Blue Monday, revisited

Like most of the workforce, I loved the weekend and was a bit blue about returning to work on Mondays, even though I loved my job at the newspaper. Now I get depressed as the weekend approaches and more hopeful as the new work week starts.

The main reason is, as the week winds down and I don’t hear from any perspective employers, well, that’s just sad. I keep telling myself I’ll hear something on Monday, when those companies to which I applied will finally get back to me. If not Monday, then Tuesday. As Tuesday comes and goes, for sure on Wednesday, no? Well, there’s still two more days. But, really, after Thursday, I kind of give up, figuring people pretty much shut down on Friday as their gear up for their time off. Of course, for me, everyday is a weekend.

So I fill the time looking for work, blogging (hoping someone will recognize my skills and contact me for a creative position), doing chores, fooling around on the ukulele. Looks like it’s time for another song.

What’s especially frustrating — and I know this wounds like a combination of whining and false modesty — but I often hear from friends who are astonished that I’m having such a hard time, given my track record as a writer/author. They don’t understand why I don’t just march into The New York Times or Star-Ledger and, boom, “You’re hired!” (Of course, they say that; that’s why they’re my friends.)

Another day older and deeper in debt.


Another opening, another show (and another closing)

Pursuant to our recent coverage of a disappointing experience at an actual job fair, let’s move on to a disappointing experience at a virtual job fair.

Image result for AARP virtual career fair

Being above 50, I am a reluctant but proudly (proudly reluctant?) member of AARP, although that name seems a bit incorrect since I don’t know how many people are retired at 50. They’re very helpful with discounts and support in various aspects of “advanced” life, and once in awhile they host virtual job fairs designed with that demographic in mind.

There are lots of helpful links (I learned the elements of a decent elevator pitch), but none  of the jobs — again — are not something in which I would be interested or qualified. One of them even wanted to charge applicants $7.95 for a background check before they would even consider them for the position. The most interesting employer at the fair was the Washington Nationals. Kind of surprised they would go this route in their search and wished I lived in the DC area because I would be all over some of those gigs just because baseball.

Like the physical career get-together, most of the jobs seem to be involved in some sort of sales. But many of these things were all over the map, literally. Just struck me as a bit odd: If you have a virtual set-up, shouldn’t these be virtual jobs? That is, something you can do from your home computer? Just a thought.




When worries turn to blues

As I mentioned in a previous entry, yesterday I attended a job fair. I polished up my resume, brought a wad of business cards, and headed out to a hotel on a local highway. The atmosphere was a gloomy as the weather, a cold, grey day with intermittent rain. was a few minutes early and went into the large conference room where about 100 job-seekers crowded together to hear presentations from the companies looking for help. Now, I know the idea of these things is to network, but overhearing some of the conversations led me to believe that none of my fellow searchers were members of my field.

A few people were chatting (there’s always at least one real chatterbox who offers way too much personal information), but most were somber. Thank goodness for smartphones; they can provide a protective cocoon, giving the illusion of being busy so you can be left alone. I kept notes on mine for this entry.

The “host” came out to warm up the crowd with jargon, cliches, and a lot of sports metaphors, as well as a lot of “self-actualization” talking points. I learned I have two potential strikes against me: age and being in a dying profession. Great. He also put the knock on on-line job searches, which also filled me with good feelings.  (At one point he even tried to peddle a self-help book. That’s when I considered walking out.)

Then the parade began. One after another, they came out to tell us — very quickly in almost a carnival barker style — about the great companies of which they were proud to be a part. The potential for six-figure salaries, paid vacations, etc. Before the proceedings began, I had overheard someone say that most of these would be sales positions. Hey, I am willing to reinvent myself just so far. Sure enough, just about all of the 10 or so companies wanted sales help, connected with the kind of cold-calling that drives me crazy. Two were major brands that you know well, another was a solar panel company, another dealt with per-arranged funeral plans, another few were from insurance outfits. The final presenter was a woman, dressed in hot pink, promoting Mary Kay as a career choice. Yeah, I wonder how many men they hire (isn’t that discriminatory?) The only one that seemed remotely interesting for an independent soul like me was some sort of insurance claims adjuster, but something tells me that’s not 100 percent legit either: you have to become licensed which means someone is making money off the course you probably need to take. the speakers were finished, the majority of us walked down the hallway to another conference room where the representatives and their assistants held forth to individuals with further details, collecting resumes and applications, as represented by this photo (not actually from this event).  I wonder if the represenatives get paid per enlistee. Even though I had almost no interest, I handed over a resume and filled out a form for the claims adjuster. What the hell, might as well do something while I was there. Maybe they’ll get in touch, but being honest and looking at what’s on my CV, I doubt it.

To make matters worse, today I feel like crap. Maybe it’s a psychological manifestation. Maybe it was the weather (I left my overcoat and hat in the car to have less stuff to carry).

And I didn’t hand out a single business card.

Job fair worries tomorrow I’m going to a local job fair. Never been to one of these before. Have no idea what to expect.

The email said to “dress professionally,” but exactly what does that mean? Just look at TV these days: millennials working for a tech start-up do not dress the same as lawyers. My daughter works for a media company and wears ripped pants just about every day. I was in Manhattan a couple of months ago (I don’t get out much) and was amazed to see that this was pretty much the UOD (uniform of the day)… for women and men.

I didn’t wear a suit when I was working at the newspaper unless I was attending a function, although I did wear a tie every day of my own accord (the only one of the male population at the office); I do believe people treat you better if you dress well. The exceptions were “casual Friday,” half-days, and from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but tomorrow I’m expected to suit-up. Let’s see if it makes a difference.


What are you worried about, Ross Douthat?

From “The Tempting of the Media” in yesterday’s New York Times:

As the press eases into covering President Trump, however, I have a different worry. Mainstream journalism in this strange era may be freer than the fearful anticipate, but not actually better as the optimists expect. Instead, the press may be tempted toward — and richly rewarded for — a kind of hysterical oppositionalism, a mirroring of Trump’s own tabloid style and disregard for truth.

This mirroring is a broad danger, applying to more institutions than the press. Trump comes to power as a destroyer of norms, a flouter of conventions, and everyone will be tempted to join the carnival — to escalate when he escalates, to radicalize whenever he turns authoritarian. The cycle of norm-breaking that began with Robert Bork’s defeated nomination or Newt Gingrich’s ascent (depending on your politics) may escalate on both sides of the aisle. Left-wing protest movements will be tempted more easily toward both absurdity and violence. Deep state institutions will be tempted to become more restive and politicized. Politicians will be tempted, like Marco Rubio talking about Trump’s manhood on the campaign trail, into surrendering their dignity in an effort to be at home in Trumpland.

What are you worried about, Thomas Friedman?

In his commentary piece in yesterday’s New York Times, Friedman wrote:

[N]ow that Trump is about to put his hand on the Bible and be sworn in, I’ve never been more worried for my country. It’s for many reasons, but most of all because of the impulsive, petty and juvenile tweeting the president-elect has engaged in during his transition.

It suggests an immaturity, a lack of respect for the office he’s about to hold, a person easily distracted by shiny objects, and a lack of basic decency that could roil his government and divide the country. I fear that we’re about to stress our unity and institutions in ways not seen since the Vietnam War.

You can read the entire essay here.

I heard Trump in an interview yesterday say he did not like to tweet.

So don’t! Why do you you feel you have to respond to every slight, every negative comment. Better you should think about how you’re already breaking one of your main promises by “draining the swamp,” yet wanting to appoint unqualified people to your administration who will just add to the pollution.

I don’t plan on watching the inauguration, but I must admit a part of me is curious, just to see if anything crazy happens.

“Social” worries

As in social media.

I belong to a number of journalism boards across numerous networking platforms. From time to time I get announcements/updates on what my colleagues are up to. I usually scan-and-skim, but one caught my eye. one came from an author who posted, “I am wondering why I am not congratulated for my biography…”???

(Actually I believe she meant “autobiography,”I went to check out the thread on the site, but it had been removed. I wonder why?)

I further investigated the author and found him/her to be — how should I put — overly dramatic. Now I don’t know this person. Maybe there’s a great deal of drama in their life. The stories are dire and very personal and a combination and extremely sad and angry. And I could relate, but just to a small degree. reader copies for my forthcoming book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, are being sent out for possible blurbs and I heard from a couple of the recipients. Nice things, to be sure. But when I shared one of their posts on Facebook, I must admit, I was disappointed by the lack of response. Now, I don’t have the 10,000 contacts the the person above claim, but I still thought it would garner a bit more attention. I’ll just chalk it up to the holiday weekend and move on.

The lesson is: if you’re looking for affirmation, social media is the wrong place. I have never met or actually spoken to the majority of my FB friends and Twitter followers. It’s nice to be praised, sure, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

“Pen-manship” worries love me a good fountain pen. My parents didn’t leave me much, but they did leave me a handful of these treasures, probably from the 1940s- 1950s. Sadly, several of them are no longer functional.

I have purchased a few on my own over the years, preferring the really old-fashioned kinds where you have to refill them from a bottle, rather than use a cartridge.

I bring this up on a whim, extrapolating that people who don’t read probably don’t write much either. If they do, I’m guessing it’s on a computer rather than by hand. And by hand, I mean with a pen. You all know what a pen is, right? Don’t want to assume. After all, these days most communiques come in the form or emails and text messages. Letter-writing is a lost form. I wonder if greetings cards are pretty much it. And how much writing is involved in that? You just add a “Dear _____” and “Love, me” and you’re done.

Allow me to school those of you who do not. The following comes from, a site devoted to the short lived sci-fi TV program set in the “not-so-distant future.” pen is a writing implement traditionally used to apply ink to a surface, usually paper, for writing or drawing.

In the Almost Human universe, writing with such objects has almost become obsolete. Instead, electronic technology such as computers, tablets, and electronic paper are favored…

Pens have been seen on desks in the Detective and Investigation unit of the Police Precinct, but it has not been confirmed if these are tablet pens or traditional pens.

You’re welcome.

Telephone worries’s amazing how many time the phone rings during the day. Of course, you never notice it when you’re working, unless the caller leaves a message. After four rings, the message kicks in; the vast majority of the time, the caller doesn’t leave one (although I do have a feature which tells you the number that called even when they don’t).

Thanks to caller ID, I can see if I recognize the incoming number. If I don’t know you, I ain’t answering. Same goes for “private number” and unknown caller.”

That was then, this is now. Since I’m applying for jobs, I worry about not answering, fearful that this might be some prospective employer who will just move on to the next candidate. So far, that has not been the case.

A new racket is the delayed response. That’s when you pick up the phone and say hello. Then it takes a few seconds until the caller actually comes on the line. Some greet me by name, acting like I should know them, then they go into their spiel. So the trick is, if they don’t answer right away, I’m gone. Don’t waste my time, man. My wife says I should give them my cell phone number, but then I’ll get crank calls there. No, thanks.