Thursday, August 29, 2013

Would Sherlock Holmes wear colored chinos?

Throughout my early childhood I enjoyed solving mysteries.  My first partner in crime was Encyclopedia Brown, a 12 year-old as clever as I considered myself to be.  After a few years, I widened my mystery solving circle to include the Hardy Boys, including the book and the short-lived TV show starring Shaun Cassidy, Mr. “Da Doo Ron Ron” himself.  Interesting side note, he is the son of Mama Partridge, Shirley Jones.  His co-star was Parker Stevenson, possessor of the manliest feathered hair in TV history and ex-husband of one of my favorite stars, Kirstie Alley.  I love Ms. Alley fat or thin; the same way I feel about Delta Burke, Sara Rue and Oprah.
                The original definition of the word clue was “a ball of thread”.  This is why you “unravel” a mystery.  Those of you who have read my southern mystery (“A Gone Pecan” – available at your favorite online retailer) already knew that.  Those of you, who haven’t bothered to buy my book, shame on you.  You’re the reason I’m destitute!  Yes, I said destitute!  Well, not really.  I just like the ego boost of a book sale.  I’m only human, y’all.
                Those of you who are familiar with my life know The Dad crochets, so lately I have been on a roll; unraveling threads both literally and figuratively.  The figurative threads have been in relation to my father’s sudden uptick in visits outside our home.  Prior to the last few months, he would only leave the house to go to his doctor appointments as I refused to take him anymore; hoping it would help him explore the area where we live.  All it did was have him retaliate by refusing to drive me to the airport when I have to travel.  But that is a small price to pay to help him alleviate some of his stress about living “not in the South”.
                When he moved in with me I took over his finances as his financial savvy is on par with my small engine repair skills and, at his request, he must justify his “pocket money” each week.  I’ll share our most recent conversation.
                The Dad (TD):  “I’m go’n need my pocket money for Wensdy.  I’ve gotta go to the fruit market.”
                Me: “The fruit market?”
                TD:  “You know…the…fairy market?  Flea market?  Fillin’ market?”
                Me:  “Fillin’ market?  Like a fillin’ station?  Do you think you’re in Mayberry, Sheriff Taylor?”
                TD:   Getting irritated, “No!  You know that market at the hospital.  It starts with an F.  Frito market?
                Me:  With more attitude than was probably warranted, “Do you mean the farmer’s market?”
TD:  “Yeah, that’s it.  Boy you sure are mean early in the mornin’.”
Me:  “I’ll ignore that.  How much do you need?”
TD:  “$20.  Then I can get okry, tommy-toes and some snap beans.”
Me:  “$20?  Isn’t that a bit much for veggies?  How much do they cost?”
TD:  “Well, it’s $2 a pound for okry and I get two pounds.  And it’s $2 a pound for tommy-toes and I get about 3 pounds and then it’s $2 a pound for snap beans and I get about 2 pounds of those.  So that’s $20, just like last week.”
Me:  “That’s actually less than $15.  Where’s your change from last week?”
TD:  “I spent it all.  It costs $20.”
Me:  “So you spent $4 on okra, $6 on tomatoes and $4 on snap beans?”
TD:  “Yep.”
Me:  “Six plus four plus four is 14, not 20.  So how many cookies did you buy?”
TD:  “Just one…um…I mean, none.”
Me:  “Really?  So how much fried chicken did you buy?”
TD:   Suddenly defensive, “None, Mr. Smart Guy.  They didn’t have fried chicken.”
Me:  “So you had pizza instead?”
TD:  “Yes.  I mean, No!”
Me:  “Uh, huh, let’s look at the old blood sugar diary shall we?”
TD:  “You should’ve been a detective, butt hole.”
Me:  “I agree but figuring out your spending habits is like playing Trivial Pursuit with Mike Tyson.  It doesn’t take much effort.”
TD:  “Why don’t you go play in the traffic?”
Me:  “I love you, too, old man.”

And that is all I’m saying.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Uncle Dusty's Guide to 'The Princess Bride'

Several friends and I recently viewed, for the eleventy-fifth time, the modern classic ‘The Princess Bride’ in a park in San Francisco with 3,000 other citizens of the Bay Area.  If you’ve ever been to San Francisco in August, you know that nighttime outdoor activities require two things: a jacket and a tolerance for second-hand marijuana smoke. 

As I sat enjoying my picnic dinner with my posse, I gave much thought to the many lessons you learn through experiences and my repeat viewings of this particular movie have taught me many things.  So herewith I present Uncle Dusty’s Guide to 'The Princess Bride'.

1.       True love might be right under your nose.

2.       Having a giant for a friend is an awesome thing.  A rhyming giant is better still.

3.       Beef stew and a hot water/cold water treatment is apparently a cure for chronic drunkenness.

4.       Revenge is all-consuming and not healthy; however, the outcomes often elicit applause from a crowd.

5.       Love is somewhat like floating in silk into a giant’s arm…near four white horses.

6.       Hateful tyrants are typically cowards and seem to enjoy wearing light blue velvet to formal events.

7.       An out of control ego can cause your death.

8.       Never start a land war in Asia.

9.       Billy Crystal is sorta funny.

10.   It’s always better to have a wheelbarrow.

11.   Just because you don’t think someone is following you, doesn’t mean they aren’t.

12.   Albinos have historically had limited career options.

13.   Accents are really funny especially during a wedding.

14.   Most wars are based on false information and outright lies.

15.   Mostly dead is still alive. So if you’re not dead, you’re not done.

And that is all I’m saying.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Uncle Dusty's Guide to Job Interviews

I’ve been in involved in selecting new hires for government and private sector for the past 15 years and I am here to tell you, most interviews are painful because most people aren't skilled in this area.  There are so few people who have great interview skills, even at top levels.  As the summer draws to a close and many of you are looking for work, herewith are a few tips to help you land your dream job.  Or at least that job you’ll take until your dream job opens up.  FYI, the job of stopping bad drivers and taking their licenses is MY dream job, so back off. 
1.       Before you apply for any position, have someone proof read your resume.  To ensure you don’t miss any errors read you should read your resume backwards.  It won’t make sense and each word spelling will stand out.  Spell check only finds words that are misspelled; not the wrong word spelled correctly.

2.       Make each resume specific for the job for which you’re applying.  Do not put generic information about vague career goals.  I want to know why you want to work for me in my specific department in my specific business, not that you want to “enter an exciting career where you can put to use your skills.”  Everybody everywhere wants that.  It’s like saying ‘World Peace’ in a beauty pageant.  And on that note, the Miss America and Miss America Outstanding Teen programs offer amazing opportunities for young women to learn interview skills.  Dudes, all you have is me.

3.       Always dress appropriately for your interview:

Men:   This means no shorts, ever.  No matter the job, at the very least wear khakis and a button down, even if it’s Fun Time Water Park or Tractor Supply.  If your job will be indoors, wear a tie.

Women:  This means no mini-skirts or belly shirts, ever.  Unless you are applying for a job at Hooter’s.  Then you are on your own and should be somewhat ashamed of yourself.

4.      You are a product.  Learn to sell your product.  If you can’t sell you, who can?  I am looking to pay money for a product.  Tell me why I should buy your product.  What are the specifics of your product?  Why should I buy you?  Don’t try to sell me a ’73 Vega when I want a ’13 Lexus.  If you think you are a ’73 Vega, maybe you shouldn’t be applying for jobs.

5.       Never answer any question with, “I don’t know.”  If you’re not familiar with a process or don’t have that specific experience, tell me what you do you have.  For example, you could say, “While I haven’t worked with the SQ9000 inventory system, I did reorganize the inventory at ABC Company and I feel I could quickly learn your system.”  Give me something that shows your ability to think on your feet.

6.       Give specific examples of your achievements; details are important.  How much you increased sales, how you standardized processes, how you analyzed data and used that information to increase efficiency, how many people you trained in how many weeks, etc.  If you are new to the workforce, tell me some achievements from school or extra-curricular activities.  Volunteer work is still work.

7.       If you are afraid to brag in an interview, you don’t need to be in that interview.  If you don’t think you’re awesome, why should I?

8.       On that note, yes, you may be wonderful but you’re not that wonderful.  Nobody is that wonderful.   Don’t be arrogant, be confident.  There is a difference.

9.       Most careers are about managing relationships.  Tell me how you develop and maintain working relationships.  Do not say, “I am a people person”.  Everyone is a people person.  Okay, maybe not Charles Manson, Nancy Grace or my Dad, but most everyone else.

10.   Always be early for your interview.  DO NOT BE LATE…EVER!  When it is somewhere around 10 minutes before your appointment, present yourself to the assistant/receptionist/secretary and say, “I’m here for an interview with Mr./Mrs. BlahBlah.  I know I’m a little early.  Thank you.”  Then sit and wait, politely and quietly and not playing candy crush on your cell phone.  For that matter, do not bring your cell phone into the interview.  To be taken seriously as a candidate for a job, you must show yourself to be serious about the job.  If you don’t think I won’t ask my assistant about how you interacted with her, you are wrong.

11.   Research the business you want to join.  Visit their website.  Talk to some of their employees.  Learn specifics.  You’d be surprised how few people actually do that.  Stand out from the crowd and outscore your competition.

12.   Make sure you talk about all the things you feel you should in the interview, but don’t overshare.  If you are questioning whether you are over-sharing, you probably are.

13.   If you don’t get the opportunity to mention something you feel I need to know, take time at the end of the interview, when I ask, “Is there anything else you’d like me to know?”, to add pertinent information and leave me with a picture of why I should select you.  The last thing I should be thinking when you leave the room is “THAT is who I’m hiring”, not “Wow, THAT was painful” or “Really?  He wore a sweatshirt?”  Both of those scenarios have happened.

14.   Always thank the interviewer and whomever else with whom you interacted.  Send a thank you note or e-mail the next day to the interviewer or panel.  Do not send a thank you text, ever.

15.   If you haven’t heard from me in the time frame I gave you, call me for a status on the selection process.  You should never be annoying but you should show your interest.  If you’re questioning whether you’re annoying, you probably are.
I hope this helps you, but if you have any questions, just let me know.  I am driven, driven, to help others.  I’m a giver, y’all.  It’s what I do.  And that is all I’m saying.