New Shoes in the Rain

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Four months

Happy Thursday-before-a-holiday-weekend, everyone.  I always enjoyed saying that, as I always enjoyed a long weekend.

That is, when I was working.  Since the start of March I have NOT been working, at least not for a paycheck.  To be sure, my past employers’ contributions to unemployment insurance have provided me with some income during this period, but it’s mostly been savings that my wife and I have been using for our household expenses.

I have more possibilities in the works, as has been the case throughout this process.  One of them is an on-again, off-again possibility of temporary employment with a local company that can’t quite decide whether I’m vital to their success.  The owners are a married couple who seem like nice people, but their indecision is growing old at this point!

A friend who’s single, never married, regularly shares his exploits in efforts to meet the “right” person.  And from what he’s told me, it’s tough to date as a grown-up, whether you have children or not, whether you’ve been married or not, whether you want a casual fling or a serious relationship.

Kinda what I’ve experienced in the employment market.  In a recent interview I was asked what bothers me in the business environment and without hesitation I responded that people who don’t do what they say they will probably are the greatest irritant to me.  And that appears to go hand-in-hand with what happens in the dating world.

In this four month journey I have honestly forgotten how many times I’ve had what seemed to be a promising first interview (note: if you haven’t done this for a while, the first conversation is almost always a phone call now, and sometimes the second and even third are that as well) and am told that the person will consider things further and get back with me to set up a second interview.

To be fair, I’ve been told this by external recruiters, company recruiters and actual hiring managers right along.  Almost all of them fail to follow up, and ignore my efforts to follow up, too!  In fact, most of the time I get the generic, system-generated rejection notice in these instances.  Classless and demeaning.

I also find it amusing how many employers will utilize predetermined questions (I always imagine them being on a clipboard, which is silly, but if it were in person, it would feel more like a survey than an exploration of my fitness for a given job), so that they’re sure to ask everyone the SAME questions.  Kind of like an online dating profile in that respect.

Have you seen the commercial where people on first dates are responding honestly about their feelings, saying things like “I’ll wait a few days before sending a vague text” or “So, would you be interested in seeing me again?” “No.”  I wish folks would just be honest.  I’m all for political correctness, but when you’re trying to cultivate possible success, it’s important to separate the contenders from the pretenders, so to speak, so let’s just get on with it!

I’m sure the length of my unemployment is influencing how I interact with some interviewers, but all through this process I have tried hard to be pleasant but direct, as that’s how I generally am anyway.  But it’s harder than even I think to conceal the frustration and disappointment that come with this kind of process that has been largely unsuccessful for this long.

Thankfully I’m doing this to find a job.  My wife and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Monday, so at least THAT process went well!

Friday, June 24, 2016

#nobillnobreak--no kidding!

Good Friday morning, everyone.  Got a little off schedule with some other activities but found some time for a post this morning.

I’m going to start by saying that I wholeheartedly approve of the #NoBillNoBreak sit-in that occurred in the House of Representatives.  The National Rifle Association has such a stranglehold on anything related to gun control via its massive amount of political contribution to many, MANY candidates that something had to give, and we have Congressman John Lewis, who has certainly “been there, done that,” to thank for helping get the effort going.  I was like many who watched the entire story unfold on social media and marveled at the solidarity shown by so many Democratic members of both the House and Senate.  Of course, the entire House is running for reelection and many Senators are, too, so it’s never a bad thing to show how hard you’re fighting for your consitituents.

I am also appalled that House Speaker Paul Ryan (you know, the one who didn’t even WANT to be Speaker) referred to the sit-in as a stunt and swore he would not allow it to keep the House from doing the people’s business.  If memory serves, that “business” involved attempting to override a Presidential veto on a bill that would have allowed financial advisors to avoid regulation, and the override effort was unsuccessful.  Ryan gaveled the House back into session shortly afterward (and in the middle of the night) in order to adjourn it until after the July 4 holiday.

I see this morning that Ryan feels the need to affirm that our country will continue to be an ally to Great Britain in the wake of that nation’s vote yesterday to secede from the European Union.  In my view, that is the role and responsibility of the President, and not the Speaker of the House.

Speaking of what has been called “Brexit,” I’m concerned about what this vote does to the long-term stability of the world economy, but it also appears that this would not take effect for some time.  From what I’ve read this morning, the vote to leave the Union carried mostly from areas of England outside of London.  The fallout has only now begun, so it will probably be a while before we really see the total effect of this move clearly.

Totally separate note—I have received several calls in the last week informing me that I have been selected to receive a federal government grant for nearly $10,000.  The call always originates from a call center populated by heavily accented agents and they start out by asking for information about me, always a dead giveaway that it’s a scam.  Slightly tempting, of course, but not so tempting to make me lose my sense of suspicion!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Good morning, friends.

My comments refer to the events in Orlando over the weekend, as well as some that have occurred since.  I'm not a gay man, though I know some gay men and women.  But I am a human being and that qualifies me to write what follows.

Where are we in this country that people target and attack other people as though they're playing some sort of video game or computer simulation, particularly when those attacks are based on a specific demographic, like race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity?  And at what point do our legislators do the right thing and look past the massive financial contributions of the National Rifle Association to institute any form of gun control in this country?

I was deeply saddened that, yet again, this country has been stained by a large-scale mass shooting, this time leaving 49 dead and approximately that many others wounded.  We're now learning more about the shooter, his motivations, his problems.  We're also learning how he was considered to be under some suspicion by the Federal Bureau of Investigation multiple times, yet he was able to walk into a gun store and purchase an assault rifle and a handgun, no questions asked.  And I feel for the store owner, who was clearly sickened by these events, yet whose hands were and are tied by the lack of regulations that would have prevented this from happening.

We're also learning that the shooter's wife may have tried to talk him out of this series of actions, yet sometime in the past she apparently drove him to the club where Saturday night's carnage took place and accompanied him on his firearms purchasing trip.

And we're now seeing that certain politicians are willing to use this event for self-congratulation and to accuse our sitting President of sympathy to terrorist groups to whom this shooter pledged his allegiance.  That President Obama was compelled to refute these accusations yesterday is absurd, at best, yet this is the society we now inhabit.  One where a man who has made and lost fortunes with other people's money is held up as the potential savior of our country, largely because a certain segment of the population has seen him on a television game show in which he utters the famous words "you're fired" to great dramatic effect.  And he is deemed by this segment of the population to be qualified to "make America great again" because of this.

This is not a game or a trial run or a series of actions that come with a do-over.  Real lives hang in the balance, both here in the United States and around the world.  And the world is watching us, to see if we recover from this latest diversion from the real issues that face our country and our world.  Building walls to keep the "wrong" people out will not solve anything, nor will astronomically high tariffs on imported goods magically restore lost American manufacturing jobs.

I sincerely hope that what's happened will finally result in meaningful action regarding the control of guns by those who should not have access to them.  I also hope that the lunacy that we are hearing as part of our national political discourse will somehow give way to realistic solutions proposed by conscientious people and implemented through a tough-but-fair give and take political process in which all viewpoints are considered and compromises reached.

I hope for all of this for our world not only right now, but for the future--for my children and grandchildren, so that we can be confident they will live in a society where human life has more value than the NRA's political capital.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Explain something to me

Time for a general set of rants, folks.  A fella can only take so much, y'know....

When did the most prevalent of non-automated traffic signals become irrelevant?  I'm speaking of the humble stop sign, of course, which is now apparently more of a suggestion than a command.  After dinner last night I went to a nearby shopping center for a couple of very brief errands, and in the three-mile-round-trip I was nearly struck by not one but two vehicles who did not bother to even slow down at the sight of said stop signs.  Since I was not traveling at highway speed it wasn't difficult to slow down in time to avoid a collision.  The offending drivers did not even look in my direction when blowing through their stop signs into my path, making it all the more irritating.

The reverse is also becoming more common, wherein drivers are slow to leave a traffic light because they apparently began texting while their car was sitting still.  Thumbs up for not texting while your car is MOVING, but let's get going, OK?

How much longer is the national media planning to give Donald Trump a pass on his overt racism and negativity?  I read somewhere recently that he has received something on the order of $2 billion in free media coverage, which is why you seldom see a Trump for President ad ("Make America Great Again!") on TV.  Why pay for something when you get it for free?  But seriously, a judge whose parents are of Mexican heritage is biased against Trump?  Time for that to stop.

Oh, and the Associated Press declared that Hillary Clinton has now secured the Democratic Presidential nomination via a recalculation of "superdelegates."  And did so on the eve of a full day of primary elections in states such as California, New Jersey and a number of others.  Talk about anticlimactic....

Speaking of the national media, I noted with some disappointment that at least one of the national network evening newscasts ended without even a mention of the anniversary of the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944.  Any casual student of American and world history would agree that this was a pivotal point in World War II and had it not gone as planned, we might well be living in a far different world today.  For that date to go unmentioned and with no recognition (there are still members of the American invasion force alive today) is not only disappointing, but it's really inexcusable.  Yesterday also marked the date of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as well.

One more on the media and I'll move on....when someone famous passes away, it's a shame, and it warrants some comment.  But we didn't need days of coverage of the death of Prince and it appears that we will get a full ten days of coverage of the death of Muhammad Ali, as NBC, at least, continues to nightly run tributes to him, as well as a news story about preparations for his funeral and memorial services.

And since I'm in the job market (though things appear to be moving to a good outcome) I'll just add that it's inconceivable to me that a company states more than once that they are in a hurry to fill a position, that you're a strong candidate and have a lot to offer, and then go silent for weeks after your last contact with them.  In this particular search, this has happened more than once to me.  I have detailed the oddities of my search in a previous post, but this is the most maddening thing I've seen this time around--we really need someone, and you appear to be perfect, but we're going to take our time all the same.

There.  I feel better now!