Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coffeehouse observation No. 335 – Well, they’re not a rock band

Ten or so Latino guys – all in traditional costumes and carrying musical instruments –  just came into the coffeehouse (which is attached to a theater) and one of the brighter bulbs here just asked: “You a mariachi band?” ... Well, duh! They’re not a rock band, Einstein.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Coffeehouse observation No. 334 – Paparazzi have invaded the coffeehouse!

Here I am minding my own business with my friend Brenda when the first photographic attack is launched. (Photo by Craig Sanders)
There I was minding my own business when there was a commotion and camera flashes started going off in my face.

“Great!” I immediately thought to myself. “The paparazzi have tracked me down to my coffeehouse, my sanctuary! This is all I freakin’ need!”

OK, perhaps paparazzi never follow me around. I have no fame, no fortune, so why would paparazzi follow lil’ ol’ me around?

They wouldn’t.

As it turned out, the so-called commotion – which was not a commotion at all – was due to the arrival of former co-workers, Record reporter Jennifer Torres and Record photo editor Craig Sanders. They were in the coffeehouse to meet the subject of a feature story that Jennifer was writing.

So, while Jennifer chatted with the feature subject, Craig and I chatted and he snapped a couple of shots. And, of course, I mugged for the camera.

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Here I am launching my counter offensive. (Photo by Craig Sanders)
And here I am launching my last-ditch effort to fight back the paparazzi horde. (Photo by Craig Sanders)
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Back at the job search all over again

I haven’t written here much in the past month or so because of a project that has kept me from the job search and from blogging, except for shorts burst on CoffeehouseObserver.

The project involved fact checking several chapters of a travel guide due out next year. The travel guide publisher has promised me more work and she just emailed me about two projects. I could use the money.

But now I’m back at full speed, at least on a limited basis. I’m still looking for work and trying to line up freelance gigs to get by.

What I really need, of course, is a real job, one with steady pay, some benefits, and some social contact.

Things are really rough out there. They just announced that the unemployment rate in California is back up to 12 percent, the second worst unemployment rate in the country behind Nevada. The unemployment rate in the county where I live usually has been about 5 percentage points to 8 percentage points higher than the state level, so I would not be surprised if the unemployment rate here is 17 percent or higher.

It is terribly frustrating and unnerving. And very, very scary. It is even more frustrating and more unnerving and scarier when recognizing that the unemployment rate really does not count all those who are out of work, people who have given up looking for work or otherwise are no longer counted by the government. Experts usually say that the unemployment rate is significantly higher when taking into account those people. I am among those people who are no longer counted.

But I keep looking.

Friends I’ve known for 20 years or longer voice amazement that I haven’t been offered work in the past two and a half years since being laid off

 “You have tons of experience,” they say. “Why hasn’t someone hired you already?”

That experience is a double-edged sword – I have proven myself capable, which is good for an employer because quality work will be done within deadlines. But I’ve proven myself capable, which is bad for an employer because it will cost the employer more in salary, the employer immediately assumes.

“You’re good at what you do,” my friends argue. “Something has to come up for you soon.”

I suppose I was good at what I did, but it has been a while since I did what I did. And employers can see that and I fear now that they barely consider my resume.

Just last week I applied for a job on the East Coast and within two days I had received an email noticed that I would not be considered for the position. I was sooo happy that the company took the time to fully consider my qualifications. (Please read the sarcasm in the previous sentence.)

I’ve come to expect rejection, which does little for confidence or morale or feeling of self-worth.

I keep plugging away, though. I have no other choice. I ran out of unemployment benefits months ago and cashed in an IRA, the thing money experts – people with jobs not facing eviction or starvation – say never to do. I am living on the money that would have been a portion of my total retirement. Another portion is left in investment accounts that are dwindling with each dip of the Stocks Exchange.

I will never retire. Certainly, not in the conventional sense of “retire.” But then again, there is nothing conventional about what some of us are experiencing.

So I continue the job search. I continue to look in my field – journalism. So if you know of any openings in journalism – editing, writing, blogging – or freelance opportunities, you can get in touch with me via the email address under my contact info.

And I also look for jobs with nonprofits, green industry, colleges and universities, and occasionally government. I also look for delivery jobs and general labor jobs and retail jobs and … well, you get the point.

I suppose that’s it for now. I just wanted to let you know I’m still around, still kicking, and still very hungry to get back to work.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 333 – Wishing coffee boosted the IQ

If only coffee made us as smart as beer makes us dumb.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

U.S. Olympics Committee: Redneck Olympics disrespects athletes | Lewiston Sun Journal

HEBRON, Maine — The Redneck Olympics “is disrespectful” to U.S. Olympic athletes, according to a letter from the United States Olympic Committee to Redneck Olympics organizer Harold Brooks of Hebron.

On Saturday, Brooks received a letter from the USOC asking him not to use the name “Olympics” if he intends to hold the Redneck Olympics in the future. The committee doesn’t seek damages for the word’s use in the Aug. 5-7 event.

Citing the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, the letter said there is “no question” that Brooks violated federal law by selling tickets to the Redneck Olympics, which cost $15 to $20 for the weekend, including camping. The act gives the USOC all rights to the word “Olympics” in the United States.

“We believe using the name ‘Redneck Olympics’ for a competition that involves toilet-seat horseshoes and bobbing for pigs’ feet tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games,” the letter reads.

Brooks objected to that characterization. “How can the people, the average person, in their activities, degrade anything?”

Brooks said the letter hasn’t changed his mind on holding another Redneck Olympics, a move that could spur a lawsuit from the USOC, who have filed suits in other instances of people using the word “Olympics.”

“They don’t scare me,” Brooks said Monday.

Click for the rest of the story by Tony Reaves in the Lewiston Sun Journal.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Editorial: A Tale of Two Districts | Bangor Daily News

Lawmakers soon will be faced with radically different plans for redrawing the boundary between the state’s two congressional districts. One features straighter lines and a difference of only one person between the two districts — top priorities for the state’s Republicans. It does, however, move about 360,000 people from one district to another. The Democratic plan moves Vassalboro from the 1st District to the 2nd.
The choice for lawmakers should be easy — they should go with the simplest change that meets the requirements of the law and affects the fewest voters.

Recent history has shown this is unlikely to happen. Redistricting lines were imposed by the state supreme court in 2003 because lawmakers couldn’t agree on a plan. Maine doesn’t have to go down this road again.

Coffeehouse observation No. 332 – Lunch is a nice surprise at the coffeehouse

Nice surprise earlier today – lunch delivered to me at the coffeehouse. Chicken Greek wrap, fresh fruit and some Kettle chips. It was perfect.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 331 – Ghostly coffeehouse experience

The quiet sanctuary of the coffeehouse was disturbed the other evening when a local paranormal society parked itself in the seats next to mine. The only ghosts I want in my coffeehouse are those of my most recent coffee. … And why do they call going around in the dark “investigations”? Really?

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Coffeehouse observation No. 330 – Jazzy music in the coffeehouse

Ooold style jazz in the coffeehouse. Soo, nice!

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Coffeehouse observation No. 329 – Did you say something?

Blah, blah, blah, blah, coffee, blah, blah, blah, blah, coffee, blah, blah, blah, blah, coffee …

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