The Old & New

Out with the old…

The old and new - Michael Main

2016 is starting much like 2015. I’m still jobless, albeit a bit more panicked, but I’m still hopeful. The job prospect I mentioned previously with a former boss has turned into more of a “project” than a full-time gig. I am still going to pursue it – I certainly have the time – it could develop into something more as his company grows and it will be a new challenge. A few shekels coming in wouldn’t hurt either.

I’m still applying for various positions and still trying to steer clear of media jobs to some extent.

I’ve vowed to be a bit more aggressive in 2016 and I’m confident that I’ll find the right position where my talents can be utilized in a worthwhile manner.

In the interim, Abby and I are still walking, exploring trails and dog parks.

I may be looking for work,  but Abby is on the lookout for other adventures.

abby bw-color

One adventure that is near is our latest grandchild.   Miss Emily is going to domino into our reality any day now.Ms Em

So, while there are still some question marks surrounding 2016,  I have faith and certainty that we’ll be blessed many times over.

Prayers and Possibilities

It’s been almost exactly one year since I was unceremoniously ejected from my longtime job.   I suppose I went through all the normal stages of anger, denial…anger and anger.

The fact that the company’s severance package mandated I be paid for every year of my employment has made it a nice comfy year of unemployment, but I am ready to try to something new.    As I’ve groaned about previously, I haven’t had a great deal of success.

Today, however,  I’m feeling a small tinge of optimism.

 

Shortly before embarking on my usual exercise in futility of applying for jobs online, my phone rang.   It was a former boss whom I last spoke with a day or two after I was broomed from my previous job.   He wants to talk about a potential opportunity.

I don’t know what it would involve.   I don’t know if it’s  a full-time gig.   I don’t know much, but my phone rang and these days I score that as a win.

We’re meeting for coffee on Friday.

Let us pray.

prayer - Michael Main

Posted by Michael Main

If It’s Tuesday…

This must be…well, Tuesday.

We’ve been doing some shopping lately.   Christmas gifts, a big-ticket item for my future granddaughter, and some sorely needed furniture.    Isn’t this what all unemployed people do?

I’ve actually been saving money for the past months, so these purchases don’t sting too much.   I’ve still got a few others on the list which may fall victim to economic fears as the new year approaches with no job prospects in sight.

I have, however, cracked the code of the state’s job database which I whined about previously not allowing me to apply for various positions.   I’ve learned to run my work experience against the listed job requirements and then modify my experience, interest, skills in the database to match.

Okay, maybe it’s lying, but it, at least, allows me then to send a resume and let a human (hopefully) judge my potential instead of being ruled out by a mechanized mind.

In other news, the walking continues.    I’ve shed about 50 pounds in the past several months.   Abby is still on the prowl for deer.   The other morning, I noticed a deer with very unusual markings.

I was reminded of a favorite Far Side cartoon.

hal

 

Posted by Michael Main

Boogers and trees

Abby and I completed our mission Saturday to walk the one section of the North Salado Creek Greenway that we hadn’t yet traveled.   It wasn’t too exciting.   We did see this tree.

boogertree

I must have watched too many cartoons because all I could think is that it looks like it’s flicking a booger.

Yes, if you’re looking for profundity…well,  I ain’t no Thoreau.

 

Posted by Michael Main

Just another bitch about job hunting

I’m getting close to going all Unibomber when it comes to technology.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m a geek.  I’ve been a tech guy since the days of 300 baud modems, but I’ve about had it with the “labor-saving” ways of online job applications.

One website I use to look for work is  Work in Texas (clever huh?).  It’s the site the state requires  job seekers  to use if they’re collecting unemployment benefits, which I’m now opting to do.   It matches you to various jobs and allows you to search for all sorts of positions including those with state agencies.

I’ve been seriously trying to land a position with the state where I might work with child placement, child support,  foster parents and the like.   After 35+ years reporting on the seedier segments of society I thought I might try to find a job where I could possibly help people.

However, the algorithms that match me to jobs also disqualify me from applying for positions where I don’t have experience…even if no experience is required!    The digital diva decides  I don’t meet the requirements listed in the posting.  The problem is some of those requirements are things like, “at least 3 years of college” or “some high school.”   Well,  I have 5 years of college and a high school diploma, but the algorithms don’t  see an exact match to “3” or “some,” so it says, “You are  not qualified” and the website won’t let me apply.  It also rejects me from applying for jobs below my stated salary preference.   I’ve tried changing preferences, adding in numerous keywords and even falsifying a few skill sets, but so far I’ve yet to bust through the electronic guardian’s defenses.

The result is this artificially intelligent gatekeeping on the website designed to help job seekers is blocking me from seeking jobs.

I feel like I’m screaming at the sky.

screaming beach - michael main

Posted by Michael Main

Futures, Churches and Casino Cash

We are fresh back from our Thanksgiving trip.

It was  a good time with family and we were able to help celebrate my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary.

My in-laws have a wonderful legacy of family.  The future is well represented.

60th

I should add the trip was even more enjoyable because Amy and I managed to snag a few shekels at a casino as we were saying goodbye to Oklahoma.

Casino win - Michael Main

It’s been a long time since we’ve been to Oklahoma.   I noticed a lot of changes.   Foremost, it’s much quicker getting there these days with speed limits above 55 miles an hour.   We made the trip in a little more than 8 hours.   It was longer on the way back, but there was rain and…well, a casino stop.

While in Oklahoma, I managed to get in some hikes and long walks before the weather turned wet.  There wasn’t as much fall foliage, but there were some nice spots.

path oklahoma

 

geese - Michael Main

One change I noticed on our drive into the state were the churches.   Small towns once  pockmarked with various churches boasting of their affiliations with Baptists, Protestants, Methodists and the like now have houses of worship with nebulous names like Fusion church, Life church, Faith church, Frontline church.  I suppose it’s an attempt to appeal to younger folks.   My brother-in-law, who pastors a church in Ohio, says he’s heard of an inner city  church that’s changing names to “Dat Church.

I’m out of touch with the times.  I find it odd that ignoring the past is a strategy to embrace the future.

 

Posted by Michael Main

Eyes on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week.   We’ll be doing a little traveling and leaving our house and Abby in the care of our renter.  She may give me the evil eye for that decision.

Abby Main - Michael Main

Roadtripping along I-35 over Thanksgiving is always an adventure, but I’m trying to stay optimistic.

I’m hoping a proper attitude will  open my eyes to a sense of wonderment.

outside - Michael Main

If nothing else,  I’ll be thankful for a minimal number of eye-popping traffic jams.

Posted by Michael Main

Sure foot sore foot

I hit my goal this week.

50 mile goal

Abby and I walked 50 miles.    We had to squeeze in about 9 miles this morning to make it, so we ventured down a portion of an as yet unopened part of the Salado Creek Greenway which took us to Walker Ranch Park.

The park features a unique footbridge.  It will test your faith in engineering. It feels like you’re walking in a bounce house when you cross.

walker ranch footbridge

Abby was less than thrilled with it.

Distrusting dog

By the time we made it back to the car, both of us were hobbling a bit.

Sometimes you have to feel a little pain to achieve your goals.    At least that’s what I’m telling Abby.

 

Posted by Michael Main

Oh Deer, Michael’s Job Journey

Getting a deer to pose for a still life portrait is tough.
Deer - Salado Creek

Okay, I’ve been playing around with a photo editor and some recent shots I took while walking along the Salado Creek Greenway.   Abby and I have logged about 40 miles so far this week with a goal of 50.

We  don’t walk alone, we’re accompanied by a lot of deer.

 

 

Deer Greenway
The deer make the morning walks interesting and amusing.   They’re entertaining to observe, but I’ve also had to harness Abby so she stops trying to chase them.

Salado Creek Greenway Deer - Michael Main

My job search seems a bit restrained as well.   I fear as the holidays approach, hiring managers will put off their decisions.

Enhanced Salado Creek Greenway image - Michael Main

I suppose I’ll keep trying to amuse myself during this process, although I wish I had the option of  putting my expectations through a photo editor too.

 

Posted by Michael Main

Redeeming Storms

Deadspin has published more details about Greg Hardy and photos of the woman he’s been accused of savagely beating.    They are disturbing.

Hardy is a member of the Dallas Cowboys, a team I have been a supporter of for more years than I’d care to admit.  After his arrest for what’s described as a maniacal assault on his girlfriend, Hardy served a lengthy suspension from the NFL.

He was also criminally convicted, but that case was overturned on appeal.  The charges have not been pursued again.    Hardy was paid millions of dollars while suspended. There’s a school of thought some of those NFL shekels helped convince his victim to be less than cooperative with authorities.

I follow the Cowboys, but I’m not a stat-obsessed NFL devotee.  I had never heard of Hardy until the Cowboys were considering signing him.

At that time, I didn’t know the specific details of his case, but I knew he was legally in the clear.

I thought about redemption.

I’ve been through stormy times in my life.   Certainly nothing on the scale of Hardy, but I’ve tested the patience and faith of more than a few folks. I’ve been grateful for forgiveness and grace.

Marblehead lighthouse - Michael Main

Personal reclamation is usually a messy process which often must germinate in our murkiest moments.   I can show you scars.

Although there was a lot of carping about Dallas signing Hardy, I thought he should be given the chance to show he isn’t a woman-beating  madman.

I believe in redemption.

I didn’t want to rush to judgment.

I was wrong.

There’s another requirement for redemption:  you have to want it.

There’s no indication that is the case when it comes to Hardy.  He’s continued to be a steroid-suspected nutter both on and off the field.

The only thing positive Hardy has done since signing with Dallas is sack quarterbacks prompting Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones to anoint him a “team leader.” Jones seems eager to sign him to a long-term contract extension.

I believe in redemption.

That’s not redemption.

That’s enabling.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Main

A Walk Through the Fog

Tuesday’s morning stroll took Abby and me along one of our usual routes including the Morningstar boardwalk.  It runs for about 3/4 of a mile between San Antonio’s Lady Bird Johnson and McAllister Parks.

Salado Creek boardwalk - Michael Main

The boardwalk is named in honor of Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Morningstar, a San Antonio soldier killed in Iraq in 2006.

Morningstar Boardwalk - Michael Main

I find it a good place to walk and think about losses of the past and the course ahead.

It’s apropos these days with so much uncertainty regarding my career/job/life of sloth.

On Tuesday, the boardwalk was draped in a visibility-hindering mist.  I could only see the immediate path ahead.   We walked on without much thought.  It’s not like I didn’t know where we were going.

The balance of experience and faith comes in handy.

Boardwalk in fog

Especially if you find yourself walking through one of life’s metaphors.

 

 

              Posted by Michael Main

Michael Main Bing bombing

Hi,  I’m Michael Main and I’m an egosurfer.

I suppose I could claim that I was checking the search engine optimization of MichaelMain.com, but – considering this website is only read by me – I don’t find it too embarrassing to divulge a bit of blatant digital narcissism.

I put my name, Michael Main, into search engines to see where I rank.

The results show it’s still a six-page slog on Google before anyone would find this website, but I was agreeably astonished by the new high-ranking on Bing.

MichaelMain.com on Bing - Michael Main

Yes, my friends,  MichaelMain.com is number three!  That’s not bad for a website that didn’t exist a couple of months ago.

I’m sure my previous post pointing out the many other people named Michael Main didn’t manipulate the rankings at all.

I, Michael Main,  would like to thank Bing for its’ algorithmic wisdom.

 

 

The Swirling Salado Creek Greenway Vortex

Miss Abby and I explored some new portions of the Salado Creek Greenway today.

I opted to take a different route than usual because of the recent rains in San Antonio which have flooded out portions of our regular trek.

Salado Creek Boardwalk Flooding

Today we started out near McAllister Park and walked along a fairly new segment of the greenway that purports to connect to Walker Ranch Park which we have never visited.    That statement still holds true.  We didn’t visit it today.  We didn’t get that far.

It turns out the greenway connection is not yet officially completed.

That wasn’t what actually stopped us.

I ignored the signs saying, “No pedestrians, bikes, motor vehicles, UFO’s, etc.” and marched right past.

So did Abby, she’s a rebel.

We strolled down an obviously temporary asphalt path without incident.   A half mile or so along the way I could see what looked like a much more finished section of trail ahead.

We didn’t get there.

Abby was reluctant to cross a slightly flooded spillway.    This is atypical for Abby.  The water wasn’t that deep and she doesn’t normally object to getting her feet wet.

Abby floodwaters - Michael Main

This time, however,  she stopped, dug in and was adamantly not going to proceed.  It was obvious if I wanted her to keep going forward I would have to hope something powered by a jet engine and shooting fireworks came up behind us.

She was freaking out as a result of the sound of rushing water on the spillway and the sight of a large swirling vortex of liquid next to us that appeared to be swallowing humanity and sucking it into the netherworld.

Salado Creek Greenway - Flooding - Michael Main

I took Abby’s counsel and we turned around.

 

Honesty in the job search

Having experienced the joys of instant job hunt rejection as a result of the wonderful world of online applications and algorithm-based evaluations, I’m taking a new approach – blunt honesty.

It’s obvious in some cases that no human eye ever gazes upon my resume because of something I can’t control – I didn’t graduate from college.  The maniacal microprocessors see that one certitude and immediately dismiss me.  No human contact required.

There is an explanation.  I attended college.   I attended college for five years.    I was young and idealistic, I attended college with this silly idea that I wanted to be educated.   I took classes that interested me. I took  classes in journalism, English, French,  mass communication, psychology, sociology, urban studies, anthropology, philosophy and many more.  I left college lacking only a few hours for a degree, but I left college with a well-rounded education.

I had another priority at the time – eating.

No employer ever asked me about my education.   My work spoke for itself and I worked continually until last December.

In recent weeks, I’ve come to regret my decision.  While I don’t think a degree would make me a better employee,  I’d have a better chance of being actually employed.

Were anyone besides me reading this I’m sure I’d hear two suggestions:  Go back to school, or lie.

Lying isn’t an option.  I am not good at lying.  At this point, if I were good at it I’d probably put it on my resume.

Going back to school is something I’ve thought about although it would simply be so that I could say I have a degree.  That would be frustrating. There are some other issues, the pesky eating thing being one.

In truth, although I’ve been unemployed for 10 months,  I have only recently begun looking for work on a regular basis.  It’s still a little early to take a vow of poverty and become a college student.

I read an article the other day suggesting applying online for jobs is a complete waste of time.  The author accurately described my experience of  being dissed by artificial intelligence and suggested stalking (my word) the person responsible for hiring.  The article recommended finding that person’s physical address and sending them an actual letter along with a resume.  No email.

I’m going to consider that route.

I’m also incorporating a more personal appeal in my cover letters and resumes.  I’m trying to explain the situation with my college education.

Maybe I still have a sliver of that youthful idealism, but perhaps my honesty will open some human eyes to my true potential.

 

flower growing through rocks by Michael Main

Posted by Michael Main