Sunday, February 25, 2007

Equal Pay for Equal Output

To all those women shun feminism and its ideals, who think they are treated equally with men, who see the philosophies of the National Organization for Women as extreme and the fight for Equal Rights Amendment as unnecessary, this week’s announcement from Wimbledon is a reminder of how far we still have to go.

Much fanfare occurred this week with the announcement that female tennis players would now receive the same prize money as their male counterparts in the tournament. I don’t want to belittle the historic nature of this decision; this is a monumental milestone in women’s sports. What softens the excitement around this achievement is how long it took to materialize. Over 30 years after Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes, women will finally be making the same as men in Tennis’ most prestigious tournament.

The promoters of Wimbledon maintained the position for generations that the difference in prize money between men and women players was a matter of principle; Men play 5 set matches and Women play 3 sets. The time worked was actually not equal and therefore, there should be a difference in pay. This might seem logical on the surface, but there is a key flaw in this reasoning. While some monetary compensation is given around hours worked, there are also other factors that determine how much pay is deserved.

When measuring the worth of athletes, time spent playing means little to nothing in determining compensation. If that were the case, the pay scale in the NBA and WNBA would be equal and Football players with their 16 game season would make much less then those in baseball. Women in the WNBA do not make as much as their male counterparts because their work does not bring in the same revenue stream, although they play the same 4 quarters. Players in the NFL make as much if not more for their 16 games as baseball players do for their 162 games because of their revenue potential. Tennis is one sport where women have proven their worth in drawing crowds and contributing to the overall popularity of the game and they should share equally in the revenue generated by this success.

The battle for equal pay at Wimbledon had the support of millions and received countless hours of media attention yet still took decades to come to pass. The average woman doesn’t have that kind of support and interest in their quest to receive the same pay as men in their same jobs. Inequality in pay exists for women in a wide variety of positions and industries across the globe. Women have won another battle in their quest for financial equality, but they haven't won the war.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy “Holiday”

Hopping on the highway this morning, I was overcome with the feeling I entered the twilight zone. The road, normally packed with daily commuters, was virtually empty. The clock confirmed that it was indeed rush-hour but where was everyone? Suddenly I realized why the roads were so empty; President’s Day. Everyone was at home enjoying the day off.

This realization did not have me turning around to enjoy a lazy day at home. Even if you are lucky to have a nice job with great benefits, chances are slim of having the day off unless your employer is the government, a bank, a school, a trash collection company or controlled by an incredibly strong union. For the rest of the population in the United States President’s Day, along with Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day, is just another day on the calendar.

There is no national mandate that requires employers to give off federal holidays. Not that this is really a surprise in a culture that places so little value on vacation time. Standard time-off in the United States stands at a paltry 2 weeks, with many receiving fewer paid days off. Statistics show that US workers take about 13 days off a year. This compares poorly to 42 days in Italy, 37 days in France, 35 in Germany, 34 in Brazil, 28 in the UK, 26 in Canada, 25 in Korea and Japan.

Number of days off does not take into account the number of hours a typical American works. While many countries have mandates that limit citizens from working more then 37 – 45 hours a week, the US has no laws limiting the number of hours an employee, especially salaried employees, can work. If you ask the typical salaried employee how many hours a week they work, you are bound to find out that their actual hourly pay rate comes in close to or lower then minimum wage. Working those extra hours quickly add up to extra days, meaning our European counterparts actually receive much more time off then the statistics above.

Not that lack of vacation and holiday grants really matter, most Americans are unable to use all their vacation time for a variety of reasons including managerial pressures, fear of lay-off and inability to offload work long enough to get away. We have a workforce full of overworked individuals without the opportunity to walk away for a few days to recharge their batteries and return to work with better attitudes and new perspectives. All this extra work is hurting production and output. Study after study shows that US workers are being surpassed on productivity measures when compared to our friends across the globe who enjoy time off with their family and friends.

Essentially, not only are most US workers cranky, tired and unable to experience anything beyond the workplace, but they are surrounded by people who are just as miserable. It should be no surprise that the US leads the world in the number of work-related homicides and workplace violence. Take high-pressure and high-stake jobs, mix in some fear of lay-off and eliminate days off and you have the perfect recipe for people going over the edge at work.

So, rather then spending this federal holiday with my family and friends, or working in the community, or honoring US Presidents, I did what most American’s did and gave another day of my life to ensure I could pay my bills. Really though, I can’t complain too much. At least the commute was good this morning.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Way I See It…in bed

If you drink Starbucks, or are around people who drink Starbucks, you have been exposed to their “The Way I See It” campaign. The side of every coffee cup displays quotes from a wide variety of people from various walks of life. The original intention of the campaign was not to promote any political agenda, but to encourage dialogue on a variety of topics. Coffee shops around the globe are the houses of thought provoking conversation and personally, I think promoting more conversation in a coffee shop is brilliant; what better way to convince patrons to stay for another cup of java.

Starbucks has come under a lot of fire from groups across the political spectrum for this campaign. Each cup contains the following disclaimer “Please note: The opinions put forth by contributors to “The Way I See It” do not necessarily reflect the views of Starbucks.” This footnote on the cup has not stopped conservative groups from criticizing Starbucks for leaning to the left and promoting a liberal agenda. Some Christian groups have boycotted Starbucks over quotes that promote stem-cell research and support homosexuality. Starbucks’ success in creating a catalyst for conversation through this campaign is evident by the number of hits you get when typing “The Way I See It” and “Starbucks” into any internet search engine and the amount of controversy it has created.

This morning while enjoying my morning venti, I commented to my good friend that even with a few cups of Starbucks a week, I had yet to repeat a “The Way I See It” quote. Rather then engage in a discussion on today’s passage, dissecting the quote and analyzing its inner meanings, we agreed that “The Way I See It” campaign is like a 21st century fortune cookie, and like a fortune cookie, the addition “in bed” at the end of each passage intensifies the enjoyment of the tasty treat. The premise is simple, when sitting down for piping cup of coffee, read “The Way I See It” cup and end the quote with “In Bed.” Warning: Don’t actually drink the coffee when doing this exercise since it is pretty dangerous to shoot hot coffee out your nose.

Fortune Cookie:

  • Confucius: Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall… in bed.

Starbucks Coffee Cup:

  • Mo'Nique: F.A.T. (Fabulous and Thick) folks know that it’s the extras in life – like pounds, cash and love – that give us character. Embrace the extras, baby… in bed.
  • Bonnie St. John: People fall down, winners get up, and gold medal winners just get up faster… in bed
  • John Fabian: We live in a limitless world, but if we aim low we’ll surely miss the target… in bed.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Funny Valentine

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are 14 reasons I am thankful my husband is my lifelong Valentine:

  1. He loves our schnoodles like children and has come to understand and embrace why dogs are major members of our family.
  2. My friends and family are the world to me, and he has grown to love them all as much as I do.
  3. During the time we have known each other I have been between 159 pounds and 209 pounds. My Valentine thinks I’m pretty hot no matter where I am on the scale.
  4. He’s (almost) accepted that I hate going to the movies and goes with his friends instead.
  5. He reminds me that there are things more important in life then my job and has taught me to define success by who I am and not what I do.
  6. He jokes that I’m a “passionate” cook and laughs when I make a mess out of the whole kitchen.
  7. He is my biggest fan, encouraging me to be a better photographer, writer, cook, athlete, sister, friend and daughter; he makes me want to be a better person.
  8. He has adopted my sense of adventure, heading to the corners of the earth in search of new culture, foods, photographs and stories, embracing the excitement the world has to offer.
  9. He didn’t father Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter, and is fine that I don’t want him to father any of mine either.
  10. He completes my thoughts.
  11. We have fun together whether we are lying in bed reading a book, cooking dinner, walking the dogs, partying with friends or traveling the world and makes me laugh every step of the way.
  12. He isn’t perfect but he tries to be and knows I try the same for him too.
  13. He knows romance isn’t flowers and chocolate. It’s the little things you do everyday for each other like defrosting dinner, taking the trash out, cutting the dogs nails, washing the car, fixing the computer, turning up the heat on a cold day, changing the empty roll of toilet paper, drawing a warm bath, doing the taxes, the laundry and the bills that is romantic.
  14. He kisses me good morning and says I love you. He kisses me when he comes home from work and says I love you. He kisses me before bed and says I love you. He repeats this many times during the day. He makes me feel loved and special 365 days a year, not just on Valentine’s Day!

Wishing everyone a Valentine as special to them as mine is to me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Tantrum at 30,000 Feet

Last night, I had the pleasure of flying in the presence of a screaming child. Unfortunately, this child with a very large set of lungs was in the seat directly behind me. Screaming was also accompanied by coughing, sobbing, spitting, and my personal favorites; punching and kicking. Being directly in front of Tantrum Toddler gave me the opportunity to receive back breaking blows to the kidneys for an extended period of time. Too add insult to injury (literally!), I was receiving this unprovoked beating in a premium seat. For those that do not travel often, some airlines have started charging an additional fee for the opportunity to sit in “choice” seats in coach. Fortunately, the airlines also allow those frequent flyers who spend more time in a plane then in their own cars to sit in those seats. Being a frequent flyer, at least I didn’t have to spend additional money to sit in a seat where I was being beat up by a child. If I did spend extra money, I might have been more inclined to say something to the child’s mother and perhaps to the airline themselves.

Not for a moment did I blame this child for its obvious pain and suffering. For the entirety of this tantrum, all the mother did was sit there. Now, I may not be raising children of my own, but it doesn’t take a parent or Dr. Spock himself to realize that this child needed to be calmed down. Before even getting on the plane, this mother had dozens of online resources dedicated to preparing her for the flight. Go to any search engine and type in “Flying with Children.” There is tons of helpful advice available to parents if they take the time to prepare for the flight. This poor child had no books or toys to keep him entertained, no snacks and juice boxes to keep him fed and hydrated and no bottle or pacifier to keep his ears from being painfully plugged during take off and landing. He was forced to endure 3 hours of boredom and pain without anything to help out. Even an adult would want to scream, cry and beat the seat in front of them under these circumstances.

This comes on the heels of a well publicized incident last month where an Air Tran flight crew removed a family from a flight when they were unable to get their child into her seat. These parents took no personal responsibility for how their child’s actions were disrupting the peace of the plane and the chance for an on-time departure. Instead, they blamed the flight crew for not giving them more time to calm down their child. Not for a moment did they acknowledge how their inability to control their child, or at the very least just get her belted in for the 10 minutes it would take to get in the air, effected the rest of plane. Air Tran should be commended for taking the necessary action to ensure the needs of the rest of the travelers on that plane, and for those awaiting that aircraft for later flights, were met. What personally upset me most about this incident is how Air Tran refunded the family the cost of their flight and offered them another free round-trip ticket. There is no reason to reward a family who was willing to disrupt the schedules of countless others.

My personal tolerance level for children in planes is actually pretty high for a child-free traveler for variety of reasons, including my status as an individual who flies with her pets. Even with the best preparations and intentions, I understand things can go wrong. A parent who does everything they can to prepare for the flight can still be met with disaster. I can forgive a parent who has movies and games and bottles and pacifiers and is still met with crankiness. My heart goes out to the parent who looks apologetically at those surrounding them in an attempt to ask for forgiveness and help. Fellow travelers are likely to help out with bags, snacks and games of peek-a-boo through the seats if a parent acknowledges that their child’s outburst is causing discomfort to all those around. With the right preparation and attitude, traveling with children (and pets) can be less painful to parents and all those around.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Eulogy for Anna Nicole Smith

Today, we come to mourn the untimely death of another iconic blonde. This tragic event was one in the making from the day Anna Nicole Smith, aka Vickie Lynn Hogan Marshall, was launched onto the international stage as the face and body of Guess. As most of the fashion industry embraced the cocaine thinned models of the time, Anna Nicole’s figure and bombshell looks reflected days gone by, an era of pin-up girls ogled for their curves. She channeled the style and majesty of famous bombshells before her, and quickly became the object of both desire and jealously across the globe.

Beauty is a weak base for constructing long-term success and on the surface, there appeared to be little else for Anna Nicole to build a future on. She made the most of what she was given in life, and used her looks to find financial security in the arms of her husband J. Howard Marshall. Whether the relationship was for love or money, this marriage is what ultimately catapulted Anna Nicole from fashion icon to embattled celebrity. She was not the first person to marry a much-older man, but certainly became one of the more famous.

Her unconventional personality and court battle over the assets of her deceased husband kept Anna Nicole cemented in the tabloids. The media was able to focus on her limitations, honing in on her outrageous behavior and shocking weight gain. Anna Nicole Smith capitalized on America’s obsession with celebrity in a hit reality show that chronicled the chaos of her life. Her absurdity, foolishness and personal battles made for good television and exemplified the cliché that no publicity is bad publicity.

Everyone loves a happy ending, and for some time there was thought that Anna Nicole could actually enjoy one; securing a lucrative deal with TrimSpa due to her complete body re-transformation and Legal woes over her late husband’s fortune landed at the United State’s highest court and found her victorious.

Anna Nicole experienced life’s greatest joy with the birth of her daughter, Dannielynn Hope, last September. Unfortunately, this elation was met with the ultimate heartbreak a few days later when her son, Daniel, died of an overdose. Life again spiraled out of control for Anna Nicole, as she dealt with issues surrounding the paternity of her new daughter and scrutiny over the details over her son’s death.

The cruel irony of Anna Nicole’s celebrity is the very beauty and fame that brought her to our attention is ultimately what killed her. No matter what the coroner declares as her cause of death, Anna Nicole Smith died as a result of her battle finding love, security and understanding in a world that took advantage of her frailties. With death, may Anna Nicole find peace from her conflict and inner turmoil, solace in returning to life with her son and a legacy as a blonde bombshell.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bride's Resume

As I get caught into the whirlwind that is the week before a family wedding, I can’t help but reflect on all the time, money and effort brides (and their families!) put into making the big day a memorable one. If you are a typical bride, planning a wedding becomes a second job, as you spend countless hours finding an officiant, a place to have a reception, the flowers, the dress, the invitations, the music, the photographer, the favors, the shoes, the veil, the jewelry, etc. etc. etc.

After the day is over, it is easy to experience post-wedding let down. The resume below is to show my sister (and other brides) the significance of their efforts and the additional skills they acquired in their job as bride-to-be. Photos, a husband and great memories are not the only things a bride has after the wedding is over, she also has valuable and marketable work experience!


Ms. Bride is an accomplished Project Manager with over 1 year of experience. Her skill areas include: Project Plan Development and Management, Budget Preparation and Administration, Contracts Management, Operational Readiness and Conflict Management. Ms. Bride is highly accomplished in identifying and promoting unique solutions as a driver for revenue savings. She is a team player, working effectively with vendors, customers, and peers, with strong relationship management skills and an ability to present high quality deliverables in a fast paced and changing environment.

RETS Consulting Services Ltd. Inc.
January 2006 – February 2007
Project Manager, Event Coordinator, General Contractor, Wedding Planner, Bride-to-be

RETS Consulting provides professional services for individuals seeking to exceed their special events goals through meticulous planning and management. As a RETS Consultant, Ms. Bride has a proven track record for the planning and execution of complex projects through her skills in customer relationship management, project plan development and execution, contract pricing and management and problem solving.

Key responsibilities

  • Developed and maintained project plans, providing time, scope and cost analyses throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Led strategic projects, monitoring and adjusting plans to ensure successful completion of the project.
  • Ensured project objectives were set and roles of team members were clear.
  • Conducted package evaluations with vendors and provided direction and leadership in the development of solution estimates and alternatives.
  • Translated, documented and implemented requirements, derived from facilitations, workshops and interviews, to specifications for event design and development.
  • Accountable for budget development and management.
  • Conducted risk, issue, and change management activities in a timely manner with quality resolutions.
  • Managed delegation of tasks successfully.
  • Monitored and reviewed team outputs.
  • Experienced working and managing virtual teams.
  • Managed organizational issues and communicated resolutions to key stakeholders.
  • Provided guidance and support to stakeholders throughout the development life-cycle.
  • Utilized proven project methodologies for deliverables including Bride’s Magazine Checklists and guide.

Project Successes

  • Leader of a development group and key team member for the successful implementation of a large budget event, leveraging the intellectual capital of thought leaders in the field.
  • Responsible for the coordination and communications between project team and vendors for a high stake project effecting 150 people from both domestic and international markets.
  • Developed and managed personnel hiring, financials, service level agreements and time controls for a high profile project to ensure on-time delivery of work to customers. 100% of teams managed delivered on-time.

Technical Experience

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word

Monday, February 05, 2007

I don't have a thing to wear

Honestly, I didn’t have a thing to wear this morning. This is not just a “girl thing” where I have a closet filled with perfect clothes and I couldn’t make up my mind. As I sit here at work, I’m not naked but wearing an outfit that is completely inappropriate. Khakis and a sweater were appropriate here two years ago and pseudo-appropriate last year. In the time I have been working for my current employer, our dress code has unofficially changed from Monday through Thursday Business Casual and Friday “Jeans Day” to Business attire 5 days a week. My closet needs a full transformation. It looks like a GAP, not Jones New York.

This dress code change is pretty unofficial. Call it a trickle down policy. C-level executives move from shirt and ties to suits. A few months later, their reports start wearing suits. The need for pinstripes rolled down the ranks like an avalanche and the inevitable needed to be faced; if I were continue to move up the corporate ladder and be taken seriously, it was time to start dressing like I worked at a bank.

Due to the exorbitant cost associated with classic suits, and the personal need to have a closet that ranges in sizes from 12 – 16, suits are being slowly added to my inventory with each 5 pounds I lose. The current count is at 4, which makes Fridays quite dicey. With proper mixing and matching, I get by.

Last week, I made the decision to purchase a new suit during although I had yet to lose the next 5 pounds that marks my reward to go shopping. I was getting sick of wearing the same outfits every week and all 4 suits needed to go to the cleaners. So, off my work wardrobe went to the dry cleaners and off I went to decided if the next item to enter my closet should be black or red.

For those of you who don’t religiously watch the weather channel, the temperatures in Minnesota dropped into pretty dangerous territory over the weekend. The thought of leaving the house, going to the mall and taking my protective clothing off in the dressing room closely resembled my definition of hell. So, rather then face the peril of shivering in Macy*s, I sit at work ever aware that I look young and unprofessional among my peers. Tonight, despite temperatures in the negative double digits, I will be heading to the mall straight from work. My cleaning won’t be done until Wednesday and I can’t face my empty closet for one more day.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Menu

My husband and I have been hosting the annual Super Bowl bash since 2001. We love to cook and get bored by doing the same thing over and over again, so our way of tackling this issue with an annual party is changing our menu yearly. We tailor our menu to fit the teams who made it to the show and/or the location of the big game. Last Year's Pittsburgh vs. Seattle in Detroit brought our guests a unique meal that included Kielbasa and Kraut, Salmon Cakes and Pop Tart Cheesecake (Michigan is the home of the Pop Tart). New England's dominance in the past few years did an extra challenge to be unique, but with Boston Baked Beans, Clam Chowder and Samuel Adams, we were able to change things up. Everyone left very full after Philly Cheesesteaks and nothing beats a Super Bowl in New Orleans because that means gumbo, jambalaya and hurricanes.

The biggest joke during the playoffs year after year has been what we would make if the Indianapolis Colts ever made the Super Bowl. Many of us have visited Indianapolis and noted that there is really nothing unique about the city or its cuisine and laughed that we would have to have the event catered by chain restaurants. Well, our worst culinary nightmare has come true (note: we were happy it came true as we didn't want to serve any more food from Boston nor see Bill Belachick and his team anymore). With much research we have for you a menu that we believe represents the cities in the Superbowl nicely.

Chicago Dog Bar: Hot Dogs, Big Buns, Sauerkraut with Celery Salt, Tomatoes, Hot Peppers, Relish, Mustard, Ketchup (I'm from NY and don't adhere to Chicago's mustard only philosophy), and anything else people might want to throw on their hot dog that makes it impossible to eat.

Van de Camp Baked Beans: Another product of Indiana, we usually prefer Bush's or a family recipe, but to represent Indiana, we must serve Van de Camp.

Chocolate Lover's Cheesecake: Chicago is home to Eli's Cheesecake, Peyton Manning's Brother is Eli.. perfect compliment to the menu.

Frozen Daiquiris: My sister noted that the problem with seeing a game in Miami is you have to watch the dolphins, but at least they have Daiquiris and Pina Coladas to make that more bearable. Well, today our guests get to watch a game played in Miami without suffering through the Dolphins. However, it is currently -12 here in Minneapolis so I'm guessing there won't be many people partaking in the tropical beverages.

We hope everyone out there enjoys their Super Bowl parties whatever you or your hosts are serving. Since neither my beloved Bills nor our hometown team the Vikings are playing in the big game this year, we are going to be decked out in Blue and White rooting for the Colts (well, and against Chicago).

Thursday, February 01, 2007

2007 New Year's Resolutions

February 1 is the perfect time to finalize New Year’s resolutions. You can weed out those ones from years past that never happen and truly concentrate on the things that can be accomplished… hopefully. I have been keeping track of my New Year’s Resolutions religiously since 1995.

This is an interesting exercise not so much for realizing how few resolutions are actually realized by the time we sing “Auld Lang Syne,” but more for the analysis on how life has personally changed in the past 12 years. Did I stop resolving to quit biting my nails in 2002 because I knew it was never going to happen or because I realized it didn’t really matter? Grades, which dominated my resolutions for years, were no longer relevant after graduating in 1997. And of course, there is always the losing weight resolutions which has me wondering; do naturally thin people make resolutions as much as those of us who struggle with our weight?

Chelle’s 2007 New Year’s Resolutions
1. I will control my personal spending which means no new camera equipment over $500 and no longer having to steal money from savings to pay off my credit card bill (after March… Weddings are expensive, especially when they are your sister’s)
2. I will run 1 mile a day, 5 days a week. I can do more then one mile, but I can do no less.
3. I will take the GMAT this year.
4. I will finish the Northshore Inline Marathon under 2 hours.
5. I will drink 8 glasses of water a day.
6. I will get back down to a size 14 and fill my closet up with 14s rather then with 12s and 10s I never stay in.
7. I will floss at least 4 days a week (everyday has never happened and been on the list for 10 years)
8. I will upload all my photos to the internet within 2 weeks of taking them and catch up on all the photos on my computer from 2004.
9. I will finish at least 4 large scrapbooks and 4 small scrapbooks.
10. I will apply sunscreen to my face every morning and use all the pretty scrubs and lotions to look and feel better rather then have them go bad in my cabinets.
11. I will call a different friend every week and actually talk with them rather then just email.
12. I will read 2 books a month.
13. I will brush the dogs once a week.
14. I will write on my blog at least 3 times a week.

For those who don’t know me very well, 14 is my lucky number so all my resolutions have been lists of 14. Wish me luck, and I will report on how I did in 2008.