Write In Space

Why do I write in space every morning?

Historically, writing has been part of me since I figured out the alphabet. The thrill of the first Olivetti manual typewriter to becoming President of the Houston Manuscriptor Guild. It is what I do. Sounds like most writers?

Our recent move to northeast Texas has created a perfect writing environment. It is going to take time to ramp up my business. The routine social circle is very far away. There are a lot fewer distractions out in the country. To be very specific – I have become down right bored. Boredom can only be blamed on one person – yourself. It is not the most exciting adventure to pack and unpack moving boxes. I have tackled the art of making sourdough bread and creme fraiche from scratch. Oh yea, I did locate a kitchen in this house. It even freaks me out. For decades, my expertise in the kitchen amounted to nuking whatever was packaged in a fancy box from Krogers. Creative endeavors, cooking or writing, are a lot more enjoyable when you aren’t rushed and you’re new in town.

Through experience, writers write to be remembered. Value is calculated in the words they put together. Some teach. Some whine. Some ramble, but they have an innate need to express themselves. It is a lot less expensive than a shrink. It allows you to be the person no one else can see. I do find myself censoring articles so as not to alienate close family and friends. The rationale is also to maintain a step of decency. The truth walks a fine line. We are all a dysfunctional lot. It is what allows us to stand out from the crowd. “I’d never join a club who would have me as a member”. I think Woody Allen stole this quote from Groucho Marx. Change a word here and there – people will re quote, retweet and post to Facebook.

In sales, a key component for success is knowing your product and your competition. Do you ever envision how other writers, bloggers, novelist, reporters produce their wares? Has the I Pad and smartphones replaced the tiny spiral notebooks and pencils? Do they even jot down notes or pull it all from their heads as it appears on the pages? I picture a lot of scruffy faces, bathrobes, and Don King coiffures in front of huge CPU’s, little laptops, expensive Tablets and a few Bic pens flying across dog-eared notebooks.

Famous and memorable writers, enjoying interviews on name brand television programs, always have the mini replica of the estate house, a short walk away on the property. They are dressed in cashmere sweaters and pressed khaki’s. There is always someone who works for them, or a formally dressed spouse bringing them coffee and a sandwich – with the crust cut off the bread and cut into little triangles. The room they write in always has cherry wood paneling and oriental rugs. An environment which smells like jasmine. The interview commences with name dropping and unabashed astonishment to the reason for the attention. The famous writer always acts flabbergasted and unknowing when asked about the income they have received due to the remarkable notoriety. Oh, the good life.

I am not that kind of writer or want to be. Riding a rocket is a nice gig, but waiting for the bus teaches a better lesson.



Online Employment Applications

It appears the world is on a “dummy down” kick. Unemployment, alone,  can kick your ego and self-worth to shreds. The stricken try to replace their professional situation with a “like” position. These days, the economy is brutal with its beatings. You end up applying for anything you can get your hands on. The light bills need paid.The kids are growing out of their clothes.

The lower the pay for a job – the more information and testing is required. An online application for a retail clerk can take as long as an hour to complete. A huge concern is relinquishing your personal identification and history to “who knows” on the other end of the screen. Creating user-id’s and passwords for each corporate entity with terms that would baffle your attorney. “Commission only” positions appear to be the most invasive. What is it with companies paying for performance only, thinking they can invade your privacy? Read the fine print. Agreements post terms with the likes of sending you for psychological counseling, drug testing, the type of vehicle you must have and the cleanliness of said vehicle, dress code requirements, alcohol rehabilitation terms, etc. It makes me wonder what kind of characters they have employed there.

Assessment tests are the best entertainment. Many years ago, I applied for a mid-management bank position. After the first or second interview, I was asked to take assessment testing at a test center. I was told it would take approximately one hour. The “assessment” test turned out to be 9 or 10 different tests and some included ink blots. The appointment lasted 6 hours. Two or three additional employment interviews followed. The end result was an offer so low, I would’ve had to apply for public assistance to live in low-income housing and eat noodles for the rest of my days. At the time, I held a position paying almost twice the offer. What genius at this bank was receiving a kick back from the testing center? It surely wasn’t cost-effective.

The actual online line assessments state repetitious questions. Employers are looking for consistency, thieves, nut cases, simpletons and smart people able to follow directions but not so smart as to have an opinion or the ability to think outside the box. Stepford Wives comes to my mind. If you have an IQ with the ability to set up your own home tech systems, you are going to over think these ditties. A good example is – an executive sales professional is trained to take “risk”. If you don’t take a walk on the wild side – you will starve to death. An online assessment for a retail position equates a “risk taker” as one who steals.The executive sales professional will flunk this assessment. The sponsoring company just passed up a chance to increase sales and actual prosperity.

Experience with the hiring process has taught me there is no equivalent for a face to face interview. Employers are missing the mark and losing the most talented prospects. Mediocre and good enough is what we are receiving when we call customer service, receive a billing statement and put up with lazy attitudes and blatant errors. Which brings up the point – Is there an assessment for habitual absentees, slackers, and arrogant idiots? There must be – they’re passing some kind of test.


Why Isn’t My Home Selling?

Expedite the sale of your home. A great number of resale homes languish on the market a lot longer than necessary. Your rationale, as the seller, may be a down market, pricing, timing, sentimentality or opinions from an outside influence. Finding a buyer is easier than you realize. Learn what your competition is doing. Why are the other homes selling quickly?

Do you have a “grab and wow” factor in your home. If you are selling a starter home, every first time home buyer needs a brag item. Shiny stainless steel appliances, gleaming ceramic tile floors, sparkling granite counter tops, a partying wet bar or the multicolored blown glass phenomenal light fixture hanging in the vestibule have the ability to tap enthrallment. Take the time to walk through model homes at your local home builder. Listen to the comments made by prospective buyers. There is a need to have a “feel good” element to make their future home special.

If you have a McMansion listed for sale, review and update the features you fell in love with. Is the hot tub or pool in need of maintenance or polish? Check out the newest kitchen trends to insure you have an item shining above the rest.Technological – a computerized central command station for lighting, security, and media or higher end appliances can be the enlightened spark for a buyer. Is the purpose of each room designated? Buyers like to know a room is used for exercise, home office, library/study or media.

While walking through the model homes, notice they are white glove inspection clean. Each model home is designed to allow the buyer to picture themselves living in the house. If your home is not immaculately spotless, review your cleaning routine. Does it smell good? Are there spots on furniture or carpets? A clean home may still give the impression of being unclean if detailed maintenance is overlooked. A hem hanging on a window treatment may give the impression bigger problems are pending. A bathtub stain, a missing baseboard, sheet rock watermarks need immediate attention.

I ask each buyer of my listings, why did you choose this house? Multiple times I have heard the other resale homes have an odor from pets, cooking or smoking. The landscaping is in need of attention. Kitchens and bathrooms were cluttered. Dark paint colors generated the cave environment. Buyers choose light, bright, inviting and open homes.

Create a generic appearance within your home. Remove family photos, children’s artwork, refrigerator magnets, chachkies, and half of what is hanging on your walls. Less is definitely best. Pack up decorative items requiring extra cleaning attention. Create a clear view for your prospective buyer to picture their “stuff’ adorning the home. If possible, paint the interior of the house a neutral color. Don’t blow your sale with a vibrant orange bathroom or shocking pink bedroom. Your unique tastes may not reflect the prospective buyer’s individual choices.

An experienced real estate agent will be able to walk you through a successful selling process. Honest critique, upfront opinion and direct advice are to assist you with an accelerator for the sale of your home.


Democrat in a Republican State

It is election time. Acquaintances flash their politics in public. Friends ask my opinion in reference to something Mitt said. Politicians bash each other in political ads. Each one keeps talking and talking. It is like watching bobble heads on the back dash of a bashed up yellow Pinto, while sitting in grid lock traffic.

Borderlines is a small cafe in Powderly, TX. While eating biscuits and gravy one early morning, CNN was blaring from the television above my head. The room was full of omnipotent  “good ole boys,” sloshing coffee and bleating their derogatory racial opinions about my president. I was the only female in the restaurant and their conversation was intended to be heard by all. The majority laughed and agreed. It prompted a general consensus within the room while creating a competitive rally for attention and like remarks.

I felt sorry for these men. Blatant ignorance is intolerable. Obviously, they felt comfortable to release their hatred in the familiar environment. It appeared to be repetitive mimics rendered from the habitual exposure to a community unable to think for themselves. If they have any education, it failed them. If they have no education, their families and the state of Texas have failed them.You don’t go to school to learn stuff. You go to school to learn to think.

Texas is a conservative state. It is Bush and Perry country. The more these politicians talk, the obvious becomes evident. Perry bumbled and fumbled during his recent “skip and fail” to the White House. A few years ago, I sent a written request to Governor Perry, requesting information in reference to the status of “No Child Left Behind”. One of his underlings mailed me a large manilla envelope full of grandiloquence. It was a mirror image of the governor’s recent debate performance. He kept talking – and talking. We learned what it appears to be unprepared, unstudied and lost. The manila envelope reflected the same performance. BTW, the illustrious Governor Bush mimicked the same sentiments. Texas is at the bottom of education rankings, according to the most recent statistics. http://www.window.state.tx.us/comptrol/wwstand/wws0512ed/

Texans are very proud of their political convictions. It is easy when the majority follows as cows do in the pasture. Conversations escalate into emotional uprising. Exemption for time and place is non-existent. During a business lunch appointment, I was confronted by a co-worker, in front of my client, because I did not express my view of the adoration for the current party in office. Because I did not openly confess my political view or confirmation of their views, the assumption was made that I must be a liberal. I have been subjected to southern belle and “keep in your place” conversation in reference to how stately the First Lady looks or how “presidential” George is looking. Included in this conversation was one acquaintance telling the small gathering, she had to return a dress to the store because her husband didn’t like it! She wasn’t allowed to keep it, if he didn’t approve. This woman had a 6 figure income, a college degree and high professional recognition. Her opinion is “well trained”. Years later, I am still flabbergasted by this mode of behavior.

Before the last presidential election, my brother-in-law was laid off, my brother was laid off, my Realtor® associates were struggling and starving, our oldest son was an unemployed veteran, and I was laid off. A close friend asked me if I was voting for George W. She stated they have always voted Republican. I told her I take a common sense view of how an election would personally affect me. Our family still had utility and mortgage payments due. Grocery and gasoline prices were rapidly escalating. Hurricane Ike had taken one of our homes. George W closed the air space above Bolivar Peninsula so the American public wouldn’t view the devastation or repeat the Katrina nightmare. My nieces didn’t have school clothes because their father was unemployed, as were their aunt and uncles. My laid off co-workers were losing their cars to repossession and homes to foreclosure. We were living off of our emergency funds which were earning interest lower than the fees to sustain the accounts. Our home values were recklessly declining. “No,” I told my friend. “I am not voting for a continuation of the same condition”.

When the democrats are in office, we are purchasing homes, We are well employed. Our children have what they need. There is food on the table and gas in the car. When Reagan was in office, it was almost prohibitive to purchase a home due to the exorbitant interest rates.If you did purchase the home, you couldn’t afford anything else.  Clinton created a viable and sustaining standard of living – allowing us to enjoy our families and take a trip or two to Dairy Queen. We were able to save money for retirement, A lot of retirement savings have been spent to survive the last Bush administration.

As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” Call it brave or call it stupid – I can only make a decision based on personal experience. As a female, it is a choice I am able to make without an illiterate politician making it for me.






What is Customer Service?

As stated in a previous blog entry, we received a billing statement from our satellite dish provider, for years, that were incorrect. There were duplicate fees, charges for services we did not have or request and rental fees for equipment we owned. Every month, I called them. Every month, a credit was issued. If you break the contract, there is a fee. If you switch to the “other” satellite provider, from personal experience, their billing service was worse. It took a year to cancel the service long after the anniversary date of the completed contract.

We moved recently. A request to forward the mail was submitted online with the USPS. It went well for a week or two. Now, we are receiving publications and magazines belonging to our Sugar Land, Texas subdivision neighbors. There is a mile difference between Ragus Lake Drive and Bramblebury Drive. The house numbers are not similar.  The last names on the publications do not start with the same initials. In other words, the person or persons at the Sugar Land Post Office, are just slapping the forwarding stickers onto my ex-neighbors mail and sending it to Powderly, TX. It makes me wonder if we are receiving all of our mail or is the Publishers Clearing House check going to the Jezikowski family? If you’re out there and receiving my mail, please make sure a remittance is sent to any of my creditors!

Customer service can actually be a psychiatric session for the frustrated. The name of the game in the money-making corporate universe is, “Get them off the phone as quickly as possible.” Time is money. Money is time. No one wants to hear about the box containing two left shoes. Your perception of what is truly Chartreuse, is never exactly the color of the car in the photo. Important, is a mundane term when there is a discrepancy with a nuptial accoutrement. You certainly don’t want any screw-ups repeated at your current wedding!

Telephone calls to customer service add to your delight if you are greeted with an audio-response service. Press one, scream your social security number, repeat your social security number, choose from the next menu, keep pounding on the zero, repeat everything you just input, wait to be switched to the appropriate person, listen to some screaming bitch sing opera, be told you are the 9th person waiting because everyone in front of you in-line is more important, listen to the cross-sell, up-sell, commercials, be told your problem can be solved on their website (this particularly pissed me off when I was calling the internet provider which was always down), and then be told your call will be disconnected, now – click.

It is shocking when a customer service representative is kind to you. We prepare ourselves for the worse. Benevolence can actually unravel our game plan. Just when you think no one can solve your problem, an understanding and intelligent person with a clue – puts all the puzzle pieces back together right where they belong. You almost sound like a fool, repeating “thank you, thank you, and thank you”. You act like they have saved you from a burning vehicle on the freeway at rush hour when in fact they are mailing you a copy of last month’s statement.

Customer service is not a babysitting service when you are viewing model homes at a homebuilder. The beauty consultant at the Niemen’s counter usually can not explain the Fair Credit Reporting Act when you have a revolving credit card question. It doesn’t matter if you have called 13 times to no avail. When truly frustrated, I like to preface my inquiries with, “I know you didn’t wake up this morning with the intent of creating this pestiferous situation comedy for me.” This allows the recipient of my challenge to put the mental ammunition to rest and actually listen. When life is treating you bad and in a really foul mood – needing to release tension, unload, full of road rage, ticked with the partner – call the IRS for a fun call.




Yes to Facebook – No to Facebook

There are a lot of folks claiming a “no to Facebook”. The reasons are as diverse as the people. A select few do not have legitimate reasons. I would classify it as an excuse. The degree of pc literacy has a vast bearing. There are millions of toddlers with higher degrees of pc literacy than work acquaintances, relatives and friends I have. If they don’t understand how to send an email, Facebook would be an extreme challenge.

Then, there are the chosen few not wanting to be found by anyone. They purposely stay off the internet in any way or form. Paranoia extends to even entering a contest at the mall or taking a survey. Don’t dare ask any one of this crew for their email address when making a purchase in a retail environment! When a sales person asks me for my email address, I just tell them I don’t have one. When asked for my telephone number, I refuse. The reason I don’t convey the requested contact information is because I was previously employed by a credit repository which sold this specific goody for the big bucks classified as “marketing lists”. Yea, Baby, I need more spam and telephone solicitations! At least I am not afraid of being found by an ex-spouse, lover, parasitic relative, live-in, shack-up, outlaw, or stalker finding me. At least not yet!

“No to Facebook” extends to the group exclaiming big brother watches it, the law is watching it and every collection agency in the world has secret access to every profile. This populace has a few valid points. If you robbed a bank this afternoon, the concern would definitely cross your mind. As for big brother watching – the postings in reference to our niece being the next greatest Taylor Swift Swiftie should be noted as a priority in their documentation.

The next classified “No to Facebook” group are the elite bunch. High upper echelon executives with absolutely no time for such nonsense. They don’t care to see photos of their children making asses of themselves – this applies to children from ages 7 to 60. It doesn’t matter to them that their 14-year-old daughter, who looks like “Barbie” has a profile photo of herself wrapped in nothing but a bath towel. Their spouses are co-mingling with high school crushes. Their mother-in-law has just about pissed everyone off with the Farmville postings. None of this phases this group whatsoever. They are exempt by just saying, “no”.

“Yes to Facebook” firecracker bunch is all obsessed. We are privileged to share photos of baby’s first turd, vivid descriptions of what they ate for dinner with Vinney and tagging every single congregant at the Apple Berry Banana Jack Pancake Breakfast – St. Mattress Pius Orthodox Sacred Every Saint Synagogue Church. There is way too much information flowing when they post multiple times within an hour. When do they pee? Or work? Or sleep? This is an extremely social bunch. It is a priority to tag and post with lots and lots of people. “Here I am at Shop & Rob at 2:37 am with Carol, Robbie, Gopher, Tiffanie, Morgan, Robin, Madison, Jacob, Cross, Box, Mary, Januari, Barbed, Crissie, Wired and Wolf.” (Photo of everyone, cheek to cheek, with a cigarette and sucking on a bottle of stuff)

“Yes to Facebook” participants are now able to cross-post from Pinterest, Twitter, etc. Not only do I get to enjoy photos of my grandchildren but now the grown kids can post Pinterest items in reference to jelly belly bread, pumpkin shaped cupcakes and those cutesy poster type signs which have a million smartass statements.  Important to mention lots of photos of puppies, also. It does cross my mind as to the number of hours invested in sitting in front of the pc versus the investment of teaching my precious 15 month of grandson the elements in the periodic table!

Facebook has certainly left a gouge in the socialization of our new world. Where else would I find out my teenage niece is doing “it” and doing “it” well? Fascination still grasps my soul when I can read the political views of co-workers or the knock down dirties between our neighbors. It did cross my mind to “unfriend” a select few but then I’d miss finding out who they really, truly are.

We have family members from Hawaii to Pennsylvania. Facebook allows us to share instantaneous magic otherwise pawned off to a box in the closet. As a young family, it took us a year to save money for a video camera to cherish the childhood moments of our brood. Our kids can pick up their telephones, snap a photo, capture a video and within minutes share Andrew’s first steps and Hailey being born – on Facebook. They know now to call their mother first!



Debt View

I had a college friend, Joe, when challenged, used the expression, “Ain’t it a bitch being all grow’d up.” It applied to the majority of dramas we encountered as students. The only thing funnier was Joe borrowing my sunglasses to do his imitation of Stevie Wonder.

Tracking your income (incoming) and your debt/expenses (outgoing) is simple math. A large number of consumers seem to have a problem balancing their budgets. Ah, budget is the magical word. When I was wiping noses, driving car pools and working full-time, I could not have told anyone our annual income. I did not know what our annual income was. I knew how much the electric bill was and there were funds in the checking account to cover everything else. Numbers were only important for big-ticket items or I wanted to go to Disney World. One time, I told my husband I wanted to buy a new television. He said, “We can’t afford it.” No one had ever told me this before! We actually sat down, ran the expense numbers and determined if we did buy the new television, there would be no extras. From that day forward, I know all the magical numbers to continue the life journey in the style for which I am accustomed to! I got the tv, but it was 8 or 9 months later – after I had saved the funds to purchase it.

As a previous banker, I always had one or two customers with an extreme obsession with keeping track of their money. One particular gentleman would be in front of my desk, the day after receiving his statement to inform me that he calculated the interest for his savings account and the bank had shorted him $.03. He laboriously would lament as he provided adding machine tapes, calculator printouts and previous statement comparisons. I was not able to open my desk drawer and throw a nickel at him and tell him to go away. I tried numerous times to pawn him off on one of the  accountants but they developed extreme diarrhea if they heard he was in the building. Every time this incident repeated, I would suggest he join an investment group (an opportunity to contradict a different type of audience) or Toastmasters (he certainly enjoyed hearing himself talk). Repeated fixation over a small detail may cause a wall between what is truly important and what may be a time waster.

One of my friends, is the queen of denial when viewing debt, money and budget – a foreign concept to her. She repeatedly tells me she is unable to meet her financial obligations due to a lack of funds. Knowing her annual income and basic expenses, I could save enough to purchase a new car, with cash, if I were her. I was a single parent and financially moved mountains with my bare hands. My children and I witnessed miracles each week at the grocery store check out and racing across town to pay a bill on time before the creditor closed for the day. My friend does not budget. She purchases items with high tickets because she feels entitled. These spending patterns make her feel important. A bottle of extra virgin olive oil with a price tag of $38.00 creates a feeling of superiority. The same can be said for the $1,100.00 shoes and the weekly pedicures. She chooses not to manage and throws billing statements and collection letters into the trash, unopened.

This week, I received a panic call from my friend. She went to use her debit card and it would not work. After contacting her bank, one of her creditors had sued her and a court action had a hold on all of her deposit accounts, including her safe deposit box. When it is every dime you own and your deceased mother’s jewelry at stake – it gets your attention. The original debt was $5,000.00. With legal action fees, compounded interest and the kitchen sink, the total now exceeded $18,000.00. There was a lot of singing and dancing in trying to straighten this mess out. Her paycheck is automatically deposited and there was no time to stop the next check. She didn’t have a dime in her purse or at home. Debt view – non-existent.

The bottom line is – grow up. Yes, it is a bitch, but it is being responsible and mature. Instead of dancing through the mall for entertainment or dining out at restaurants that serve kumquats and es cargo – add your bills up. Pay your bills – on time. Save some money – even if it is $1.00. My mother taught me to never purchase anything on credit that would not exist when the bill arrived. This included candy, pantyhose, hair styles and cosmetics.

It takes sacrifice, ingenuity and time to make ends meet when you are in a tight spot. I have been laid off, divorced, sick and a single parent. It is possible to prepare for emergencies, such as no income! When I was laid off, I was the only unemotional person in the group. I had an emergency fund and read the writing on the wall way before the axe fell. It was the first time in 35 years I didn’t have to answer to “the man”!


New Age vs Old Age Employmemt Challenges

Unemployment is difficult enough. If your previous employment spanned many, many years – the process is similar to getting a divorce after the silver anniversary. The interview process is in the same category as “What do I wear on the post-divorce first date and am I expected to sleep with them?”

Without going into the world viewing youth as intelligence and aging as demented, crazy and invisible, the interview process is arduous, at best. Interviewers are getting younger as you age in the lobby, surrounded by people your kid’s ages. Especially for the first five or six interview outings, you are most likely over dressed and lacking a nose ring. Your wrinkles and graying hair are secondary to the archaic briefcase or portfolio under your arm. Shoes with buckles and shoestrings are passe’. A good pair of flip-flops or any shoes made of rubber and dirty toenails are available for viewing. The employment opportunities for this scenario are not blue-collar. They are actually professional sales, financial and technological positions.

I had been laid off, for the first time in my long-term professional life, after the age of 40. One interviewer, who appeared to have just rolled out of couch, held his Blackberry up in front of me and asked, “Do you know what this is?” Another wiseass asked if I knew how to turn a laptop on. I informed him that I had the capability of not only turning it on, but take it apart, put it back together and re-program the entire thing. I guess he didn’t like my response because “Tiffany Cleavage” in the lobby, got the job. One of my friends, a current employee with this up and coming executive, was seeking new employment but was in desperate financial straits and stuck. She was also ten years younger than I was.

Being a bit outspoken, follow-up to an interview, always yielded jolly propaganda. I always asked what my deficits may have been. The ones who didn’t blow smoke gave me some true insight such as:

  • You look like a banker
  • I couldn’t picture you unloading product from an 18 wheeler – (This was not in the job description or mentioned during the interview!)
  • You would have my job in a day or two and I couldn’t risk hiring you.

One employment opportunity resulted in four interviews. The first three “show and tells”  allowed the escalation of executives a chance to increase expenses by flying into Houston from Boston – otherwise, they would have flown me and/or the other candidates to Boston! The position, up for grabs, was highly compensated and possessed an upper echelon profile. An assessment after Interview #2 yielded that I had an “extreme sense of urgency”! During the process, the company recruiter would telephone me and discuss the previous appointment and inform me of the “going forward” recommendation for yet another go around. A Don Draper, Mad Men type conducted interview #4.  He was the epitome of a well upholstered “suit”. Five minutes into the engagement, he mocked my responses which included one of my hand gestures. Looking back, I wished it had been one of my other hand gestures. He challenged each one of my replies to his questions in a most derogatory and demeaning manner. Fifteen minutes later, as the hair on the back of my neck stood up, I backed my way to the conference room exit while he continued to prattle. I ended the interview.

The recruiter called a few hours later. She asked why I exited the interview early. I gave her the generic response that I was not the right candidate for the position. She informed me that my competition for the job was only one other person. Again, I told her it was not a “good fit”. A few days later, she called me again. She was insistent in knowing why I left the interview. Was it my place to inform her Mr. Suit intuitively appeared a predator, woman-hater, wife beater and general asshole? Yea, Baby, I could just imagine a cross-country travel rendezvous business trip with him as my vice-president! The telephone conversation created the instantaneous response reflex of:

  • Do I assassinate his character and risk a lawsuit?
  • What are the benefits of telling the recruiter something she already knew?
  • Did she really want to hear my conclusions based on life experience, knowing of a bunch of gems like him and intuition?

I made a business quick wit and allowed the recruiter to conclude the outcome with the results of the process. A lot of time, money, travel, and dry cleaning expense to have a qualified candidate turn them down when the horses were coming around the bend and headed for the straight a way. They’re smart people. I think this may have been a déjà vu.

Appropriately, each of us knows when we are qualified and age was a non-hire condition. My personal experience with the hiring process yields the following direction with the interview process:

  •  Do not use Old Spice or Youth-Dew fragrances.
  • Do not be late – Especially a whole day.
  •  Do not have your significant other drive you and wait with the kids in the reception area.
  • Keep the cocktail wear for bar mitzvahs, wedding receptions, glamour shots and family portraits –  Send a photo to the Ellen Show.
  • Stay awake and sober for the interview.
  • Be yourself.
  • Be true to yourself.



Cable Cut – Dish Cut – Cost Cut

Extensive research has revealed there are a lot of people cutting the cable and disconnecting the satellite dish. The numbers vary depending on the data source. It is a huge decision because it changes your routine, habits, lifestyle and psyche.

When our children were young, we moved into a new home. A demanding job did not allow me the luxury of making an appointment to have the cable company set up service immediately. You would have thought someone ripped our 9-year-old’s heart out without an anesthetic. The cable company would not give a specific appointment time. It was a block of time which spanned morning or afternoon. I had been a previous victim. Taking a day off of work for a no-show technician did nothing but set me off like Sputnik. Our 9 year old did not receive the “luxury” of cable/satellite, again until he was 14 years old. The only reason he then received the gift of hundreds of channels was because his older brother was on a ship in a war zone and we became extreme news junkies.

By the way, when the satellite was installed, I had to call the billing department every month for years because the billing was incorrect. A credit would be issued, but the problem persisted. Every time it rained or the wind picked up, the service was “iffy”. I called customer service so many times, I eventually could re-program and re-position the satellite dish, with someone on the roof to scream instruction to,  without their assistance. Hurricane Ike blew the satellite off of the roof. My relationship with the satellite dish was starting to fray.

When you have a satellite/cable service – the family takes it for granted. The majority of the viewing, to my observation, were channels we were able to access at no charge with a homemade antenna created from leftover ceiling grid in our attic. The billing statement reflected a fee for HD access. When the televisions were on the antenna, we had HD at no charge. The satellite provider scrambled the HD and we were paying them a fee for HD to be accessible through their service. We were also paying to access local programming for which we were able to access “FREE” on the antenna. For an outrageous total charge per month, we could watch repetitious commercials, a whole lot of shopping channels, MTV that wasn’t the MTV I had loved and every single time I turned HBO on, they were showing “Somewhere in Time” starring Christopher Reeves. It didn’t matter what day or what time – that movie was on. Christopher will always be Superman to me – and dearly missed.

The 14-year-old grew up and graduated from college. A decision was made to stop the tv service madness. At the time, we lived outside of Houston. There were 54 channels available through the antenna. Now, some were in languages I had always intended to learn and a few were extremely religious. Most were in HD and reception was crystal clear. The same can’t be said for living outside of beautiful Paris, TX. Our antenna access amounts to CBS, Fox and 2 limited Oklahoma PBS channels. If anyone with money is in Oklahoma reading this – please contribute to your PBS station. The programs showing now were seen in Houston a long time ago. That said, my interest lies in access to local weather which can be seen on the CBS channel.

Any television viewing is now accomplished by switching over to Roku. World news, national news, Pandora, Netflix, HuluPlus, etc are here to entertain, educate and teach me how to make my own creme fraiche. Netflix is better at less or no commercial interruptions than HuluPlus. It was a fantastic to watch 4 seasons of Mad Men without any commercials. Continuous story line and actual use of the 18 minutes, average, time in my life to do something constructive – instead of multiple and redundant commercials to stop hemmoroid itching or to lose weight. By the way, we didn’t do the Mad Men marathon where you start the gig at 10:00 am, in your night clothes and watch continuously for 20 hours at a time! No, we watched the episodes in the evening over a period of weeks!

Instead of watching mindless prattle available for a fee, we are now able to choose exactly what we want to watch and when we want to watch it. It was not a hard habit to break. Think of how many hours your children and family members are glued to the tv out of habit. Ask them when they last saw a movie or program on a premium channel and discuss the subject matter. You will be amazed by the feedback.

If you subscribe to Netflix, HuluPlus and assorted other programs accessible through the internet, your savings can amount to over $1,000.00 per year by cutting the cable/satellite service. This depends on your current expenditure and your future decisions. The most valued benefit we have received is time.



Book Club

Visiting allows you to view a town with a tourist attitude of entertainment. After the shock of moving and being able to find Walgreens, I have noticed a huge religious culture in northeast Texas. There are far more churches than retailers, restaurants and recreation/arts facilities. A dry county has meaning to me, now. . Beer and wine are now sold in select stores, which is “new” to the area. It is a road trip to obtain vodka to make a shaken martini.

A discussion this week has led me to believe religion is the focus of the communities surrounding me. Trying to understand the inherent population likens it to being a “book club”. The glue of the community is obviously the bible. Numerous ways and means are developed to gather and discuss a book. The local newspaper advertises a directory of places to worship. There are multiple flavors of Baptist churches. Not a mention of Greek Orthodox or Missouri Synod Lutheran. Advertising for local businesses supporting places of worship is also featured. Chick-fil-A wears christian beliefs on their sleeve. Intentional or innocent,  there can be repercussions for personal expression within the business/corporate arena.

My concern lies in the fact that extremes are never a good thing. Diversity and exposure to additional facets of the world will educate and teach you to think beyond yourself. Baskin Robbins may not have been a business success if they only offered plain vanilla ice-cream cones. What would life be like without a birthday ice-cream cake or sprinkles on a Cotton Candy Ice Cream cone. Continuously staying in your comfort zone is nothing more than a repetition of the same – nothing gained. It hampers growth. Is there a fear associated with a walk on the wild side?  Wild side interpreted as listening to a democratic view for a minute without preaching?

The house next door was recently purchased by a lovely mature couple. Before the house was “closed”, we had a few conversations with them. Within minutes we learned the mister had devoted a major portion of his life to missionary work. This is a commendable feat and worthy of one’s elevator speech.  After they closed on their home, we were informed they based their decision to purchase on the fact that we, their new neighbors, appeared to be like them. Assumptions and perception are a tricky passage. We all want to fit in without the pain of conflict or conversion.

My previous work partner asked me where  the night clubs and party places are when I showed him this area on Google. I don’t “club” anymore – due to wanting to wake up with my head on my shoulders and knowing where my vehicle is. It wasn’t an important factor when deciding to move here. Visiting a “night club” will expose you to individuals from one end of the spectrum to the other. Night clubs are not always one in the same folk, wearing a uniform and singing the same old tune. Night clubs can be cafe’s, coffee shops, disco dance halls, square dancing, two stepping, beer gardens and wine bars.

Connecting with people sharing a common denominator may be a challenge. I would never join a club that would have me as a member. I don’t want to be like everyone else. Never did. That said, we all have to have a shared feeling or view to “get along”. Getting along can be disconcerting when you see the world through a telescope and everyone else has a microscope. I know this jukebox has more than one record in it!

It is all part of the journey.