Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sorry I missed your call...

Seeing first run movies is not something I usually do. “Public Enemies” was an exception last week. Kathy said she would treat for rental movie—one I would watch, since we rarely agree on what’s “good”. Blockbuster has a deal right now whereby for ten dollars you can take out as many movies or video games as you like for one week, one at a time. Woo-hoo! I went for it. Wish I had known about it during my vacation week.

There were four movies that I knew I wanted to see: Taken, Defiance, Gran Torino, and Knowing. I watched Taken tonight and promptly switched it out for Defiance, which I will watch tomorrow some time. Have you seen Taken? It’s sure to ruin many college age daughters’ plans for a European adventure this summer. It is a guy movie, I suppose, with lots of car chases, fighting, shooting and the like. It was also the fastest movie I ever saw as the 90 minutes or so just shot by. I felt my heart rate rocket and honest to goodness I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

This afternoon I knocked off another Robert B. Parker novel, a western called “Resolution”. Very fun read with wonderful good guys who hardly say two words at a time—in other words, typical Parker dialogue.

So why this burst of entertainment-seeking activity? I caught up on my New Yorker magazines.

Back on Wednesday three of us from the office volunteered at a local TV station to work a phone bank where people called in with job search questions. The first call I took was from a woman in her fifties who had been temping for the past ten years. I was on with her for half an hour. She managed to shoot down every idea I came up with. I felt I was kind of representing the TV station, so I didn’t tell her what I really thought. Shall I tell you? Well, she’s dug herself a pretty good hole over the last ten years—employers might now wonder what’s wrong with her, that she hadn’t taken a full time job in all that time.

Many of the other calls I took were from people whom I am not equipped to help, at least not over the phone: lots of blue collar guys who did die casting, mechanical assembly—that sort of thing. One poignant call was from a guy who did have some college and I was able to encourage him to get back to school somehow. As we talked he eventually told me he had a felony arrest, but no conviction. I didn’t ask him about the details, nor did he volunteer them.

Another was from a nice little old lady (I imagine) who had been retired for the past fourteen years. She had worked for thirty years in one company, and was now concerned about people who could have served as references, but whom she can longer find. I think that thirty years is reference enough. Why was she returning to work? She had been raising her grandson since the day he was born. Now he’s a teenager and no longer needs her 24/7 care. See what I mean? Nice lady.

It is hard to stay optimistic with announcements like last week’s of another 400,000 jobs gone. Makes you wonder where we will be in another year or two.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


This is my ninth day of vacation, if you count last weekend. The first four days were devoted to painting the garage, the rest to messing around in the house and doing decadent things like going to the movies in the middle of the morning. It’s been raining for several days now and cold—cold enough for some Barry’s Tea in fact.

On a recent warmer day, I was sitting in my favorite chair on the deck thinking if this is what retirement would be like. I could see my retired sixty-three year old neighbor who rarely leaves his house and I thought, boy—my world would be pretty small without work or something to do. Kathy assured me that I would be volunteering somewhere probably, doing more at church. I suppose so. There are still four more years before I have to deal with that, though.
Tomorrow everyone is off for the Fourth of July holiday, so Kathy and I wanted to do something together, get out, go somewhere.

When I asked her what she had a taste for, she thought of a casino about an hour and half away in Pennsylvania, some place where we’ve never been. I was a little surprised, but said sure, let’s go. We’ll bring some rolls of quarters and see what happens.

My new computer is beginning to feel more like mine and less like Bill Gates'. Dell shrunk the keyboard, and I was having trouble typing on it, since it resembled a crowded laptop board and I hate typing on a laptop. So, a genuine Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard now graces the slide out tray on my computer table. It does take a little while to get used to, but I’m starting to get the idea. It won’t fit under the table with the big plastic strip that raises the front of the board, so I remove that and just snap it back on if I have any extensive typing to do.

At first I was skeptical about buying such a thing, but I went to Best Buy to try it out and when I looked at my hands I was surprised to see that they naturally fell off to the sides anyway. The keyboard I have is not too swoopy with those crazy separate sides for left and right, but seems to be just right for what I need. Best Buy wanted $80 for it, so I got it from for $50.

One more note on the new computer: I finally got my “Favorites” over to the bookmark section so I can easily find all your blogs again.

Oh--what movie did I see? "Public Enemies" with Johnny Depp. It was something that I knew that Kathy would never want to see, and I was curious about Depp, since I've seen him in other things like Willy Wonka and Benny and Joone. He was pretty amazing. You're left feeling sad about his death, but you have to remember that Dillinger killed a lot of people himself. Even though you know how it will end, it's still a good story.