Woodgate has something to say to which most of do … or will … relate. So, get a grip and read on …

Woodgate's View

Parts of my body that were once reliable and indispensable have turned against me.  But revenge is sweet.

damnhands

Of all the regrets that I have for getting old, it is not that my facade is wrinkled and course.   Not that my teeth are few and far apart, nor that my hair is no longer thick and brown nor my bones strong and upright.  Not even the gradual loss of vision and hearing capabilities.  I accept the fate that age deals to us all and actually relish this time that no longer insists that I try to impress the ladies with any real or imagined good looks.  In fact I have to account to very few people any more because I have outlasted many of them and in so doing am wiser and content with all that I am, warts and all.

To those who would find some aspect of my…

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People My Age

Have Started Looking Gross

We recently attended a great concert by Red Horse … a trio of singer-songwriters  … John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky, and Eliza Gilkyson.  Each of them are with the Red House label.  We have several John Gorka CDs and thoroughly enjoy his music.

At the concert, we purchased John’s “The Company You Keep”  CD. On that CD is a song entitled “People My Age.”

You should listen to his story …

The Science of Aging … Simple and in Pictures

A Facebook item from My Science Academy … The Science of Aging

We are programmed to die … but that also has a positive side.

Watch . . .

Happy Birthday Again

Yup, it is my birthday again.  At least it was when I started this article. Since the “story” is about my day, I’ll post it the day after my birthday.

Thanks to all who take a moment to think or send a thought my way today.

I’ve already received thoughts that make me smile from many parts of the world and my life. Thank you.

Birthday Signs

While Walking the Dogs this morning, I considered several potential themes for this Happy Birthday Again blog posting.  It was a friendly greeting from a neighbor that had previously seemed kinda grumpy followed by DaBoyz acting like puppies that caused “Birthday Signs” to rise to the top of the theme list.

What follows are thoughts and images that seem special today.

A special breakfast seemed in order. Waffles are a favorite of mine.

We had made a large batch of waffles this weekend and I saved several to have as breakfast options this week. One of them was special. I won’t go so far as to get excited like the “face of Jesus” types, but I remember thinking as I closed the waffle maker … “that looks like a star.”

So … since our business is named Sirius after the dog star, this seemed to have (minor) significance today.

Having waffles for breakfast got me thinking about Mom.

Actually, we have been thinking about her a lot lately.

My mother will be 90 in February. She’s been feeling her age more lately. She rallied for Thanksgiving Day, but she was too tired on Friday to attend another family gathering.

Patricia JacobsonShe can look pretty sharp and act much younger than her years, but when her blood Mom's Life in the Valley article November 2011chemistry gets out of synch she really feels it. Today my sisters took her to the ER where they are pumping fluids into her system, so we hope she will be feeling spritely, soon.

Wondering about her condition also reminded me that I should check out her latest published article.

To read her latest article click the image of the article or go to the Iowa Living website.

Cats have recently become a special interest in our home.

Years ago, I lived with cats.  Then I spent a decade or more without them in my life.  When I linked up with Lin, she said “we are a package deal” since she will always have dogs in her life. Since she has always had an allergy to cats, I am the designated cat petter.

For the last few years we have watched a feral cat survive seasonal extremes and the hazards of “being on your own” living in a big city.  She is currently living with the one surviving kitten from last year’s litter and it appears she is preparing to be a mother again.

Winter is likely to be as harsh as the previous long, cold, snowy winter and the poor kitten is likely to be pushed away when the new kittens arrive. So, after watching them appear to be eating seed that had fallen from our bird feeders, we have provided them a few meals.

We are fully aware that we may be creating our own monsters but can’t let the kitten starve or fail to assist the little momma.

DaBoyz are quite ready to great these girls, but the cats are naturally very wary … although we have seen the kitten hide herself on the patio step and consider jumping on the Cooleroo with Patryn. That could be an interesting experience for all.

The cats don’t yet know that our dogs think cats should be their friends. DaBoyz have already befriended some felines. Now, they think all cats should be ready to be their buddies. Instinct tends to get in the way.

Hang In There

This sculpture is something Lin & I found in a special shop in Kansas City when we were dating.  The artist had created several versions of these creatures.  Essentially … they are turds. You know … Shit Happens.

This guy suggests we should hang on tight when things are going badly. I wonder if the artist had any notion in the early 80’s that things could become so bad in the future. This little shit is trying to Hang In There.

This figure, Rock & A Hard Spot, hangs over the entrance to our home office. I believe it entered our lives at another time a few years back when things had gotten tough.

We appreciate it as a good piece of artwork, and as an excellent representation of a very common human condition.

A Prayer for Beer

The first birthday card I received today was from Lin & DaBoyz. Lin says the dogs strongly encouraged her purchase the card, because they thought it would be so appropriate.

If you appreciate a good lager, ale, porter, or stout, you will appreciate this Ode to Lager.

Birthday_card_Our_Lager_prayer_Beer_Brew

Two Brews

During the Thanksgiving holiday I had the good fortune to spend a few days with a friend who has been helping his neighbor with some home brewing projects.

We sampled several during the visit. As we were departing for Chicago he added a few to the thing we needed to pack. In the beer bottle picture you can see a dark “Simco” and a “Liberty” lager. that became part of my birthday celebration.

Both … very tasty. Thanks, Wally. Tell Mike to Keep up the good work.

Birthday Dinner

We ended the day sharing dinner with friends at a great restaurant called Coopers Hawk. Birthday Dessert at Coopers Hawk

Good people, great food, excellent wine & beer. At the end of the meal, Coopers Hawk presented us with a very nice dessert surprise, which included a chocolate treat and a juicy strawberry dipped in white chocolate with raspberries, whipped cream and strawberry sauce on the side.

So … those were some of my Birthday Signs and significant events.

Discrimination in the Workplace

My wife & I operate a recruiting firm. We hear many stories about discriminatory hiring practices, rudeness, and stupidity perpetrated by recruiters, HR Departments, and hiring managers.

We had several conversations this week with job seekers who felt they were not progressing well in their job search because of one form of discrimination or another. During a long bike ride this weekend, my mind made a connection between these concerns about discrimination and the new NBC program The Voice.

In the initial episodes recording artists Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine listened to contestants without seeing them or knowing anything about them in advance. They selected contestants they wanted on their team based solely on what they heard.

Wouldn’t it be great if job candidates could be evaluated solely on what is important to the job?

One of the contestants that stood out in this regard was Beverly McClellan.  Prior to her onstage presentation, they showed her talking about how she felt about the competition. Beverley said she hoped that how she sang her song would be get her noticed and selected. Since it would be a “blind” audition, the judges wouldn’t be distracted by her age (older than the other contestants) and appearance (shaved head, tattoos, piercings).

Her performance was a soulful rendition of “Piece of My Heart” … well-known by those who enjoy Janis Joplin.

The judges liked her.

Since The Voice is concerned about show business and stage presence, Beverly might have been selected because her appearance was unorthodox. However, most shows like this select young (often teenage) women with gorgeous hair and anorexic figures … not a heavy-set Lex Luthor wearing clothes purchased at the second-hand store next door to the tattoo parlor.

She was chosen for her obvious vocal talent.

Since that first show, Beverly and her co-contestants have been coached by professionals regarding what it takes to be accepted by a wider audience. Stars are helping them make the most of their talents, so they too can become stars in their own right.

It’s too bad candidate evaluation, interviews, and the early days on a new job aren’t a bit more like The Voice … focused on what is critical and supported by people who can show a new employee how to improve.

Before use of the Internet became wide-spread … before social networking … Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning … it was possible to submit resumes tailored to a particular position and pass the first few hiring hurdles before being rejected for some real or imagined  short-coming. At the very least, you might get invited to an interview.

Now, there is so much information on the Web about us … placed there by you, your friends, or dug up through data mining by someone hoping to make a buck with the information … that the personal information we might prefer to keep to ourselves can be accessed by anyone with the determination to search or willingness to spend a few dollars.

Age discrimination is not the only infraction we hear about, but it may be the most pervasive … manifested in the widest variety of forms.

Today, age discrimination … age-ism … has many disguises:

  • You are over-qualified.
  • That experience is not current.
  • We don’t think you fit the culture.
  • You have had positions at a higher level.
  • You’ve earned more money in previous positions.

The subtext for these excuses can include many other issues:

  • We are trying to drive salaries down.
  • You could push up our group benefit premiums.
  • Your experience could be intimidating to the hiring manager.
  • You might not be able to keep up with the younger employees.
  • You are likely to retire in a few years … yah, sure, like most jobs last more than three years!

We are interested in hearing your voice!

No Discrimination

   

In our business blog … Sirius About Jobs … we share thoughts on these issues.  Recently, I posted thoughts regarding an experience I had that was very closely tied to age discrimination. I also published a guest blog on the topic.

Boomer Birthdays Can Be Boom or Bust

The same can be said
for any generational group
at any time in our history.

April 1st seems like a good day
to write down these thoughts and
kick off a new Boomer Review feature …

Happy Birthday Again

This is a place to share thoughts about Birthdays …
Your Days … Looking Back … Looking Forward …
Taking Your Measure … Taking Your Next Step!

 Today is my sister’s birthday. When she was born her three older brothers thought she was a great April Fools Day prank.  We thought she would be another boy.

When our CPA dad made a visit to our school two weeks before the April 15 tax deadline, we thought he was playing a big April Fool’s Day joke.  I was convinced it was a prank when he told us we now had a sister.

She was No Joke

She went on to become a CPA, raise two great kids, and retire early to live and cruise on the water in warm places. I look forward to talking with her today about her birthday.

So … that’s the inspiration.

Here is the invitation …

If you would like to share your thoughts on these topics, please add your comments to postings that inspire you to respond AND submit guest blog material when you would like me to feature your thoughts.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tell me …

Are We Better or Bitter?

 Happy Birthday

Please enjoy the following guest blog from a very interesting friend. She, too, just had another birthday.

 

This is the inauguration …

 

Birthday Dinner

Last night I had the pleasure of being invited out to dinner by a couple I’ve been close with for 33 years now. The wife and I just had birthdays days apart.  We first met because the husband and I had been co-workers at a medical technology company in California when we were young and frisky and … not only did we share a strange NY sense of humor, a common interest in many books and lots of films, but his wife and I became close friends as well.

Today, 33 years later …

  • we are fortunate to be in the same city, Boston,
  • making many of the same jokes that others rarely understand,
  • have different jobs (and in my case am looking for one) and
  • wonder about our futures… something we never did back in California.

In the intervening years we worked hard to see each other several times a year if we lived in different parts of the country.

In the past three decades we all moved around a lot,

  • to Europe and back
  • from top to bottom and
  • side to side in the US.

My friend has ended up in academia where he is doing exceptionally well after finally accepting he is simply not cut out for corporate battles.  His wife, originally a speech pathologist, is happily teaching high school and college psychology.

As for me, I have had the happy circumstance of working with and for my friend at least six times in the past 30 years while at various employers. I consider him a mentor, a friend, confidante and prime critic.  Their now-grown children have become part of my pack of close friends and loved ones.

During our leisurely dinner we wondered at our past and our current state of affairs.  All three of us have had glorious highs and serious lows. At the moment, I am the one struggling through a low point.

Did I ever think that in Boomer middle age I would find myself divorced, childless, financially on the brink of disaster and without a job?  Never.  As recently as last year I had a full and busy consulting practice; didn’t have to think of taking a full-time job with a corporation until the unheard of happened.

A client who owed me six figures didn’t pay. 

I had to sue outside the US.  Won the case, but it cost me six figures in legal fees.  Other clients started paying slowly; in one case not at all.

I had to do something fast. 

And that thing was get a job where I didn’t have to wonder where the next paycheck was coming from.

Sure I had great experience, I had been a Director and a VP at big companies, had done consulting for more than ten years (not so good if you’re interested in going back to corporate land I found out).  And I had an unusual combination of skills that could make me marketable in a way that competitors would not be.  Or so I thought.

In a matter of months, I became what I call an “also ran.” 

A runner-up. 

Too much experience
… making the hiring manager nervous about their own job,
too old,
too this or
not enough that. 

What put me over the edge were the flaws that were perpetrated by hiring managers and HR departments. “We have to give precedence to internal employees.”  Or, more recently, on the day and at the hour of a pre-scheduled phone interview, “sorry but something just came up, we made an offer to someone last week and he accepted.”  That sure cheered me up. No one thought of calling ahead of time?  Today a recruiter called with a job offer in Switzerland, a serious offer.  And don’t think I won’t consider it.

Naturally friends who have never been out of work and who have always earned less money encourage me to apply to much lower level jobs not understanding I can’t get an interview for these.

Maybe as a barista at Starbucks but not in my field.

But back to last night’s dinner. 

Birthday Dinner Party

The fellow I’m friendly with said I had better get a job fast because he needs me as a contact for what he wants to do next.

I joked with him about not “retiring.”  He didn’t laugh. 

He and his wife who together make an excellent living had put two daughters through college and grad school and live in a rented a house. An expensive rented house.

They once owned a house … even built a custom one … but at one point they were paying for two homes…  and were cleaned out financially so they are back to renting.  They just will never have the amount necessary to buy a home again but aren’t sobbing about it.  Real estate is just not a good investment now anyway.  But they never expected it.  I on the other hand, unemployed and worried about every cent, own my home outright but naturally can’t sell it.  If I get a position out-of-town, I’ll rent it and hopefully eventually sell it though it does need work I can’t afford to do on it.

I now think of my home as a black hole I just pour money into.

My friend’s wife, who teaches, makes a measly amount of money considering she works six days a week and loves what she does.  But between expenses and helping grandchildren and just life, they haven’t had a real vacation for six years and now one of the daughters is getting married in a few months, just after graduating from her master’s program.  It doesn’t end.

I question if we are all lucky enough to work, will we all die at our desks, heads across our keyboards, saliva dripping on to our cell phones?  One thing for certain is that I know I will not enjoy the gracious living my 96-year-old father and his wife have at their adult community with lots of activities.  Being single, I don’t even know if I have the energy for a date.  I put myself on “hiatus” three years ago because I couldn’t work and have a social life and survive.  Now, I can’t put the energy into a job search and date.  And dating someone who is “retired” would just, well….piss me off.

Frankly I don’t ever want to retire. 

I just want to rearrange my priorities a bit.  My life has thrown me a few challenges.  A lousy marriage and worse divorce that cost me more than I ever imagined (and that’s just financially) and a professional situation that just blew up in my face.  Sure I’m creative and have lots of ideas.

 But I’m not entirely sure I want to continue doing what I have for the past thirty years. 

But who in their right mind would give me a job just because I’m clever?  If any of you know that person, send them my way before any more brain cells evaporate or I forget my address.

Will I get the job in Switzerland?  How about moving to another part of the country (I’m all for that)?  What about a local job that just cropped up on the radar again after nine months?  Is it ready to give birth once again?

No one understands why I’m out of work. 

Even I’m having trouble now.  No matter how awful or depressed I feel, I manage to drag up a perky presence on the phone, a good attitude and the ability to check those gazillions of job listings seven days a week.  Maybe I need a vacation.  Or a trip to the moon.  Or less criticism from my family who reminds me how well my YOUNGER sisters are doing (and then I remind them how each of them is being supported by a partner as well).

Is this part of getting older? 

Can we continue to blame it on the economy?  Is it me?  Should I have stayed married?  Never moved to Boston?  Been a schoolteacher like my mother suggested?  Maybe get a face lift (I don’t think I need one).

Does boomer bias exist? 

Please don’t tell me its age.  But maybe it is.  I haven’t heard it to my face and I’ve gotten plenty of interviews versus some of my other out of work friends.  But too many people I know are out of work after long careers and we’re all running out of money and have had to hit those retirement accounts.

Listen, group therapy isn’t going to help.  We all need the same thing and it has nothing to do with makeovers of the state of our minds.

We need jobs. 
And we need HR managers to take us seriously.

More importantly we require hiring managers not to be fearful that we will usurp them (though we can of course).  But we can behave and be grateful we’re working.  Its HR’s job to train uppity young hiring managers not to be scared of slightly older workers, but we all know about HR managers, don’t we?  We might teach them something and we have a longer list of good jokes to share and have accumulated a bit more patience.

And we’re not used up. 
Hey I don’t want to have this conversation!

I have a great resume.  I don’t want to talk about age.  I look at least ten years younger than I am and take care of myself but this whole process is starting to give me teenage acne and how can I explain that.

If all I have to look forward to is bagging groceries or checking out books at Barnes and Noble (and even they aren’t doing so hot) I’m in trouble.

Anybody have a job for me and my friends?

Some of us would like to retire while we can still remember where the car keys are and some of us would like to have enough money to eat.  The rest of us who are working would like our companies to stay honest so they don’t go out of business.  Is this asking a lot or did Woodstock just burn out too many of my brain cells???

Respectfully submitted, but still complaining,

PT

 They’re Playin’ Our Song on YouTube

I ain’t as good I once was.  That’s the cold hard truth.

My body says, “You can’t do this , boy”, but my pride says. “Oh yes I can.”

  

Noon … Text to Vince:

Thanks for the racquetball match.  It felt great to play again.  Next time, you will work harder for  any wins.

 

7:00PM … Note to Vince:

At this point, I see the distinct possibility that you will never be faced with a challenge for a rematch and my racquet may be put on eBay or retired to light duty as a beater for laundry hanging on a clothesline.

 

7:00AM  … Comment to wife:

My knees hurt too much.  I can’t walk the dogs today.

I’m not as good as I once was, but, I’m as good once, as I ever was.

In this case … I don’t think so.

 

[Editor’s Note:  This situation occurred a couple months ago.  Essentially, I have recovered but my knees will never forget.  My racquet is seeking a new home.]