Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Please Tell Me I'm Worth More Than THAT

A job search in Florida in the summer is almost comical.

Firstly, Florida is a state that pays below national average because of something called "The Sunshine Benefit". The reasoning for businesses here is that they can pay less because people aren't moving here to work, they're moving here to play. This puts those of us who are natives at a distinct disadvantage, no matter what our education level is.

Secondly, summertime is notorious as being a time when most business goes into hibernation: Local families are vacationing, and tourists usually come when the weather is cooler because it's so hot here that you could fry an egg on the pavement, sizzle bacon to a crisp, and leave the toast out on the lawn to get a nice tan. Butter melts at room temperature within minutes.

That also means that wearing a professional, fully-lined suit to a job interview is sheer agony. Of course you can wear what you want to an interview... as long as you're interviewing for a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

My mother has helpfully suggested that I wear arm pads in my suits, so that I don't have to trot to the dry cleaners after every interview. I'm telling you: They need to make arm pads like they make diapers. In fact, perhaps I simply need to start stuffing preemie diapers in each armpit. It might make me look slightly deformed, but at least I'll be wearing a fully-lined suit.

But there's a bigger problem yet.

I am a hot commodity. I say this without blushing because it's true: Employers look at my resume and salivate. But, they don't want to pay for me.

I recently went through six interviews (yes, six) for one job that would chain me to a desk in a bull-pen environment where I would share an office with six others who are on the phone constantly. A community bathroom is directly off that room, with no privacy. In other words, everyone in the room can hear every drop of urine that hits the bowl.

After the sixth interview, I was informed that I was going to be paid around $40,000 as a base salary, with commission. The base, I was informed, would be enough to make sure that I could live comfortably.

Comfortably? According to whose standards?

Here in Florida nothing is cheap any longer. $40,000 would be fine if I were a secretary married to someone who made more money and we wanted a little "pin money", as my grandmother would've called it. But $40,000 is not fine if you're a female executive with experience and great credentials and connections.

I'm a single mom. I grant you that my child could probably adapt to eating beans and rice for years on end, but my goal is to have a life above the poverty level that will save him from rickets and stunted growth. Additionally, it's hard to be a snappy dresser when thrift shops are your department stores.

Since then, I've been offered a variety of great jobs that don't pay a thing except for commission only.

I had a call from a woman yesterday who was, of course, trying to sell me on another straight commission job. She asked me if that would be OK with me.

"I'll be happy to consider it," I said wearily. "However, let me tell you that in my experience, companies that offer only straight commission with no base salary either don't have enough start-up capital or don't believe enough in their product."

There was silence on the line for a minute. Then she admitted that they were a start-up firm. To add insult to injury, during the ensuing conversation she told me that they would give us job assignments all over the country, and we would have to pay our own way.

I would love to meet the sucker that takes that bet.

Right now, a career at Kentucky Fried Chicken is looking pretty good.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Still on Vacation

I'm still on vacation and job hunting, as well as being swamped with a variety of things. In addition, a very beloved family member has been quite ill and I've been spending nights in the hospital.

I'll be back to posting as soon as I possibly can, upon which I'll resume my regular M, W, F posting schedule.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Air Potato Vine at the Abandoned House

What you are seeing here is the Air Potato Vine. It is technically labelled an "invasive species" in Florida. The reality is that it's a curse.

Some idiot probably imported this to our state, too.

We are a state of many morons. This is seen through the massive Confederate Flag that is waving over the interstate in Tampa, the ballot problems in the Presidential elections (there are certainly more to come), and the politics and lack of education here. So, it's no surprise to know that over the many years that Florida has existed, many well-meaning morons have populated it.

Morons don't understand ecosystems. In the past, they've filled in valuable marshy areas to build shopping malls, banned car emissions testing (who cares? It'll probably blow to Mexico!), imported the obnoxious love bug, fire ants, the poisonous buffo toad, iguanas, and more. In fact, a couple of years ago, we ran across a cobra who had undoubtedly been in someone's private collection at one time. Whether it had been let go or simply escaped is inconsequential.

Additionally, you'll find the people who think they're doing us a favor by bringing in a "pretty ornamental" that will take over and destroy all the native wildlife. That includes the Brazilian Pepper Tree (our state fights an ongoing battle with this nuisance), the Kudzu Vine (which can grow up a tree and strangle it within days), and the Air Potato Vine.

The Air Potato Vine made it's debut in my backyard a couple of years ago. I had never seen one before, and I initially thought the leaves were quite pretty. They're big, beautiful heart-shaped leaves with tendrils that elegantly wind up anything and then strangle the life out of it.

Spraying the Air Potato with weed killer helps, but it doesn't solve the problem since it develops these big tubers that hang from it. When the tubers get so big that they can drop, they drop to where they can start yet another vine.

To add insult to injury, the potatos aren't even edible.

Eradicating the Air Potato has become a major concern for the state government. They've spent a fortune to do so, recently, and are now able to report success. They've used a combination of poison and ready volunteers, who hunt down every potato they can find.

I could use some of those volunteers.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been outside, poisoning the Air Potato vines with RoundUp. I hope it will work. Supposedly RoundUp screws with a plant's metabolism and kills it at the root... eventually.

But my additional problem is that there is a large abandoned house behind my property. I don't know why it's not for sale, and I don't know how to get in touch with the owners. That house has a massive swimming pool that is now a mucky greeny-brown, full of tadpoles and mosquito larvae. In addition, it houses a great deal of these Air Potatoes.

It's my fault, really.

The family behind me was a very nasty sort. They were the rough and tumble ruddy-faced, chain-smoking, hard drinking types. How they could afford a nice house was beyond my understanding. Even the 12 year old boy smoked and drank beer, throwing his beer bottles over the fence into my back yard to conceal his habit from his parents. When I finally went over to have a friendly chat with his mom about this habit, she got very angry about it and accused my neighbor, Mr. Clean, of doing it. It really boggled the mind.

So, when they suddenly left, I didn't mourn their loss. And when their Air Potato vines kept creeping into my yard, I'd throw the potatos back over the fence into theirs. I figured that they'd be maintaining their property until it sold and that they could take care of their own problem.

No such luck.

So, their Air Potato problem has become vastly worse. So have the mosquitos.

Today, it was time for action.

I purchased mosquito dunks (which float in the water and kill the larvae) and more RoundUp and went over there today. I threw 6 mosquito dunks into the swamp that used to be a swimming pool, and enjoyed watching the tadpoles for a little bit. Then I grabbed the RoundUp and attacked all the Air Potato vines.

It was carnage.

Now I sit back and wait. Hopefully the RoundUp will do what it needs to do, and I'll get a break from this Air Potato battle.

In the meantime, I wonder about something: What happened to my neighbors, and what could be lurking in the depths of that pool?

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I'm on vacation this week and next, which is why you're getting sporadic posts. Additionally, I've been interviewing with a very prestigious company. In fact, I've been through four - yes, four interviews with them.

They want me. I have reluctantly accepted because the pay and opportunity are almost unheard of in this area, although it will severely restrict my freedom and I'm not thrilled about being chained to a desk.

If nothing better comes up, I'll start in a month. So, I'm getting my vacation out of the way right now. If I do start in a month, I fear that I may not be able to blog at all. We'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I've been working madly on my greenhouse. I'll post pictures soon!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Health Insurance

I am going to the dentist today. Oh joy.

As a punishment for brushing regularly but not seeing him for over a year, I now have to undergo a torture called "deep cleaning." It means that there will be lots of scraping and blood and swelling. All this, in the name of health. Personally, I think it's his way of teaching me a lesson.

I'm just grateful I have dental insurance. A crown that would normally cost almost $2,000 will cost me only $300.

Of more importance is the fact that I suspect I have gallstones. I trained to be an EMT many years ago, and grew up with a famous scientist who agrees with my diagnosis.

I don't dare to declare to my doctor because I'm trying to find a better insurance company as quickly as possible before I have to undergo surgery for it (which I'll undoubtedly have to go through).

The state of American health care being what it is, you can have no health problems if you want good insurance. If you DO have health problems, you can still have insurance but it won't cover those health problems.

So, I'm saying nothing, and treating myself with homeopathic remedies in the hopes that I can hold off declaring it until I get a better insurance policy that doesn't have a $2,500 surgical deductible.

...and they say we don't need nationalized health care.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Our Country 'Tis of Me

It's funny: If you look back over the years, my annual Fourth of July post has grown increasingly irritable.

I would like to believe in this country again. There is much I've been proud about in the past. But we are losing what we once had, and that is nothing to be proud about. We used to sing "Our country 'tis of Thee." To be accurate, we should now be singing "Our country tis of ME."

We were once a strong nation, composed of people who had seen nightmares and lived through them. Nightmares like the War for Independence, the Civil War, the Depression, the Dust Bowl, World Wars 1 and 2, Korea, and Vietnam.

But our modern generation has seen little to no turmoil until the badly-run Seven Year War that is still ongoing in Iraq. I'll admit we don't have a distinction in this. Many wars have been run badly by a government that isn't concerned with losing lives (World War 1 is a classic example). Still, this is startling to see in these modern times. (For those who want to quibble, I'll admit that we are being told that this year is a better year for us over there, but frankly it's 6 years too late).

And instead of learning to cut back or to sacrifice (as our grandparents did in the early 1900s), President Bush encouraged us to spend, spend, spend our way into "prosperity." As a result, we are in a major recession which affects all but the richest of us.

We are also facing an election with two very substandard candidates. Both Barack Obama and John McCain would never have made it this far twenty years ago. Our standards were higher then. But now we are dealing with different factors:

1. Our educational standards continue to decline.

Go here to see an 8th Grade exam from 1895. Obviously our children aren't being exposed to the same materials.

There's a popular TV show called "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" I believe that this is a dangerous show for two reasons:

One, it makes the average American adult seem even dumber than they are. This gives many dummies a false sense of security. They feel a little better about their idiocy when they see fellow idiots on TV. "See?" they say excitedly to each other while passing the pork rinds, "We couldn't have answered that either!"

Two, it gives the average American the false belief that we have high educational standards for our youth.

The dumbing down of America is something that the government finds to be very desirable, over all. Dumb people are more malleable. They'll take what they can get, without questioning it.

2. Campaign Finance.

Because only the very richest and/or best connected people can run for President of the USA, we are now forced to choose among a very small (and morally bankrupt) group. Repeated campaign finance laws have done us little good.

What we need is a law banning ANY campaign spending. This would level the playing field, and would force the news stations to go to the candidates, instead of the reverse. It would also force the candidates to take their campaigns to the internet: A cheap solution for us all, allowing a wider selection.

3. More Money Out Than In.

Our trade deficits are almost laughable. The Chinese "have us by the short hairs", as one of my friends so inelegantly (but accurately) said. Now McCain says that if we try to reverse these deficits, and bring the jobs back home, the American worker will suffer. I find it hard to see how the average jobless American worker could suffer more.

I'll grant you that many of us would have to work minimum wage. But, that's better than making even less through welfare or unemployment benefits. And yes, perhaps the cost of goods would rise somewhat. So, we might need to learn to conserve a little more. But with the rising cost of gas, all consumer goods will be going up. Whether we pay that to China or to our own people is up to us.

4. We are becoming morally bankrupt.

Our standards continue to lower. What is acceptable now would have been questioned even 20 years ago.

Most people know who the leading contestant is in a variety of talent contests such as "So You Think You Can Dance" and "America's Got Talent" and "American Idol." But many cannot name the Presidential candidates or the Governor of their own state. And if they can identify these people, these citizens certainly have no knowledge of them and feel little (if any) passion about them.

Most people no longer attend church because they want to become better people. They attend it to feel better, or to network, or perhaps they feel that it is necessary for their image in the community.

I would challenge these people to leave church behind entirely, and take up something useful like golfing. Golfing is a great business tool: We know many deals are made at the golf course. In addition, they'd shed themselves of a bit of hypocrisy in their lives.

Which reminds me, I need to get out on the golf course and practice. In this economy, I'm looking for work: I need all the job skills I can amass.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Todd Bentley's Revival Meetings in Lakeland, FL

I first heard about Todd Bentley when a well-meaning, sweet natured (but obviously gullible) woman asked me if I'd been to the ongoing revival in the city of Lakeland, Florida.

I hadn't heard of it (and frankly, I am highly suspicious of such events) but she was so eager to press the information on me that I took a scrap of paper, handed to me by fervently shaking hands, with the single name of "Todd Bentley" written reverently upon it.

The woman swore to me that all "godly" Christians were going there. Being what I hope is a godly Christian didn't make me feel at all obligated to go: I smelled a rat.

Perhaps that's because I knew a major traveling evangelist in the recent past, and I know what con artists they almost invariably are (with the exception of a very few). You see, I have greater faith in someone that establishes himself in a home church, instead of roaming about the country in search of new prey. Accountability is a powerful deterrent.

So, upon investigation, I certainly have to say that Todd Bentley doesn't disappoint me. He's every ounce the huckster that one could possibly expect.

What sorrows me is seeing the people who are flocking to his tent meetings, with the desperate hope of being healed. This includes children with severe diseases who are hoping beyond all hope that they will be among the number that walks freely out of that tent revival. And yet, not everyone is healed.

In general, these faithful sheeples seem satisfied to believe that the healing process is beginning. Of course in the Bible, no healer began the healing process. No! When someone was healed, they were healed immediately: Pure and simple.

Of great concern is Todd Bentley's criminal background in Canada. He apparently had a strong criminal record as a juvenile. Not many people know for certain what he did, as juvenile records are sealed. However, it was reported by a valued news source that Bentley was a child molester (among other criminal behaviors).

Here are two YouTube videos. The first one is a documentation of how seriously abusive Todd Bentley is. This can hardly come from God. No one in the Bible healed others through abusing them.

The second one is Todd Bentley's confession that he's been demon possessed while he was supposedly a born-again Christian at the same time. Again, this is a doctrine completely contrary to any Christian beliefs based on the Bible. In the Bible we read "No servant can serve two masters..." (Luke 16:13 and Matt. 6:24). I am happy to cite further evidence on this, if anyone is interested. There is overwhelming evidence that the Bible considers a Christian being possessed to be an impossibility.

Here Todd Bentley admits to his abusive 'healings' that he performs:

Here Todd Bentley says he's been demon possessed: