Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Boss Signs Off

So I'm still really want to get a recycling program started in my office building, as we currently don't have one. I asked the accounting department if we're paying for recycling services that we're just not using. We're not, which kind of makes my goal a bit harder. I brought up the issue with my boss, an EVP in my company and the head of our office, and he responded very enthusiastically. Which is great!

Only, we're super busy at work right now, and it looks to continue this way until at least February. That means long hours and very little personal time to accomplish this goal. (Excuses, excuses.)

My next stop will be the building manager, who I chat with every morning while I wait for the elevator. Hopefully he'll be amenable to helping me.

I also need to get a hold of our lease and see who handles the trash disposal and how much it costs. This is a bigger undertaking than I anticipated.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

International Unions

Just read this informative article in Mother Jones. (A great magazine, btw, and I really should subscribe because I buy like every issue at the newsstand.) It raised a possibility that I have never even thought of: international labor unions. The article says the United Steelworkers, which represents workers in the US and Canada and the United Kingdom's Unite, are in talks to join forces.

I like the basic idea of this arrangement. Corporations and manufacturers have been going international for years. This is evident by the change in the prototypical average American job - it used to be working in the factory; now it's on the sales floor at Wal-Mart.

However, the idea is just a bit off base, in my opinion. Manufacturing jobs aren't leaving the US and going to the UK. They're going to Mexico, China, India, Bangladesh, etc. These are the countries who should have a union. Sounds obvious, right? The workers in these countries don't make a living wage, have no hope of proper health care and no guarantee of safe working conditions. The reason factories are going to these places is because the workers come so cheaply. Sometimes they are literally a dime a dozen. They NEED an organized and experienced voice to speak for them. If this international union merger works out, they should set their sights on a country more in need of one.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Jim Jams

I recently found out about the Pajama Program. They donate pajamas and books to kids in foster care throughout the country. Boring right? Did I lose your interest? While this charity doesn't exactly provide life-saving services, I think it's really important.

There are over 800,000 children living in foster care in the United States.

Think about that.

That's 800,000 kids who were pulled from their homes because their parents were unable or unwilling to provide a safe, loving and nurturing environment.

They don't have pajamas to wear to bed so they sleep in their jeans. They don't have the nightime ritual of taking a bath and snuggling under the covers for a bedtime story. 800,000 kids who don't get to experience this simple and enduring form of love.

That's why this charity is so great. Their purpose is very specific - give kids pjs and a book to read for bedtime, just a small homey comfort in an otherwise confusing and hurtful world.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007


So last week I broke down just what it is that compels me to strive for goodness. And I've been thinking about what stops me.

1) Ignorance. I've said it before I need to find a charity to support. But which one? Why can't there be some kind of easy way to know what charities are reputable and deserving of my hard-earned money? What percentage of my donation will go towards the people/land/animals/diseases that I have intended?

2) Laziness. Of course my ignorance is borne of laziness. I could find all the answers to my questions if only I took the time to look them up. But my time is precious and I only have so much of it to spend watching Gossip Girl or whatever.

3) Selfishness. Out of my ignorant laziness is, of course, selfishness. How am I supposed to want to help others when I'm barely keeping my head above water? It's so easy to think about what I don't have (furniture!) or can't afford (vacation!) and it obscures what really matters.

Ugh. This was hard to think about. I suck.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Proper Motivation

I want to be a better human being. Better to myself, to my friends and family, to strangers and people around the world who are suffering, to the environment - I just want to be better over all, to be good.

If I think about it, I'm motivated by a number of different things:

1) Guilt. As a college-educated American, I have a lot going for me in comparison to say, anyone in Burma, or Darfur, or anyone else who doesn't enjoy my comfortable pillowtop mattress and non-backbreaking office job. I think about this more often than a lot of people (which is to say, more often than a fleeting thought of "oh that's too bad" when images of utter inhumanity are glossed over with a flashy graphic on the evening news) and it kind of eats away at me.

2) Praise. I admit it: I'm a praise whore. I love doing nice things for people because I like to be thanked and noticed and appreciated for my efforts. (A blog is helpful in this endeavor.)

3) Atheism. It's true - I have no faith in god, religion, unicorns or leprechauns. It annoys me that I have to point out that just because I'm not religious, doesn't mean I don't care about anything. In fact, the opposite is true. With no god and no heaven and no possibility of an afterlife filled with cocoa puffs and bubble baths and choirs of angels, the only thing that matters is right now.

That's just what makes me want to be a good human. I'd like it if everyone believed the same things as me, but duh - that's not going to happen. So really whatever your motivation is, seek it out and run with it. If you want to take in a dozen foster kids because of something in the Bible, please do it. Next week, I'll try to figure out what typically holds me back. My anti-motivators, if you will.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Sweetest Day

I love the Sweetest Day. I don't even care if it was made up by candy companies in an effort to push more product. I prefer to more romantic idea that Herbert Birch Kingston, a blue-collar candy factory worker, wanted to do something nice for the poor, the aged and the sick - the people that society generally forgets. That's how I try to celebrate the Sweetest Day.

This year is going to be fun, I just know it. I'm living in a new city that typically doesn't celebrate the Sweetest Day (it's more of a Great Lakes region/midwest holiday) and my mom is coming to visit for the weekend. She's also never been to NYC before, which is kind of exciting for her, and kind of a lot of pressure for me. I want to make sure she has a good time.

Here are Five Fun Ways to Celebrate the Sweetest Day, even if you have little to no money:

1) Call your Grandmother. Or send her flowers or some yarn for her knitting or a nice thoughtful card. If she's not around, go to a nursing home. You'll get over the smell in like 15 minutes and it turns out, old people are a lot fun. And even if they're mean and crotchety, you can laugh to yourself and hope you'll be that feisty when you're 160, too.

2) Go to the Hospital. Find the ward with all the sick people in it. Hang out with them. Play some video games. Bring a deck of cards or a board game. Don't let them win - they know when they are being patronized.

3) Make Dinner. At the local food pantry. Don't just donate food or money to your fave charity; actually go there and pitch in. Clean up a park. Apply to volunteer at the local Boys & Girls Club. Donate blood. Look up more ways you can get involved in your community here.

4) Give a Kid a Laptop. Yeah, it's like $200, but you get a tax write off (whatever that means). If you wait until Nov. 12, you can get one too. I'd love to drop $400, but then I couldn't pay my rent.

5) Spend Time with People You Love. Invite some friends over and cook up a nice meal for them. Enjoy their company and let them know you like having them around. The Sweetest Day is a great opportunity to tell people how much you appreciate having them in your life. But don't say it just like that; it sounds creepy and weird.

BTW, mark your calendars: the Sweetest Day is always celebrated on the 3rd Saturday in October. It's on 20th this year.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dove Onslaught

Ok, I totally love the new Dove video. I love the message and I love that it goes a little far with the plastic surgery snippets.

I really like the marketing scheme Dove is currently working. The whole "you're beautiful just the way you are - with our products" is a refreshing change from the industry standard of "you're hideous/fat/wrinkly/etc., but our products will make you into a beautiful flower."

As much as I like this, I'm just not going to buy more Dove products. I tried the shampoo when they first debuted it and my stylist said, "I want you to go home and dump that shit down the drain. It's sucking all the shine and moisture out of your hair." So I did. But the deep moisture body wash is pretty great.

ANYWAY, I hope this Campaign for Real Beauty actually permeates the entire marketing landscape. It's scary just how many messed up images we're inundated with on a daily basis. Yuck.

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