Saturday, November 07, 2009

Taking Pictures In Public

Power Plant 050039s

In the United States it is quite legal to take pictures out in public, of anything you see. The only exception I can think of are on certain government and military installations. However if you take a photo of people and their faces are recognizable, you typically must obtain a model release in order to sell those images.

These statements are not true in many other countries, including some European nations. Taking pictures of storefronts is illegal in many other countries, for example.

That said, I was rarely confronted or stopped while taking pictures of any subject, anywhere in the world for my first 30 years as a commercial photographer. I compose a lot of photographs, typically more than a thousand every week, sometimes many more. Since 2001 I have been regularly confronted in the U.S. and overseas while taking pictures in public.

The people that confront me are typically concerned, if somewhat zealous citizens, determined to protect their public buildings, airports and bridges. Those just happen to be common subjects my clients hire me to photograph. Occasionally, police or security guards do confront me. I sometimes even offer to call the police myself to have them uphold my rights to photograph in public against aggressive people. When other police do arrive, I usually receive sincere apologies for any trouble I might have experienced.

In regards to requests to delete pictures from your digital camera you do have an alternative. There are several free or inexpensive Undelete software tools that quickly recover images that were deleted using the camera's delete buttons. When someone burly insists that I delete a particular photo and I do not have the time or energy to object, I sometimes do so. Once the individual is satisfied that I deleted the image and leaves I then switch to different memory card and continue to shoot. I quickly recover the deleted images later back in my studio.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Barak Obama Wins 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

The world would be a far better place without nuclear weapons. Only one powerful leader understands this clearly and has stood up from his first day in office to make it happen.

The world would be a far better place if people would talk to each other rather than hurl steel, lead, chemicals and explosives at their neighbors. Only one major world leader has ignored advice to the contrary and stood up from his first day in office to make negotiations happen.

The world would be a far better place if people could see a doctor when they need to, or even consult a physician long before they absolutely need medical attention. Only one U.S. President has ignored advice to the contrary and stood up from his first day in office to make universal health care happen.

Obama on Corcoran Gallery 077801

Though I may die before I get the proper medical treatment I need, though hundreds will still die this month in combat around the world, though nuclear bombs still roll out of many secret manufacturing sites we now have hope. Barack Obama is in office as U.S. President.

Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 9th, 2009.

Finally there is hope that the human race may continue and our families will be allowed to live in peace one day soon.

Friday, October 02, 2009

$380 Million Spent To Hoodwink American People

Washington DC 077550

$380 million dollars has been spent recently by rich drug companies and hospitals to trick Congress and the rest of the U.S. population. The money is being lavished on Senators and members of the House of Representatives to protect the huge salaries of pharmaceutical and healthcare executives. Instead of trying to improve the quality of care or the safety of prescription drugs, huge sums of money are going towards fake protests and fancy lunches. Armies of lobbyists are telling people that the current system of health insurance has no problems and every U.S. citizen already gets the health treatment they need.

In the meantime most people are paying way too much for lousy treatment, risky drugs and fat cat's salaries of $100 million dollars a year or more. No wonder they have so much money to spend on lies and dirty tricks. At the same time 45 million people in the country are denied proper health care while many rich do not see anything wrong with that dire situation.

Call or write the people that represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate before it is too late, too late for you or your family to get the proper treatment you deserve.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

VA Officials Stole Your Tax Money

While I appreciate and value the Veteran's Administration medical care I do not like it when government employees steal my tax payments. I must admit, several members of my family gave decades of their lives in service to the military and some still serve in the armed forces. They get excellent health care at military hospitals, VA clinics, and even occasionally from medics in battle zones. Today The New York Times reports that officials at the VA stole millions of tax dollars. An organization called VA Watchdog provided the Times with the specifics.

The Wild Rovers 076078

Over the past three years when many of us were either laid-off or suffered bonus or pay cuts, the VA officials doled out cash and jobs to friends, family, and lovers. As long as you went along with the scheme, VA officials all the way to the top positions received unearned largess, unusual transfers to sunny beaches, and bonus amounts completely out of line with government requirements. I realize our elected leaders will probably do nothing about the $24 million stolen by current or former VA staff. I would prefer to see them required to pay back all the money, with fines, lose their jobs and go directly to jail, without stopping at GO. That will likely never happen but at least you and other readers now know that you cannot trust some government employees to do the right thing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rich Officially Permitted to Evade Taxes

Switzerland won a major victory in efforts to keep laundering money for the world's wealthiest criminals.
Rolls Royce 072678
The U.S. government basically agreed to overlook the money laundering operations of major Swiss banks. This agreement was made in order to keep the uber-wealthy from paying their fair share of taxes owed on multi-million dollar incomes. The U.S. and Swiss governments essentially agreed to allow the world's richest people to get away without paying the taxes they owe. The leaders determined it would be easier to just rely on the payroll taxes of the less fortunate than to risk the wrath of oil sheiks, investment bankers, and corrupt politicians. The settlement came as no surprise to those same political leaders that benefited from the agreement.

New York Time article

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A black president and a Puerto Rican judge

Hi Friend,

You could not have reached me this afternoon even if my phone had been working. I was too busy punching the air celebrating the appointment of Judge Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. 2009 will be forever noted in U.S. history for the 1st black president and the first Latina Supreme Court judge. Que bueno. Muy bueno. May many more follow in their footsteps.

Supreme Court, Washington DC 077596

The racist Republicans that voted blindly against Judge Sotomayor's appointment let everyone know exactly who in the Senate are meaningless old bigots. 91 year-old Bob Byrd, dying and feeble, even crawled into the Senate chamber to cast a vote for Sonya. It is in fact possible to be a truly reformed racist, Byrd's vote proved that without a doubt. Fox News, the only news channel in the weird company lunchroom where I sometimes work, failed to cover this historic moment altogether. They were too busy questioning Obama's birth certificate at the time. I'm actually glad the birthers are lost in their own private sauce. This moment must feel like torture to them. How ironic. This gives everyone else more time to revel in reality. You may not grasp this just yet but when you add a Puerto Rican to any gathering the event changes drastically. They do make their points eloquently when actually given the opportunity to be heard.

I'm still in awe of this incredible turn of events. Today I am truly shocked, pleased, and proud to be a resident of America; north, south or middle. Even the Brazilians must be feeling the moment. It has taken 8 years for me to feel so damn good to be a U.S. citizen again. I've loved Puerto Ricans dearly since the day I moved there in '79. Now our nation has given incredible amounts of hope to two massive groups of citizens that have been trampled down for centuries. I can only hope that all little Hispanic and African American children will now be taught by their parents that they can accomplish anything if they try hard enough. Anything. Anything at all.

What a day in history. I'm in tears over it, it offers so much hope after the devastation caused by those old backward, southern SOBs soon to be forgotten. So much hope.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Do You Drive Too Fast?

Classic Car 081688

Young people racing down Route 100 in expensive new BMW European sports cars. Weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds, the foolhardy driver fails to realize the others drivers are already exhausted. Almost to a person they have just finished 9 or more hours at some job that just wears them down every day. Now this caffeine-blasted kid comes sailing through like he's just left the pit at Daytona. A terrible accident just waiting to happen.

Wrecked Jeep

It turns out the person aching for the vehicular homicide conviction was only going two exits on Route 100. He put all the drivers he wildly passed at risk to go three miles.

He has no idea of the extreme risks of the habit he has formed. Driving fast is a very dangerous habit. One day soon he may slam into a mini-van broken down in the road. A more certain outcome is that he will be clearly observed by a police officer in an unmarked car. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but as he cultivates a habit of speeding and driving recklessly the likelihood of one of those outcomes grows with each passing day.

The cost of an accident in terms of damage to the car(s) is nothing compared with physical costs to the humans involved. Death by car accident is quite common in America, it is the leading cause of death for teenagers. A small wreck can often lead to lifelong back problems for accident victims. Standing there beside terrible wrecks I so often see the police and ambulance workers contemplating yet another horrific scene.

The young person speeding along in the BMW gives nary a thought to any of this.

He certainly cannot begin to imagine the nightmare of scenarios that grow out of reckless driving conviction or extra-fast speeding ticket. The new insurance company he will need to find will want many times more premium money than that insurance company that cancelled his last policy.

Since speeding is an addictive habit just like cigarettes drivers that get caught speeding must now spend time and money learning to overcome their addiction. States also revoke the driving privileges of seriously rotten drivers.

I am frequently noticing young men on Ninja motorcycles riding over 100 miles per hour, at rush hour. Groups of them seem appear to assume they hold special immunity to law enforcement officers. By their actions it is obvious they feel immortal. A tiny mistake on a motorcycle going over a hundred will certainly lead to extended hospitalization if not the mortuary. These fellows don't give a thought to how efficiently death brings an end to the party.

The people that speed could care less how they are pouring cash into an Arab sheik's pocket. There is never a thought given to waste of mental energy as well. Doctors have tested drivers and estimate the stress of driving fast to be many times that of driving normally. Ask a race car driver, I'm sure they'll agree. But remember, race car drivers are extensively-trained professionals. Remember also, race car drivers also die in horrible accidents and they are among the best drivers in the world.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island Home

Fernandina Home 081815

This historic treasure of a home just went on the market in the historic town of Fernandina Beach, on Amelia Island on the coast of Florida. Originally a church, the entire structure was remodeled between 2004 and 2007. It is essentially your own brick cathedral with a new roof, windows, ultra-modern kitchen and beautifully landscaped grounds. The entire structure, inside and out, still retains a circa 1888 ambiance.

Fernandina Home 082151

Fernandina Home 082142

Fernandina Home 082152

Fernandina Home 082155

It is an easy walk to the downtown shopping district and the public docks of Fernandina Beach.

Pelicans Fernandina 081868 Palace Saloon, Fernandina Beach 082097 Sunset, Fernandina Beach 082049

Fernandina 082090

For more information contact Paul Barnes by phone at (904)261-0347 or e-mail:

Restored Church, Calhoun 081795

Fernandina 081831ms

Space Shuttle Discovery Launch

Here's what the March 15th, 2009, Space Shuttle Discovery launch looked like to observers near Jacksonville, Florida:

Space Shuttle Launch, Fernandina Beach 082070

Space Shuttle Launch, Fernandina Beach 082061

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Debt Brought US Down, Only We Can Rescue Ourselves

If your not life is not being impacted in any way by the current economic disaster you must be a subsistence farmer working your fields on the side of a mountain somewhere. Even those farmers have almost no access to modern health care, education or future opportunities for their children.

Mountain Village of Ossanite 00002

I do not advocate buying nothing of foreign origin whatsoever. Rising nationalism and trade embargoes were among the primary causes of World War Two. However, it is important to understand the true reasons your daughter or son or you yourself cannot find a job. 

Do not rush to blame the Bernie Madoffs and Lehman Brothers in New York just yet. It is true those people are having an impact on our economy but they are not the primary reasons our nation may soon default on all debts and collapse in an economic heap. These large financial crimes hurt mostly the very wealthiest people, although we are all being forced to pay for their huge crimes. Retirement funds and 401ks are where most people put away cash for their senior years. Those funds can lose a great deal of money when major financial firms fold.

Reasons for 2008 Recession

  • The piling of many risky home mortgages into one large investment, an investment that often failed.
  • Rich people pulled back many other investments, putting the money into gold or art or other "safe" investments, like government bonds.
  • Investments in emerging markets were drastically reduced.
  • Businesses laid off employees as customer bases shrank.
  • People stopped buying big ticket items like washers or cars.
  • Families and individuals took fewer vacations.
  • People on unemployment spend less. Far less. They also miss home mortgage payments, and lose their homes to foreclosure.

We spent more than we will earn for too many years. This major fault line runs though our nation and our individual lives. It is the primary cause of what is happening in the U.S. and around the world.

USS Freedom 076492

We borrowed more than we could ever repay to build our mighty Navy and Army. We borrowed to buy a house in the suburbs and the car to get us back and forth to our distant jobs. We borrowed from the value of our homes, using home equity loans, to take vacations, pay for extra rooms, or buy digital television sets. We borrowed to go to college and we borrowed to take our wives to that fancy restaurant down the street.

We failed to save for a rainy day and now that rainy day is upon us.

Our government has no choice but to borrow more money from the wise Chinese. China decided to save up much of the money Americans spent on Chinese goods; at discount stores or electronics outlets.

Enough about the problems, what solutions must we consider?

Right now many Americans are staying home more nights, saving what little they can after the credit cards, bills and home mortgage are paid. For some families, this is probably a very good thing for them to be doing. Personally, I have worked out my budget for the next few years and set aside some money every week to spend at locally-operated establishments where I socialize or buy essentials. If I do not spend some money in those places they will close up. Many neighboring businesses already have gone out of business. If I soon fail altogether, there are places in the Third World that will welcome a talented computer, farming and language instructor. Been there, done that.

Failed Market House, Annapolis 073941

If you can afford it, you must continue to spend some of the money left over after the bills are paid. Consumer spending makes up 70% or more than two thirds of the U.S. economy. If you stop spending in your local community, the businesses will close and crime and property taxes will go up. If you stop spending money on American-made products, American private-sector jobs will nearly all vanish. Finally, the value of your home will continue to fall well below the value of the mortgage you are trying to pay off. In most places in our country 90% of our fellow citizens are still employed.

Murphy's Law at Castlebay 074285

If you work for the government or a place that exists primarily to fulfill government contracts, do not fool yourself into thinking this problem is not your problem. You may soon need a second job or even another job. My dear friend just returned from a trip to California, she told me she saw more homeless people in the streets than she has ever seen in her life, anywhere in the world. Of course, she has never lived in Kolkatta or Port au Prince like I have. Many of those homeless people my friend saw were formerly working on government building contracts. California may not have the money to make the state payroll as soon as next month.

Down and Out, Annapolis 48669

I do not want to sound like former President Bush after the events of September 11, 2001, telling everyone to go out and spend. I do suggest that those who can afford to support local establishments do so, within their means. Buy American products if the choice is there before you, unless you somehow expect Japanese or Chinese firms to give you a job. I realize there are Americans working for Honda, Toyota and other foreign-owned firms. For them it may well be a good thing to send part of their earnings to Tokyo or Beijing. For most Americans that is not a wise choice, unless you plan to start living on incomes equivalent to poor laborers in China, India or Japan.

Market Day,  Purulia District 00018

These are difficult times that require tough choices. China and India are still growing, albeit at a slower pace. The governments and people in those places will adjust to life with fewer exports to Western nations. Many people are already returning to family farms to ride out this recession. In the United States most of us simply don't have the luxury of returning to subsistence farming.

Amish Women 026


New York Times article
Washington Post article
Second New York Times article

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cleaning Up Our Act: Ethically and Environmentally

Strange Bedfellows: Pollution and Greed

Lately there is a growing amount of public attention in being paid to moral standards and hazards to our environment. These two concerns have rarely shared the limelight at the same time in history.

New York City 18656

In the past collapsing markets have turned scam artists like Bernie Madoff into floaters, rising to the surface of financial cesspools. Certain types of fraud, like Ponzi schemes, only function as long as the general public attitude remains optimistic. In rapidly growing economies corruption is perhaps viewed by some leaders as just one more cost of doing business. It was rare to hear government leaders complaining about CEO's annual million-dollar salaries and private jets while campaign contributions and quarterly dividends kept arriving on schedule.

Power Plant 050039s

In contrast, real environmental threats have often been overlooked when there was no money to support such causes. The original Kyoto Protocol exempted the pollution of poor China and India. In developed nations some coal-burning power plants were granted exceptions to the requirements for expensive smokestack scrubbers. Ships and airplanes have been allowed to continue spewing waste for the sake of global commerce. This is all changing now for a good reason: total cost in terms of health to human society. China, for example, is slowly recognizing that chronic air pollution is sapping productivity.

St Louis, Missouri 00002

Now that money is tight and unemployment is rising it is easy to see why attention is being paid to corporate thieves. Most people find it unthinkable that one man is paid a bonus of $25 million dollars for a year's work, no matter how skilled that person may be. When that same corporate executive comes crawling to government leaders for an emergency loan it takes no genius to cry "Foul!" Like pollution, corporate greed is also sucking the life out of economies all around the world.

Currency 077497s

Mismanagement in Exchange for Millions

The system of executive compensation has grown into quagmire. The only solution the top dogs can come with is to fire all the people making $50,000 a year. Five hundred people get shown the exit door to the save the cost of employing one CEO. Finally, the bosses decide to issue more stock and the existing stockholders lose all hope of returns and head for the exit themselves.

These supposedly genius leaders never stop to listen to the solutions offered by the little people. Proposals made by ordinary employees or stockholders are too quickly rejected by the MBAs upstairs. It is time someone in-charge started to listen to the people that invest all their time or money in the enterprises they are running into the ground.

Public Health as a Shared Cost

You need to think outside the banks to discover the reasons leaders are paying attention to the small voices crying out over the environment and public health.

Air pollution, food contamination, and the declining health of the world's oceans are all signs of a greater immorality. Almost everyone is implicated when it comes to the hydrocarbons spewing from our tailpipes. Food producers thought they were saving money by using a cheaper supplier of peanut butter. Baby formula allowed new mothers to quickly return to work, albeit at a cost to their children's immune systems. Now many new mothers are learning they can feed their babies naturally and still go back to work. The chemicals and waste pouring into our bodies, the seas, and skies are the results of our daily decisions, along with a measure of corruption, to be sure.

Sleeping Baby 15751

The convenience of private cars, cheap labor, and Similac sometimes comes at a steep price in terms of public health. Health care is a public expense in many parts of the world and moving quickly in that direction in places like the United States, India, and China. When people get sick and everyone must pay for it the issue draws more public scrutiny.

People will need to be hired if we are to solve the problems associated with health care and food quality. We can reduce the cost of healthcare paperwork and mistakes by using computers. The jobs of some claims processors may be lost while computer programmers, accountants, and trainers find more work. More food safety inspectors will need to be hired and trained.

White House, Washington DC 077787

Forward-thinking leaders are even starting to envision the job of cleaning up our planet as a stimulus for economic growth. There are new industries to be created in the fight against global warming. Developing new solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars, and other sources of clean energy will require new technologies as well as re-tooling factories. President Obama seems to understand this equation even as most Republican leaders refuse to. India is another place where the leaders have already started listening to the little people.

Leaders must do more than say they are willing to take $1 salary for a year. The bosses need to learn to listen more carefully to the people far down the ladder that support, serve, or invest in them. There are voices and minds out there offering real, workable solutions. It is not just a matter of forsaking pride now, it is a matter of survival.


New Yorker Magazine on Breast Feeding
New York Times column on India's environmental ideas

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Could Ice have brought down Flight 3407?

UPDATE 02/15/09: It is rather disturbing to learn that the pilots decided to continue flying on auto-pilot even as they discussed the icing issues they were having. That model of Bombardier aircraft had a very sophisticated de-icing system installed.

The exact cause of last night's tragic crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J.will not be known for some time. The National Transportation Safety Board is always very thorough with investigations. It is important, however, to review a widely known hazard to flight safety: ice.

New York from Newark 08876

The facts that are known at this time hint at several possible scenarios. The plane was flying at a low altitude of perhaps 2,500 feet above the ground level (AGL). It was flying in a snowstorm. The pilots of other aircraft flying in the same region at approximately the same time reported ice accumulation on their wings.

The Bombardier Q400 aircraft involved in the accident was a turbo-prop or propeller-driven aircraft. It is a very advanced model but, like all aircraft, still very susceptible to weather and pilot error, the two major causes of most accidents.

A recent (January, 2009) article on a website called "America's Flyways" provides significant details about the impact ice has on an aircraft in flight. I remember my flight school instructors telling me in no uncertain terms how accumulating ice reduces the ability of an aircraft's wings to provide lift. The ice actually changes the shape of the wing, in addition to adding considerable weight. Ice has long been proven to have a very great impact on aircraft propellers. Even though planes are equipped with various types of de-icing systems, there is always the threat of the ice striking the various surfaces of the plane as it is removed by these systems during flight.

Here are two outlines of the de-icing systems installed on the Q-400:
  • The Ice Detection System (IDS) assists in determining ice build-up and sends this information to the pilots in the flight compartment so that they can take the appropriate action.
  • The Pneumatic De-ice System (used in this airplane) removes ice accumulated on the leading edges of the wings, horizontal and vertical stabilizers, and the inlet lip of the engine nacelles.
  • The leading edges of the propeller blades are electrically de-iced.
  • The Anti-icing Systems are thermal, using electrical heating elements to prevent ice formation.
The Ice and Rain Protection System (IRPS) have these sub-systems:
  1. Air Intake De-icing
  2. Pitot and Static Anti-Icing System
  3. Windshield and Windows Ice and Rain Protection
  4. Propellers Ice Protection
  5. Ice Detection System
  6. Airframe De-icing Systems

Annapolis Ice Storm 70358

As I stated in my opening paragraph, it is important to let the NTSB investigators do their job. But it never hurts to remind pilots to be more cautious when flying into winter storms.


America's Flyways article
New York Times article
Washington Post article #1
Washington Post article #2

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Fixing America's Job Application, Training, and Job Placement Monster

Today U.S. firms announced they are eliminating at least another 43,000 jobs. Each month nearly 500,000 jobs seem to vanish from the U.S. economy. Yet, many politicians and news outlets seem to be trying to direct our attention to all kinds of other problems like health care, terrorism, and Wall Street. Sure they all mention the job losses but after the numbers and company names are given the story seems to abruptly end.

Obama on Corcoran Gallery 077801

President Obama has clearly stated that job creation, or at least stopping job losses will be a priority for his administration. The amount of money Washington is talking about spending in attempts to jump-start the economy is huge. That latest figures put that number at the better part of one trillion dollars!

One major issue no leader or news source seems to want to address in detail is the fractured employment application, training, and placement process.

U.S. Capitol, Washington DC 077583

Ask anyone who has been hunting for a job about the problems with the process. Talk to anyone who has been unemployed for more than a few weeks and they will tell you all about this huge problem. It all relates to three major areas of serious national concern, except there seems to be little concern for any of these three areas.

  1. Job Location and Application Process
  2. Career Training and Re-training
  3. Job Placement or Hiring

Before going into the details and associated problems with each of these important job-related areas, I want to state one undeniable fact.

There absolutely needs be a better way to get millions of people back working again.

Avocado and MacBook 077481

Our country has created some of the best computers and computer software ever invented. While there may be a shortage of scientists there is no shortage of human resources professionals. There is probably more than one computer for every man, woman, and child in this nation. Surely we can put all these important pieces of the puzzle together to create a better, more efficient way for people to find a job, perhaps receive some additional training, and ultimately get hired.

That is the goal of this research project. In the days ahead there will be an examination of each step in the current job application process. There will be solutions offered to many important questions about getting hired. Finally, there will be an outline and description of what a vastly improved job application and hiring process should look like.

NOTE: Most of this project stands completed on my desktop right now, but it exists on multiple pieces of paper and computer documents. If you are currently unemployed, please continue to apply for jobs the old way. There may be little chance that any organization, public or private, actually wants to improve the job application process. I am doing this project with the slight hope that perhaps some group will become interested in the actual process of getting millions of people back working again. Thank you for your patience.

I. Job Location and Application Process

There are private job search sites out there like Careerbuilder, Monster, and SimplyHired. Most newspapers have some sort of employment section. There's Craiglist, Snagajob, and many other aggregators of potential work opportunities. At the government level, each state along with the federal government and many individual agencies have thousands of web pages dedicated to job listings and the job application process. Most private corporations have a "Careers" section hidden somewhere on their home page. On top of all this most employment counselors will tell you the majority of open jobs are not listed anywhere, you have to know somebody to find out about the vacancy.

No matter how you find about a job opening you might possibly qualify for, your uphill struggle is only just about to begin.

To begin each on-line job application you will usually find it necessary to create a new account with a different web site. Applicants then must begin to learn how to use each employment web site, because no two job application web sites are exactly alike, not nearly. Some companies require the applicant to use Microsoft Internet Explorer, but only a few actually tell you this important fact. Many job sites are really just a back door to another web site. That other web site requires you to create a different account. Sometimes there is almost no clue provided to the name of the company you are actually applying to work for. Quite a few job applications will never even be seen by a human, computers read them, look for a few important terms and toss the rest of the applications in the Recycle Bin.

If and when you wade through all the web pages required to complete one job application don't expect to ever hear about that application or job again. Most web sites seem to eat up your job application and provide very little or even no details about what might happen next. If you are lucky you will get a confirmation e-mail saying that you application was successfully completed. If you are unlucky you will start to receive SPAM messages about fake jobs or jobs that have nothing to do with the one you thought you were applying for.

Now you are all ready to begin this mind-numbing process all over again with the next possible job.

Cover Letters

There are still many employers that want you to write a cover letter and mail or e-mail that letter along with your completed application or résumé. This is an important step you will want to be extremely careful about. One small error anywhere in that cover letter will get result in your application being tossed into the garbage.

II. Career Training and Re-training

There are still some jobs available in most communities, no matter how dire the situation may seem. One big issue is that the remaining jobs require a very specific set of skills and experience, with no exceptions indicated by most employers

Tom at Suitland HS 000170

III. Job Placement or Hiring

Would you consent to being interviewed for a job through the Internet? Would you be willing to talk with an actual human resources person at an actual company, using your computer? What about doing this face-to-face, with a webcam? What if almost the entire hiring process could be done through a voice-activated or even visual interface, with very little typing required?

That is how many people will be hired for jobs in the years ahead. Despite any fears you might have about doing things that way it is going to happen soon or later.

In this next section there will be small and large improvement to all the different steps involved in the job placement, interview, and hiring process.

Creating New Jobs

It is also very important for us to identify significant areas and ways to create new and useful jobs for the unemployed. In this section we will examine many different places in private and public organizations where new positions would make the most sense.

Public and Private Education Initiatives

There seems to be widespread consensus that America lacks skilled employees in certain key fields. Computer scientists, math or science teachers, nurses, and general practioners are just a few occupations that immediately come to mind. Many business managers can also point out the need for new skills among existing employees. Local community colleges report a deluge of people applying for software training and computer courses. Rebuilding America's roads, bridges, and other public works will require armies of skilled tradesmen. If there really are shortages of people with these skills then these shortages need to be viewed as opportunities to create new, long-term positions for courseware developers, educators, trainers, administrators and all the other people required to operate productive schools.

It is obvious that some skilled positions require years of training. To achieve the goal of filling these and many other critical-need positions we need to begin the education process soon. Now is the perfect time.

What about Food Inspectors and other empty Government positions?

Military bases, intelligence agencies, and their contractors have thousands of jobs available. They cannot find the people they need to hire for these jobs. They just don't have enough American applicants they can trust. It is all a matter of who has the top-secret security clearances required for these jobs. So all those jobs related to national security remain unfilled, year after year.

There is also a backlog of people waiting for their security clearance to come through.

Many other people that started working at intelligence agencies after 2001 have quit. They got tired of the bureaucracy that kept them from doing their jobs properly.

Unemployment offices across the nation are understaffed. They are falling critically behind with the task of processing new claims for unemployment benefits. Job placement counselors are in short supply. Yet, they also are continuing to lay off staff at unemployment offices in many states.

There is a salmonella outbreak spreading across the nation. The FDA admits they do not inspect every food plant. In fact, they do not require plants that discover contamination to even report this issue. It is obvious there simply are not enough food inspectors working at the FDA.

The U.S. Army does not have enough people to check the hearing of soldiers.

The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) did not have enough examiners or training to detect scandals like the Madoff Ponzi scheme or Lehman Brothers failure.

The U.S. State Department needs more people in the foreign service.

The Peace Corps has fallen short on their goals for recruitment.

Many school districts across the nation do not have the teachers they need to teach the students enrolled. They are still continuing to lay off teachers due to budget problems.

All of these issues are real and they are preventing people from getting back to work at important jobs that really need to be done. These are government jobs, not auto factory or retail or airline jobs. They are all empty and yet they need to be filled, in many cases public safety is compromised by keeping these jobs vacant.

Many U.S. citizens are in need of jobs. At the same time it is apparent we need thousands of additional workers like the food inspectors or unemployement office workers, at the state and federal level. How about hiring and training the unemployed to fill these jobs? That sounds like a very wise use of a small part of the $1 trillion financial stimulus package. Or shall we keep giving the money to bankers so they can spend millions redecorating their offices and buying private jets?

Realistic Retirement, For the Good of the Nation

As a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, I do appreciate the contributions of head football coach Joe Paterno. I really do. I am also very grateful for the contributions of many U.S. Senators including Massachusett's senator Ted Kennedy and West Virginia's Robert Byrd. There are very elderly college professors that provide us with some of the best educational experiences possible, but there are some that need to consider retirement. These workers and thousands of others in their late 70s and 80s need to seriously consider letting other people take over their roles.

I love and respect senior citizens. I spend more time with them than most people I know. I certainly am not speaking to the 70-year old man or woman that needs that job at Wal-Mart or McDonalds in order to supplement a meager Social Security income. I am suggesting that seniors that have made a significant amount of money and could easily afford to retire do just that.

Certainly they should stay around long enough to train the person or persons that will fill their shoes, if necessary. Maybe the next best place for their unique services is in the expanded education programs mentioned above. But now is an opportune time for them to contribute their jobs to the rapidly shrinking pool of positions available. Obviously someone already employed will likely get the positions held by such respected elders in any organization. Another person will get the vacancy that the new coach or senator leaves behind. Finally, perhaps even far down the organization chart, new jobs will open up. This is the way viable firms operate.

It should not be left up to governments to mandate new retirement ages or enact any new laws to require people to leave their jobs at any particular age. The individuals themselves should consider the positive or negative benefits and proceed with the best course of action for them, their employers, and their society.

References and Links

Washington Post Article

Federal government jobs


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

First Coca-Cola, now Wal-Mart is using Diesel-Electric Hybrids

A few months ago I spotted a new trend on the streets of Maryland's state capital. Coca-Cola had suddenly started using diesel electric hybrid delivery trucks. This hardly seemed surprising with the cost of diesel fuel edging up to $5/gallon at the time.

Hybrid Coca Cola Truck, Annapolis 062151

Now Wal-Mart is considering the use of these diesel electric hybrid trucks.
Reuters article:Wal-Mart testing new hybrid trucks.

London Financial Times article:Wal-Mart tests diesel-electric

Although this truck is a Kenworth, they are looking at the Peterbilt models that use the Eaton hybrid drive system. Medium Duty Hybrids, from Peterbilt site

The leader in this medium-duty hybrid field seems to be Paccar. They are supplying the engines used by Kenworth and Peterbilt.

Hybrid Coca Cola Truck, Annapolis 062154

Link to Paccar

Mind of Mike

Earlier Alternative Energy Posts

Oil and Power Resist Alternatives
What's New?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Apple Inc. is a Village, not One Man

Apple Store, Annapolis 59426

Business writers once again turn to Apple, Inc., focusing their attention only on Steve Job's health. Famous analysts and popular columnists seem to enjoy looking through murky tunnels and guessing what might happen to Apple in the CEO's absence. They appear blind to accomplishments achieved by all the other people that make up Apple's greater community. The actual performance of Apple Inc. seems to hold no value for pundits and many investors alike.

Here is a quick overview of Apple facts for the last 12 months. Keep in mind that the U.S. economy has been in a recession for this entire period:

  • Sales Growth of more than 35%
  • Income Growth of more than 25%
  • Nearly $5 billion dollars in income earned on $32.5 billion dollars in sales.
  • A Net Profit Margin of nearly 15%
  • Return on Equity of 27%
  • $25 billion in cash on-hand.
  • 67% of nearly 900 million shares owned by institutions.

These are facts, not idle speculation. It is true that these numbers are constantly changing. It is also true that Apple products are gaining market share even as the overall market appears to be shrinking.

Yesterday a network engineer showed me how he can keep track of his network traffic using his iPhone and a very secure application. My friend opened an iPhone application and quickly entered a few Unix commands.

Annapolis 061652

The person serving the table beside us saw this demonstration and pulled out her iPhone. She wanted to prove to me how easy it was to keep in-touch with other college students by text message. She told me that phone service with unlimited text messaging on other phone services cost only $10 a month a less. She told me that she can easily do Internet job searches (she will not be waiting tables after graduation) with the iPhone Safari browser. "Using the Internet with other phones is not that easy."

The owner of the restaurant came over to briefly join our discussion. He was not there to get his employees back to work. He wanted to demonstrate how easily he could view the images on his restaurant's security cameras using his iPhone. He said this ability has thwarted multiple theft attempts in just the past few months. His insurance rates have been reduced as a result.

A man that invests in the Foreign Exchange markets recently pulled out his iPhone to show how easily he could buy and sell currency. An artist showed me how she landed two commissions by using her iPhone to promptly choose and send samples of her art to buyers.

I do not own an iPhone, yet. I have operated my photography and technical writing businesses for the past 4 years using an Apple G5 tower. More recently, I replaced an older Sony laptop with a far more reliable MacBook Pro.

Avocado and MacBook 077481

Apple Inc. hardware and software make sense to me and my friends. We trust the work of all Apple employees to help us manage our businesses and even parts of our personal lives.

Every single one of us knows that we are living beings subject to all the forces that act on organisms. We also know that we are part of societies and communities that only succeed through the efforts of everyone involved. One person can make a big difference but it takes entire villages to make a society. Apple Inc. is one such village.

Tim Cook is once again going to be the new village chief. We all wish Mr. Jobs a speedy recovery as well.

Previous Articles on Apple, Inc.:

Apple's Future

Using Your iPhone To Avoid Traffic


Washington Post Article
Fortune Magazine: When Tim Cook Ran Apple
Financial Times Article

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Will America Split, Again?

A Russian professor, Igor Panarin, has been predicting for more than 10 years that the U.S. will soon break-up into smaller parts.

America Split

When I first heard about Professor Panarin's theory, like most U.S. citizens, I found the notion of a national break-up absurd. The United States is so tied together by our families, our highways, our corporations and even our debts that the thought of a split along any lines defies the imagination.
Then again the U.S. intelligence agencies and Soviet people found the concept of the dissolution of the Soviet Union unimaginable until it happened almost overnight.

In the past the unity of the U.S. has been threatened by events large and small. Sarah Palin and some friends in Alaska breached the subject not too many years ago. People in Puerto Rico and New York City also pondered the notion of more autonomy at one point. Our nation did fracture along distinct lines during the Civil War. 600,000 lives were lost in the effort to stitch us back together. Igor Panarin's theory is hardly without historical precedents.

Everyone who studies history is aware of how the British or Roman Empires crumbled under the twin weights of failed internal bureaucracy and assault from outsiders. There is no shortage of cracks in the current system we live under. Our rapidly rising debt to other nations including China and Japan has weakened the U.S. position considerably. I know we have the mightiest military and most commonly used money in the world but guns and dollars alone will not be enough to keep us together.

USS Freedom docked in Annapolis 076524

It is not out of the question that 49 states may balk at the idea of bailing out deeply indebted California, for example. The Rust Belt, running from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh, is crying out for bailout money that simply is not in the U.S. Treasury. If China says "no" to our next loan request (treasury certificates) what do we do next?

On another note, Florida is looking and sounding like a foreign country already. Utah has marched to the beat of a different drummer for way more than a century. We really are just a motley collection of minor nations sharing a common currency, flag, and army, in many respects. That individuality possessed by each state actually brings strength to the union. Minnesota's farmers and miners balance out Massachusetts' bankers and Louisiana's oil fields and so on.

On other levels you can already see huge cracks developing. Businesses that have been open for ten or twenty years are closing their doors. Some of the biggest firms including General Motors, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Sears appear to be navigating some very choppy waters these days. At parties I sometimes get invited to I notice the wealthier guests looking more and more like they are not getting enough sleep. Bankers, lawyers, and real estate agents usually did not worry this much when I was just a boy. (If you want to know how someone like me gets these invites perhaps this earlier post offers a clue.)

My neighbor was a bank branch manager last year. He greeted me as a server in the restaurant where my lady-friend and I shared a salad last week. Another neighbor has taken to baking cookies at 3AM. Still other people living near me argue about money at all hours. I can't help but know these things, they are happening right before my eyes.

I counsel people in my community. It is something I learned to do at a young age. People in grief, people in trouble with the law, guys AWOL from the Army, locals just out of prison, and even people in rocky marriages somehow end up on my doorstep or a bench on the waterfront. There have been those who jumped in the water, in December and January. A fella that worked at the local package goods store took that plunge most recently. A tragedy you can see playing out on such a person's face, at least I can.

Other people come to me with computer problems but end up needing help coming to grips with social issues. One such young acquaintance that has been in and out of prison has finally decided to change his ways. His choice of time to become optimistic about the future could not have been worse. The only jobs offered to him so far are in dish washing and crime.

The people who have recently lost children are the most heart-rending cases for me. Those and the servicemen in-between tours of duty. Each has seen too many lifeless faces on people that were once so close to them. Our participation in foreign wars weakens this nation, though it appears to make our soldiers more experienced, better prepared for the next civil war.

Mariani, Haiti 00007

I sometimes dig back to my years in Haiti and India and relate how I learned to understand my neighbor's grief on a daily basis. Revolution and death are not something most Americans of this generation are used to seeing on a large scale. As we age we watch our parents go and maybe a relative or friend passes away but infrequently. In places without good health care life is less certain. America could start to break-up faster if we cannot fix our system of providing health services, both mental and physical.

In conclusion, I do not seriously think the U.S. will shatter all at once. I also do not think that Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Toyota, Safeway, or even our military will be the glue that keeps all 50 pieces sticking together. If we work closely with our neighbors and friends, on a local and international level, we will get past these difficult times. We need to counsel and comfort our friends and family members. I look more towards the farmers, auto repairmen, nurses, hairdressers, schoolteachers and, yes, even the bankers, lawyers, doctors, and real estate agents to keep stitching up the torn edges of America. President Obama does not have the toughest job to do in this country, we the people do.

US Capitol 12231

Thursday, January 08, 2009

If Obama Decides To Build Will They Come?

Recent comments made to a Washington Post article about new infrastructure spending raise a very large issue related to digging ditches. For years now many construction projects, involving hard physical labor out in the extreme hot and cold, have employed recent immigrants. However recent right-wing political voices as well as the recession have discouraged the immigration of laborers from poor nations. Will the current U.S. workforce be physically ready to put down their iPhones and laptops and pickup a shovel when the time comes?

Construction work actually requires great stamina and specific skills.

Building a Rural Hospital 00001

These are talents many U.S. citizens do not possess. Construction labor positions require physical strength, a strong work ethic, extreme caution, and the ability to tolerate harsh weather conditions. In addition to manual laborers, there will be huge requirements for civil engineers, foremen, welders, carpenters, heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, electricians, pipefitters, and other tradesmen commonly found at all large construction sites. A quick check of these occupations finds many job openings unfilled in several of those fields.

Abu Dhabi or Annapolis?

It is true that the collapse of construction industry, residential and commercial, has put many skilled laborers out of work. However there remains a shortage of truck drivers, welders, and civil engineers, not to mention people holding valid work papers, willing to lift a shovel all day long.

Backhoe 59243

The supply of unemployed U.S. citizens willing to put down their pride and pick up a shovel is critical to a major part of President Obama's economic recovery plan. In the 1930's many of the people that took jobs at the highway, bridge, and dam construction sites were in far better physical shape. They arrived at WPA sites after long hikes on the road, often coming from failed dustbowl farms. They were so poor that the possibility of 8 or 10 hours of hard work really appealed to them. They left families behind to work for months in National Parks and sleep in old bunkhouses.

Mount Rainier 00010

Americans are among the most overweight people in the world. Fat people have a tough time working outside all day in the hot sun. Our work ethic has devolved to meet the requirements of service jobs done behind counters, over telephones, and at computer workstations. The people that arrive to work the late shift at food processing plants, shipment processing facilities, and other remaining factories are often recent immigrants and people from urban neighborhoods.

Almost every time I visited a major construction job in the past five years I also heard Spanish being spoken. This new boom in infrastructure spending may bring a tremendous boost in employment to a group that has suffered the largest job losses in the past few months. Hispanic voters turned out in huge numbers in the last election to support President Obama. Election day could turn out to be their lucky day.