Focus and Educate Yourself: Education – Part 1

image-imageformat-lightboxEducation is one of the most virulent, debated, and politically explosive issues in our current society.

No more so than now, as a new embattled and controversial president-elect positions his cabinet to take control of our government.

In order to ground ourselves in reality, here are some facts about education in American history: 

  • The first “free” school  was opened in Virginia in 1635, although most children were home educated.
  • In 1642, the first state statute was passed in Massachusetts requiring parents to ensure their children are educated in religion and laws of the commonwealth.
  • In 1647, the Massachusetts Law of 1647 was passed requiring all towns with a population greater than 50 families to hire a schoolmaster to teach the children. Note: local jurisdiction versus federal jurisdiction
  • John Locke publishes his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690. This becomes a basic tenet of American education going forward.
  • In 1788, the U.S. Constitution is ratified. It does not include any reference to education or school.
  • In 1791, the Bill of Rights is passed. It does not include any requirements for education or schools. In the 10th Amendment, any powers not delegated to the federal government are granted to the states.
  • In 1821, the first public high school is opened in Boston.
  • In 1827, Massachusetts passes a law that requires any towns with more than 100 families to have a public high school available to all students.
  • Horace Mann – the first Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education – becomes the first proponent of public (‘free’) education for all.
  • By 1918, all states have laws requiring compulsory school attendance. They are sporadically enforced.
  • The Department of Education is created in 1867 and funded by the Peabody Education Fund. Main focus of this fund is to support struggling school systems in the south.

As you can see in the history of education in America up until this point, there is nothing that commands that public education become a replacement for other forms of education. The emphasis is in ensuring that everyone is educated.

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Somewhere and somehow, the emphasis changed. The public education system that was originally envisioned by founding thinkers like John Locke and Horace Mann began to mutate; it continues to do so.

Sadly, even as we battle these statistics, no one can come to an agreement. Why?

Mutual agreement is hampered by some of the following issues:

  • public misunderstanding
  • media misrepresentation
  • over-reliance on misdirected studies and so-called ’empirical’ evidence
  • lack of appropriate funding
  • communication breakdowns related to biased thought processes
  • political infighting and finger pointing
  • loss of focus

The longer we take to come to a mutual agreement, the farther our children slip.

Our focus must be and remain on our children – all of them. We are not the future – they are.

© 2010-2017 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Introducing “Focus and Educate Yourself”

Over the past few months,  I have gotten myself, with the help of my Facebook “friends”, into several heated debates over politically charged issues: education, use of GMOs, President-elect Trump’s political appointments and future policies.

I have been labeled ignorant and close-minded. Me? Wow!!

My goal was never to inflame nor to judge, but only to show a different side to very narrow and politically biased arguments. Unfortunately, I did not have research and facts to back me up. And I was called out for it. This doesn’t mean that the other side had a handle on those facts either; only that they were able to throw around some weighty catch phrases.

During this all, I have learned that:

  • Everyone has a political bias
  • Political bias is a blinder and it has the power to debilitate most healthy debates
  • The use of rhetoric and conjecture is rampant when political bias is present
  • Rhetoric and conjecture have become mainstay replacements for actual research and educated thought processes
  • Everyone is subject to the use of rhetoric and conjecture because it is the easy way out
  • The ability to remain objective in a politically biased world is virtually impossible

I’m tired of being cornered by people who think they have all the answers and are arrogant enough to voice it that way.

I’m sick of people who label and stereotype others a certain way just because of different viewpoints.

I hate the hypocrisy that is occurring.

I’m done with feeling like I am clawing my way through a maze of biased or under-informed opinion, just because it was the most recent post that came over someone’s Facebook and inflamed an emotional response couched in purported “facts”.

I want to be in a position where I can share something during one of these debates that makes another person say, “Wow, I didn’t know that”. Yep, I know that not everyone is like me and may not likely actually say that out loud, no more than they would apologize when they know they are wrong. I also know that when an issue is ensconced in emotion, mutual understanding and agreement can never be reached.

I am introducing a series of posts entitled “Focus and Educate Yourself”. The purpose of these posts will be to share what I learned through my own research on different topics that are prominent in today’s world and significant in our current political environment. The goal is to hopefully get people thinking on their own, instead of spewing the most recent babble.

I am welcome to suggestions on topics.

© 2010-2017 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Dear Mr. President

Preamble:

Let’s get some facts established first:

  • I did not vote for Trump, nor for Clinton.
  • I am not a millenial.
  • I am gainfully employed but have seen troubles over my life that have placed me, at times, in less than desirable circumstances from which I had to crawl my way out, dragging a family behind me.
  • I am a conservative, not a Fascist.
  • As a conservative, yes, I do believe in basic human rights and justices.
  • I believe in hard work ~ for everyone.
  • I do not believe in the political machine, including the main and mid stream media that snivels around it and has all of us by the balls and is slowly squeezing.
  • I believe in peaceful demonstration, as one of our Constitutional rights, but I do not by any means advocate violence of any kind.
  • I know that many of you will read this and be insulted, even now, over a week after the election.
  • I do not apologize for my opinion, nor my position.

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With that aside, let me continue.

After many days of contemplation, peppered with vicious exchanges with people whom I have called friends for several years, I have decided to express a few thoughts and feelings that I have been harboring.

As much as many of us have tried to keep things civilized in the wake of your election victory last week, it has proven almost impossible.download

Actually, if I had to classify it, I would say it is social warfare out there. No longer warfare between the proverbial haves and have nots. Nor between the sexes. And it really is not even a war between the races.

It is a war of principles. It is a war of perceived standards. It is a war between intangible thought processes and subjective belief systems; belief systems that have been grown, pruned, and stunted by untold years of personal experience and the molding of each individual. It has resulted in histrionics of epic proportions, across multiple societal lines.

The war zone is real out here, President-elect Trump, and it is slowly gathering momentum – taking prisoners and accumulating casualties.

It is a war steeped in fear, resentment, spite.

It has made some good people make bad behavior choices. good_versus_bad

Here are some of the behaviors I have personally experienced. Sadly, some of the behaviors I have personally experienced; some of the behaviors mimic what you yourself – and the portion of your supporters constantly spotlighted by the mainstream media – exhibited on the campaign trail.

Name-calling – marginalizing – stereotyping – pitting of one group against another – judging and accusations – assumptions – more accusations – immoral and unprincipled characterizations

The example that you set during the campaign has become an artifact that we, the people, are now forced to grapple with in the aftermath, down in the trenches.pto5kkl7c

We have been made aware of our divisions. Those divisions have been drawn into the light. Spotlighted and amplified. Somehow, over the course of this campaign year, people with lesser moral character or weak emotional constitution have become indoctrinated with a sense that they can bully and attack and accuse anyone else from the other camp. Fundamentally good people have been convinced that they can now make these bad choices, and that they are justified for doing so.

They have gotten the idea that they don’t have to respect each other’s opinion if that opinion resonates from the other side.

Somehow, people are increasingly getting the idea that it is acceptable now to judge someone based on the group they affiliate with instead of the moral fabric of that person’s  own character.

It has become impossible to discuss rationally with someone from “the other camp” unless that person has embraced a level of maturity that allows them to gracefully accept and move on. Notice that I did not pinpoint any “camp”. It is followers of both camps, plus some, who are behaving badly.

And many are not moving on gracefully.images

They are refusing to accept the election results. They are refusing to even give you and your new administration a chance because they are so blinded by the other garbage.

They are finding you guilty before you have even made a move.

immaturity

 

If nothing else at this point, you have shaken up the status quo. Not surprising, a bit scary, and necessary.

I, for one Mr. President-elect, will do my best to represent a positive front in the turmoil that is raging. Many people of my like mind are working hard to do the same thing. Because, despite some of the despicable things you did and said during the election, those things are no more despicable than many of the things that a multitude of career politicians, including your rivals and those you are currently appointing to your staff, have done for decades. Difference is your actions and words were publicized and spotlighted while the others slithered around in the mud and tried to pretend that they were righteous, good, and doing what they did in the best interest of the American public.

But I wonder, what is happening to principles, standards, love, acceptance?

While many of us wish that we were not beginning a new chapter under such social duress, we are hopeful that as you are sworn in that you will show us a different side than what the media decided to entertain and enrage us with during your campaign and that the changes you evoke will make us a better people and a better nation.

Good luck, Mr. President-elect.

© 2010-2016 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

No Perfect Candidate

I admit that, once upon a time not so long ago, I was one of those who liked Donald Trump when he first came onto the political stage. I liked the way his unabashed way of setting off public debate – on many issues that had for many years been taboo, or worse, circumvented by the popular media outlets because they were not politically correct to discuss – allowed even the talking heads on the Sunday morning news programs to openly discuss previously taboo issues.

I felt like he got people talking and debating, with less fear about repercussions of opinion or the violation of political correctness expectations.

But now, I fear that he has become maligned by his own stunted followers and the creeping shadow of his own poor business and political choices.

That said, I am not one of those who has gone skulking into the Clinton camp.  I think, in many ways, H. Clinton is as bad, if not worse, than Trump. She represents more of the same government ineptitude. She does not represent change. I would rather engage in civic disobedience, and vote my conscience (e.g. no vote at all), than to vote for the lesser of two evils.

In any case, neither one of the candidates is a viable choice.

Neither one of them has the moral conviction nor the insight to take this country to where it needs, and wants to go. Where it deserves to go.

Here is why:

  • Both candidates will have to battle a dilapidated and corrupt political system. It is the system that is so corrupt. Until the system is changed, the candidate who is slotted in will be mostly irrelevant.
  • Both candidates will continue to contend with their own shady personal and professional backgrounds.
  • Neither of the candidates has the best interest of the public in their sights, unless that public interest is juxtaposed to their own personal gain.
  • Both candidates are part of the corporate and political bastions of American society; basically, the “pillars” that have amassed money and power and use both to battle on their own fronts under the disguise of “fighting for the common man”.
  • It is the Electoral College results that matter, not the popular vote. The decision will be made outside of the public arena.

How many times in history have we seen that happen? Rarely do the masses win anything that they are due by the privileges granted by the Constitution because of the power struggle that goes on in places that none of us are privy to.

So…now…the masses battle among themselves. They claw at each other in order to prove the credentials of their favorite candidate. They scramble to have the last word, to prove that the candidate they favor is the best one. They search tainted media data to present as proof that somehow they are right and the words and actions of the other candidate are maligned.

When they can’t achieve the desired result by doing those things, they disparage the other candidate’s character. They resort to low and filthy tactics; anything to win the argument. They operate from a basis of emotion and hasty analysis. They react to propaganda, data which has already been run through the spin machine at least several times, worth no more than the kitty litter in the litter box, and the stuff that kitty drops in there.

They let go of their common sense in order to hop on the bandwagon of the candidate that the media machine has been geared to lead them to follow.

What they fail to understand is that for them, this fight must not be about candidates. We are way past that.

This fight must be focused on issues, and our pock-marked and crumbling political and social system.

This fight is about clear-minded people butting up against the beliefs of people as sheep, who either can’t be bothered with thinking through the issues with their own brain power or truly believe that our society has an element of truthfulness and purity left to it. They are led along by a shepherd into a pasture where they smell the poppies and eat the spiked grass. That spiked grass is the media propaganda that permeates our reality.

They are led to this place with wool over their eyes, obscuring the reality of the current situation.

As I wrap this up, I am thinking about how we fix this.

What does a clear-thinking non-sheeple American citizen do to make a difference?

Here are my meager attempts to enlighten us all:

  • Do your research using unbiased data from unbiased sources. It is very difficult to come by these days.
  • Take some time to get the pulse on what you believe is the most important issue.
  • Find and join an unbiased organization that supports and propels the solution of that issue to new heights.
  • Stick to the issues; avoid the propaganda.
  • Stick to the issues; don’t malign character, no matter how quickly it would help you win the argument.
  • Stick to facts; don’t use emotion to debate.
  • Remember that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, no matter how wrong you think it is. Move on; don’t dwell on it.
  • Don’t allow disagreements over these topics to divide you from your friends and family. Divided – we are all weaker.
  • Remove the rose-colored glasses that you wear and work to remove the tint of those others that you encounter.

Objectivity works best in order to ensure securing a win in the struggles of real life.

© 2010-2016 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Mean Girls

Most of us are probably most familiar with this term because of the movie title, released in 2004 IMDb Mean Girls. The movie is centered around the struggles of a female high school student as she navigates through the social hierarchy of her new school. When she falls for one of the popular boys, who just happens to be the object of affection of one of the A-group girls, she falls victim to the questionable, if not ruthless, tactics of the popular girls. Ultimately, she triumphs, if for the only reason that she is authentic and goodhearted, where the girls who relentlessly pursue her for their own sport are not.

None of us is immune to the tactics of mean people. At one point or another in our lives, we have or will become victims of this behavior. How we perceive it, and the aggressor, will determine how we handle it, and whether or not we succeed in protecting ourselves and moving forward.

The goal is not to become their victim.

The very first step to not becoming a victim is to identify who and what you are dealing with. A general Google search on “mean girls” brings up a bunch of sites related to the movie. Understandable. But, expand that search to “the psychology behind mean girls” and you are rewarded with a plethora of sites that delve into the depths of the aggressor’s – a.k.a. the “Mean Girl”‘s – psychosis. Not only the psychosis, but the sociology and the behavioral aspects of what makes a “Mean Girl” mean. Outstanding information abounds.

From a sociological perspective, mean girls are mean because they are trying to beat down the competition. In his article titled “Mean Girls Are Not Mean Genes” in PsychologyToday.com, Dr. Agustin Fuentes Ph.D. establishes a link between the behavior of mean girls and the social control of female sexuality.

An abstract by Tracy Vaillancourt published by  The Royal Society in October 2013 titled “Do Human Females Use Indirect Aggression as an Intrasexual Competition Strategy”  draws further connections along the sociological track, but also brings in the concept of behavioral abnormalities of the individual, like the use of indirect aggression and manipulation to achieve the end result.

As I researched further, I noted that the behaviors that were evident in mean girls were the same behaviors that the professionals associated with psychopaths and sociopaths.

Dr. George Simon, Ph.D. has a wonderful site called Counselling Resource. On his site, he has written an informative series of articles delving into this as it relates to Predatory Aggressive Personality a.k.a. psychopaths and sociopaths. These types of individuals believe that they are superior to everyone else and will stop at nothing to achieve what they want or believe is rightfully theirs. They have no concept of boundaries or personal freedom of anyone but themselves. If that right involves you in any way, watch out!

A word of caution as you research your aggressor, whether it is a mean girl with the motives stated above, or just a mean person: every site that I visited, and every article I read, highly suggested that you not waste time trying to figure out “why” your aggressor behaves in this fashion toward you. You will waste a lot of energy for little gain.

Remember that the goal is to not become the victim. Nothing more.

To do this, try the following:

  • Learn how to identify them and their actions
  • Do not get emotional – they feed off of it
  • Remain detached
  • Learn how to say “NO” – just like toddlers, they hate that word

Check out this great article: “How to Disarm a Manipulative Sociopath”. It will give you all the tactics you need to ward off – and hopefully put a complete stop to – any mean, controlling person who has targeted you as her next victim.

In conclusion, I believe that we are all prone to some of the behaviors listed in the above referenced articles at some time or another, to varying degrees. The occurrences of those behaviors do not make us psychopaths, sociopaths, or even “mean”. They make us human.

Where human behavior transcends into the psychopath or sociopath is when it becomes endemic of an individual’s personality, and that, when confronted in a humble and non-threatening manner by the “victim”, the individual’s behavior does not subside. In other words, they keep going like a freight train in the direction that they have determined, regardless of the impact of anyone else or consideration of any boundaries not established by their decision.

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© 2010-2015 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Gym Rants

We all have our rants about “the gym”.

It’s crowded, smelly, noisy. People don’t share the equipment or don’t put it back when they are done. People don’t wipe down their sweat when they get up from a seat.

I agree with all of that. I’ve ranted a few times myself on this blog.

Last year, because of cutbacks in my expenses, I gave up my membership to a local swank gym and all of the perks and annoyances that come with it, and began using the small gym in my apartment complex because it’s free with my monthly rent.

It’s not been too bad, actually. It has fairly up-to-date equipment, lots of mirrors, functional treadmills, padded floors, and freeweights.

I guess it helps that I know how to properly structure my own workout; this gym doesn’t come with an option to purchase the time of a trainer. It also helps that I don’t mind working out by myself. I actually prefer it.

Today, however, forced me to see the flipside of being alone in a small gym environment.

The problem was: I wasn’t alone today. And it freaked me out a little.

I shared the tiny gym facility today with a rather scary-looking man.

I won’t go into why I felt scared. It could have been that I was truly alone in an enclosed area with him. It could have been his ethnicity. It could have been the way he was dressed; he looked like he had just traveled up from the other side of Austin. It could have been that I was just feeling vulnerable today.

It could have been all of those things.

While I tried not to let it affect my focus on the task at hand, nor the routine I had created in my head, I ultimately found myself doing two things almost immediately.

First, I began reviewing my routine and critiquing it for any sexually connotative activities. I had read a post or article several years ago, written by a man, suggesting that if women are going to come to a gym and do squats and downward dogs dressed in skin tight workout clothes and breathe heavily throughout that they have to be prepared to be lusted after in the mind of some men. OK, most men.

I have since then always taken that to heart. But, in a large gym where lots of people are around, it feels less dangerous. It is easier to blend into the background while doing squat thrusts or leg curling 80 lbs. and breathing like I just had an orgasm.

Today, in a small confined place with a scary looking guy, weighted squats just didn’t seem appropriate.

Second, I was overtly aware of my surroundings. I made sure I knew exactly where he was in the room, even if I couldn’t see him. He was humming to himself (he had earbuds in and was obviously listening to music), which made this task fairly easy.

When I was on the treadmill, with my back to 50% of the room and my peripheral vision only picking up about an additional 10%, I was elated when I realized that the way I had positioned my reflective sunglasses on the tray of the treadmill acted like a truck’s rearview mirror and gave me more than 180 degree view behind my back. No sneaking up could occur. My eyes darted back and forth between the timer on the treadmill and the mirror of my sunglasses.

Once I realized that I could see and could then be prepared for anything, I relaxed. And, the fact that there are cameras in there (but I questioned if they are actually functional) didn’t hurt.

I probably won’t go back to the gym at that same time anymore, just in case he is there. I’m not afraid but I just don’t need a stressed workout experience too often.

I don’t know; but, I think I will re-visit the idea of joining a “real gym”, if only to avoid this experience in the future.

© 2010-2014 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

How To Survive As An Independent Contractor

SuccessThe growth of the contingent workforce – that part of the workforce that works for an organization on a non-permanent basis –  is not a new trend. In an article written in April 2011 by Joshua Wright (Data Spotlight: Independent Contractors On The Rise on http://www.economicmodeling.com), it was indicated that as of 2010, the number of independent contractors had increased by more than a million since 2005. Across all industries for which data was available, the percentage of independent contractors rose. Now in 2014 and 3 years later, I have no doubt that, with the economy heading in its current direction, the trend has picked up steam.

Whether you label yourself an independent contractor or a consultant, being your own boss can be a risky proposition. As an independent contractor, you assume the responsibilities that are traditionally the burden of the corporate entity. You must market your product or services, assure payment of invoices, pay your own taxes, carry your own insurance, and manage your own image.

The fears that accompany these responsibilities can be formidable, particularly if you have a family to take care of or other long-term financial goals and responsibilities to maintain. Workflow can be inconsistent from contract to contract, which means cashflow can vary drastically.

What can you do to increase your success as an independent contractor?

Network constantly. View every person you meet as a potential for new business, whether directly or indirectly. That person knows people, who know more people. Word of mouth is a powerful tool; nobody likes the risk of hiring someone they don’t know. Networking groups are helpful, but by no means should membership in these groups be the only means of connecting with potential work opportunities.

Keep your horizon clear by considering everything. I am a firm believer in peeking into open doors, even when they don’t look the way we expect. Some of my most successful endeavors have been a result of this approach. Not only does this expand your income opportunity, but it can contribute to a larger network, a broader perspective, and an expanded skillset.

Maintain and grow your skillset. Speaking of skillset, always be on the cutting edge of what is going on in your industry. You can do this by reading, attending industry conferences, experimenting with new techniques and software applications, networking. Oh, and you can also take classes now and then. The worst thing you can do to your career as an independent contractor is to stagnate by not paying adequate attention to what you bring to the table.

Stay positive. There is nothing more to say about this. Too many negative thoughts can kill any great idea or opportunity. Be positively pragmatic by understanding the risks and by identifying at least one advantage for every disadvantage.

Don’t burn bridges. Review the idea of networking discussed previously, particularly the part about “word of mouth”. People talk. Who you become in a conflict will stick with you longer than you think. Negative talk due to inappropriate or destructive behavior will get around eventually. Remember that independent contractors are scrutinized much more in the job process than their corporate counterparts. Be discreet, principled, and positive in every situation.

Be your own best advocate. Remember, you are your own advertising and marketing department now. Doing quality work will ultimately be the last word. But, don’t be afraid to speak about your strengths and abilities.

Keep precise records. Not only will a daily log help keep you on track and accountable, most times it is necessary for invoicing and taxes.

This is by no means a finite or definitive list; success is subjective, to a degree. I hope that every individual who reads this post will have other ideas about what works and what doesn’t and that they will post it, comment, and contribute to this knowledge base.

Bottom line is that the traditional makeup of the workforce is changing. Many more of us are choosing to be our own boss. And, thanks to networking and social media, the information we need to be able to do that more successfully is right at our fingertips.

© 2010-2014 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.