Friday, April 30, 2010

Grandson of a legal immigrant

My grandfather Jacob Wildstein was an immigrant from eastern Europe, specifically Austria.  He was naturalized as a citizen of the United States of America by the Supreme Court in Brooklyn, NY on March 13, 1924.

Thus I am the descendant of an immigrant to the United States.  My grandfather did not climb a border fence nor did he sneak into the United States on the back of a truck.  He came proudly from eastern Europe on a ship to escape from antisemitism and to become an American citizen.  He worked with his brother Samuel to establish a textile factory business in Newark, N. J.  Both brothers became successful and paid their own way while here in the States.

Grandpa Jack did not arrive here for welfare, free health care, free education, food stamps, or a social security card. He came here to become a citizen of the United States  He never expected other U.S. citizens to learn to speak his native language Austrian or Russian.  He did not expect thousands of U.S. documents and signs to be printed in his native language. Jacob Wildstein took classes and learned to speak English-the language of the United States.

He took several jobs when he first came to America and paid both state and federal taxes.  He only received social security at age 65 after he himself paid into the system after the law was passed in 1935.

Several years ago I took one of my son Jonathan to New York and we visited Ellis Island.  After searching the wall where the names of many immigrants were engraved, I found my grandfather's name. Tears of pride came to my eyes as I thought of the blessing of being here as a U.S. citizen because of my grandfather.

In the case of illegal immigrants, their names will never be engraved nor memorialized at Ellis Island nor will their names be engraved on the border walls they hopped over to illegally enter the United States.

Advocates of allowing illegal immigrants to be given amnesty to become citizens of the U.S., often say, "This country was built on immigrants."  No it wasn't. This country was built on men like my grandfather-a legal immigrant, not an illegal immigrant.

Because of my grandfather's hard work and savings, he helped pay a portion of my college tuition.  All he asked was that I maintain above average grades.  He did not teach me to expect the government to pay all my bills apart from the amount I received from the G. I. Bill after serving in Vietnam. Grandpa Jack did not teach me that America exists so I can grab all I can from the government, but rather to give all I can to our country.

Oddly enough, his wife Minna, my grandmother, did a lot of charity work for cancer during the 60s.  In recognition for her giving nature, she received a letter of thanks from the thirty fifth president of the United States-John F. Kennedy. As a young boy,  I would ask my grandmother to show me the letter and I would stare at JFK's signature.  I was proud of my grandmother because she embodied what President Kennedy said in his inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for but for what you can do for country."

Today, under the limping leadership of President Obama, he has dismantled the truth of JFK's statement by nurturing a society that seeks to take everything they can from our the taxpaying citizens of the U.S. and to go very little in giving back in return.  The attitude of illegal immigrants is "take what you can from the U.S. government" embodies the opposite spirit proclaimed by democratic president John F. Kennedy and goes against everything my legal immigrant grandparents stood for and passed on to me as their grandson.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Walter Winchell-The First Blogger

One of the most controversial figures in radio broadcast history, Walter Winchell was a journalistic hero.  Most noted for writing show business gossip for the New York Daily Mirror, Winchell later made his debut on radio in 1930.  Walter crawled his way to the top by digging up dirt on Hollywood celebrities and political figures.

But later in his career something happened to Walter Winchell that gave him the courage to stand up against newspaper owner and boss, William Randolph Hearst.  Mr. Hearst wanted Winchell to continue his rag column which regularly appeared on page two of the Mirror.

Walter was more concerned about something else-the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany and his ugly rhetoric against Jews.  Because of the danger of Hitler's influence on Europe, Winchell could no longer write about Hollywood gossip.  Winchell said about the glitz of silver screen icons: Broadway is a main artery of New York life - the hardened artery. 

To Winchell's mind, Hitler could not be ignored. Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the UK could not be trusted when he dismissed the threat of Hitler.

Winchell changed the thrust of his columns and became obsessed with Nazi Germany.  Hearst, with his own financial interests in Germany and a possible comrade with the German dictator, ordered Winchell to go back to writing his gossip column.  Winchell refused and everyday his column containing his rantings about the anti-Semitic leader of Germany. His column went on a forced march to the back pages of the NY Daily Mirror until Winchell's column appeared no more.

Winchell used every resource he could to warn America about the lunatic dictator of the Nazis.  He was a true journalist who stood against the newspaper moguls of his day to speak the truth.  Had Winchell been given access to the Internet, he would use blogs as his platform. For no one would threaten him with loss of his job due to his honest reporting about the growing menace of Nazism.

Winchell's legacy calls bloggers and reporters in the mainstream to use their keyboards to provide an alternative to a media controlled by the likes of William Randolph Hearst.  A menacing giant who just wants to sell newspapers.

Historians speculate that the downfall of Winchell came when he climbed abroad the ant-communist bandwagon of Senator Joe McCarthy. What is most respectful about Winchell is that he threw off the popular mantle of Hollywood gossip columnist to become a voice that spoke up for the silent victims who were tread under the boot heels of Adolph Hitler.

Most of us are not sure who Walter Winchell is, but if you're concerned about journalistic truth and exposing political threats to our democracy, get to know this man.  He's the kind of guy, despite his gruff manner, you'd want in the trenches with you when nothing but the truth is all that really matters.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Homeless Man Left To Die On NY Street

Perhaps you've already seen the headline in some form or another: Homeless Good Samaritan Left To Die on a NYC Street.  A 31 year old Guatemalan homeless man heard the cries of a young woman being assaulted near 144th Street in the Jamaica section of Queens, New York.  Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax came to her rescue but ended up being stabbed while attempting to be a Good Samaritan.  The attacker and his victim fled the scene.

Tale-Yax laid on the sidewalk while a pool of blood formed beneath his body.  He lay on the cement for an hour as a surveillance camera captured video of at least seven people who walked by and did nothing except gawk.  One person even lifted the body, noticed the blood underneath Tale-Yax, and walked away.

Hugo Tale-Yax died that morning. The couple who had been arguing, according what could be pieced together from the surveillance tape, are nowhere to be found.

This is not the first time such indifference to the sufferings of another human has been reported. Twenty years ago a Central Park jogger, Trisha Meili, was brutally raped by five men as bystanders heard her cries for help and ignored them.

How can we turn a deaf ear to the cries of another person who seeks our help?  One New Yorker explained that the city of full of drunk individuals lying on the sidewalks asleep in a stupor.  The people who walked by may have thought Tale-Yax was intoxicated and did not want to deal with him.  Understandable.  Yet there have been times when I've noticed a man or woman passed out on a sidewalk, and I still would gently nudge them to see if they were alive or needed emergency medical services.

Others simply do not want to take the time to get involved in the misery of another person.  In other words, it would have been a chore to call 9-1-1 or have to wait for the paramedics while assuring the victim help is on the way.

One TV commentator noted that some people who walked by Tale-Yax were on their cellphones and hardly noticed the dying man.  Here are humans communicating with one another using a wireless device with the potential to save another person's life and instead, they value their phone conversation over and above a person's life.

Aside from the selfishness of our hearts, I cannot come up with any explanation of this travesty.  I too have probably passed by many opportunities to help another person, but I drove or walked by instead.  If we are honest about the human heart, we're all not so great.  Sure, there are countless stories of people who perform "heroic deeds."  But is it that heroic to put another person's life before your own?  Is it that courageous to get off a cell phone call in order to deal the emergency operator?  I would think this would be a natural action we'd want anyone to do for us if we were in need.

It was Tale-Yax who showed courage by intervening to protect a woman in apparent need.  Would any man do that? What if the boyfriend or attacker had a gun or a knife?  Even so, a phone call can still be made; a threat to the attacker can still be shouted out and potential harm to a victim can still be avoided.

The death of this homeless man makes us all think how self-centered we can be.   In the name of self-protection and the refusal to make any sacrifice for another human or even our own country, we've witnessed several generations of men who have never donned a military uniform to defend our country. Instead, we have chosen to walk by people and nations in need of our help while we carry on our lives uninterrupted and display our bumper stickers that declare "War Is Not The Answer."  Guess what?  Indifference is not the answer either.

Do you agree or disagree?

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Blog My Resume

In Chris Brogan's book Social Media 101 he suggests that a person's blog is actually his resume. A blog informs others what you're interested in, information you want others to know about you and how you perceive yourself.

Instead of relying only on your two page resume that lists job skills, employment history/salary, educational background and career achievements, job seekers should rely on their blog to let future employers to become more familiar with them..

Brogan's perspective caused me to rethink my approach to blogging. What can people tell about me from reading my blog? Can my blog posts cause me to obtain a job or keep me from getting one?

From reading my past blogs, I  realized what messages I am projecting to others, and I discovered it's not so bad after all. I am concerned about the political atmosphere of our country; I have a spiritual devotion to God and the Bible; I enjoy helping people and suggesting ways people can improve their lives, and I am an avid observer of how our culture affects children.

However, the reason I blog says the most about who I am.  I enjoy the connections I have with others through social media networking.

Social media has become my passion because it's one way I can connect with a large number of people and help individuals to connect with one another.

On the job front,  I would enjoy working with several companies setting up their blogs and other networking platforms so they can communicate with consumers, receive feedback on their services/ products and use the information gained from customers to improve their company.

Over the weekend I attended a social media seminar and one of the attendees asked how to set up a blog. After the class I offered my services to get her company's blog presence online. I enjoy seeing other people succeed and find a lot of fulfillment in simplifying the social media computer tools so they become useful to novices and non-geeks.

I could tell from attending the Social Media seminar that a lot of people are overwhelmed with Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn, and people are afraid  to admit their ignorance. The seminar leader tried to simplify several social media applications, but participants only became more confused, and started bombarding the instructor with more questions.

If I can remove people's fear of these Internet social media applications, I will be doing a great service for others. This is my resume. I find deep fulfillment simplifying social media tools to everyday people. This passion of mine may not come across in my written resume, so I have no other choice but to use my blog to explain what I like to do the most.

Do you need help setting up a blog and live in Southern California? I can offer my services.

Perhaps you have some suggestions on how social media networking can be simplified? Do you have a book, a class or a tutorial to recommend? Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Discounts You Can Count On

During this difficult time of recession, it's always refreshing to find places of business that are heavily discounting their products. After all, we need all the help we can get to make our paychecks last longer.

When it comes to helping out the consumer during these times, some stores and restaurants get it. If they want to stay in business, they are offering consumers bargains they cannot refuse.

The other day I walked into a Rite Aid Pharmacy
to buy toothpaste. In the vicinity of the cash register I noticed several racks of candy - the big boxes - on sale for $1.00 a piece. They were advertised as "theatre candy". For example, they were stocked with Raisinettes, Dots, and just about any confection you can name.

If you were to purchase these same products at the candy counter in the theater, you'd pay anywhere from $3.00-$4.50 for the same candies. Rite Aid gets it. Mann theaters, Regency, United Artist, AMC and the rest are not. They charge the ridiculous price of $10.00-$12.00 for a movie ticket and then charge exorbitant prices at their candy counters. Why do we continue to attend these theaters that are robbing us blind?

Of course, you can always stop off at Rite Aid or any supermarket to purchase candy at a lower rate and then "sneak" your sweets past the ticket taker. Come on, we all do it. But when a family attends a matinee and spend $20.00 for candy, popcorn and drinks, who's robbing who?

When it comes to cable TV, how about the cable companies charging us a subscription rate for a select group of channels we consistently watch? I don't want to pay $100 a month so I can have 180 channels of which I only watch 10 consistently. They may even get more customers if they took the cable cafeteria approach instead of charging us for channels we don't even watch.

Gasoline prices? Have you noticed any bargains? I have. Most ARCO gasoline stations are doing their best to keep the price of a gallon of gas below $3.00. The same is true for Valero gasoline. To top that off, with Valero the customer also gets the extra bonus of purchasing gas that is "Made in America" and not piped into the U.S. from the Middle East.

One food franchise that understands the need to give people a break during the current recession is Denny's. This restaurant comprehends the financial stress on Americans with their $2 $4 $6 $8 Value Menu that is available all day and every day. In fact, from all appearances the one business that seems to be seeking to lower prices during the current recession is the food industry. Of course, I know there still exists restaurants that are raising their prices regardless of the economy. However, the eateries that are lowering the prices on their menus are experiencing standing room only responses to their discounts. And we should do everything possible to support them.

Yes, we need each other's help. You probably know of other discounts in the airline or travel industry. Housewares and appliances. Restaurants. Gasoline. Groceries. Share your findings with us and let's pool our resources during these difficult financial times.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Men Will Be Boys

Dr. Laura Schlessinger echoed my sentiments today on her daily talk show when she mentioned men who still play video games are still boys. She said this in response to a male caller who complained that his wife gets upset when he plays video game after arriving home from work. Maybe his wife should play hop scotch instead of cooking his dinner. His wife was frustrated with her husband for neglecting his involvement in running the house since he was glued to the TV screen involved in excessive gaming.

How embarrassing . . . to have your wife have to tell you to turn off the video games and act like a man. I can hear this man-child now, "Wait a minute, hon! I'm about to beat the seventh level and defeat the last dragon." At that point any sane woman would walk over to the TV set and hit the "power off button". Too bad this man has placed his wife into the role as "mommy" who has to tell him to come to the dinner table and stop watching cartoons.

For me this incident brought up the subject of men who still act like boys and play with their toys instead of growing up. Here are a few examples of these man/boys.

I often observe men who are obsessed with their dogs. I really don't get this strange attraction to dogs. It can go too far. In last week's USA Today an article described a camp for pets and their owners who want to spend a week with one another in the outdoors. The cost for one week is $1300. The majority of the accompanying photos showed men playing with their dogs at this "get away from it all dog camp." Don't get me wrong. I like dogs. However, spending a week alone playing with your dog in the woods is way too immature for me. But men will be boys.

Speaking of dogs, I attended an outdoor meeting a few weeks ago and one of the attendees was a young man in his twenties wielding a humongous dog on a leash. This canine was a small horse. I watched this man/boy stand off to the side of the crowd failing to interact with anyone. Why? Because of his big, hunking dog! The dog created a fortress of solitude between himself and the crowd, composed of neighbors. Why attend a meeting whose purpose was to get to know your neighbors and tow along a large animal that kept everyone away from him?

Why in the world do some men (and many women) need to bring their dogs with them into stores, banks, restaurants and gatherings. It is so boyish for a man to attach himself to a leash as though he's walking into downtown Mayberry whistling the theme song to The Andy Griffith Show. For Opie hanging with his dog was acceptable. It is what boys are supposed to do. But when a man n his 30s or 40s is still sucking on a cob pipe and playing fetch with his dog, there appears to be some growing up to do. I'm sure women are really attracted to these Opie boys who and can't go anywhere without the dog. I would love to see a survey comparing the number of married men attached to their dogs with single men who can't leave home without Sparky. I may be on to something here.

Dogs will give their owners unconditional love. But with a member of the opposite sex, everything is not always hunky-dory. We have to work at relationships and grow. Relationships between the opposite sexes motivate one another to look into the mirror to assess oneself. Dogs don't challenge you to learn how to communicate better or stop being so selfish and narcissistic.

How about men who're still living at home with Mom and Dad like George on Seinfeld? A woman's nightmare would be a man still living in his boyhood bedroom, and playing Play Station 3 with his dog by his side. Come on, guys! What's going on?

Then there are men who still don't know how to change a tire and have no desire to learn. Some men refuse to fix anything around the house and have to call a handyman when it's time to fix something involving a hammer and nails. As a kid I couldn't wait to enroll in junior and high school classes such as wood shop, metal shop and basic auto mechanics. Real men don't wear pink. Real men have dirt under their fingernails and on their jeans and T-shirts.

There are too many wimpy men who won't get down and dirty except to pick up their dog's poop. I met a young girl working behind the counter at Starbucks who mentioned she went on a date and the guy had a flat tire and she fixed it for him in her dress. I asked, "You don't plan on going out with him again, do you? I hope not!" She answered, "Not until he decides to become a man." I bet that same guy is a wiz at Guitar Hero, knows all the characters on various TV shows and goes nuts over his dog.

Dr. Laura was right . . . men need to grow up and stop being 30-50 year old boys. Hopefully, there's a Dad or some man in your life who can show you how to fix a running toilet or change the oil on your car or show you the difference between a pair of pliers and a wrench. Teach yourself if there's no man around. Just get in their and get dirty and smelly. I'm sure you can handle a few hours away from playing Grand Theft Auto 3 or tossing a Frisbee for your dog to catch. It's an investment in your manhood. The women in your life will love you for it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Stop Clapping

Why do people clap for the most mundane reasons? You've observed this phenomenon and I bet you haven't even noticed it. But it's becoming more and more obvious. We'll clap for anything and anybody these days.

I was at a Christian parenting seminar held at a religious high school. To help promote the school, several students were on the platform. One student did the evening's announcements. After she was done, the audience clapped. Hmmm! Another student prayed for the evening. More applause. I thought to myself, "Why are these people clapping? What did the students do that was so great that deserved the accolades of the audience? Are we that thoughtless in dishing out out praise? Did these students win silver or gold Olympic medals or something equivalent?

At another meeting I attended, the speaker thanked a dozen people for making the evening presentation possible. After everyone's name, there was a large round of applause (how boring). Yet some of these people were paid to do these jobs. Why are people clapping for the person who arranged for the evening's meal? Did they cook the food? Bring out the kitchen crew, and we'll clap for them.

Next we had to clap for each person who was a member of the board of directors. At this juncture, I refused to clap. I couldn't take it anymore. I feel like we are living life as if we're all guests on the Jay Leno or David Letterman show. The audience claps for each celebrity and adds applause for each media project they mention from the dais. It;'s nauseating at times. Why do celebrities deserve so much praise and adulation? What's so great about starring on a TV show or making a movie?

I think Leno and Letterman should interview everyday people as well who have accomplished other feats other than singing, dancing or acting. How about a few electricians, nurses or sanitation workers? Doesn't a sanitation worker deserve clapping for picking up your garbage? What if he didn't pick up your garbage for three straight weeks? Oh, you'd be clapping when he shows up week four to haul away your trash!

We are a clapping society. We clap for kids at Little League games for almost anything they do on a baseball diamond such as not swinging at four pitches out of total fear and drawing a base on balls. We clap at kids for showing up at an school event out of obligation. "Let's hear it for Ms. Smith's fourth grade class." Why are we clapping?

Both of my sons received trophies for every baseball or basketball team they ever played on because they were on the team. They were awarded with a statuette even if they never won a game all year. Their bedrooms were always laden with what I called "showing-up trophies."

What's wrong with our culture that we throw trophies at our kids for doing practically nothing. Oh yes, we don't want to crush their self-esteem. Yet we don't mind over-inflating their self-esteem by taking away their sense of competition and rivalry.

One of my son's basketball coaches had the guts to not hand out a trophy to each member of the squad. Instead, he gave each kid a copy of Coach Wooden's book Wooden. The book contained memorable quotes from John Wooden's years of coaching several UCLA championship basketball teams. However, to the kids who excelled on the team, he handed out trophies and labeled each one describing their achievements. It was so meaningful that I clapped!

Let's quit the clapping for people who are simply doing their jobs or praising wives simply for being married to the evening's speaker. Is he that difficult of a person that the wife needs praise for the tolerating him?

In other words, we need to put back meaning into our applause.

One more thing, please don't clap for me merely because I wrote this article.