Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How did this happen and why? Contemplating Newtown.

Reflections. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Gina F. Rubel. 

Friday, December 14, 2012 is a day that Americans will remember for a lifetime if not for many generations to come. A day when the nation's heroes became 20 innocent children and seven elementary school educators and administrators – all of whom felt safe and secure when they arrived at school that morning. Today we ask ourselves, "How did this happen and why?" "Who is to blame?" "How do we stop this from ever happening again?" We have no real answers.

Like most parents, immediately following the news that there was a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, all I wanted to do was to see our children. My husband called to tell me what he had heard on the news as he was driving home. His immediate thought was to protect our nine-year-old son from hearing the news on television so that we could deliver the horrible message in the gentlest way possible. And so we did. I then called our daughter who was visiting with a friend and told her that I needed her to come home. And so she did. That night I held them both a little tighter and both a little longer. And our parents called us just to say, "I love you."

The following Monday, our children had the blessing to go back to school but this time with the knowledge of the terrible tragedy that had occurred just three days prior. As I kissed our son and said "I love you" in front of the school, all I could ask of God was to keep him and all others safe. Then I drove past my daughter's middle school and asked God to keep her and everyone in the school safe as tears began to fall once again with the reality of Dec. 14th living in a nation of lost innocence.

A friend of mine had this to say: "I drove by my son's school today and my heart stopped. . . . I lost my breath, then I stopped. . . . I took a moment to thank God that it was not his school, in our town, on some random Friday, for some un-godly reason."

I thanked God for all the same things. But as I contemplate this horrible tragedy, it is ever apparent that it did happen in "our town" because those children have relatives who are our friends. Those heroes and their families are our neighbors. We live here in America where the national debates center around funding cuts in education, unemployment and healthcare, gun control, and rising taxes –all of which affect our personal safety physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. And we ask, "How did this happen and why?" We have no answers.

As a child, I remember my mother talking about where she was when Kennedy was assassinated. She recalled how she found out about the tragedy, how the nation came to a stop, how the nation mourned, and how all eyes turned to the television to say goodbye. They asked, "How did this happen and why?"

On January 28, 1986, when I was in 11th grade in Catholic school, I remember sitting in our homeroom watching the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger when all of a sudden it went from being an epic launch to a national disaster. The 30 or so young ladies and our teacher all began to cry when we understood that we had just witnessed the loss of innocent lives. We asked, "How did this happen and why?"

On September 11, 2001, I was sitting at my desk in work when my father called and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I turned on the news and witnessed the impact of the second plane, the uncertainty of the national news media as to what could be happening, the gut feeling that this was terrorism and that America had lost its innocence, and the fact that I had to leave the office (despite my boss's missive that we had work to do) to pick up our daughter. I had to go home to be with my family. As we cried, we asked, "How did this happen and why?"

And as the incidents of the Columbine High School massacre unfolded in April 1999 and the stories of the Aurora, Colorado Movie Theater massacre unfolded earlier this year, we all asked ourselves, "How did this happen and why?"

And still, we have no answers. In fact, we may never have real answers. We may argue, debate, and fight about the "issues." We may read missive after missive in the media and on social media. We may hear people pontificate about the right and wrong answer. But yet, we will never learn absolute truth in this lifetime.

What we do have is the knowledge that each moment of life is precious and sacred. We are privileged to live in America where we have freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Where we have the Constitution and its Amendments to protect us from ourselves and our government. Where we can debate issues openly without the fear of punishment. Where we can love who we wish and live how we choose. Where we can fight for equal rights for all. Where food is plentiful and education is free. We may never have the answers to "How did this happen and why?" but we must also never forget what happened in Newtown, CT. 

So today, let us all curb our judgment and anger towards others, listen a little bit harder even if we disagree, thank God for what we do have, pray for all those directly affected by last week's horrible tragedies, and vow to make a difference in our communities which were all truly affected* by the loss of lives and innocence on Dec. 14, 2012. 

*To everyone directly affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre I send my heartfelt prayers – for the children are angels and the adults are true heroes. May you find peace someday, somehow. Godspeed. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Social Media and the Courts: Recap From TLI Litigation Summit, Part IV – The Legal Intelligencer Blog

Gina F. Rubel recently authored a blog for The Legal Intelligencer titled, “Social Media and the Courts: Recap From TLI Litigation Summit, Part IV.” To provide you with a bit of background, in September 2012, The Legal hosted its first annual Litigation Summit in Philadelphia and Gina co-moderated its lunch program with Mary Platt of Griesing Law. Program panelists included Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas President Judge Pamela P. Dembe; Judge John W. Herron, administrative judge of the court’s Trial Division; and President Judge Marsha H. Neifield of the Philadelphia Municipal Court. Gina's blog is an overview of what the panel discussed – specifically highlighting how social media has affected litigation in the courts. To read the full post, go to The Legal Intelligencer Blog.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Greetings from Furia Rubel Marketing & PR

We hope you enjoy the Furia Rubel Marketing & PR 2012 animated holiday card...

Wishing you a wealth of warmth and prosperity.

From the integrated marketing team at Furia Rubel Communications

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Holiday Gifting at Work

Posted by Rose Strong

It’s that time of year again, when we begin to think about holiday celebrations at the office. We’ve all been there, right? You drive into work and hear the holiday music on the radio and see the festive light decorations on the way home and start wondering about gifts for co-workers and the boss.

I come from a large corporate culture where buying gifts for an entire unit or office section could leave you broke; it was usually the Secret Santa path I often had to travel this time of year. I liked that there was a monetary value limit to the gift exchange and we typically went in as a group, each person contributing a set amount to purchase a nice gift for our manager. This was a somewhat generic solution to a sticky situation, but, easy overall.

As this is my first holiday season here at Furia Rubel, the idea of the season’s celebration in the office had been on my mind for a few weeks. I asked one of my co-workers what the gift-giving culture is at our office. She explained that up until a couple years ago, they used to give gifts to one another, but a few folks felt the obligatory giving was too stressful. It was decided there would no longer be gift-giving at the holidays and the staff have opted for a scaled-down celebration. We’ll have a pot-luck lunch (with emails going around indicating some great food to come) and ‘no obligation’ on gifts, but homemade food gifts are always welcome. That’s nice considering Furia Rubel has some top notch cooks and bakers.
As an aside, the staff at Furia Rubel will be fortunate enough to receive some additional time off over the holidays as an extra gift. The office will be closed from Christmas Eve through New Years. An extra week of vacation at this time of year is a present we’re all grateful to have.

However, your gift-giving may not be so easy.

This is the time of year when we want to thank folks who have been helpful in our day-to-day jobs, supportive of our careers and those who have mentored us, so it’s worth taking time to plan what to do.

Unless you want to be perceived as the office brownnoser, gifting-up is one of those actions you need to proceed with caution. An article in Ladies Home Journal points the way toward a manager’s hobbies or donating to a charity in their name as being rather safe for gift-giving.
If you don’t do a Secret Santa or even if you do, but want to give to someone who has done something special over the past year, the inter-cubicle gifts should be given as discreetly as possible, so as not to ruffle other co-workers’ feathers.

Here are a few of the many suggestions out there regarding the office Secret Santa gifts:

1.    Decide on a spending cap and stick to it. Setting a limit and sticking to it eliminates others thinking you are playing favorites, especially if you happen to pick out the name of someone you socialize with in and out of work.

2.    If a co-worker is unable to participate, be considerate. Some people, either due to finances, religious or cultural differences, prefer not to partake in holiday giving and their wishes should be respected.

3.    Avoid personal items such as jewelry, cologne or clothes. Some things are just too personal for the office friendships unless you truly know the person or are longtime colleagues.

4.    Write your own gift ideas on the Secret Santa gift slip. Everyone who participates may write on the slip of paper they’ll put into the collective hat that’s passed around with co-workers names in it and may list up to three things they would appreciate that would stick within the allotted budget, i.e., candles, gift card to a book store or movie tickets, to name a few.

Giving to the boss? A few tips to make you look less like the office brownnoser and more like you truly appreciated them through the past year:

1.    Don’t gift-up on your own. It’s important to recognize that the boss can see that you may be trying to ingratiate yourself to them. Some like it, but most do not and neither do your fellow employees. Decide on a dollar amount you will give for a collective gift.

2.    Make a charitable donation in their name. What manager needs another tchotchke to collect dust on their desk or shelf at home? Making a gift in their name to a reputable charity or the charity of their choice makes a difference in someone’s life.

3.    Tickets to a show or sporting event. Be sure to purchase at the very least, a pair of tickets.

4.    If someone is unable to participate – Understand regardless of their reason and have them sign their name to the card out of courtesy, if they’d like. Holiday gifting to the boss doesn’t need to be stressful, and for those who don’t participate, it can be worrisome as to how givers and non-givers are perceived in management’s eyes.

Remember, the season is about giving. If you get a gift from someone and didn’t get them one, a simple thank you is all they need. Reciprocating simply because you’ve been given a gift isn’t what the holiday season is about.