all roads lead to spoilerville

A public service announcement re: spoilers…

TV Toaster

After abandoning broadcast television in favor of re-watching DVDs of beloved shows from the past, spoilers became a non-issue for many years.

When I began to want variety and branched out to DVDs of series I hadn’t seen, I found myself in uncharted territory. My previous experience following a new show on the Internet involved waiting after each airing for some industrious fan to write and post recaps, reviews, etc. Now, extensive episode guides are already available online… and I need them more than ever, because I usually watch with my family, and we tend to miss critical exposition because one of us is talking.

The big disadvantage — as you may have guessed from the theme of this entry — is spoilers. Of course, I know to avoid common sources, such as summaries and commentary for episodes I haven’t seen. But I’ve found spoilers lurking where I never suspected…

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not so much “Plan B” as it is “Plan 50 20”

Recapping key happenings that led up to my new job:

– In late 2016, with our contract expiration in sight, my employer began urging us to explore other options. This — along with a strong desire to part ways with my manager — propelled me from casually glancing at the “help wanteds” to actually updating my résumé and applying.

– I haven’t counted, but I guess-timate that I applied to an average of one opportunity every week, over a span of five months.

– With the bulk of my company’s work set to be completed by summer 2017, in late April I was cut to part-time status, to be in the office only three days per week.

– The week after I was made part-time was the first of four in which I had interviews. Those companies all suggested that we meet on my days off… although they didn’t know I was free on those days. And since I was interviewing on my days off, I didn’t have to use any vacation time, or burden my current employer with last-minute call outs.

– The first company I talked to — I’ll call them “ABC” — seemed like the ideal fit: I had good rapport with my two interviewers (who would also be my supervisors), and the work they described was almost identical to what I’d been doing for the past five years.

– I was applying for positions that I deemed “a good fit,” and from the multiple responses I received, I guess I chose well. After the interviews, I was convinced that any of those jobs would’ve been fine, even though none struck me as a clear, “This is IT!” Plus, there were a few disconnects in which the person setting up the interview and I evidently got off on the wrong foot. For example, one human resources agent asked me to call and let her know when I had emailed my application, but when I did a few hours later, her tone was distant, as if I was being pushy. (For doing what she asked! GRR!!)

– Throughout my search, I seriously considered changing career paths. I was drawn to a recurring ad for help at the library, but it was a minimum wage position in addition to being a long drive from where I live. Plus, I preferred to build on the experience I had, instead of starting back completely at “square zero.”

– Meanwhile at my current job, the good supervisor announced that he would be leaving in mid-May. I fretted, wondering what other positive, reasonable, well-spoken manager would be available to give me a reference.

– I took the other rejections in stride because I was counting on a job offer from ABC; when they sent word that they’d chosen someone else, I could see my last hope fading away. I pity-partied that apparently I require an opportunity with absolutely no competition.

– At the beginning of my job search, I started writing a list of my (many!) duties with instructions for my coworkers on doing them in my absence. I worked on it sporadically due to interruptions, not to mention frustrations about the ever-growing list, and how best to present it. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was something I needed to do, to “do right” by the company and leave them with that information. In the fifth week of my part-time status, I put forth a concentrated effort and completed a serious first draft.

– The next day, ABC called again about a job opening I hadn’t seen: maintaining an archive (a.k.a. “library”) of technical documents. One of my previous interviewers thought of me and wanted to discuss it. What job seeker could resist such an invitation? Of course, I agreed to meet.

– The day of the interview, I began my traditional preparation, in which I describe how my experience meets their requirements. But as I looked at the job description they sent me, I could see why no one was applying; despite the job title, the duties they outlined were so technical that I didn’t even know where to start. In fact, I almost called and cancelled, convinced that I wasn’t the one for them. But I didn’t. I mean, we had already spoken, so surely they didn’t think I secretly had computer engineering skills, or something…? (And, heck, as I tweeted, “A long shot is better than no shot!”)

– Also, the day of the interview, I was late! Which is *so* not me. I’m generally very early for everything — except when it’s got life-changing implications. :slapsforehead: When I arrived, my previous interviewer came out to glare at me. I feebly apologized, and he graciously offered that he thought traffic was bad. I briefly agreed, we moved on, and no more was said about it.

– On the bright side, there was almost nowhere for the interview to go but up. And up it went — way up! The second interviewer was super-nice, and he shared that my previous interviewer “was impressed” with me. (I thought, “Um, so impressed that you didn’t hire me before?” But I immediately countered that with, “No worries — this job is better!”) My meager preparation added a key point or two to my answers. The interviewers even proposed that they could train me on what I didn’t know: I had wanted to suggest that, but I didn’t know if *they* would buy it!

– The next day — May 26 — ABC called and offered me the job. I accepted and we agreed I would start in two weeks.

A series of fortunate events? Sure, some people would say it’s all just coincidence. (Some people would say the same if a warehouse full of airplane parts exploded and produced a perfectly functioning airplane. 😉 I can attest that some of those “events” felt decidedly less than fortunate while I was in them, and I admit I slipped into despair, more than once. But I’m thankful that, looking back, I’m able to see the pieces come together, and I’m posting about it here to be a much-needed reminder for me to look for the big picture… or should I say, the big plan.

“…shall I speak at this?” you bet your sweet bippy

Recently, a coworker made inappropriate remarks, and although he was sent packing, the rest of us had to endure a crash course in sensitivity. As we sat in the course, I marveled at the hypocrisy of it all: a worker bee gets called on the carpet (and rightly so, from the few details that were provided), and yet, the main manager at our location gets away with his repeated angry tantrums.

Said manager, who was leading the training(!), repeatedly insisted that we should speak up if we see incidents of harassment. An associate took the opportunity to casually approach the topic of angry outbursts, and the manager’s response was dismissive: “Well, yeah, some people do blow off steam…”  Later, the associate and I agreed that such verbal abuse should be as off-limits as physical violence.

Lest anyone should think that my coworkers and I are simply too sensitive, I understand that, whenever people spend time together, there will be disagreements and moments of lost temper. But, from where I sit, the manager’s overreactions are so far, so unnecessarily far beyond that. No matter how calm his co-conversationalist remains, he can be counted on to dissolve into a contempt-filled rage, and when such an onslaught is directed at me, I’m left feeling as if I’ve been utterly stomped on.

Having more than once been the target of the boss’s aggression, not long after the meeting, I realized there would never be a better chance to voice my feelings. I caught up with the manager. “Continuing the thoughts in our training, for the record, when someone yells at me, I *do* feel ‘humiliated’ and ‘disrespected.'” He asked if he ever made me feel that way, and I responded affirmatively. I added that I can accept correction, and I can accept criticism, but “just tell me. No need to shout.” It was a very civil exchange, and he said he appreciated me letting him know. I was proud of myself for speaking up, and I felt I had made peace with the situation.

The next day, the manager joked(?) that I had “given him a complex.” Well, if that means I brought some enlightenment, that’s a good thing, in my book — and long overdue. Reflecting on his apparent surprise at my reaction to his shouting, I’ve wondered whether I should share two more for-the-records: (1) I don’t know of anyone who responds well to such unbridled anger, and consequently (2) I can’t think of a single situation that would be made better by it. (I truly boggle that this has never come up in his twenty-plus years as a manager.)

As I said, I’m proud of myself for taking the opportunity to speak up. Has it changed anything? It’s hard to say. It’s not as if there was an ugly incident every day, or even every week. In any case, even if the anti-harassment emphasis was just a show for damage control, to learn that I really can speak up is empowering. Who knows, if there is another incident, maybe I’ll call it out…without waiting to be asked.

a year in review – 2016

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
We opened our Christmas gifts on December 26. Also, I used “cloud” storage, although technically, I’ve done this for years with my email accounts.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2016, I said that I would try to “bloom where planted.” My success rate was maybe seventy percent.
For 2017, I made an effort late in 2016 to focus on the positive; I achieved that largely through getting lost in a favorite song, movie or TV show, probably because, when I look at my real world, I don’t see much worth focusing on. But, knowing that we see what we seek, I plan to look for something positive in my real life situations.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no… but we sure lost a lot of celebrities

5. Where did you travel?
one day trip, to tour the Rosenbaum House by Frank Lloyd Wright

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2017, that would be awesome. (This year, I did have the slightest inkling toward a plan/direction; hopefully this is the start of “getting closer”!)

7. What date or event from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
my boss’s frequent tirades, including an episode that occurred one hour before our company Thanksgiving lunch

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
finishing a website project that I’ve been working on for over three years

9. What was your biggest failure?
being a basket case for months when yet another new ailment — arguably the most disturbing one so far — appeared

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh, yes! In addition to the aforementioned disturbing new ailment, the worst cold/sinus/crud (plague?) I’ve had in years that started last December lingered well into 2016.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
hired someone to clear our large, overgrown yard

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The yard workers’. They labored almost eleven hours in one day, even cleared up a big mess left by a previous worker. The yard looked amazing, and my faith in hiring people was restored.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
again this year, my boss’s, whose antics — I realized — often border on “bullying”

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
my mother’s release from the hospital

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
probably “Smoke Break” by Carrie Underwood, because work was often *just* that bad

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? … I honestly can’t decide.
Older or wiser? both?
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
found some perspective

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
been selfish

20. Did your heart break?
yes, when my latest ailment felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back

21. How did you spend Christmas?
Two days before, my mother’s routine doctor visit revealed that her heart was out of rhythm, and I took her to be admitted to the hospital. She was still there on Christmas, so the day was definitely not our traditional holiday. Fortunately, she was released the next day, and we had our celebration then.

22. How are you spending New Year’s Eve?
Working on these questions. Later, the fam and I will probably watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we’ll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any broadcast shows, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include two “newer” series: Chuck and Once Upon a Time.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Bird’s Eye’s “Flavor Full – Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper Brussels Sprouts.” No longer can I say that I hate Brussels sprouts!

25. What was the best book you read?
Again this year, IIRC, I only read Christian periodicals. However, listening through the Bible on mp3, I’m almost finished with the Old Testament… and hearing it read is highly recommended, unless you have a degree in pronouncing long, Hebrew names. 😉

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I rediscovered The Sound of Madness by Shinedown.

27. What did you want and get?
job opportunities worth applying for

28. What did you want and not get?
a new job

29. What was your favorite film?
Captain America: Civil War

30. What did you do on your birthday?
My mother and I took a trip that I’ve talked about for years: visiting the Rosenbaum House, by Frank Lloyd Wright. Following the tour, we beat the lunch crowd at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina to enjoy the mahi mahi tacos (tacos). We stopped at the Florence Mall, where Bath and Body Works saved me some $$ by not having a single one of the fragranced lotions that I was looking for. Back home, I adjusted a few settings, and for the first time since a Windows 10 update that took two-and-a-half days(!!), I was able to use my computer again. In the evening, Mom and I watched the movie Home Fries.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if, while I’m having to be strong for everyone, someone could be strong for me

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Lazy. With all the stress at work, most of the time my attitude was, “Eh, who is there to impress??”

33. What kept you sane?
To see, perhaps as never before, some pieces falling into place, and to understand that even the bad things are playing their part. (As Garth Brooks sings, “I guess the Lord knows what He’s doin’ after all…”)

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Sebastian Stan as both the Winter Solder in the Captain America film series and as Jefferson on Once Upon a Time

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election. I cannot recall two candidates for whom I’ve been less inclined to vote. As small consolation, it was gratifying that the media was inescapably confronted by how out-of-touch and one-sided their reports have become.

36. Who did you miss?
Speedy, our cat, has been MIA for several weeks. 😦

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Brittney, the hairdresser, who asks questions instead of accepting my brief, general requests

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
I’ve got the shortest hair since first grade.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
“Just because you feel it doesn’t make it real. Feelings aren’t a satellite dish receiving signals of eternal truth. Feelings come from beliefs. Change the beliefs and the feelings change.” Eric Barker, observer dot com (This is a lesson I heard and believe… but I hope I’ve truly learned it.)

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“If you opened my heart, you’d see I don’t have it all together.
If you took me apart, you’d see the worst of me wants to get better.
But You’re changing me, piece by piece
Into who You’re really callin’ me to be.”
~ “A Little Closer” by Group 1 Crew

new tag: b47eclectics

Some day soon I will cease fine-tuning the overhaul of eclectic, my so-called personal website; however, I will have material left over. My current plan is to follow up and add said material – from time to time – to this blog.

Enter the new tag, b47eclectics, as a catch-all to flag posts containing that supplemental information.

Perhaps having this material will move me to blog more often… but if not, pages and pages already await your perusal at eclectic:

http://www.rusted-crush.com/eclectic/index.html

in with the new: separate fact from opinion

Wrote this for my inspirational site.

some rain, some shine

It seems I’ve reached “that age” where I question choices I’ve made and look critically at where I am in many areas of my life.

Wait, that sounds a lot like my previous ages, too. Anyway!

To fight against these negative tendencies, I read articles about cultivating a positive attitude, and one tip recently stood out to me as particularly helpful: separate fact from opinion. They gave an example of not separating the two: “Of course I didn’t get the job. I acted so dumb in the interview!” That fact is that I didn’t get the job. The other is opinion, nothing more than me making assumptions.

Hearing it explained that way, I realized that confusing fact with opinion is something that often stresses me out, particularly when I consider one of my minor health issues; I start to focus on a recurring ache, and in my mind the situation…

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