Saturday, October 23, 2010

An "Odd Job" Market - 10/24/2010

It has become increasingly evident that I need to go back to work, at least for a couple of years. There is going to be a gap between the end of my liquid assets and the time when I can collect my 401Ks and Social Security (if there will still be such a thing). My military retirement will sustain me, but not at any quality of life that I desire. It is not really a gap as much as a chasm, possibly an abyss.

At the time when most young men were starting their life’s work, I was beginning a twenty year hitch in the military. At the time when most 40 year-olds were entering their peak earning years, I was retiring. I have piddled around, taking employment doing various things, for the past nearly 20 years, quitting each when I began to get bored, which was often on my first day on the job, and finding something else the next day, equally as unfulfilling. I am at a disadvantage as I have never really been involved in a job search. Since I was a young boy, jobs have always found me. But in the current job market, employment is not seeking me out.

I guess I am kind of hard to place. I know a little bit about everything and a lot about nothing in particular. That makes me a decent conversationalist, a great Trivial Pursuit player, and a decent Jeopardy contestant, but unfortunately not a sought after employee. The fact that I can do a crossword puzzle with an ink pen is not a skill that necessarily looks good on a resume. In spite of my lack of specialization, I have always seemed to be successful in most jobs that I valued enough to apply myself to. But everything I have ever done has been a job and just a job. I have never felt like I was doing anything satisfying or fulfilling. I read about people who love their work and can’t wait to get started every day. I greatly envy them.

I am most suited to do office work. I can type like a sonofabich and due to my obsessive compulsive disorder; have almost a maniacal ability to organize. I love the concept of a place for everything and everything in its place. I am a great filer of shit. My attention deficit disorder causes me to multitask even when it is not appropriate to. I am great on the phone if I remember to hold it up to my good ear. Unfortunately, my post-military job experience is mostly in sales and marketing, which I freaking hate. So I have had to create a resume that is a work of fiction that James Patterson would be proud of. I can accomplish all the tasks listed at a high level, I just haven’t yet.

With that in mind, I made the rookie mistake of putting my faux resume online. I was under the mistaken impression that and were legitimate sources of employment. I receive almost daily contact from companies offering job and investment “opportunities,” but no real employment. Many of these faux (I love that word) jobs are disguised as real jobs.

There is no end to insurance companies I have never heard of, multi-level marketing schemes, and “can’t miss” franchise opportunities. They all seem to have an opening in “my area” and “after reviewing my resume,” think I would be a perfect candidate. I should earn a minimum of $5,000 a month working part-time from my home or $150,000 a year as a commissioned sales rep. Of course, since none of these companies actually hire anyone or pay a salary, there is no limit to the number of commissioned sales persons they can have on staff.

I generally respond to all of these “opportunities” in a very negative way. Sometimes by email but if they leave a number I call and speak to them directly. It is kind of a fun way to spend my idle time, berating someone, and challenging them to tell me where “my area” is or which particular qualifications on my resume led them to contact me?

My idea of employment at this stage of my life is linear: In that I work “X” hours per week at “Y” hourly rate to equal my weekly pay “Z.” (X x Y = Z) - a ton of withholding. I have yet to find a position like that where “Y” is more than $8.00 an hour (which I will work for if it includes unlimited free golf).

I recently went to an interview (not from an internet job site). It was for a receptionist position, which sounded perfect for me. When I arrived at the office, I was given an employment application and directed to go into a conference room to fill it out. In the conference room were about 15 other applicants, all of whom looked like wait staff of a local Hooters. Knowing there was no chance in hell of me getting the job, I decided to have some fun with the application. I listed myself as a 75 year-old black, former astronaut, CIA operative, mafia hit-man, who graduated from Tuskegee Institute in 1960. My special certifications/skills were that I could flatulate on command and could drive a combine.

When I was called in for the interview, I was sure that the guy interviewing me would laugh at my application and excuse me. He did not. He appeared to be looking it over carefully, though obviously not paying a bit of attention to it. He actually asked me questions and made notations on the application. He then said that everything looked fine and he would be making his selection the next day. He would call me if I was chosen and, if not, he would “keep it on file for six months.” I am sure he had already selected a hot 20 year old and was going through the motions.

I could be unemployed for a very long time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Not Rocket Science - 10/15/2010

Songs will be sung around the campfire by my descendants about my lack of practical skills. The only quality more legendary is my total lack of patience. Both of you who have read previous blogs will recall the cassette deck event and the carburetor rebuild debacle, among others.

I am certain sleep would not have come easily had you known that I was once entrusted by the United States Air Force to prepare missiles for flight and nuclear weapons in a ready state. I don’t know if I used to be more competent, but I doubt it.

Knowing what I know about myself you would think that I would no longer embark on tasks requiring any adroitness, dexterity or aplomb. You would be wrong.

I sleep on a Sleep Science Memory Foam mattress, which is the absolute best sleep system I have ever stretched out on. I know you have seen the advertisements where one person is jumping up and down on one side while their “partner” is defusing a bomb on the opposite side. From the first time I laid down on it, I knew I would never own anything else. I love this product so much I could do a commercial for it, but I am sure the image of a fat bastard like me wallowing around would send sales plummeting.

The mattress comes with a: “Luxurious Soft, removable and washable, Jacquard cover”. This is a totally truthful declaration. It was this statement that encouraged me to venture beyond my skill set. I examined the tag and it instructed me that it was machine washable in cold water and could be dried using the air fluff setting (no heat). I understood the purpose of this care was to prevent shrinking. I am not a complete dullard.

There is zipper all the way around the mattress for easy “removal.”


I removed the mattress cover and as there were a couple of small stains of unknown origin, I applied Spray and Wash and washed as instructed. As the cover is quite plush and “luxurious” as previously stated, I was expecting that it would take some time to dry using the air fluff setting. I was not prepared for how long it actually took to dry. I slept on the couch like a married man that had erred.


I am not certain if I was awoken by the pain in my arthritic knee from curling up to allow Skooter his three quarter share of the couch or the distress neck was experiencing from my head being elevated far beyond my normal position. Once I could get myself into a standing position I went to check the dryer as I had put it on an 80 minute cycle prior to retiring. Still wet. Though I was tempted to add some heat to the process, I kept my cool (so to speak). Eventually, the cover, though still damp, was dry enough to reinstall. My plan was to run the ceiling fan on high after I ensconced the mattress, to complete the drying. It made sense to me.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the degree of difficulty I would experience trying to refit the mattress into the cover. The mattress is 10 inches thick and the stability that it is famous for is because the foam is compressed into a solid, very heavy, mass. It is nearly impossible for one person to maneuver it sufficiently to plant it back into the cover. This is a fact that I suspected when removing the cover but had reached the point of no return before I fully realized it.

I wrestled it until I was totally exhausted, turned on the ceiling fan, cooked dinner, and retired to the couch.


I awoke is more agony than the previous morning due to the added structural damage I received from mattress wrangling. Sometime during the night Skooter moved to his bed (which he seldom sleeps in). I am not sure if he moved voluntarily or was kicked off the couch by my jimmy leg.

The cover was now dry but my bedroom was now about 50 degrees from the cool night aided by the high speed fan. I pulled out the owner’s manual for the sleep system and there was really no new information to help me. I now had the cover positioned pretty well but not well enough for it to zip. I was afraid to force it as I did not want to risk tearing it or stripping the zipper.

In the manual I found a number for tech support. I thought, “what the heck?” The fact that a mattress required tech support should have told me I was in over my head. But I dialed the number and as you might suspect I got somebody in India and when I told him my situation I think he put me on speaker phone so all the other outsourcers could enjoy my distress. As you can imagine, he was no help at all, and the consensus from the Mumbai office was that nobody every removes the cover. He did indicate that the successful re-installation of a cover that he had heard of but had not been verified was done by a team and not a single person.

The next couple of hours were pretty intense. Skooter begged to go out on the balcony as I am sure he thought I was going to have a stroke. I managed to get the bag on the mattress and zipped, but I am not sure that the memory foam has any recollection of how things used to be. The cover is not perfect, but we live in an imperfect world. Once I got the fitted sheet on you could hardly see the lumps. Job well done. I am putting this one in the win column.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Homophobe or just straight? - 10/12/2010

Yesterday, some moron called me a homophobe. So today, I have decided to create a post designed to separate the men from the boys, so to speak. I am going to explore gayness. Well, that was a bad choice of words. I am going to discuss male homosexuality. I do not claim to be an authority on this subject as everything I know about the gay lifestyle I learned by watching “Will and Grace,” American Idol, and The Winter Olympics.

The observations I make here are my own opinions and if you disagree, I don’t really care. The first comment I feel inclined to make is that I don’t think being gay is a choice. I think life is hard enough without choosing to complicate it in such a manner. I have seen elementary aged children that I took one look at and my GAYDAR went full scale. You have too. I have observed a man walking into a room and PING. They did not practice walking that way or talking that way.

I have nothing against gay people. I think that homophobic people are those that are not certain of their own sexuality. And those that try to quote some ridiculous Bible references are grabbing at straws. Those same verses condemn masturbation and eating shellfish. I will see you all in hell. That being said, I don’t think it is necessary to flaunt gayness by parading down 42nd Street, making out in Speedos. That would not be appropriate for heteros either, but I would be more likely to tune in. I believe everyone should be proud of who they are, but they don’t have to make everything into a broadway show.

Gay marriage is a huge political football. Though I think this issue is based more on economics than on love and marriage. Having paid my taxes as a single person for many years, I can understand the motivation for wanting to be able to file jointly. I have never understood why single people should bear more of the tax burden than those that can’t control their procreation. I am penalized for keeping my DNA to myself. I have considered marrying a woman I don't even like just so I can file a joint return. Families use more of the services of our infrastructure and should pay more taxes. But that is another blog.

I say, let them marry. Why should they be exempt from the “joys” of marriage? I can assure you that they would soon change the name of their lifestyle to something other than gay. Relationships are easy until you have a mortgage and a home to jointly keep up. You see how I used joint there?

As to whether gays should be allowed to teach our children, I don’t see why not. For some reason, it is vastly believed by the heterosexual community that all gay people just get in a big pile and randomly fornicate. I think that gay relationships are similar to straight associations, except the sexual roles are less strictly defined. I don’t know for sure if there are designated pitchers and catchers or if there are utility players. Excuse that baseball metaphor, as every event in my life can be summed up in either a sports or a Seinfeld allegory. I don't think one's sexual orientation affects their ability to try to teach Algebra to a class of dunderheads.

The big issue now is the military policy of "don't ask, don't tell." I served 20 years and worked with several outwardly gay people. I never noticed that it affected their job performance. I was under the impression that in the Navy they had been asking and telling forever. I will tell you this: if a person wants to serve my country, and possibly die for it, I do not care if their sexual preference is farm animals.

The gay people that I have known (not in the Biblical sense) have by and large been good people. There was a time when our local Ruby Tuesday’s wait staff was composed primarily of outwardly gay men, who only used their closet to store their wardrobe and countless pairs of shoes. Service was never better. I bought my BMW from an outwardly gay man and it was his gayness that sealed the deal. I am a disciple of the stereotype that gays take good care of their apparatus (sometimes I kill myself). I was correct. He had 10 years of service records, chronologically filed in a folder. This may not have been due to his gayness as much as his OCD.

As far as I know, none of my children are gay. The don’t ask, don’t tell, policy has always worked for us. But if they had been, it would not have changed the way I care for them, treat them, or love them. Yeah, I do prefer that they are not gay. So sue me. I am also glad they are not outlaw bikers, covered in tattoos and piercings, or are crack heads. I am sorry if I have now offended my crack head readers. I hate to be labeled as a crackaphobe too.

I love comedy. I LOL and sometimes LMFAO at jokes about gays, old people, handicapped people, rednecks, blacks, Mexicans, jewish people, lawyers, democrats, and particularly Arabs. To me, nothing and no one are taboo. So if my humor offends anyone’s delicate sensibility, I don’t really give a damn. "I'm here, I'm severe, get used to it." Please refer to the title of this blog before commenting.

I do want to thank the misguided soul that called me a homophobe for curing my writer's block and inspiring a blog post. It had been a while.