Sunday, April 27, 2008

...the rich are very different from you and me...

This afternoon I met with a young woman whose resume I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks. We initially got off to a rocky start, because when she first sent me her existing resume, she inadvertently included an email from a friend who’d looked it over, who’d written: “On the Profile section (Objective) you really need to dress/jazz that up. Say how you are eager to work for an outstanding -------- organization; how your skills/knowledge can help that organization be more successful...DO NOT pay to have your resume done--that would be fine if you were a CEO or something.”

Uh-huh. Well, if only she were “a CEO or something”, then she’d actually have a job history, and I’d have had something to work from, rather than starting from scratch. I sent her a copy of the changes I’d made to that point with a rather crisp email saying that if she shared her friend’s sentiment, I wished her luck, and perhaps between the two of them, they could write her resume, but I wasn’t about to do it without being paid for my time. To my surprise, I received a contrite email from her assuring me she was willing to pay me for my time, and asking me to continue.

Which I did. And at her request, I drafted some cover letters for her. I put everything into a binder: resume; a cover letter template; an email cover letter; a networking letter; a slightly longer, more formal, snail mail cover letter; some brief suggestions on how to discuss and negotiate salary; common interview questions; and questions she could ask a prospective employer when, at the end of the interview, one is asked, “Now, what questions do you have for me?”

This afternoon, at the appointed time, I met her at my local Starbuck’s. She was already there when I arrived, which I took as a good sign, and I was pleased to see that she’d brought a copy of what I’d drafted, and per my request had highlighted the things she had questions about. I’d color coded a number of things that I had questions about, and we started with those. For example, I’d said she was Highly Organized because that’s a very desirable trait in the type of job she’s looking for, but I had no idea if it was accurate...she hadn’t used this phrase to describe herself on the resume she’d sent to me. So I asked her if this was accurate, saying we’d definitely want to delete it if it weren’t.

“No, that’s TOTALLY me!” she exclaimed, and so we went through the rest of my color coded items until we got to the education section, which I’d placed last. On what she’d sent me, she’d indicated she'd already graduated, but I knew she’d taken classes this spring.

“What’s your date of graduation?” I asked.

“I’ll walk in May!” she exclaimed, smiling.

I congratulated her, and said, “Well, that brings up something else. You’ll be a new graduate, so unless it’s really awful, we should list your GPA.”

“Oh, it’s REALLY bad! We CAN’T list my GPA!” she said, and then she continued, “I don’t even’s all up in the air. I mean, I’ll WALK in May for sure, but I won’t know until after I’ve walked if I’ve passed a couple of my classes...but I’ll walk no matter what...”

“OK,” I said brightly, “then we WON’T list your GPA! Now, what questions do you have for me?”

She looked at the resume and frowned slightly, then wrinkled her nose and smiled and said, “Well...the Objective...I don’t know if that’s correct...”

She hadn’t had an Objective on the resume she’d sent to me. It was something I’d added, and I looked now at what I’d written: “Objective: To secure an entry level ----position offering personal growth, challenge, and responsibility”

“Well, we don’t have to have it,” I said.

“No, no, I think it’s GOOD,” she said, “but I don’t know if it’s ACCURATE, the way you’ve worded it...”

“OK,” I said, genuinely puzzled, “What do we need to change?”

She wrinkled her nose again, and said, frowning slightly, “Well, entry-level...I don’t know that I want to start at entry-level...”

She glanced at me and added quickly, “I mean, I know everyone has to start SOMEPLACE, but entry-level...”

“Well, but you have no work experience!” I exclaimed, looking down at her resume to confirm that since entering college 5 years ago, the pretty young woman sitting before me had worked at exactly ONE job, from July to August 2005, which I’d changed to “Summer 2005" on her resume.

“But I did an internship!” she said defensively, and I could hear entitlement creeping into her tone.

Ah, yes, the internship. Not a full semester, supervised and graded, at-school-internship, but, by her own account “a friend of Daddy’s, June to July 2007" internship.

I took a deep breath and smiled.

“OK, so not entry-level, what were you thinking?”

“Well, management, of course...” she said. “I mean, I guess I’d be willing to do a management-training track, if I had to, but really I want to be in management...”

Uh-huh. No work history, because no work experience during college, not even summers, and in spite of not having to work at all while attending college, took longer than 4 years to complete college, with such a low GPA that she won’t say what it is, and it can’t be listed on the resume.

Management indeed

“Well, you’ll have it electronically, so you can word that however you want to word it,” I said, diplomatically.

“I have another question,” she said.

“OK!” I smiled, steeling myself.

“You haven’t put my availability on here,” she said.

“I don’t usually list it,” I said, “but you could certainly add it if you want to. When are you available?”

“Well, that’s the thing,” she said, smiling again, “I don’t know. It’s all up in the air. If I have to retake a class or two, then that’ll take until August, but even if I don’t, I’m going to Europe for two weeks this summer, and I have to find an apartment...”

“So it sounds like it’s best not to list it,” I said.

“I guess. I have one more question.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Well, why’d you list my education LAST? I mean, isn’t it usually first on a resume? I had it first before...”

I sighed. “Here’s the thing,” I said. “When I interview people, I have a copy of their resume in front of me, and we go through it, in order. A lot of people do it like that, and because you’re a new graduate, if you were an honor student, I’d put Education right up there on top. But you’re not an honor student, and we can’t even list your GPA. So if I put Education first, the first thing that could happen in an interview is that a prospective employer might look at that and say, Oh, I see you’re a recent graduate, what was your GPA? And then you’d be off to a bad start. It’s not your strongest point, so I’ve put your strengths up front, and Education last.”

She was OK with that.

She’s very pretty, very young, and apparently very rich. She told me her father’s “in the business” and has connections that she’ll use. Judging by the number of middle aged guys ogling her in Starbuck’s, I’d guess she’ll have a job in no time, in spite of her lack of experience and being unable to list her GPA. Hey, for all I know, she’ll be fast tracked for Management...

Friday, April 25, 2008 the wee small hours...

Insomnia rears its ugly head...usually these days this only happens on Sunday nights, maybe once a month or so, but this is the 3rd night this week that sleep has eluded me. Ugh, that's me whining - and in a couple of minutes I'm going to sign off and whine myself to sleep, I hope. Here are some of the things I've been thinking about while I can't sleep...I warn you, this stuff is BORING...

1. The range hood is in; I mean in, as in, waiting for me to pick it up and bring it home, not in as in, installed in my kitchen. But that'll happen soon. The question is, do I have the electrician install it, or do I beg Kath to come over and help me do it? Seriously, which do you think I prefer?
2. This morning I met the contractor who's going to oversee replacing the shower in my bathroom, the final part of that particular long, drawn out, ongoing remodeling project. His name is Jake (good name for a contractor), and he seems very nice and VERY young...early 20's and reminds me a bit of Chris. Jake's wife is a medical assistant who's looking for a better job and we spent some time talking about that...
3. Sam's Club and Walmart announced today that they're putting a limit on the amount of rice people can purchase at each visit in an attempt to keep people from hoarding. There's a world rice shortage right now...I heard this on NPR and we talked about it at lunch today (none of us was eating rice), but the scary thing to me is that the other people I was having lunch with didn't know a thing about it. On the other hand, sometimes I feel like Andie MacDowell in Sex, Lies & Videotape, when she was telling her therapist how she worried about garbage...I think there's a theme here...lying awake at night, worrying about things over which one has no control. Hmmmmmm....
4. I need to start car shopping for a new, used car. My VW has 144,000 miles on it. The engine still runs well (I'm getting 34 mpg, highway driving), but the chick engine light is always on and the speedometer works randomly, and last weekend, at Home Depot, with a cart full of soil and mulch and bedding plants, I discovered that the top is no longer operative. The top is motorized and can't be operated manually...luckily for me, it ceased being operative in the "up" position, 'cause I'd hate to be driving around in the weather we've had recently with the top down...

And on that note, I'm off to try to get some sleep...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

cool site

If you're trying to lose weight, or even if you're might enjoy checking out this VERY cool site:

Quoting from the site, "
WeightView is a digital and personalized motivational tool that uses the power of visualization to help to achieve weight loss success." In plain English, this is a site that will generate a pic of you up to 50 pounds lighter, for free. The idea behind this is that most of us are visual creatures who would do well to have something visual to strive for; however, when most of us look at pics of ourselves slimmer, those pics were often taken when we were younger, and so it's easy to think, "I can't get that slim again because I'll never be that young again"; this site produces a visual to look forward to.

It does this by having you upload a picture of yourself and then selecting the amount of weight you'd like to lose: the choices are in 10 pound increments, up to 50 pounds. Within 24 to 48 hours, you'll be able to see your pic, altered to show how you'd look 10 or 20 or 50 pounds lighter. It's cool, and best of all, as noted above, it's FREE! I have no connection to the site; I saw this on the news last night and it is on my blog.

So get yourself a midnight snack and check it out.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What I Did Today - Monday, 14 April 2008

So I had a great talk with my baby brother (Dave) as I drove home, and I kept driving, straight to Central Market, where I bean salad; penne with mozzarella; pineapple ginger salsa; lemon garlic grilled chicken breasts; dilled carrots; dolmas; Bulgarian yogurt; Greek yogurt (Fage); cheeses (Comte, creamy Gorgonzola and Swiss); fresh pineapple and honeydew; rice pudding; a pot de creme; a dark chocolate bar with cinnamon; a chipotle dark chocolate bar; a red chili/curry dark chocolate bar; and a dark chocolate/hazelnut bar; Pear Ale and, having spent well over $40 on that fabulous cache of groceries, I got a filet mignon for $1.38 (having a $10 off coupon).

Mmmmmmmmmm...I'm going to have dinner and watch Wuthering Heights, the 1939 version...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

spinning my wheels...

What I've Done This Weekend...

1. On Friday night I had dinner with A and an old friend from Chicago at Mia's.
2. Saturday morning I completed the final draft of a resume for someone who's hired me to do that for her.
3. On Saturday I had lunch with Chris, who was sick; chills, fever and sore throat. Not strep (the doctor checked), but still, too sick to go up to Indiana with his brother and Jon for the little 500, and (as he reminded me) it was eerily similar to the Indian Guides camping trip that Jon and Mike got to go on in kindergarten but Chris had to miss because of strep...sooooooooo...just as he did when he was five, Chris hung out with me, but instead of getting to inspect a firetruck firsthand as he did when he missed that camping trip, this time I took him to Blue Mesa for a bowl of tortilla soup, which is the best cure I know of for general upper respiratory crud...
4. I picked up refills and dropped off a script for myself - I need to sign up for an online pharmacy. I loathe going to the pharmacy...
5. I put in a flat of liriope outside the back fence. This was a lot more work than I thought it was going to be, and I've done it before so I should have known, involved carrying a zillion landscaping stones out of the side yard, where I dumped them prior to having the pool removed last fall, and schlepping them back to the driveway, where once again I used them to create a raised bed. Then it was another quick trip to Home Depot for more gardening soil; I put in a little over 6 cubic feet, plus the twenty liriope plants, plus mulch. It looks good, though, and I'm glad I got it done before it gets really hot.
6. I potted my front deck bougainvillea. Every year I put a pot of magenta bougainvillea on the corner of the small deck outside my front door, where the sun bakes down mercilessly, causing the bougainvillea to bloom prolifically, and it always cheers me up to walk outside and see it there.
7. I had the batteries replaced on two watches.
8. I got new cartridges for my printer.
9. I ordered a new range hood for the kitchen.

So why do I feel as if I haven't accomplished anything?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

happiness is listening to a new CD...

My Romi Mayes CD has FINALLY arrived, but it was so well worth the wait. She is an amazing artist; if you don't know her, check her out.

That's a dark and rainy night, and I'm going to listen to a little more music and then read a little before I fall asleep.

Monday, April 07, 2008

starry starry night...

I went in to work early.

I was at my desk at 7:30, and so, adhering to my plan to work more reasonable hours, I left at a little after 4:00 and was home at a decent hour tonight. My intentions were good; I intended to get home, change into sweats, and immediately knock off my 2 mile walk around the neighborhood. I walked twice yesterday, trying to offset the stress of doing my taxes...and maybe because of that, or maybe for some other reason, I was tired tonight, so when I got home and changed out of my work clothes and into some sweats, I decided to curl up on my bed for a few minutes and read more of the book on John Wilkes Booth...but within a few minutes, I was sound asleep.

I slept for a couple of hours, then woke and talked on the phone with A, who's 69 today. Then I went into my kitchen, where I cut up a couple of red peppers, drizzled them with olive oil and tossed a few sprigs of fresh rosemary across them for good measure and put them into the oven to bake, and only then did I put on my running shoes and walk out into the darkness of the spring night.

It was an absolutely beautiful night. The crescent moon was low in the sky as I started my walk, and there was a balmy wind high in the trees, and although I'm in the city, some familiar constellations were immediately recognizable overhead: Orion's belt and the big dipper loomed large, among others, and I saw the red winglights blinking and heard the wonderful motor sounds of a small plane flying out of Addison airport. I have a 2 mile loop that I like to do that takes me down near the creek that runs through my neighborhood; if I walk at the right time, I get to see the sun setting through the trees that line the creek. Last night, I did the loop at dusk, and as I approached the creek, looking at the trees and the stars, I suddenly realized there was a large, frozen shape on the sidewalk before me. I stopped just in time; I'd almost stepped on a big, slow moving raccoon...well, slow moving is overstating it; in fact, seeing/hearing me coming along at my quick clip, the raccoon froze so that I really did almost step on him (her?), which wouldn't have been good. So tonight, when I got to that part of my walk, which is where I turn around for the trip home, I was cautious, but there was no raccoon in sight. I did hear the first tree frogs of the season, a good (and welcome) harbinger of spring.

When I got home, the house was fragrant with the scent of the peppers and rosemary, and the coals are almost ready for my bleu cheeseburger. I'm listening to Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring and Billy the Kid, in anticipation of hearing Billy the Kid at the DSO on is good.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Let me tell you how it will be, there's one for you, nineteen for me...


The good news is, I've done my taxes.

The bad news is, I've done my taxes. There are few things I dislike more, and this year, I also did Mike's and Chris's taxes, in the end, a happier exercise as unlike me, both of them qualified for small refunds. This is the first year in as long as I can remember that I haven't overpaid, with the result that I have an amount due, and a fairly considerable amount at that. I am so in favor of a flat tax rate.

Nuff said. It's a gorgeous day outside, and I'm going out for a late, well-deserved lunch someplace where I can sit outside and see and feel the sunshine.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

It's always SOMETHING...

I got up at 8:30 today because the ceiling fan in Mike's room, having been repaired, was supposed to be delivered and reinstalled at 9:00. At 9:15 I called the shop (where I'd dropped off the motor a couple of weeks ago) to ask when I could expect the technician.

A receptionist, sounding incredibly bored, said, "Owwww, Ah dunno, he's owt, onna 'nuther job that he dint finish up yesturday; Ah really dunno what tahm he maht git thahr."

"Will you check?"
I asked crisply. I was put on hold for a couple of minutes; eventually, she came back on the line.

"Looks lahk he'll be thahr sometahm 'tween ten an 'leven" she said.

"OK," I said, and then I added, "Can you tell me why no one called to tell me he'd be running at least an hour late?"

"Well, tuh tell the trooth, Ah jist dint think a doin' that!"
she said, sounding surprised.


I cleaned up the kitchen and made myself a couple of cappuccinos while I waited; then I went online and wrote a review of the place, briefly describing my experience.

I'm turning into such a curmudgeon.

The tech, when he finally arrived, did a good job. It's a fairly new (4 years old) top of the line ceiling fan that hasn't had a lot of use, so I was disappointed and puzzled when it suddenly stopped working. Getting that ceiling fan fixed was on a list of things I've wanted to get done before summer. I also wanted wiring run to a ceiling light in the new upstairs closet that I had built after the fire. I'm quite capable of doing little bits of electrical work like that myself, however, the idea of crawling around in the attic and running wire is not my idea of a good time, so about a month ago I had an electrician come in to wire the closet light fixture. While he was here, I asked him to look at the non-functional ceiling fan in the other upstairs bedroom. He spent some time on it, and then told me he thought the motor was gone, and if that was the case, I'd have to send it back to the manufacturer, as the motor has a lifetime warranty. Since he was here, I had him remove the fan for me, but in doing so he somehow managed to disconnect the ceiling light on the stair landing. Not only is that light nowhere near the ceiling fan, it's also on a completely different circuit - I've mapped all the circuits in my house, and I checked. Unfortunately, I didn't discover the problem with the light on the stair landing until after the electrician had left, at which time I called his company and explained the problem and said I expect him back out to fix it, gratis.

His boss said he'd have him do it on the trip to reinstall the fan. OK. But when I called the fan manufacturer and described the problem, the manufacturer tech immediately said it wasn't the motor, and suggested I take the fan to an authorized dealer to have the problem properly diagnosed.

Which I did. And the tech there took one look and said, "The motor's fine, the board's gone and will have to be replaced." Because the dealer was fixing the problem, I decided to have the dealer reinstall the fan, reasoning that if I run into any additional problems, the dealer, who did the repair, can't say the fan wasn't installed properly, etc.

Soooooooo...after my initial wait this morning, the dealer tech showed, and reinstalled the repaired fan, which is running like a top...however, that means I now have to get the electrician to make a special trip to fix the non-working light on the stair landing, a problem he created trying to fix the fan last time he was here...

As Roseanna Roseannadanna used to say..."It's always something..."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What I Did Today - Thursday, April 3, 2008

I went to work, had lunch with a couple of friends, etc., etc., but when I got home tonight, I did something really cool...I booked tickets for Mike & Chris to fly to Indianapolis next weekend for the Indiana University Little 500. Mike will be flying in from Tucson and Chris from Dallas, and they'll stay with their best friend Jon (a/k/a my third son), who's in college at Indiana. The three of them have been buddies since they were 5 years old, when they were in Indian Guides together. Jon's invited Mike & Chris for this event before, but they've never made it, and as this is Jon's senior year, I really wanted this to happen.

In case you don't know, the Little 500 is a bicycle race that was immortalized in the terrific 1979 academy award winning film, Breaking Away, (which was written by one of my favorite writers, Steve Tesich).

The guys talked about doing this at Christmas, but I hadn't heard anything more, so tonight I called Chris and asked him if he'd gotten his ticket. He hadn't. I was already online, checking flights and prices, and we figured out what would work for Chris, and then I asked about Mike. Chris said Mike couldn't afford the airfare, so he wasn't going to go. Uh-huh. One of the coolest things about being a parent is the ability to make a thing like this happen.

Sooooooooo...I called Mike. We figured out what would work for him. And both my guys are flying to Indiana next weekend to hang out with their buddy Jon and attend the Little 500 together. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What I Did Today - Wednesday, April 2, 2008

1. I left for work at 6:10 thinking I'd get there early, for back to back meetings this morning. (If you want to know what an average day is like for me, watch Office Space - it's chillingly close to home.) It was a clear, cool, dry day, ideal driving conditions...nevertheless, for some reason, there were 3 major accidents, causing major backups, even at that early hour...still, I managed to arrive by 7:30, but this commute is getting very old.
2. I worked just 9 hours, which is good...I'm determined to cut back to about 43 hours a week.
3. Back home after work, I put on sweats and running shoes and did a quick, brisk hike around my neighborhood. Flowers are blooming and all the trees are covered in new leaves, and it's not hot felt really good to be outside.
4. I had a good dinner - grilled salmon and carrots, with a Bartlett pear stuffed with a soft blue cheese and walnuts for dessert.
5. I didn't turn on the tv, but instead am reading James Swanson's terrific book, Manhunt, about the hunt for John Wilkes Booth.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

and now for something completely different...

Driving home tonight, listening to NPR, I heard a great story about a guy named Lance Allred, a 27 year old guy who's been trying to get into the NBA. Yeah, so what? you might ask...well, here's the deal...he's been playing D leagues (I'm not a sports person...but I think that's what they're called) for several years now, all over the world, in fact, working on his game, trying to make it into the big time, and living lean on the $15,000 per season he earns doing this. Yeah, I know it's his choice, but here is the addition to the fact that he's a guy who loves basketball and who isn't afraid to go chasing his dream, Lance Allred is legally deaf, with a 75-80% loss of hearing in both ears. Deafness is an incredibly isolating disorder. I think it is SO great that this guy hasn't let that hold him back, that he's pursued his dream...and this story has a happy ending, because a couple of weeks ago, he finally got the call...the Cleveland Cavaliers signed him to a 10-day contract, and on March 25, they signed him to a second 10-day contract.

10-day contracts are player contracts that last ten days or three games, whichever comes later. A team may sign a player to two 10-day contracts in one season, but after the second 10-day contract, the team can only retain the player by signing him for the remainder of the season. Allred was interviewed on NPR right after he'd been signed to the first 10-day contract, and he was totally upbeat. Here's to hoping the Cavaliers sign him for the remainder of the season.