Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bleg: New Baby Edition

I know I have been remiss in updating the blog here lately. I have even acquired a new follower (the first in quite a while) who I need to properly welcome. The new job has kept me very busy as has getting settled into a new home. The last remaining bits of free time have been taken up with getting all the paperwork and assorted other tasks taken care of to get the Castle's Foster Parent License renewed.

Why would we even consider renewing our foster care license you might be asking? Didn't we forswear any further involvement in the foster care process after M&M's adoption? Why, yes. Yes, we did pinky promise and forswear any desire to involve ourselves further in the emotional self flagellation that is the foster to adopt process.

With one, small caveat.

Remember how I said we would consider getting involved if any only if it were for a full blood sibling to M&M?

Yeah...weeelllll....she was born today.

Alright, alright. I can hear the record scratching sound, see the puzzled looks and feel the mental equivalent of a "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?". Allow me to back up a moment.

Sometime in December, The Queen gets a text from male bio donor's cousin asking how we would feel about a sibling for Maddy. The Queen answered that we thought it would be great if Maddy had a sibling but weren't going to get involved in the foster process again unless it was a special situation. It was then that Cousin L (L is a good initial, sits in the middle of the alphabet, good solid base, stands on its own, no connection to cousin's first or last name) dropped the other shoe that female bio was pregnant again and L wanted us to be adopt if the opportunity arose. Due date was estimated in August.

I've kept it under my hat with the exception of immediate family and a couple of close friends. Mainly because there was no guarantee that the call would ever come. Female bio donor, as you may recall, has a history of miscarriages among her many other issues. There was also no guarantee that they would remain in the state (they came back to Texas late last year for reasons unknown).

Female bio's drug use was a concern. Early reports are that she stayed clean during this pregnancy which is a small blessing. We hear baby girl was born healthy despite being a few weeks early, and she apparently looks like M&M did when she was born. We have been told that CPS is aware of the birth and will be allowing the bios to take baby sister "home" under close monitoring. I say "home" because the bios are apparently homeless and living out of a cheap motel.

Given the bios colorful history, I suspect it will not be long before CPS decides this was a collosal mistake and removes baby girl from whatever disaster the bios decide to call shelter for the night.

And herein lies the bleg: I simply request prayers and good vibes for whatever is best for baby girl. I simply want her to have the protection and safety she needs to grow up happy and healthy. Obviously, I am biased about where and with whom that should take place. But, this isn't about me (or the bios for that matter). So, I request that you leave me, The Queen and the bios out of whatever prayers or good thoughts you choose to offer up. I would be content with a simple "God/Allah/Buddha/Mother Nature/By Grapthar's Hammer, not my will but thy will be done."

Thanks, and I will try to provide updates as I have information to share.

Friday, July 10, 2015

More Advise For M&M

1) Drink the good stuff....and learn to savor it.

I remember when I was in college my buddies would all chip in and buy a case or two of the cheapest rat urine beer they could find for a weekend of drinking. Keystone Light was their usual poison of choice as I recall. I was the oddball who brought a six pack of real beer (I was known to bring anything from Miller Genuine Draft to for real from Germany Oktoberfest beer) and still managed to go home with at least two bottles for later consumption.

2) [or corollary to 1) above] Whiskey should be old enough to drive....or at least old enough to reach the pedals.

Anything younger than 12 years should really come with a chaperon in the form of a mixer of some flavor. 12 to 15 years old can be allowed some latitude but should generally require a curfew that ends at the same time happy hour does. Anything older than 15 should be savored without anymore distraction than maybe a large ice cube.

3) Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Hard work never hurt noboby, and you wash.

4) "You are not what you think you are. What you think, you are."

I heard this in a sermon recently, and it's true.

5) Make plans to do stuff. It's important to have things to look forward to.

It doesn't have to be elaborate. It doesn't have to be expensive. It can be anything as long as it is something.

6) Every safety rule is written in blood.

Corollary - Behind every warning label is an idiot with a lawsuit.

Go read the Darwin Awards if you need proof.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Advice for M&M's Future Suitors

1) Come to the door.

Go on. Honk the horn from the curb. I dare you.

2) Dress nicely.

If I see your underwear, I will pull it up over your head and tie it off to your shoelaces.

3) Show respect.

Both for M&M and for The Queen and me. DISrespect will be dealt with...harshly.

4) Speak clearly and use proper English.

Proper pronunciation and enunciation is your friend. Everything you say can and will be used against you. Gutter slang, Ebonics, mumbling and foul language will not be tolerated.

5) You will be background checked. Deal with it.

6) If I see you in the news, it had better be for saving kittens or something equally worthy.

If the article or story mentions you and the words "perpetrator" or "suspect" in the same sentence, walk away now while you still can.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bucket o' Puppies

Anyone? Great Pyrenees. Good momma and pappa dogs. You too can own an abominable slobber dog.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Tale of The Tape

It's official. I start my new, "permanent" job tomorrow. Relieved is probably the best descriptor right now.

Since I was laid off just shy of 10 months ago, I've been on quite the roller coaster ride. I had to keep a spreadsheet of all the jobs I applied for several reasons not the least of which was to keep track of all the online login information for each company's career website. That gives me a little bit of nerdy data to offer up in lieu of real content.

First, I submitted 128 applications (plus or minus a few). I say plus or minus simply because there were a few duplications (submitting directly on the company website as well as a recruiter website for the same position, submitting for the same position more than once when it was reposted, etc.). The for real, actual number is still well north of 100 and probably no less than 120, but I have 128 positions recorded on the spreadsheet. So, that's what we are going with. 

I submitted resumes to about 95 companies. I have to say about because it's hard to tell what company you are applying to through a recruiter unless they tell you. I have 95 discrete employer/recruiter entries on my spreadsheet, and I'm pretty confident that there are only a few overlaps because you start to see patterns in the wording of the job postings. 

I applied for jobs in 46 cities. At my current career level, there are only so many senior level, high paying positions available. You have to be willing to go where the work is. I hamstrung myself somewhat by refusing to apply to positions in places like Chicago, New York or Boston (or Liberal Hell as I like to call it...where a lot of insurance companies call home) where I would be miserable for one reason or another. The one exception to the liberal hell rule I made was for my wife, The Queen, who has dreamed of moving to California for as long as I have known her. She wants to live on a beach (or at least in the same county as a beach) in the worst way. So, several applications were made to cities in the Peoples Republic of Commiefornia including San Fransicko of all places. 

Yes, it made my skin crawl to do so. But, such are the things I do for my love. 

Those 46 cities were scattered across 18 states. Most were in the south and west, but there were a few attempts at the northeast. See the "liberal hell rule" above. 

Of all those applications, only 14 companies decided to check my teeth with an interview. 

Of those 14 companies, only 4 or 5 of them lead to serious final interviews. The Florida job was the closest I got before the now new job. I was in the final cut of 3 or 4 for that position. For whatever reason, They liked someone else better. 

This whole process has taught me a lot. 

First and foremost, is always take what's said with a grain of salt. Six weeks before I was laid off, I had a great review with a healthy bonus and discussions of development for the future. Less than two months later, I'm out the door with a blatant lie for an explanation. I have since proven that at least part of the explanation they gave me (eliminating my position) was an outright lie. The real reason I was let go will probably remain forever a mystery unless I run into one of my former coworkers at a bar after they are deep in their cups. I continue to have my suspicions, but closure will probably await Judgment Day. 

Second, sometimes hard work isn't enough. When I arrived at my temporary position, I was told they never hired temps. I found out later that several of my coworkers there had been temps before being hired full time. Within 3 weeks, I was approached about whether I would consider going full time as my work had been noticed and appreciated by the client (a major soft drink company). I allowed as how full time employment was my goal, and what did they have in mind? The short version is that their salary range for the position was well below what I was being paid as a temp, and there was no way we were ever going to be able to bridge the gap (it would have meant a permanent 50% pay cut from my previous full time salary not including bonus). 

That brings us to the third takeaway: flight risk. It is almost impossible to avoid giving a prospective employer your prior earning history the way online application systems are geared. In those cases where I could not hide it and we got to the interview stage, the salary and bonus from my last job was a stated concern for several of the employers I talked to. When a supervisor position came up at the company I was temping at, they didn't even give me the opportunity to reject an offer as they felt the position would not challenge me enough and the salary would have me moving on to another position in six to nine months. 

Another lesson learned was that getting an interview was as much a matter of timing as it was hitting the right keywords in the resume parsing software. It is a reality today that the first "read" of your resume is a computer software program parsing the data looking for certain keywords. I could probably have gotten more interviews had a tailored my resume for each individual position, but that is a tedious process to say the least. 

Finally, it is still a popularity contest once you get passed the HR cyborgs. My new boss is someone that I knew somewhat peripherally at another company. There is also someone at the new company that I have known since my first job in insurance (20+ years ago...and I still have the tie she gave me as a Christmas gift about that long ago). I'm pretty sure those two connections in conjunction with my experience were the deciding factors. 

There are other takeaways that I will try to mention in the near future, but work starts early tomorrow. I'm outta here. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I Thought It Was Funny

It's been a while, but I'm still here. I've just had lots going on. I promise to write an everything update soon. In the meantime, here's a little slice of workplace humor from earlier this week.

So, my supervisor puts a note in the file:

“Put monkey on back of [the attorney] or [the claimant] to get us [the property damage] info or else we close [the file] in 7 days.”

My response in the file notes:

“Monkey installed on [claimant attorney’s] back. Monkey not happy being so close to an attorney.“

They really should install a snark filter on the claims system.