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Catching Up (PerBlog 2017-06-17)

What a whirl of a week this has been. Summer is in full swing and with it, the heat and the storms that I so love about Florida. Even living a stone’s throw from the beach, I still haven’t had the opportunity to get out much. When I can, I enjoy every second of the scent of the salt water, the wind, and the sounds that make Vitamin-Sea such a vital part of a healthy spirit.

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Photo on Hutchinson Island, Florida, credit: Heather Noel (LifeInPawPrints).

Summer plans have gotten off to a slow start, mainly due to finances and unstable hours at work. It’s the slow season so where I was hoping for overtime, there hasn’t been any and there’s always a chance of being volunteered to go home early, so that make it hard to plan some things, not knowing how much a paycheck will be when it’s all said and done. BUT… I’m working on other financial fixes, they’re just being stalled by a very slow legal process which is driving me mad. I always found it ironic that it costs SO MUCH to fix money problems. Perfect example: Bankruptcy. Hundreds of dollars to file, yet if you’re truly bankrupt, you don’t have hundreds of dollars to file, or you wouldn’t be bankrupt. The legal system is twisted and distorted to work against the people, not for the people, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant altogether.

My daughter had wanted to get a job this summer at Publix but even after applying and following up, she was not not called back. They will hire at 14 but she may have a better chance when she turns 15 in a couple weeks. She’s already worked there unofficially, bagging for her grandmother who worked as a cashier, so one store’s staff already knows her. That’s always a plus. But until something comes through for her on employment, she is enjoying the first weeks of summer with me and my partner, his mother and sister. We keep her busy with the art studio, the gym, DIY projects… there’s always something to do. Plus, she gets to sleep in to her heart’s content ūüôā

Projects for me include getting some flowers planted (though I’m a couple months late in doing so!) and building a container garden that won’t fall apart like the last attempt. Aside from the seaside, gardening is good medicine for my often bitter spirit. It takes me out of the world and back into the basics of life. I like sowing, I like producing, and I like the idea of making something useful out of nothing. Growing things does that for me. Trouble is finding a place to grow where all the animals won’t destroy my work. Chickens and raccoons are great at getting onto and into places they shouldn’t be!

Suppose that’s it for now. This heat is making me grouchy. Normally I love this house (basically an open-air wood cabin type historic house – no AC – central or window shakers) but summers are a real bitch. There’s no escaping the heat. Even the shade is brutal.

Daily Prompt – Money for Nothing?

In response to: Daily Prompt – Money for Nothing

Dream jobs… we all want one. For some, that dream job just means sitting back and collecting on a winning Powerball ticket. ¬†The most joy, I think, comes from the satisfaction of doing work that you love that also pays the bills. ¬†My dream job is not going to be found in any newspaper or on Monster. ¬†It will have to be crafted with hard work and a hefty sum of funds to start – where they would come from is unknown but… prayer does bring miracles, especially when it’s for a good cause.

This is something I’ve been half-heartedly plotting for years – half-heartedly due to not knowing where or how to acquire the funds to start and run it all. ¬†I started by listing three of my main interests that I would love to make my life’s work: animal rescue, social work and a bed and breakfast. ¬†In combining these things, I came up with an idea: An unwanted horse rescue which would be run on a ranch. As part of a ranch, there would be housing. That housing could be used as a battered women’s shelter. ¬†The name: Renewal Ranch. ¬†The organization’s “icon” would be a simple sunrise, signifying each day bringing new light. Something like…

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…Without the green screen of course ūüôā

Horses are taken in to be cared for. Women are taken in to be cared for. In return for their shelter, the women would get to connect with nature and the horses by helping to care for them. ¬†Both the women and the horses would be safe, sheltered, fed and helped to recover from abuse, neglect and un-want. The joy to me would be in helping everyone involved, give the women a purpose and the horses a second chance. The positive energy would come full circle as the women rehabilitate the horses and the horses help rehabilitate the women. I’m giving myself 9 years to find a way to acquire the funds for this project because I would like to “retire” from the corporate world at 50 and spend the last half of my life (yes, I plan on being around until at least 100!) doing good for some of those most in need. ¬†My dream job – a labour of love.

Working For Free – Oyster Reef Volunteer

Having been out of work for some time now, the cabin fever was setting in pretty hard. ¬†Between having no income yet still spending gas to get to job interviews, there was no gas to just get away for pleasure, a break from the monotony and certainly no funds for entertainment. ¬†I needed to feel useful again, productive. ¬†That is when I came across a request in the local paper for volunteers to help that coming weekend on a project to build an artificial reef in the area. ¬†I’m a nature lover and have always been interested in (and often active in) conservation efforts – how cool was that?

After e-mailing the listed contact for details, I was excited to get to work Рeven if it was for free.  I let a friend of mine know about the project and he was on board as well.  That Saturday, he picked me up early and we went out to Harbour Pointe on the inlet where several tons of oyster shells were ready in large barrels and on sheets of plywood in huge piles.

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About 20 other volunteers showed up and we were given a brief primer on the task at hand.    We organized ourselves into each area Рshoveling, bagging and tying off.  I shoveled shells into smaller buckets while my friend bagged and tied them.  They were then loaded onto a truck to be moved to their final resting place in Wildcat Cove.  

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During a break in which bottled water and other drinks were provided, the leader of the operation and a colleague commended us all on our efforts which far exceeded their expectations. ¬†In just about 2 hours, we’d already assembled about 400 20-pound oyster bags for deployment. ¬†My friend and I stayed for a 20-minute informational lecture about oyster reefs,¬†their¬†local benefits, lots of statistics and zoological info as well. ¬†We broke for lunch then and would meet up at low tide a few miles up the coast at Wildcat Cove.

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Upon arrival at Wildcat Cove, we found the oyster bags in a neat pile in front of the canoe launch. ¬†Another 100 bags had been assembled and brought up in two deliveries. ¬†It took a little brainstorming as to how we were going to get the bags to the reef area, but one adventurous girl with her own kayak said she could pull floating tubs of about 30 bags per load out to the location. ¬†There was some interesting trial-and-error in getting the system going, including one thankfully good-humored man getting impossibly stuck in the thick muck at the bottom of the river. ¬†It took more than ten minutes to get the river to release his legs and he lost a shoe, but we got him back safely! ¬†Note to self: Don’t go into the water without a boat here!

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Once we got the production line going, the rest was – pardon the pun – smooth sailing. ¬†Bags were floated out to a mangrove area where a 4-foot high oyster “wall” was built staggered around the mangroves. ¬†Once settled and cemented, these artificial reefs will provide settling places for new oyster spawns, as well as providing habitat for young fish and feeding grounds for birds such as herons, ibis, loons, cormorants, anhingas and more.

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I remain in contact with the organizer of this effort who works for the county in coastal restoration and he is helping me network with other people in the field so that I may actually find work in conservation or a related field.  Even if it is a desk job, it would be a great opportunity (and has been) to do something productive in a field I really enjoy.  Another reef build is coming up in two days.  This time my daughter will also be involved, getting her hands dirty and having a positive impact on our local, unique and delicate ecosystem.

A Little Appreciation

How many times have you found yourself saying, “I tried to help them…” in instances where someone you were trying to assist put forth no effort to help themselves?

“SK” seemed like a nice enough man. ¬†Upper 40’s, divorced, and on disability after a nearly fatal motorcycle crash. ¬†He’d moved to the area in an attempt to start his life over, get a change of scenery and get back on his feet. ¬†When the disability money had run out, he secured a job as a salesman but wasn’t very good at the job. ¬†He was computer illiterate, had short term memory problems, and unrealistic expectations of salary. ¬†Within days of starting work, he began tuning out and lost all enthusiasm.

He shared his story with me, venting that he just wanted to get his life back after the divorce, the accident, the vagrancy and the long string of “bad luck” that had befallen him. ¬†Shortly thereafter, he was thrown out of the motel he was living in for dealing drugs on the¬†premises and had moved to another motel. ¬†When he came to me asking for advice and help and telling me he only had $11.00 to his name and no place to go, it sounded as if he was going to be one of those men who just wanted someone to latch onto for support.

I know the type, I’ve ended up with them many times in the past but I thankfully learned from those mistakes and did not let my heart be affected by his attempts. ¬†Instead, I gave him phone numbers and addresses of my landlord who has affordable apartments in the area and who would work with him, of the local outreach center who could provide food, clothing and other basic services, and to other places that could help him with his immediate needs. ¬†I even gave him my personal card letting him know I was available if he needed someone to talk to or to help him find additional assistance.

Well, the day after he was evicted from his motel room, he also lost the job he’d just started. ¬†At that time, I believe he also lost all hope and I felt very sorry for him. ¬†That was until I helped clear out his work area and found that not only had he left behind all the valuable information I’d given him for shelter, food and clothing, even my card – he’d thrown the information in the trash. ¬†Seeing that immediately changed my opinion of him and validated my gut instinct that this person did not want to do anything for himself. ¬†The opportunities he was given received zero effort from him (including the job).

It disgusts me that there are so many good people in the world who try to help others less fortunate by giving them the tools they need to help themselves yet the people they’re trying to help end up completely unappreciative of the help they’re given. ¬†I don’t know if it amounts to laziness, arrogance, selfishness, or all of the above, but these people who only seek to take what they can from others without any effort on their own part are just dirt in my opinion. ¬†They’ve no appreciation for the time and energy others are willing to put into them and do not deserve any sort of welfare or assistance until they are willing to do something for themselves.

That’s my vent for the day.

Not hiring? Don’t just blame the economy!

Since late 2008, the media has been feeding the public’s panic on the state of the economy and while analysts abound with their own long columns of numbers and conclusions, the general population is still apt to blame “the economy” as a whole for present situations, including a lack of available jobs. I’d like to bring to light another reason for the lack of “Help Wanted” signage that may well be a valid one: the *quality* of the job candidates.

For the past 4 years, I have been working at a small financial firm. We need a relatively high-caliber person to pass the interview process before making the hiring decision. Not only must they have a clean background, but also a strong work ethic. We deal with highly sensitive financial information and cannot risk bringing someone on board who is anything less than professional. The rules here are straightforward and in place both by law and by our own standards of procedure to protect the clients, the customers, the company and its employees.

Over the past few years in an attempt to expand a bit, we have gone on roughly one good hiring spree per year, looking for qualified and quality candidates to work with us. 99% of them are filtered out during the interview process. The one or two who survive get the opportunity to work with a solid company and gain excellent experience in the credit industry, as well as advance their careers.

Something seems to transform however during the first few weeks to months of the new employee’s time on the job. It’s almost as if they’ve forgotten that during their interview and training, they had us convinced they were intelligent, diligent and professional, trustworthy and ethical. Soon after beginning their employ with us, we find them calling out sick with minor, if not fabricated, ailments, simply not showing up, napping at their desks, surfing the web for personal reasons, acting inappropriately for the workplace to the owner and other employees (one recent employee actually tried to couple up with me and another woman here to get us into a threesome with his wife as well as attempting to kiss me!). There are the ones who backtalk the owner and show blatant disregard for his instruction. One threw a phone at him and stormed out after being told at least six times that morning to stop interfering with another person’s computer. Then we have had a few who have actually attempted to take business off the company for themselves to profit, and one who asked ME to assist with his scheme. Honestly, did that person not stop to think my loyalty would lie with the company that’s taken care of me for four years? There have also been a couple who have left here for something “better” and come straight back asking for another chance. We decline to take them back – like any company, we like loyalty. These are the kind of people we are finding.

Since 2006, we have had well over a dozen hard-screened men and women of all ages, all walks, come through our doors touting the best of intentions only to completely fail in the upkeep of their guise. We’ve since ceased advertising open positions and have turned away those inquiring after work. It’s not because we don’t need someone, it’s because of the experiences we have endured with those we did hire. We simply will not waste any more time and money on the general populace. Our freeze has nothing to do with the economy whatsoever. Instead, it has everything to do with the quality of the workforce available. Like a bad relationship, our ex employees have turned us off of the idea of future ones. Therefore, we continue on looking after what we have, and everyone is happy.

Incidentally, the people I work with have nearly all been with the company since at or near its beginning. We are more than simply employees, we are the backbone of the company – because we know right from wrong, we believe in and uphold the quality of our work and of ourselves, and we look out for each other.

Integrity. The American workforce is in desperate need of some.