Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What Happens in Phoenix...Part II

Aha! You foolishly thought I'd only write one blog post about our thrilling experience flying to Phoenix!  No such luck. After all, we'd only just managed to get to Phoenix.  We still had to get back.  And why it should be any less interesting on the return trip, I have no idea.  Neither did the travel gods, who for some reason just didn't care for us this time around.

I might add, though, that the time we spent in Phoenix was fine.  We hung around with my parents, sister and other relatives, went to an amazing museum (the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale; definitely check it out if you're ever in the neighborhood) that I had to pry Joan out of with a crowbar, and caught up with some of my friends.  But getting there was not half the fun.  Getting back wasn't very good either.

For the record, I am firing myself as staff travel agent.  Not only did I get us a flight out that required us to catch a Wonder Shuttle at four o'clock in the blessed morning, I got us a flight back that changed planes in Albuquerque.  Flights that change planes need to be avoided like the plague.  Any time you change planes, you multiply the chances that something can go wrong.  And given a chance to go wrong, most things will oblige, at least occasionally.  So we need a new travel agent.  Applications are being solicited through this blog.  All applicants must be marginally sane, understand and believe, as we do, that all airlines are evil, though some are more evil than others.  Okay?  Okay.

Moving on:  Our flight actually arrived in Albuquerque about ten minutes early, and it also showed up at the gate right next to our next departure gate.  This meant that not only did we have time to buy a sandwich, we also didn't need the nice wheelchair guy that showed up to help.  Unfortunately, I'd bought a sandwich in Phoenix, assuming that we wouldn't have time to buy one in Albuquerque.  So we had this slightly smashed roast beef sandwich to share, complete with soggy bread and smears of what looked like salad dressing on the outside of my purse.  Oh well.  It was pretty tasty anyway.

Upon arriving in Phoenix, though, we had a problem.  No ground transportation.  Joan called Wonder Shuttle, which told her to wait until we'd picked up our bags and then call back.  We got the bags (or rather, I got the bags - note to travel agent applicants: I'll still get the bags.  It's why they pay me the big bucks) and Joan called Wonder Shuttle again.  The dispatcher guy told Joan they were "having trouble getting drivers to return to the airport," so it would be 30 to 45 minutes before they could pick us up.

Mind you, they knew we were coming.  We had to give them our flight numbers and all that when we booked (and prepaid for) the ride.  Why they were now telling us, close to midnight at the end of a very long day, that they couldn't pick us up for close to an hour made absolutely no sense.  And what were they doing, in the 15 minutes between our first call and our second call?  Playing "Tetris," apparently.  Or maybe something ruder that can't be typed into a religious-type blog like this one.

Anyway, spending 45 minutes standing outside in the dark and cold at Love Field, which isn't exactly the wisest place for a pair of women to hang out alone at night, wasn't high on either of our lists.  I had some money left, so we basically said "fuck it" and grabbed a cab.  And as always happens when we grabbed a cab, we took our lives in our hands.  Not since we whipped around the statue of Benito Juarez in downtown Tijuana on two wheels have we had such an entertaining high-speed cab ride. I dunno what the speed limit is in Highland Park, but we probably blew through it by about double.  In between clinging to the lord help me Jesus bars inside the cab and covering our eyes as we careened through red lights, Joan said, "Why don't you call Wonder Shuttle and ask for a refund."  I said, "If we survive this, I certainly will."

We reached the freeway and were forced to slow down to around seventy miles an hour.  I called Wonder Shuttle, told the annoying voice-automated system that I was requesting a refund, and got the dispatcher Joan had talked to before.  "Hey," he said, "I think I can have a van to you in about ten minutes."  "I'm sorry," I told him,  "We're already in a cab and gone."  He transferred me to a supervisor, who apparently was supposed to talk us out of it. Out of what?  Out of being in a cab and gone?  

Ponder this:  I had only very recently been asked if I was sure I was in Phoenix. Now somebody was trying to talk me out of wanting a refund.  I don't normally handle situations like this very well.  All the same, I didn't blow up and I didn't tear this guy's head off.  I just used my Best Paralegal Voice to tell him, "We were told 30 to 45 minutes.  That's unacceptable at this hour, so we got a cab.  And we'd like a refund."  My Best Paralegal Voice must still work, because he said, "Okay, that'll take three to five business days."  By the end of this sentence, we were in our driveway.  I think the hyperspace thrusters on this cab were kind of warn out.

Anyway, we made it home in one piece, I didn't yell at anybody and nothing disappeared from either of our suitcases, except Joan's grey robe, which thankfully reappeared.  So all's well.  Sort of.  Except for needing a new travel agent.  Again, I'm screening resumes.  The salary's not great, but the benefits are pretty cool.  Er, or so I hear.

Friday, November 28, 2014

What Happens in Phoenix...

...doesn't exist, evidently.

Lemme splain. No, is too much. Lemme som opp.  Joan and I flew to Phoenix to see my mom and dad for Thanksgiving. Or at least we tried to fly to Phoenix.  Things started going wrong the second the Super Shuttle showed up. It never would have occurred to me that now, in the Common Era 2014, they might not be disabled accessible. But the guy showed up, and he had a van that could only be reached by climbing up into it. Fine for me but not for Joan, who's been hobbling around with a cane for the last couple of weeks. Bad knee. And bad foot. And sometimes both a bad knee and a bad foot. Anyway, after three failed attempts, we finally put her in the front seat, with both me and the Super Shuttle guy giving her a mighty push from the rear.  Mission accomplished, but I had no idea how I was going to get her back out again.

Matters did not improve once we got to the airport, either. Yes, we got Joan back out of the van (gravity is your friend), but the ticket agent had a problem with us.  See, we had three tickts and only two human beings. This was beause we were flying on Mas Barato Airlines. Mas Barato is a fine airline, but if you look like you're too large to fit into one of their 16" seats (which covers a lot of tall people, as well as fat people), they've been known to pull you out of line and make you buy another seat on the spot. Especially if you're a woman (there was a lawsuit about this).  We buy three seats together, which means we get a row to ourselves. It's a whole lot easier to just buy the extra seat when you book the flight, but we never, and I do mean never, get through the airport without a lot of hassle when we do this.

In this instance, the ticket agent couldn't get her machine to print us a boarding pass for the third seat. She had to call her supervisor. 25 minutes later she was still on the phone, saying things like "The what screen?" and "What's that? I've never heard of that." Joan, meanwhile, had asked for a wheelchair, but none had ever shown up. She headed off to the ladies' room right around the time the boarding pass had finally printed. By now, we had about 15 minutes to make the plane.

I took the boarding passes and sprinted for the ladies' room, where I caught up with Joan and where, by some miracle, the wheelchair finally caught up with us. The TSA let us go through the wheelchair line, which was a lot shorter, and the wheelchair took off running on the other side while I was still putting my shoes back on. I ran like the hounds of Pink Floyd were at my heels, but I didn't catch up until I got to the actual gate. By then they were wheeling Joan down the jetway, and we collapsed into our private row just before the doors shut and the engines roared to life. Whew.

Okay, we're on the right plane and it's going the right direction and all should be well from here on out, right? Um, no. After we got to Phoenix, we got an email from the airline that since we'd failed to show up for our flight out, they were cancelling our flight back. Now, I like Phoenix, but I had no intention of staying there, so I called Mas Barato Airlines to find out what was going on. After i'd told my story to successively higher-placed supervisors, I finally got one that seemed to know what was going on. At least until she asked me, "Are you sure you're in Phoenix?"

Am I sure I'm in Phoenix. Ponder that for a moment. Existential questions aside (how, for example, does anyone know they're really in Phoenix?) that was something I'd never considered before. I mean, maybe I was in Hawaii. Lots of sun, lots of sand. Maybe I was in Aruba. Jamaica. Bermuda? Bahama? Anyway; I said the first thing that came to mind, which was "I beg your pardon?" And she repeated it. "Are you sure you're in Phoenix?" Honestly, don't they teach you to listen to your own questions in customer service school?

Well, I finally admitted to being sure I was in Phoenix, since, uh, I actually was in Phoenix (or Chandler, if you want to get picky).  And another long silence followed, after which she told me that the originating airport had blah blah blah something technical, which had caused blah blah blah something else technical,and in other words they were blaming the computer. But, no harm no fowl, we still had reservations to fly back to Dallas. Which was all I really cared about, so I let the rest slide. But I wonder what's gonna happen when we get to the airport to fly home. Maybe they'll ask if I'm sure I'm at Sky Harbor. Or worse, Albuquerque.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mini-Post: Another Newbie

No, not me.  I've already started my new job (and it's going pretty well, apart from the stress level, which is mostly me).  Joan!  Seems the Library has a position as a "social media librarian", and last year they hired someone for the job.  Joan had applied for it at the time, didn't get it and, in a fit of pique, threw out the job description and all her application materials.  So when the department manager asked her last week if she'd like to have the job because the new person wanted to go to a different department, she wasn't even entirely sure what it was.  She accepted it anyway.

Well, what it is, is going to be pretty cool, I think.  Somebody has to be the Library's presence on Facebook and Twitter and so on and so forth.  You know, the human being behind posts like this one (and I am a human being, I promise).  There are things technical involved, which she's very good at; she'll go places and meet people, and the whole thing just sounds pretty darn cool.

I only have the vaguest idea of what Joan actually did in the Department of Cataloging.  It involved numbers, it involved meticulous rules, and it was all about telling books where to go.  Beyond that, I couldn't tell you.  She used to go to conferences with titles like, "A New Look at The Use of MARC Records in UNIX Environments".  What the hell does that even mean?  I never knew.  "Social media librarian" is a lot more understandable.

So there will be two of us running around with our heads full of new job stuff.  Should be interesting.  Today my brain got tired with 45 minutes left to go.  Sucks to be me sometimes.  Cheers!

Saturday, November 15, 2014


So I started a new job this week.  Starting a new job, just incidentally, is not on my list of fun things to do when I'm bored and there's nothing good on the radio.  In fact I kind of hate it.  It's all about going from being the person in charge, who knows everything about everything, to being the newbie, who doesn't even know where the ladies' room is.  Couple that with the fact that the stuff I'm in charge of has been galloping ahead at full speed, and reproducing like a slime mold, for quite a while with nobody keeping an eye on it, and you can see how this might be A Challenge.  My anxiety level's been off the charts. I've written emails and then reread them three or four times to make sure I'm not A. inadvertently making myself look stupid and B. stepping on anybody's toes before I send them. Yes, I know that's a little excessive, but it's only in the last year or so that I started to realize that every single piece of correspondence that goes out from my desk does not have to be the letter equivalent of War and Peace.  Sometimes I can just say, "Hey, I need this. Please send it to me" and click send.

Still, as challenges go, it's pretty cool. I've made lots of charts and tables to Keep Track of Things.  I'm starting to memorize names and pertinent dates, and by the end of next week I should be well into Phase II.  What is Phase II?  In fact, what in hell am I doing?  Well, I can't really tell you.  Still, this thing will proceed in phases and it's good to know that I'm starting to get a grip on it.  I'd like to start being productive sooner rather than later.

The other thing I'd like to achieve next week is a desk.  Because at the moment, I don't exactly have one.  I've been hanging out with my sort-of assistant. (I have a sort-of assistant!! She's really my boss's assistant, but she can assist me too, how cool is that?)  This office has two ends.  My boss and I are on one end, and the other person-in-charge is at the other end.  At that same other end is where basically everyone else has space.  Since I'm new and am going to have all kinds of questions, they thought it made sense to have me on the noisy end.  So that's where I've been.  I kind of have half of a desk.  No drawer space, though, nor is there anywhere to put my plant.  (I have this plant that I've had on my desk since 2007.  It's currently on my dresser, where I think it's bored, to say nothing of facing the eternal danger of being eaten by cats.)  So at some point next week I'd like to move in to my desk, even if I still spend time at the other end of the office with everyone else.  I have a laptop. I can be mobile.

And then there's the chair issue.  Back about three months ago, when I was moving my old office from Space A to Space B, I was lifting a box and somehow did something to a muscle in my hip.  It's been giving me grief ever since, on and off.  I strongly suspect my former chair did a lot more to aggravate matters than help matters heal.  So the first thing I brought to the office was my gel cushion, which is this nifty (though very heavy) thing I got from Office Depot that adds a lot of softness to a regular office chair.  Unfortunately, the cushion didn't help matters and my hip flared up again.  I asked for another chair, and got one.  Once I got it, though, I had this odd feeling that I was listing to starboard.  I finally asked my sort-of assistant if this was my imagination, or what.  She confirmed that I was indeed listing to starboard and that something was wrong with the chair.  So I'm now on Chair No. 3, which is working out great, but how embarrassing to go through three chairs in a week.  I'm going to get a reputation as a serial chair killer.
Here's what my tattoo looks like. First person to
tell me what it is gets a cheesy prize. Maybe a
wheel of Provolone.

Another thing that happens with a new job is new rules.  Here's one I did not expect: Tattoos must be covered up at all times whilst working at this office.  (Actually, I'm told this is not an unusual office policy, but it's the first time I've come across it.)  And yes, I do have a (gasp) tattoo.  It's on my back, just below my neck, where I forget it exists most of the time.  I'm now in the process of going through all my blouses to see which ones cover it up, and are therefore Safe For Work, and which don't and need to be put aside.  Well, you know how it is.  New job, new wardrobe.  Break me out the credit card, I'm going shopping. First item on the list is a good neutral-colored scarf that I can keep at work just in case.  Imagine, my gangsta thug past is finally catching up with me.

My new cow orkers are all pretty nice.  There's definitely a sense of "we're all in this together," which is not something I had at my last place of employ (being as it was Just Me) or the one before that (for various other reasons).  That's a nice thing to have.  If I ever get used to having a sort-of assistant, I'll start handing things off to her.  In the meantime, I'll keep going to lunch with people.  (Not a cheap hobby, but probably useful in terms of clout.)

So anyway, that's the new job, so far.  Now it's the weekend, so I'm going to rest up and get ready for Phase II. Wish me luck.  They haven't scared me away yet, but I guess it could still happen.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What God Do You Want With That?

An actual post about Buddhism.  Will wonders never cease.  Yeah, okay, I've been a little remiss in the whole point of this blog's existence.  So here's my latest little sermonette.  It focuses on the existence of God, something which I, as a Twelve-Step person, am not supposed to be questioning.  But I do, all the time.  The brain doesn't turn off just because it's supposedly vital to my continued survival.

I heard Buddhism described once as "a religion without a god," assuming that Buddhists don't believe in God.  Well, you'd have to ask a Buddhist.  Actually, you'd have to ask ten Buddhists, and then you'd get twenty answers and forty deep discussions.  Yes, I know I've said that before, but it doesn't make it any less true.  Still, to call Buddhism "a religion without a god" is kind of a misnomer.  Buddhism, like Christianity, spread over a large area in a relatively short period of time, and like Christianity, it basically overlaid the religious practices that were already in existence and sort of absorbed them.  When Christianity showed up (relatively late) in Ireland, many of the local Celtic and pagan gods became part of the new faith.  "Oh, you have a god named Bridget? Well, you must mean Saint Bridget!  Let me tell you all about Saint Bridget..."  Oh, and the Horned One/Forest God?  He kinda didn't fare so well.  You see a horned being in Christianity, he's probably not good news.  I'm just saying.

In the same way, Buddhism has a slew of higher beings called bodhisattvas and arhats and other
weird-sounding Sanskrit names.  One of these guys is named Skandha, the Buddhist guardian against temptation to overindulgent behavior.  I kid you not, Buddhism created an entire being to ward off the mad urge to have more than one cookie with dinner.  I happen to know about him because my therapist, who was perhaps becoming exasperated as to how often this God thing kept coming up, said, "Why don't you just look up some of those bodhisattvas and pick one?"  I picked Skandha because he looked like the leader of a motorcycle gang.  Seriously, doesn't he?  It's something about the helmet.  And maybe the chestplate.  
But I feel really stupid trying to pretend Skandha's following me around, eternally on the lookout for extra cookies.  It just feels kind of silly, like having an imaginary friend.  The truth is, I didn't believe in God well before I became a Buddhist.  I told my Lutheran pastor that I didn't believe in God right before the big Christmas service.  He said, "What God don't you believe in?" and I was kind of stuck for an answer for a minute there, but then I said, "The Old Testament God."  He said, "Well, I don't believe in that God either."  Which was reassuring, especially for a Lutheran pastor, but then he ruined it by saying, "That's why we have a New Testament."

I asked my Buddhist monk friend ChiSing if there was a God and he said it didn't matter if there was one or not.  When I pressed him on it, he said that if there is a God, he needs to be enlightened, and if he's enlightened already, well, then that's just grand, isn't it?  Which is just irritating in the extreme, but then, conversations with Buddhist monks often are.  Still, I would say most Buddhists probably believe in God.  At least, the ones that I know seem to.  Some of them actually mention God from time to time.  Others talk about "the Universe" taking care of things, and something like the Universe is so exponentially huge and beyond human comprehension that it might as well be God.  I also meet Buddhists who think that the whole question of whether or not there's a god just isn't one that's worth spending a lot of mental energy on.  There either is one, or there isn't one, and (tossing up the hands in dramatic fashion) we have no control over it anyway.  Buddhists are big on not having any control over things.  So are Twelve-Step people.

Lately I've been thinking of taking on Google as my Higher Power.  Google has all the answers.  It doesn't necessarily have correct answers, but answers--it's got 'em.  If you want correct answers, forget Google and go talk to your friendly local librarian.  She'll help you find them.  Hm, maybe the librarian should be my Higher Power.  I live with a librarian already, so it'll be a short trip to church.

Anyway, I still don't believe in God.  And if the question is, what God don't I believe in, then the answer is, I don't believe in the god of Abraham or the god of Peter and Paul.  I don't believe in Thor, either (but I kind of wish I did).  I believe that the Bible is basically a history of a people who decided to use their religion as an excuse not to get along with their neighbors.  We're still using that excuse today, every day, all over the world.  We may have all these neato technical advances and we may have extended the boundaries of science catrillions of times farther than our forefathers ever thought possible, but as far as becoming better people, we have evolved exactly zero points since the Bronze Age, and I think religion has a lot to do with that.

What I  do believe in, is fate.  I believe in signs and portents, miracles and wonders.  I believe that there are certain threads of space and time that are meant to come out a certain way, and that eventually they will get there no matter what steps in front of them.  I believe that there's a  kind of cosmic force, if you will, that makes us all alive, and that force is inside every being that lives or has ever been alive or ever will be alive everywhere in the universe.  I believe that if an energy force can have an intention (and I believe it can), it wants us all to do the right thing, and maybe be a little nicer to each other.  I believe if you get in touch with this intention, then your life and the lives of everyone around you will become infinitely easier.  And I believe that one of the ways to get in touch with this intention is Buddhism.

Though, to be honest, the I Ching coins and the Tarot cards don't hurt.

Monday, October 27, 2014

One Of Those "The Shoe Is On The Other Foot" Experiences.

Ever had one of those pieces of good news that you've been wanting to tell everybody about, but you can't because one or two things haven't been confirmed yet?  Well, that's kind of been my situation for the last three weeks.  I knew I had the job, was told I'd for sure be getting an offer, it was just a matter of someone being back in the office long enough to do something about it, so hold tight and don't take any other offers.  Well, I wasn't going to, because they came looking for me and not the other way around, but anyway, everything finally fell together so I can now tell y'all that I have a new job.  Yay!  

I'm very excited.  It's a good job with a very good firm, their reputation is excellent, I got to spend about 20 minutes with my future boss and I think we will work together very well, and all the positive signs are where they should be.  The downside was having to tell my current boss, whom I like a lot, that I'm leaving.  Fortunately, he took it pretty well, though he was obviously less than thrilled.

The other downside has been that I'm mostly in charge of hiring my replacement.  We placed an ad, and after a few hours of getting just one resume, then another and then another, we suddenly got something like 85 all at once.  I'm not sure where they were hiding, but they're here now, and so over the last couple of days I've had the joy of reading 120-odd resumes.  And some of them were very odd indeed.  

People, I have mailed resumes and I have mailed resumes.  I have drafted clever cover letters and I have filled out online forms.  I have, in other words, done my share of job searching, but I've never been on the other side of the desk before and I had no idea how utterly weird it could be.  How weird?  Well, here's just a smattering of the things I've come across.

  • Quite a few resumes had really obvious spelling and grammatical errors.  If you're applying for a "legal assistant" position, you might wanna know how to spell "assistant." 
  • And then there was the guy who misspelled the name of a FORMER EMPLOYER.  Let me get this straight; you worked there three years and never learned how to spell the name of the company? 
  • There were also resumes that addressed the wrong law firm, referenced the wrong position, or addressed to "Dear Mr. Smothers" when there was no "Mr. Smothers" in the job ad.  I mean, that's just not paying attention, people.  
  • And speaking of not paying attention, try not to apply for the same job twice on two consecutive days.  You ARE keeping a record of all this, aren't you?
  • It's nice that you're looking for an evening/weekend position, but, uh, that's NOT WHAT WE'RE HIRING FOR.  
  • And then there were the creative email addresses.  Like "" and one very memorable ""  People, no potential employer is going to reply to an email address like that.  Please, for the love of God, get a Gmail or Yahoo address that's just your "lastname.firstname@..." 
  • I'm glad you were born again in Christ on July 2, 2012, but it doesn't need to be on your resume.  Honest.
  • Nor do I care that you've been sober for 12 years.  In fact, I'd rather not know that.  
  • And I just love getting your resume not from you, but from your academic advisor.  Because that's classy. 
  • Odd statements: "I prefer a salary that reflects my ability, experience & commitment.  Of course, I am willing to address that as necessary."  Well, I would hope so? 
  • "My present job is not a legal assistant job, but it pays the bills."  Um. Okay? 
  • "I am a fast learner and will be able to transfer fundamental skills like organization (spelled wrong), customer service, negotiation (spelled wrong) and case preparation to your office." Great, but I suspect that's your way of telling me you don't have any litigation experience and...hey, I'm right.
I'll admit I went to business school a long time ago, but for the love of God, have things changed that much?  I mean, I hope this is just a case of not knowing any better, because honestly, I'm becoming depressed about the fate of future generations and all that.  Of the 120-odd resumes, we got exactly nine that we're considering.  Nine.  I mean that's about 10%.  Which, I discovered after a couple of quick Google searches, was about average.  That's even more depressing. 

Look, people, it's your resume.  It will get you, or not get you, a job interview.  It needs to be perfect.  If you aren't good at noticing misspellings and typos, get someone else to look at it for you.  Get more than one someone else, if you have to, and listen to what they say.  You probably know someone who has occasion to look at resumes once in a while.  Even if you don't, you probably know someone whose education went further than yours, who works in a higher position than you do, who majored in English or literature or something and can at least tell you if your resume is written in the right language.  Even if you end up having to pay someone, just do it.  Again, it's your resume.  You deserve to have a good one.  Or at least one that won't embarrass you in public.  

I know of what I speak. Back when I first got out of college, I was writing resumes for all my friends and getting paid in pounds of coffee. (All my friends worked at Starbucks.)  I still do it from time to time, sometimes for actual cash money.  And if I had to sum up the elements that make a great resume, the list would look something like this:
  •  Put the most important information first.  The average hiring manager is going to glance at your resume for about ten seconds, so make sure your most critical skills are on top.  If you've had a few jobs and been in the workforce for a while, put your job experience first. If you're brand-new to the job market and just graduated from someplace, put your educational experience first.  If neither of those apply, you might want to lead off with your most important job skills--which tend to be computer skills these days, but it depends on what job you're applying for.  Talk to somebody in the field to get a better idea of what should go where.
  • Don't be afraid to vary your resume according to the job you're applying for.  A lot of companies use screening software to look for specific words, and if those words aren't in your resume, you'll get skipped.  The best way to avoid this is to read the job ad carefully and look for terms of art like "civil litigation" and "appellate filings" (because I'm in the legal field; your mileage may vary).  Make sure those terms appear somewhere in your resume.
  • Don't go over two pages.  Even if you've been in the field for 30 years, nobody's going to read more than two pages.  It's okay to sum up the first ten years of your career in a sentence or two, and then provide details for the last ten years (which is primarily what a hiring manager wants to know about). Things change very quickly these days.  A "legal secretary" when I first started working was using a typewriter and carbon paper.  Obviously that's no longer the case, so a "legal secretary" job from 20 years ago is going to be pretty meaningless to your current job skills.  Or I hope so, anyway.
  • Use bullet lists and keep the format consistent.  This makes it easier for the hiring manager to pick out the important stuff in a hurry.  And they're always in a hurry.
  • Use a nice, clean readable font, like Times Roman, Arial or Bookman Old Style.  If you want to vary the look of certain areas, try bolding and underlining, or changing the text size.  Don't use more than one font; it looks sloppy and like you forgot to read it over before you submitted it.  And please, please don't use script fonts.  Yes, I know they're pretty, but they're very hard to read.  Save them for party invitations.  Please. 
Finally, here are a couple of tips for job hunting in general:
  • Apply fast.  I got 120 resumes in one day; if you're applying three days out from the day the ad appeared, you're probably too late.  Focus on the current day's ads, then go back a day or two days if you have time. 
  • Most job ads appear on Friday or Monday, because that's when people tend to give notice.  So try to set aside extra time for job hunting on those days, because you'll need it.
  • If you haven't been there lately, your local library has a ton of resources for job hunters, from books about how to put together a good resume to computers you can use to apply for jobs if you happen not to have one at home.  A lot of libraries even have programs like "job hunter's boot camp" available for free or for a nominal fee.  Be sure to ask.  Remember, your librarian is your friend.
  • Talk to people. Tell everyone you know that you're looking for work.  Keep a couple of resumes in your car with you, because you never know when you might run into someone who knows someone who is looking for someone.  
  • Above all, take good care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, eat a good diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and try to have a little fun every day.  Job hunting is hard work.  It's physically draining and mentally grueling.  You'll be more up to the challenge if you're feeling physically well.  
Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox now.  I'll resume commentary on Buddhism, writing, things legal and the sorry state of the planet with my next post.  Meantime, soldier on. And remember, you can't get Ebola without doing something that's pretty gross.  Cheers!

Friday, October 17, 2014


EBOLA HQ, Texas -- It was the cruise ship that did me in.

Like everybody else on the planet, I've been watching the public meltdown of Texas Health Presybterian Hospital Dallas and just kind of shaking my head.  Presby is a respected institution with a lot of recognized programs, but you'd never know it if you're watching TV.  And honestly, I have seen some BAD PR emergencies in my time, but this is a clusterfuck of such monumental proportions that I've never seen anything like it, except maybe when the Space Shuttle blew up, and I doubt I'll ever see anything like it again.  I mean, it's just astounding.  Every time I think we've hit the bottom of the barrel, it turns out that underneath it is a whole 'nother barrel.  Emergency rooms turning away patients with potentially fatal diseases.  Nurses treating a contagious patient without protective equipment.  Piles of biological waste accumulating because no one knows how to deal with it.  An entire pneumatic tube system possibly contaminated because some idiot sent a sample that way instead of walking it down, per protocol.  Next up I'm expecting a couple of the nurses who treated the poor Ebola guy will get sick. Oh wait, that's already happened.

To some extent, people's fears of catching Ebola are reasonable.  It is, after all, a highly fatal disease (this strain is 50-70% fatal, which is bad, but it can be and does get worse; some strains of Ebola are over 90% fatal).  But  what's infecting Dallas right now is a little thing we call mass hysteria.

Mass hysteria has an interesting history.  In the Middle Ages, a number of outbreaks occurred among cloistered nuns, including an episode where an entire convent full of women began meowing like cats.  In Salem in the 1600s, mass hysteria over suspected witchcraft led to the deaths of 27 people. In 1835, an erroneous news report suggesting that "bat men" had been discovered living on the Moon led to sightings of bat men all over Europe.  More recently, in the United States, pandemonium broke out when a radio broadcast of H.G. Wells's  The War of the Worlds was mistaken for news reports of an actual attack.  And now, in Dallas, we have the Great Ebola Panic of 2014.  Splatter everything you touch with hand sanitizer and don't come within three feet of anybody who might have once been in a graduating class with somebody who once worked at Presby.

As I was saying, it's the cruise ship that did me in.  Okay, an infected nurse who was showing symptoms flew on a public plane.  Yeah, that was bad, and yeah, I can see the people who sat near her on the plane being a little freaked out and maybe wanting to stay at home for a while to make sure they're not sick.  But now we've got schools closing and buildings being scrubbed down with bleach.  We've got people being kicked out of their offices.  We've got elder statesmen howling about banning all flights to and from Africa.  We've got a motherfucking cruise ship, for the love of God, being held off the coast of Belize because one passenger worked as a lab tech at the hospital where the first Ebola patient was being treated.  And the United States Government is going to pay to air evac this person, who is not sick, has no symptoms, and who wasn't really at risk to catch anything anyway.  I mean this is not reasonable, people.  This is insanity.  No, worse.  It's mass hysteria.  Next thing you know all the nurses will start meowing like cats.

I'd like to point out that it's actually rather difficult to catch Ebola, unless you're a nurse or someone else in close contact with the patient.  You have to be splattered with bodily fluids of some kind to be at risk.  This is gross, so I'll decline to elaborate, but shaking hands will not get you Ebola.  Somebody sneezing in your vicinity will not get you Ebola.  Touching something someone with Ebola has touched will not get you Ebola.  You have to work at it. It's not as hard to catch as, say, AIDS, but the science is getting thrown out the window in favor of, once again, mass hysteria.  And the more CNN drones on and on about the same three or four points of fact it's been droning on and on about for the past three days, the longer it's going to continue and the worse it's going to get.  If this continues for long enough, anybody with a cold is going to end up arrested.  We do NOT want to go there.

So.  Everybody take a deep breath.  Let it out slowly.  Very good.  Take another one.  Yep, just as deep as the last one.  Let it out slowly.  One more ought to do it.  Deep breath.  Let it out.

There.  Feel better?  I thought so.

Now STOP WATCHING THE EBOLA COVERAGE.  Just stop doing it.  Turn off the TV, don't listen to the radio, ignore the newspapers and do not, I repeat do not get on CNN and troll the chat boards.  Just don't do this.  It's very very bad.  I speak as one who knows.  In all seriousness, the more the media hypes this thing, the worse it's going to get.  The best thing that could possibly happen would be for all of us to just accept that life itself comes with certain dangers, that probably 99% of us will never have to worry about catching Ebola, that the few who do already know who they are and are probably monitoring themselves, and that the rest of us would benefit hugely if we would all just chill the fuck out.  Immediately.

On a point of personal irritation: Anderson Cooper's been in town for three whole days now, and he hasn't once been to my place for dinner and cheap sex.  The nerve.  I wonder if he's seeing someone else.