Politically Speaking

I thought about entering the political spectrum for a while. Well, maybe that thought got even more fueled during the Obama mania (yes I read “Audacity of Hope,” I’ll have a review of that soon). After Obama was elected and seeing history before my eyes, I too wanted to further contribute to society through public service.

I started small, volunteering as an intern at my local district supervisor’s office once or twice a week. It helped me learn that I wouldn’t do well in weekly committee meetings, meeting with companies and organizations out for their own benefit, tedious tasks of reading and summarizing ridiculous reports on how a department over spent and now needs MORE money to cover themselves (FYI, I’m not a fan of the SFMTA).

I guess that its probably the fact that I’m more of a people person rather then a meeting person. I mean, I’ll meet if I have too but weekly for three different committees going on for hours at a time, no! When does one see their constituents, partake in their fruits of labor or actually get anything done? No wonder it takes months if not years for a bill to pass and the bureaucracy behind it all, my God! I’d just die if I had to sit through a minute of it without calling out the bullshit!

Maybe I’m too loud, aggressive, assertive and have too much concern for the people that being a public servant might not necessarily be my calling. I’m not ruling out one day running for political office, I’m just speaking of my short inside look at things in San Francisco City Hall. Things could be done more effectively, with less cost, to better serve the people. That could start with our local governments.


To Craigslist or Not to Craigslist

I have been researching some of these job search engines out there today but focused on the local ones. One in particular always stands out to me, Craigslist. I’ve always used and respected the work Craigslist has done in regards to finding local work, gigs and community events. Something I noticed with Craigslist which I wanted to share with my job seekers.

Disclaimer: I’m not promoting or advertising for Craigslist, just giving pointers on how to use them.

I put my resume on Craigslist where my email address was viewable. In one hour, I had received a good 30 emails, none of them were real jobs. Just a bunch of scam companies promoting working from home wiring money. The same happened when I then posted my resume with the option to make my email address anonymous. When I posted my resume without my email address and just my phone number, then I got about two calls with serious job offers.

Obviously, something is up when using Craigslist.

The companies that continued to email me rarely had any postings up on Craigslist. That could be explained by two things, 1. it does cost $75 per job posting and 2. Craigslist let’s its users flag postings that are seen as spam. It would make sense that companies really looking to hire would invest the time and money to find the right candidate.

What can job seekers do to better utilize Criagslist? I suggest that must you post your resume, take your email out of the equation. You’ll get fewer responses but at least they are serious calls. I would prefer that you DON’T post resumes on Craigslist. Instead, designate time to search jobs posted. You can even have search results from keywords emailed to you on a daily basis so that you don’t miss out. That works more efficiently then getting 30 spam emails.

There are plenty local job search Web sites right here in the Bay Area that you can utilize including Bay Area Help Wanted and Bay Area Jobs. Share your favorite local job search Web sites by posting a comment below, on our Facebook group or message me on Twitter.

Kucinich’s Statement on Iraq

…I just had to share this interesting statement made by Dennis Kucinich on June 30th as noted here

Kucinich: “Troop movement should not be confused with a troop withdrawal from Iraq”
Washington, Jun 30

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement regarding the announcement that U.S. troops have left the cities and towns of Iraq and turned over formal security to Iraqi security forces.

“The withdrawal of some U.S. combat troops from Iraq’s cities is welcome and long overdue news. However, it is important to remember that this is not the same as a withdrawal of U.S. troops and contractors from Iraq.

“U.S. troop combat missions throughout Iraq are not scheduled to end until more than a year from now in August of 2010. In addition, U.S. troops are not scheduled for a complete withdrawal for another two and a half years on December 31, 2011. Rather, U.S. troops are leaving Iraqi cities for military bases in Iraq. They are still in Iraq, and they can be summoned back at any time.

“This is not a great victory for peace. On May 19, the Christian Science Monitor reported that Iraqi and U.S. military officials virtually redrew the city limits of Baghdad in order to consider the Army’s Forward Operating Base Falcon as outside the city, despite every map of Baghdad clearly showing it with in city limits. In fact, according to Section 24.3 of the “SOFA” U.S. troops can remain at any agreed upon facility. The reported reason for this decision is to ensure U.S. troops are able to ‘help maintain security in south Baghdad along what were the fault lines in the sectarian war.’

“This troop movement should not be confused with a troop withdrawal from Iraq. In reality, this is a small step toward Iraqi sovereignty as Iraqi security forces begin assuming greater control over security operations, but it is a long way from independence and a withdrawal of the U.S. military presence.”

In Memorandum, Marcelle Demetri

Being raised by immigrant parents, English wasn’t spoken much at home so that we can learn and keep both Arabic and English. We were exposed to music, movies and other media in both languages but socialized more in Arabic. Starting elementary school was when I learned to better balance and socialize in both languages. During my first six months, a few people were of great help to me. Some staying in my life long after those months and for the many years that followed. One of those people was Marcelle Demetri.

Marcelle Demetri, 1943 – 2009

It was something about her smile and warmth that attracted me to her when I was young and shy. Turns out, she’s an old family friend of my parents who happened to be working at Fairmont Elementary School as a teacher’s aide. Even after my elementary years, our families were always in touch. We were always at her home, playing with her dogs and watching movies. She baby sat us a lot during my parents separation.

Despite her illness, she was always there through the good and bad. During many difficult events in my life, I’ll never forget that she was there regardless. Rain or shine, stairs or elevator, this amazing strong woman defied being in a wheelchair with an amputated leg to be there for her friend’s family. People like her are one in a million, a true rare gem.

I always remembered her for her warm touching hugs and beautiful smile. Seeing her on Thursday, June 25th during her wake and knowing this was the last time I’ll see her smiling face was difficult. Touching her hand that had turned cold was just heartbreaking. She was an amazing and important part in my life.

I truly miss her know that she’s in a better and healthier place. May she rest in God’s eternal peace and light… AMEEN.

Simple Budgeting

Disclaimer: I’m not a financial adviser. If anything, I hate math and I’m not a rich person. However, I do handle our household finances quite well and think it simply takes common sense to manage your basic household finances. What I’m about to discuss below is geared mainly to students to make some type of sense of their first paychecks so that it’s worth while in the long run.

I know a lot of students get really excited when they first get a job that they end up spending their first check before its even earned. Right now, with the way the economy is, budgeting should be every one’s priority. Below are a few simple steps to help you make sense of it all which I hope would make even Suze Orman proud!

First, to better understand where your money is going, make a list of all your expenses. For example, what are you paying a month for:
– rent/mortgage
– food/groceries
– utilities
– school expenses (books, equipment, student loans)
– phone/Internet
– cable
– credit card payments
– insurance
– medical
transportation (car payment, gas, bus fare, etc)
– savings

If your expenses exceed your monthly income, know that you have a problem. If you have more wants then necessities on your list, you have an even bigger problem. There are ways to decrease or even eliminate some of those excessive wants from your expense list. Ask yourself, do you really watch 500 channels? Must you eat lunch out every single day? Do you seriously have to keep every light in your home on? Does it hurt to make your own coffee at home versus a $6 cup from Starbucks?

Making a few adjustments can go along way. You’d be surprised how much money you could save a year. Just do the math. You can save up to $420 by getting just a basic cable package (if not eliminating cable all together now that many channels are free with the new national digital upgrade). You can save up to $200 a year by making lunch at home at least 3 times a week. You can save up to $250 a year off the electric utility bill by using energy efficient light bulbs and just turning off unnecessary lights. You can save over $360 a year making your own coffee at home before you head out for your day.

Speaking of saving, do you have a rainy day fund? Once you know how much you need a month for your expenses, you should start putting a certain amount in savings a month. Your goal should be to have at the least up to 3 months of expenses saved in a rainy day fund. The more the better but don’t go beyond your means. The point of such funds is to protect you should you hit a financial stumble along the way. Remember, you’re a student with more expenses to come along the way in an unstable economy. The more prepared you are, the more protected you are.

Think about this: San Francisco, where I live, created a rainy day fund about a few years ago. When the state of California issued pink slips to about 500 teachers in San Francisco alone, the rainy day fund helped save about 400 of those jobs. That’s how important such a fund is.

To better budget and manage your personal finances, you need to take a few moments to put everything in perspective and check out a few helpful tools. You can put your expenses list in a spread sheet to include your monthly income, expenses and savings. Many online banking give you the option to download your statements into a spread sheet as well as other tools. There are other tools and websites such as moneyStrands, Wasabe, or Mint.

If you use any other tools or strategies to manage your finances, do share with us by posting a comment below, on our Facebook group or message me on Twitter.

Praises for Fathers

Almost 40 years ago, my late Amuh* Ibrahim did what he could to bring my father from Egypt to America. Amuh Ibrahim had a small business and with my dad being the few of his 8 siblings wanting a better education and work opportunities, it just seemed best fit.

My dad came and worked with Amuh Ibrahim for many years while learning English and taking courses to better his knowledge in almost anything. Life in San Francisco, CA wasn’t the country side of Tukh, Egypt but it was bliss. After standing on his feet, bringing Amuh Abdoun to CA from Egypt and leaving Amuh Ibrahim’s business to take a labor union job, my dad went back to Egypt for a visit. He came back happily married to my mother.

My father struggled to make a better life for his wife and kids. Things change and people grow apart… He was a divorced man but a determined father never the less. Both my parents struggled living apart with 5 children in between. Both being single parents and doing all that they never thought they could for our sake.

My father had these big dreams for himself and when he couldn’t accomplish them, he did whatever he could to pass those dreams on to his children. The higher education he didn’t really finish, the big career job he didn’t have, the love that didn’t last… He wants all that and more for his children. However, his children have tried to make him proud, living out their own dreams that aren’t far from his own. Living apart from my father taught us a great deal of independence and gratitude.

The passing of Amuh Ibrahim last fall reminded us all of that gratitude for family. It was Amuh Ibrahim that took the first step so that two of his younger brothers can follow. As an older sibling, it showed me that what I do can determine what my younger siblings follow. It showed me that we are a piece of our parents hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations.

Today,I think of my cousins as they go through the first Father’s day without Amuh Ibrahim. Everything about them to me is a piece of Amuh Ibrahim. Today and everyday I think of how it makes him an unforgettable man as in my eyes, he lives through them. May he rest in eternal peace as his spirit surround us.

Today, I think of Amuh Abdoun, a man who’s smile is contagious and presence demands respect. Today and everyday, I think of the only other paternal relative I’ve grown to know as a man of religion, strength and will power.

Today and everyday I praise God Almighty for blessing my siblings and I with our father. For his determination, understanding, patience, charisma and smile, God I praise you. Even with his flaws and sometimes silly habits, I praise God. Without him and my mother, we would not be here today, living on the dreams of a young man from Egypt who wanted to go far and beyond.

God, I praise you for my father, Nagah Abdoun.

with my Baba, October 2007
with my Baba, October 2007

*Amuh (عمه) is Arabic for Uncle