Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Photo Story Video Occupy Seattle 10/15/2011

I decided to put a photo story video together from my observances at Occupy Seattle from 10/15&16 2011.  Although the initial intent was to simply document my time, I really found the struggles of so many touching me in ways that I would have never imagined before witnessing them. 

The Common Ground Front

In August 2011, I started blogging.  It started as a way for me to be able to openly share my views about things without having to be scolded by my Facebook Friends because I disagree with their social political views, and honestly posting my gripes in 140 characters or less on Twitter just wasn't cuttting it.  In addition I found it was a great medium to share my expereinces with family, personal struggles and my hobbies.

What I found however after blogging for a couple months was that my blog posts really were two fold.  I had personal things to share and I had views on current events that had nothing to do with my personal life.  After spending time at the Occupy Seattle movement in Seattle October 15th and 16th, 2011, and continuing to follow this movement, I find I have so much bottled inside me in relation to what is wrong with this world, and honestly I feel the need to speak out more.

So I have decided to separate personal life from personal views, and move some blog entries here and keep my meaningless thoughts blog for the fun stuff in my life.  I really don't know where this blog will lead, but I think it will really get me writing again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CBS Ends Raiders at Bills game Early 9/18/11

November 16, 1968, New York Jets at Oakland Raiders – Jets lead 32-29 with a minute to play.  NBC decides it has to break away from the game to play a contractual obligation movie….”Heidi”.  The Raiders come back with two touchdowns in the last minute to win 43-32, but those on the east coast…yes those Jets fans that lost, missed it.

Fast forward to September 18, 2011.  The Oakland Raiders at playing at the Buffalo Bills in what had been a very hard and entertaining game.  Then, with the score at 35-31 Oakland, and 37 seconds left in the game, CBS decided to switch to San Diego Charger Programming due to a “contractual obligation”.  With 14 seconds to go in the game the Bills score a TD to win the game 35-38, unfortunately most Raiders fans, especially those in the Los Angeles Market didn’t get to see this happen live.

The official statement from CBS Los Angeles’s Facebook Page!/CBSLA is as follows:

We appreciate all of the feedback we receive from our viewers, both positive and negative, and share it with our CBS Television Network colleagues on a regular basis. The NFL considers Los Angeles to be the Chargers’ secondary market, which means CBS is contractually required by the league to show Chargers road games in their entirety. During the San Diego-New England game, CBS Sports showed the key end-of-the-game plays from Buffalo immediately after they happened.”

To be honest I know Chargers fans in Los Angeles, I am guessing not half as many Raider fans, but sure there are a lot.  What I don’t understand is why they had to to cut the game to go to two minutes of commercials and two minutes of commentary before the kickoff of the Charger game.  I get they need to pay the bills, and commercials do that.  But there would be plenty of opportunities to do that during the Charger game.  The worst thing any fan wants to do is see their team lose on delay.

The National Football League, thanks to Al Davis has abandoned Los Angeles for 16 years, and local programming continues to screw fans that stuck with the Raiders by considering us a secondary Charger market when we all know LA is a secondary Raider market first.  

Bad show CSB, really bad call.  There has to be a way to make sure fans that have invested 3 hours into a game get to watch it in full, regardless of the teams of the market.  I understand when a game is a flop and they switch to a more exciting game, but this was close, too close to be switching, especially for commercials.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The wrong time for UFCW Local 770 to Strike

October 11, 2003 was a day in history that I will always remember; it was the day my daughter was born.  It was also the day that UFCW local 770 went on strike.  I will always remember it because we joked that the birth of my daughter brought famine to Los Angeles. 

2003 was an amazing time.  Housing prices had just begun to soar, the economy was in great shape, companies were offering amazing benefits and unemployment was at 6.0%. New Flash: it’s not 2003.

I am not saying that the grocery workers don’t deserve better, heck we all do.  I would however, be very surprised if the union receives any consumer support relative to what they received in 2003.  I had a newborn baby, and the strike lasted through the major fall and winter holidays.  I can remember getting up early to make it over to Stater Brothers to shop before the crowds, as they were the only store in my area that was not impacted by the strike.  Finding a decent Turkey for Thanksgiving was almost impossible

Back in 2003, most of us had the money to allow the workers to strike and we could drive a bit farther to find a store that was ok to shop at, even though we knew they would be out of much of what we needed.  Today, I am a stay at home Mom, and we watch every penny.  I clip coupons and although I have nothing to rival those on extreme couponing, I have to protect my budget.  Although I do a lot of shopping at Super-WalMart, I hit Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons regularly for sales that match up to my coupons, and I actually buy most of my staples (cereal, cheese, milk, eggs) at Food 4 Less, which is a Kroger owned store.

It’s going to be very hard for the public to support a strike this time around.  Los Angeles has an unemployment rate of 13.3%, more than twice that of the 2003 strike.  When so many people can’t even find work, how are they expected to support those that have a job and are simply fighting over benefits?  I don’t discount the impact paying higher benefits will have on the workers or their families.  My family pays twice as much for benefits now than in 2003 and that’s when we were a double income family.  It hurts, and there is a place and time to fight for fair benefits, especially with the lower wages the grocery workers receive.  But a strike is going to hurt grocery employees and as we remember in 2003, it really did nothing to get the workers to a satisfactory resolution of their demands.

I suppose they are lucky.  Union workers have the ability to fight for their benefits, where non-union employees try to negotiate with their bosses, but are ultimately stuck paying whatever management and the Human Resources benefits team has worked out with the insurance provider.  I won’t knock the union workers if they strike, but I won’t actively support it, driving all over town to get my groceries at whatever the cost may be. 

UFCW Local 770 will have to do whatever they think is right for themselves, their families and their fellow members.  Consumers in Los Angeles will also have to do whatever is best for them and their families.  This time around, I really don’t see crossing picket lines, as a matter is disrespect.  For many families it will mean a matter of survival.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Not Enough Labor at Hurricane Harbor

I have been meaning to write this for a week, but a cold got hold of me and thus here I am late, but still feeling I need to get this off my mind.

We have been season pass holders at Six Flags Magic Mountain since 2009.  At the time we got our fist passes our kids were 3 and 5, and 41 and 45 inches respectively.  We purchased combo passes for both Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor in 2010 and 2011 as our kids grew and as of today, both kids are at least 48 inches and able to enjoy a lot more of the parks, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without difficulty.

We try to go to Hurricane Harbor a few times a month on the weekends as a family, and last year (2010) we were fortunate enough to visit on the last day the park was open.  It was definitely understaffed, and under populated which made for a nice day until we tried to go into the wave pool.  We were halted by a lifeguard who measured my son and said that since he was under 48 inches he had to wear a life jacket, but there were none available.  Now I had been in the park at least 25 times that summer and had never had my child kicked out of the wave pool for not wearing a life jacket, but I had gotten him one for the lazy river without incident.

What I found was there was a severe shortage of life jackets available that day, and ironically enough, they were filming at the wave pool that day.  Coincidence that they wanted bigger kids in the pool for filming?  It was a definite possibility; although I will never really know.

Flash forward to the Saturday of Labor Day weekend 2011.  We had not been to Hurricane Harbor for a month thanks to my daughter breaking a bone in the growth plate of her wrist and being out of commission for the month of August.  Upon arriving at the parks, we found that it was a fairly busy day with parking only available at the end of the gravel lot (almost to the dirt).  However there was a sign at the entrance to Hurricane Harbor that the Sidewinder and Boa Constrictor slides at snake summit were closed, as were Tike Falls and Reptile Ridge.

Upon entering the park we found the following:
·                    1 slide on Tiki falls closed
·                    The mushroom play area of Lizard Lagoon turned off
·                    All 5 slides at Reptile Ridge closed
·                    Sidewinder and Boa Constrictor Closed
·                    2 of the 4 slides at Splash Island Closed
·                    The Volleyball pool at Lizard Lagoon Closed

To make things even worse the raft slides that were open (Tornado, Tiki and Lightening Falls) seemed to have a sever raft shortage, making lines extremely long.  I think we waited for 5 minutes for rafts on the Bamboo racer, which there is normally no wait.  Lines were very long, it was very hot and the amount of people made it hard to even enjoy open play areas like Splash Island or the River Cruise.

I asked at guest relations as to why so many slides were closed especially since several were around Lizard Lagoon assuming that there was water pumping problem, but no.  The “official” response I received was that they schedule the number of slides based on anticipated number of guests and so the slides that were closed was because they did not expect high volume.

Ok so to make sure I got it right I repeated it back to her (which it wasn’t her fault she just gets paid to repeat whatever script they give her).  Its Labor Day Weekend, its 100 degrees outside, the park is packed and so many slides are closed because management didn’t expect a high volume of guests that day?  Her answer was simply “yes”. 

Now I understand that a lot of the lifeguards are college students so there is some churn by the first of September, and I understand that if its not hot there may be a need to close slides, especially if there are no crowds. This was a holiday weekend, it was 100 degrees and the park was packed.  It seems something happens in September where management just doesn’t care anymore.  Their sights are set on Fright Fest and for them summer is over. 

I guess I would have been happier if she would have told me there was a pump broken.  It was hard to hear the sad truth that management had made a decision to make a negative impact on my experience at the park that day.  After a month of not being able to go, our favorite Slides at Reptile Ridge were closed, and it was just too busy to do anything.  We only stayed for a couple hours and then left, not spending a dime in the park.

I really hope Six Flags can get their act together on staffing.  I realize summer is almost over, but for two years in a row my last experiences with Hurricane Harbor before they close for the season have not been happy ones.  For a family that enjoys the parks so much, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.