Stop buying paper towels

Save the rain forests and add a little style back to your dinner table. Use dinner napkins. You know, actual cloth napkins. Remember those? Your mother used to use them. Maybe your grandmother. Anyway, stop buying paper towels! It’s a waste of paper, and cloth napkins are actually cheaper in the long run, anyway.

Here’s another short article on the subject. No, I didn’t get the idea above from this one here. 🙂

The job market

When I applied and scheduled an interview for a job at the “financial arm” of the Methodist Church, I knew I was not a right fit for them. After all, I’m not only not Methodist, I’m not even a Christian.

When the HR manager called a couple days later to cancel the interview, I had a strong suspicion her excuse was concocted.

I’m guessing the conversation behind the scenes went something like this:

“When I asked him how he would feel about working in an environment where a prayer is said before and after every meeting, and people have been known to bring a Bible with them, his answer was, ‘I’m not a religious person, but I have no problem with other people practicing their religion … as long as they’re not hurting me.'”

Her boss probably said something like, “How very big of him! But seriously, he’s not a good fit here. Let’s make up an excuse not to interview him.”

“We have to be careful,” she would have said in this speculative conversation. “There are laws against religious discrimination.”

“Right, right,” he would have agreed. “Tell him the position has been filled. That always works.”

“I know,” she would have said, happy to have found a solution, “I’ll just tell him the truth without actually saying it. I’ll say, ‘We’ve already got Christian applicants scheduled for interviews who are a better fit for us.’ I just won’t say ‘Christian’ out loud.”

At which point, I’m sure they shared a laugh.

And that’s what she told me when she called. Her premise was that there was a “scheduling conflict.” Only four interview slots were available. As if you can’t simply move things around and squeeze in a twenty minute interview? Hell, I’ve had plenty of much shorter interviews.

No problem. I wasn’t thrilled about working for a bunch of religious fanatics, anyway. 🙂

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Safety first

Always wear your safety glasses when mowing the lawn or weed-eating. I didn’t today (though I do half the time), and I got hit in the eye with a rock that was launched by the mower blade, bounced off the side of the house, and hit me in the left eye.

My first thought after I let go of the mower — which killed the engine — and put my hands to my face was, “Is the eye still in the socket? Yes. Can I see out of the eye? Yes!”

It hurt but might have scared me more than anything else. Of course, the eye is blood-red now — and wanting to close as I type this — but I think I’ll be okay.

Getting organized

Great article here: Tara's Favesreorganizing-bathroom-closet

I’m especially impressed with Item 3, putting everything into the pillowcase.
I don’t know if this is her original idea, but it’s one of those that makes me say, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

Another interview

I went to another job interview yesterday. It was downtown Nashville in the once trendy Cummins Station building. I’ve had a few consulting clients there over the years. The company interviewing me shall remain nameless. Coincidentally, a few hours before the interview I received a “checking in” sort of call from a job recruiter who shall also remain nameless. She asked how things were going. “Are you still in the job market?” The usual.

I said, “Yes I am still looking. In fact I have an interview later today.”

“Oh? Where?”

“[nameless] company.”

“Ooh,” she hissed.


“Well, I don’t want to be negative” — God forbid a job recruiter should ever be negative — “but, a couple of people from there have recently come to me, looking for something new.” She then added a few juicy details: the CEO had recently lopped great chunks off everyone’s salary without warning and had suspended everyone’s health benefits, again, without warning. Scumbag. He’ll probably win someone’s CEO of the Year award.

Anyway, I arrived for the interview with just a few minutes to spare because of heavy traffic. I descended the stairs down into the bowels of the building, looking for their suite number. I used to take karate down there a dozen years ago, so I started wondering if these guys occupied my old dojo’s space. Finding the suite, I rang the bell. It was a secure door. Can’t let the riff-raff in, you know. The receptionist/office manager greeted me with a “professional,” uncaring look in her eyes. She might have been very attractive, but I’ve always been more personality-oriented. Not that it matters since I am happily married. 🙂

She soon warmed up, however, once back in her comfort zone which apparently does not extend much beyond her desk. I sat across from her, staring at the walls, literally. There were a lot of paintings, photos, posters and such. She offered some “old magazines” for me to peruse. I declined and tried to imagine the space as the old dojo, if it was in fact the same space. The CEO then emerged with the job candidate, a sharply dressed young black man, who had been scheduled ahead of me. I hate when they do that: let the candidates see each other. To me, it’s just crass. I mean, what are we, a bunch of illegals standing on the street corner waiting for the ranchers to let us pile into their pickup trucks? It might come to that. Maybe I shouldn’t complain.

The CEO gave me a slimy smile and shook my hand. I’ll never know, but that might have been the crucial moment in our short-lived acquaintance. We didn’t instantly dislike each other. It was more like we instantly didn’t care one way or the other about each other. Either way, not a good first impression. Of course, I might have been poisoned against him by that recruiter’s phone call. Either way, the guy was most definitely slimy. He explained that I would be meeting with “so-and-so” first, but they were interviewing someone else at the moment. He didn’t even pretend they were doing anything other than running all the candidates they could that day through the doors as fast as they could.

When my turn finally came, I was taken into some sort of storage room. My interviewer apologized for the room, but really? Interviewing candidates in a storage room? I was told they were hiring two people and they wanted to “move quickly.” I couldn’t help but ask “What happened? Did a couple of people up and leave on you?” I was hoping to get him to reveal too much, but it didn’t work. He merely repeated what he’d just said, “We’re just trying to fill these two positions.” Strike two, Bill. Great interviewing skills you have there! 🙂 He went on to ask me about my experience with several technologies they worked with, blah blah, but the whole “interview” only lasted about five minutes.

When he brought me back out to meet “the boss,” yet another applicant — a small, balding white man — was just leaving. It was a lot like a casting call. I think. I’ve seen them on t.v. 🙂 Anyway, the boss said something like, “Let me give you the nickel tour!” which lasted about two minutes, after which he said, “We’ll let you know tomorrow what we decide.” He didn’t ask me any questions at all. He was just telling me how “wonderful” his business was. I guess he was simply trying to get a feel for me while letting the other guy worry about things like my qualification for the job? The receptionist validated my parking stub. I left and wandered the halls a bit, looking for where my old dojo used to be. I think this company did occupy the old dojo space, and then some, but their entryway was not the old dojo’s entryway.

The next morning, the receptionist emailed me saying that, while my “skills were very impressive, the position has been fulfilled [sic] by another candidate who was a better fit,” or some such b.s. That was quick. They called me on Monday, scheduled the interview for Tuesday, interviewed everyone five minutes each and, based on that, hired someone by Tuesday night? My wife and the recruiter both said that not getting the job was a blessing in disguise. Hey, at least it gave me something to write about. 🙂

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Lesson for today

There is an old hotel/pub in Marble Arch, London which used to have gallows adjacent. Prisoners were taken to the gallows (after a fair trial, of course) to be hung. The horse-drawn dray carting the prisoner was accompanied by an armed guard who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like “ONE LAST DRINK.”

If he said YES it was referred to as ONE FOR THE ROAD. If he declined, that prisoner was ON THE WAGON. So there you go. More history…

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot, then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor.” But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot. They “didn’t have a pot to p*ss in” and were the lowest of the low.

And that’s the truth. Now, whoever said History was boring?

Saved a blackberry bush

A couple of them, actually. I was going to post this to, but there is no such site. Wait, maybe I should check. You never know. Guess what? There IS such a site, but it has to do with the ubiquitous electronic device.

Anyway, on a couple of recent dog walks through the fields of the neighboring subdivision, I noticed some wild blackberry bushes growing. Not very big, but they were bearing fruit. The first time, I thought, “I should dig those up and plant them in my back yard.” But I never got around to it. Then, the night before last, I went that way again and noticed that some sort of vehicle, probably the tractor nearby, had recently gone through that field and driven right over the plants! The vehicle had straddled the plants, so they survived, but I doubt they would have lived much longer.

So, today, I finally threw a shovel in the back of the truck, drove over there, dug them up (not as easy as I thought it’d be after yesterday’s rain), and brought them back to my house. I felt like a thief. It was exhilerating! 🙂 They’re in the back yard now. I’m waiting until this evening when it’s cooler before I plant them. In the meantime, they’re just sitting in a couple of buckets next to the already-established, much larger blackberry bush.

I hope they don’t fight. No kidding, I do wonder sometimes how certain plants get along. I’ve read about the — no kidding — chemical warfare they sometimes wage on each other.

I hope I didn’t kill the plants by digging them up. They were going to die when the developers tore up the land where they were, anyway. I guess their only chance of survival was with me. I’m a blackberry bush hero! I don’t see that being turned into a cartoon character, though. If I’m lucky, I’ll have quite a few blackberries this year.