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10 weeks of oblivion.

It's been 10 weeks since my last post (according to LJ at any rate). If anyone is wondering what I've been up to all that time, the answer is pretty much nothing. I still haven't found a job in all that time and am now on UI and food stamps and getting pretty dejected. At my age I've seen several economic downturns and at one point decades ago, I was about a week away from living out of my car but I always came out of it and I know I will come out of this too. But,....I have never seen a recession (why won't people fess up and call this a depression???) as deep as this. I'm used to competing with 30-40 applicants for a job and at least getting interviews with about half the jobs applied for (I have a great resume and an even better interview style) but what I'm not used to is having to compete with over a 1000 applicants (and in some cases over 4000) for a single position. Most of the employers I have been able to talk with have said they're so swamped with applicants they just take the 1st 50 or so from the top of a pile and circular file the rest. I expanded my search area out to a 50 mile radius and still can't find suitable employment. I finally lowered my sites significantly last week and started looking at jobs that pay nearly minimum wage which I can get to w/o paying too much to commute back and forth to the site and am still not finding anything. I need to find something at this point or I run the risk of competing with the school kids looking for summer jobs in another month. Every day is an endless routine of visiting several job sites to view the same 5 or 6 jobs for OTR truckers or nurses for nursing homes (neither of which I qualify for or can do). Then filling out neumerous government online forms to get the monies that help pay the bills.
The last week was especially depressing as it was overcast and drizzly most of the week and my littlest cat Sunshine developed pneumonia. I gave her antibiotics but she's had an immune system issue (a corona virus) since she was a kitten and always had a weak metabolism lending itself to her contracting all sorts of upper respiratory infections. This time the bug was tougher than the meds and last night she expired in my lap on the couch while I held her and petted her and tried to make her passing easier (they always die on a weekend or holiday when the vets are closed). I've had dozens of cats die on me for all sorts of reasons over the course of 60 years and it never gets easier speaking from experience, although my knowledge of how to cope with the event is more extensive. Yes it's a natural event and it was her time (even thought she was only 2 years old) and there was nothing anyone else could have done to pull her out of it. Some of us just aren't slated to live long happy lives. I buried her in the back yard last night and noticed the clouds were starting to break up and the stars were starting to shine through. I woke up this morning and most of the cats were on the bed. Awake and quiet (not pestering for breakfast) and just sitting and watching the sun shine in through the bedroom window or watching me as I watched them. Anthropomorphising an animal is considered silly or sentimental by some but anyone who has ever really taken the time to get to know their pet, knows they all have different personalities and feel most of the same emotions as we do but express it in their own ways. I had the distinct impression from my little pride that they all knew Sunshine was gone and wasn't coming back. Some of them have seen their pride mates die before and some haven't but all seemed to know what had happened. They ate breakfast quietly and settled down to stare out the various windows rather than bounce around the house as they usually do after eating. I fed the one outdoor cat Grumpus who was busy sniffing the freshly turned earth of the new grave out back and looked around at the yard which was over grown with new grass and weeds from the previous week. After a cup of coffee and a muffin I grabbed the weed popper and weeded the lawn. The day is quite beautiful, very spring like and just cool enough to keep you from working up a sweat as you work. It's been quiet in the neighborhood too. Kids stayed indoors and only one other neighbor bothered to come out all morning. I had a simple lunch and looked at my furry gang now sleeping in their various favorite nooks and crannies with their favorite companions and marveled on how nice it must be at times to have a short term memory. I looked around and decided to post this as a sort of memorial to Sunshine and all that have gone before her (and will follow). Curious how death events always raise the same questions on the meaning of life. What's the point of living and creating memories only to lose them all at the end? Why have offspring and die in seemingly endless repetition? Is there a God and if so why take the young and seemingly undeserving early and leave all the nasty and seemingly deserving to reach advanced old age? Then I look at my cats sleeping peacefully and realize that those questions aren't important to them. As long as they are loved NOW and remembered NOW, ... that's all that matters. Being remembered years down the road is apparently just a bonus...for humans...silly creatures that we are.

The slooooows.

Got a late start this morning. But, when you're not working and have nowhere to be that happens sometimes. Did the morning rituals and got the cats settled, then sat down with a breakfast burrito and home fries smothered in Santiagos hot green chili (and I do mean Smokin!). The bottled stuff you can get in stores tastes the same but freezing it ruins the consistancy and makes it clumpy and watery. You have to reheat it on the stove to get it back into shape (somewhat). No job hits yet and nothing new posted on the net so after playing around in Canhascheeseburger.com making LOLpics and posting them, I hopped in the car and just cruised the streets, finally getting a haircut at a new barbershop. Just nothing going on today. I'm thinking I'll have to expand my job search maybe to Longmont and possibly to Cheyenne (though they've little manufacturing up there). Came home and napped for an hour then pulled out the Hofner Guitar and gave it a through cleaning and oiled the fret board. Need those humidifiers!!! After this post I reckon I'll watch the Matrix (#1) with a bowl of popcorn and then turn in. Like I said.....ssSLOOOOWwww. BTW- enjoy the LOL cats.

The old Round-a-bout!

Went to Radio Shack to get an antenna they have that is strong enough to get the stations in Denver only to find out they are out (selling fast now that everyone needs to upgrade) So, where is the closest store that has them in stock? Loveland says the clerk checking the data base, only 30 miles down the highway. Thanks, I say (not really meaning it as they should be stocked up on a hot item if they know it's hot). Oh well I think to my self, I can get those guitar humidifiers in Loveland long as I've got to go there thinking of the music store down the street from the Radio Shack. Off I go in lunch hour traffic and arrive about 12:30 at the store in Loveland. I'd like one of those VU160's the Greeley store says you have please I tell the clerk. We have one of those? the clerk says. I grimace, according to the data base the clerk in Greeley checked you should have 2 I reply. Sold them this morning says he with a smile. Have you checked Longmont? They have 3 stores. I don't want to go 40 miles if I can avoid it I say. Is there any closer store that has them? Checking the data base he tells me Ft. Collins 30 miles north has 4. Great! Where is that store? Which one, he asks? The store with 4 VU160's I say none to quietly. Well I think they have 2 at the main store and 2 more at the out lying store in N.E. Ft. Collins. Could you CHECK to make sure they have them I ask getting somewhat peeved? Sure the clerk says and does. They have one in stock he says after getting off the phone. Call them back and tell them to hold it for me, I'll come up there right now. Sure the clerk says as he heads toward another customer. I frown but he ignores me. I step outside and decide to walk a block down the street to get the guitar humidifiers at the music store while I'm here. I get there and the place is dark. Out of buisness the sign reads. Try Spotlight Music in Ft. Collins for your music needs (there is no address or phone number for the place). I sigh and walk back to the car. I get to the main store in Ft. Collins 30 mins. later and ask the clerk for the VU160 he has on hold for me. He looks at me as if I asked for a pair of shoes size 14. The store in Loveland was supposed to have called you to put one on hold while I came up here I say. Oh says the clerk, I'll check. He's gone for 10 mins. and comes back with a 5' long box. It says VU50 on the side. That doesn't look like a VU160 I say. You wanted one of those? he says, We haven't been able to keep them in stock the HDTV change over has everyone buying new antennas. I know, I'm one of those people I say with some degree of control. Does the other store have one? I ask? I'll check he says and places a call. Yes he says, they have one left. Tell them to hold it for me I'll be right there I tell him. Now where is the store I ask the clerk when he returns. N.E. Ft. Collins (about 15 miles) he gives me directions, I thank him and jump in the car. 20 mins. and a sore neck from swinging it back and forth looking and I find the store. I run in. Do you have that VU160 I ask the clerk. Yup he says, last one, guy came in and bought 2 of the 3 we had this morning. Great I say I'll take the last one. You already got a mast he asks? What? I say, doesn't it already come with one? No he says you can get either the 5' or 10' mast, we reccomend the 10' being this far from Denver he adds. Fine I say with a forced smile, gimmy one of those too. What kind of mounting bracket does it have I ask. Doesn't he says, depends on what kind of mast and where your going to attach it. (Grrrrr) Fine, I want to attach it to the side of my house. You need a 12" side mount he says, we're out of stock on those but I have a chimmney mount if you want to do that. I don't HAVE a chimmney I say, starting to smoke myself. Who has a side mount I ask. Hmmm....he checks his computer closest store that still has any is Longmont about 40 miles sou...I KNOW WHERE LONGMONT IS! I cut in. Do they actually have one in the store and if so tell them to hold one for me. He checks and the second store has 2 left, they say they will hold one for me till 5pm. It's 3 now and the rush hour traffic is about to begin. I pay for the antenna and mast, load them in my car and head south on ever more congested roads. Eventually I got to the store in Longmont and bought the mount. Turns out they had the antenna and mast too (more grrr.) I get back to the house and as I pull in remember I forgot to get the humidifiers for the guitars and there was a music store 3 blocks from the Longmont store I could have gotten them from. It's getting dark and starting to snow so I can't start on mounting the antenna today and likely not tomorrow if the snow gets more than an inch deep tonight, sigh again. I sit down at the computer and order humidifiers at Amazon they will be here in a couple of days. A ten foot box and a ten foot mast sit on the floor in my living room with the kitties checking out the smells. I pull out a frozen dinner from the freezer (one of the lunches I would have taken to work at Kodak if I still worked there) and toss it in the microwave. So.....that's how today went. Great circle of life my butt. Hope yours was better.
I don't usually post till the end of the day when I can comment on it, but it's an odd day. I woke at 6:30am this morning (that's early by my standards). Turned on NPR and watched the sun rise on a quiet Sunday. Made the cats breakfast and set out some food for Grumpuss the golden long hair neighborhood ally cat. The sky was blue and a line of clouds could be seen over the mountains about 40 miles west of Greeley. Day was crisp (30) but clear. Went in to fix a bowl of granola with berrys and some coffee and plan the morning while watching Sunday Morning. As I finished my breakfast and tried to dig out from the pile of kittys on my lap, I noticed how dark it seemed. Looking out the window, the sky was totally overcast with dark gray clouds. I went outside again and did a 360, the blue sky was gone, completely, and had been replaced by racing thick clouds in a matter of an hour. The forecast says it will be nice till about 2pm and then deteriorate to snow this evening. I think they need to rethink that prognostication.
Got pictures to hang, laundry to run, a trip to the food store for more coffee and kibble and perhaps a few things for a nice dinner tonight (what that might be depends on the meat department specials today) also want to do some drawing and if she'll let me, de-clump the mats on my kitty Imp who looks like a Jamacan hair piece right now. I have several job tips to track down tonight (or tomorrow), the prospects around here are skimpy to say the least but do exist if you search hard enough. Spent some time last night printing out illustration commissions done for me over the past few years by various artists of a D&D character of mine named Sundown. These will go into a portfolio along with her stats and various other data about her and the adventures she has been on. I eventually want to do this for all my fictional characters but for now Sundown is acting as my test subject. I might also do this with my TaiPan characters too as soon as I have enough artwork (other than my own) on my various characters in that Fanzine. Unfortunately, my character Dr. Ajax seems to be the only one that has received much artistic attention so far (and to a lesser extent my bartender Bottles). I have several others that I've drawn and I guess they will eventually get done by others as stories for the various ships in that project get written. I'm working on a story right now and if it receives good marks from the readers I might turn my focus on the others in my retinue and see what I can do to bring them to the fore as well but writing is still new to me and I only have a limited amount of time in a day to do stuff (same excuse as everyone else, I know). It's a small project but more fun than playing solitaire for an hour. Well, better get going this morning, don't know how long the snow will hold off and no sense driving in the stuff if I don't have to.

Death of the UnderSink Monster!

Cleaning the kitty bowls in prep for filling them again (a never ending occurrence like the tides), I hit the switch for the disposal and.....nothing. Not a growl, howl, gurgle or burp. Huh, I thought, need to hit the reset switch. Got under the sink after moving a bunch of bottles and stuff and reset the disposal. I hit the switch again and....still nothing. Hmmmmm, better see if something is wedged in the blades, I think. Back under the sink and unplug the disposal (no I don't want to be called stumpy at this time of my life thank you). Grabbed my flashlight and peeled back the rubber backsplash shield and...... clean as a whistle. Hmmm, pushed the blades around to make sure they were rotating, no problem there, they turn freely. Puzzle, puzzle??? Ah silly me check the circuit breaker dummy (smacks forehead with wet hand). Open circuit breaker panel in laundry room and....no popped breakers-dang! Still just to be on the safe side I reset all the breakers on the panel (dumb...now I have to reset all the electronics in the place as everything starts beeping for attention, the cats find this quite entertaining and investigate each beeper). NOW what to do??? Perhaps the socket under the sink is bad???? I dig out my extension cord from the storage shed out back and plug in the disposal to the various kitchen outlets and....nada. The prognosis...the undersink monster must have died in it's sleep overnight. No amount of shocking, resetting, or fiddling could bring it back to the land of the living. Good news is the pathway is clear and as long as I don't dump any more food in, it will stay clear for now. Bad news is I now need to go to Home Despot and get a new monster for under the sink and spend an hour or two hooking it up and making sure nothing leaks. I hope I can find one with as much throaty authority as the old monster that could drive all the cats from the kitchen with a single menacing growl. They frown on auditioning undersink monsters at Home Despot so I'll have to take my chances that the replacement can live up to the old ones reputation. Sianarra little growler, may your afterlife be full of more tasty tidbits than your past.

Another door closes.

Well I made it official today. I turned in my tools, thanked the powers that be (or are still there), said goodbye to my co-workers for the last time, turned in my badge at HR and left Kodak behind. I then went across the street to the wind turbine company and got an application and from there the ethanol plant (the one that smells like yeast all the time) and got an app from them too. The Budweiser can company is also in that park (the Bud plant is in Ft. Collins) but they are having layoffs too so I didn't stop in. There's also a construction site going up for Front Range energy that will support the wind turbine industry with components when it comes on line later this year, but I'd like to get something locked in now rather than later. Green seems to be the way to go just now, especially with the administration promising to pour money into alternative energy companies and support science based programs. I figure I still have about 10 or 12 useful work years left if nothing major gives out, so why not go with the flow one more time. If the industry tanks next decade I'll be ready for the retirement home anyway, so what's to lose?
Got my TV converter box today but have to wait till tomorrow to get the new antenna as it wasn't in stock locally. Rabit ears just don't cut it this far from the transmission sources. The weather continues to be 60+ this week so I should be able to install it with little effort.
I'm going to cut this short and do some sketching as I need to try to get back in that grove again. I've neglected my art for too long and the sketch pad is making me feel guilty just sitting there gathering dust. If I get something worth posting in the next day or two I'll put it up on Deviantart with the pitifully small collection I currently have there. I GOTTA start doodling more, dangit.

The big rethink.

Last nights pot roast was about the best I've made in a long time however.... the meat was tough as shoe leather (tasty but tough). So this morning I cut several very thin slices to use in sandwiches and put the rest in the slow cooker with some more mushrooms and potatoes and am turning it into beef stew. The results so far are very encouraging and I'm tempted to dive in before it"s done. Luckily I have those sandwich fixings. Today started hazy but bright. I got up about 8am instead of the typical 7ish. The news predicts beautiful weather with above normal temps all week. I fed the critters, started the washer made a bowl of granola and some coffee and watched the birds go nuts for the new suet cake in the feeder (and my cats go nutz watching THEM). I have several things to do today and feel like I have the energy t do most of them for a change. After a few days off from Kodak I'm beginning to realize how physical that job was. I still have the option of going in this week to help out and get some OT but the call I just placed with the day shift indicated they don't have but a couple of coils to run and don't know if there will be anything tonight. The regular night shift guy has been out for the past 2 weeks getting blood work done for possible kidney replacement soon so I had been picking up his slack till the layoffs occured. Looks like the layoffs hit the schedulers too as they are down to just one guy and he doesn't seem to be keeping up too well. I'm debating as too the worth of going in this last week or just turning in my badge now and walking away. I'd love to make overtime if it were available but it's not. I don't want to work on equipment I'm not trained on knowing I won't be there in a few more days. What would be the point? I also have been startled by just how lean the job pickings are just now and that I'm in direct competition with all the other people that got canned last week to get one. The longer I wait, the more of a head start the others will have on me. I'll check again this afternoon with the day shift operator but I think I've already made up my mind.
For some reason I've had a bunch of ideas for comic illustrations of the Taipan characters lately, don't know where they're coming from but I've started to write them down as I've already forgotten the first couple I had. Now if I can get some time between job hunting to start getting them on paper I'll be making progress. I also haven't heard back from any of the TaiPan staff on my story (which was supposed to be getting reviewed this past month) for any further editing so I'm going to assume it's acceptable and will deliver up the final draft in the next week or two to the editors.
While the job market looks bleak right now (and the state of the world generally sucks), I can't help but feel an overall positive attitude toward life in general from a personal point of view. Maybe I only worry when things are good and I don't know where the next problem is going to come from. When things are terrible you no longer worry about terrible and start looking for the good things to start heading for. Sorta like skiing, your always on the verge of falling over, but if you can just make it to that next flat spot.....

Departing tears

Spooky sad night last night. As mentioned last post, I got the boot on Tues. from Kodak during the layoff. I've volunteered to keep working for them till Feb. 9th when their new work schedual kicks in for those that remain and I will continue to get a paycheck from them until the end of March (which is really nice of them as they could have just shown us all the door w/o anything). By working for them till the 9th, I can get as much overtime as I want (according to them). The problem so far however is that there hasn't been any work to do. I was supposed to work this weekend but nothing is schedualed. Since I'm getting paid regardless of weather I actually come in or not I decided to go back home but on a whim, I attended a small manufacturing meeting being held by the floor manager Tim (the guy who hired me) for the remaining employees before taking off for the weekend. In a way I almost wish I hadn't. I got word from management on Wed. morning as I was getting off shift that I was being let go along with all the other conditionals on my shift. What I forgot was that the other shifts that were schedualed to come in later that week hadn't gone through the process yet, so the layoffs continued to occur during the whole week up through Fri. afternoon (yesterday). I found out at the meeting last night that the layoffs were more than expected (more than the 20% we were told, about 1400 total) for our facility. And after a week of laying off their co-workers, the managers and office staff were then called into the facility managers office and were either kept or let go as well depending on if their positions were being eliminated or their performance wasn't stellar. Out of the 5 shift managers, 5 supervisors and 10 team leads, ......only 2 managers and 5 leads were kept (my team manager, supervisor and both leads got axed). Tim was one of the people kept and as he told everyone how things had transpired and how long he had known most of those let go, he actually broke down and cryed. He was as much in the dark as those present how things would be rearranged and how the crews would be redistributed. The machines were idle when I came in last night (something very forboding when you're used to hearing the cacophony of hydraulics, compressed air and whirring machinery in a space the size of a large shopping mall). They were still idle when I left 45 min. later and walked by small groups of people quietly talking amongst themselves. I got several pats on the back and words of support from many of them but I could see the hollow looks in their faces. Not only are their jobs going to be considerably harder with the loss of so many co-workers (and good friends) but it was clear they were still very much afraid for their futures as this could just be the beginning if things don't turn around soon. One thing not spoken but quite clear to me was that the entire plant might be in danger of closing and the manufacturing moved to Columbus or some other facility if orders don't pick up. Kodak itself could be in jeopardy if many more national newspapers close down and lithographic plate orders are lost as a result. I'm leaving all that behind me shortly but even though I only worked there since Aug. of last year I can't help but really feel for these folk as many of them have never held another job or experienced a layoff. The whole town of Greeley (as well as Windsor and local small towns) are in shock since Swift, the other big company in the area just had layoffs as well and is going through internal investigations due to several head ons with the government. I know I'll find something as I'm willing to do just about anything for a buck if it's legal and pays the bills. I've done a great many jobs in my life and am used to interviewing well. Experience is a great plus in life, I recommend everyone do something outside of their experience for the boost to self esteem if nothing else. I heard an radio interviewer use the depression word yesterday for the first time and I can't really argue with that given the projections for 2009, I just hope for all our sakes that it's wrong.
The weather is nice today (50's) so I might go out and do some yard cleaning in hopes of raising my spirits. Monday I start the process of looking for the next job. There was an add on line yesterday locally for sheppards...I'm not kidding. If the pay weren't just $750 per month plus room and board I might have looked into it. Problem is cats aren't very good as herders and tend to stray as much as the sheep. Then....there's also that job as an auto salesman ....HAAAhahahahahahahahahah!!!!!

Dem Resession Depression Blues

Well..... the news came a couple of days earlier than anticipated but pretty much as expected. All the conditional employees at Kodak (self included) got the boot. We and about 20 full timers were given the news last night. I was personally thanked by both my supervisors and the Dept. manager for a great job and was told they were very sorry to lose me but they didn't have that much say in the matter as it was mostly time in service that determined who stayed and who left. Yeah....right, whatever. As the French say "C'est la vie!". Unlike about half that left today, I will stay on till the 9th of Feb. with 2 others when the new schedual goes into effect. They are giving me as much OT as I'd like and will pay me through March 30th at base rate with full benifits still in place. Guess it really is the best layoff I've had to go through. Most places just hand you the pink slip and walk you to the door. So I guess I can chalk up another career to economic misfortune and hit the unemployment line tomorrow. I am not going to be proud and dignified this time. I'm going to ask for anything I can get. Have to pull out the resume and add Kodak to the list too. To bad, I'd hoped to stick with them a while. The job was tough physically, but the people were great and the benifits much better than most places. It's going to be tough finding another job in the present climate. K-Mart & Circuit City have closed. Swift and Kodak have had big layoffs. Several small buisnesses have also closed their doors in town and even the local government is dropping people from their payrolls due to lack of tax base revenue. The local paper had a total of 12 jobs listed 2 for auto sales (HAAAAhhaaahHaaah!), and 3 for OTR drivers. The rest were for nursing homes staff and medical therapists (both of which I'll probably need in a few more years). At least I have a couple of weeks with a paycheck comming in in which to try and find something. Don't know if there is such a thing as a recession proof job (doubt it) but I need to find something less prone to downsizing than what I've done in the past. And a regular 9 - 5 would be nice too for a change. As ever I shall cast my fortune to the wind and see where ere it leads me.

Chinease New Year!

I was born in 1949,the year of the Ox by the Asian calendar. 2009 is also the year of the Ox. I don't know if this portends something good or not but suspect it just might. I'm not much into Tarrot, astrology, palm readings and such ilk. I believe you make your own fortune in this world and sow what you reap. It's hard to figure however why some people put so little effort into somethings and get so much benefit in return. Is it skill, timing, training, inside knowledge, or something more? That's why, although I don't put much stock in such things, I do enjoy reading the proclamations of pending fortune or doom by those supposedly in the know. I'm not asian (at least not for many dozens of generations back as far as anyone can tell) so I don't know if this Ox thing has any effect on me. Still, it's fun to think that it might. Hope it's good fortune. We all could use some of that about now. I need to take my SUV into the tire shop today. I've a mysterious recurring flat tire that keeps cropping up about once a month on the same tire which is practically new. Valve stems are good and no punctures have been found but this is the third time in as many months I've come out to my car to a complete flat (this last time at the grocery store on a Sunday night in the snow). I'm beginning to suspect the rim might have a crack that causes the leak only on very cold days when the metal shrinks. I hope not as it's a custom rim and will cost to have it fixed or replaced. Maybe that mystic Ox can do his thing and the mechanic will find a simpler (and cheaper) fix. Here's hoping on some good fortune. Bully!