Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Ground We Stand On

I’ve been trying to ignore it, hoping it would go away. But apparently it is here to stay, at least until a more sensational story takes its place. It is the on-going saga of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. I wrote about it last year, shortly after it happened. (

My position then was that Zimmerman was in the wrong. I still feel that way. And but for Florida’s very questionable ‘stand-your-ground’ law, he would have been found guilty of manslaughter if not second degree murder. Last year I said that it was NOT about race. I still say that it was NOT about race. I’m a conservative white guy, so my opinion on matters of race doesn’t matter I suppose. That certainly seems to be the position of some blacks and most white liberals who deem themselves qualified as experts on all matters of race. But, the last time I checked, it’s still a free country and I am entitled to have my own opinion. (It is still a free country isn’t it?)

I can’t get inside Zimmerman’s head or know exactly what he was thinking on the night he pursued Trayvon Martin. Some might say that his comments to the police dispatcher had racial overtones. But, does anyone seriously believe that Zimmerman would not have pursued a white, brown or yellow kid in a hoodie who was cutting through his neighborhood on foot at that time of night? Neighborhood watchmen/wannabe cops live for this stuff. This was a call to action for old George. Race was not a factor for Zimmerman.

Did race factor into Trayvon’s behavior? Perhaps. I’m not qualified to speak on this, but I can understand why a young African American male might be upset, scared and angry when an unidentified civilian comes after him. Had it been a white teenager, perhaps the kid just waves, says hello, tells Zimmerman where he lives and that he’s just coming back from the store after a munchie run. So being black does matter. I’ll grant that. There are also reports that Trayvon smoked weed and had a little wannabe “gangsta” thing going on. Sounds like a lot of other kids, regardless of race.

George Zimmerman is the only one still alive who knows what really went down that night. Wannabe cop meets wannabe gangsta. Perhaps he just wanted to talk to Trayvon and the kid turned around and jumped him. Maybe Zimmerman was fighting for his life and Trayvon was just a bad man and not your typical teenager. What ever it was, it should not be used as fuel to stir up old racial tensions and stereotypes. While we are debating where the country is on black vs. white race relations, we are ignoring the more important issues of what is actually going on in large segments of the black community, i.e. black-on-black crime, children born out of wedlock, poor education, high unemployment and the list goes on and on. Maybe at the bottom of that list, we find some white folks killing black folks and vice-versa. But if we focus on these isolated events, tragic as they may be, we are missing the bigger issues.

Instead of making Trayvon Martin the trump card in the race deck or the poster child for racial justice; we should be talking about the serious problems inherent with “stand-your-ground” laws. And we should be taking a closer look at neighborhood watch groups, who is armed and how they are trained. Trayvon Martin is dead because an overly aggressive neighborhood watch guy put himself and Trayvon in a deadly situation. George Zimmerman is legally not guilty because of a Florida law that, as written, should not be on the books. We should be talking more about those issues than the color of Trayvon Martin’s skin. But what do I know? I’m just an old conservative white guy.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rest in Peace, Schoep...

Last summer I posted a brief entry about a man and his old dog. The man is John Unger and the dog is Schoep. Schoep passed away last week. Here are links to that story as well as John and Schoep's Facebook page.

With a salute to old Schoep, I'm reposting my entry from last year.


Barney and Me

"The misery of keeping a dog is his dying so soon. But, to be sure, if he lived for fifty years and then died, what would become of me?" – (Sir Walter Scott)

If you haven’t seen the photo of the guy in the water holding his old, arthritic dog; you just weren’t paying attention. And the story that goes with the photo inspires while at the same time breaking our hearts.

If you’re a dog person, or just a human being with a heart, you can’t look at that photo and not get a lump in your throat. It really hit me. We have dogs, two very friendly Bichons, Dillon and Boudreaux. They are amusing little guys, low maintenance and great house pets. But once upon a time, we had a real dog. His name was Barney and he was an English Springer Spaniel. The best dog ever. He moved all over the country with us and could handle just about anything or anyone. He was smart, loyal, gentle and absolutely fearless.

Not counting my wife, he was my best friend. But when he died I wasn’t there. Why I wasn’t there is another story and it will be someone else’s to tell someday when I’m not around. But I wasn’t there when he took that long, last ride to the vet. Thankfully my wife was there and to this day she cannot stand to watch the similar scene as it plays out in the movie Marley and Me.

Maybe it was for the best that I wasn’t there. I just don’t know. But I do believe that our dogs will be there for us when we get to heaven. And they will come running to greet us and not only love us, but forgive us for taking so long to get there. (Hell, I can’t even write this post without crying.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Is That Your Resume?

As a headhunter I see a lot of resumes. I mean a lot. I see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to resumes. Recently I came across this article and the author has some very good things to say. I wish I’d written it. But, I’ll do the next best thing and share it.

Ten Words and Terms That Ruin a Resume

by Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor

Your resume needs an update -- that is, if your resume is like that of most people, it’s not as good as it could be. The problem is language: Most resumes are a thicket of deadwood words and phrases -- empty cliches, annoying jargon and recycled buzzwords. Recruiters, HR folks and hiring managers see these terms over and over again, and it makes them sad. Wouldn’t you rather make them happy? It’s time to start raking out your resume, starting with these (and similar) terms.

1. “Salary negotiable”

Yes, they know. If you’re wasting a precious line of your resume on this term, it looks as though you’re padding -- that you’ve run out of things to talk about. If your salary is not negotiable, that would be somewhat unusual. (Still, don’t put that on your resume either.)

2. “References available by request”

See the preceding comment about unnecessary terms.

3. “Responsible for ______”

Reading this term, the recruiter can almost picture the C-average, uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his job requirements -- no more, no less. Having been responsible for something isn’t something you did -- it’s something that happened to you. Turn phrases like “responsible for” into “managed,” “led” or other decisive, strong verbs.

4. “Experience working in ______”

Again, experience is something that happens to you -- not something you achieve. Describe your background in terms of achievements.

5. “Problem-solving skills”

You know who else has problem-solving skills? Monkeys. Dogs. On your resume, stick to skills that require a human.

6. “Detail-oriented”

So, you pay attention to details. Well, so does everyone else. Don’t you have something unique to tell the hiring manager? Plus, putting this on your resume will make that accidental typo in your cover letter or resume all the more comical.

7. “Hardworking”

Have you ever heard the term “show -- don’t tell”? This is where that might apply. Anyone can call himself a hard worker. It’s a lot more convincing if you describe situations in concrete detail in which your hard work benefited an employer.

8. “Team player”

See the preceding comment about showing instead of telling. There are very few jobs that don’t involve working with someone else. If you have relevant success stories about collaboration, put them on your resume. Talk about the kinds of teams you worked on, and how you succeeded.

9. “Proactive”

This is a completely deflated buzzword. Again, show rather than tell.

10. “Objective”

This term isn’t always verboten, but you should use it carefully. If your objective is to get the job you’ve applied for, there’s no need to spell that out on your resume with its own heading. A resume objective is usually better replaced by a career summary describing your background, achievements and what you have to offer an employer. An exception might be if you haven’t applied for a specific job and don’t have a lot of experience that speaks to the position you’d like to achieve.