Thursday, October 20, 2016

To whom it may concern

Good Thursday morning to all.

Today I begin a new job, after a long, long, LONG period of exploration, research, application, interviewing, etc., etc., etc.  Very glad to return to full-time activity, and with a quality company as well!

But before I leave the realm of the job-seekers, I'd just like to share some thoughts with those with whom I came into contact during this journey:

To all of the prospective employers who made commitments of varying degrees without upholding any of them:  thank you for keeping me motivated.  The more this happened (and it seemed to have happened a lot over these past months), the more determined I became not to take anything except at face value.  To be fair, some of you wanted to hire me for your critical opening, but were overruled by your boss, or someone else in the organization who had a friend who also needed a job, and so on. But after a few instances of hearing that "the job is pretty much yours" and equally promising statements, I kept my head down and kept pushing forward with my search.

To all of the employers who had an available job for which I was or am grossly overqualified, and in which you still didn't take my interest seriously:  it's a real shame that we didn't have the chance to work together.  Mature people with useful experience are plentiful in today's economy, yet the common thinking is to pass on us, since you just know that we'll up and quit the first sign of a better job.  And we might, but think of the benefits to your company while we're with you.  And that doesn't even address the possibility that you already know that your company isn't worthy of our talents and experience, so I suppose we should all thank you for that favor after all.

To those employers who had difficulty understanding the sum total of my experience, and its relevance to their particular needs:  my apologies.  Apparently my resume did not do a good job in identifying my professional background, at least not good enough for you to see that I was more than a good fit for your opening.  And to those who decided to pass on me, even after your subordinates promoted me to you as a great candidate, it sounds like you and your team may have a communication issue.  Fix that before you attempt any further revisions to how your company operates.

To all of those network contacts who insisted I provide them with a resume copy so that they could circulate it to their contacts:  thank you for getting the word out.  I mean that, but mostly to those who actually shared my resume.  To those who made empty promises of assistance that they had no intention of keeping, as they most likely do on a routine basis, I feel worse for you than for myself and my predicament.  And to those who DID follow through in getting my information to the right people, I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.  While many of those efforts did not lead to anything more than an introductory contact, your efforts were very much appreciated.

To those friends and close associates who kept me "up" with encouragement and serving as a sounding board, you have my most sincere gratitude.  Glad to return the favor, but sincerely hope you never need it!  I especially want to thank those of my friends who helped as much as they could but apologized that they were not able to do more.  That's when you know that you have the RIGHT friends!

And, finally, to my family, the greatest source of strength I could have, thank you a million times over.  You never lost faith or hope or confidence, and while I may not have always expressed it, I always appreciated all of that and more.

So off we go, into the great wide open, as Tom Petty once sang.  Remembering along the way that the journey is the reward.






Saturday, October 15, 2016

The little boy's game

I don't doubt that regular visitors to this space are well aware of my love for the game of baseball.  I am passionate about the game and its traditions and like to think of myself as a student of the game, too.

These interests were magnified substantially when my son entered my life many years ago, as I met his mother and sister.  And as I've explained to my son over time, baseball is dynastic in nature, passed along from one generation to the next and the next.  And now that HE has a son, he sees that, too.  So it's been with a great deal of interest and pride that I have watched my now five-year-old grandson come to love and appreciate the game of baseball as well.

As I believe I have also noted here, my son began night classes in law school some 80 miles away, commuting there three nights per week.  As it happens, he started these classes about the time that my grandson's fall T-ball season began, and those games were usually played on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings.  With our law student away at class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and not available to help coach the team, as he had in seasons past, I've stepped in as needed and helped out.

My duties have usually involved being the first base coach when my grandson's team is at bat, and then staying on the field when the team is in the field, trying to keep these four to six year olds engaged and focused for safety as well as for good play.

Since my son didn't play as a younger kid, I missed seeing the chaos that often is T-ball.  Kids don't always know where to run, when to run, or what to do with that ball if it rolls in their direction!  So adult assistance is always essential to success, which is often judged quite loosely.

In any case, the final game of the fall season was Wednesday evening.  It was something of a special occasion, too, as our daughter and her family were visiting from Colorado.  And since it wasn't a class night, I assumed that our son would be coaching as he usually does when he's available.  But on that day he had a dental appointment, so it was understood he'd be there when he could.  My wife generally picks up our "local" grandchildren from school while both mom and dad finish the workday, and Wednesday was no different.

So we arrive at the field, and to add to the intricacies of the situation, the official coach of the team had injured his knee the previous weekend.  And the wife of one of the other parents who often helps to coach caught me as I arrived with our grandson and told me that her hubby wasn't going to be able to make it, and I'd be needed.  I nodded and helped get the players onto the field to do a little throwing and catching (which they hate, since all kids prefer batting to fielding).

Our son arrived from the dentist, but as the game started he didn't take a position on the field, instead taking photos of the team in action.  So I stepped back onto the field to help get our players positioned defensively, which is a loose description of what goes on.  Mainly, my job was to keep them looking toward home plate so that a well-struck ball didn't strike them, and also to keep them from playing in the dirt instead of watching for the ball!

Our defensive inning concluded and by default I wound up working at the plate with each of our players.  Customarily the coach from each team does that, to help the kids position themselves to hit, getting the height of the tee just right and so on.  I had never done that, so this would be something new.

Since the kids all know me as my grandson's grandfather (a couple even know that I'm "Poppy" to him and his sister and cousins) they weren't intimidated by a new face at home plate.  I made a point of asking each if the tee position felt right to them, made sure to place them at the proper distance from the plate so that they could make good contact, and offer encouragement as needed.  I'm pleased to say that virtually every player seemed to hit just a little better that game than usual, including my grandson.

The score is seldom the issue in T-ball.  Every player bats every inning, and even if outs are made they're not recorded and hitters remain on base.  But several of our players logged extra-base hits that night and I was glad I could help, at least a little.

So if anyone from the majors is reading this, there's a coach in waiting available for next season!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Turning points

Good Monday morning to all.  Trying to get back to my former habit of posting on Mondays.  I'm honestly not sure when that changed, but, anyway....

First and foremost, my career search has concluded successfully.  Since I don't routinely speak of work in this blog, I won't add a lot of specifics, except to say that I will be joining a well-respected regional company in a field pretty similar to my last twenty years of experience.  We have not established a start date, pending completion of a drug screening and criminal background check, but I would think I'll begin my new duties in the next couple of weeks.

Hard to top that, but here goes....

Did you watch the presidential debate last night?  I watched with my wife and some other family members, and we all had this feeling that Donald Trump was going to walk up behind Hillary Clinton and slug her or something, given how close he got several times.  The "town hall" format is not my favorite, but at least in the past the candidates have pretty much stayed put.  I think I remember former Vice-President Al Gore and former President George W. Bush getting pretty close to one another, but not much else stands out.

Once again, Clinton seemed the more authoritative and informed of the two, while Trump seemed content to continue to stir the pot on existing controversies and less-than-mainstream opinions.  And I saw some rumors online that Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, was on the verge of leaving the ticket as the result of the release of that damning video of Trump and a television personality talking about how Trump is around women.

Trump dismissed the contents of that tape as "locker-room talk" but now a movement is gaining steam online in which women are coming forward to describe their own experiences in being abused. Horrifying that there are so many.

I watched a PBS documentary over the last week called "The Choice" that details how both Clinton and Trump got here.  Interesting viewing.  Both have quite a story to tell, and to their credit, the producers of this program did not show any partiality.

I'm really afraid this campaign will continue to degrade over the next month to the point where election day will be a relief and not a climax.

Kentucky managed to eke out another win in football over the weekend, as their game was not interrupted by the hurricane-induced weather up and down the Atlantic seaboard.  In fact, we've had beautiful weather here in Lexington recently.

Anyway, UK football has won two of its last three games, not pretty, but a win is a win.  The struggle continues next week.

UK basketball kicks off with its Big Blue Madness practice on Friday.  For those not from here, people camp out for the free tickets to this opening practice of the season, as it is often the only chance some fans have of entering Rupp Arena for a Kentucky basketball event of any kind.  And it's again being televised not locally, but on the SEC/ESPN network.  Last year's event was completely unwatchable due to the network incursion, and I'd bet this year's edition will be the same.

Have yourself a good week!




Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Passages

Happy Tuesday to all, if there is such a "thing."  Notice how people say "I didn't know it was a thing" or "don't make it a thing?"  I credit Aaron Sorkin and the writing staff of "The West Wing" for making "thing" a thing.

Ahem.

There have been a lot of transitions since my last post, so here's my take on several of them.

As most everyone knows, the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer passed away a little more than a week ago at the age of 87.  I was very sad that he was gone, but he left us with so many vivid and positive memories.  He was Everyman on the golf course, hitching up his pants to attempt an impossible shot that often worked during his prime years.  He was definitely a man of the people, and his management company (which was an innovation in its day) did an effective job of marketing him to the masses, endorsing all kinds of products.

He had a line of clothing that, for a time, was sold by Sears.  He endorsed Pennzoil and Jiffy Lube and Cooper Tires.  He had his own brand of golf equipment, and my first "good" golf clubs were Palmers.  He was among the first athletes to recognize the value of chartered air travel and eventually became a pilot himself, a habit he continued until just a few years ago.  He never appeared to view himself as important, but understood the responsibility that came with fame and recognition.

I had the chance to meet Arnold Palmer at a media event for a senior golf tournament here in Lexington many years ago.  I spotted him when my coworker and I first arrived, waited for him to finish a conversation with some other visitors and I made my way over to him.  He was wearing a pale yellow sport coat, his signature pink golf shirt, and was the color of mahogany, from years outdoors.  I introduced myself, and he wrapped his massive right hand around mine in a firm grip that he didn't release until we finished our brief conversation.   Since I was obviously just out of college he asked me where I had gone to school, I told him that I had attended UK.  He responded that he went to Wake Forest but quickly added that "I didn't finish."  I offered that I think things will work out for him, and he laughed heartily, and wished me well and thanked me for coming.  Wow.

As his playing career wound down, but his popularity did not waver in the least, Arnold began to devote more and more time to charitable work, donating large sums to hospitals for women and children in the Orlando area, where he lived as an adult.  A wonderful man and a fine ambassador for the game of golf, Arnold's 1975 Ryder Cup golf bag was on display at last week's Ryder Cup matches and just about everyone I saw during the event was wearing a pin signifying Arnold's umbrella logo.  May he rest in peace.

Speaking of the Ryder Cup, it again belongs to the United States, thanks to some very good play and a raucous environment in Chaska, Minnesota last week.  In recent years the U.S. team won in 1999, 2008 and this year.  Here's hoping the next win doesn't take as long.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Vin Scully, who broadcast for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years, did his final game on Sunday.  I didn't care for Vin for a long time, having grown up a Reds-loving Dodger-hater and being unable to distinguish between the team and its voice.  But in later years I gained an appreciation and admiration for him and his talent.  On many occasions if I happened to be traveling by car late at night, I would often find a Dodger game on satellite radio, just to hear him work.  He always viewed the broadcasting of baseball games as a conversation with the fan listening, and spoke in that manner.  There are a lot of people who'll miss those conversations starting next season.

I also want to express my sadness at the sudden death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez just over a week ago.  Much has been said and written about this young man, who escaped Cuba with his mother to become a dominant major league pitcher.  He is already missed.

My last posting predated the first presidential debate, but let me just add to the chorus by saying that the debate and outcome were about what I would have expected.  The VP candidates go at it tonight so that may prove interesting.

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