Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I'm currently in my 12th job search in 38 years. I've begun to think I ought to hire out as a career coach, except that I'd rather play piano in a whorehouse.

Based on all this experience, one thing I can say for sure is that the job search advice you get today, for whatever price, is exactly the same bullshit that the unemployed of 1971 (and 1975, and 1982...) had served up to them. Some of the items make sense. The bulk is mere witless repetition.

Leading my list of pet peeves is the amount of energy that goes into answering the question "tell me about yourself." These dozen periods of job searches work out to well over 150 actual interviews. When you toss in the interviews I've conducted over the years as a hiring manager, I've got around 200 notches in my interview shootin' iron. I made pretty much the same mistakes on my own that I did with expert advice. My own advice got me on no better, and no worse, that the experts'.

Never...not all those interviews has anyone asked me that, or any variant on it; nor have I ever asked it of a candidate. There are plenty of other cliches to fall back on. When a career expert trots this one out, I take it as a sign that they have no clue what is really happening on the hiring front or, if they do, they are out of fresh ideas.

You can assess a dozen or so equally useless pieces of get-hired advice by simply grabbing the topic du jour and googling it. The value of the advice is in inverse proportion to the number of hits.

My advice? If you want it, mail me your bank account numbers, 'K? Unlike those other Robin Hoods, I've been out of work.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Meeting my Obligation

I'm told that as a citizen of the blogosphere, I must write about the death of Michael Jackson.

Doubtless this brands me as an old faht of the worst kind, but it's been 30 years since I gave Michael Jackson much attention at all. My inattention includes both the music of a performer on the down slope, and the performer's indiscretions. Consequently, his death is no more interesting to me me than his life for the past oh-so many years.

I'm not just an old faht regarding this artist, but regarding the obsessive-compulsive coverage that happens when any so-called celebrity does anything. Jackson really didn't have to die to get attention; he would have done nearly as well to break wind in a public place.

The gentleman a colleague calls Kim Jong Mentally-Il was probably upset that his rally was upstaged by Farah Fawcett's death. With the Jackson obsession coming so soon after, he never had a chance to regroup. He should just pack it in and trade in his missiles for caviar. Until he gets better hair, he will never be able to compete with fully credentialed celebrities.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Now, let's really try this out

I got this quiz on Facebook courtesy of the offspring. Considering I am not a Noth Shoah native, I did well. This suggests you can beat this system. I invite certain reglah readahs who are native to take this, so we have a default standard. Those of you who don't have a clue what the questions are about should take it too, so we can see how hard it is to crack the code.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


We offer an object lesson. When robbing a bank, you need to get five out of five. Two out of five won't do. Today's idjit major gets style points for a) driving up to the branch bank in a stolen BMW, and b) wearing a nice suit. He flunks on c) making sure his hostages weren't texting their predicament (they were), d) robbing a branch bank early in the day, before it had more than chump change on hand, and e) picking a bank with two cops on duty right across the street. In the old gangster movies, point e) was called casing the joint. Our hero did not case.

Trouble is, much of our current mess comes from people with BMWs and equally nice suits whose planning and execution was just as flawed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

About time

For those not counting, this year is not merely the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, but the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It seemed to me that I'd skipped enough Boston Pride parades and, being out of excuses, I went.

That was the good idea. Deciding that I could "walk off" the aforementioned produce injury by getting off at Aquarium and working my way through the festival at City Hall Plaza and back along the parade route was the dumb idea. However, the exuberance of the day overcame the inconvenience until I got back home.

I picked a vantage point that I found iconic: Beacon Street, in front of the State House, where the pro-gay marriage rallies took place five (yikes! Five!) years ago. The weather (40 degrees warmer) and the atmosphere could not have been more different. The festive atmosphere on the pro-equality side was strained at times during the rallies, chosen as the most appropriate act of defiance to the army of hate ranged in front of us. I don't doubt that some of the haters remained in today's crowd (I saw one I recognised), but they were crushed by numbers and enthusiasm.

It ain't over, of course. And it perhaps never will be entirely. Maine's equal rights have still to withstand assault by the haters, and so the equality chant I last heard on this ground from 5000 frozen voices was again raised there today by the Maine contingent.

There were moments, during those frozen, windy hours in the winter of 2004, when it seemed like supporters of equality, although numerically stronger on the picket line, were doomed to fail. There have been plenty of such moments since and there will be more. Justice spreads by fits and starts. Five years on and there is already enough difference to make me look around for the Tardis. One difference is that the younger participants and spectators today have as little use for anti-equality cant as they would for someone advocating a return to miscegenation laws. The sole benefit of Proposition 8 is its reminder that ground once won must still be defended. I think no one today had any illusions on that.

The transition would be astounding if one were time-warped from June, 1969, and the context of the Stonewall riots. It would be hardly less amazing if the time machine took off from Boston's first gay pride parades some 30 years ago. The one change I'd like to see is a time when pride can just be an occasion for a party.

Wages of virtue, which is

A mere prelude.

The local farmers' market opened today, and I celebrated the end of the immediate scurvy threat by going up for a few items.

Our establishment is at the top of a short, steepish driveway. Your correspondent, laden with produce and slightly giddy from unexpectedly nice weather, slipped partway down, causing a slight strain to the left gastricnemius and upper hamstring. The idea of changing plans for later in the day never crossed my mind...which is why ice and ibuprofen are on the menu tonight.

I bet no one in the drive-up window at Dunkin Donuts hurt themselves.

Monday, June 08, 2009

When we are what we eat

Long, long ago, before cell phones, I landed a part-time sales job in a health food store. I am not a sales type, so this was an act of desperation.

The money wasn't bad. They had commission items and all you had to do was steer the gullible toward the commission items, mumble a few nice words, and watch your pay bloom from minimum wage to triple that or more.

OK...a period of low moral compromise.

I also lost 30 lb living on their products, both as a paid sampler and because we got to take home the expired or damaged merchandise and that stretched the budget a bit more.

Today, I saw an ad for the polar opposite, a Hershey's merchandiser. This would be a moment of equal moral compromise. I've long since found the 30 lb I lost back then. I fear that becoming a professional candyman would end with me having to be lifted from my merchandising truck. My position isn't helped by the conviction that there is nothing wrong with chocolate.