Archive for October 2008


October 31, 2008

As the operator of a resume writing service I’ve interviewed thousands of clients over twenty years – everyday people in the process of gaining or changing employment. No matter how many I’ve interviewed, or what their profession, I find each client brings something unique to the table.

Recently I interviewed a 30-year-old medical sales rep. He talked, a bit philosophically, about selling high-end equipment to neurosurgeons. The equipment represented new technology and therefore, to the surgeons, a new way of doing things. The sales process was laborious. The rep slowly built rapport with his prospects, then tried to get them to attend an equipment demonstration. If that went well he arranged training for the surgeon, including setting up the facilities and acquiring cadavers. Eventually the rep came to the place in the professional relationship where he asked the doctor if s/he would take on (purchase) the product, edging gently but firmly from the friendly relationship to a business mode. The doctor might say, “Yes.” Or, “No, I don’t like it,” or even, “Yes, I like it, but my old college buddy sells for the competition.”

Regardless of the outcome, the rep was more concerned with the dignity of the relationship and the patient outcomes, than the $120-$150,000 yearly earnings he fluctuated between, based on his sales.

AK-47; want cream or sugar with that?

October 29, 2008

An old high school friend of mine married a pro-Western Afghan she met while running a hospital in Pakistan. For several years they lived in the US, but following the fall of the Taliban they moved to Afghanistan, hoping to help with the rebuilding of that country.

Since their return there, they’ve opened the Kabul Kafe, an Afghan “Starbucks” that attracts an international clientele. And they adopted a baby Afghan girl, now two. Unfortunately, that country’s national security has slowly deteriorated. E-mails and photos from them subtly tell the story. There is a photo of their beautiful child with big Asian eyes staring intently at the camera, sitting on the knee of a haggard but smiling, toothless man wielding an AK-47 (“Our house guard”). Another photo of the Kafe, complete with staff: host, cook, baristas, and shooters. Yep. Four more dentist boycotters with AK-47s and personas suggesting they’ve got the necessary “experience.” They greet you at the door.

In 2007 a US friend visited them to help with the grand opening of their cafe – prior to their hiring the shooters. He related this anecdote: “We were sitting there drinking coffee when in walked eight South African mercenaries (freelance hired guns) toting automatic rifles and pistols. I could see their jeeps out front – with armed guards. G… (our high school friend) calmly walked over to their two tables and said, ‘Guys, we don’t do guns here. If you want to put them in the back room until you leave, that’s fine, or you can put them outside in your jeeps…’

“Dead silence fell over the two tables,” the friend continued.” Then there was mumbling and some bad-looking eye contact going on as the English-speaking ones translated to the French and Dutch-speaking…then more mumbling. Finally, they all stood in unison and took their guns outside, and came back in.” He paused and added, “I could see they had their pistols under their clothes.”

Who’s to blame for the $hape we’re in?

October 22, 2008

You. Me. Us.

I met three friends for lunch yesterday at the Cheese Cake Factory, that chain restaurant expanding around the country. Nice restaurant. Nice waiter – a gung-ho college kid who acted as if there was nothing he’d rather be doing than waiting on us. Good food. Nice presentation.

The bill was $75.00. Four people, simple lunch – soup, sandwich and salad. No fancy drinks. One dessert was split among three of us. $75.00, plus tip, is $90, or $22.50 apiece. Maybe I sound like I live in the woods but that’s outrageous. I’m not blaming the Cheese Cake Factory. My guess is they’re paying $40,000 a month ($1333/day!) in rent for their free-standing building in the center of one of the wealthiest malls in New York State.

I blame me, myself, for even going there. And I take issue with the other patrons, some in business suits, others in sweatshirts, for spending that kind of money on something that should cost only half of what we paid or, better yet, be packed at home for dimes and quarters in a brown paper bag, and carried to work.

America can’t blame Wall Street for anything. America doesn’t want to be responsible. America wants to buy now, what we don’t need, and what we can’t afford to pay cash for, and worry about it all later on.

Farrakhan calls for ‘new beginning’

October 21, 2008

Am I the only one who has seen this headline in several places and mistook it for more racially-colored denouncements of our society?

On Monday, October 20, I finally had a chance to read a Chicago Tribune article by Jeff Long that, to me, spelled a welcome relief.

The Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan spoke to a crowd of 7,500 – two-thirds of whom had to stand outside in tents and watch him on TV screens – at the dedication of a mosque on Chicago’s South Side. His talk started out sounding, as usual, like a far-reaching cultural complaint, but then took what to me was an unexpected turn…for the better?

Here is an excerpt from his one hour-and-forty-five minute speech:

“Religion as it is being preached and practiced is a failure…That failure is evidenced by the bloodshed that stains city streets across America and marks conflicts around the globe…Are Muhammad and Jesus enemies? Why, then, are we?

This past February, during the democratic presidential primary, Farrakhan publicly couched Barack Obama as the only hope for healing the racial division in the United States. Ironically, Obama has distanced himself from Farrakhan, and has stated he did not seek his support.

A gunner shoots from the hip: observations, statements, warnings

October 18, 2008

Two gun-related posts in a row doesn’t necessarily mean I’m pro-gun. I just think these are interesting and I always like to give each side a voice.

Here goes…

To all you old law dogs lying in the shade, current pistoleros, and other fervent Second Amendment believers:

The purpose of fighting is to win.

There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain; all else is suplemental.

America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the mall.

John Steinbeck said, “Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he’s too old to fight he’ll just kill you.”

If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics are wrong.

I personall carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

Shoot first; then call 911.

Gun fighting rules

October 15, 2008

These rules are from a former Marine who became a police officer. They were given to me by a retired Rochester NY police officer.

Rules of gun fighting:

1 ) Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

2 ) Have a gun. Preferably have at least two guns.

3 ) Bring all your friends who have guns.

4 ) Anyone worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo’s cheap; life’s expensive. There’s no additional paperwork for shooting someone twice.

5 ) Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.

6 ) If your shooting stance is good, you’re not moving fast enough.

7 ) If you’re not shooting you should be communicating, reloading or running.

8 ) Always cheat. Always win. The only unfair gun fight is one you lose.

9 ) If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.

10 ) Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it’s empty.

11 ) Use cover or concealment as much as possible.

12 ) Following  a re-load, do a 360-degree threat scan.

13 ) Become aggressive enough, quickly enough. The faster you finish a gunfight, the less shot you’ll get.

14 ) Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one. Your number one option for personal security is avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.

15 ) Do not attend a gun fight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a “4”.

16 ) Carry the same gun in the same place all the time.

17 ) In ten years nobody will remember the details; just who lived.

Palefaces versus Indians

October 14, 2008

When the first European explorers arrived and confronted the residents on the shores of the Western Hemisphere they called them Indians; they thought they’d landed in India. These Indians and their strange tongues weren’t mentioned in the Bible – the major cultural reference point among Eurpopean countries – so the explorers didn’t know how to classify them. They were considered by many Euros to be some form of animal life. It wasn’t until a century-and-a-half later that the leaders of the Christian Church decided that the Indians were humans. By this time, the gold had been taken and, to the north, the Indians’ land was already being settled.

This may sound archaic, but it’s no different than how we treat today’s Indians, half-a-millennium later. Today, however, our strategy is 180 degrees from what it was in the 16th century. Where we were once the aggressors, we are now sandbaggers, effusing the same passive-aggressive mode of operation that seems to be in all our intercultural relations, from the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts, to Civil Rights.

The Indians want some land back. Not necessarily their land; that’d be most of America. Just some land, almost any land would do. But the spinal cord of our passive-agressive society – the legal system – is using its tools to delay decisions regarding whether we palefaces should give land back to the the Injuns. How much land? Which land?

Having researched the Indians for some articles I wrote, I realize that we did take land away from them, going against our own Pickering Treaty. I was upset by the fact that we were ignoring the Indians’ requests. When they got too loud and we couldn’t ignore them, we simply put them on legal “hold” via the various courtroom tactics we have.

But as I watch time pass, and see all the casinos being built, and watch the busloads of retired people spending their money at the slots and the tables, as I read about oldsters re-mortgaging their paid-for homes to raise money to throw on the tables, I’m beginning to realize that the Indians are indeed winning back their land, one nickel and one chip at a time.

Living with a non-elected governor

October 10, 2008

When I first learned that Eliot Spitzer was going to resign as governor of New York, I feared the worst. This man – this strong leader with a track record of driving positive change as New York’s attorney general – was going to be replaced by someone I’d never heard of prior to the election. To boot, this “someone” was blind.

Ironically, now eight months since high-profile Spitzer’s resignation and unknown David Paterson’s assumption of the gubenatorial seat, a sort of peacefulness seems to have come to the Empire State. There have been no recants on campaign promises; Paterson made no promises. There has been no scathing criticism of his performance by his opponents, constituents or the media.

In fact, this quiet man may have come along at just the right time. With all the unpopular state funding cuts that may have to be made as a result of the crashing economy, a governor who made promises might have his hands tied. His cutting might be skewed. He might be beholding to special interests. If funds have to be cut, I’d rather see a dark horse do it, as opposed to someone who shook a million hands to get where he is.

Spitzer’s demise may have been a blessing in disguise; it gave us a man with no ego and a free hand.

Culture based on credit

October 8, 2008

A mortgage company  purchased the office building in which my resume writing business is located. The mortgage company and its employees all moved in recently, taking over the second and third floors. And the parking lot.

Their vehicles can be immediately spotted as one scans the parking lot. Unlike the usual sedans of the doctors, therapists and hairdressers that have been here for years, their’s are big SUVs – mostly black – almost like it’s a requirement for employment. Many have vanity license plates: MRTG GIRL, HOUSMONY, PREM MTG, etc.

In this economic climate I think it’s time to see different license plates: NOPLASTC, BANKMONY, SAVE UP, and PAYCASH.


October 6, 2008

Just so we’re on the same page, I’m calling a lawsuit a means of resolving civil issues through monetary settlement. I’m particularly interested in the fact that settlements often seem disproportionately large compared to the alleged “damages.”

In the 21st century people are seeking to resolve every possible issue through lawsuits. We are all undoubtedly familiar with the case of the woman who ordered coffee to go at Macdonalds, spilled it in her car and burned herself, and successfully sued the fast food giant.

This case illustrates the perverse nature of our legal system. Consider that at least one-third of any lawsuit award goes to the suing attorney. That is their sole motivation for suing. Attorneys are not any more altruistic than you or I. What made the attorney take the coffee-spiller’s case? The woman was significantly injured? He felt sorry for her? Neither.

He took the case because the “offending and therefore negligent party” was sue-able. If a guy with the hot dog stand on wheels sold her hot coffee and it burned her, who could the attorney sue? Macdonalds is huge and has deep pockets.

A client of mine manages thirteen Hess gas station-mini-marts. He said the Drug Alcohol and Tobacco people regularly send underage people to his stores to try to purchase cigarettes. They do not send these imposters to “ma and pa” stores. This is because they can heavily fine deep-pocketed Amarada Hess for violating the tobacco laws, but can’t similarly fine some small operation without putting them out of business.