Thursday, September 19, 2019

Now That I'm Over The Hill......

Lately, I have been reminiscing over my life and thinking about the decisions I've made to get me to this point in my life. I know I can't undo the past but I still get those thoughts of "what if I zagged instead of zigged back then?" and "what would my life be if I chose this path instead of the one I chose?".

I can't help but think when I was younger, I was so focused on making something of myself that  I would be desirable and financially secure when I got older.  I can remember back when girls were talking about how they don't want to be with a broke man and listening to songs like "Ain't Nothing Going On But The Rent" on the radio.  Let's not forget the bombardment of negative stereotypes from movies and TV of Black people. We're lazy, not wanting to work, living on welfare, the cause of all crime in America; I could go on.

Bottom line is I spent to majority of my pursuing the "perfect" job over a personal life,  making lots of money so that I wouldn't be struggling by the time I retire. Well, now that I'm over 50 years old,  I'm nowhere near that goal. Working as a contractor for companies such as GE and AT&T was NOT my idea of the "perfect job".  Still struggling to make ends meet. Still have that anticipation in the back of my mind that eventually something or someone will come along to bring chaos and disruption in my life to cause me to start over yet again.

I also can't help but think if I had put more energy in pursuing a personal life than a professional one, I may have been better off.  But as I said before, who wants to be with a broke man?  I was 30 when I actually began pursuing a relationship with someone.  Being a virgin in every sense of the word, it was very awkward in the beginning, but like everything else in my life, it was a matter of me putting in the effort and learning from my mistakes before I would eventually become more adept at how to talk to people and conduct myself.

I'm over the hill now, and over the way I used to think about things.  I'm no longer going to spend the rest of the time I have left on this earth chasing after things that are out of my reach.  The book of Ecclesiastes says pursuing worldly possessions is like "chasing the wind".  I feel like that is what I have been doing for most of my life, but not any more! As for work, I report to work, do my 8 hours then go home.....nothing more! Sacrificing personal time in hopes of getting ahead hasn't worked for me so I would be a fool to continue foregoing personal opportunities for something that may or MAY NOT happen career-wise.  Statistically,  a White high school dropout has a far better chance of getting ahead in the Information Technology field that a Black, college educated and experienced person like myself , and I tend to believe that based upon my 26 years of experience in this field.

Now,  if there's an opportunity for me to travel and/or meet people, I take them. Of course I give  notice at work ahead of time. Still have to pay the bills!.  But my focus is now on personal growth more than professional.  Being more concerned about who or where I want to visit than worrying if I fixed  this person's computer to their satisfaction, I completed this project on time, I will  pay all the bills for this week, or I will still have a job tomorrow. I am SO tired of all that stress!! An it never ends not matter how much I try to keep ahead of things!

All I can do now is to do the best I can with what I have and let God handle the rest!


Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Slave Bible

Besides being a computer nerd, I'm also a news junkie.  When I'm home, my TV is on CNN or NBC News (not so much since Trump became President!).  One night NBC News showed a segment called "The Slave Bible",  which piqued my interest, so I actually stopped playing World of Warcraft  so I can watch the segment.

During the era of Slavery, the Slave Bible was a heavily redacted version of the Holy Bible, specifically designed for slaves to prevent slaves from rebelling. According to the segment, about 90% of the Old Testament and 50% of the New Testament were removed to create the Slave Bible.  So basically, any scripture referring to freedom or fairness were removed. Slaves never heard of the story of Moses defying Pharaoh and leading his people out of Egypt or passage stating "we are neither slave of free; we are one in Christ Jesus".  All they knew was "Servants obey your masters", Noah's curse upon Ham, and the like.

While watching the segment, I immediately thought, "Now that makes sense!". There always was a thought in the back of my head wondered how slave owners were able to indoctrinate slave using the Holy Bible. Because they were not using the TRUE Holy Bible! In church, we're taught God's word is true and never add anything to it or take anything from it. So, since much was taken out of the Holy Bible,  what the slave were taught were not God's word at all, but man's word!

At the end of the segment, the reporter stated the Slave Bible didn't work because Caribbean slaves continually rebelled until Emancipation. I took issue with that statement. In the case of Caribbean slaves, that is true, but not the case of American slaves.  Not only using the Slave Bible kept slaves subservient, but also the overall cruelty, mistreatment, threats and acts of violence, helped keep slave revolts to a minimum. Other than the revolt led by Nat Turner, I never heard or read about any other slave revolts in America ( I may have to Google that). I'm sure there were some revolts, but they were few and far between. I would conclude that American slaves, more often than not, chose escape over rebellion. Main reason being they didn't have any weapons (at least nothing comparable to a firearm) they could use against their slave masters (and the slave masters made sure of that!).  Simply put, slaves were outgunned and slave masters had no qualms of  killing "disruptive" or as they say, "uppity"  slaves.

Overall, I enjoyed the segment. I felt I gained knowledge and have a better understanding of Slavery. I'm even curious to know if any of these Slave bibles are floating on the free market and/or what became of all those copies!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Since My Last Post.....

Last summer, I decided that I needed to find another job.  One big reason is that driving from Louisville to Lexington everyday was hell on my car and my wallet!! I was spending at least $120 in gas and putting 165 miles a day on my car! I had asked if I could work from home once or twice a week to help ease the burden of driving so far to work, but I was turned down citing the contract stated working from home was not allowed. The hypocrisy that I saw was that my coworkers who lived much closer were working from home (sometimes covertly) without being reprimanded.

A bigger reason for leaving is that I did not get any training or help that I needed to do the job, It was bad enough to find out after the fact that the job was not that job that was advertised, but to not train me to do the job that was expected of me was an insult! I really felt that I was screwed over royally! I was there for nearly a year and the most productive I was while I was there was getting proficient in playing Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, and Tri-Peaks on my phone! Some of you may say "Yeah, but it's easy money" (and I even told myself that at times), but the time will come that I will have to do the job, but how can I do the job if no one trains me for it? Especially a job for which I was deceived in to applying? I tried to learn as much on my own, but that only goes so far. I asked techs who knew the job for help but got "I'm busy" type responses or no response at all.

And the biggest reason of them all - MONEY!! Not that I was not getting paid , but I was not getting paid ON TIME! I was being paid twice a month (the 15th and last day of each month) so I would need to submit my time sheet for approval 2 business day prior to pay day so I would be paid on time. Unfortunately, there was only one person who approved the time sheets, so no back up in case that person was out sick or on vacation, etc.  The first time my time sheet was not approved on time, I was understanding about it and dealt with it. But then it happened a second time. After sending in my time sheet, I id not get a confirmation that My time sheet had been received ad was approved.  I started getting concerned about it because if I'm getting paid late, then I'm paying my bills late which can negatively affect my credit, as well as get late notices from creditors and get charged late fees for paying bills late (not to mention, keeping gas in the car so I can get back and forth to work!). When it happened a third time, that was the straw that broke the camel's back! I felt this time it was intentional because I did not receive any confirmation that my time sheet had been approved and I had to send my time sheet a second time before getting the approval.  So after my time sheet was finally approved, I submitted my resignation the next day.

Long before I resigned,  I was blasting my resume all over the Internet and registering to every job website I could think of.  I had recruiters blowing up my phone with job opportunities that they think  I would be a "good fit" for. I jumped through their hoops, e-signing every document they sent, taking time off for interviews, and get "edged out" by a candidate who was a "better fit".  I distinctly remember interviewing for a desktop support job with Wild Turkey Distillery. Although the job was only for six months or so but I had to get away from Conduent!  I think I was their first interview. They quizzed me on my technical knowledge and I was just knocking it out of the park. By the end of the interview, I was certain I would be offered the job. I was thinking, "Finally, I'm be away from Conduent and working a job that I know how to do!  And working a bourbon distillery that I had toured earlier in the year! The feed back I got from the recruiter was they were ready to bring me on board, but all of a sudden, the recruiter told me they wanted to interview a few more people.  A few days passed , then a couple weeks passed.  I asked the recruiter what's going on, but she told me they told me they wanted to interview more people. A month after I had interview with Wild Turkey, I gave up waiting and resumed my job search. Something insides me was asking " Did they not want a 50 year old Black guy working at their establishment?". Of course I couldn't prove anything, but it just kept gnawing at me why were they so hesitant to offer me the job.

Shortly after that fiasco, I was offered a contract-to-hire position with DXC, who had recently bought out the contact with IBM, who provided computer support to AT&T. I interviewed with the manager of the Tech group.  The interview didn't last fifteen minutes! She asked me the generic "Tell me about yourself" question, then I went int my job history spiel. After that she asked if I had reliable transportation, to which I replied "yes". I tried to ask a couple of technical questions but she didn't answer them. then the interview was over. I called the recruiter and told him how short the interview was and that she was more concerned about my having reliable transportation than my technical knowledge.  About 30 minutes after that call, the recruiter calls back and offers me the job!  I was overjoyed that I finally have a job in that wings so I can quit Conduent, but was concerned about what I was walking into because of the interview. Of course, I accepted the new job. The pay was the same but I'm not driving to Lexington every day, and I'm getting paid weekly instead of bimonthly!



Am I Black or African-American?

I was listening to the Joe Madison Show on Sirius XM radio this morning. Joe seemed to be in a rather nasty, "I don't want to hear any BS" kind of mood. Some of the callers that Joe didn't agree with were curtly interrupted before they could complete their thought and hung up on. One caller was suggesting to Joe that we (African-Americans) should remove the hyphen from our nationality. Joe responded, rather defensively, that we should not drop the hyphen because other nationalities don't. Unfortunately Joe didn't allow the caller to finish his thought as I was interested in knowing his reasoning. For me, I think it's something much deeper than a category or classification.

As far as being referred to as African-American, I think that it's a misnomer. To me, the term "African-American" implies an immigrant from Africa coming to the United States of his or her own volition, regardless of circumstance, to make a better life. In the case of most Black American, that is not the case. You should not have to look any farther than history. During the Slave Trade, Black Africans were brought to American against their will, whether they were kidnapped or sold in to Slavery. After arriving to America, slave were taken to slave markets to be bought and sold by slave masters, tearing families apart. Over generations, we were stripped of our true heritage, language, and culture and forced to adopt a culture that viewed us as less than human.

I would dare say that the disconnect between Africa and descendants of slaves is somewhat similar to the disconnect between God and Man; the only difference being there in no intercessory to repair the rift. I also say that the disconnect is so complete that I or any Black American are just as much a foreigner to Africa as any non-African.

I recall the trip to Accra, Ghana I took back in 1993. I was the first time I traveled outside the U.S.  After arriving to Kotoka International Airport, it was a virtual sea of Black people. But the airport is no different than any other, with people rushing to get from A to B in 2 minutes or less. The 2 weeks I spent in Koforidua were amazing! To be among so many people who look like me was very comforting. As much as I felt comforted, I felt very much estranged. I didn't know the language, the customs, or anything for that matter. I was very much a stranger in a strange land.  at the end of the 2nd week, I was more than ready to head back to the States because that's what I know, that's where people I live and grew up with are, that's my home.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Online Recruiters

Job Recruiters SUCK!


I'm job hunting in hopes of finding a job close to home and pays fairly well based on my level and years of experience. So I'm doing everything I need to do to get noticed; updating my resume, registering on job search sites, asking friends if they hear of any openings to let me know, etc.  Shortly afterward, job recruiters are blowing up my phone and email box with job opportunities that I would be a "great" fit for. So I follow up. They quiz me on my job knowledge and experience, ask for some personal info, agree to their right to represent form, and tell me not to speak with any other job recruiter about the same position because I would be qualified for multiples submissions.

All well and good, but the outcome has really soured me on job recruiters. I question their integrity and commitment of their job of finding me a job. In my view, they are the "used car salesman" of the recruiting business. I've grown sick of them getting my hopes up of landing a job only to get disappointed.

Lately, I'm getting spammed with emails about job opportunities in other cities and states. My first question is "Did they not read the address line of my resume?" Apparently not. Do they honestly expect me to be able to just pick up and move to another city or state for a job that's short-term and/or has no chance of becoming permanent? I've replied to those email asking if they would offer relocation assistance; of course, they said no. In cases where the job is in another city in the same state, it's far enough away from home that I will be spending a lot of time and burning a lot of gas (and $$$!) just commuting to and from work! I feel like I would need to take out a 2nd mortgage just to keep gas in the car so I can get to and from work! Not to mention the daily wear and tear I would put on my car. God forbid if my car broke down along the commute!

Another thing I hate about job recruiter is that they don't tell you up front how much the job pays and when I ask, they give me a figure that's insulting. Some recruiters have told me "Well, you got to pay the bills right?". I'm not some high school kid needing pocket money for the mall. What you're offering me won't begin to cover my bills! I would be just like a lot of people where are working and receive government assistance because their jobs don't pay enough to cover their needs. I want to be paid what I'm worth! Given my years of work experience and education, that's well more than minimum wage. I'm not so desperate that I will undervalue myself and accept anything that comes along for the sake of being employed: I'm way to old for that now. I want to be paid what I'm worth that will afford me a comfortable lifestyle. I'm not asking for a king's ransom but I'm not taking an underpaying job that will keep me constantly struggling to keep the bills paid and will not afford me to do things like actually take a vacation away from home or pursue some of my interests. I don't think that's too much to ask.


Seemingly, recruiters are becoming more like pests. They find me resume on LinkedIn, Monster or CareerBuilder, then spam my email box and blow up my phone with their "great opportunities", getting my hopes up. So I jump through their hoops in order to at least get an interview. One of two things happen at this point but the same result. I’m scheduled an interview which I follow through (not to mention them calling and emailing me to make sure I make the appointment) after which I hear nothing from anyone, or I simply don’t hear anything from the recruiter after speaking with him or her. I tend to think if I might have said something to cause them to rethink my qualifications for that “great opportunity”. Now I think they’re jerking me around. One recruiter called me about a job he had available and would call me once a week with excuses about having trouble getting in touch with the hiring manager of the client company. He would tell me that the hiring manager was traveling or on vacation. This went on for over a month! Eventually, I stopped answering his calls I was so disgusted with him.

I understand the game here. Recruiting companies work with employers to fill positions as cheaply as possible and they make money for every person they bring in who gets hired on. But to have the same result from so may recruiters tells me there's either a problem with me or them; and I don't think it's me! Some of them seem to have an attitude that they're doing me a favor calling and emailing me about a job that I  would still have to interview and may or may not get.  And when I'm not selected, they're attitude is "don't call us, we'll call you",

OK. I'll get off my soapbox now. I think I got everything off my chest.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Making Changes In My Life

Making Changes

Job Changes

I'm looking to change my current job situation. My main reason are that (1) I am commuting 82 miles to work each day and (2) the job what not what it was advertised to be.

My first point is that the job is just too far away physically from my home. I and driving at least 165 miles per day driving between work and home. That's about a half tank of gas a day which is about $120 in gas per week! I feel like the gas station is my second home! I know I can't keep this up for much longer.

Why don't I just move closer to my job site? A couple of reasons. First, my current job is a contract position, which could end at any point in time. At this time, there is no indication that I will transition to a direct-hire position. To me that's not a good reason to relocate. The thing that scares me the most is to relocate and then find out afterward that my contract has ended and will not be renewed. That would totally suck! Also, moving is expensive! Finding another place to live, packing, renting a moving van,hiring a moving company, it all cost money! Money I don't have. And it's something you don't do on a whim. Also, I'm not the spring chicken I once was! Carrying boxes, carrying pieces of furniture, and loading / unloading trucks takes a LOT out of me now and I feel EVERY bit of it! 

Secondly, my current job was not the job that was advertised. My experience for the most part has been in Computer Desktop Support (Break/Fix), which the current job was advertised as such. After I was offered the job and came on board, I found out that the job is actually PCI Compliance and had nothing to do with Desktop Support. Another notch in my IT tool belt? Of course, but it was not the job for which I had interviewed. So I'm making the best of the situation by learning PCI Compliance and, in my view, making myself more valuable.

Most of all, I'm not happy with my job. It's just a means to keep the bills paid. The people I work with aren't very friendly (at least towards me). The manager at the time I was hired on (who has moved on to a job with another company) did not train me on the job or at least get me acclimated with the job, so I feel like I'm stumbling along, getting bits and pieces here and there. I've been on jobs where there the training is like a baptism by fire, but to get hired on to a job that turns out to be different than what you interviewed for and not to receive any training whatsoever?  I feel so unprepared and getting no guidance or direction from anyone. I'm am dealing with it for now while looking for another job.

Changes in Where I Worship

This is a very hard but necessary change. I have been attending the same church since living in Louisville. I understand there is politics in everything (Church is not immune), but I have been feeling like I have been stifled for a very long time despite efforts of  being an active member in the church. I have created a website for the church when none existed, I helped run the soundboard at a time when no adult was doing it, and I also sing in the choir. In all these area, I feel like I am not getting any support or guidance. Speaking of guidance, my spiritual walk is no different that when I start a new job. My experience has been a "baptism by fire"; no real guidance, just being thrown out there to figure things out for myself and only told what not to do after I've done it. I've learn a lot from my old church but being a church steeped in Louisville history. there are traditions from the past that are still practiced today. That would be a good thing except that there is no allowance for some of the more modern church practices. My biggest complaint would be that there doesn't seem to be any leadership / organization within the church. The auxiliaries seem to be doing there own thing without the knowledge or approval of the Pastor which has resulted in conflicts among themselves, which is very disheartening.

For the first time yesterday, I attended another church service. Checking out the congregation, I was amazed that a sizable number of them are young and middle-aged adults! Secondly, the children's choir was very good! Thirdly, I was amazed that the entire service lasted for a little over an hour! Service at my old church lasted around 3.5 hours! No chance of me falling asleep during service!

Not everything is without its drawbacks! Since this church has 3 services, you can't help but feel like you're moving through the drive-thru of a a fast food restaurant. Even though the sermon was very powerful and exciting, there's really no time to meditate on the speaker's words and relate the sermon to what is going on in my life, so I'm saying that there's really no time to get in to the Spirit. For the same reason, there is no hooping going on. Even though there is an acknowledgement of visitors, there was no opportunity to speak; again, mainly because of time restraints.It's more like you're herded in, get a word, then herded out.

Not ready to pull my membership just yet! After all , this is just one visit to one church. There are a few other churches in Louisville I have been interested in visiting so I'm officially church-hopping for now. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Learning Guitar

Wannabe Guitar Hero

I'm Not Prince or Eric Clapton!

I picked up the guitar when I was around 10 years old but didn't keep up with it. Now that I'm a half century old, I want to pick it back up and stay with it until I'm at least decent at playing it. I took lessons at the local music stor for a year. My instructor taught me some guitar riffs from sons like Daytripper and Smoke On The Water, but I want to maintain and expand what I learned.

The key is to practice at least 30 minutes per day. Trouble is life has a way of interfering with it. I tried to set a time each day to practice but things seem to want to mandate my attention, especially the time between returning home from work and bedtime. Guess I need to buckle down and not let anything deter me from practicing.the guitar.

I'm currently focusing on learning rhythm guitar. There ar some R&B songs that I can practice and learn. There are also some gospel songs I want to learn. But it all boils down to practice practice practice!