You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘unions’ tag.

This Twitter bot tricks angry trolls into arguing with it for hours.

High anxiety: The surreal and disturbingly dreamlike paintings of George Tooker.

How to turn a broken terra-cotta pot shard into a lovely flower pendant.

Colin Kaepernick’s exile is a labor rights violation. Unions should come to his defense.

Mother of two wakes up at 4 am to create 18th century furniture for dollhouses and the details will amaze you.

The shockingly simple, surprisingly cost-effective way to end homelessness.

A jeweler called her $130 engagement ring “pathetic.” The woman’s response goes viral.

The women reporters who sparked the #MeToo movement are already being written out of the story.

Your Christmas decorations can’t compete with the light-up Millennium Falcon on this family’s roof.

Studies show that husbands stress women twice as much as children.

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A free tutorial on how to make your own DIY safe from common household items like a can of shaving cream.

Democrats paid a huge price for letting unions die.

Sexism, remembered and forgotten.

Remembering the life and music of labor agitator Joe Hill.

The 10 greatest films of all time according to 846 film critics.

15 gay Founding Fathers and Mothers.

How to make America more like Scandinavia.

Hey, Nicki Minaj, Pocahontas was a rape survivor, not a sex symbol.

Before buying a Kindle, consider the physical book’s benefits.

The Internet is enabling a new kind of poorly paid hell.

One person’s opinion after visiting the Museum of the Bible.

Closing malls and bankrupt stores: blame Wall Street predation for the “retail apocalypse.”

An Etsy seller specializes in papercraft dollhouse-sized miniatures of furniture, housewares, and decor.

Your brain on poverty or why poor people seem to make bad decisions.

Yeah, sure, #Resistance, let’s pretend that Bill Clinton isn’t a sexual predator. 

Forget the Nordic Diet. Try the Nordic Tax Plan.

Behind the scenes of the new Museum of Selfies in Los Angeles.

The secretive family making billions from the opioid crisis.

Harvey Weinstein, Hugh Hefner and the poor excuse that explains a lot.

Yesterday one of my friends, Phil Shapiro, forwarded this video he made where he’s starting a side project. He wants to start something called a Wondering Contest. The whole purpose he has in mind is to facilitate more wondering in people which, in turn, would lead to more innovations in all kinds of fields ranging from science to politics. Here is how he explains his proposed Wondering Contest.

In contrast to this Wondering Contest, this morning I came across this article in The Guardian about the pre-trial hearings regarding the six police officers accused of murdering Freddie Gray in Baltimore a few months ago. The last two sentences in the previous link really resonated with me and it provided the proverbial being splashed in the face by a bucket of cold water while I was wondering about the idea of having a Wondering Contest.

One protester, Lee Paterson, said he remained concerned that charges could be dropped.

He also said: “You know, this whole thing is bigger than Freddie Gray. It’s about poverty.”

That man has hit the nail right on the head. Starting as far back as the Industrial Revolution (and maybe even earlier) there has been income inequality in Baltimore where rich industrialists took advantage of African-Americans and immigrants by paying them incredibly low wages that led them to constant economic struggle.

Sure, there was a brief thaw with the rise of the unions but Baltimore’s problems started with white flight out of the city in the 1950’s and 1960’s and it has been sliding since then. Ever since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 both Baltimore and the rest of the U.S. had to endure unions being dismantled (which started when the air traffic controller union endorsed Ronald Reagan in the 1980 elections only to have President Reagan return the favor by sacking them when they went on strike seeking better pay, better working conditions, and a 32-hour workweek) and jobs being outsourced to Third World countries while low paying service jobs have risen and CEO pay has literally gone through the roof. If you read some articles written by the likes of Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, you’d see the rise in income inequality and how it has affected more and more people.

So my friend wants to encourage more wondering by having a Wondering Contest. The only problem is that it’s hard to wonder if you’re worried about where your next paycheck is coming from and, if you do get some money, will it be enough to afford food, shelter, and other very basic necessities. You can’t do much wondering if your in constant worry about whether you’ll be homeless or have to file for bankruptcy or whether you’ll be able to afford to have enough food on the table to feed your entire family. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in action.

I’m getting more of a first-hand experience in confronting tight financial situations and trying to find paid work ever since my husband abruptly walked out on me then sued me for divorce as soon as he could. I was okay when I was married but now I feel like I’ve been treading water ever since the divorce and I don’t know if there will be an end in sight.

I get that something like a Wondering Contest can facilitate innovation and invention that can help people in the long run. But unless people can earn a living wage to feed themselves and their families, they won’t give much thought to wondering other than wondering whether they can stay financially solvent. Take a look at dirt poor countries like Haiti or Malawi and you won’t see much wondering or innovating there. Hell, take a look at the poorest states like Mississippi or West Virginia and you’re not going to see much wondering leading to innovation there either.

And nothing kills wondering and innovation faster than having a rich and powerful corporation squash smaller entrepreneurial companies—sometimes with the help of the U.S. Government. Today The Guardian posted an expose about the powerful egg lobby’s attempt to ruin a small start-up known as Hampton Creek with help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The effect an action like that have on wondering is immeasurable.

I think society needs to foster wonder so that it can lead to more innovation that benefit mankind but I think it can only be achieved if more pressing social problems like income inequality, racism, corporate domination of the U.S. government, poverty, and the ability to find jobs that pay a living wage are addressed first. Otherwise, fostering wondering in this current economic and political environment would be like firefighters focusing on saving only one tree when the entire forest is on fire. As Abraham Maslow said a long time ago:

The good or healthy society would then be defined as one that permitted people’s highest purposes to emerge by satisfying all their basic needs.

FREE TUTORIALS

27 Insanely Helpful Diagrams Every Crafty Person Needs is a great resource that has everything from what Kool-Aid flavors produces what type of dye effect on fabrics to a chart showing the best kinds of glue for the different types of projects.

How to make feathered wings.

A Super Ted Free Amigurumi Pattern, which can also be used as a base for creating an amigurumi Stitch from the Disney film Lilo & Stitch.

How to Make the Peep Chandelier You Never Knew You Needed.

29 Insanely Easy Ways to Get Ready For Easter.

Here is the chocolate Easter Bunny hack you never knew you needed.

Browse other free tutorials previously mentioned in this blog (along with pictures) right here.

MISCELLANEOUS LINKS

The disturbing trend towards employers underpaying writers and why this trend must stop.

A fascinating article that explains how October, 1973 was the beginning of the downward spiral for the American middle class, which continues to this day.

The dolls and their pony allies won’t stop in their battle on behalf of the 99%. They participate in a massive workers strike against Walmart on Black Friday in a big way. They unfurled a banner on the outside.

Occupy the Dollhouse: Black Friday Protest at Walmart
Occupy the Dollhouse: Black Friday Protest at Walmart

Then they did a flash mob inside the store right in the toy aisle.

Occupy the Dollhouse: Black Friday Protest at Walmart

The past few days the U.S. has been rocked by news of the sudden closing of a beloved iconic company, Hostess, the maker of the famous Twinkies along with other beloved snacks like Ho Hos, Suzi-Q, Zingers, Snowballs, and more.

What the hell happened? Hostess claimed that it was those greedy unions members who went on strike because they wanted their pay and benefits increased to outrageous levels and the company had no other option but to close. However if you look at other sources, you’d know that it wasn’t that nasty union who forced Hostess to close down for good due to its sheer greed. Hostess went into bankruptcy for the second time since 2009. For the past 8 years Hostess has had 6 CEOs (none of whom with experience in the bread or cake baking industry) and it had been owned by Wall Street investors: so-called “restructuring experts,” managers from other non-baking food companies, and now a “liquidation specialist.”

The union members who are now blamed for the Hostess closings had watched as money from previous concessions that was supposed to go toward capital investment, product development, plant improvement and new equipment was squandered in executive bonuses, payouts to Wall Street investors and payments to high-priced attorneys and consultants. Over the past 15 months, Hostess workers have seen the company unilaterally end contractually obligated payments to their pension plan. Despite saving more than $160 million with this action, the company fell deeper into debt.

If all that wasn’t enough, creditors of Hostess Brands Inc. said in court papers the company may have "manipulated" its executives’ salaries higher in the months leading up to its Chapter 11 filing, in what the creditors called a possible effort by Hostess to "sidestep" Bankruptcy Code compensation provisions. The high pay that Hostess executives received had been going on for years. One example: Hostess’s then-CEO, Brian Driscoll, saw his salary rise to $2.55 million from $750,000—a 300% increase.

Basically what those Wall Street investors did to Hostess was what Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital did to the now-defunct KB Toys: Purchased a profitable company whose products these investors had little or no prior experience in, drastically slashed workers’ salaries and benefits, laid off scores of employees, refused to invest in things like research and development or new equipment, and paid themselves outrageous salaries and bonuses until the company began to hemorrage money so much that it had to close.

Hostess was one of those solid American brands that many people were familiar with. I know that Hostess was a major part of my youth. I had lots of memories snacking on things like Ho Hos, Twinkies, and Suzy-Q. When I was younger I used to frequently eat a Hostess snack as a dessert with my lunch. I never forgot when I spent my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College when someone from Hostess sent two of its employees to the college’s Student Center. One person was dressed as the Twinkies mascot while the other person gave away free Twinkies to students.

Here’s another memory I’m going to divulge. My husband, who abruptly ran away from home last December and has largeley avoided me since, once told me a deep dark secret when he saw me snacking on a Twinkie. At the time we were both students at the University of Maryland at College Park and we had been dating seriously for at least six months or more. My future estranged husband told me that when he was an undergraduate student at Oberlin College he worked at the radio station there when he was snacking on a Twinkie and another campus radio station person saw him and started calling him "Twinkie." That Twinkie nickname stuck for the next four years that he was at Oberlin.

My husband didn’t want me to tell anyone about how he was once nicknamed Twinkie. If he hadn’t walked out on me last December with zero notice, I would not be revealing his secret in this blog post.

Yesterday I decided to head out for a final visit to the Hostess Bakery Thriftshop in Beltsville, Maryland. I didn’t go there very often mainly because the majority of the food sold there wasn’t very healthy for me and if I got a craving for Hostess there is a convenience store closer to my home that I usually go to buy such a snack. But the white building and the colorful sign was definitely a fixture on Route 1.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

A fleet of Hostess trucks was parked in the back of the building after the trucks made their last delivery of Hostess products ever.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

Despite the building’s large size on the outside, the store itself is pretty small. It was very crowded with people buying up as many Hostess products as possible before the store closed for good. Some shelves were already empty when I got there.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

Hostess’ most famous brand is Twinkies. When I was at the store, the only Twinkes that were still in stock was a special edition Chocolate Creme Twinkies.

A Farewell to Hostess

As I looked at the inventory that was left, I found some surprises—I never knew that Hostess made cereal. (That’s what I get for not visiting the store more often when I had the chance.)

A Farewell to Hostess

After I purchased what I picked up, I put my bags in the car then I walked over to the 7-11 that is in the shopping center located next door to the Hostess Bakery Thriftshop. I found a few more Hostess products on that shelf but, alas, no Twinkies. I bought some other products that I didn’t find at the other store. I ultimately had three shopping bags full of Hostess products.

A Farewell to Hostess

This is the only healthy Hostess product that I purchased. It’s for its unsweetened Toasted Oats that’s basically Hostess’ version of Cheerios.

A Farewell to Hostess

The back of the ceral box had some basic facts about animals that kids (and animal lovers in general) would be interested in.

A Farewell to Hostess

Since I didn’t find the regular Twinkies, I went ahead and purchased a box of the Chocolate Creme Twinkies. It’ll be close enough to the Twinkies that I fondly remember eating.

A Farewell to Hostess

I purchased three different flavors of Hostess Donettes—chocolate frosted with a yellow cake, chocolate frosted with a devil’s food cake, and powdered sugar with a yellow cake.

A Farewell to Hostess

Rounding out my purchases are the following products: Suzy Q’s, Hostess Cup Cakes, Ho Hos, and Fudge Grahams Cookies.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

Today after church I decided to make one more trip to the Hostess Bakery Thriftshop in Beltsville. I had The Smiths’ "How Soon is Now" playing in my car as I arrived to the store’s front parking lot. In a way the pulsing rhythms and the overall depressing tone of that song made for a fitting soundtrack because I learned from one of the employees that today is the last day that the store would be open to the general public.

Today the prices were slashed even further than yesterday.

A Farewell to Hostess

There were even more empty shelves than before.

A Farewell to Hostess

As I browsed the stuff that were left on the shelves, I found that this particular Hostess store sold products by other manufacturers such as the ones I photographed.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

This next photo shows how abrupt the closing of Hostess really was. The store had decorations up for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday. Ironically the Hostess employees who are in the process of being laid-off will probably have a hard time finding much to be thankful for.

A Farewell to Hostess

I didn’t buy as much today as I did yesterday mainly because I had either already purchased enough of the products I wanted yesterday or because the products I was interested in (like the original Twinkies with the vanilla cream filling) were sold out. I purchased a couple more boxes of Hostess’ version of Cherrios cereal along with these two new Hostess products.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

I plan on being very slow about consuming these products over the next few months in order to savor my last taste of these products and to prevent rapid weight gain. I hope I can discipline myself. I have to balance eating these products before they go stale with not eating them so fast that I gain enough weight to make my clothes a tight fit. I know that I need to make sure that I exercise as much as possible in order to burn some of these empty calories that are in Hostess products.

Unless a different company buys the Twinkies recipe and the right to manufacture them, if I have a desire for Twinkies in the future, I will have to closely watch this YouTube video of Jolene Sugarbaker demonstrating how to make Twinkies knock-offs.

In addition, I came across this site that has recipes where you can attempt to replicate 9 Hostess treats—Cup Cakes, Donettes, Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies, Sno Balls, Suzy Q, Chocodiles, and Ho Hos.

A Farewell to Hostess Part 2 (December 1, 2012)

Looking at these links reminds me of the history classes I took in high school and college about subjects like the 1920’s Bonus March and the numerous labor and union demonstrations during the Great Depression.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Wisconsin_protests

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/11/scott-walker-signs-wiscon_n_834508.html

http://twitter.com/#!/MMFlint/status/46095087217803264

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/waronworkingfamilies?refcode=dfa-rovewide

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/10/954963/-Bank-that-funded-Walker,-now-Closed

http://sibob.org/wordpress/?p=2008

http://ed.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/11/6245803-forced-to-do-more-with-less

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2011/03/few-observations-regarding-last.html

Governor Walker
refuses to compromise
to his detriment.

(P.S. If you don’t know what a haiku is, click on this link.)

It has been 16 days since I suffered the first of two falls that have stiffened the muscles around my left hip, the left side of my back, and even some parts of my left leg. I suffered a second fall 8 days later and, as of today, it has been 9 days since that second fall.

As you may have read, I fell down for the first time on February 15 while I was in Florida. It happened in the lobby of the hotel I was staying at. After spending a full and exhausting day at Epcot, I went to the bar in the hotel lobby looking for my husband and I missed the last stairstep. I fell down to the ground right on my butt and I spent the rest of my short Florida trip limping and putting up with very stiff muscles, especially around my left hip where I had a hip replacement in 2008.

After I returned to Maryland, I was starting to heal. When I was in Annapolis on February 23, my injury was so improved that I only felt minor twinges in my left leg. I really felt much better and I delighted to be able to walk around without feeling much pain. Unfortunately, as I was returning to the parking garage where I left my car, I tripped on the edge of one of the bricks in the brick sidewalk and I fell down again. Even though I landed on my knees this time, that second fall had undone the progress I had made in recovering from the first fall. As I was driving home, I felt twinges in my left leg that had gotten so bad that I had to stop off at a shopping center at the halfway point in Bowie just so I could walk around for a few minutes and calm the pain down.

For the next few days I felt stiffness and pain that had gotten even more intense at times than what I felt after the first fall. Even getting into the car was harder because if I bent my left leg too much I would feel this intense pain. If I wanted to drive my own car, had to develop this workaround where I would have to crawl halfway into the passenger seat in order to get my left leg into the car, shift my body all the way around, push the driver’s seat all the way back so I could keep my left leg straight (because it didn’t hurt as much as it did when I bent it).

At one point I debated whether to go see the doctor or not. I decided to give myself until yesterday before I made the final decision to make an appointment. In the meantime I had to endure a mostly cold and rainy weekend that didn’t help my left leg much.

Last Saturday, I came close to not going to that rally in support of the public employees in Wisconsin that was being held in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, DC. My muscles were painfully stiff and I had to take a hot shower and put Icy Hot on the sore areas in order to be able to feel good enough to go downtown. It was cold and partly cloudy outside, which didn’t help my muscles much. But I managed to make it to the rally.

When the demonstrators decided to march from Dupont Circle to the White House, I felt so eager and excited by what I witnessed that I decided to march with them even though I think it was a stupid decision on my part. I thought I could handle the 15-minute walk but I was wrong. By the time I reached the White House, I felt worse than I did earlier and I struggled to walk back to the Farragut North Metro stop. On top of that, I was walking past this Christian Science building on this bricked patio and walkway that was directly outside the building and I almost fell for the third time. I felt my foot catch on one of the bricks and the only reason why I didn’t land on the ground was because I had my walking stick with me that helped me break my fall.

It was raining lightly and my leg felt so badly that I skipped church in favor of staying off my feet as much as possible. My husband began to tell me that if my leg didn’t start to improve soon I should see a doctor. I agreed and decided to wait until Tuesday, the one-week anniversary of my second fall, before I made a decision of whether to see a doctor or not.

If all that wasn’t enough, my husband was planning to make a return trip back to that same hotel in Indiatlantic, Florida (located near Melbourne) where my husband and I stayed a few weeks ago. This time I had no plans to accompany my husband, which was just as well since I was too sore and injured to even make that trip plus my husband was too busy with putting the finishing touches on this presentation that he had to help give. (The reason why he was previously in Florida while I went with him was to work on this dry run for the final presentation.) So I was on my own to measure the progress of healing on my leg and decide whether I had to see the doctor or not.

It really rained heavily Monday and it really felt awful on my left leg. In desperation I was doing some food shopping when I came across this medicine in the pharmacy section. I found this homeopathic pill from Hylands called Arnica 30X that supposed to be a good pain killing alternative to ibuprofen. It only cost around $6 and I decided to try it for the hell of it even though I thought I would have to see the doctor. So I took the pills as directed when I got home and waited for the results.

When I woke up the next morning I began to feel an improvement. It was sunny outside and much warmer. I had also been taking that Arnica 30X since the night before. My muscles were still stiff and sore and I still had to rely on my walking cane to get around but the pain had started to feel less intense. The only snag was that if I sat in any one place for too long, it would hurt worse when I attempted to get up and I had to spend a few more minutes walking around in order for the pain to subside. I had to make an effort to not sit in one place for too long and take frequent short walking brakes (which basically consisted of walking around the room for a couple of minutes).

When I woke up yesterday, I felt an even greater improvement. It was the first morning I was able to get up out of bed without feeling much pain in over a week. I was also able to walk around my home without having to use the walking cane. However, I still used the walking cane when I went outside as a precaution because I really didn’t want to trip again. But it was much easier for me to get into my car than before and my left leg didn’t twinge in pain as much while I drove.

I also looked through a book I have on alternative medicines (which is basically meant for relatively minor maladies and the book states that it’s not a substitute for a trip fo the doctor) and not only did it recommend taking the Arnica 30X that I already purchased but it also recommending adding Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin E. So I’m taking those pills for the time being until I run out of the bottles. By then I’m hoping that my leg will be 100% healed and I won’t need those extra vitamins and minerals.

Today I made some more minor improvements but I still have to make sure that I don’t sit in one place for too long. I’m hoping that my left leg will be healed enough by the time my husband returns from Florida tomorrow.

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