Friday, August 26, 2011

Qualified or Quantified?


What does it mean to be qualified? It used to mean you had a degree, extensive training, or some sort of certification that made it okay for you to practice a given profession or seem credible at dinner parties when the topic of conversation lent itself to your area of 'expertise.' But the word 'qualified' seems to have taken on a new meaning. Now I hear of people who have failed to pass the bar exam yet still work for law firms, claiming to be lawyers; teachers who are not certified or can't pass the Praxis II but still instruct in the classroom. Then there is the all-too-prevalent general contractor who doesn't do his homework, hiring subs who have no credentials but claim to be electricians, plumbers, or framers by trade. Sure, houses still get built, people still get legal advice, and students still receive instruction, but shouldn't the word qualified mean something more than just an ability to fake one's way through a task? After all, the word itself almost sounds like the word quality, and if my ninth grade knowledge of Latin roots does not disappoint, I believe they have the same root origin. Quality. Qualified. Yes, I think there should be a connection in the two words' connotations.

These days, it seems anyone is deemed qualified if they talk loud enough, spout generalities, and claim to have done extensive research. Research. There is another term that is so overused it no longer means anything (at least to those of us who are under-impressed by the loud voices of the self-proclaimed 'qualified' ranters). I believe what many people refer to as research is often confused with life experience—something that is undeniably important and should never be discounted, BUT SHOULD NOT BE MISTAKEN AS RESEARCH. When someone says they have done “the research,” I am expecting to see charts, graphs, and years of data and statistics that have been analyzed by numerous sources on both sides of an argument. I expect to see control group studies, proven testing methods, logs, journals, discriminating factors, experiments, failings, and consistent results and evidence that point to an informed claim.

I think it funny when someone says they have "done the research over the last decade,” when in reality what they are saying is that they have personally noticed a growing trend and have done little more than observe it. I believe the proper terminology for a person engaged in this type of passive reflection would be an 'observer' not a researcher. Then there are people who feel qualified to offer an informed evaluation on any given topic, claiming to have “read the research”-- a phrase that is generally code for someone spending an afternoon Googling an issue of choice. I believe the proper terminology for such a person in this instance would be a 'web surfer' not an informed 'expert' as the easily impressed might think.

Expert. There is another word that gets me. What makes someone an expert? While this word is used a bit more sparingly than 'qualified' or 'research,' its meaning still seems to have been diluted over the years as more and more experts are popping up like pimples on the face of an acne-infected society. News outlets, talk shows, and the increasingly popular reality series are prime examples of mediums that are overly saturated with 'experts' who claim to have the astringents that will cleanse America's proverbial pores where the dirt,oil, and scum of the human condition sinisterly reside (okay, enough with the zit metaphor). You get the idea.

Experts are everywhere. But are the self-promoting experts of today really necessary? Doesn't their expertise and research often resemble lessons from the past--lessons learned from the bonafide researchers of yesteryear, or better yet, our grandmothers' idiomatic generation? Are we really so delusional today that we need an 'expert' life coach to tell us how to live happily? I thought that's what honest friends and religious beliefs were for. Do we really need body image experts telling us to get over ourselves and realize that the images portrayed in Hollywood are ridiculous and unattainable for most working-class Americans? I thought that's what mirrors were for. Do parents really need educational experts telling them that reading every day will help determine their child's success in school? I thought that's what common sense was for. And finally, do women really need a sex and family relations expert telling them how to get in the mood and feel more libidinous in the privacy of their own bedrooms? I thought that's what Kevin Costner movies were for...

Silly me. Perhaps I just haven't realized that I, myself, am indeed a qualified expert who has done years of research in my own right. Maybe I should write a book, start an advice column, or begin promoting my observations as research to all who will listen. Maybe I can help appease the masses who seemingly ache for someone to tell them how to act, what to wear, how to parent, what to read, who to trust, what to watch, or how to feel.

Then again, maybe I am not an expert, after all. Maybe I am just someone who is loud and likes to share her opinions regarding her own observations and life experience. But, hey, according to the research I've done over the past two decades, there really is no difference.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lines

The Helpa serious look at a book that made me worry, groan, and laugh out loud.

Any time you cross a line, no matter how real it seems to you and no matter how long ago it was drawn, if you truly respect those on the other side, eventually, the line will cease to exist.

The problem with lines is not that they exist, it's that they keep people from seeing the world from another viewpoint.

Lines were never meant to be drawn by others. Each individual must decide for him or herself where to draw the line on any given issue.

If I can only have relationships with people who view the world as I do and consistently validate the lines I've drawn (without ever questioning them), surely, I do not know true friendship.

The more time someone spends explaining to me why a line exists, the less credibility I give to the line and its observers.

Lines are meant to be crossed with humility and respect. It is one thing to cross a line in order to walk in someone else's shoes. It is entirely another to do it for the sake of trampling on others' soles.

When we say, “She crossed the line,” what we are usually saying is, “She crossed me.” I suppose the trick is to know the difference--and own it.

Lines that lie on the faces of the elderly or in the furrowed brows of a confused child, often have more wisdom than the lines drawn and accepted by society.

I am grateful that Ms. Stockett crossed the line she'd been raised to believe was too “tacky” to cross. Who knows how many other “tacky” lines will be erased as a result.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Resume for a Receptionist

This my answer to the lovely service I was rendered today. I often wonder how long I would have a job if I treated my students, their parents, or my fellow faculty members in a similar manner.

Qualifications: I am adept at becoming so bogged down with everyday tasks that I snap at anyone who dares interrupt my typing or phone answering duties for something so insignificant as checking in at the front desk. I have also mastered an effective eye roll and look of annoyance that is sure to make anyone already uncomfortable with doctors visits even less at ease.

Strengths: Going from a syrupy sweet phone conversation to a cantankerous confrontation with co-workers or patrons with the simple click of the receiver is also a skill I have obtained over the years. I can go from pleasant to bitchy in less than .03 seconds, especially if there is a skinny blond standing at my counter.

Skills: Omitting pertinent information when scheduling appointments is where most of my expertise lies.

Example of Expertise: Just this week (in one of those syrupy sweet phone conversations) I failed to mention that our office had recently changed locations. However, when the patron didn't seem to mind after going to the wrong address, I had to find another way to make her visit memorably unpleasant. I was really able to get under her skin by asking her where her paperwork was. When it was obvious that she didn't have the appropriate forms for her boys, I condescendingly listened to her excuse (...that school hadn't started yet and she was just trying to get a jump on the upcoming school year's physicals—whatever...lame). I then had to roll my chair three whole feet, open the heavy filing cabinet, pull out the one-page forms she needed, and wave them at her...but not before indicating that we keep forms on hand for irresponsible people such as herself. Then when I had rolled all the way back to my desk, she had the nerve to ask me if the BSA required a different form for physicals than the schools (yet another piece of information I could have told her on the phone but didn't). Needless to say, I gave her my signature eye roll AGAIN, scooted my chair an excruciating four whole feet to the filing system, pulled out the BSA forms, and just before handing them to her, let her know that these forms could have been printed online, unmistakeable annoyance rising in my voice. I believe that my handling of this ignorant woman will ensure that we will have less wait time and more opportunities to serve patrons who either don't have insurance or who are on state assisted care because I doubt she--the hard-working, well-dressed, dumb blond, insured-and-willing-to-pay, mother of three--will ever be back.

I look forward to hearing from you...via telephone, of course. I will even consider rolling my chair five whole feet to answer your call.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Utah Moms ala Katy Perry

I know a place where the
Peaks are always higher
Youth, seems to be
the object of ev'ry de-sire
Cold, dry, and white
There's somethin' to that salty water

Sippin' Coke is a sin
So's layin' out in just our skivvies (Undone)
The boys
Crane their necks
Try'na sneak a little creepy peeky (At us)

You could travel the world
But nothin's as fun
as the Wasatch Fro-ont
Once you playgroup with us
You'll be bloggin' every day
oh-oooooh-oh-ooooh

(Chorus)
Utah moms, yeah, we're so incredible
Knee length shorts
Tight t-shirts on top
Spray-on tan
So hot we'll melt your Jell-o
oooooooh oh oooooh ohh
ooooooooh oh oooooh

Utah moms, yeah,we're undeniable
Find fresh deals
With mad coupon skills
Wasatch represent
Now put your hands up.
(oh,oh,oh-oohoh)

(Verse 2)
Don't, ever swear
Heck and freak, are ex-ple-ti-i-ves
We fan
In my van
Josh Groban on the stere-o-o(oh oh)

Utah moms, yeah, we're so determined
Don't care what it takes to give birth
Want to have at least four kids if poss-i-ble
oh oh ah oh oh

You could travel the wo-orld
But nothin's as fun
as the Wasatch Fro-ont
Once you scrapbook with us
You'll be craftin' every day
oh-oooooh-oh-ooooh

(Chorus)
Utah moms yeah, we're so incredible
Knee length shorts
Tight t-shirts on top
Spray-on tan
So hot we'll melt your Jell-o
oooooooh oh oooooh ohh

Tuned in to KSL
Waitin' to hear
What the prophets tell.
Turn it up cuz'
It's gettin' heavy.
Tattoos, piercings
Can't be many.
Body's a temple
Must take a stance
But didn't say nothin'
'bout breast implants!
(Whew!)

The girl's a freak
Married a geek
Eternal comp'
She'll no longer seek
I'm okay
I won't play
Love to say
Can't get enough
Great Salt Lake.
The Hills, New York
They ain't the same
The Real Housewives
Are in Salt Laaaaaaaake

Hometeachin'
Hangin' out
Mod bod t's
Bustin' 'bout
Baby binkis, virgin martinis
No bikinis
Just a kingy
And a queen-ie
Hey, my lady
(Yeah)
You're havin' my baby
(Uh huh)
Hurry up and take my arm
'Cause you look just like a Utah mom
(Ohhh yeahh)

(Chorus)
Utah moms, yeah, we're so incredible
Knee length shorts
Tight t-shirts on top
Spray-on tan
So hot we'll melt your Jell-o
oooooooh oh oooooh ohh
ooooooooh oh oooooh

Utah moms, yeah,we're undeniable
Find fresh deals
With mad coupon skills
Wasatch represent
Now put your hands up.
(oh,oh,oh-oohoh)
Moms of Utah, Utaaahhhhh)
Utah mommies, man
I wish they all could be
Utah moms
(Yeah, they're Utahhhhhh) (ha ha ha ha ha)
I really wish
You all could be
Moms of Utah
(Yeah, Utaaaahhh, moms)