ramana, Pravin, Maria and  Ashok.

See ya next week, same bat time; same bat channel. RIP Adam West.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Creationism vs evolution.

Its line in the sand time. Science  or religion. God or nature. Or is it that simple? While briefly researching the Creation side of the equation I was surprised by the number of competing Creation theories out there. They all share the notion that God created man and the universe, but they vary in the details  on how it was accomplished. (mainly the timeframe).

What we generally accept as the theory of evolution comes from Charles Darwin and involves natural selection - sometimes called survival of the fittest.  Darwin proposed what has become the most famous/infamous notion - common ancestry - that drives the discussion/debate/argument.  Surely you have heard the "man comes from the ape" discussion at least once and heard it severely critiqued by fundamentalist  Christians. That is NOT part of the equation - simply what we these days call fake news. Man and chimps/apes share 98% common genetic makeup. Oh - and 50% of our genetic makeup is the same as a banana. Watch out for offended vegans denying  the banana comes from man argument that just might occur. It might also explain this -

Gotta keep your sense of humor in these matters - and that's a cool song from my perhaps misspent youth.

If pressed on the matter I have to admit that I see evolution as a legitimate mechanism an intelligent creator might use to further his/her agenda. I especially see the fact that evolution creates imperfect things and that fits with the model an  intelligent designer  that creates beings as imperfect as humans and demands absolute fealty - even though those beings were given free will to think and act on their own. I am not so unsure of the existence of  an intelligent designer to  categorically state there is none. I simply do not know nor do I possess a degree of faith - as do several friends - to categorically state there is an intelligent designer. Call it God if you choose. People that know me understand my stance on God is best summed up by U2. If you are new to me simply click on the U2 link.

Back to the topic at hand. Given a choice, I fall on the evolution side of the equation. There is simply an overwhelming amount of  scientific evidence - commonly called facts - to convince me. The earth and humanity are older than 6,000 years. And, even the old earth creationists do not convince me they are correct. I'll stick with inquisitive guys like Neil deGrasse Tyson who are constantly searching for answers. I am confident the answers will be found eventually. If my faithful friends are correct, though, it is not likely to happen in my lifetime so I'd better get used to some heat.

I also realize this is a topic better suited to a more detailed discussion than this little weekly blog allows. Anyone wishing to have  more detailed discussion with me on this issue is free to contact me.

This week's topic was my idea.  To see where my cohorts stand on the issue please check their blogs at the following links - RamanaPravinMaria and Ashok.