Friday, January 5, 2018

A new year with old thoughts

I haven't been here for at least six weeks, though I did post some things on my art related blog back in December. As I read the headlines and the stories from the first week of the new year, I was reminded of my private thoughts concerning Trump, and now, Sessions. I was certain that Sessions was going to try and throw a legal monkey wrench into the marijuana market once California entered the marketplace. He says that he is only enforcing the 'rule of law' when, in fact, he is enforcing it to please the drug manufacturers...and his own weird Southern Baptist mentality. It didn't take a genius to predict what Sessions had planned for this week.

And Trump; every day brings out more evidence of what I and many others have thought about him and his mental state. This new book about the Trump White House may not be factually correct. and that would be a shame, as the premise is correct. If there are some exaggerations in the text, critics will pick those apart trying to discount the entire book. Luckily, for the author and publisher, Trump has responded with fury, threatening lawsuits right and left. You can't buy this kind of advertising. 

I was reading an article in the failing New York Times about the rise in employment for male nurses. I couldn't help but remember my own career decision struggle in 1962-1963 as I was leaving the Navy Hospital Corps and entering civilian life and marriage. As a Hospital Corpsman, I was entitled to be an LVN in California at that time. Being an LVN meant very low pay and poor chances for meaningful employment as a male nurse. I could have used my veterans benefits to go on to school and become an RN. Again, with poor pay and some bias against males in a female profession. At the time I had a full time low paying job as a stock clerk in a warehouse and a second job as a night shift  manager at a Texaco station. I also had a weekend job as a delivery boy for a liquor store. But...I was getting married and couldn't begin a married life and later a family with these jobs. And I certainly couldn't do it as an LVN. That was when an opportunity to become a union carpenter's apprentice came along with the promise of more pay than two of those jobs combined. I put the idea of nursing aside and moved ahead with a construction job.

It's only been recently; maybe, the last twenty years that nursing has gained the status, and pay that it deserved. It definitely takes a university education to become an RN now, where I could have done it with night school courses in the 1960's. I may have mentioned that I found and spoke with a former Hospital Corpsman, now an RN, while I was hospitalized late last year. He loved the job but lamented the fact that the hospital wanted nurses to specialize, while he had been trained, as I was, to do it all.  During a day shift on an orthopedic ward with fifty or more patients, there were three corpsman and one 'floating' nurse that covered three wards. As corpsmen, we weren't allowed to open the narcotics locker for the pain meds and we had to call the nurse to do that.Then, at night there was just one corpsman for the entire ward. There were no 'call buttons' that patients might use and so we had to patrol the sleeping patients constantly.

There I go again...dredging up memories. I will be 78 in September and memories have become good friends; dependable ones.

Along with the nursing story, there was a good story about automation (read 'robots') in Sweden and how it is accepted, even welcomed. They have a very strong union there and relations with management are very good. You might know that Sweden is one of the ten 'happiest' nations although they are taxed much higher than we are. The Scandinavian nations are often called 'socialists' as if it were a bad thing. I have been a socialist for years, though never a member of any political party. I used to be a Democrat when I thought that they were the polar opposites of the Republicans. Once I discovered that they were too closely related, I left. They never noticed. I still get mail addressed to me as  a ' Democratic leader in your community' and asking me to attend some function. I didn't realize or acknowledge that I was a socialist until recently.

The Sweden story had me thinking about the company I retired from at age 64. It was the largest specialty contractor in the US. We did the work that general contractors didn't do. Drywall, steel stud framing, plastering, fireproofing, acoustical ceilings, insulation, Clean rooms, and variations of all of those things, such as marine insulation or insulation for the piping in nuclear power plants. We were an all employee owned, all union company and very successful.

As I left, I had an occasion to talk to one of the vice-presidents and he told me that although I was retiring with a pension and a 401k, all of the new hires would see only the 401k. Project managers were now recruited from universities that had majors in construction management. Project managers, such as myself, had been recruited from the ranks of the union carpenters. The new project managers and estimators were paid much less. The company is still quite strong, still growing, still all union but I am no longer quite as proud of working there.

That's a lot of words. I think it's time to quit for awhile.