New Shoes in the Rain

Monday, August 29, 2016

Six months

Friends, I hope that you had a good weekend, and are looking forward to the Labor Day weekend coming up.  Unofficial end of summer, you know.

Today marks six months that I have been in the job market.  And I remain positive about my prospects, though I work diligently to cultivate additional possibilities on a continual basis.

If you’re a regular visitor here you know that I have a good outlook about most everything, and I don’t have any outward self-esteem issues (at least not that I’m aware).  So this isn’t going to be a woe-is-me hand-wringing rant.  Rather, I thought I’d share what I’ve experienced, not with my former employer who put me into this predicament, but with those potential employers whom I’ve contacted and met with over these months.

When I first launched my search I was pretty straightforward with myself and prospected employers in what I wanted and expected in terms of responsibilities, duties and most particularly compensation.  As time has passed and I have broadened my search and its parameters, I feel certain that I am regularly and quickly passed over for positions for which I am viewed, rightly, as overqualified.  Instead of being grateful that someone skilled and experienced is interested, employers appear to take the approach that it’s better not to pursue a candidate who would simply take a job for now but continue a search for something more appropriate.  I have to confess that, as a hiring manager, I’ve often viewed certain candidates in the same way.  That doesn’t make it any more comfortable when it happens to me as a job-seeker.

I also know that ageism exists in the marketplace.  I went through a workshop with the local employment services office (required) and one of the things that was included was a review of my resume by one of their staff “experts.”  This lady had been in human resources with a couple of companies so she had some inside knowledge.  Her critique of my resume was that I needed to limit my experience to my most recent TEN years of career history, and to leave off the year of my college graduation.  I tried that and found that I actually garnered LESS attention from employers than a more extensive resume and my graduation year listed.

I also have experienced a couple of instances where people met me and appeared a little surprised at our initial meeting.  I always think that’s as much because of my age as anything.  I also recently have been invited to do videos for prospective employers, and while it’s a great opportunity to show a potential company my presentation skills, it’s also a chance for them to gauge my grooming, erudition, and, yes, my age.

I suppose my greatest pet peeve during all of this is the apparent lack of common courtesy by these prospective employers.  Many times during this process I have been led to believe that I was a leading candidate, that I was just perfect for the opening at hand, and that an offer of employment is imminent.  Then all contact from the company stops, without warning or explanation.  My attempts to follow up or learn the current status go unanswered.  Then, finally, I might get the standard automated “do not reply to this message” message stating that “while your credentials are impressive, we are moving forward with other candidates who more closely match our requirements.”  Or something similar.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it still astounds me, particularly if I have traveled any distance for an interview OR a potential offer was directly referenced.  But these folks do what they think is best, I suppose.

I have almost exhausted my unemployment benefits, so I have a number of independent work possibilities that I have begun to investigate, along with the many, many, MANY full-time opportunities for which I have applied.

So the journey continues. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Screen time

Happy “hump day” to everyone.  And no camels were harmed in the production of this blog entry.

Over the past several months my grandchildren, particularly the ones local to my wife and me whom we see more frequently, have developed an affinity for video games.  This began on the iPad (and let me say as an aside here that if ever there was a device more suited to use by kids, I’ve not seen it) with a few simple game and accelerated last summer when their Colorado cousins were here and were playing a game called Subway Surf, a straightforward chase game with jumping, bonus coins and such.  I’m sure there are many variations on it, as it may well be a variation on something else.  They also took to a golf game called Super Stickman Golf, tic-tac-toe, a bubble game and some other stuff.

This morphed into my son buying some games for his Xbox and now my grandson is hooked, wants nothing more than to play video games.  He even says he wants to bring those games here, but doesn’t yet understand that Gram and Poppy have to have the right equipment for that to be possible.

In my experience, I didn’t discover video games at quite an early age.  I was in college when the arcade phenomenon hit this country, and spent many happy hours “banging them pleasure machines,” as an old Bruce Springsteen lyric detailed.  I always liked pinball, that was a staple of a visit to the bowling alley with my brother when I was a kid.

So what did I like in the video game world, way back when?  Well, I can tell you that it was not Pac-Man.  For some reason I never really got the hang of that game.  I don’t know if it was the angles or the required wrist movements or the need to anticipate or what, but Pac-Man and I never became buds.

I also was not a great fan of Space Invaders, as it just seemed boring to me at the time.  And still does.

My preferred games were Galaxian, Missile Command, Battlezone and Centipede.  If you’re in my age range you’re probably wondering how I would like Galaxian but not Space Invaders, as one was based on the other.  I suppose the movement on the screen was part of it, and it was more colorful.  Give me a break, that was thirty-five years ago!

Anyway, I always liked Missile Command, although its message about Armageddon wasn’t so cheery.  Required strategy, multiple scenario thinking and pretty decent dexterity.  Most of my friends liked “pattern” games, where you played it enough to know what was going to happen next and played in anticipation of that pattern thereafter.  Probably explains why I didn’t care for Pac-Man, it was all patterns.  I was not a pattern kind of person, and still am not.

Battlezone put the player in the command chair of a tank, but the visual images consisted of all green lines, simulating some sort of rudimentary simulator or night-vision.  Simple and fun.

Centipede and its descendant Millipede required you to shoot at, yes, a centipede as it made its way through a patch of mushrooms and downward toward the shooter.  As the player struck sections the centipede got shorter and faster, making things harder.  I always liked that game more than my friends at the time.

So what do I play now, and how?  Not much and only on an iPad.  I still like that golf game I mentioned above, and there’s another silly one (these are all free versions of all of these games, if that means anything) that involves flipping burger patties onto a bun.  Once you exhaust your available turns some vaguely French accordion music plays, which always cracks me up.

I don’t know, maybe one of these days I’ll master one of these games my grandson likes.  But by then he’ll have moved on to something else, just like I used to.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Your opinion counts!

Greetings, friends.  It’s Tuesday morning.  Do you know where your household’s registered voters are?

I ask because we’re now in the home stretch of the presidential election.  No more primaries, no more conventions, now it’s all campaigning.  And polls.  Lots and lots and lots of polls.

My point is that there appear to be too many polls, all of which tout the overall accuracy of their data and sampling.  As one would expect, most are associated with a news organization or two --“The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll,” for example.  Lately some, like NBC News, have engaged more modern methods by partnering with organizations like SurveyMonkey.

I’m certainly aware of the need to find out what the public thinks at such an important time, but would question whether polling techniques mirror modern habits.  For example, it’s my understanding that the majority of these polls rely on calls to homes with land-line phones.  Since I have a land-line, we get plenty of calls during political season, so I can attest.  But I know that our household is something of an exception in this day and age, and if you look at homes where the primary resident is under 40, I would argue that few homes still have a traditional phone installed.

If that’s the case, that means a large swath of voters are not being asked their opinion.  So that really cannot be viewed with very much confidence.

Regardless, polls are a necessary part of the process, much like if an interviewer attempted to stop 100 people at random on the street to ask who they plan to vote for come election day.

One area where polling, of a kind, is useful is in the area of online product reviews.  I honestly cannot remember the last major purchase we made where I didn’t at least try to locate online reviews.  True, many are negative and perhaps more negative than they need to be, but I still find them helpful to distinguish a good product from a so-so alternative.

It came to light (for me, anyway) recently that some organizations, like, actually pay reviewers for their reviews.  As long as they are required to disclose that fact with their reviews, I don’t mind, but if we reach the point where product reviews are commonly and secretly subject to payment, that changes things.

I’ve actually done some product reviews, for my friends at the Colonel Littleton organization in Lynnville, Tennessee.  Regular visitors to this space will certainly recall my frequent references to this outfit, which makes high-quality personal leather goods and other items for which I have an affinity.  Some time ago they invited me to try out two production samples of items and give feedback, which I was pleased to do, and gave unbiased thoughts about each item.

If you folks in Lynnville are reading this, I’m still available….