Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So much for all that hard work

I didn't get the dispatching job that I really wanted. Back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In the waiting room

The word for today is "waiting."

Kaleb had surgery this morning. Without going into the gory details, it was elective surgery designed to correctly complete an elective surgery that was not very successful the day after he was born. 'Nuff said.

I went to bed early...9:30 p.m. on Monday night...and actually managed to fall asleep right away. Kaleb was already in bed at the time. Jenn, for some reason (maybe the Dr. Pepper????) was wide awake and decided to stay up for a bit. Glad she did, because Kaleb woke up at 10:30 p.m. and was hungry. She came to bed again shortly after he zonked out again.

It was surprisingly easy to get moving this morning when the alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. I got showered and dressed and started making sure everything was packed and ready to go. Jenn got up shortly after and did the same. We got Kaleb up about 15 minutes before we left.

We were the first customers at McDonald's at 5:01 a.m. and actually had to wait for them to get the register ready. Then it was off to the hospital in Toledo.

We got there at 5:45, valet parking (trusting your car is a difficult thing to do, even if he has a name tag and hospital logo on his shirt!!!!) and got K-Bob registered. By then he was wide awake and was running up and down the halls and babbling at the top of his lungs. He loves to listen to echoes, and hospital hallways are good places to hear them.

We waited for 20 minutes before we were called upstairs to pre-op, where we waited some more. We held him the entire time in pre-op, where a number of things surprised me. The first most surprising thing was how open it was. We were in plain view of 4 other beds filled with 4 other patients. Somehow, it seems Health Insurance Privacy Protection Act law, which prevents hospitals from even acknowledging you exist, even to family members who call to inquire about your well-being, have managed to protect your privacy from the guy on the next gurney. Weird.

The second strange thing about pre-op is how many times you are asked the same exact question by countless number of people, regardless of how many times it is written on all of their multiple charts. I can't even begin to tell you how many times we were asked the following questions:
  • Does he have any allergies?
  • When was the last time he ate?
  • Is there a family history of trouble with anesthetics?
  • I see he had RSV. Tell me about that.
  • When was the last time he took medication of any kind?
  • What is the air velocity of an unladen swallow? (bonus points for those who catch this reference)
Ad nauseum; ad infinitum; lather, rinse, repeat.

We spent more than an hour in pre-op answering the same 5 questions over and over again. I think 6 people quizzed us using the same test questions.

And then Kaleb was off to the races, wrapped in a warm blanket and whisked away to the operating room while we were left alone to figure out that we were to leave and make our way to the waiting room all by our lonesome. It's a good thing we both have broad shoulders because we were really left out to dry. I should mention that in their "suggestion box." Some parents who have just handed their child off to a stranger who is going to knock him out cold and cut him might not have their wits about them quite as much as we did.

So now, after an hour and 20 minutes of waiting, the REAL waiting began.

Jenn and I snagged some really runny, cold eggs, tater tots (hmm...I should watch Napoleon Dynamite again), and bacon (Jenn gave me hers because it was more like pig jerky than bacon), and then returned to the waiting room. Jenn read a few pages in a book and then cried her eyes out while Good Morning America or the Today Show, or whatever it was, showed bits and pieces of the last interview of Patrick Swayze interspersed with appropriate (or inappropriate?) clips from his film "Ghost." I have been informed by Jenn that not only will we be watching the interview when it airs tonight, we will ALSO be watching Dirty Dancing sometime soon. Sounds like a good reason to me to go get lost in a corn field on purpose!!!!

I read a few pages in my book, but had a hard time concentrating. I was clock-watching instead.

An hour later, almost to the minute (now about 8:20 a.m.) the doctor who performed the surgery came down and updated us and gave us some after-care instruction. His update and instructions alike were pretty graphic. Again, this was in front of everyone in the waiting room; HIPPA laws be damned.

We then waited for permission to return upstairs. This was another 10-minute wait. During that time, Jenn's mother arrived and began waiting with us. She came up because we needed to make sure that Jenn and Kaleb got home safely and quickly. I couldn't go home because I had an interview scheduled for 11 a.m. in Perrysburg. More about that later.

So we finally get called to go back up and see our little guy, and when we arrive, he is still unconscious (he was put completely under, including an IV for this procedure). So again, we waited for him to wake up. That took about 20 minutes, during which time we got additional after-care instruction from a nurse, asked a bunch of questions, and signed a bunch of papers.

When Kaleb finally woke up, he was RAVENOUS. He downed three bottles of sugar water provided by the hospital before he finally settled. He fought the nurse when she tried to take out his IV. Jenn held him, and I had to get involved by holding his arm still so the nurse could cut away the gauze that held the IV in place.

Now, I get blood tests once each year for a condition I have had since birth. I can watch them stick me and draw blood all day, but IVs are something that turn my stomach when they have tried to give them to me in the past. To watch them give them to or take them out of someone else is completely intolerable. I can't even watch people getting flu shots on the news.

So you have to appreciate the vision of me squatted down next to Jenn, who is seated comfortably in a chair holding onto Kaleb for dear life as he kicks and screams. In the meantime, I am holding Kaleb's arm still so the nurse can cut off the bandage and remove the IV, and all of this is happening at eye-level. MY eye level. Blech.

With that trauma finally over with, we get to take him home, only THIS time, we are escorted back to the waiting room.

Jenn, Kaleb and Elaine climbed in one vehicle and head back to Bowling Green while I climbed in our van and head toward Perrysburg for my interview.

(Before I move on to the interview portion, I want to inform you that Kaleb is doing VERY well. He is back to his babbling; he is walking, though gingerly, and he is for the most part happy. He is sleeping a LOT, eating monstrous amounts of anything he can get his hands on, and is being his all-around monster-ham self. Now, we return to our regularly-scheduled program).

This interview was scheduled two weeks prior. Jenn and I had talked right before I received the phone call and she gave me some advice, which was this: Pick a time in the middle of the pack. If you are first, they will forget you. If you are last, they already have their minds made up by the time you get in there.

So being a good listener, I chose the middle day when I was given the choice. Wouldn't you know it, I picked the same day as Kaleb's surgery and damned if I didn't hear about it for two weeks straight. Oh well. My fault. I neglected to add Kaleb's surgery to my Google calendar. My fault and I admit it. But I wasn't about to change the interview for fear of losing whatever good standing I may or may not have had.

Here's the rub: I wore my street clothes to the surgery with the intent of changing while we were waiting for Kaleb to be released. That happened way earlier than expected. So I drove to the Way Public Library in Perrysburg and changed in their public restroom. Ever do that? It's really uncomfortable standing there in your skivvies while people walk in, do their business, and leave. I caught two people who neglected to wash after doing the deed. Nasty.

It's also distracting when the motion-sensing toilet in your stall is flushing every two minutes because you are setting it while changing your clothes.

So I did that, read a little bit, and got my head in a good place for the interview before I drove the two blocks and jumped in the snake pit.

For those of you not paying attention to this blog, I applied for a dispatching position with the City of Perrysburg Police Department.

I think things went pretty well. I answered the questions as best I could; I only regret one answer. I didn't say anything bad; I was just taken off-guard and gave a really weak response.

I also learned some new things. I originally was told that there were 16 finalists. Now there are either 14 or 15. I don't know why that number went down and I don't care, either. Maybe they found a new job, or maybe their background check disqualified them.

I was under the assumption that after this week's round of first interviews, the final two would be chosen, contacted, and put through a psychological examination, a physical, and a drug test, followed by a SECOND interview. I was under the assumption that then and only then would the selection committee make a recommendation to council.

I was wrong. This was the ONLY interview. It was my last chance to make a good impression. I hope I did what I needed to do. Any examinations and tests, I was informed, will be done AFTER the job is offered to someone.

I was told that I should know my fate by the end of NEXT week (by Sept. 26).

I have done all I can do.

Now, I wait...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Addition

This entry is about our new addition, Evan's birthday, and some other stuff as I come up with it.

No, I don't mean New Edition, as in Bobby Brown's first boy band. I mean Loki, our new-but-not-so-new Siamese cat with about 132,000 lives.



Loki was Jenn's cat, which she has had for I don't know how long. He has a constant runny nose, snores, and wraps his body around your head when he sleeps. Great cat, but pretty gross.

He has been living with Jenn's parents for at least the last four years. On Aug. 15, he got out of the house and either got hit by a car or kicked in the face by someone who doesn't like cats. Jenn, Evan, Kaleb and I were just finishing my birthday lunch at one of our favorite restaurants when Jenn's sister called and said Loki got hit by a car (the alternate theory arose later when we realized he had no further injuries except what was visible on his face.

When we got to her parents' home, we didn't know what to expect. I fully expected to pull up to a squished cat and facing the job of having to use a shovel to pick him up. Instead, we found Loki lying (and trying to get out of) a milk crate lined with bathroom towels.

He had a bloody, snotty nose, both eyes were blood-shot, one pupil was fully dilated, and he was panting. We thought his jaw as broken, but it wasn't. We took Loki to the vet, where he stayed for two days. Doc pulled him through the rough part with some anti-shock therapy and heavy-duty antibiotics.

In the final tally, Loki is blind in his right eye (which is still dilated), and drools more than he should. Doc said he has an upper respiratory infection (but he's been snotty since I first met him) and in the words of the vet, he is "making himself diabetic," which translates to "he pees about a gallon an hour."

This cat should be dead. But he isn't. So we brought him home to our house. Magic hates it. She hisses at and smacks him every chance she can get. They fight each other for bed space, food, laps and territory. Magic was so mad she actually peed and pooped on a pair of jeans I left on my bedroom floor one day last week. I keep hoping they will grow out of it.

In other business, Evan turned 6 this week and started kindergarten two weeks ago. I can't believe it. None of us can. It's crazy.

We had a small get-together at our house last weekend. He got a new baseball mitt, a new and bigger bike, a soccer ball, a Star Wars-themed educational telescope, and lots of clothes. We threw him a Star Wars-themed party and Jenn even made him a birthday cake shaped like a light saber. Very cool and creative on Jenn's part; not to mention really, really good.

Kaleb now has 3 teeth and is working on #4. He can take bites and chews on everything, including fingers when you try to feel for new teeth. It hurts. As always, he is into everything, loves playing with everything we tell him not to touch, and gives us that "who, ME???" smile every time we tell him no.
In job hunt news, I have an interview for the dispatching position on Sept. 15. The background check is over, so apparently I passed it; I knew I would. Jenn mentioned a possibility that I hadn't thought of before. There is a chance that the field of 16 might have been trimmed down due to bad backgrounds, and maybe trimmed down even further if these folks have taken other jobs at other companies.

I am hedging my bets, thought, as I found out about 3 open positions at a newspaper that is in competition with the paper where I used to work. I sent my resume and writing samples and the employee at the paper who gave me the heads-up wrote her boss a recommendation for me without me even asking her to do so.

I'm getting close. Without getting over-confident or cocky, I'm getting close to ending this dry streak. I can just feel it.

I got another "sign" this week when the company where I work part-time eliminated my supervisor position due to the economy and finally getting a feel for how the store will perform in Bowling Green. I am not being replaced by someone else or in trouble for anything I did or didn't do. The company is just adjusting now that the pie-in-the-sky pipe dream honeymoon period is over.

The elimination of my title (and $1 per hour) is not necessarily a bad thing. If I get a full-time job, my hope is to stay there anyway, in which case I would have had to give up my supervisor title anyway. The way I see it, my schedule is opening up to make way for a full-time job coming to my near future.

At least I hope that's what it is.

So whatever it is that you do: Bow to Mecca, pray, throw salt over your shoulder, wish on a star, smoke a peace pipe, do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight, I beg you to please do it starting now and PLEASE KEEP IT UP!!! I can use all the help I can get.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Things to be Happy About: Part 1

A couple of weekends ago, Jen, the boys and I took a trip up to Lake Erie to relax and just BE for once, without running around or feeling like we have to accomplish something on the never-ending list of things to do.

Jenn surprised me by bringing along a book titled "14,000 Things to be Happy About," and had me read some entries out loud while she drove. It was a fun process and got us talking about what makes us happy...the little things. It's nice to think about those things in our own lives to keep us centered.

It's been a long, rough 6 months for me and my family, so we decided to blog our own lists. This is a short list, and I will add more in new entries over time.

So here it is: Greg's

Things to be Happy About:
  • New school supplies. Weird thing to start out with, I know, but 'tis the season. I love the sound and smell of brand new notebooks and pens, and picking out exactly what you need. No, we aren't in need of anything right now, but Evan is, and it's fun to go shopping for this kind of stuff.
  • A healthy family...especially when you don't have health insurance!!!
  • Opportunities. Being layed off, I can do anything I want. What do I want to be when I grow up? A dispatcher!
  • The opening riff to Poison's "Look What the Cat Dragged In" live. The crunchier the guitar the better. It literally gives me shivers of pleasure and excitement every time I hear it.
  • Jimmy Stewart movies. Jimmy was an amazing actor and an amazing man. I strive to be like him, but I don't want to be an actor.
  • Arena rock. I love 80s hair metal!!!!!
  • Finishing a really good book
  • Freshly-brewed coffee: Which I am drinking as I write this.
  • An hour of silence.
  • Satisfaction from a job well-done. The bigger or harder that job is, the greater the satisfaction.
  • Watching your children reach their milestones as they grow up.
  • (A corollary) A baby's one-toothed grin.
  • A clean house.
  • The cracking of the spine of a new book being opened for the first time.
  • A to-do list with all of the items checked off
That's my list for now. I hope to add more in a future post.

-Greg

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Waiting Game: "Have You Learned Patience Yet?"

I have taken the next big step in the process of trying to get the dispatching job and turned in my background check packet the last week of July. Now it is just a waiting game to see what happens next.

I feel pretty good about it. I know what is in my background. It's pretty boring. But that didn't make the background check difficult to fill out. It was about 15 pages of very personal questions, and included things that I can't believe would affect my ability to do or not do this job. But I get it: It's also a test to see if I am honest and can be trusted. I prided myself in building those trusting relationships in my last job, so we'll see if I can build that same kind of trust here.

I turned in the packet three days before the deadline, and thought that it would be assigned to an investigator shortly after they received it. Turns out, that is not the case. When I called last week to make sure they got it, and if they needed any other information, the detective informed me that they did get it, but it hadn't been assigned to an investigator yet. That was a week to the day after I turned it in.

Sometimes things happen that resonate across many aspects of my life. For many months now, my oldest son and I have talked about being patient and learning patience. Whether it is in a doctor's office waiting room or in traffic, or any number of other places, sometimes we just have to wait for things to happen and we can't control how quickly it happens.

Just this past Wednesday, Evan and I were driving around and we got to a particular intersection that, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation, is mis-marked. It is a two-way stop, but the stop signs are facing the wrong direction. They should face the east and west sides of the intersection, not the north and south sides. At either rate, nobody in town treats it like a two-way stop. People turn left there in front of others all of the time.

I, on the other hand, get pretty frustrated when people don't follow basic traffic laws. I also hate turning left. I'll go out of my way in order to make all right-hand turns if it means a less stressful drive to my destination. So I get to the intersection, with Evan in the back, and I stop behind a car that has been going 20 MPH all 2 miles up a 35 MPH road, so I'm already frustrated from being stuck behind a car that deserves a slow moving vehicle triangle. The driver c.....r.....e.....e.....p.....s through the intersection.

So I wait for the big delivery truck coming the opposite way to take his turn. He was there first, it's a 2-way stop, and I intend to turn left. I have not yet turned on my blinker because I have come to anticipate situations just like what I am experiencing here: The driver just sits there, like it's my turn. I want to turn left, he is going straight, and he was there first. It is clearly his turn. But no. There is absolutely no movement on his side.

I start to wonder if he is having a heart attack or something that is preventing him from driving in a forward motion. Then I see him check for oncoming traffic for what seems to me to be the fifth time, and the road is empty. There is nothing for miles. I literally had not seen that particular road that empty for years.

Then another vehicle pulls up behind the truck at the stop sign. Knowing that I intend to turn left, I know I will have to wait for the guy behind the truck as well since I try very hard to follow traffic laws.

It is at this point that I say (out loud) "screw this," along with another colorful word or two of choice words, and CROSS the empty intersection, and the oncoming truck still has not moved. That is why I didn't turn on my turn signal: because most of the time, I end up going straight through that particular intersection out of frustration and people's ignorance about how a two-way stop works. Instead, I will drive around the block. It's quicker than waiting any more.

So after my very brief one-line outburst, my oldest son (he's in the back seat, remember? I didn't...oops!!!!) says to me, "have you learned patience yet, Dad?"

What could I say? He's smart and he had me cold right after a moment of frustration. I responded the only way I could "Not today, I haven't."

"I can teach you," he offered.

"You learned patience already?" I asked him, starting to smile.

"I learned it last week. At school."

I had to laugh. It also made me think about how the day before I had found out that an investigator hadn't started looking at my background check yet.

Isn't it strange how a simple incident can turn into an across-the-board lesson...or at least a reminder?

I'm ready to go back to work full-time. I'm ready to interview and prove to them why I am absolutely perfect for this dispatching job.

I'm ready to talk to them and convince them that while I was a journalist, dispatching is a serious profession that I am honestly pursuing: This is not a temporary or fill-in job for me. This is a conscious effort to change my career path and my family's future. This is the direction that I am dedicated to going.

I am ready for the next step and I am anxious to work. I just have to continue being patient. Hopefully, my son will continue to help me with that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Baby steps: Moving forward

I am trying very hard to keep this in perspective, and remain calmly optimistic, but it's hard to not get excited by the possibility...

I took the typing test for the Perrysburg dispatcher job. Remember, I got an 81 percent on the written test when I expected to fail it. I took the typing test on July 1, and scored 68.59 words per minute with zero errors. I was quite pleased with that, and figured I at least secured my place in the top 6 who were to be interviewed.

But 20 days later, which was Tuesday, I hadn't heard anything...not a "congrats, you've moved to the next step," or even a "too bad, so sad, you didn't make the cut."

So I made a phone call to the human resources office, and she was just chock full of information that she just voluntarily shared. Here are how the numbers broke down:

250 people applied for the job
175 people took the written test
48 people passed the test and continued on to the typing test
4 people tied for the second highest score and 8 people tied for the sixth highest score, SO
Since the top 6 scores will be subjected to the background check, there are 16 people in the running.
She then informed me that the highest score on the written test was 87.
I scored an 81
I tied with 3 other people for "second place" in the current running.

That means I am in the top 5!!!!!!!

This morning, I received a phone call from a Perrysburg Police detective. I will go up to meet him tomorrow morning to get my "background check packet" to fill out and I will be fingerprinted as part of the background check.

I have no idea what the "background check packet " includes, but he said it is extensive and I have a week to return it. My goal is to pick it up Thursday and return it Friday.

I know my background has nothing untoward in it, except for a couple of really OLD speeding tickets, so barring any surprises, I should be moving on with the first interview!!!!

Please keep your fingers crossed for me, pray, send good karma, throw your magic 8 ball at me, do a little good luck dance, or whatever it is that you believe. I will gladly accept it all!!!!!!!

...And to think, I almost quit in the middle of the written test and walked away for good...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How did I do THAT????

It's been a while since I posted, and that has very much been on purpose.

It seems like I have had good feelings about several job prospects, talked about them here, and they fell through. I got superstitious about it and decided to just stop with the updates.

But something happened recently that completely blew my mind, so I am here to brag about it!!!

Last week, I took the written portion of the civil service exam for the City of Perrysburg.

I have already told you that I took the test for Findlay. In that test, I scored a 94 on the written test and a 95 on the typing test. I thought those tests were very, very easy. Turns out that Findlay is not currently hiring. They are just creating their hiring pool so when they DO need to hire, they will do it from the pool that I am now in.

Perrysburg, however, IS hiring now...one position.

So I took that written test last week, and I'll be honest, it was so hard, I almost quit. I finished the Findlay test in 45 minutes and walked out shaking my head thinking that anyone could pass that. Which is why most of us were called back for the typing test. You had to score a 70 percent (out of 100 questions) to pass it.

But the Perrysburg test was a completely different beast. It took me an hour and 45 minutes for 100 questions, and about an hour into it, I almost threw up my hands in frustration and walked out. I didn't think I would get the required 70 percent needed to move on to the next step. After all, they are only giving the typing test to the top 15 candidates. There were 250 people who applied, and a few more than 200 who showed up for the written test. The odds were very long.

This test was completely different from the Findlay test. At the beginning, they read off 13 pretend 911 calls in a row. We couldn't take notes or anything. We just had to sit and listen. While I am not allowed to share the questions (like I could remember them a week and a half later anyway!!), the first 20 questions were similar to "what was the license plate on the vehicle involved in incident number 3?" and "What was the address where the loud music complaint was reported?" Everything started sounding the same and I kept second-guessing myself. After the first 20 questions, they got even harder.

So I didn't think I was going to pass and I almost quit. I persevered, but I came home and told Jenn we could cross that possibility off of our list.

I got the results back yesterday, and it turns out that I passed after all with 81 percent. I figured I'd be around 60 percent. Not only did I pass, but I have been instructed to take the typing test. That means that I am one of the top 15 candidates!!!! Even if I don't get any farther, I am excited and relieved to have gotten this far.

The next step after I take the typing test is that they will interview the top 6 candidates twice, conduct background checks, drug tests, physicals and psychological evaluations, and choose the new employee.

Wish me luck. I'm back in this with a renewed sense of confidence and drive.

In other news, I applied for a VERY well-paying union job. It's not anything that I ever considered doing before, but the opportunity and the pay are very intriguing. I applied to that, and I have someone on the inside trying to help push me along. The bad news is that it would be second or third shift with some forced overtime. But the benefits and pay are amazing.

I also am working closely with a downtown businessman in Bowling Green on a new Internet market he is creating. We have almost completed the background work and within the next two weeks, we will be rolling out the product and actively marketing it to businesses in Bowling Green. Right now, I am working for free, but once businesses start signing on, he said it will turn into a paying job. So technically, I am an independent consultant and marketer who has yet to be paid. That part sucks, but I LOVE doing it. It's an exciting product and an exciting opportunity, and it will keep me in touch with local businesses and hopefully help me land a full-time job with someone else.

In other business, I have increase the size of my tie collection dramatically. I used to have just a few very outdated, ugly ties. I got rid of several of those, and have pretty much added one or two ties each month since February... and learned how to tie them correctly on my first attempt. Before, it was taking half an hour, untold numbers of tries, a few swear words, and an intervention so I wouldn't run the tie through a shredder or under the lawn mower!

Also, Kaleb started walking at only 8 1/2 months old, and we just can't believe it. It's just a few steps at a time...10 at the most so far, but he keeps adding steps each day.

Lots of cool things are happening, and I'm hoping that several job offers will come through at the same time, and I will have to choose the best one for me and the family! I found my old rabbit's foot at mom and dad's house last week, so I brought it home and hung it on the bulletin board by the computer to give me good vibes as I apply for jobs.

Wish me luck!!
-Greg

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What goes up must come down

Have you ever noticed that things can go TOO well and somebody ends up pissing in your Wheaties just so that everything stays in perspective?

Allow me to start from the beginning. I won tickets and meet-and-greet passes (back stage passes) from the local radio station, 104.7, WIOT, for the Bret Michaels concert at the Omni in Toledo Wednesday night.

I followed the directions and did what I was supposed to do (be at the sound board after the show to go back stage). I showed up at the sound board and nobody knew anything. Jenn and I spent an hour and a half walking around asking Omni employees, security, Bret's personal security, even Bret's personal body guard Big John if they knew anything about it. Nobody knew anything at all. And although there was a WIOT van parked in the lot, there wasn't an employee to be found ANYWHERE.

SO, I didn't get to do the meet and greet because apparently nobody communicates at the bar, in the security detail, or at the radio station. I didn't really care because I had met him Tuesday night at the Mud Hens game. But Jenn was really looking forward to it, and she didn't go on Tuesday.

So that's one hose-down, courtesy of WIOT. I sent them a respectful e-mail about it today, but they didn't bother to reply and explain themselves. Just more proof to support my opinion that they give away these "meet and greet passes" as a public relations prank and have no clue -- or no intention -- of following through. As long as they get their listeners to think they are cool.

It wasn't even a great concert. It was a bunch of drunk 20-something blondes girls trying to push their way to the front to try to make out with Bret. One gal even tried to push past me. I stood my ground and wouldn't let her past me. She said "I'm just trying to get to the stage." My response was "you and 2000 other jack-holes in this bar. You can go behind me if you want."

She called me a name. It starts with an F and rhymes with "trucker." I smiled. Maybe I am. But I'm not going to let a pretty face, skimpy shirt or short skirt convince me that someone can push their way in front of me. Solly Cholly.

Photos of the concert appear above. I also posted video on YouTube of songs that I either have never seen Bret perform or only seen him perform a couple of times. No, I don't have any of the WAY overplayed songs like "Every Rose" or "Something to Believe In." To find my videos, search YouTube for the username "iawlfan." That's me. I hope to add more video soon.

On the up-side, Evan "graduated" from pre-school tonight. That was fun, even though I think the entire idea is a little ridiculous. Evan looked handsome in his graduation cap. He was funny to watch as he kept smacking the "tassel" out of his face with his diploma. His mom cried. His grandmothers cried. I had fun. Photos of that also appear above.

And then I got home and got hosed again. My old boss called me around 9 p.m. to chat. I have caller ID and I answered the phone expecting a discussion that started "can you come back to work on Monday." Instead, I got "I decided to hire the old part-time guy who left for another newspaper instead. I thought he would be a better fit in the Perrysburg office. I didn't think anyone in the newsroom would fit up there." He said it had nothing to do with my ability, but everything to do with personality fit.

I asked him if he was legally allowed to hire someone from the outside instead of bringing back an employee who had been laid off. He said he didn't ask for a legal opinion but thought this was the better choice. I was nice. But I intend to ask for a legal opinion of my own.

I could say more, but I'll save it so I don't get in trouble in case this has a legal course of action available.

For now, I'm a proud papa who is pissed off and pissed on. In the meantime, I'm keeping my hopes up (but not so high they will be dashed again!) for the second interview.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bret Michaels in Toledo, interview









The only news I have right now on the job front is that my interview Tuesday went extremely well. I have it on good authority that 12 people are being interviewed. I know that if I make the cut, I will go for a second interview June 3. The job would start June 8. This should move quickly, and I have a good feeling about it.

On Tuesday night (same day as the interview), I went with my brother Lance and sister-in-law Kristy to see Bret Michaels sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame at a Toledo Mud Hens game. We were able to get fantastic seats just outside of his VIP box from family members who will remain anonymous but VERY MUCH thanked. One of those family members got us in the proper place, got us great seats, and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium. That was a lot of fun.

Here are some photos from the meeting. Lance got a part from his Poison Tribute motorcycle signed. I got a CD cover signed.

At the bottom of this entry, there is a video I shot of him signing autographs and singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

The concert at the Omni is tonight. I will try to post photos of that tonight or tomorrow...depends on how late Kaleb decides to stay awake tonight.

Rock on.

And thanks again to those who were able to make this happen!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Big day, big news, big week

There is a LOT of stuff going on this week, so here are the highlights.

We went camping this weekend, so I picked up the weekend mail today (Monday) and found out that I passed the Civil Service Test in Findlay, with a score of 94 percent. Yeah for me!!! That means that I go on to the next step and take the computer portion of the test on June 2.

I also take the Civil Service Test for the Perrysburg dispatching position on June 17.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), I have a real interview for a position with the Wood County Educational Service Center. The last time I had an interview, I was offered the assistant manager position for the Peebles position. I am cautiously confident, but not cocky about my chances.

In other non-job-related business, I won tickets and meet-and-greet passes to see Bret Michaels, and the concert is Wednesday in Toledo. I'm looking forward to that.

On Thursday, Evan "graduates" from pre-school. Photos likely to be posted from both the concert and the graduation.

On the home front, Kaleb is crawling, standing, "cruising," holding himself steady with one hand, and by my guess is only about two months away from walking. He also happens to be teething, so he is one fiercely grumpy gus.

Wish us luck all around!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Keeping my fingers crossed

Since it has been a month since Chris passed away, it doesn't look like I'll be returning to the Sentinel. My former boss said he would let me know "in two weeks or so" whether it was a possibility or not. That was a month ago, so I assume the answer is "or not."

In the meantime, I have kept my hopes up and my options open, as I have applied for three really great jobs...well, two really great jobs, and one pretty good one with great benefits.

I have applied for dispatching positions in Findlay and Perrysburg. I already have taken the civil service exam for the Findlay position. If I pass that (and I will - call me cocky, but I know I will), I will have to return June 2 to take a computer test.

I take the civil service exam for the Perrysburg dispatching position June 17.

The other job I am applying for is secretary for the Wood County Educational Service Center. I would rather be a dispatcher, but basically, any state job would be good.

Currently, I still am at Peebles. I got that promotion, which is nice, but it's still hurting me because any money I make there just gets taken out of how much I am supposed to get from unemployment. So why do I continue to do it? First of all, I am hoping that I will find a full-time job soon and will be able to stay at Peebles to supplement our income.

PLEASE keep your fingers crossed for the dispatching jobs. They are GOOD state jobs that would represent a 25 percent pay increase for me from my old job. That would be a wonderful shot in the arm for this family.

We need all the help, prayers and crossed fingers we can get. We have been doing well, but when we feel like this bumpy ride called unemployment has smoothed out - when we start to see light at the end of the tunnel - the bottom gives out, and it turns out that the light at the end of the tunnel is another train. We keep getting hit with nasty surprises, so the sooner I find a job, the better.

Take care, thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Safe at work with mixed emotions

I'm back to work, and I know I am safe there, but it is with mixed emotions that I am there.

I started working at the new Peebles store in Bowling Green on April 20 with 29 others who were all trying for the same 10 jobs. We all knew going in that only 10 of us would survive the final cut, but I went in feeling pretty confident. I had already turned down an offer to be the assistant manager at full-time status.

My reasons were many...my boss and family know those reasons. I won't go into them here, but those reasons were fully explored, fully fretted, and over-discussed during a course of three days and two sleepless nights. I had all of their support in that decision, and felt confident in that.

Tonight, I'm kind of kicking myself.

April 20 started with training: Videos, rules, paperwork, boring, snooze, ugh, and hoping it will just end. On April 21, I was one of four guys who helped unload a full semi load of product. And when I say full, I mean full...we opened the door and boxes fell out. I haven't been that tired since I re-roofed my old garage when I lived in Cygnet.

The balance of the last two weeks have consisted of getting those boxes unpacked, setting up racks and displays, and placing product, rearranging, and changing everything to make it look perfect.

On Wednesday, my boss pulled me aside and asked if I would be interested being "third key," which is like a managerial supervisor position. I still don't have all of the details. Again I asked for some time to think about it, and I discussed it with Jenn and dad. In the end, I decided that I didn't want to turn down yet ANOTHER opportunity for additional responsibility.

If nothing else, it looks good on my resume. More importantly, it gives me an opportunity to work on my managerial skills, further prove my trustworthiness to even more people, and...let's face it...make more money.

I am still looking for a full-time job, but I'm pretty happy about this decision. Once I find a full-time job, I will be able to do both, which is the end goal. Until then, bills will be a little tight. But one part-time job is better than no job, so I'm very pleased.

So what's up with the mixed emotions, you ask? Well, as we all know, nothing is perfect. I was working tonight, and I had no fewer than three unrelated customers ask me if I was a manager or that they thought I WAS the manager because 1) I looked and acted like it, and 2) because I knew what I was doing.

The first time, I was pretty proud, and thanked them for their kind words. The second time, the little red flag went about a fourth of the way up the pole. The THIRD time, that red flag was completely unfurled and I started really second-guessing my decision to turn down the full-time assistant manager position.

I went to my boss and asked her if she ever felt like kicking herself for what might have been a bad decision, and she knew exactly what I was talking about. She then proceeded to tell me that the regional manager, who worked side-by-side with us for the last two weeks, had told her that I would have made a great assistant manager. She told him she offered and that I turned him down, and his response was "oh, THAT'S the guy!!!"

That story also explains why when the corporate guys toured the store on Wednesday and wanted us to move all of the wall displays down about 10 inches that he came to me first and told me he wanted me to handle "a big job," and then proceeded to watch as I enlisted the help of several other people to get the job done quickly...since he told me at 4 and we were all supposed to leave at 6. He was testing me and my leadership abilities.

It also explains why, when my boss offered me the "third key" position, he came in the room during our meeting, basically interrupted the discussion, asked me if I was willing to relocate, and told me I could go really far in the company.

That was a heck of an ego boost for me, but also kind of a kick, because I could have been a step ahead already.

Come to find out that all four members of the set-up team he brought in all individually told my boss that they thought I would make a really good assistant manager.

So all of that is one reason for the mixed emotions.

But there also is part of me that doesn't WANT to be a manager, or an assistant manager. That part of me had a hard time tonight watching two really good guys get cut from our team as part of that "whittle down to 10." I understand the reasoning for both of them - now that I'm third key, I'm in the loop about a lot more things - but they were still good guys, and one of them really needed this job. I hated watching my boss let them go. It was awkward and uncomfortable, and having recently been on the receiving end of the "we have to let you go" speech, I felt really, really bad for them.

But it makes me realize how lucky and blessed I really am, and I can't take what I have for granted, as I do all too often.

Another thing eating at me is that there is a slim chance that I may return to the Sentinel soon. One of my co-workers there died on April 17, for reasons that we still don't know. He was only 44. He went to bed one night and simply didn't wake up the next morning. I have been told that there is a chance the Sentinel may replace him...and maybe not. But if they do, I have been promised that I will be his replacement.

Oh good...I get to replace the well-respected guy who I looked up to, who taught me how to report the issues I reported, who died. Can you appreciate how all of that could make me uncomfortable? I feel like a vulture just waiting to benefit from the misfortune of others. I know it's not really like that, but that's how it feels.

The rumor mill is running rampant about my "imminent return," but I have no guarantees of that, and I am not getting my hopes up until I hear one way or the other from my former boss. He told me he would let me know about 2 1/2 weeks after my co-worker died. That means I should know sometime next week. I'm trying not to think about it. I want to go back, but I'm afraid to. I'm afraid of being layed off again if things continue to get worse. It's not the Sentinel's fault. Newspapers all over the country are laying off and making drastic cuts.

In the meantime, I also also have a few other projects pending that could turn into good additional part-time or temporary jobs.

I just take it one day at a time and hope for the best.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Working again...but no career

I've been juggling a few things and had a few deals pending that I was waiting to see the outcome before I posted anything here. Now I have a few answers.

I'm still waiting for my dream job. If anyone knows of a county, state or village public service (police, fire, EMS, sheriff, etc. who is hiring a dispatcher, please let me know. I'm pretty sure that's my next big direction.

In the meantime, I have continued searching for something to get the family through. I landed a part-time temporary job helping to set up the new Peebles store in Bowling Green. It's just for 10 days, from April 20 to 30, but during that time, I hope to be able to convince the manager to keep me as a part-time employee once the store opens. I'm pretty sure I can do that since she was considering me for the assistant manager position...but THAT is a completely different story that I'm not going to post here.

Additionally, I have begun volunteering as...well, I'm not sure exactly what yet.

I have met a couple of times with a guy who owns an internet/video/print publishing company in the area, who is looking to expand a portion of his business. When I walked in for the first meeting, the first thing he said to me was "we're not hiring right now, but your resume, cover letter and skill sets, and knowledge of the town and the people intrigued me."

My first thought was "if you aren't hiring, why are you wasting my time?"

But in talking to him, I am coming to see the vision of what he is trying to do, how I fit into that, and how I can earn a living from doing that. Since I thought at the time that I was about a day away from landing a full-time job, I volunteered to work for free to prove myself and show him what I could do, and we could discuss payment later.

I did some brainstorming on how we could make his idea work and who we could tap to make that happen. Things began to take firmer hold during our meeting yesterday.

Things still progress, and I won't be paid for anything there for at least another month, maybe two or three...but this project is in very early stages, and until he gives me the green light to proceed, I won't really be doing anything that will let me earn my keep, and that's fine. I would rather make sure the business plan is in place, along with the map that will guide the process forward.

This morning, I also made an amazing discovery. Without discussing numbers, I realized that between Jenn being laid off for part of last year, and having Kaleb and taking off a month and a half, she made about as much last year as I am expecting to make this year. And now that she is back to work and full-time and she has started earning her bonuses again (YEAH!!!!!!), she will make about as much as I did last year.

The point is, we are no better or worse off than we were last year. We are in about the same boat. I am looking forward to the time when we both have full-time jobs for an entire year. We haven't had that yet, and we don't know what our potential is in that direction. When we DO both manage to keep a job for an entire year, THEN we will really be on our way. I'm really excited about that prospect.

For now, I'm still exploring my options, applying for some good stuff and some not-so-good stuff, and I have a couple of other projects in the fire that I'm waiting to see how they turn out before I announce anything.

I think it was the theme song for the Mary Tyler Moore Show that said, "We're gonna' make it after all."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sometimes the Powers of Good converge

Have you ever gotten the feeling that life is shitting on you?

It's a vulgar way to ask it, but sometimes, it feels that bad. And unless you are perfect, I know that your answer is yes. We have all felt it.

In the past two years, Jenn and I have struggled through a lot of stuff, including Jenn being laid off twice and me getting laid off once. There has been a lot of other stuff that I'm not going to put into print here, but let's just say that we have struggled. And recently, it has seemed to pile up and happen all at once.

But since I have gotten laid off, there have been a lot of good things happening. I touched on some of it in my first entry.

Before I got laid off, Jenn and I agreed to use our very sizeable tax return to catch up on some bills and pay off a couple of credit cards. We also agreed to get rid of most of our credit cards and start paying down as much debt as possible. We also agreed to attend something through Jenn's church called Financial Peace University. Mind you, all of that was agreed to BEFORE the layoff.

Because of the layoff, we were able to pay off our smallest credit card bill and catch up where we had fallen behind since Kaleb's birth. We are holding back the rest to get through the layoff as best we can.

But we went one step further, on the faith of the financial program we started March 15. We invested $1,000 in an emergency fund. All the while, I'm thinking "BUT WE'RE IN AN EMERGENCY!!!!!!!" The other half of me is thinking "So what. Maybe if we skimp enough in other areas, and cut out as much as we possibly can, maybe we can make it through this emergency without cutting into that emergency fund. Then we'll be that much better off."

Call me crazy, but I think we can do it. I HOPE we can do it!!!!!! I'm afraid of the Financial Peace University because it is going to make us look at what we've done and change our behavior. It already has. But we have committed to it.

Then tonight, we watched a movie called Fireproof, about a couple who salvages their marriage from the grips of divorce. I won't say we were to the point that they were, but with the financial stress we have been under due to Kaleb's birth and bout with RSV, and with some stupid debts we owe, it hasn't been a lot of fun.

Sometimes a movie hits WAY too close to home, though. The movie The Break-Up might as well have been about me and my ex-wife. Fireproof might as well have been about me and Jenn.

What it comes down to, is that these two products - a class and a movie - have changed us for the better. Sometimes good things are poured on you just as much as life can seem to shit on you. The question is, are you paying attention when the good things happen?

My eyes are open and I am paying attention. But I'm not waiting for good things to happen to me. I am going to MAKE good things happen.

For more information on both of these potentially life-saving programs, visit http://www.fireproofmymarriage.com/ and http://www.daveramsey.com/

In other news, my second interview went well. I either totally screwed myself over with one answer or completely won them over because of my honest over that one answer.

I also have an interview scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. So we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Possibly the shortest-lived blog ever

I have been kicking around the idea of this blog pretty much since I got laid off. I have thought about what it would look like, what the topic would be, and how I would censor myself in case potential employers found it.

Most of all, I spent a lot of time thinking about if I really wanted to say what was on my mind, since my emotions have been everywhere during the past month.

Actually, today IS one month. I was laid off one month ago today. I'm going to drink a beer tonight to celebrate.

But I will be celebrating more than unemployment. Hopefully it will be a celebration of short-term unemployment.

On Monday, I attended what I call a "cattle call" in Bowling Green. This particular cattle call was for a store called Peebles that is opening up just down the road from my house on April 30. Everyone walked in, filled out an application and interviewed on the spot.

The woman who interviewed me just called me and wants a second interview on Friday. So I will be there!

Jenn isn't excited about retail, but anything ... even a fast food job or cleaning the drunk tanks at the jail ... is better than what I have now!

So keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, March 16, 2009

What does it all mean?




I'm bored.

Not really. I was laid off from my job as a writer for the local newspaper on Feb. 17. I had been there for 10 1/2 years. It was my first job out of college, and my first career. I planned to stay there and retire.

I had an inkling that it may be coming, so I e-mailed myself all of my contact numbers and e-mail addresses about three weeks before the axe fell. I thought maybe I was safe, but there is no such thing, come to find out.

I'm not bitter. I'm mad, frustrated, scared and flat-out broke, but not bitter.

And tonight I feel optimistic. That usually isn't a word that is in a journalist's vocabulary. You can only report on so many murders and assaults and drug busts and lies before you get a little jaded and stop believing in and trusting people.

This layoff has been a blessing in that way. I have had the opportunity to get to know my five-month-old son, Kaleb and what all of his cries and funny sounds mean. I have been able to spend more time with my 5-year-old son, Evan, who recently earned his yellow belt with a stripe in karate. I have had a chance to argue, cry, be afraid, learn, establish a plan, and truly reconnect with my wife, Jenn.

I have fought with job and family services at both the local and state level. I have been frustrated by the incapacity of the people at the Child Support Enforcement Agency to have a heart or to allow me to look out for the son who lives with me. I have accused a credit card "counselor" of being a heartless, uncompassionate liar, and I have told more people than I can count that you can't squeeze blood from a stone.

At the same time, I have seen unbelievable acts of kindness, from unwavering multi-pronged support from my parents, a surprise hug from my brother (unheard of!), support from my in-laws, a surprise phone call from a former co-worker, constant e-mails from one co-worker and two colleagues, numerous visits from a close friend who has seen me deal with a lot of emotional baggage through the years, an unbelievable act of kindness from my Internet Service Provider, and hundreds of dollars in reduced fees from another creditor.

It is these acts of kindness that are helping to eliminate that jaded state of my soul and make me a better husband, father, son, and overall person.

So now, I take care of Kaleb 3 days a week. During the other two days, I run around madly trying to find a new job. Every other weekend and on Wednesday nights we add Evan to the fray. At all times, I am doing housework; searching for the Bigger, Better Job; and reading a variety of hints and tips on how to survive this crisis we currently are in.

Last night, Jenn and I watched the 1983 movie Mr. Mom. Jenn and I both noticed that it pretty much describes us to a T. I just haven't become addicted to the soaps...yet.

So this all leads me to reason this blog is titled "Stronger Now" and has the phrase "rise fall rise again" in the address.

Those are references to two songs that are appropriate to current events and previous events in my life. While the specifics of the songs do not always directly coincide with those events, the sentiments of the songs remain the same. I have included the lyrics here:

Broken Beat and Scarred
By Metallica
(Listen to it here)

You rise, you fall, you're down, then you rise again
What don't kill you make you more strong
You rise, you fall, youre down, then you rise again
What don't kill you make you more strong

Rise, fall, down, rise again
What don't kill you make you more strong
Rise, fall, down, rise again
What don't kill you make you more strong

Through black days
Through black nights
Through pitch black insights

Breaking your teeth on the hard life coming
Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Breaking your life
Broken, beat and scarred
But we die hard

The dawn, the death, the fight to the final breath
What don't kill you make you more strong
The dawn, the death, the fight to the final breath
What don't kill you make you more strong

Dawn, death, fight, final breath
What don't kill you make you more strong
Dawn, death, fight, final breath
What don't kill you make you more strong

They scratched me
They scraped me
They cut and rape me

Breaking your teeth on the hard life coming
Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Breaking your life
Broken, beat and scarred
But we die hard

Breaking your teeth on the hard life coming
Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Braiding your soul in a hard luck story
Show your scars
Spilling your blood in a hot suns foray
Show your scars
Breaking your life
Broken, beat and scarred
We die hard

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stronger Now
By Warrant
(Listen to it here)

I held you for a moment in my hands
The moment with you slipped away like sand
Through my fingers now
In front of me a choice I have to make
To carry on or simply fade away
I lose you either way
I'd like to say that it was easy, it was hard
To say goodbye, I thought that I would die
Chorus
Letting go of you, was so hard to
And I thought that it would kill me but I made
It through somehow, and I'm so much stronger now
I gave to you my love and my respect
But I could never make you love me back
I denied it so
I grew bitter watching you grow cold
My life became your prison, took it's toll
I decided
Like a bird that's trapped
Inside a gilded cage
It's right to set it free,
Hurts to watch it
Fly away
Letting go of you, was so hard to
And I thought that it would kill me but I made
It through somehow, and I¹m so much stronger now

-------------------------------------------------------------------

The themes of those two songs embody what life and this blog are all about: We rise, fall, get down, then we rise again. What doesn't kill us makes us more strong, and I AM stronger now. But I know I will fall again. We all have our days. It's how we come out on the other side that counts.

As Andy Dufresne said in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."