Category: Career & Work

Bush Still Doesn’t Get It

I didn’t want to write this story, but I just can’t let it go.

Ed Rollins wrote an article for CNN on January 13th, 2009 called, “Commentary: Bush still doesn’t get it.” I agree that Bush still doesn’t get it. The problem is that Ed Rollins still doesn’t get it either.

Rollins is a Republican strategist who was the national chairman of Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign. Take a minute and imagine how horrible you would feel right now if Huckabee was going to be inaugurated next Tuesday instead of Barack Obama.

Rollins says this about Bush in his article, “I don’t believe he is dishonest or an incompetent.” Well Ed, I think he is both.

Bush should have known, and I think he did, that the evidence for weapons of mass destruction was not credible. He should not have invaded another country based on the information that he had. I think that alone is evidence of both incompetence and dishonesty. Saddam Hussein may have been a ruthless dictator, but he wasn’t a threat to the United States.

Scooter Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff,  was convicted in a court of law for one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and lying to the FBI. There is no way that he deserved a pardon from Bush, but that is exactly what Bush did.  Libby did not serve 5 minutes of his 30 month sentence.

Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times, spent 12 weeks in jail for refusing to identify sources in this case. She didn’t disclose the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Libby did. The pardon is another example of dishonest and incompetent behavior by Bush.

Rollins brings up the fact that Bill Clinton was impeached. He asks (referring to Clinton and Bush), “Why did their presidencies not live up to those high expectations that we all have for our new leaders on Inauguration Day?”

How dare he compare Clinton to Bush. Comparing Bill Clinton to George Bush is ridiculous and obnoxious. It makes me want to spit. Clinton lied about something that was insignificant and trivial compared to war. Nobody died because of his lie. The impeachment proceedings distracted the president from running the country. What could he have accomplished if he had not been harassed by Congress? When Bill Clinton left office the United States was at peace and had a budget surplus.

Bush’s failures tower over Clinton’s. Bush should have been impeached for invading Iraq. I don’t understand why he wasn’t.

Thousands upon thousands of people have died because of his lies. Thousands more have been grievously wounded. Only Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich has had the courage to present Articles of Impeachment against Bush.

Throughout the article Rollins gives Barack Obama advice about things he should do and how he should do it. Ed, stop giving Barack advice. Stop telling him what he can and can’t do. You are very close to the bottom of the list for people giving Barack advice. You are somewhere down there with Rush Limbaugh.

Rollins says (to Bush), “Thank you, for serving your country.” I say good riddance. We would have been much better off without you.

I can’t wait for Tuesday when Barack Obama takes the oath of office.

P. S.

Barack Obama was asked recently if he would seek an investigation of possible crimes by the Bush administration. He answered, ” I don’t believe that anybody is above the law, but we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

Paul Krugman wrote an article for the New York Times titled, “Forgive and Forget?” He believes that the Obama administration should investigate the crimes committed by the Bush administration. I agree completely.

If we don’t hold the Bush administration accountable for their crimes, then they are above the law.

Tell People What you Want

It’s all over the news. A lot of people are being laid off and losing their jobs. But there are still plenty of people working and it won’t do any good to focus on the negative stories anyway. Tim Allen’s character in the movie Galaxy Quest is always saying, “Never give up. Never surrender.” I like that motto.

Clint Eastwood’s character in the movie Heartbreak Ridge said, “Improvise and overcome.” He was leading a Marine Corps recon unit. It seemed to work for them and they were being shot at. Bing Crosby used to sing, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” It can’t hurt.

I know what it is like to not have the money to pay the rent or mortgage. I know that it is not always easy, but you might be surprised how quickly people want to help you if you just ask. Some problems are more difficult than others. But it never hurts to ask. If you are looking for a job, tell everyone you know. Everyone, at one time or another, has been job hunting. I should also add here, email everyone you know. Ask them to tell their friends you are looking for a job. Be as specific as you can about what you are looking for.

Being as specific as you can with your description is best, but having a couple of alternatives won’t hurt either. If you know what you want, you can target companies that have those kinds of jobs. You might even know what company you want to work for. If so, you can ask people you know if they know anyone who works there. You should also ask them to ask their friends if they know anyone who works there.

I attended a class at Mercer County Community College many years ago. I met a man in the class and we started talking. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was looking for a job. He worked for Merrill Lynch and they had a huge office complex nearby. I gave him my phone number and he said someone would call me soon.

Within the next couple of days a woman called me. She was very nice and asked me what kind of job I was looking for. I didn’t know and I couldn’t tell her. “Anything” is what I answered. That was the wrong answer. She had no idea what to do with me after I said that and the conversation ended.  I should have had some idea of what kind of job I wanted and I could have gotten an interview. Be ready to answer that question and tell the person what you want.

A lot of people don’t know what they want, so they end up with what they get.

In one of my top ten favorite movies, “As Good As It Gets”, Greg Kinnear tells Jack Nicholson how lucky he is because he knows what he wants. Nicholson wants Helen Hunt and is miserable because she won’t talk to him. Kinnear inspires Nicholson to go over to her house right away and tell her how he feels.

A few years ago I attended a Christmas party at the home of a friend of mine. I was standing around in the living room with some food and a drink. I introduced myself to another man who was in the room. He recognized my last name and asked me if I had a brother named Howard. I said yes, I did. He said that he used to work with him and he asked me how my brother was doing. For a minute, I thought of saying he’s fine and letting it go at that. The truth though was that he was looking for a job.

I decided to go for the truth. I told him that my brother was looking for a job. He immediately gave me his business card and phone number and said to have my brother call him. He thought that he could get my brother a job where he worked in the solar energy business. My brother ended up contacting him and was working again in just a few weeks. He stayed at that job for five years or so. If I hadn’t said something, he  would not have found his way to that job.

My wife Mary Lynn and I used to go to a bar called Ernie’s when we lived in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. We liked to go there on Friday nights for a few hours. There was one gentleman who I used to see there a lot and speak to fairly frequently. I knew him for about six months when I overheard a conversation he was having with someone else. He said that he was looking for a job and had been for quite some time. I waited for a pause in the conversation and interrupted. I asked him what type of job he was looking for.

I told him that the company I worked for was always looking for new people to install and repair phone lines. This was back in the day when everyone was getting a second phone line for their modem. He said that he would be interested in that. The next day, I contacted the human resources department. I knew everyone in the department and they liked me. They were always going through resumes and trying to recruit people. They WANTED recommendations from employees. My friend got the job and I think he enjoyed it for at least a few years. The point is though, that I knew him for six months and only found out that he was looking for a job when I overheard a conversation. If he had been sitting on the other side of the bar, he might still be out of work! My hearing isn’t that good.

I was walking down the street a number of years ago, unemployed and wondering what exactly I was going to do next. I was less than one half mile from my house. I happened to notice a man installing cable TV service while I was walking past a house. I walked over to him, introduced myself, and started asking him about the cable TV business. He was very happy to answer my questions and said if I was interested, he would give me a call the next day. I said yes. Go ahead and give me a call. The next day, he called me and arranged to pick me up and take me with him while he worked. I learned enough to know that I would like to try it. He was a sub-contractor and I went to work as his helper for a few weeks.

I still remember climbing my first telephone pole with Bernie. He was laughing his head off because I would not let go of the ladder and cable strand to work with both hands. It was in the middle of a snow storm too, on South Broad Street in Groveville, New Jersey. You just can’t work on a pole like that using only one hand. Bernie was an excellent teacher who had infinite patience with me. I’m really not that mechanical. Ask my brother. I eventually let go, finished the job, and survived. I eventually went on to get my own truck and equipment and work alone. I only stayed in the cable TV business for a year, but the point is that I asked questions and let Bernie know that I was looking for a job.

After I graduated from high school, I sat on the couch for a month watching TV. One day my mother asked me if I was going to look for a job. So, the next day I went looking for a job. I wanted to work for the local electric and gas company and be a serviceman that repairs appliances. I am not sure why I picked that. While I was in high school I wanted to pitch for the Oakland Athletics. I gave up on that too soon and switched to the repairman scenario. I think it seemed like a good steady job at the time.

I took the bus into town and went into the Public Service Electric & Gas Co. office. I filled out an application and took a test a few days later. The only problem was that I was at the commercial office, not one of the electric or gas offices. They didn’t have any repairman jobs. I started out as a building attendant and became a meter reader after that. I didn’t ask the right questions when I first applied. I suppose I could have left as soon as I discovered I was in the wrong place, but I didn’t. I was young.

In ninth grade I didn’t dance at the school dances because I was too afraid to ask any of the girls to dance. I didn’t really know how to dance anyway or at least I didn’t think I knew how to dance. I never really tried so how could I know for sure? If I had tried, I bet I could have danced well enough to get by. Most of the boys, myself included, leaned against the bleachers and acted like we didn’t really want to dance. We did.

Do you want to dance? Go out there and ask someone.

You’ll See It When You Believe It

In 1989 I was laid off from a job working for Purolator Courier. I delivered packages like a UPS or Fed Ex driver. I then went to work for a small local courier service as a contractor. That was a really crummy job with no benefits and lousy pay. After a few months of that, I decided that if I am going to do this, I should work for myself. I just didn’t know what else to do. So, I started my own business, Voyager Express Courier. I worked at that for about 4 years and struggled along. In the course of running the business I used to go to my brother Howard’s house to use his computer. I had a typewriter at home and was familiar with that, but I wanted to create a customized letter that I could use to market my business. My brother had WordPerfect on his computer and a big, noisy dot-matrix printer. I remember having to yell to him whenever I had to print, “what’s that print key?” If I remember correctly it is shift + F7. I laugh about it now, but I suppose I should have written it down. It was really great to be able to backspace over mistakes instead of using white out, correcting tape or just ripping the paper out of the typewriter and starting with a fresh sheet. I finally broke down and bought a computer at the Trenton Computer Festival. It was held at Mercer County Community College. My brother Howard and my friend Carl helped me pick it out. It was a x286 with a 40MB hard drive and 1MB of ram. I couldn’t wait to get it home and have Carl hook it up for me. The operating system was DOS 5.0, I think, at the time. I didn’t have Microsoft Windows. It was all text based. I got a copy of WordPerfect since that was the only program I knew anything about. I still remember getting the modem to work for the first time, late one night. It was 2400 baud. Listening to the crashing, squealing sound of the modem negotiating with the other modem for the first time was awesome. I used to stay up until 2 o’clock in the morning playing with that computer. I became more interested in the computer than in the courier business.

You\'ll See It When You Believe It

Sometime in 1993, I picked up a book by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer called, “You’ll See It When You Believe It, The Way to Your Personal Transformation.” I don’t remember exactly how or why I picked up the book, but I did remember him for writing “Your Erroneous Zones.” The book is worth buying and reading for the introduction alone. I highly recommend it. It changed my life and, to this day, I consider it the 2nd most important book I ever read. I still have my copy and it is highlighted through out and the pages are yellowed with age. I used to keep extra copies in my house and car and give them away to people. I was sitting at my home office desk one night reading chapter four on “Abundance” when I read the following 3 sentences
starting on page 130:

“Imagine what gives you the most pleasure and makes you feel purposeful. What is it that when you finish doing it, you feel immeasurably fulfilled, and while you are doing it, time just seems to be nonexistent? Invite that into your consciousness, and then proceed  to follow your bliss.”

I immediately turned to my right and looked at the computer equipment sitting on the desk a few feet away. I thought to myself, maybe I can make a living doing something with the computer. I loved playing around with that thing and I stayed up all hours of the night, completely forgetting what time it was. It was an amazing moment and it was right in front of me the whole time.

I started to investigate the different types of jobs or things you could do with a computer. The BASIC software program came with DOS at the time so I bought a book for $20 and experimented on my own for a month . I couldn’t see myself sitting at a desk all day typing on a computer so I looked for something else. I discovered in a computer magazine that computer networking for business was in its infancy and Novell Netware was the biggest network operating system. Microsoft Windows crushed it later, but in 1994 Novell was the king of the hill. There were “boot camps” to teach you how to become a Novell CNE. It was basically a crash course to teach you how to pass 6 or 7 exams to get your certification. The courses were run by independent businesses. For $2000 or so they would cram you with information over a 6 or 8 week period. I found a school that I wanted to attend and offered my business for sale to an another courier service that wanted to expand. I had a major account that they were interested in and a few smaller ones. I made enough on the sale to pay for my school and a little extra. My friend Carl enrolled with me. He had much more PC experience than I did, but he was new to networking too. We drove to the classes together and quizzed each other before the exams. The school was located in Somerset, NJ. We drove back roads as much as we could. There was a farm along one of the roads and it had a fake cow, about 3 times the size of a real cow, on a trailer sitting in a field. Everyday when we drove by we wondered what that was all about. One day we finally stopped and drove into the farm. The guy who ran the place explained that it used to be taken to trade shows and fairs at one time.  I have a picture of it somewhere and I used to take it out and show people. We finally passed our final exam and became Novell Certified Netware Engineers. I started looking for a job. It wasn’t easy. I started working for a small company outside of Princeton, NJ. I drove around with the owner and visited customer sites every day to fix or repair whatever problem they had. I remember he liked to drink a lot at lunch. He was the stereotypical 3 martini lunch guy. It didn’t work out and I was politely let go after about 2 months.

I stumbled across something called the Online Career Center. I can’t remember exactly how I found it, but I was browsing around on my modem. It was an entirely text based web site housed at the University of Minnesota. It has since moved elsewhere. I was searching one day and found an agency listing for a computer job with Bell Atlantic in Pennsylvania. I contacted the agency and they sent me on an interview in Valley Forge, PA. Bell had a big data center there. I thought the interview went very badly. I waited to hear something from the agency, but nothing happened. I called them every two weeks just to check in. By this time I had been out of work for months. I finally called them about 7 weeks after the interview. The woman at the agency said that Bell decided they weren’t going to fill the job. Right. I never heard that one before. I was very disappointed, but I was determined to find work in the computer field. I put on a suit, grabbed a copy of my resume and drove over to a computer store near my house. I can’t even remember the name now, but they were a small chain of stores. I chatted with them a little while and went home. I was sitting at my desk again when the phone rang. It was the woman from the agency saying that she had found me a different job with Bell Atlantic and I could start Monday! It seems that another supervisor from Bell had called the agency about a different job request, totally unrelated to the first job. She told them about me and the first interview. I’m sure I was still fresh in her mind because of our conversation only an hour before. The Bell guy called the original person who interviewed me and that person gave me a favorable rating. At least, I think he did. Why else would they hire me? I’m surprised he remembered the interview at all. Maybe he took notes. I was hired sight unseen for the second job. An hour before, I was crushed and despondent upon hearing that I didn’t get the original job.  An hour later I was ecstatic. I would have taken the job no matter what it paid, but they offered me $45K. I was a contractor and there were no benefits, but that was more money then I had ever made before. Over the next two years I worked for Bell Atlantic in Wayne, Conshohocken and Philadelphia, PA. I also went to Pittsburg, State College, Scranton, Harrisburg and Reading. They were the two best years of my working life. I enjoyed the work I was doing, the people I worked with, made good money and got to travel a little. Things were looking up.

A good friend of mine used to say, “The only way you don’t get what you want is you either give up or die.” I guess the moral of this story is that I didn’t give up. I knew what I wanted and pursued it. Even a failed interview ultimately helped me get what I wanted. Don’t give up. Keep trying.

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