Literary Bloodbath: Artful Healing

It has been a rough week for writers in cyberspace. The media have reported for the last few months that we are going into a double dip recession, and writers are really feeling it. Writers have been fired in droves at two major internet writing outlets this week. The article titles are also in short supply where I work as well. One writing outlet makes published writers go through an arduous application process where you send in your resume, compose a writing sample on a given subject and wait for months for the company to contact you. You then go through a training program with other candidates that lasts about 6 weeks where you learn to set up your own informational pages and to maintain them. The candidate with the most publishing credentials and best web pages gets the job. Then the writer has to continuously update his page. Then he gets fired. I cannot imagine how that feels.

However, if you are a writer, according to a study reported by Psychology Today, you may find a job faster if you write about your being fired woes. Supposedly, writing about the trauma decreases the stress felt by the writer and increases his understanding of the situation. The writer subsequently presents himself better at job interviews, increasing his chances at getting hired.

Yes, freelancing is a dicey business during a recession, but so is working in general. Gone are the 30- or 40-year careers spent at one place that my parents were used to. Sadly, Kodak, not just a Rochester NY corporation, but an institution, a virtual way of working life for the area, is on the brink of bankruptcy after many years of woefully being behind the technological eight ball.

The best piece of career advice I ever got was from my older sister when I was bemoaning my restless state at Stanford University. She told me to look at that experience as a stepping stone to something else. She’s right, of course. Big sisters usually are. ūüôā I have definitely learned to be a better writer; however, I’m not sure where that experience will take me next. Hopefully, not into the unemployment line… Actually, it won’t. Freelancers aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits.

Internet is Down: Weird Ways to Make Money

Occasionally in L.A. AT&T has a fit and its wireless services and internet go crashing down. While the wireless problem is now fixed, alas, internet service and email at my house is still AWOL, leaving me contemplating other ways to make money while using the internet at the library.

Enter Steve Gillman’s book¬†“101 Weird Ways to Make Money.” Now I am all for crazy, unusual careers, but I’m really not sure about some of the careers he mentions. For example, cricket farmer? Really? Mr. Gillman says you can make from $1 million up to $20 million per year, depending upon the size of the cricket farm. However, after writing my post¬†Girly Emergencies at Work, there’s no way I am going to be raising crickets for a living.

Gillman also states that you can make up to $80,000 writing online reviews of products. Hmmm, that seems like an awful lot of products and reviews. If you worked a normal 40 hour week per year, you would have to be paid at least $38 per hr. Each review probably takes more than an hour to write and I bet there are few review sites that pay that much. Besides, you still need the internet.

I could also be a bicycle-taxi driver for $62,000 which doesn’t seem realistic either. Haven’t seen too many of these in L.A. either. I’m not so sure about Gillman’s figures; however, I do think writing articles such as “Acacia Gum Nutrition” qualifies as weird. Not only is acacia gum found in everything from soda to gum to frosting, it is also found in glue. Not sure I wanted to know that…

Anniversary: You Have 100 Mothers

Support the American Lung Association

Today is the 42nd anniversary of my mother’s death from lung cancer. Sometimes, our moms give us career mandates when we are young; they want us to be lawyers or doctors, business executives or public service leaders or to just to be happy in our ¬†chosen careers. I have had several different careers so far. However, one career mandate for me came from my mother’s death. I was looking to gain recruiting experience and ended up in the health industry. I am so glad on this anniversary that I had the chance to help recruit nurses and doctors for clinical oncology drug studies. I learned that:

*There really is hope for a cancer cure. The advances in cancer research since my mom’s death in 1969 have been tremendous, and today, many more people are surviving cancer.

Here are some other things that I learned through my own grieving process:

*Losing a mother whether you are 6 or 46 is a tremendously painful experience; however, to the handful of my friends who have lost their mothers this past year, it really does gradually get easier, especially if you recognize that:

*You have 100 mothers. Stepmothers, sisters, sorority sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, friends and mothers of friends all rock when they step in to fill the gap. You just have to reach out and ask; sometimes, you don’t even have to do that. These people just know when you need them. Many thanks to cousins and friends who also graciously stepped aside at times and willingly lent their moms when our family needed them.

*You cannot live the rest of your life in fear that you will inherit a deadly disease from your parents. Life is much too short and precious to live in fear. And there are others out there who need you to be present in their lives.

*You are responsible for you. Take care of yourself. You cannot force siblings to stop smoking, drinking or to take better care of themselves.

*Let go of anger and resentment. It is so easy to get caught up in anger and resent that we never had enough time with our mothers, whether we are the eldest or the baby of the family. You do not come out of the womb clutching a “Life Is Fair” contract. Sometimes,¬†it just isn’t.

*You may not have the life you wanted. So what? Change it by helping others who need you. You may be surprised at what you get in return.

Arghhh! Wegmans, Where are You?

9/19/11 UPDATE: The unions and corporations finally settled. No strike. Whew. I wasn’t relishing walking a few miles just to pick up groceries.
Southern Cali is in the grip of yet another threatened grocery store strike. No word this morning if workers are actually on strike yet. The last one in 2003 cost Ralphs $2 billion. This time, Ralphs decided to just close its doors and wait out the strike. Do they think the strikers’ audience won’t show up? Are they guestimating that they will lose less money? The 2003 strike lasted for 4 months, but I had a lot more money then and so did other people. This time around it is going to be much harder always shopping at Whole Foods where the workers are not on strike. Whole Foods is kind of like Wegmans, but smaller. The food is more expensive, but mostly better quality than at other grocery stores. Their facilities are also nicer than most grocery stores in southern Cali.
I get why the workers are striking. I really do. Medical costs are going up, and they need better medical coverage. However, self checkouts do not need medical coverage. There are also a plethora of stores here that have added grocery centers such as Wal-Mart and Target with better deals than conventional grocery stores. Will the grocery stores get their customers to come back? That remains to be seen.
I think it’s time for the #3 Best Company to move into Cali… Seriously, I’d be willing to work harder and pay more for a decent bagel.

Printing Your Dinner

Orange Ink (Hold the Pulp?)

image credit: m_bartosch/

If the  Cornell Creative Machines Lab has its way, you could soon be printing your dinner, and chef schools, including the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, may be adding food printing technology to its lists of courses. Food printing changes the way food is mixed, prepared, shaped and eaten. It could bring about a whole new expertise in the cutthroat careers of  gourmet chefs. It could also change the way you shop for food and eat it.

After reading several craptastically researched articles on food printing, I figured out that the ink is liquified food mixed with “natural” liquids to keep the mixture stable while printing. While I’m a bit wary of what’s in those “natural” liquids, what the heck, there are so many additives in processed food, what’s one more? You need a food printer with extruders to print the food, and voila, you are in business.

So why print food? Because it’s now proven that you can. You can now print large foods to be deep-fried. What does that mean? For all you fried candy bar lovers, you can now deep fry your specially printed jumbo Snickers bar without burning the outside and leaving the inside, um, raw. You can also print rocket- or fun-shaped food out of healthy stuff like peas to get your kids to eat their veggies. I, however, think kids are not that stupid. I know I will not be eating space shuttles made from lima beans (a.k.a. “slimer beans”) at my house any time soon. And can you imagine how boring food shopping will become? Rows upon rows of food ink cartridges. I hope they are not going to be as expensive as my HP printer cartridges…



Yale and its “Other” Reputation

Yale University has long enjoyed its prestigious status as an Ivy League university. However, it has held another reputation even before the murder of grad student Annie Le. A friend of mine had grown up in New Haven where Yale is situated and knew first hand that workers at the university were underpaid and not treated well at all. Unions were not welcome on campus, and this friend warned me that women who were sexually harassed on campus had a hard time proving it and getting justice. Workers even went on strike at one point for better pay as well.

So why the warning? I was already working on a campus where I was being harassed and was looking for another higher education job. I had an interview with Yale in the late 90s, and yes, I went to the interview trying to keep an open mind. I was not impressed. Where other schools paid for interview expenses at the time, Yale refused, its reasoning being that you would pay them yourself if you wanted work in the “Ivy League.” ¬†The Career Center needed to do some serious PR with their career counselor candidates, and they did not, their biggest mistake. The campus is located in a particularly unsafe area of New Haven. No campus tour, the buildings were locked, no lunch or dinner meetings, no concern with whether the candidate got to and left campus safely. Once I left the Career Center, the doors locked behind me, leaving me outside, in an unsafe area in the dark. Later, I learned that another female student had been murdered on campus during the time I was there. Great. Like I really wanted to work there.¬†That was it. I did not take the job, and Yale got a big “FAIL” from me.

Fast forward to 2011. Annie Le’s family is suing Yale. Good for them. But this is the 21st century; ¬†women should not have to sue for their safety¬†while on campus ¬†¬†—¬†at YALE, for God’s sake! Even some of the oldest “boys’ clubs” in the world, namely Oxford and Cambridge Universities, have stringent rules to protect female students. I’m almost positive it is also highly frowned upon at these prestigious institutions to murder female students. Bad form. Yale, you still get a FAIL.

Oh yeah, the friend who gave me the warning? Yup, he’s a guy, proving that the¬†¬†“old boys’ club” mentality has gone by the wayside in many places. Thanks, dude, I appreciate it.

Sweet Job: Teddy Bear Day At Crumbs


I know if I ever worked at a candy or sweet shop, I would definitely eat all of my profits. But I can at least write about working at a shop like this. Spread the word: Tomorrow, Friday, September 9th is Teddy Bear Day at Crumbs Bake Shop. Bring a good-as-new or new teddy bear to Crumbs, and they will donate the teddy bear to the Salvation Army and give you a free cupcake. How sweet is that? I bet the cupcake sales people are going to have a fun day collecting teddy bears, too.


Ready For an Outing to Crumbs

These huggable little guys are all ready for an outing to Crumbs Bake Shop where they will go to some very lucky kids. All except maybe for the dark chocolate bear — he may be making a cross-country trip to NY to be my new nephew Charlie’s pal. Happy Teddy Bear Day!