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I’m currently reading Waiter Rant by Steve Dublianca and I can’t stress how excellent the book is. There is something so amazing when someone is just honest and forthcoming about their personal experiences. It’s like an invisible connection of emotions and thoughts that we can relate to. The writer explains his experience working in the restaurant industry.

For starters, I commend him. Working with the general public is difficult but the food industry is a beast all in its own. I tried my hand at working at a local Cuban restaurant when I was about 14 and made it through about a 1 day, 4 hour shift and I never went back. A few years later and one of the only times  I was able to not work and simply focus on school, I took a temp job at a Subway (at least it was temporary in my mind). That lasted just long enough to pay off my newly minted credit card. It wasn’t a hard job, but the clincher for me was when one day I was getting ready for school. I had taken a shower, gotten ready, and got to class. Of course, I always sat in the back and still do like the genuine handful that I am. The thing is that I caught a whiff of Subway. If you’ve ever eaten subway you know they have an incredibly distinguishable smell. It was only after a few minutes that I realized that smell of subway was me. I didn’t last, I cracked. I was still around 19 or 20 years old, super self-centered and self-conscious and couldn’t fathom going to school smelling like I’d been bathing in Subway. Needless to say I quit.

The writer of Waiter Rant talks a lot about humanity, the socioeconomic disparity and more importantly, the ruthlessness in our own humanity. One of the examples he talks about is a women who suffered a stroke in the restaurant. The woman is waiting for an ambulance when a couple walks in and proceeds to argue about the table they want, all while this woman is on the floor having a stroke. If you shook your head while reading that, take a second and think, are you that person on the train that has watched someone pass out and sucked your teeth or sighed out loud at the delay? Because I’ve watched this happen before. Right, because the person laying on the filthy subway car totally planned on botching your morning commute. I’m ruthless and cutthroat in a lot of ways, but on the other hand I am empathetic and understanding. So if I’m stuck under ground or plain stuck because your having a medical emergency, I think, oh well at least I’m still alive to see another day, the person who’s on the floor might not be that fortunate.

The book talks about a homeless guy who sometimes gets food from a restaurant. It reminds me of the homeless problem in New York and nationally. A few years back I was out with one of my best friends. The weather was brutal, I could feel the cold through my 1 Madison fox fur, goose coat. (Okay PETA advocates, have a seat. I didn’t know at the time it was authentic until I read the tag). The thing was that there was a woman with a thin coat asking for a coffee. Yes, a coffee. What upset me was everyone ignored her. She wasn’t asking for change, she wasn’t asking for money, she just wanted something to warm up. Now I pose this question, how can you say no? I’ve often asked homeless people if their hungry. I may not be rolling in the dough but how can you justify denying someone a meal. This past week this has been bouncing around in my peanut head. If I can afford a $300 Coach bag, how can I justify denying someone even a $5 meal? Can you? I know I can’t. Let’s put it this way, if you own an iPhone you know they retail for about $600 or upwards unless you have contract etc.. If you own an iPad, your walking around with now $1,000 in goods at minimum. So just think about that.

I’m not saying it’s up to one person or anyone to dive in financially and help the homeless or to jump in and save the life of a passed out passenger. What I am saying is we need to be a bit more conscientious of our attitudes towards each other. The truth is—even me included in this—it’s easy to be consumed by the work and school grind, however, no matter the pursuit, you should never lose sight of your humanity.

Here is my fave quote from the book:

“My Godfather, a Catholic Priest, once told me: ‘You may be the strongest and survive-only to win a life not fit for living.'”

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”
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I started reading a book called Kitty Genovese, based on the 1960’s murder of a young woman. What stands out is that in this case people heard the woman’s screams yet no one did anything. Neighbors either went to sleep, assumed someone else was calling for help and in turn no one did anything. The reason I wanted to talk about this is because according to the book in the 60’s ambulances did not have the capabilities to treat emergencies as they do today. The entire point is no one did anything when she was initially attacked. Her attacker returned and finished the brutality that he started when he found her lying in a hallway of a building.

Yet.. the other day, my significant other showed me a video of a young woman passed out and people working on her. I was disgusted. Why? Because I could not wrap my head around the fact that people were taping it like it was a reality show.

In that situation, medical attention was summoned, but then I was floored by the reaction. Since when did we become a voyeuristic society where everything is filmed even the most shameful, embarrassing, or life threatening situations. You called 911, awesome, you may have saved someone’s life, but why take it a step further and record and why do we watch?

In some cases, one could argue that filming certain events has saved lives. At the same time, would I want to see my mother, sister, or best friend virulently and unsuccessfully being resuscitated for the rest of my days to haunt me? As if losing someone isn’t hard enough! It’s every fight, every encounter that instead of stepping in, we opt to record. People watched the murder of Kitty Genovese. Some weren’t sure what they saw but the point is they watched.

The book is said to explain why people watched and yet, no one intervened. Is it our self preservation? Then again, why in the second scenario would people record such a thing?

All I know is that, I think we need to step up more and hold ourselves more accountable. Consider the consequences of a video that will never go away, consider who it affects, who will pay the price for its existence. Not everything that happens should be recorded to never cease to exist. We all know how the internet works. You post, he post, it gets shared and you can’t stop it. It snowballs from one small snowball to an uncontrollable one. So before we pick up our iPhones and iPads, how about we call 911 first and make sure the person’s okay if it’s safe to do so.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

It’s free!

I ended my last post with hoping that iPad works with Blackboard. It does, and I give it a solid B+/A.

I have used my iPad for reading my textbooks, accessing both my courses, opening all the links, folders, assignments, discussion boards and everything else that I need on Blackboard. By clicking on “Quick View”‘, I can create and reply to threads on Discussion Board. I am not sure if Quick View is something that needs to be enabled by the instructor. Both of my courses have that option. If you do not see it on the lower left side of the menu bar below Tools, ask your instructor to add it.

If you plan to post a long DB entry, I do not recommend typing directly into the comment box. The scroll feature with the comment box does not work on the iPad. If your entry is long, you cannot see all of it – only the amount of text that fits in the comment box is viewable. So, if you want to see what you wrote in the first paragraph and you are already on paragraph four, you cannot see or access paragraph one. It is there; you just cannot see it. You can click preview post and view it that way, but you cannot edit it unless the portion that needs to be edited is in the comment box. This is a bit hard to explain, so you may have to find out the hard way yourself.

As I said I would do in my last blog post, I purchased the Pages app for $9.99. It permits me to create a Word-type document, edit it, save it and seamlessly email it to myself so I can download it to a computer and then upload it into Blackboard. It is not as difficult or convoluted as it may sound. There is no “desktop” on the iPad and I have not yet found a way of uploading my saved Pages document directly into Blackboard. I also have not mastered “copy and paste” yet. It is kind of hard on a touchpad.

An added benefit to the Pages app is that I can open all Word documents in Blackboard – even Word 2007. Without Pages, I could open some but not all of them. Now, any Word document that otherwise does not open in Blackboard opens automatically in Pages. I am still undecided about buying the Numbers (Excel) app. I was able to open an Excel spreadsheet on Blackboard without it.

I am typing this blog post in Pages and I will email it to myself, download it to my desktop and copy the text into WordPress. The reasons are the same as for Blackboard – the comment box issue and my copy and paste issues on iPad. As an aside, The SPS Community Blog looks great on the iPad. But, posting comments to someone else’s blog entry does not work. Take care of that please, WordPress people?

Dr. Helft graciously commented on my last post and offered to look into making Blackboard more accessible to the iPad and spreading the word among faculty. In a follow-up email, she expressed some issues with the current version of Blackboard but advised that those would be addressed in the next upgrade. Thank you Dr. Helft. I am sure that the iPad will be used much more frequently with Blackboard and I am sure that by the time the next Blackboard version is available, it will be completely user-friendly with iPad and other tablets. Maybe even an app version will be ready.

Does anyone use an iPad or another tablet with Blackboard? How do you like it?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumnae of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary hopes to get more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

All the time I went to school, from 1st grade through college, I loved school supplies. The best part of late August was buying the new notebooks, loose leaf binders, pens, markers, protractors and everything else that went along with the new school year. Of course, all the new toys needed a nice home and the highlight was the new book bag. My love of school supplies carried over to when my kids went through school, although everything was more expensive, fancier and complicated.

When I started SPS last year, I bought e-textbooks and printed out the chapters one by one so I could read them while I commuted to work. Although the e-textbook was less expensive, I didn’t have to carry a heavy book, and I was spared the ordeal of trying to sell it back at the end of the semester. I spent a lot of time, killed a lot of trees and went through many ink cartridges.

At the end of the spring semester, I decided to buy a tablet. After some research, I learned that the online textbook vendor had an app only for the iPad, so that is what I purchased. I tried it with Blackboard and found that it was useful only if the instructor enabled “Quick View”. So, at first I used it mostly for email and web surfing.

I quickly discovered the joys of downloading e-books from the public library and caught up on all my fun summer reading – everything from the Peoples’ History of the United States to the Stieg Larsson trilogy to trashy summer novels. I downloaded a bunch of classics for free (the complete works of Shakespeare, the Canterbury Tales, The Divine Comedy and many other books I owned but were lost in a fire years ago). Have you tried to check out a classic from the library recently? They are dusty, they smell and the pages feel funky.

Last week, I took the plunge and downloaded my fall textbooks. It took a little trial and error and there are limitations on how many chapters  can be downloaded at one time (I bought the cheaper wireless-only version of the iPad and not the 3G model), but it worked! I began reading my Economics and Marketing textbooks off-line while commuting to and from work. When I don’t feel like reading on the bus, I can do the USA Today crossword puzzle without an Internet connection via its app.

Although typing on the iPad takes some getting used to, I will download the Pages app for $9.99 and see if I can delay replacing my ancient and slow iBook.

Many critics call the iPad an expensive toy, a frivolous waste of money and a glorified smartphone. However, it has made my life so much easier and I can’t imagine going to school or doing business without one. Can you?

Now, lets hope it works with Blackboard . . .

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumnae of Lehman College.  She is an administrator for a university in NYC.  She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible.  Mary hopes to get more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004. 

I witnessed a rare sight a few weeks ago while on the train.  There was a woman reading the New York Times which, by itself, is not so uncommon.  What was atypical was that the woman reading it appeared to be in her early twenties.  Many people still read the paper version of the The Gray Lady, but those reading it usually have graying hair.  It’s simply a generational thing.

We now live in the age of digital media.  Just as the horse carriage gave way to the automobile, and the typewriter to the personal computer, we are now in the midst of what appears to be, perhaps, the slow and eventual demise of the book.  Ride any commuter train and look around.  People are reading but they’re often reading Kindles, they’re reading Nooks, and they’re reading iPads.  Fewer and fewer people are reading books in traditional form.

In Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal lies Posman’s Books.  In the transient and frenetic human movement that makes up GCT lies this literary refuge where commuters can take a few of their precious moments and browse countless books, new and old, fact or fiction.  It’s a visceral experience to the avid reader; being inundated with a landscape of book covers, different colors, different photos.  There is a sensory component to the experience of searching and deciding which book to purchase next.  Then there is the tactile aspect of actually reading the book; feeling the book in one’s hands, physically turning its pages, using a bookmark that represents a keepsake while once traveling abroad.  These all compose the totality of the reading experience.  Yet, most of these attributes are lost when you’re reading a book on a device such as the Kindle.  The iPad captures the reading experience better than most devices.  With its color, page-turning simulation, and one’s very own bookcase case, the leap from traditional book to digital device is coming at a lower cost to the consumer.  What one loses in transition is slowly being diminished.

You can see these changes rather subtly at any bookstore.  I often see people typing into their phones just after glancing at myriad book titles.  I can only surmise that they are tallying a list of which books to purchase next for their respective e-readers or, for that matter, from Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com.  In a way, bookstores are becoming browsing venues for consumers while the actual product-purchase is a transaction that takes place in a different venue, often online, and often cheaper.  It is a challenging road ahead for small bookstores.

So how will this process play out?  If you live in New York, just look around.  Cars are ubiquitous, the only place you can really find a horse carriage is in Central Park, and the typewriter is a long lost relic of the past.  Are books doomed to the same fate?  Maybe, maybe not.  E-reading devices may not necessarily improve the reading experience but they clearly provide readers with a new channel of distribution in which to consume the product, and that matters significantly.  There was a time when most people listened to music on a Sony Walkman.  You’re now about as likely to find a Walkman as you are to find a typewriter – except on EBay.  And speaking of things that may be headed for extinction, there is the aforementioned New York Times newspaper.  But that’s a topic for another time.

John Brigantino is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  He enjoys writing, non-fiction books, traveling and the many cultural and leisure experiences Manhattan has to offer.