Forward To The Past!

 

 

“What’s a record player?” the clerk behind the counter asked when I had finally decided that my faithful decades-old machine needed replacing.  My classical music collection of LP’s includes some of the operatic greats. Toscanini conducting “La Traviata”. Leonard Warren as Rigoletto. Marilyn Horne and Joan Sutherland in “Norma”.  Maria Callas. Even Rosa Ponselle and Enrico Caruso.

I repeated my intent to the puzzled young man in the music store. “I would like to buy a record player.” Again, he responded, “What’s a record player.”   I had the uncomfortable sensation of being in a time warp. He was not kidding. He really didn’t know what I was talking about. And he was looking at me the way those people looked at Michael J. Fox in the film, “Back to the Future”. To see if there were any other strange characteristics besides my peculiar inquiry.

I persevered. “ A record machine. You know, the kind that you put the records on. With a turntable and the automatic arm that drops the records one by one.”  Oh,”, he said, “You mean the machines that people used to have in the old days before the cassettes and  C.D.s?  ( I aged two decades with that comment)  Now, it was my turn. “C.D.s What are they?” (CD to me means certificate of deposit or civil defense and I didn’t think he was on either of those wave lengths.)

He explained, “C.D.s are compact disks. They’re the latest thing in the sound business. The best possible way to hear music next to being there. Would you like me to play one for you?”  “Well”, I went on, “It’s not that I don’t believe you, but I have this huge collection of L.Ps at home. Something of a lifetime investment, you might say. I think I’ll stick with what I have. That’s why I need a new machine. Don’t you carry them at all anymore?”

At this point, we had reached an impasse. He obviously regarded me as an alien in the modern world of music. It also occurred to me that he might not even know what L.P.s were. It was clear that I was not a potential buyer of C.Ds, the sound of the future. He turned me over to the assistant manager, who diplomatically informed me, “We really don’t have any call for the type of machine you are describing. Perhaps a second-hand store or an antique dealer might have one.”

Help! Alvin Toffler was right. My world is becoming archaic. My machine is an anachronism. Toffler predicted in his book, “Future Shock” that this would happen. At the time, I didn’t believe him. After this consciousness raising session at the music store, I decided to keep my old machine. The sound may not be perfect, but I know it well and its sounds right to me. I also began t think about other things that have become outmoded, outdated and out of stock. I didn’t have to search too far. Here’s my starter list:

Clotheslines and wooden clothespins.

Dry goods stores.

Watches and clocks that one winds and sets.

Stockings, not pantyhose.

Rouge, not blusher.

Soap, not a body bar.

A manual typewriter.

A malted milk shake.

Five and Dime stores. At least one per town.

Roller skates that clip onto your shoes.

The metal key to tighten the skates.

Fountain pens. Other than the status models.

Bottles of ink for the fountain pens.

Ink eradicator to correct the blots.

A baby stroller that is simple in purpose.

Have you tried lately to buy a plain canvas what-we-used-to-call sneaker? The variations on this form of footwear are awesome. Tennis. Walking. Jogging. Running. Racing. With reinforced arch. Without said arch. High top. Low top. No top. Leather. Nylon. Canvas. Wide laces. Narrow laces. Stretchable laces. And all of these choices occur before you enter the world of different brands and myriad colors.

Many people yearn for the days of the past. For the simple rural society and its values. For fewer choices. For the small town with the 5 and 10 cent store and the corner drugstore with soda fountain. I cannot say I belong to that segment of the population. I guess I am somewhere in between that world and the present one, with a clothing chain store on every other block. One for women. One for men. And one for children. Is this really necessary?

How I would love to see tucked away on one of those blocks a nostalgia store. A store that stocks all the anachronisms and archaic objects I crave. All the hard-to-find record machines, needle threaders and wooden clothespins. This image conjures up the legendary store that used to exist in a neighborhood. It might have been called a hardware store, or a general store in the real old days. In every case, this store was the place of first and last resort. Merchandise usually spilled down fromm the jammed aisles.  Threading one’s way through the aisles took determination. But the reward was finding exactly what you needed. In the right size. And the right color. And just the brand you usually bought.

The owners of these stores knew their inventory and the hiding place of every item. They honed in on the most obscure request with unerring accuracy. “I know I have a few in stock. On the third aisle, top shelf, under the rubber spatulas.” And there they were!

Having such a store in our neighborhood would gave me a wonderful sense of security. As I am catapulted into the future, I could visit the nostalgia store from time to time and hold on to the comfortable past.

……………………………………………………………………………….  Joyce S . Anderson

 

Advertisements

Beware of the “I” Message!

 

When business and professional managers are asked to list their major problems at work, the one that usually comes out on top is communication.  It is ahead of employee turnover, competition and even profits. “I tell them what I want done. And there’s no follow through.”  “I said I need the reports as soon as possible and only two came in.”  “Isn’t anyone listening to what I say in the office?”  “Do I have to say everything twice?”

Divorce lawyers, when asked to name the main reason for marital breakups, cite a basic lack of communication, rather than money, sex or “growing apart”.  Spouses fail to share what they feel, want and need from each other. “We never talk.”  “We’re both busy working; there’s very little time to just be together.”  “I’m not sure he or she knows who I am anymore.” “What else is there to say? I’m too tired to even discuss it.”

As for parents with teenagers, they can be heard complaining across the land. “I can’t get him to sit down and talk for five minutes.”  “There’s no way we can hold a coherent conversation.” “ As soon as she comes home, the music’s on and she’s talking to her friends on her cell phone.” “They just saw each other ten minutes ago. Are you sure these are our kids?”

An interesting survey found that there are six main barriers to successful or effective communication. The number one offender was called the “I” message. “I said I needed those numbers on my desk as soon as possible.”  “I just can’t talk to you. I give up!”  “I want you to clean up your room. Now!”

  1. I. I. The “I” message goes forth. Sometimes, it is delivered in a peremptory or abrasive manner. Other times, it is low-keyed and modulated. The inflection and tone may vary, but the opening word and clear messages are the same. I want. I need. I told. I have to have. All translated into I am the one around here who is important. And by the way, I am also in charge.

Communication experts suggest we ask ourselves six questions:

  1. Am I sending the “I” message most of the time?
  2. Do I ask for ideas or feelings from other people? At home? At work?
  3. When others talk, so I really listen? To family? To colleagues? To friends?
  4. Do I use vague words and expect specific results?
  5. Am I willing to admit that I am wrong. With my spouse? Children? Co-workers?
  6. Are my actions consistent with my words?

These questions ask each of us to stand back and try to be objective about this very important area of our relations with other people. The answers to the questions directly affect our success or failure to live and work in a harmonious  way with our family members, friends and our work associates.

The first and second questions go hand in hand. The ‘I’ message leaves little room for someone else’s ideas or feelings. In a family, all members have thoughts and feelings.  They also have particular roles and responsibilities. Parents are usually in charge. There’s still room for involving children and teenagers, in particular, in decisions and problem solving.

“I want your room cleaned up. Now!”  Does that familiar refrain work? Contrast: “Dirty clothes belong in the hamper. Clean clothes belong in the closet. Every day, please.” Both are tough statements. The former is the “I” message. And a  one time event. The latter sets out specific acts to be followed. Every day.

Listening is more important than sending in successful communication. Listening as distinct from hearing, is an active process that involves one’s attention and concentration. Some basic guidelines for effective listening are : Keep eye contact. Ask questions. Listen for feelings. Is the other person uneasy, impatient, angry, bored with the subject? Don’t just wait for a pause to jump in with your point of view. There needs to be a response to what you have heard. Attentive listening tells the other person what he or she is saying matters to you. Here’s an easy way to remember this: Two E minus one M equals Successful Listening.  E are ears and M is mouth.

Vague language can add to “I” message problems. Parent: “I don’t want you staying out too late tonight.”  What does that mean? Are there other implied messages about where the teenager is going and with whom?  Teens guard their privacy and friendships with tenacity. Ground rules should be set. “If you’re going to be later than eleven, call.  Twelve is the outside limit.”  Of course, an open line of communication with teenagers had to be established years before during childhood. Children who learn that telling the truth will bring punishment, also learn how to become skillful liars.

One of the hardest hurdles in communication is admitting one’s errors.  People who are sure they have the one right answer are usually hard-liner “I” message senders and very poor listeners.  In families, when children can hear a parent say, “I was wrong about that”, they understand that they too can be wrong at times. This is especially true with young children who see their parents as all-knowing and very powerful. When they hear a parent  admitting a mistake, it saves them from learning to lie to cover up their mishaps and errors.

This translates later into more open communication during the teenage years, when they weigh peer pressures against parental guidelines.

The bottom line for all communication is the credibility or measure of one’s words. Are one’s actions consistent with one’s words?  In the work setting,  owners and managers earn the trust and respect of the people working around them on the basis of their honest communications and efforts toward common goals. At home, parents are warned, “Don’t say something unless you mean it.” Children learn very early, by two or three how to manipulate their mothers and fathers.  By teen years, they are experts.  “I want you to come straight home after school and do your homework or no TV for a week.”  The stage is set for much whining and cajoling when the sophomore  wanders in near dinner time knowing his mother has not followed through in the past. And it’s no surprise that the TV is on the next night. Moral of story:  Never threaten unless one follows through.

Credibility and integrity lie at the heart of positive communications. Words and actions are consistent. A climate of trust is developed in marriages, families and work settings. It’s  a Win-Win combination — rather than overusing the “I” message and wondering why you are not getting the results you want.

………………………………………………………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Ends DACA Program for ‘Dreamers’ !

 

Prologue:  On Tuesday, September 5, President Donald Trump rescinded the DACA program,  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, created by Barack Obama in 2012.  This program gave about 800,000 young immigrants legal protection against deportation and the right to work legally.  For sixteen long years, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama  had tried to get Congress to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It did not happen.  Obama finally used the power of an executive order to create DACA, “The Dream Act”. Young immigrants who had been brought by their parents, most under six years of age, could now live without fear of deportation .  They could enter college and graduate, join military service,  find jobs, buy cars and pay taxes in the years that followed. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women have done just that since 2012.

Donald Trump during his presidential campaign promised to repeal DACA as well as to build a wall against illegal immigration from Mexico. In his very first statement as a candidate, he called illegals from Mexico,  “murderers and rapists”.  His first Congressional supporter was  Senator Jeffrey Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who  became a surrogate, at his side during most rallies.  Trump chose Sessions to become  the Attorney General of The United States when he formed his cabinet. Sessions had a long anti-immigrant history.

The Announcement:  On September 5, Trump had Jeff Sessions speak to the ‘Dreamers’ , the nation and the world to deliver the message that DACA was rescinded.  Sessions said the DACA program was a lawless policy that “ yielded terrible humanitarian consequences” and denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of American citizens. He called DACA “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” and added, “failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism.”   Trump’s statement, released by the White House, said that he was driven by a concern for “millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.”

Officials in the administration confirmed that Congress would have six months to come up with a “fix” , a solution for the ‘Dreamers’ future.  However, if by March, a solution had not been worked out, they were to prepare for deportation. This stark threat was carried on the crawl on Cable TV into the late hours of the night.

Facts vs. Falsehoods:  The Dacca program is legal. Presidents for decades have been setting immigration enforcement priorities. DACA recipients are not threats to public safety. They receive a two year renewable deferral of deportation along with a work permit and eligibility for other government benefits down the road. They are not taking jobs from native born Americans. About 9 in ten are working tax payers.  If they were deported, it would reduce the gross domestic product by over $400billion over the next decade.  DACA is also strongly popular with the American public. Polls  show their approval rating about sixy percent, double that of the president. The Chamber of Commerce called the DACA decision “ contrary to fundamental American values.”

Responses: On September 5, President Obama wrote on Facebook, “Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we want out own kids to be treated.”  He also said the decision was “wrong”, “self defeating” and “cruel.”  Obama had warned that any threat to the program would cause him to speak out.  He has not criticized any other action of his successor.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wrote on his personal page, “This is a sad day for our country.  It is particularly cruel to offer young people the Amierican dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows,and trust out government , and then punish them for it. “

Hours after his statement had been released, Trump told reporters, “I have a love for these people, and hopefully, now Congress will be able to do it properly  and help these people.” Yet, he did not endorse bi-partisan legislation that has already been created.  The White House said the decision was a matter of legal necessity since  nine Republican state attorneys general had threatened to sue the president if he did not act on his campaign promise.   Officials said people whose DACA status expires on or before March 5 would be able to renew their two year legal status as long as they apply before October 5.  If Congress fails to act, “Dreamers could face deportation as early as March 6.

Possible Entrapment of ‘Dreamers”:   When ‘Dreamers” filled out their original applications as children under DACA, they gave important personal information in trust to government officials. At the time, they were assured that information would not be shared with ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or CBP, Customs and Border Enforcement. They divulged names, addresses, Social Security numbers, date of initial entry into the United States— exactly what the government would need to locate them quickly.   Zachary Price of the University of California Hastings College of The Law has argued using such information would constitute entrapment. There is a leadling Supreme Court entrapment case that cites  allowing the government to use such information as “shocking to the universal sense of justice.”

Protests and demonstrations broke out in front of the White House, Justice Department and cities across the country soon after Sessions’ announcement. In New York City, angry crowds gathered in front of Trump Tower to protest the decision.  Cable TV showed protests and marches in Philadelphia, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  People carried home drawn signs, “SHAME ON You! Congress. Get A Spine!”   There had been leaks in advance of what Trump would decide.  People were ready to show their anger.

Organized Support for A Congressional Solution:  Four bills with bi-partisan support  have already been introduced in Congress.  Senator Rickard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois has introduced legislation with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, to make DACA permanent.  “These young people grew up in this country and came out of the shadows voluntarily after our government promised not to deport them. “ Durbin said. “We’ve since seen ‘Dreamers graduate from college, start businesses, and give back to their communities in myriad ways.”  One hundred law professors signed a letter to President Trump that DACA is legal since the president does not have the power to decide whom to deport , given that the government does not have the resources to target all undocumented immigrants. John Rowe, former chief executive of the energy giant Exelon, and now co-chairman of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition organized a letter to Trump supporting the DACA program. It was signed by 132 chief executives from across the nation.  “To cancel this program is bad economics, bad politics and un- American.” Rowe  wrote to the president.

Epilogue:  On September 5,  “Attorneys General Turn to Courts to Give ‘Dreamers’ A Second Chance”  Front page New York Times.  Eric Schneiderman of New York, heading a team of 15 state Democratic attorneys general, filed suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn claiming President Trump had improperly rescinded DACA.  The law suit said that “ending DACA, whose participants are mostly of Mexican origin, is a culmination of President Trump’s oft stated commitments – whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof —to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.”  The lawsuit also charged that the Trump administration failed to follow federal rules governing executive policy making.

Additional law suits are expected.  Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Democrat of California plans a separate challenge to Trump rescinding DACA. Two major companies, Microsoft and Amazon will join that lawsuit, promising to pay the legal costs of any employees who become vulnerable to deportation.  Court challenges could become a major deterrent and a rallying force behind public outrage and opposition to Trump’s DAC A decision.

The pressure is now on Congress to pass an appropriate bill and for President Trump to sign it. They have six months until March 5, 2018 ……  The clock is ticking and the days are numbered. ………………………………………………………………………………………  Joyce S. Anderson