Jobs.

Jobs. Everyone has one and nobody wants one, or wants a better one. Usually. I have already said on this blog that I am content with where I am- working part time and going to school fill time. I make enough money for me to be comfortable, and journey outside of my house every now and then. There are millions who don’t live in such relative luxury. Families live on less than what I make in a year, how I will ever know, and that number is climbing faster than ever before.  Most recently we have seen unemployment spike beyond levels it has been for decades. While that 9+% is tragic, I think the most upsetting new is how many people would consider themselves underemployed.

These are people who after a decade in a field find themselves without a job. I see it all the time and while I lack the age to directly associate with such people- as my social circle doesn’t include 35+ year olds,  I am well aware of this epidemic. They attempt to take this in stride, and then head out to find another job. It is a difficult process to be sure. A process that usually ends in complete failure, or a small job prospect that has no benefits, and half the salary. It is a death sentence to a life so previously lived. You would hope that after a hard life and experience to match you could find a job rightly befitting.

It is even harder for the 35 year old without a degree, but countless years of experience. Had I the inclination to find a job more related to my personal interestes (for sake of argument lets say a Web Design job with need of HTML, CSS, PHP, Java skills etc.) I would be SOL finding even some of the most basic entry level jobs without years of extremely relatable experience or a degree. It doesn’t matter that I have a lifetime of nerdly skills that are reflected poorly on a resume- it’s 5+ years experience or degree required. So it is that the mid life veteran has few options.

I see this all the time in retail. While my current place of employment is more…kid focused Target was inundated by people like this. It was a sad day indeed when you worked next to a broken man doing the same thing you were while you were 17 and he double that. I am defined primarily as a student, but I have worked for most of my educational existence. I can make a post like I did Tuesday how putting down this laptop and just listening is uniquely intimate, but then my mood today makes me take the rest of the population to heart. The majority of people who live in America do not have a degree, and had no inclination to get one. So they get stuck in this situation. Underemployment is a sad alternative to unemployment- but at least it is something.

I bought and read The Tipping Point by one of my favorite authors Malcolm Gladwell yesterday and I can relate the current poverty stricken climate to what he says. I described the job market as an epidemic in an earlier paragraph and that is what Gladwell’s book is about. He says that most epidemics happen because of small, near insignificant factors. What factors lead to our current climate? Politicians would like to debate this fact in simple, clearly defined reasoned ways. Regulation or lack or regulation. One president versus the previous. Godliness versus Atheist.  It is all bullshit, on any side you stand. Talking points that incite feelings. Their reasoned debate is illogical pandering.

I have my own thoughts and ideas what has lead to the degradation of the American workers’ job stability and usefulness, but you have been listening to me for quite some time. While some of you may enjoy reading my thoughts, I would hope that you could express some of your own. This doesn’t just have to be my tirade- it can be a discussion. discussion with anyone, not me specifically. If you were to take anything from my blog I only hope that my dumb mind brings you to some self-understand through either internal or external discussion.  However if you would want to talk about this, or anything send me a message, call me, facebook me.

An education.

I look up as I sit in class. I am in a smaller class, only about 16 people in a decently modern classroom. Everyone has their laptops out- not a single student would dare venture to class without theirs. The professor is teaching, the students are typing. It is a normal day here in South Florida.

I stop typing for a minute. The dozen immediately around me are still fervently  typing and clicking, copying pasting and of course facebooking. My eyes lock with the professor for a brief moment. In that short moment while she expresses a point and I undertand it there is a small connection. This is the relationship between the teacher and the student. I heave learned and she has taught. I keep my head above my screen for a while, what seems like hours in this world of technological inner-connectivity. In those moments not a single student so much as glanced upward. There was no bond of understanding.

So I take it a step further, I wonder what the professor thinks of this? She has decades of experience, has known a classroom without the incessant typing of keyboards. Given this new perspective I would think that she would be distraught. Even I am upset even though I am one of the many that sit in her class unable to tear myself away from my backlit keyboard and my dozen active tabs. Here she using her abundance to teach a class who is entirely so unimpressed with the subject matter they cannot even try to make eye contact for some sort of real understanding. While the sea of silicon and processors in front of her may have a few notes about her current topic, most of the people will be too busy updating their tumbler, twitter, facebook, or- blog.

Most of these students will go on from her class to another and do the same. They may sit in 6 hours of classes and stare at their screen the entire time never really absorbing knowledge. They will go home and ask with expectancy for someone to post their notes from the class on the discussion board, or simply attempt to wiki the answers. These lackadaisical students will usually pass, especially if they are past freshman year just because they understand how little effort they can get away with.

There are examples of the opposite of course, but they have become the exception. There are a few small glimmers of hope in academia but their collective glow has been dimming for years. From my extended time in academia I have known both sides of this equation. I have been the slacker who shows up to one in three classes, studies the morning of off a googled study guide and managed to flail my way through a test. I have come about full circle, or at least made a dynamic change in both my class and study demeanor. Perhaps it was the impotence of youth that kept me so subdued(or stupid). Maybe that is relatable to many of the students at any of the universities I have attended.

What changed me to be more…focused? Age and societal pressure would play a large part, but they are not even close to the majority of my collective reasoning and focus. I have become to be fulfilled by interest. I have become intrigued by what was mundane and ignored. It is a paradigm shift in my view of knowledge. I yearn to have it. If knowledge were consumable and finite, I would be a leech. Luckily for myself most information isn’t patented and there are plenty of people here willing to teach me for a small amount of money.

If I were that professor in the front of my class I would indeed be depressed, but not entirely. I would feel that it is a shame that students aren’t even interested with a conversational dialogue between the professed and the heard. However I could feel sublime elation- I was given the opportunity for whatever entity wanted to hear what information I possessed and could do so freely. There may not be even a single completely intrigued student in the mix, but even if one gleaned a semblance  of understanding between his facebooking and redditing I would feel accomplished. After all our corporeal forms only last scant few years and the information we posses at death cannot suitably be passed to another once our heart stops beating. This transfer of information isn’t about a chest-thumping legacy, only the hope that as a society we can progress. That collectively more knowledge is available and can be willingly obtained.

Elizabeth Warren.

I tend to hate politics. At one time I was much more deeply resolved one way or the other about whatever the talking point was about at the moment. I would spout some of the same stuff I heard across whatever network or show or blog was most appealing to me at the time. This has changed in my more recent years and has turned my view of pundits, politics, and perspectives slanting off in ways I think I much healthier. Healthier for me at least. I would never assume to know what is best for you.

Lets start with some history, ancient history. High school I was vocal about most everything political. I would go off on a tirade about almost anything. For the entirety of my time in high school a Mr. George W. Bush was in office, a man who embodied everything I was not, nor did I wish to become. It was easy for me to quote politico or to rephrase what I heard on The Daily Show. I lead the debates in my class one way or the other and would instantly dismiss any opposing view. I found anyone who quoted the idealogical opposite of The Daily Show, or any one of my ‘holier-than-thou’ blogs to be unworthy of having a salient thought.

Jump past graduation and into college. FSU isn’t the largest haven of liberals in the world(I would have to go to upstate New York for that) but it is an institution of somewhat higher learning which is not dissimilar to most other Universities- instructors and students alike were left leaning. Here I had no grand debates about politics. We could discuss matters, but there was nobody to disagree. Only hypothetical questions posed by devils’ advocates. It was political masterbation.

As I progress through life I have encountered plenty of people who don’t have similar views as myself. I have adopted a much more lenient position and am willing to hear another idea or solution. When I end a conversation nowadays it seems we come to an understanding. Usually that understanding is that we have the same fears, but think one solution is better than the other. Taxes vrs. tax breaks, etc.

Which brings me to my main point. I love Elizabeth Warren. I first noticed her when she came on the Daily Show years and candidly talked about the TARP plan. It was refreshing. She took her near infinite knowledge of the thousands of documents relating to the TARP plan and discussed them openly- her only bias was that she was one of the few people who completely understood the legislation in its fullest, or close to it.

Now she is running against the male model that is Scott Brown. He is opposite to her in every way. He doesn’t speak his mind, he was voted in with Tea Party support. He is another typical politician, like 98% percent of all politicians on any side of the debate. So far I see Warren as an intelligent…person. Not a figure. She speaks rational truths I would hope that everyone would listen to regardless of how they lean. She embodies my tempered view of politics, where we can reach understandings with a semblance of agreement if we stop listening to whatever fat white guy is yelling at you. If we stop being outraged by mentions of the extreme or implausible.

I am very curious to see what will happen. In the end the election will come down simple truths. Will we find an intelligent and blunt advocate as a senator? Or the guy with a small but strong charged base with good hair keep his office he won in the height of Tea Party influence.

 

The heat.

The sun bears down. Energy collides with skin, white becomes red.

Sedentary and silent the figure sits. Thick beads of sweat start lumbering to pour down from head to torso, torso around the gentle curves to the back.  The figure remains statuesque, focused on the gentle thuds of downbeats that whisper in her ear. Her face uncovered, absorbing the intensity of the rays entirely. She shifts momentarily, allowing her chest the opportunity to flee and hide from the constant barrage of the sun.

Her once cool back becomes prostrate for the star to launch its never ceasing assault. Clouds only hamper the beams momentarily turning the bright sky grey. With the constance of infinite raw materials and unending fusion the photons again begin their quick work. Her back now cries its salty tears, pooling and retreating to her now shadowed torso.

The rested becomes restless. She stirs as the burdensome heat becomes too accented. Silently, breathlessly, peacefully she slips into the cool blue. Sweat drifts away. Heat slides from skin. The radiation of the past hour seems so distant, but soon will revisit the surface it left its imprint on. Yet momentarily the pool has removed all sweat, pain, regret. For long moments the pool brings comfort.

Mists

I had a short but long day yesterday. It started slow, I was up by 8 and active by 9. That was as productive as I was for hours. Sure I studied my books, did some coursework but in the end I spent more time watching whatever I found on netflix that didn’t disgust me too much. Work at 5, and I assumed I’d go home afterwards to more of the same. I wasn’t content with this but resigned.

I ended up going out with a friend(you know who you are thunderbuns) for a few drinks and greasy food at Applebees. It was an experience I cherish. It was normal bar talk and bar food, if you think that pseudo-philosophical ideas and discussions about aperture sizes of telescopes is normal bar talk. That is what I look for in a bar, and why I hate clubs. You can have an honest talk where social ills are smoothed over by a few swills of beer.

To the body of my post- it wasn’t drastically late as we both had school/work/tests in the morning. The glow of the mall lights, and the roaring halogens of the high school were inexplicably lighting my way home when it had been hours since the suns’ last photons were last synthesized in chlorophyll. In this defiantly bright light I was able to see deep into my surroundings as I rolled home. All around me are cow pastures(this is Wesley Chapel afterall, even with the monumental development it is hard to veil this swamps’ true identity) thick with mists. There are tendrils of the mist that seem to be slowly creeping toward the street, but at the moment my asphalt path was clear.

With the football field still lit, I could see the entirety of the mists. They went on until their own translucency made recognition of distance impossible. In my close field of vision there were small trees and bushes popping up with mists pooling around them, engulfing the shrubbery ever so slowly. I drove on, closer and closer to suburbia. My usual turn came and went as I continued deeper back into the mists. The lights of the field were now just a lull providing a single candela of light.

I am entranced by the purple colored haze that is edging closer to the road- its thin wisps streaking gently over the road. There is a convenient turn to a yet to be built development and I pull over.  I take a few steps to the fenced field, close enough to be fully embraced by the cool mists that are now nearly omnipresent. My pupils widen attempting to adjust to the dim light and murky surroundings, but all I see are the same outlines of what were trees and bushes. Eventually I stop trying to focus on the trees and look at the haze that is tangible yet untouchable.

These mists are alive. They lovingly contort to the hills and fences, trees and myself. They flow with the gentle pace of an old man playing chess with a good friend. They lightly float around me as I let moments slip into minutes and minutes back into unknown moments. There is no sound around me, and with the thickness of the fog no way to tell where I am in relation to anything but that I am standing in grass. I am in peaceful recognition of the creature that surrounds me. I have this interaction, this brief conversation with the ill-defined fog has brought me a tiny iota of calm.

I smile, and head back the direction I think my car is. Heading home and while writing this the next day I know there will be some who think I am just going batshit mad. Had someone stumbled upon me in that field they could assume the worst and think I was dumping a body, or consider the place a perfect chance to dispose of me. I would have to logically agree. But this wasn’t about logic and analyzation- it was just a yearning to find myself enveloped by a phenomena that I didn’t understand. What I find crazy is how many people just speed through life passing from one monument to another. One job to another, a bar to the next. The Earth around us has been cultivated by science (or God or a combination of the two- whatever you believe in) over billions of years to its present state. We have produced a few specs of concrete on the Earths crust, skyscrapers that are thousanths the height of the atmosphere that protects us, which inevitably fail to fascinate me as much as this simple fog. I am just finding interest in the natural world in a culture that defines ourselves by these material things.

A man met a desk.

A man sits down to his desk. It is a new desk, one he has not sat at. One that has no scratches on its laminate surface. He thinks it is marvelous. A new desk, a new experience a new attachment. In this fraction of a moment he is a happy man. He has been given something worth sitting down to, without imperfection, pristine, new. There a man sits in his cubicle under the hum of a fluorescent light around a hundred others who are sharing in his elation. His carpeted world has given him the bounty of an immaculate surface to place his laptop.

Outside there is a field of wildflowers. A sun that shines with the power of fusion over the entire spectrum. A shallow stream contemplates a slow speed down to the river while critters ease through the midday heat creating a roar of nearly silent energy. A haven of natures simplicity, an always remaining piece of the world that cannot ever be perfect. Every part of this field is flawed, it will never be  as sterile as that mans’ new desk. It will never be a place to set a laptop down, or to eat a microwaved lunch.

The door is not locked, ,you are not chained to your desk. Find a field. Enjoy the natural world.

The Mall.

Oh the mall, how you frustrate me. As I have reiterated here, I happen to work in the mall, selling the latest prep fit shorts and easter colored shortie shorts. This is a presently a fact of my life which I do not mind- in fact my employer has been remarkably lenient as I pursue an ever higher education and while I may not be the most compatible with all aspects of retail, I have found a niche which most companies need someone to fill.

No, my problem with the mall is what its existence demonstrates. Exorbitant consumerism. Any mall is an archetype of deleterious capitalism, where every store, every kiosk, every restaurant survives only because of our societies need to suck down more natural resources to produce novelties as well as draining the bank accounts of anyone who wanders through this campus of capitalism. I know all this, as does everyone. A mall exists only because people want to get rid of their money, or rack up debt so they can wear the lastest fashions. What bothers me is the draw the mall has on me. I am now at the mall on B&Ns second floor looking down at the constant flow of people with overflowing bags, writing this entry. I support this malls’ existence, even though I know how harmful this place is to myself and countless others who cannot afford to buy all that they fancy, but continue to do so anyway. I am a shining example of an American, no matter how enlightened I am to a malls consequence to myself and most others.

While I do not spend much extra money here at the mall, I do spend some. Mostly on starbucks. It’s sad; I own an expresso maker(with premium fair trade organic coffee to brew) and I have a perfected tea steeping method(down to the exact time to boil water as to produce the exact water temperature and the precise amount of Vermont honey down to the tenth of an ounce to make my ideal tea)with some of the best loose leaf teas available in this hemisphere, and knowing/owning all that I still head to the ‘bucks more often than I would like to admit. Needless to say, I know every barista in the cafe by name and they know me as well.

I have my consumerist thresholds I don’t extend past, but I constantly see people spending more and more on things they hardly want. Things that they will barely use, because as a culture we are addicts. I know several grown, graduated, and established intelligent professionals who are compelled to buy….everything. I had to buy a T.V. recently as the one I had left, and I replaced it with the cheapest thing I could find that was large enough that I could see the picture clearly from the couch. As I was price comparing between different stores I saw a very familiar pattern- nobody was shopping like I was. Everyone was enthralled by the biggest, the best, the highest resolution. The T.V. is an easy example,  it is a single tangible item unlike clothing. I see people buy so much clothing. As management it always excites me to see the thousand dollar sales, but as a concerned member of society  the excitement passes and grows into fear.

What is so compelling about stuff? Why do we not judge someone by how much information, or knowledge they pursue or gain? First impressions always come from externalities- and while I don’t notice brand labels or how many diamonds a watch someone has there is a perceived aura around someone who has, when viewed from someone who has-not.  For me this is fleeting as soon as I attempt to discern more. For most, it seems from my dissociated vantage that others focus on these materialistic things.

Maybe I too would notice, and care about these things if I truly had-not. I can be so contemplative, and express it to you because I have the means to buy a MacBook, and can continue to attend University instead of working a grind for a living. If I had to worry where my next meal came from, I could not philosophize like I am so keen to.

As usual, my end does not circle back to the beginning. If I had more time, I think it would have eventually been well stitched. I follow the fabric of my thoughts, and continue to delve until I unwind the fabric is no more than the yarn it is composed of. Then I go deeper until I unravel the fibers, as far as my tiny brain can comprehend. Unfortunately my fingers do not type as quickly as my mind wanders and you are left reading disjointed thoughts of a madman.

Best of Luck and Courage to all.

Radio, and Control.

I love music, it has been only a few posts since I have said that. It is everywhere. Besides the billions of daily youtube views, pandora listens(or grooveshark for that matter- which I prefer over pandora hands down) there is of course radio. Radio has existed for over two hundred years, and has been the source of countless great hits, moments, and at least one national scare(War of the Worlds). Yet, today I think radio has lost all sense of what it was. Maybe it is the expanding universe of music available that seems to dwarf curent radio, but radio is stagnant.

Let me continue, maybe a little more transparently. Radio has the ability to transfer ideas or music to billions. In fact, radio is still much more prevalent than any other form of telecommunications, by far. If you want to reach a huge amount of people, put your message on the radio, and it will be heard. In the first world through the third, radio is the most common form of mass communication. Yet here in one of the most developed nations in the world, radio to me is stifling.

Lets begin with what radio is, relating to content. While it may be a poor signal compared to the 192 kbps you can stream with ease on the net, it is easily listenable- aslong as you don’t want to delve too deep into the AM spectrum. What I will focus on is the monopolies of radio. There are only a few major corporations that own most of the radio stations in the USA. The largest by far is Clear Channel. CC has near 900 channels, think of your local pop radio station, or another dozen and CC owns it. For me here in the greater Tampa area, that would be 93.3 FLZ. I have at times turned off my 6 cd changer(which only has 3 cds- the most played is the TRON OST by daft punk- best driving music ever, makes your 35 MPH suburban commute the most epic adventure ever) and listened to this channel to hear the same 20 songs on a loop. Yes, Adele sings well. Yes Chris Brown astute can say yeah(possible 3 times) and yes indeed you can enjoy the sweet sweet tones of the Ryan Seacrest character a few hours a day.

It is redundant. It is moronic, and it brings me to the core of my arguement: radio is a blatant attempt to control what you enjoy. I think my best expandable example is the Kings of Leon. I absolutely hate them. Yet I know “Sex on Fire” by heart, just by turning on the radio every fifth day. Maybe someone genuinely likes the KoL, but I could not tell them apart from the random person who tunes them out after having their whiny lyrics crammed down their throat for the hundredth time.

It’s a matter of control, by some autonomous entities you will never meet, or be able to define. I don’t know who would think that KoL deserves to be played once per 20 minutes on the most listened to radio stations. It was a large corporation who thought they could make the most amount of money off a sound that KoL either produced or was coerced to  sound like. It is sad, why Justin Beiber has videos that have been watched well over a billion times and others who are acutely talented have never been heard. I am sure that Bieber has had to sacrifice his ‘artistic method’ for his fame, but why does he? It is a matter of control again. We are forced to listen to this drivel, and some would even say what I consider bad to be devine, but I sincerely doubt that is a genuine, intelligent thought.

I suppose it all boils down to how a select few view the majority. In this case, it is record executives who produce music that will be easily appreciated. The minority who hold the power blend millions of people into a homogenous mixture. Yet, that is not how our oversized brain are wired to work. Humanity as a whole cannot be defined singularly, as I would hope that executives would understand. I doubt that will ever happen.

This has been more rambling, and a whole lot less coherent, I do apologize. I have been a little… busy with everything recently. My Friday night has been sitting at home while I wait for a water heater to be replaced, amongst other distractions. Have a good night.