Sunday, October 26, 2008

Married 11 years?

Yesterday was my anniversary.

I've been married 11 years. Wow, this is longer than any of my previous romantic relationships combined. I would usually go out with someone for about 2-3 years then one of us would break it up.

Now, I am in uncharted territory. Just as with the rest of life, this didn't come with instructions or manuals. Believe it or not, I am one of the few guys that will read the manual. I learned this over working many years at Radio Shack. Many times, we would have to show our customers how to use the equipment and a few would return it without even talking to us. We realized that these customers did not even read the manual. So as a return reason, we would list "Failure to RTFM" (Read the F@#%" Manual.) Ever since then I RTFM.

What has changed since we've been married? Well, for the most part, health and family changes.

If I were an Automobile--I would be subjected numerous Recalls: Diabetes, Sleep Apnea and other health issues. I joke when I had to fill out medical forms with the "You or your family ever had..", I would not check anything. Now most of it is checked.

Family Additions and Subtractions: Both Ma and Pa passed on, however, we added Kevin (Brother's youngest Son, his oldest was born while we were dating), Dean and Erin (Sister's son and daughter.) Sean got divorced. As for Valerie's side, everything is stable.

Career Path: I have been unemployed twice--Once for two months and this stint, eight months within these past eleven years. This will be the 5th Job I am looking for.

Automotive: Changed from a truck to a coupe due to an accident.

So what's my point?

Valerie is the constant throughout all of this. Never, in my mind, would I ever thought I would test my wedding vows--you know "For Richer or Poorer, in Sickness and Health"

Now, I will admit that I am not the easiest person to live with. I am more like Oscar than Felix in the Odd Couple. And there are times, I wonder why I married Valerie, however I am glad I did.

Valerie, I will not mind scrapbooking, photography, the Disney obsession or the infatuation with Donny Osmond or Keith Urban.

I promise:

Take you to different places to expand your knowledge of geography.
Constantly to push you to improve--i.e. the Camera.
Take you to Scrapbook stores without glazing over too much.
Keep Clock Building to a minimum-except when asked.
Put up with you know who.
Help your friends whenever I can.
Treat your parents like my own.

and Finally, to love you as best I can.

Happy 11th anniversary and to the hope you can stand me for many more years.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch

It has been so long since I have blogged, I totally forgot my log in. Due to a virus, I had to delete my first user name on my computer--I lost all my log ins and passwords. I had to reset everything. I even started a new blog and now that I can log in, I am back at the old one.

Here's what happened since I last blogged:

Lost my job again: I was a General Manager for a small Mailing and Print operation. Until I really started working for them, I did not realize that they were a one trick pony. Meaning, the company had one big account that supplied 80% of the income. You can see this coming--the account cut back most of its work to us. I was laid off within a week. Am I bitter? Yes, my layoff was a knee jerk reaction. My boss said that it was temporary--I have little trust with corporate America. I am looking for a new job.

We put Mom to rest: After spending about two years in my brother's garage, Sean finally got an airplane we could use. We flew out to the same location that we dropped Dad. I finally learned that it was off of Del Mar not Solana Beach. So instead of flying the plane, I got to drop Ma. Unfortunately, I covered the side of the airplane with Ma's ashes. Even though I was very sad when Mom died, it feels good to put her to rest.

Took a Road Trip: My brother invited me on a camping trip. He lives in Colfax, CA (Outside of Sacramento) I was reluctant to go--being unemployed, however, Valerie convinced me to go. So, I loaded up the Go-Cart (my Solara) and drove up. This was the first long road trip in the Go-Cart--it was very comfortable.

I arrive at my brother's house and he tells me that we are going to Boca Lake. This is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (just the other side of Donner Pass.) So off I go with my nephew, Brian to get a spot. Everything is booked up and we get a crappy spot 5 miles up the road. I leave my nephew to hold the spot and drive down to the camp space that rented them. Since I did not have cellphone service at the camp site, I stopped to make some phone calls. The guy I spoke with said to set up and we would have the other person come up and fill up the paperwork. Well, by the time I got to rent it, the other person had rented it to some one else and had my nephew move.

I came unglued and told her she was wrong. I located the guy I originally spoke with and made my case. He went to work it out, however, we did not get the original space back. He did give us one of the CDF Reserved spaces. It was exactly what we wanted.

So, Sean, Brian, Kevin and I set up camp. Sean's better half, Mary and her son Elliot joined us on the second day. This is the first time I have slept in a tent since I was in Boy Scouts. We spent three fun filled days overlooking a lake. We rode motorcycles and Quads. Went swimming once (too cold), but got to spend time with the nephews and brother. My sister Maureen and her kids Dean and Erin came up for the afternoon. It was a small family reunion. We left Sunday to go to his house-not a moment too soon. After spending three days with no shower or flushing toilet, we were really dirty--it took me 45 minutes in the shower to get clean and had to use a scouring pad to clean my hands.

Job Front: I have had about 4 interviews since I was laid off in August. I have a job offer that is exactly like the one I mentioned in my last blog--GM of a Printer about 3.5 miles away and pay is very low. I have a final interview with a mail house on Monday, I will see what they have to say. If the offer is better, I will go to work for them. I am hoping that I will get a job this month. If not, Everything slows down in November and December. With the economy bushwacked, I don't know if it will pick up soon.

So there you have it. I 've had a really poor attitude for most of the time. Now, I have a better outlook.

Check out Valerie's Blog--She is much better at it than I am.

Happy Trails to you-- until we meet again.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Road to Normalicy?

I have been working for a little over a month and it feels good. So, I started car shopping. I originally had my choices narrowed to the following:

2005-2007 Honda Accord EX-L
2005-2007 Toyota Camry (With Leather and Moon roof)
2005-2007 Scion XB

Valerie suggested we look at the Element (Why No Pinch.) I felt that I was driving a truck. Don't get me wrong--the Element is a great vehicle, however after looking over the cargo capacity, I would easily overload it.

So a week ago today, Valerie and I went out to several dealerships to test drive several cars. We had a little game to see how fast the Sales Weasels would introduce themselves. Valerie won with 15 Seconds. Then it got even more absurd, the moment we stepped on the lot--We would get ambushed.

No one seemed to have the right car in the right price range. We spoke with one sales rep in Santa Ana, who, when he found out the price range--tried to find a car. When we could not, he suggested a new car. When I told him I could not afford it, all you could see is dust clouds from his leaving.

We went down to a Honda Dealer in Irvine. We went through the same drill. Then he showed us a 2005 Toyota Solara SE. It is silver with dark gray leather interior. It has a moon roof and 4 cylinder engine. It is basically 90 percent of what I was looking at. They had it listed for 19K. The only thing that stopped me that it was a coupe. I was interested in a sedan. I told the Sales Rep I would call him back if I wanted the car.

Valerie and I went to two other Honda lots and could not find anything. So I went home and did research on the Toyota. I had pricing, CarFax and reliability information-- I called him back and said I was interested. We could not meet that night, so I took time off work next day to go down there and make the deal. I examined the car and told the rep--I would need to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic. We negotiated and off I went to the mechanic.

Here I found out the Battery needed service, new Air Cleaner and the Moon roof didn't work. The Mechanic told me that if these things were changed, this car is in excellent shape. I took it back to the dealer and told him I would buy it if these things were fixed. It took them two days to do all of this.

So for the first time in 6 years, I have a car payment.

So after all of this, do I like the car? You bet! It is a nice adult car--I call it the Go Cart. It is fast and handles well. Valerie calls it my mid life crisis car.

With it I feel I took one more step to putting the unemployment period behind me.

What about the Buickmobile? My friends will not need the car until September 27. So I will take the time to fix all the little things,clean the exterior, shampoo the carpets/seats and change all the filters as a thank you!! It has been a great car and I am very grateful to have use of it.

Now if I can only get some time off this year...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thank you for the Welcome Back!

Thank you very much for the warm welcome back! I am glad that I am back at work. I feel at home with what I am doing for a job. Much less stress at this position than at the previous one.

I want to share some thoughts and experiences. I hope this will help others in looking for work. To skrpndiva, I understand how you feel. Back in 2000, I was one of the first Mortgage Sub prime victims-First Alliance Mortgage. I managed their mailings. I remember the feelings when I said I worked for a mortgage company--and the looks. Hopefully, what I have learned will help.

1) Apply for Unemployment: I know sometimes that it feels odd and embarrassing. But think of it this way, you paid for it.

2) Contact every one you know--Vendors, Friends, Former Colleagues: I have received at least two interviews from recommendations from former vendors. Think of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. You never know who knows who.

3) Try all avenues of a job search: I have landed jobs through Newspaper ads, Internet postings, Referrals, Headhunters and old fashion cold calling. This last one, I walked into the business, left my resume and followed up.

4) Join the One Stop Center in your area. For those who are not in Southern California, One Stop is like an office. You can use computers, photocopiers and phones for your job search. Additionally, they have classes to sharpen your interview skills , resume and follow ups. They will also test you to help your change your career.

5) Network, Network, Network! Everyone out there is a potential employer or a way in. See (2). I received my last job from networking with an old vendor.

6) This will be very familiar to all Sales Reps out there. Looking for a job is selling a product--you. You will get a ton of people saying no to you--Sales reps will rationalize it by saying each no they receive will bring them closer to Yes. In looking for a job, you only need one yes!

7) Bad times do not last forever. It may certainly feel that way, however, do what you need to do and the bad time will pass.

8) Anyone that tells you--Unemployment is a vacation--has never been there. On Unemployment, you worry about conserving money, looking for a job and paying bills. This is no vacation. I had just as much stress on unemployment as on my last job.

It has been a long five months and I am grateful to be back in the land of the unemployed. I hope you do not have to experience it and if you do--I hope it is short.


Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm Baack!!!

In my last post, I spoke of being laid off. Well after almost five months, I will be starting a new job on Wednesday. I will become a General Manager at a local Mail, Print and List broker.

What has happened these past few months? I finished my programing class. Still waiting for the grade. I had two sections that I had real trouble understanding. There was one homework problem that only 3 people in the class that got it. Professor did not go over it with the class. That gives you an idea of how it went.

Unemployment insurance pays far better than I remember. However, I got within one month of it ending. I found out about a very good group and resource. The One Stop Center of the EDD. They help you refine your interviewing skills, sharpen your resume and teach you how to network. I joined a Experience Unlimited Group and went to Saddleback Church Networking meetings.

I have been to almost all Direct Marketing operations within a thirty mile radius. Within a month of my layoff, I had my first interview. I didn't quite fit. I have been to interviews as far south as northern San Diego county. I was negotiating with a Printer/Mailer about 3.5 miles from my house. I would have practically lived at the facility and what he offered wasn't what I was looking for--So I passed.

In February, I was involved in an automobile accident. I was in a parking lot and someone backed into my truck. Since it was a 13 year old Toyota, the damage was such--the truck was totaled. I went to buy a car on the internet--it turned out to be a scam. The woman was transferred to England and wanted to sell the car. She said it was in a garage and I couldn't see it. She needed a deposit to come to California. Wanted me to wire money to an escrow company--I started to get suspicious when I could not find the address of the company, her accountant and her home address was bogus. Thankfully, I did not fall for it. The old saying "if it is too good to be true--it usually is!"

Friends lent me the use of a 1996 Buick LeSabre Custom. Nice car. As a thank you, I am fixing all the little things before I return it. We named it the Buickmobile! So once I get working, I will buy a used Japanese car.

What I have I learned these past five months? Well there is no one way to look for a job. Keep in touch with your friends. Help your friends when you can--I worked with a friend to help start his company. Take care of your better half.

Do I still regret being laid off? I am relaxed--I worried a little about not finding a job. Talking to my friends still at the last job--Things have gotten weirder.

What have I learned with this whole ordeal? I will be networking for my next job and working with my friends and contacts in the business.

I am sorry you all haven't heard from me--I really wanted to post happy news.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Joining the Ranks of the Unemployed

Yes, It happened to me. I am now known as Unemployed Floyd.

My company had a big slowdown in work, so they decided to cutback on personnel. I had only been there a year and they had hired a replacement for me at a lesser rate. It was a high pressure job and it affected me about mid year causing some medical problems. They were not happy with how I was doing--hence the replacement. I was asked to train him for a period--then I was to be laid off. My replacement had convinced them to keep me on--The job really required 1.5 people to do. Thanksgiving came and people became focused in the holidays--the job market dried up. I was about to fire up the job search again and now this.

How did I feel?

Since I had been a manager, the process was very familiar to me. However, this was one of the very few times I was on the receiving end. I really wasn't sad--I felt a bit relieved. Short of leaving the job for another, this was an excellent way to leave. When interviewing, I can really say that I was laid off for lack of work. They were planning to reduce the division I was in.

So what's next..

I applied for unemployment. I have applied two prior times--1983 and 2000. In 2000, the company that I was working for ceased operations. Since, by law, I received two month's severance--I was ineligible for unemployment payments. Fortunately, at the end of two months, I found my next job.

I'll take a few days off to clear my head. I have contacted vendors and friends--put the word out that I'm back on the the job search, that is. Clean up a few things around the house. I also start a programing class this next week.

What for the future? For the first time in a long time, I have different directions I could go. I will find a job. If I have to work part time--No Problem. I have never been afraid of work. I just need to keep my spirits up and persevere.

Or I could just stay home and be a kept man.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ok, I finally fell victim to....

I finally bought an iPod.

I had resisted up to now. It was very expensive in my opinion just to play music.

What sold me? I had a friend that purchased one and had it plugged into his car. He has a Music Keg (Kenwood Hard Drive) hooked up too. He told me that he hardly ever uses it. He really loves his iPod.

Then I started looking at the Classic. As you have read from my previous posts, I fly up to Reno on a regular basis. I have tried to watch movies on the way up with both the laptop and portable DVD Player. Both were very clumsy to pull out and set up. The DVD player battery only lasts an hour and the flight is over an hour especially with a layover.

This iPod (80 gig) will last up to 5 hours playing video and 14 hours just playing music. It will hold 15,000 songs and untold movies. With that much room, I can store all of my music and then some, all on a device that is a little wider than a pack of cigarettes and about 1/2 inch thick.

Just amazing. Even though it was expensive, I view it this way. Way back when, I bought my first hard drive for a computer--it was a 20 MG hard drive. It was used and I got for a steal at only $200. Now the iPod with 80000 times the capacity for just $50 more.

I have to hand it to Apple. The packaging was very elegant and minimal. I am used to i-Tunes for transfer. Had a few problems with iTunes conflicting with some of my software, however with an update of iTunes and reinstall of the conflicted software--it smoothed out.

Now, in case anyone from Apple reads this, i do have a list of demands for the next generation of iPods:

1) Include an AC power unit. After spending that kind of money--you would think they would include one. They do not.

2.) Reduce pricing at the Apple Store. Pricing at the Apple Store is very high. To get that AC adapter, you would need to spend $26 for it. Now I bought just a charging unit with an AC and Car adapter for only $19 (Not Apple brand) at Radio Shack.

3) Get a sales force at said Apple Store to be able to let me as a consumer play with their equipment. The Salespeople at Apple Store are not much help. I guess when you can't open up the Macs or other equipment--you do not learn much about it.

All in all, I really like my iPod. I am trying to interest Valerie in getting one, however she is having more fun with her Nintendo DS...trying to reduce her Brain Age from 69 to at least her real age.

Now to load all that stuff..