June 30, 2009


Part-time peeves

I’ve been looking for part-time work (yes, again), and while I may have become more savvy in job searches over the years, the recent trend of online applications is trying my already thin patience. I understand that the Internet provides convenience and organizational benefits for employers, and most every national and regional corporation is taking advantage of these in some form. And it’s mostly a boon for job seekers as well in providing an application process that can be undertaken from the comfort of your abode.

These coolie points are quickly offset by at least three things. The first, over-arching condition is the sheer length of these buggers. I’d venture to say that an online application takes about 30-40 minutes on average to complete. There is a major contributor in almost all the prolonged ones and I’ll get to that. But first I’ll mention that there is a small, but of course totally rational and reasonable, pet peeve that seems to carry over from the old school course of beating the pavement in search of a decent occupation.

When looking for work in the higher echelons of the full-time sphere of employment, many employers respect that it is an arduous and time-consuming process and therefore are keen to simply accept a résumé with cover letter. In the part-time world, whereby my qualifications limit me primarily to services, retail, restaurant, etc. this is rarely good enough. “You need to come in and fill out an application,” is the common response to telephone inquiries made to establishments offering 25 hours per week or less. I did have a manager at one of my walk-ins, a small local retail shop, request that I e-mail him my résumé, by which I was at first somewhat impressed. It turns out he didn’t have any application forms on hand, and then when I called back the following day he claimed he “had not seen it” in his e-mail (I must confess to really hating this most B.S. of excuses – I double checked his addy before leaving the store, and the e-mail was not bounced back to me). Online there is usually an option for uploading, but in most cases the process also requires you to complete an education and work history section, even when some of the more sophisticated websites have the capability of extracting the personal information from your uploaded document. I’m at a loss as to why I have not seen any sites so far that will extract info regarding “H.S.” or “University” and “from xx-xx to yy-yy.” C’mon IT peeps, get on the stick!

My big peeve is the ubiquitous and time-consuming personality profile questionnaire. Some are quite lengthy - 80 questions is my record so far – and most are overly obvious and quite banal in their attempts to analyze potential employees. You may be familiar with the stuff – silly statements with multiple choices for expressing your world view to the middle managers of the world, and for which there are “no wrong answers.” Right, I should mark “strongly agree” to the statement “People who occasionally shoplift on an impulse are not really dishonest.” That and all of the following are actual statements that I came upon in my work search. Let’s have a looksee:

I recommend these for the “strongly disagree” category:
I understand how someone could get into the habit of shoplifting, without really meaning to.

People who work at cash registers often give their friends a break on what they have to pay.

I don’t like to watch TV shows that make you think about complicated subjects.

When someone doesn’t do things my way I find it hard to be nice to them.

Reading the newspaper is a waste of time.

People don’t realize how easy it is for employees to sell a company’s secrets to their competition.

The following seven items were on the same company’s questionnaire:
I go to parties whenever I feel like it.

My behavior doesn’t change if I’m at a party.

I get more sleep after I’ve been out at a party.

I enjoy going out to bars after work.

My social life is better if I go to bars.

I have a good time with people I meet in the bars.

Sometimes I turn down invitations to go out to bars.

For that last one I believe you could accurately answer “especially from creepy H.R. guys who write profile questionnaires.” Obsess much?

These three would be best marked “neutral” or “no opinion.”
I can talk my way out of anything.

I am a person who likes to stir up excitement.

I have noticed some recent changes in my body.

Be sure to check just ONE box for this:
Sometimes my ideas about things change quickly for no apparent reason.

And I was tempted to scrawl “the bars” at the end of this one:
I behave just as well at home as when I’m out visiting.

Wish me luck !

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June 06, 2009



A Svenska pojka - 1926


A happy childhood in the midst of the Great Depression

The new squeeze

One in a long series of happy days - 1948

Proud first-time parents - 1950

The most wonderful time of the year?

Stylin' - 1958

A growing family

Seven is enough - 1968

Neither rain nor SNOW ! - 1979

The Kenny Rogers years - 1989

Dedication since 1947

A good retirement

Fifty-four years together - 2003

The newest grandkid - 2007

I had not heard the song "Keep Me In Your Heart" for some time when my brother reminded me about it the day Dad died. It was written by Warren Zevon after he knew he was dying from cancer. He wrote it primarily for his wife, but I'm sure he must have known what a beautiful masterpiece it was that Muse gave him for all who suffer loss.

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for awhile
If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile
When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for awhile
There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Keep me in your heart for awhile
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile
You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes, keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

Engine driver's headed north to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for awhile
These wheels keep turning but they're running out of steam
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Keep me in your heart for awhile
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Here is a cover of the song by LiliAna Rose, lovely of voice, face and name:

We will, Dad.

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June 04, 2009


Calling it

Sadness with a touch of sweetness. My dad was released from the prison of infirm old age last night. Too soon but still just too damn slow. His decline was more stark than my mom’s, whose prognosis can only be brought to the fuzzy outlook for all Alzheimer’s patients – “We just don’t know.”

At least we knew something of what was in store for mom, and the hope that dad could enjoy his twilight years despite her condition went gradually from bright to dim. He was so happy after they sold the house and moved to the assisted care apartment. It wasn’t his dream of independent living in Tennessee, but considering mom’s condition it was a pretty good deal. He could still drive, still go to a game or get her out to family gatherings on his own (the photo, from Christmas ’05, was the last time I saw them out together).

There are possibly several reasons for his decline. The obvious physical ones of type II diabetes, two falls that fractured a hip and then an arm, and a small stroke each took a toll for certain. But what of the emotional stress from seeing his life partner descend into a mental fog which necessitated them living separate lives while still married? She was the proverbial mother hen over their seven offspring, he the tried and true breadwinner who was comfortable not having much to say about the raising.

The staff at their facility said that a spot was available for mom in the Alzheimer’s care ward, which is for advanced cases. While she was not considered to be in the advanced stage, they recommended the move based mostly on what they said were rare openings. I’m not sure how the rest of my family feels about this, and I don’t recall the entire situation to a ‘T’, but in retrospect this strikes me as convenient for the staff and not very beneficial for my folks. There were other situations that held a similar stink (I’ll spare the details here), but this may have been the watershed event of my parents golden years, putting a tarnish to them from which my dad, as the only one who might have successfully pressed on, ultimately wasn’t able to.

In my highly subjective and inexpert opinion, my mom’s existence, basically unchanged in any positive way for more than a year now, seems cruel and pointless. My first visit after she moved to the ward left me nearly as shocked as I’ve ever been by anything. Seeing her condition and that of the other residents there was heartbreaking – small wonder that mom had declined so rapidly (again, inexpert opinion). So do I hope against hope that Alzheimer's sufferers, if not physically in pain, are given a weirdly blissful way to go with their inability to acknowledge what is going on? It's got to beat terminal cancer or ALS, where the sound mind wrestles the emotions that must come with seeing and feeling the hourglass empty.

I might say I'm at the end of my rope with the societal mores of end-of-life care, but the metaphor seems grossly unfair to my parents and, more importantly, my two sisters aka The Troopers. Not that they disagree, and not that they wouldn't have risen to the challenge as admirably and with as much fortitude as they have. I know that the “caregiver by geographic default” factor has exasperated them at times. I say this because I know it has left this apple feeling a bit helpless in his settling spot so far from the tree.

Such irony there is in a convicted murderer being executed and at last getting released from prison. Out of love we afford the mercy killing of our pets when they have reached the point where misery trumps living another day. But with our own species, society doesn’t take kindly to enacting the suffix “–icide” in any way shape or form when it comes to mercy. Send young people off to pointless death in combat (wrap it up in the flag and call it the cost of freedom), but By God Don’t Allow A Fellow Human To Pass From This Plane With Any Push Outside His Divine Hand.

I stand disgusted, dispirited and disappointed, and if I stand in small company, looked upon askance by “civilized” and “spiritual” beings, then so be it. I’m here to call BULLSHIT on the whole affair of “natural death” and say let this essay serve at least as a temporary living will that if I ever get to such a condition of inviability, my closest kin are hereby directed to procure the most efficient legal means (or not legal if they must and can without retribution) to expedite my demise.

Sadness with a touch of sweetness, and a good measure of bitter it turns out.

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