Double Take

Taking a second look at life experiences

Archive for the category “Life”

What will you actually be doing if you get this job?

Does anyone read classified ads anymore?

Help Wanted? The need is pretty clear. The job description? Not so much.

by Ruth Schapira

Some people read obituaries. Me, I like to read job announcements; always have.

Years ago, reading the (generation alert) “Help Wanted” classified ad section in newspapers was an enjoyable pastime for me. The larger the paper the better, and perusing those tiny boxes in The Sunday New York Times gave me some sort of satisfaction. There were just so many ads crammed on the page. I would feel content and optimistic about the many opportunities displayed within those pages. So many people could be changing their lives. 

There were ads upon ads worth of reading, positions ranging from Accounting Clerks to Elevator Operators. And no wonder. Classified sections usually have 40% more print packed into the page than other pages do. How do I know this?  I googled it, and found it on a specs page for the New York Times. The New York Times offers employers, recruiters, human resource professionals, headhunters and executive search firms (really, aren’t there just so many people doing the hiring?) 10 columns of newsprint while most pages contain 6 columns.

So, now I read job announcements online, and the experience is confining. Scrolling can’t be compared to the expansive world of occupational choice arrayed before you, within four fully opened newspaper pages, containing 20 columns of text.  But I still gain something from the online experience. I keep current with keywords, jargon and buzzwords (not all the same thing?), I know what opportunities there are for fields that interest me, and I keep up to date with industry changes.

Some of the job postings make me laugh. Some make me cringe. One job description for a Testing Administrator required “cleaning out trash containers and turning off all lights before exiting the building in the evening”.

And then today, there was this, which I had to share with you. Ready? This is an excerpt of what I read, for real:

Actively seeking a Project Manager or Sr Project Manager with experience in a Medical Communications/ Publication Planning environment. As Project Manager you will be responsible for managing publication planning projects in a medical communications/publication planning environment. 

Huh? So, my question is, what will you be doing if you get this job?

Nonprofits: Please Stop Sending Me Mailing Labels!

Did George like receiving mail?

Did George like receiving mail?

by Ruth Schapira

We can’t throw them out and we do love seeing our name in print—in every font imaginable, as long as it fits comfortably in a 2″ long space. So, that’s why personalized mailing labels are overfilling my desk drawer. It’s a thing you can never give away. Why do I need to have a permanent relationship with sticky pieces of paper? That’s it, first it’s these labels that I’m having to save and now the US postal service stamps that don’t expire. They both want to cozy up and make a home for themselves here forever.

I know there’s no way, even if I sent 10 letters a day, that I would use up even a fraction of the self-adhesives sitting there, reminding me that I haven’t sent a letter in a very, very long time—in what seems like forever. There are more mailing labels than you can imagine, representing all kinds of animate and inanimate objects: flowers, wreaths, candles, menorahs, baseballs, dinosaurs, stricken animals, sad children. It’s as if you did a search on Google for ‘Images that get people to feel awfully guilty and sentimental so they’ll donate to your cause’ and these are the ones that you’d find.

There was an ethical question that I heard on a radio talk show years ago: “Do I have to donate to a cause because I received personalized mailing labels from them? I do use the labels, (any guesses as to the age of the caller?) so shouldn’t I make a donation?”

“No. You didn’t ask for them, so you’re not obligated. You can use them or throw them out.”

Aren’t non-profits strapped for cash? Every time I get a sheet of these shiny things, I feel like calling up the organization and asking them why they’re wasting precious resources sending me things that will (if I was a self-respecting clutter buster) end up in the trash? Why not just save the expense and put those dollars into the operating budget? In fact, you can forget the labels entirely, and I’ll even up my donation in honor of your prudent spending.

What I’m wondering is, who is actually mailing all of these letters with personalized labels? Not the people I know. Otherwise my mailbox would be filled with hand-written envelopes, adorned with personalized cutesy mailing labels, and displaying an actual stamp in the right hand corner. Instead the mail I get is sorely missing any evidence of human contact, which is why we call it junk, while online platforms nicely call it SPAM (reminding us instead of edible things in cans). What I receive in my post box usually ends up in the recycling bag.

When’s the last time a friend of yours said “I’ll send it to you” that made you think that you’d receive a letter? Since we all know the amount of first class mail we’ve been sending has dropped precipitously (this has been documented in wikipedia, which is why we know it’s true), what’s the deal here? Why the mailing labels for mail no one is sending? Is there some secret DIY site where people are coming with kitschy creative ideas for how to use those 2″ labels?

Wait, here’s a novel idea to make the post office feel a lot better: instead of counting and reporting my diminished mail output, why not track those organizations sending mailing labels instead? I’d bet those numbers sure have picked up. And you can even send me the results of your survey, but only if you’ve attached a personalized label. I won’t want to open anything else.

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“This is not Camp!” How Parents Can Be More Welcoming

bunkslake

If your child is returning home from overnight camp, expect that your laundry room will be filled with the dirtiest, grimiest piles of clothing you’ve ever seen since—well, never. Is it a surprise that you’re contemplating just chucking the whole lot and starting over for the coming school year? After all, do you really want to put the items with stained evidence of sleep-outs, mud slides, s’mores and who-knows-what else into your nice, shiny, clean washing machine? Though it is a formidable machine (which in some cases ought to pay rent for the space it takes up in your home) clearly intended to do the job of cleaning all manner of dirty clothing, you just don’t believe these clothes will ever be clean, no matter what the ads say.

Maybe you’ve decided years ago that the only way to deal with this mess is to shlep the whole lot to a laundromat, spending hours there as an active participant in the tedious decontamination process, so as not to sully your washing machine.  Or maybe you’ve decided to feel like a queen for a day (and who could fault you for this, would that person want to do the laundry?) and indulge in the laundromat’s service to conveniently wash, dry, and fold those items into straight-edged piles which they then place in sanitary over-sized plastic bags so they’ll look presentable again? (and you might ask how would I know all the details about this? shhhh…)

No matter what route you take, after you deal with the clothing, you’ll need to deal with the camper.

Welcome Home!

Coming back home for your child will be part of a transition toward (sounding quite social-worky, pop psychologist here), integration into life at home. It will happen slowly for most.

So, how can you help your child move from camper [“we did it this way at camp”, “things were better at camp”, “I was on my own at camp”, “I can’t wait to go back to camp” (not necessarily a bad thing), and possibly the worst thing to hear: “being home sucks!”] to home dweller?

Here are some tips to consider:

1. Adjust your thinking and expectations. Though only a few weeks have passed for you, camp has already, in that relatively short amount of time, contributed to a life changing experience for her (or him. I’ll switch off from here on…).

2. Get involved in his experience by asking him to talk about it….but not at first. Give your child some much needed personal space and some time. Take cues from him about when to broach the subject. Wait for him to open up the conversation. Ask questions with some depth, beyond the typical: “Did you have fun?” How about instead: “What’s one neat thing you learned this summer?” “Tell me about an interaction you had with your counselor/friend/staff member that was important to you”, “What activity did you look forward to the least, or wish you could be excused from?”

3. Depending on the age of your child, be ready for heavy social media use, especially in the weeks after camp. The camp might have a presence on several platforms, and it’s in the best interest of the camp to engage their campers after the summer’s end.

4. Beyond the virtual, go out of your way to drive your child to camp friends’ houses for special celebrations, hang-outs, reunions. It’s important that her network remains her own, because it just might give her a reprieve from school friends who are not behaving in the kindest ways, or if they are, she suddenly may find that they’re “shallow” and “not all that interesting” compared to her friends at camp.

5. Overnight camp is an exhilarating time for teenagers. For most, living with others 24/7 gives them many opportunities to see their strengths and weaknesses in ways they hadn’t before. The camp environment usually stresses peer leadership, something that might be rare on home turf but occurs regularly at camp. It would help for you to think of ways to step up leadership opportunities at home as well, to build upon what he learned at camp, and provide coping skills for more time away when he leaves home.

And depending on your laundry skills, you may wish for that sooner rather than later.

Related Posts:

Seven Things To Do When Teens Come Home From Summer Camp

A Guide to Sending  Your Child The Very Best Letters at Summer Camp

Things That Go Screech In The Night

by Ruth Schapira

Sometime last year, in the eerie middle-of-the night hour when all is still, I awoke to a horrific sound….a wailing unlike any I had ever heard. It was the most pitiful sounding, yet the strongest scream. I couldn’t determine whether it was an animal or a human…which made me feel sick. I had never heard a sound like this before.

The wailing continued as scary images made their way into my brain…maybe a car ran over an animal and it was lying in the street, in terrible pain. What if it was a person? (listen again, no, it didn’t sound like a person). Should I call 911 and maybe they would send someone to put the animal out of its misery? What if there was a hit and run, and it was lying in the street? There are so many deer around, and we’ve had some close run-ins (no casualties thank Gd), maybe it was a little deer crying in pain.

I couldn’t believe my husband was able to sleep through this cacophony of noise and since I was scared enough not to go through this myself, I gently shook him. Shook him again. (Wow, that man can sleep). 

“Sorry honey, but can you hear that?”

Hear what?”

Wait, you’ll hear it in a second…” (I definitely thought he thought I was crazy for waking him up at this hour and I was starting to get nervous myself, hoping that I wasn’t hallucinating a version of a bad dream).

There it is, can you hear that?”

Uh…you mean that barking noise.”

(Okay, so now you probably think that I am a little hyperbolic, and was hysterical over some dog barking really, really annoyingly. For sure this won’t win me any more points with the dog lovers out there since my last blog was about dogs running wild).

Yea, that awful barking sound. (here I was, agreeing rather quickly that it was a barking sound so he wouldn’t go right back to sleep, thinking I was nuts).

Doesn’t it sound like something got run over by a car or something? Do you think it’s a deer? Or a dog? (Stop that, I wouldn’t wish any animal harm).

I think what he said next was a comment, like those men who are disturbingly practical in the face of imminent fear would make, just so he could get back to bed, though I can’t really blame him, after all it was almost 4:00 am).

Well, we can’t do anything about it now.” (see, I told you, practical.

Not to be deterred, I got out of bed, slowly drew open the blinds, and checked everywhere to see if there was something in the street in front of our house. Nothing. The next street up. Nothing. 

I stayed awake for the next hour, watching my husband fall blissfully back asleep (how do they do that?) and then the sound stopped. Ugh. By now it was almost morning. 

Then next day on my way to work, I drove up and down a few streets to see if there was a bloody remnant of the last night’s tortuous sounds. I was compelled. Nothing.

Later that evening, I spoke to my friend and relayed what I had heard. 

Without a second’s pause she offered “That was a fox staking out its territory.”

(Are you kidding me? How could she possibly know that? We’re not living in the great plains of Africa, or wherever those foxes live…maybe England since that’s where they hunt those poor things. But here in suburbia?).

But I calmly said: Oh, really? Why were they making that horrific noise? (I guessed she’d know all manners of animal behavior by this point).

“It’s the mating season and they’re staking out their territory.”

How do you know that?”

“I hear them around here too.”

Well, now I really am thinking that I’ve been clueless all these years and apparently have a lot of guts to put this in a post, since it seems that everyone knows the mating sound of a fox.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, I checked on Google, for ‘sounds foxes make’ (no, not the song silly) and found one on You Tube. So here, you listen to it, (the sounds I heard matches Vixen’s Sound’, the second one recorded) and see if that wouldn’t scare you in the middle of the night.

Please say yes.


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How To Sell Raisins To A Four-Year-Old

A Grapes to Raisin Story

A Grapes to Raisin Story

One morning in my kitchen, I discovered how effective stories are in selling products.

The product? Raisins.

The eater/buyer? My four-year-old grandson Jonah.

Let me explain with a story.

Sunday morning Sammy and Jonah declined whole-wheat banana pancakes in favor of much simpler and healthier fare…..yogurt.

So, now that I wasn’t making a fuss over pancakes, I decided to make the experience more special than just putting a bowl full of yogurt in front of them.  Instead, I created a  ‘yogurt bar’ for breakfast.  Next to each bowl of yogurt I gave them a decorated plate filled with a selection of toppings: walnuts, bananas, granola, kiwi and raisins.

Jonah, quickly said “I don’t want the raisins.”

I gently asked why, and he just shrugged his shoulder and shook his head.

I obligingly took them away.

Sammy, just shy of six, asked where raisins come from.

Well, all anyone has to do (even someone as young as Sammy) is ask for a story and I’m there.

I proceeded to explain how grapes grow, the different colors of grapes, and how they can be pressed into grape juice, fermented into wine or dried to turn into grapes.

I talked about the importance of sunshine (thanks Sun-Maid!), and that as the grapes dry into their wrinkly state, the natural sugar in them makes the fruit taste even sweeter.

I said that if they wanted to, they would be able to make raisins themselves*, just by taking a bunch of grapes and leaving it in a sunny place.

Who can resist the grapes to raisins story on this package?

Who can resist the grapes to raisins story on this package?

The more I talked about the raisins, the more I think Jonah regretted  his decision.

It was a matter of seconds after I finished the raisin story that Jonah said: “I’ll have some raisins too.”

He quickly chewed them all, foregoing adding them into the bowl.

So, did my story sell Jonah on the idea of taking back his raisins and eating them with such delight?

I’m not sure, but it makes a memorable story.

(You can see how easy it is to dry grapes that turn into raisins here , let me know how they turn out!).

photo credit: by Veronique on http://www.wikimedia.com

The Family Tradition That Fills My Notebook With Love

schapiracard

Some family traditions get the best start when instituted before your kids are old enough to say “no”.

Then, before you know it, by the time they are old enough, the thing just takes on a life of its own.

One such tradition, started early on in our family life, yields treasures that overfill a 2 1/2″ white shiny binder with sweet memories, from just about every year since my children’s small little hands were big enough to hold a crayon and scribble something on a piece of paper.

We never permitted each other to buy a store-bought card for any occasion. Ever.  This rule held true for every one of us, and we started it when our kids were very, very young.

What resulted from that one, small tradition is a memorable mountain of some of the most beautiful cards I’ve ever received and would be the envy of any card company out there. Sometimes just the child-like pictures alone made my eyes well up, even before I got to read what my children barely could write. As they got older, the cards were more elaborate, at times hand crafted with such love and care that often I would feel a little remorse receiving them, knowing how much time the very creation of them must have taken.

My husband and I had the same policy, with them and with each other, although our creative efforts never matched that of our kids.

This year, my daughter winced as she guiltily handed me a small hand-drawn card for my birthday that she barely had time to make. Her hands are full, as both she and her husband work full-time along with juggling the parenting responsibilities for three under-kindergarten-aged boys.

I’ll lovingly add it to my notebook, knowing that despite the hectic and hurried pace of her life, the tradition holds a place in her heart–and in mine.

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