Ode to the Skort

What a wonderful creation you are!
You allow me to be physical without looking manly
My feminity is on display for all to see.
Even if I don’t have the slim & trim thighs of a Sharapova
You still flatter my thighs with the “skirt” element of your design.
And provide that extra layer of protection with the “short” portion of your design.
You do not merely grace the bodies of tennis players & golfers
But all female athletes can bask in your design
Runners,  walkers,  rollerbladers & cyclists too.
All feel more confident in wearing you.

And yes I ordered another skort yesterday (from Gaiam & of course at a discount).  🙂


Miscellaneous money issues & race

Last week I blogged about “Ban the Box” about a movement advocating that questions about an applicant’s criminal background be eliminated from employment applications.  According to Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post such screening disproportionately impacts blacks and Hispanics. 

Today I read an article from the June 12, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal entitled “Employment Checks Fuel Race Complaints.”  The article is written by Scott Thurm.

This article, like Michelle Singletary’s column, discusses the EEOC filing complaints against two employers (Dollar Tree and a unit of BMW) alleging these employers, in effect, screened out for consideration job applicants with criminal backgrounds. The EEOC asserts such policies disproportionately discriminates against black applicants.

[As an aside, I don’t know why Michelle Singletary’s column mentions the impacts on blacks and Hispanics but The Wall Street Journal articles mentions the impacts on blacks only.  This is why one should read more than one news outlet!]

According to The Wall Street Journal the EEOC issued guidelines to employers on this matter last year after a unit of PepsiCo agreed to pay $3.1 million and change its screening policy to settle charges that the company discriminated against blacks in hiring.

[Full disclosure: The Money Heifer owns PepsiCo stock but wasn’t aware of this matter].

The [EEOC] guidelines don’t bar the use of criminal checks, but urge employers to consider the crime, its relation to an applicant’s potential job, and how much time that has passed since the conviction.  The guidelines recommend that employers review each case individually, and allow applicants to show why they should be hired despite a conviction.

The article later notes that an attorney from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund praised the EEOC lawsuits against the two employers as an important step against workplace discrimination.  “People who are trying to work, trying to be productive citizens, are being blocked from jobs” on the basis of an old conviction though such applicants pose little danger.  This attorney further declared these guidelines about the use of criminal background checks “are particularly important because blacks are convicted of crimes more often than whites.”

I juxtapose that last sentence with another article I read over a week ago.  A couple of organizations lodged a complaint against a federal judge who purportedly stated at some presentation that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to commit crimes or words to that effect. 

What’s ironic to me is that you have organizations complaining that blacks are been screened out for consideration for jobs because they have a higher rate of criminal conviction AND, on other hand, organizations complaining that a judge labeled blacks and Hispanics as being more prone to commit crimes (or words to that effect).  When you consider the two news stories side-by-side, odd, isn’t it? 

And then a third story from today’s Washington Post.  The article, written by Nick Anderson, is entitled “Loan rules bring pain to black colleges.”  So, what’s the pain?

Apparently in October 2011 the Education Department “tightened the screening process for loan applications to ensure that certain kinds of unpaid debts were considered in a review of a parent’s credit record.  That made it more likely that some applicants would be deemed to have an ‘adverse credit history’ and therefore ineligible.”  This tighter screening process had the unforeseen consequence of disproportionately disqualifying black parents from receiving loans to help fund their child’s education.

For all colleges nationwide, the dollar volume of federal loans approved for parents in the 2012-13 school year fell 11 percent compared with the total in 2011-12. . . .


For historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the parent loan volumes fell 36 percent.  That translated to an annual cut of more than $150 million.


The figures suggest that tighter underwriting standards affected many colleges and universities but had a disproportionate impact on schools, such as HBCUs, that serve a high share of disadvantaged students, compared with affluent peers, are more likely to have parents with checkered credit records.

I believe the tighter lending standards are a good thing.  Have we, as a nation, not learned from the housing crisis?  As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan remarked, “we don’t want to put families in a financial situation they can’t recover from.  That’s not right.”  Another individual was more blunt.

“Having created a new class of student debtors, higher education is now reaching back in time to indenture the preceding generation, ” Kevin Carey, an education analyst with the New American Foundation, wrote this month in the Chronicle of Higher Education in an essay headlined “The Federal Parent Rip-Off Loan.”

Dave Ramsey says one should not borrow to obtain an education.  Some may think that is too extreme.  But, if one doesn’t graduate with student loan (or credit card debt), think how much freedom the college graduate has without the stress of debt.

More to the point is Suze Orman. She says parents should never borrow to fund their child’s education.  Will the parents be financially stable come retirement?  Will the parents have to turn to their children for financial assistance?  Suze reminds parents = you cannot borrow for your retirement.  Her advice is the child, and only the child, should borrow for his/her education [of course, it is preferable not to borrow at all].

Some students and their parents may not like what I have to say but if the student cannot afford on his/her own to pay for school, consider a less expensive school, attend a community college, work full-time and go to school part-time, etc.  Break the cycle of the checkered credit record.  And, don’t burden your parents further.

Meanwhile, colleges and universities, both HBCUs and non-HBCUs, need to seriously look inward.  Tuition has doubled on average over a 10 year period but wages have not kept up.  Today more individuals are foregoing college because it is too expensive and people don’t want to be shackled with debt for a significant portion of their post-college lives.  Something needs to change.

And something needs to change among black Americans so they are not disproportionately impacted by criminal background checks or tighter lending criteria.





State of Mind

My plans for bicycling this a.m. were washed out (literally).  So while doing chores around the house, I listened to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and particularly the session on “Dumping Debt.”  At one point Dave Ramsey says “I’ve been broke twice in my life but I have never been poor.  Being poor is a state of mind.”

First, I couldn’t help but think of Billy Joel’s song where he bellows, “I’m in a New York State of Mind.”

Second, I know of someone who has a poor person’s state of mind. 

This individual is a friend of my mother’s.  She complains about the government needs to provide this, the government needs to provide that, and how come the government doesn’t do this or that.  Why does this individual look to the government rather than herself? 

This individual is able bodied.  So, why doesn’t she start with the woman in the mirror and ask herself, what can she do to provide for herself and her younger son?  It’s the attitude, the state of mind that colors her outlook which ultimately becomes her reality.

A few quotes from Proverbs to help overcome being stuck in a poor person’s state of mind:

Lazy hands make a man poor,

but diligent hands bring wealth.

Proverb 10:4.

The sluggard craves and gets nothing,

but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

Proverb 13:4.

All hard work brings a profit,

but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Proverb 14:23.

He who works his land will have abundant food,

but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.

Proverb 28:19.


Yup, it comes down to money.

What took them so long to figure it out?  From the June 21, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal is an article entitled As Prisons Squeeze Budgets, GOP Rethinks Crime Focus.  There has been an awakening.  The 5th and 6th paragraphs from the article state,

Georgia is the latest example of a Republican-led state drive to replace tough-on-crime dictums of the 1990s with a more forgiving and nuanced set of laws.  Leading the charge in states such as Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and South Dakota are GOP lawmakers-and in most cases Republican governors-who once favored stiff prison terms aimed at driving down crime.

Motivations for the push are many.  Budget pressure and burgeoning prison costs have spurred new thinking.  Some advocates point to data showing that harsh prison sentences often engender more crime.  Among the key backers are conservative Christians talking of redemption and libertarians who have come to see the prison system as the embodiment of a heavy-handed state.  And crime rates are falling nationally, a trend that has continued in most of the states putting fewer people in jail.

For non-violent criminal offenders, governors are looking to alternatives to prisons.  This article, written by Neil King, Jr., focuses primarily on Georgia and its governor Nathan Deal.  Governor Deal has a son, a judge who presides over one of the accountability courts, in this case a drug court.  Another quote from the article follows:

In Gainesville, 427 would-be felons have graduated from Judge Deal’s drug court since it began nearly a decade ago.  Each went through a two-year program of mandatory employment or schooling, frequent drug tests and group counseling.  The program costs $13 a day per person, compared with $50 a day to feed and house a state prisoner.  After their release, nearly a third of state prisoners end up committing another crime.  The recidivism rate among drug-court graduates is just 8%, a recent state audit found.

Have you ever watched the ESPN show The Numbers Never Lie?  Based on the above, it’s a slam dunk from both the fiscal standpoint and the recidivism rate for accountability courts over prisons.


It’s official. . .

The condo fee is now more than the 2nd trust (mortgage) on the house.

Condo fees never decline. They only increase.

Disclosure: condo fee includes all utilities (minus telephone) plus cable along with parking space fee.

Faith Direct

Have you experienced the following:  your church requests that you tithe electronically either online or via your smart phone?  Well a couple of weeks ago I and other members were encouraged to do so.  Below is a letter explaining the program. 

In this rapidly changing world of technology, church institutions need to adjust and enable parishioners to make use of new systems that are available.  I’d like to ask you to consider, not necessarily increasing your donations to Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land but making your generous gifts in a new way.  I am hoping you will join others who use electronic giving through Faith Direct to support Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.  Faith Direct is a convenient program, and there are several reasons why electronic giving is being offered:


People have found the Faith Direct program simple to sign-up with and easy to use.  In fact, you can manage your giving using your computer or with a simple phone call.  You can easily access a statement for tax purposes at the end of the year, and you can even earn points on your credit card by donating to Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.


You no longer have to worry about writing checks or finding your envelopes on Sunday morning.  People today are writing fewer checks, and there are increasing fees attached to check usage both for you and our Monastery.  Additionally, I know we’re all trying to do our small part for the environment and use less paper in our daily lives.


Electronic giving is good stewardship for the Monastery since it reduces the time we spend posting contributions and makes accounting easier and more transparent.  Electronic giving is also more secure than having cash or checks stored in the office, even for a short time.


I’d like to recommend the Faith Direct program to you for this exciting way to support the Monastery with your contributions.  You may also want to visit the Faith Direct website, www.faithdirect.net, or call their toll-free number, 866-507-8757, for more information.

I’m convinced!  The Faith Direct program does sound like a smart move.  And particularly appealing is accessing a statement for tax purposes at the end of the year.

Once I make this move, I realize I really don’t need checks anymore.  😦  The primary reason for writing checks is for church.  But I will still need that checkbook ledger to keep track of my checking account. 🙂 [and I know some of you are saying – no you don’t].


“Ban the box”

Michelle Singletary, who writes The Color of Money column at the Washington Post, wrote an interesting article entitled For ex-cons seeking work, let’s ‘ban the box’.

Toward the end of the column, Michelle Singletary writes,

When ex-offenders fill out job applications, many have to check a box indicating they have been convicted of a crime.  That checked box has become a brand preventing them from getting jobs or even interviews.  I’m an advocate for the growing “Ban the Box” movement, which advocates eliminating from applications questions about criminal convictions.

Employers have a right to check the backgrounds of potential workers to ensure they are hiring competent employees who will not jeopardize the safety of their workers or customers. But having a job is one of the leading factors in preventing ex-offenders from ending up back in prison.

In the column Ms. Singletary discusses the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filing lawsuits against two different companies for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act “by using criminal justice history information that had a disparate impact on black applicants.”  One example Ms. Singletary cites to in her column sounds really bad.

A new contractor took over UTi and required employees to reapply for their positions.  Workers who had criminal convictions were fired, despite the fact that many had worked at the BMW facility for years.  One woman’s ouster was based on a 1990 misdemeanor conviction for simple assault in which she paid a $137 fine, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit.  She had worked for UTi and prior BMW logistics-services providers for 14 years.

That example is pretty extreme.  A simple assault, a misdemeanor, from 1990 and her 14 year history with the company is flushed down the toilet?  I understand the EEOC’s concern.

But, we all know for some positions, such as day care provider, not only do prospective applicants have to disclose any criminal background, but they have to be finger printed, etc.  And we as a society DEMAND such thoroughness when it comes to protecting our most vulnerable population.

I also understand a retail employer not wanting to hire someone who has stolen money while previously employed in another retail position.

But I don’t think the blame should be placed on the employer ( in most instances).  It is the applicant with the checkered past.  I do believe in second chances but we must acknowledge the onus is on the applicant.  Did that prospective employer tell that applicant to steal, to buy illegal drugs, to rob a bank?  Of course not.

At the beginning of the column, the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs Ms. Singletary writes,

We discuss the decisions that led them to their current situation.  In the case of a recent session, the participants were all inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women.

During the presentation, one woman tearfully described how she sold drugs so that she could buy brand-name clothes, shoes and other items for herself and her children.  She was trying to make up for what she didn’t have as a child.

So this woman, who hopefully grew up with one or both parents though she lacked material things, is behind bars (and where are her children?) because she wanted to provide, not just material things for her children, but brand-name material items?  I bet her children would rather have their mother around than those brand-name material items which cannot hug them, console them, love them.

I am on the fence about “ban the box,” leaning more towards not banning the box.

What about you?

Who knew Ross: Dress for Less

Carried a line of cool summer dresses made in India? Love the colors & the material. Only problem: the dresses look like someone’s rotweiler took a bite of each side of the dresses. What a pity 😦

That’s why I’m in line with active wear only.

You know your car is “old ” when

* you have paid $3,000 in repairs the past three years

* you have purchased four new tires for a second time

* the passenger window will roll down when you push the button,  but won’t roll up

* you had to replace either or both the headlights or taillights

* Lojack sends out its most senior technician because the model installed in your car was discontinued about 8 years ago

Follow-up: I detest long lines at the grocery store

Within 10 minutes of uploading my previous post,  a Giant employee walked over and asked the people in front me: is that all you are purchasing? They had two loaves of bread. They responded yes. He told them to go to customer service. He then turned to me,  looked at my basket and directed me to customer service.

Within a few minutes this employee remarked to me he was trying to help out with the long lines. I expressed my thanks and told him I had just blogged about the long line.

I doubt if anyone from Giant is following The Money Heifer. Happily for me fate intervened 🙂

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