3/31/2011

Baby Boomer Characteristics

Earlier this week, I spoke of the Generation Y Characteristics. I talked about how they are called "Millennials" and echo boomers. I spoke of how they are taking over the workforce in ever increasing numbers. The people they are replacing are the baby boomer generation. The baby boomers are the generation born post-WWII. Baby boomer characteristics are many. In fact, too many to choose from for this simple blog post. I'll just touch on a few.

One of the most obvious is that this baby boomer generation rejected the definition of true values all over the world. It was the baby boomers who were rioting in the streets during the Vietnam War, burning draft cards, smoking weed on campus of colleges, sitting in at the Dean's office in colleges across America. The baby boomers were also in such large numbers that they were referred to as a "shock wave." Never has there been such sheer numbers of one generation as the baby boomer generation. Seventy-six million American children were born between 1945 and 1964. They are now the baby boomers that are increasingly retiring every day. That is an amazing stat. The baby boomer generation was the first to truly be influenced by this new electronic gadget called "TV." An example of this is that for the first time, the news media brought a war (Vietnam) to the living rooms of Americans. This had an effect on how America saw the war after initially supporting it.

This was the "duck and cover" generation as baby boomers were the first to live under the threat of nuclear annihilation. This was the generation that experienced the "Cold War" threat also. Baby boomers lived through the assassination of a U.S. President (John F. Kennedy) and to witness the first real murder on live TV (Ruby Kills Lee Harvey Oswald). Baby boomers experienced the murders of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. They also watched live on TV the heart pounding event of "Tranquility Base...the eagle has landed." Baby boomers say they were all at the first "Woodstock," which means there were about 30 million people at this event!!! Baby boomers also witnessed the resignation of a president (Nixon) and another attack on American soil (911). Now, the traits that characterize this baby boomer generation is will they outlive their retirement (social security and private pensions), health, enjoying their remaining years on this earth. Baby boomers are the end product of what many refer to as "The Greatest Generation" of World War II.

Baby boomers; there may never be another generation to equal all they saw and did during the prime of their lives.




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3/28/2011

Generation Y Characteristics

We're hearing a lot about Generation Y these days. One reason is that Generation Y is simply taking over the workforce as baby boomers (such as myself) start entering retirement. Another name for this generation is the "Millennials" since they were either entering or leaving college and entering the workforce in 2000. But, really, there is no precise date when these "Echo Boomers" got their start. I'm thinking, whatever happened to Generation X? Well, they are still with us. They were born in the 60s and 70s, in the post-war baby boomer generation. Most of the Generation Y demographic are considered far more savvy in communications (smart phones, Ipads, etc.) than previous generations. Generation Y is considered much more liberal than Gen X, baby boomers and especially "the greatest generation" of WWII. They are much more supportive of abortion, same sex marriages, and so forth. But, this does not mean that Generation Y as a whole is liberal minded. There are many conservative 19 somethings and 20 somethings born of this era. I think the idea that Generation Y is predominately liberal is a misnomer.

There are things that characterize Generation Y as well. This generation is less white than previous generations, even more so than Gen X. I've read where a clear one-third of Generation Y was born to unwed mothers. One of the differences that Generation Y has from my generation, baby boomers; they seem to admire their parents much more. Baby boomers were raising hell in the 60s against the Vietnam War, burning draft cards, drugs, sex and rock and roll. Many of that generation "dropped out." Generation Y has a much closer relationship with their parents. I'm not sure why that is though. One thing this generation has in common with my baby boomer generation is their interest in politics. That is a very good thing in my opinion. While the baby boomers were involved politically, they also were rioting in the streets. You don't see this as much with Generation Y. The one thing that stands out to me on Generation Y (after reading some articles on this subject) is their dedication to saving the planet. Now, this is a good thing. Pollution on land and our oceans must be stopped. But, I part company on the so-called Global Warming scam. That's as far as I will go on that issue.

All in all, I don't see Generation Y as being significantly better than previous generations. They certainly are more techno-savvy than previous generations. But, that is due to the age in which they were born. They have many characteristics that you want your children to have as they grow up. Later on this week, I will do a post on Baby Boomers and compare them to Generation X.



3/25/2011

Thyssenkrupp Alabama

I have spoken in the past about Thyssenkrupp Alabama, the giant German steel company built in the northern part of Mobile County, Alabama. It appears things are picking up for the Steel mill. It was reported that Thyssenkrupp has hired over 1900 full time employees since 2007. The company has created over 9000 construction jobs, many of them ongoing, and generated in excess of $34 million for state revenue. That is a drop in the bucket when you consider that the state of Alabama gave Thyssenkrupp a $811 million incentives package to build their plant in the state of Alabama. It came down to us and somewhere in Louisiana. I'm thinking it was Shreveport, but I'm not sure. Anyway, Thyssenkrupp Alabama said they have plans to hire another 800 workers for its steel plant. This is a $5 billion investment by Thyssenkrupp in the state of Alabama. It will be considered the largest steel mill in North America when it is finally finished.

Thyssenkrupp Alabama is hiring! They are hiring in the positions of operators and maintenance. To become qualified for one of these positions, you must complete a rigorous training and interview process. To apply for training for operations, click HERE. Positions pay between $18.46 to $29.18 an hour, depending upon your steel production operator experience. There are also industrial maintenance positions available. These are electricians, electronic (instrumentation techs), Industrial Facilities (HVAC, air compressors, etc), mechanical and hydraulic techs. Click HERE to apply for maintenance positions with Thyssenkrupp Alabama. Please look at the bottom of the page to apply for these maintenance positions. Good luck!

DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid advertisement for Thyssenkrupp Alabama.






3/21/2011

Gallbladder Surgery Recovery

I've already related this story on a revenue sharing site (Hubpages - Attack of the Gall Bladder!) back in October. I told of how my stomach had this strange pain for a period of about six months. Like an idiot, I tried to diagnose my own pain. I told myself it was simply stomach ulcers like my father had during his life (this is another story I will share at later date). Little did I know it was my gallbladder that was the cause of my pain. I passed out one day (October of 2010) in my hallway. Luckily, my sister was here. But, she was busy outside doing something. Ralph, my three-year old beagle, was barking at me. Apparently, even a dog can tell something is wrong when its master is laying prone on the floor. Ralph figured only he can do that, not me. That barking alerted my sister outside. Long story short here; I was transported to the hospital and had surgery the next morning for gallbladder removal surgery.

Gallbladder surgery recovery was not as simple as they had made it out to be at the hospital. Sure, they had me on a special diet since my gallbladder was no longer around. That was a sobering thought....something I was born with no longer is in my body. It is still strange to think about. Anyway, as I was saying, gallbladder surgery recovery was and is no picnic. If I eat something spicy (which I shouldn't), I will be heading to the bathroom at Warp Factor 5. It doesn't stay in me very long. You really have to watch what you eat after gallbladder removal. Strangely, right after surgery, I had constipation as well for about three weeks. Now, if I would have had the laproscopic method, the recovery time is not that long. Unfortunately, I had to have the conventional method of gallbladder surgery. The gallbladder surgery recovery time is then usually six to eight weeks. My gallbladder was so swollen with gangrene, it had to be taken out the old way. So, basically, I am still recovering from gallbladder surgery almost six months later.

I still have pain, in the area where the incisions were made, if I try to lift something that is heavy. Let's say I move something that weighs just fifty pounds. I can feel in in that area of my stomach where the gallbladder was removed. So, I have to say with nearly six months since my gallbladder surgery, I am still recovering. I have to watch what I pick up. I have to really, really watch what I eat. No hot spicy food for me. That is a real pain for me. I love hot spicy food. Hopefully, my liver will catch up with the rest of my body. One more thing I need to mention about gallbladder surgery recovery; I experienced dizzy spells for over a week after my surgery. I mean it lasted 24/7 for a week! I still have them occasionally. My primary care physician checked my blood and urine. No problems. But, if they come back, I'm going to ask him to send me to a specialist. I wouldn't wish gallbladdery surgery on anyone. I just hope I never have to experience anything like this again.




3/17/2011

2006 Honda Civic Problems

Those of you that have followed my blog in the past (including those faithful subscribers who are so very loyal), know that I have a 2006 Honda Civic. I bought it during our last severe gas hike, about five years ago, when there was actually a waiting list to buy these things. I bought this car about six months after Hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast (it actually hit more places than New Orleans if you can believe that). Gas was closing in on $5.00/gallon here. I had a 2004 Jeep Liberty that I really enjoyed. However, 16MPG in the city just wasn't going to work out for me. When I bought that Jeep, gas was about $1.35/gallon. Six months after I bought it, Hurricane Ivan hit the gulf coast and gas prices zoomed. They have never returned to those pre-Hurricane Ivan days. So, buying the Honda Civic was a no-brainer to me. I was reluctant to give up the Jeep Liberty. But, I was more reluctant to keep forking over $4-5 a gallon for gas too.

I have had very few problems since I bought that 2006 Honda Civic. Gas mileage is an impressive 37 on the interstate and about 30 in the city. But, for reasons I can't surmise, I have begun to have problems with it. They are little things. But, they keep adding up for me. Last August, I noticed paint started peeling off the front bumper. I don't mean just little chips. I mean chips as big as the palm of your hand. I took it to the local paint and body shop. The guy there told me this was common for Honda Civics. Oh joy. To completely strip and paint bumper? Since I was paying out of pocket, he said he would "only" charge me $875. What a guy, huh? But, then the problems started coming in buckets. Transmission starting slipping in second gear. Price tag of $700 took care of that for me. Had to replace the alternator after just 60K miles. My 2006 Honda Civic started running hot and the dealer can't seem to find the cause. More aggravation, more money to spend. I was turning into a shopping center just after Valentine's Day and the moon roof suddenly caved half-way into the car. Take a wild guess how much that cost.

I hate to do it, but it looks like I will be trading in my beloved 2006 Honda Civic. I just see no other way around it. I won't be buying a Jeep Liberty, of course. I would love to. At this point, I won't be buying another Honda Civic either. The Honda dealer has told me they would love to take the 2006 Honda Civic off my hands and put me into another Honda of my choosing. How kind and considerate of them. Right now, I intend to just drive my old 1995 Nissan pickup. Except for the MPG, it actually runs better than the Honda Civic. This Honda Civic has been a very good car (majority of Honda Civics are extremely reliable) up until the last six months. I guess the lemon finally got squeezed out of it.




3/14/2011

USPS Hiring - Casual Employment

I posted last week on how the United States Postal Service was in dire straits (U.S. Postal Service Facing Bankruptcy?) with them running out of money by October. I also spoke of my time as a clerk with the USPS early in my life. As I said in that post, the United States Postal Service is cutting back on spending in an effort to stave off bankruptcy. They also have a hiring freeze for long-term, permanent employees. Sure, they still give the exam every two or three years for potential employment. USPS is required to do that. But, that is all they are doing insofar as hiring permanent personnel (although this could change with retirement age employees being offered early outs). Of course, if they have a certain need that can't be filled "in-house" they most certainly will have to hire people. I suspect that is going to become more and more rare.

What they are hiring are "Casuals." Casuals (as the name indicates) are employees who are hired casually when the need dictates it. They are not really trained for a particular job. Most, if not all, are used for physical labor. By that I mean they are the people who are used to do jobs that most permanent USPS employees do not want to do. So, USPS hires these people who can work much cheaper than full-time, permanent employees. The work can entail moving huge wired bins of packages, flats, parcels, magazines, and bundles of mail. They are usually sorted by hand. Most of the work deals with second-class mail (magazines, most newspapers), third-class (bulk or "junk mail") and fourth-class (some large parcels that can wait on delivery up to two weeks at times). Of course, even though they are temporary workers, they have to learn the differences between each class of mail. That usually means a full-time employee has to work with them.

Most USPS casual employees are hired at the local level. Simply ask if the local mail distribution plant and/or branch offices are hiring casual employees. Ask if there is a waiting list or is there an exam necessary now (probably not). Casuals work two 89 day periods with a day layoff between each 89 day period. In some cases, these jobs can last up to a year if the union doesn't fight it. Also, when USPS starts hiring full-time employees, you will have work experience and will "know" some people. In a federal government agency, who you know is practically like having both feet in the door. Casuals can also be hired during peak periods such as Christmas for up to 21 days. The 89 day employment period does not apply here. The rate of pay ranges from $11-$14/hourly depending upon where you live. There are no benefits.

Again, it depends on where you live if these Casual employment positions are available. I mention this only because so many people are out of work. Those that are finding work aren't finding jobs that pay this much money. A job paying at least $11/hr for up to six months would look mighty good to some people right now. Call your local USPS Human Resource Office to see if they have any of these Casual employment positions available if you are interested.




3/11/2011

U.S. Postal Service Facing Bankruptcy?

It was reported earlier last week that the U.S. Postal Service could run out of money by October. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told the House Oversight Committee that the Postal Service will owe the government $5.5 Billion to provide money for medical costs for future retirees. In November, the Postal Service will have to come up with another $1.3 Billion for Worker's Comp. Now, it's not like the USPS hasn't been cutting costs and the payroll. Last year they cut $3 billion and have cut 240K employees over the last few years. Still, they are losing money hand over fist. Losing money is nothing new for the USPS. They have historically run up vast debt, only to make a rebound and pay it off. That hasn't been the case for the past two years. I worked for the Postal Service (one of my many haphazard jobs during the early part of my life) as a Part-time Flexible, with flexible being the keyword. It was a job I both loved and hated at the same time.

There are, believe it or not, many good, hard working people in the USPS. Many enjoy their job, work hard and put in an eight-hour day. But, there are not enough people like that in USPS, unfortunately. There is constant strife between management and labor, causing expensive EEO complaints to be filed and processed. Labor costs account (when I was there) for about 75% of USPS expenses. That is unreal when your payroll takes up that much of your cost of operation. Management, for the most part, is made up of anti-social, functional illiterates. It's the good old boy system gone wrong, seriously wrong. Instead of working together, they seem to work against each other. That is a shame. They are highly paid ($25-30/hr for senior personnel). But, the job they do is what most unskilled people do for about $8.00/hr in the private sector. The public service unions are as much, if not all, at fault for the money woes of this organization. I know the public unions are a favorite whipping boy right now, but it's true.

In short, it does not surprise me USPS is facing bankruptcy. No, they will still deliver the mail, they will still pay their employees and pay their contractors. But, the government won't be getting their money unless the feds fork over another loan to USPS. It seems that this is a never ending problem. It is like a sink hole that keeps getting wide and deeper no matter how much "dirt" you shovel into it. USPS is a 18th century business trying to survive in the 21st century. It's not going to happen. I find that sad in many ways. The post office is the lifeline for many small towns in America. Sadly, those small post offices, along with the end of Saturday delivery seem to be on the horizon. I hope USPS can get it's act together before they are shoved into the dustbin of history. But, I am not optimistic USPS can change its ways after being in business for well over two centuries.


3/08/2011

Mardi Gras Mobile Al 2011

By the time this is automatically posted (about 6AM Fat Tuesday), Mardi Gras Mobile 2011 (mardi gras schedule) will start its final day with Fat Tuesday. This is the Mardi Gras day of all Mardi Gras days. Of course, few know this, but Mobile, AL is the oldest Mardi Gras since Mardi Gras was originally started in Mobile, AL. Most people assume it was started in New Orleans. Not so. New Orleans people will tell you that they have the biggest Mardi Gras. I can't argue that. But, not many New Orleans folks will argue when you bring up who started Mardi Gras.

Joe Cain is the man credited with reviving Mardi Gras in Mobile in 1866. Cain declared himself to be a Chickasaw chief named Slacabamorinico and rode a charcoal wagon through the streets as Union soldiers occupied the city. The rest, as the story goes, is history. Sunday was Joe Cain Day in Mobile AL. The crowds seem to be about average for a Mobile Mardi Gras. Last year many estimated the crowds were down by as much as 25%. It does seem to be better this year by all reports. That's good news for Mobile, AL merchants. Mardi Gras and Christmas are what most merchants live and die by each year.

Personally, I have no use for Mardi Gras. I have not gone to a parade since I was a kid. But, to each his own. I understand that many people do enjoy Mardi Gras. I just am not enamored with fighting crowds all day long and night. I also don't understand the logic of killing someone over a piece of rock candy that cost a penny. That has happened far more times than it should have in the past. Thus far, there have been no reports of deaths during this Mardi Gras season. Hopefully, this will continue for Mardi Gras Mobile AL 2011. Oh, we have the usual fights and pushing and shoving. You are going to have that when you have people consuming alcoholic beverages all day. Personally, I just don't see the fun in that any longer. But, that's just me. If you reading this post, I hope you have a pleasant, but safe Fat Tuesday to end Mardi Gras Mobile AL 2011.



3/07/2011

eBook Novels

At one time, not so long ago, the idea of the ebook was frowned upon and even mocked by some of the (what I call) the "publishing elite." By publishing elite, I mean the big publishing houses like Random House, DoubleDay Publishing and most, if not all, the big time literary agents (of whom most have a place in hell reserved just for them). For decades, if not centuries, the idea of publishing changed little. For the longest time, you had to send the sainted "query letter" to a literary agent or publishing house, hoping they would at least look beyond the first page. I'd venture a guess and say most proposals wound up in the trash bin without so much as a cursory glance. So many good books, good stories have been lost to literature due to indifference from the so-called publishing world. That was then, this is now.

In January, Amazon announced for the first time in it's history, ebooks outsold paperbacks. In July 2010, ebooks outsold hardcover books for the first time. Suddenly, the laughter died down. Reality has set in for the publishing world of today. eBooks have taken over. You don't have to go through a literary agent and possibly pay a $20 or $30 reading fee for the honor to have them tell you thanks but no thanks. You no longer have to wait weeks, months or even years to hear back from a publisher. Now, you can create, design and upload your own work, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, short stories or novels. You are now literary agent and publisher combined.

I will have my novel (Diary: Alone on Earth), at long last, published in ebook format this April. I will have an eBook publisher proofread, do conversion format and distribute my novel to all the online ebook stores for the sum of $150. To many that seems foolhardy and like a waste of money. Consider the poor people who decided to self-publish, pay anywhere from $5K to as much, in some cases, as $30K for the privilege of selling less than a 100 books to family and friends. Now, my novel may not sell that many either. I think it will sell because people love an apocalyptic, supernatural thriller. eBooks are the wave of the future due to ereaders like Nook and Kindle. I didn't realize it at the time, but with the advent of Kindle, the old traditional method of publishing died. Traditional publishing is like the myth of dinosaurs; they walked around dead for an hour before their brain shutdown. Well, such is the future for the Publishing House and Literary Agent. The future is ebooks. Stories that might never have been told will now get their chance. Literature, as a whole, will vastly be better for it. I will announce when my novel, Diary: Alone on Earth, will be available in ebook format. Look for it, as I said, in April!

Finally, I leave you with this quote; Publishers are all cohorts of the devil; there must be a special hell for them somewhere. - Goethe




3/03/2011

Roku HD Review

ROKU HD REVIEW


I bought an old Samsung Blu-Ray player from eBay about a year ago. I had never owned a blu-ray up until that time. The first time I used it, I was hooked. I thought things couldn't get any better than HD. I was wrong. I thoroughly love the contrast, the crispness of Blu-Ray. But, since this was so old a player, I couldn't get the menu for Netflix for this player. I inquired about it to Samsung. They told me that it can download firmware updates (which it does), but I would have to buy a new Samsung Blu-Ray player and they have "great deals on them right now!" Yeah, I know when I'm being played. So, I just resigned myself to watch Netflix on my computer.

This past Sunday, I was surfing on the net and stumbled across something called "Roku." I had never heard of it in my life. It was something you could hook up to your HDTV and could use with your broadband router to access Netflix, among other sites of that nature. I thought, "Well, it must be about $150-200 at least." Nope. The version I got cost $59.00, plus shipping and handling. The Roku HD Hookup to your TV is a snap. Then all you do is go into your router settings in your browser and accept the MAC address. If you use encryption (and if not, why aren't you?) accept this new "device." That was the easy part. What caused me to be puzzled was the code it kept telling me to input at Netflix. I got online at Netflix and could not find where I could input that code it was spitting out. I looked for about five minutes before it dawned on me to go to the "instantly to your TV page." Duh. After that, the menu popped up for Netflix, Amazon (yes, they have about 75,000 streaming movies to offer), Major League Baseball (which will be starting soon at time of this post), Hulu and so on.

I must say that the picture quality is outstanding with the Roku HD. I have read online that if the router is more than 40 feet from the Roku HD box, the quality deteriorates quite a bit. I don't have that problem since my router is only about three feet from my Roku HD box. Now, there are some channels that I must say have lousy picture quality. But, the main reason I bought this thing was so I could see Netflix on my HDTV. It got tiresome watching it on my computer. But, all in all, I have to say I am very pleased thus far. If I have any problems or have a need to add to this post in the future, I'll be sure to do so.

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a paid endorser of the Roku HD. I just wanted to let people know this thing exists. So, if you interested, let me know.




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