So I guess I am LOUD!

June 30, 2006

So I really need to know if people who have known me for more than two or three years think I am loud. It all started a few months again when I was working at Qdoba and my friend Joe was my assistant manager. We were talking about personalities and I said something about how I used to be a much more quiet, reserved person but leadership roles at jobs as well as traveling, having awesome friends and growing up a bit has made me a lot more confident in who I am and consequently, a much more outgoing person. Joe seemed a little surprised to hear that I had once been “quiet” and said something like, “wow, I think of you being one of the loudest people I know.” I was definitely taken aback by this and he said, “I mean that in a really good way,” but it still seemed a little strange.

My theory is that I became loud working in restaurants. When I started at Chin’s I was often in the middle of a busy kitchen and had to communicate, sometimes in really poor Spanish, to people working in a long, narrow area. Then after a promotion I was in front most of the time, but I still had to command the shift from the front expo line, which often involved a lot of loud but calm directives to the people in the back and the front. I don’t think anyone is accusing me of rude loudness, but I never really realized I had become loud. At Qdoba, managers are strongly encouraged to be loud. It’s considered appropriate for the manager to be both seen and heard, greeting customers, making jokes, and generally creating a fun, upbeat atmosphere.

When I started interviewing for customer service jobs, I had a couple of interviews with a company that sells boat parts, and I was very interested in the job because it involved international customers. On day I met the customer service staff and later got some constructive feedback that I had a loud voice and the other women were slightly concerned that it might be distracting in the very small, very open area they all had their phones and computers in. I was surprised by this but explained that I had been encouraged to be loud in the restaurants and could definitely adjust. Who knows if that is why I was not offered that job, but it all turned out much for the better when I ended up at my current job.

Since the incident at the other interview, I have been conscious at times about speaking more quietly and portraying myself as less assertive and dominant (poor qualities in women I suppose). I don’t think my current boss cares whether I am assertive, but I certainly don’t want to disrupt the other girls on the phone. Today we were talking about voices and I mentioned that someone had told me on the phone that I sounded like a New Yorker. I LOVED that, although I certainly don’t have the accent, but then I said to my colleagues, I guess it’s because I am loud. The other girls agreed, “yeah, you are loud.” They didn’t say it in a mean way, but I then questioned if I was louder than the fourth girl, who was not part of the conversation at that point, who also has a very clear, louder phone voice, and they said I sometimes was. Wow, this is all so shocking. Maybe I have a hearing problem. Or, I just need to be a little more conscious of my volume.

So what I really want to know is, do my friends and family think of me as loud? Or is this something that has developed since my “career” life began? Please, don’t feel bad about telling the truth. I’m very curious.


what I’m reading

June 26, 2006

I’ve decided to post a few interesting links that I find here and there every few days. They may be mostly links from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or New York Times stories since those are the papers I read most often, but it could also be something interesting I find through a Google search or random browsing. Hopefully they will be somewhat interesting for some of you, and also help me log what articles I read and enjoy each day.

I heart Russ Feingold

A real American dream story

A great businessman does something great

An interesting perspective on immigration, whose subject I don’t necessarily agree with much, but it’s a well-done profile of what immigration means for some people’s perspectives and lives.

No raise in minimum wage, but automatic raises for Congresspeople??!!

An Inconvenient Truth

June 23, 2006

Lately it seems every time there is a movie I am intersted in seeing, Dave Lee from MKE sends out an open e-mail looking for weekly Threeview participants for that very movie. A few weeks ago I was very excited to get to see The DaVinci Code for free, but that was a huge disappointment. Before that were Dave Chappelle's Block Party, Thank You For Smoking, and Brokeback Mountain. I had already heard mostly good reviews for Al Gore's global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth when I got my email the other day.

I saw it last night at the lonely 9:25 show at South Shore Cinema, sharing the theater with just one other viewer, but really, who goes to see a documentary on global warming in Oak Creek at 9:30 on a Thursday anyway? The film flips between a video of Gore showing his environmental slide show in front what looks like an Ivy League college lecture and movies, photographs and bits of Gore in real life. We see pieces of his childhood, his college years at Harvard, early political activity and of course, the scenes of the Supreme Court, hanging chads and grave disappointment in 2000.

Gore credits a Harvard professor who researched Carbon Dioxide levels in the 70s with his later fervor for things environmental. He explains his confidence in his early political career that the Senate would react to scientists warning that the earth was becoming alarmingly warmer much faster, and great frustration and disappointment when nothing happened. Gore is personable, a lot greyer and chubbier than his 2000 self, self-deprecating, well-spoken and occasionally charismatic. He reveals himself in front of the camera to a degree few of us ever see of a candidate during a presidential campaign. His at-times goofy jokes generally add to his likeabiliy. This film made me think that all presidential candidates should make full-length features, documentaries about their lives and what they care about, and they should be played over and over again on network television before the elections. At least then we might have some sense of the person behind the rhetoric before choosing a president.

But beside that point is the plethora of shocking science in this film. In fact, I really think everyone should see it. Even if you are a middle-aged near-retirement conservative who loves Fox News and Bill O'Reilly, you should see this film. In fact, if you are that person, I will buy you a ticket to see this film. Here's the thing, this isn't a political issue, and despite a few minor knocks at Bush, Gore keeps this whole thing fairly non-partisan. He's clearly just as frustrated with the whole of the Congress, not just the Republicans who have ignored this problem, but also the Democrats. There is information that is pretty difficult for even the most skeptical person to deny, and he solidly takes on the thinking that global warming is some sort of scheme put together by liberals. What is clear is that business in America (and abroad clearly) has not taken a responsible stance on this issue. While Gore doesn't point fingers at any one nation, political party or industry, he does discuss the worldwide changes that have resulted from our rapid industrialization, population growth and dirty technologies.

I'm not sure I want to get into discussing the science from the movie here, but it can all be found at Needless to say, I was convinced.

war, loss and humanity

June 19, 2006

I’ve been updating a few of my links and articles here today. I hope some of you will check out the two links to interesting commentaries under “Important!” to the right. Migra Matters is a progressive immigration policy blog, and the Walls and Fences article expresses the reason I feel that building a wall with Mexico is so tragic. I never really thought about the distinction between walls and fences before, but this article provokes thought and makes some good points.

I’d never heard of Eduardo Galeano before a few weeks ago, when I listened to my weekly installment of Latino USA, where host Maria Hinojosa was interviewing the renowned South American writer and thinker. Something about the way he spoke has stayed in my mind, cutting through the millions of media-produced words that pass in front of my eyes or dance through my ears each day. Galeano cannot be described a liberal, much less a concervative, neither a progressive, nor any other conventional political label. Hinojosa described him as someone whose thinking can turn your own upside down and around, jumbling what we accept as true and revealing openings in the mind that we didn’t know existed.

When I listened to the interview-turned-intimate-conversation between Galeano and Hinojosa last week, I planned to copy down pieces, but I’m never going to get around to that; hence, a few paraphrases. As the conversation shifted to the war in Iraq, Galeano challenged us to think about how often we hear of the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq, compared to the hundred thousand or more of Iraqi civilians, mostly women and children, that have been killed there. If Iraqis had invaded the U.S., killed one hundred thousand women and children, bombed our largest cities, destroyed endless historical artifacts, devastated thousands and thousands of families, Galeano said, it would take us centuries to get over. Let this sink in for a moment. Can we imagine that level of outrage that would overtake our country if this situation was for some reason switched around? So why, oh why, do we expect anything else from Iraqis?

He suggested the reason for the lack of outrage in the world, among Americans, but anyone really, is that Iraqis are in some ways second-class citizens, at least in the eyes of Westerners and especially compared to Americans. Granted, September 11th was a horrible, terrible act, but how many tens of thousands of people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since that day? Why are we so outraged over the deaths of 3,000 Americans but so much less concerned about those tens of thousands of Iraqis? Is it just because we are powerful? Is American life more valuable than Iraqi? Are we simply that selfish and sel-concerned that all that matters is our national interest? If that is true, then it would at least be preferable to leave the verbiage about taking freedom to the world out of the picture.

I’ve always been a bit disturbed by the amount of emphasis that is put on the deaths of Americans. This is going to sound really horrible, which is exactly why I’ve never expressed it before, but life is life and people die. Not so long ago more than 100,000 Indonesians, Thais, Indians and Africans died in a freak Tsunami. Sure, people were upset, it was a natural disaster, but how many people have died in violent uprisings and ethnic battles in Africa? Is the average American outraged? Are we filled with anger and rage? In 2001, more than 3,000 people died in New York City, terrible, an attack on America, but let’s be real about it, 3,000 people die regularly in Africa in equally violent crimes. But are these people unreal and not meaningful to us because we are that self-centered?

This is a bigger question than why we are in Iraq, but it’s completely devastating nonetheless. When we step outside our ideas of national security and just look at humanity, what are we doing? How many people had to die for our national security, and what about theirs?

Saved by the T-shirt?

June 15, 2006

Saved by the Bell babies everywhere, check out what Screech has been doing since the '90s.


June 13, 2006

I spent last weekend in beautiful Chicago with Mary, who is soon to leave the big city to return to Madison. I’m surely I have expressed my love for Chicago many times before on this site, but since I first visited the Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry as a kid, I’ve been a bit enamored with the city. The year I hit 16 I drove my crappy car (Ed the gray Pontiac 6000, for those of you still with me) down with three close high-school friends–(I still can’t believe my parents let four 16-year-old girls drive to downtown Chicago with just a map, I hope I can be that cool with my kids someday).

We oohed at expensive clothes on Michigan Avenue and thought ourselves chic and cool dining at the intestinally decorated Cheesecake Factory at the base of the John Hancock Building. My love for Chicago has perhaps matured a bit in the last few years, visiting Mary and her great roommates and friends in the city. I’ve learned the inner workings of how to get around in Chicago, tried to learn the names and locations of the neighborhoods and adore the vast selection of local restaurants, bars and shops lining the city streets. I choose my clothes with more determination when I go to Chicago. Deep at the core of this behavior is my dislike for being a tourist. I always want to appear calm, adjusted and normal when I travel, Chicago or Beijing.

I wonder what other drivers are thinking watching me parallel park with my slightly embarrassing Wisconsin plates, trying to be as balanced and cool as possible on the L and the buses, despite being a person who almost solely travels by car. Mary might laugh at these confessions, but she’s at home in Chicago after four years there. I’m still charmed by Chicago, because it’s a big city, because it seems to have millions of thriving local businesses, because the old neighborhoods are so beautiful, because the parks are well-kept, the streets clean, the transportation options numerous.

There are a lot of Wisconsin people who disdain our Southern neighbors. To tell the truth, I hardly know anyone from Chicago, even Mary’s friends with whom I am now acquainted seem to be from anywhere but Chicago originally. I am planning to take my family to a Brewer’s game this summer (yes, it’s still going to happen family) and I kind of wanted to go to a game against the Cubs because it would be fun and crowded. My dad had the opposite reaction, thinking that it would be too crowded and “full of people from Illinois.” Don’t hate my dad, everybody in Wisconsin says things like that. We apparently hate their tolls, hate their big houses on our quaint northern lakes, hate their driving and on and on.

But these Chicagoans, they are doing something right in that city. Chicago is the kind of city I wander around in and want to join. I never felt that strongly about it until I really got to spend time in some of the neighborhoods. Yes, it’s expensive and big and traffic is horrible, but the beautiful thing is that you don’t need a car if you live near the L or a busline in Chicago. We went to some neighborhood festivals this weekend and it was great. Perhaps a bit crowded at the Old Town art scene, but there was so much activity going on in Andersonville, it was fantastic.

Anyway, part two of my rambling today is related to the show Arrested Development, which I have unfortunately discovered far too late to help save it from cancellation. Saturday Mary and I walked several miles throughout the day and were exhausted by 8:00 pm. We got a yummy take-and-bake pizza and rented the dismal “Must Love Dogs” and one DVD of Arrested Development episodes. I watched season one of AD a few months ago but I’m not sure I ever mentioned it on the blog. It is the funniest show ever and everyone should rent it on DVD so that some network will bring it back for more episodes before it is too late…. Okay, it’s just a tv show, and you have to watch it to understand it, but it’s hilarious. Next time you all go to Blockbuster for a movie, rent the first season one DVD of AD instead. You will not be disappointed. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.

book recommendation

June 7, 2006

I recently finshed the hostorical book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I wanted to use the term historical novel, or historical something that implied the feeling of this read. It's a fantastic book, nothing like the average history read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It's the story of the winning, planning, building and execution of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. One quarter through the book and I felt like I was reading something that would have a surprise ending, and I had to stop myself from doing research on the internet so that I wouldn't spoil the end for myself. I've never been so fascinated by history as I was by this book, and it inspired me to learn more about the turn of the century. Here I go!