January 31, 2017
Thank you for your interest. What would you like?
Visiting Grand Rapids? Moving here? See what there
is to see and do in Grand Rapids,
Do you have money and want to improve
things? If so:
If you use batteries, buy these quality rechargeable
batteries, and help Burro Brands expand, help the poor and save the planet.
If your space needs a bike rack, choose the Bike Petal tree-like vertical bike rack,
designed and built in West Michigan. Fun, way cool, impossible for
pedestrians to trip over, stores bikes compactly and out of the rain.
I saw one at my local community college (just out of bike range for me),
but there is supposed to be one in my local town now. Will use the next time we ride
For 3 years, I was a bicycle commuter. Started out one day a week/half
the year. Later extended to twice a week/two-thirds of the year
(minimal ice and snow on my bikepaths). If not in school/doing special
projects, and feeling good, sometime push four days a week. My recommendations:
- Plan. Drive your commute, and look for problem areas.
Find ways to deal with that. Take your bike to a bikeshop for
a tune-up. Spend the money—you will make it back on decreased
driving and medical costs.
- Get a brain bucket! I used to try on about 50 helmets
before I settled on what that fits, but the new suspensions are much
easier to adjust. If your helmet is damaged or over 4 years
old, get a new one. If you live in a cold climate, bring your
favorite thin windproof hat or earwarmers. Get a helmet that fits!
If not advanced, have the clerk adjust the straps correctly—right
before your ear lobes, and chinstrap tight enough so only two fingers
- Be visible!
Wear bright colors—thanks
for the yellow T-shirt, kids!
Wear reflective stuff—thanks for the reflecto-belt, Marty!
Wear blinkies (flashing lights) to the front, rear and side—thanks,
Marty and me! Mine are battery-powered, mounted high, and obnoxious—I
love them. These new ones are passive—install
Half of all biking deaths, roughly, are of urban ninja riders—riding with dark clothing at nighttime, no lights, or wrong side of the road. Don't ride like this—>
- Don't ride drunk. Another quarter or third of biking deaths are BWI or BUI. 12 hours from bottle to pedal.
- Wear eye protection. Keep bugs (warm) or sand (cold)
out of your eyes. Sunglasses are fine, as are prescription glasses,
with or without clip-ons. If selecting them in the store, put
them on, look down, and shake your head around. If they stay put
and give good coverage, they are good. Since my distance prescription
is only 1/2 and 1/4 diopters, I got some cool clear safety glasses for
rides near the winter solstice (November, and the very few times I can
ride in December- to early March). The farther down my cheeks,
the less they fog when I breath out fast. Whatever you have will
be fine; later, you might seek improvements.
- Ride courteous. Ride just like you are a car. Well,
okay, you can't ride that fast. Pretend you are a backhoe, or
a piece of farm machinery, just happen to be a little narrower.
If there isn't 1.5 lanes, take your lane. Your lane is the right-most
lane that goes your direction—if that is number 3 lane of 4, that
lane is yours. Generally, I ride in the right-tire track, except
the few hundred feet when I am in lane 3 of 4 on Kraft crossing 28th
Street, I take the middle—that lane is mine. If on-street
parallel parking, stay 3 feet inboard of car doors.
- Ride safe. Take it easy the first few rides. Only
after a few rides do I start to push it—but never higher than
my pulsewatch says.
How to Not
Get Hit by Cars: Important Lessons on Bicycle Safety.
- Enjoy the wildlife. I see bunnies most days in Spring
(particularly the juveniles), and even fairly often later in the year.
I occasionally see a deer family. And a wild turkey once. And
if I leave on time, the nicely-dressed woman in her 80s, who is out
there walking every single day at that time. And all the dogwalkers,
stroller-pushers, and so on. And the changing weather, flowers
- Ride your local bike routes.
Bikepath map for Michigan's Ada Township.
Bikepath map for Michigan's Grand Rapids area, more detailed .pdf version.
Bikepath map for Michigan's Kent County Trails.
- Off-season. When it is too icy to ride, why not assassinate
invasive plants? A great time for it!
- Advanced. After you've commuted a couple times, and enjoyed
it, call me for shower options and ways to carry gear. As time
goes on, you will acquire more toys (blinkies [flashing lights], rainjacket,
trip computer, pulsewatch, mirror, etc.), and probably search out other people
who commute. I'll dig out my blog on how my bike is currently
pimped out. And:
• A good stretching link: League of Michigan Bicyclists.
• Getting Started,
• Bicycling Street Smarts:
Riding Confidently, Legally and Safely,
• Ride to Work Month,
• Aging and Cycling,
• What Every Michigan Bicyclist Must Know,
• Bicycle Friendly Communities,
• NHTSA bicycle safety info and
• Sierra Club's Bike Commuting Resources, including your bike, your
first day, weather and tips for female cyclists from a female cyclist.
- Super-advanced. Winter two-wheeled commutes. I don't do this yet.
- Sign the biking directions petition.
- Get your relatives to take the test.
- Funny that I wrote the above before this LA Times article (archived at BicycleLaw.com).
When it is too icy to
ride, why not assassinate invasive plants? A great time to elminate "biological
pollution"! Lots of people pull garlic mustard in April/May,
and lots of people attack oriental bittersweet and blackberries
in July/August, and I do, too. But is is hot and sweaty then, particularly
if armored against thorns with jeans, boots, thick leather gloves, thick
long-sleeved shirt, heavy hat, and safety glasses. Why not do it
when it is 2° below freezing, you have better access to the base of
the plant due to die-back of annuals, you can easily walk through swampy
areas, and you aren't sweating to death! Oh, I sweat, too—wearing
not much more than I would in the summer (gaiters and hat-that-covers-my-ears)—but
not like in summer!
Here is how you get started:
- Get educated. Invasives = cause harm + nonnative + become
They used to be called "Noxious Weeds." Info:
• Find yourself a Master Naturalist (MI) or Master Gardener Volunteer (MI) or Stewardship Network
(MI) or someone. Gardeners: get soil tested
for what fertilizer you need, or ask an expert!
• Read "Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with
book by Douglas W. Tallamy (his
suggestions on what you should plant).
• National Invasive Species Information Center
• National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild
• Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council
• Midwest Invasive Plant Network MIPN
• www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies > Invasive Plant Strategies
(Keep a Lookout for Unwanted Invasive Plants).
• MNFI's Field Identification Guide to Invasive Plants in Michigan's
Communities (about, and order).
• MNFI's Best Control Practice BCP Guides.
• Macomb County's mirror of MDNR's broken mirror, with
1 BCP more than MNFI above.
• Michigan Invasive Species Information Network MISIN
Early Detection Rapid Response
• Michigan Invasive Plant
• TODO: brochure www.stewardshipnetwork.org
• For Ginny, I made a map of our target FHPS CWMS
and surrounding area. I did not
use Google maps. I wanted the property lines, so I used
the Kent Co GIS link iMAP >
Zoom In and drag > repeat until zoomed in enough to see parcel lines
> click parcel.
Then hand off to what team?
USGS topographical maps.
BLM GeoCommunicator Land Survey Information System.
MISIN Invasive Species
mapping workshop 2012-Aug-16 at Calvin.
Helps for other projects:
Ottawa County GIS.
Regional GIS REGIS from Grand Valley Metropolitan Council GVMC (covers parts
of West Michigan counties Montcalm,
Ottawa, Kent, Ionia, Allegan and Barry,
including Grand Rapids).
• Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata
• Oriental Bittersweet Celastrus
• Multiflora Rose Rosa multiflora
• Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellate
plus later, maybe:
• Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica
or Polygonum cuspidatum (army) (MISIN) (MIDNR).
• not yet
Giant Hogweed Heracleum
mantegazzianum (local paper) (MIPN).
• more (army) (MISIN).
- Pull. This is a great way to start, and a great
one for kids, of all ages. Some plants can be easily pulled up,
roots and all, such as garlic mustard. This is a great
one for kids of all ages, from 4 to 104. For oriental bittersweet,
adults can pull it up until it gets a few years old, then it requires
a big guy, or cutting-through and herbicide.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): Nothing special!
Any shoes, even sandals. A sun-hat, perhaps.
Water, if you are going to be out a while. Some like to
wear light gloves, most do not.
Org: By yourself, to groups of 30. Pairs work well—it
gives you someone to talk to!
Tools: Large black trashbags. That's all!
Disposal: Pulled-up oriental bittersweet may be hung from
trees to dry out—don't let it reroot. Garlic mustard
must be be bagged, and put in the landfill. Yes, landfill.
Do NOT put in a compost pile or anything else, the seeds will survive
for years, and you will have LOTS of garlic mustard growing in
and near your compost pile. Even if your jurisdiction does not
allow "yard waste" in the trash, most allow noxious weeds like this
to be put in. Mine allows bagged garlic mustard if part
of a pull supervised by a Master Gardener or Master Naturalist.
Since I am married to one, that part is easy. :-)
- Cut. I like this when going out by myself. Sub-method:
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): The stuff above, plus leather
gloves, closed-toed shoes or boots, and glasses/sunglasses/safety-glasses. I get sloppy after two
hours, and safety-glasses has saved me a stick in an eye. Optional
thick long-sleeved shirt and armored sunhat. Mine is embroidered
with the name of favorite philosopher.
Org: If a crew, you need one or more cutters, zero
or more haulers (depending on what you are cutting), and one
dauber to paint cuts with herbicide
(see below). By yourself, you can go with a saw in
one hand and a dauber in the other. Without a dauber, know that
the plant will regrow—you are just doing a holding action
by knocking it back a few years. Use that time to organize a crew!
Tools: A good-working
pair of bypass hand-loppers, and a small folding saw. And optionally, a
Hori-Horisoil knife. If you are going out
for hours, clean them, and oil the blade and moving
parts, letting the oil soak in overnight. I love my
Corona Professional RS 7041
folding saw. If you live in
West Michigan/Grand Rapids, get
A.M. Leonard 7" folding
River City Wild Ones. After
losing my saw in the forest a few times, causing me
to walk back and find it, I outfitted it with a
different-colored zip-tie and caribiner to hold it
to a belt loop. After losing three right leather
gloves, I bought a grommet kit, put grommets on a
fourth pair of gloves, and put them on the same
carabiner. Haven't lost a glove since. I also
love my Felco #2 bypass pruners, which I keep in a
holster, with a free Hori-Hori soil knife,
and a free seemingly-good bypass pruner (which is still
in the box, because the holster is so good I no longer
lose my Felcos). And since I live West Michigan, I got
this set from
River City Wild Ones. Great
things to put on your belt any time you walk in the
Disposal: For vines, hang roots where they won't re-root (perhaps
on a branch). In winter, it just needs to stay overnight to freeze
their little rootsies; in summer, for a few days. The vines
can stay until they rot.
- Dig. I learned how to do this from other volunteers at
Ada Township, Michigan
(Ada Township video Space Worth Preserving). Remarkably
effective against viney things, like blackberries, raspberries and multiflora
rose. You do need a large place to put the refuse.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): All stuff above. Boots
are more effective than shoes when working with shovels. When
working with blackberries, raspberries, multiflora rose, haulers
need thick leather gloves, the thicker the better.
Org: Best in teams of three—one digger and two haulers.
Cut-and-paint needs one dauber for a team of four.
Tools: Mini-pitchfork or shovel (I prefer a narrow
blade and long handle). Digger puts their tool just under
the roots, and pushes down on the handle to push up and expose the roots.
Haulers haul them away. Is kinda too tiring to do both.
Disposal: You need a big place to put the refuse, either a burn
pile, or a big compost pile. If the latter, be prepared for some
rerooting to take place, with which you must deal in a year or two.
- Paint. Herbicides are the quickest way to go. Sub-methods
• Herbicide Applicator Wand Dauber.
• Basal Bark spaying (autumn olive). TODO: expand.
• Drill and Fill (oriental bittersweet and tree of heaven).
• Area spaying (). TODO: expand,
and talk about calibrating a backpack sprayer.
• Cut-and-Paint or Cut-Stump (autumn olive). Cut-Core (Japanese knotweed). TODO: expand.
• Glove of Death. TODO: expand.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): As above, and as descried
on all labels of the herbicide you are using. Probably
will include shoes and socks, long-sleeved shirt,
glasses or goggles, and chemical-resistant gloves.
Not medical exam gloves— they will get poked with holes immediately. Get
some real chemical-resistant gloves, perhaps from Forestry Supply.
Org: Spraying can
be done by yourself. But is nice in pairs, with one person to
keep track on a map, cut access to where the sprayer
needs to go, confirm what plant is what, etc.
Tools: Herbicide. TODO: describe, card. Backpack
sprayer from AM Leonard or ? on web. If hard water, add 17 lb.
NH3SO4 per ?. "Michigan Blend" from CWC-Chemical or Wilbur-Ellis
Co see card. Pathfinder II. Garlon 4 Triclopyr for multiflora
Disposal: Clean up as described on the label.
- Get outside!
- If you are still reading, and doing the above, you probably want to
learn about Getting your Commercial Certified Pesticide Applicator license.
Many elections are won or lost by less than one or two percentage points;
some by only a few tens or hundreds of votes. It happens every election
cycle. When we vote, we do make a difference. Generation-Y
or cool-boomers-who-understand-urban-symbology only, please see Eminem's Mosh.
REGISTER TO VOTE
50 states > Voter Registration
section, or LWV, or go to your local DMV or SOS
• Check if I am registered to vote (or here),
and when, where and how I vote.
• Register by mail: I moved within Michigan.
• Register by mail: First-time voter.
• Register by mail: (if above does not
help, click here and boxes on left and links on right).
• Register at my local city or township hall >
find your clerk.
• Register at my local Secretary of State office > Office Locator.
VOTE ABSENTEE, if you wish.
50 states >
Absentee Ballot section.
Michigan > Absentee Voting or Michigan.
• When, where and how
to vote. 50 states > Polling Place
Locator section, or
LWV, or Voter Information Project
Michigan or Michigan. Illinois.
• Sample ballot
(print and mark up at home, then bring into ballot box with
can do that). 50 states, see local paper.
CAlifornians mailed about 5 weeks before election.
MIchigan> View Ballots or MIchigan > info > Print.
• Progressive Voters Guide.
WA State. Illinois.
• Sierra Club endorsements. 50 states.
• League Conservation Voters LCV.
50 states or Scorecard. Michigan.
• Clean Water Action.
50 states. Michigan > Endorsements.
• League of Women Voters LWV.
50 states. MI > Voter Guide > Part1+2.
• Brady Campaign. 50 states > yourState.
• Family Forum (last 1/2 great
list of env labor gay endorse) Michigan > Voter's Guide.
• Progressive Women's Alliance. West Michigan.
• Helps on judges. 50 states.
• Campaign flyers (tells me if locals
are serious or campaign tourists).
• For any races in which you still have no
information, check websites of organizations
with which you disagree. I have one
that drills down into nearly all races—call me!
Voting Reminder on email or cell. 50
• Use your marked-up sample ballot
to cast your ballot quickly and accurately.
Give yourself a pat on the back, for exercising
your sacred civic duty!
Then save it for morning-after quarterbacking.
CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. 50 states > Contact Elected
So you are now "between positions." Well, that happened
to many of us, even to a family member with a Chairman's Award, patent,
20 years of very good performance appraisals, and whatnot. Hope
you didn't quit a job before the new one is lined up (a bad idea unless
required by ethics).
"The strength of a tree, the old ones say, comes
not from growing thicker in the good year when there is water,
but in staying alive in the bad dry times."
—The Journey of Crazy Horse, by Joseph M. Marshall
III, Ch. 13.
If laid off, file for Unemployment. Your employers paid into
the system for years with money that would otherwise have been available
for your pay. And they did lay you off.
So you might as well have them pay for your transition.
And if it is a gray area—even if they used the phrase "fired"—still
sign up. I personally know:
- One person whose boss said "fired," but who described to their
state that the alleged reason for the alleged "firing" was not to fault
of the employee, but really due to (1) poor maintenance by the employer,
and (2) that the employer's poor business practices caused the employer
to shed several employees over the preceding months. The state
awarded this person full Unemployment benefits.
- Another person who said "quit", but who actually refused to
work any more hours until paid for the last 1,000 or so hours they had
worked. This person's case is still pending.
So Search"myState unemployment" and sign up. Sign
up today! (In Michigan, bizarrely, they now want you
to wait until Monday 7am after the calendar week in which you last
If you need more financial help (many do these days), sign up
for Food Stamps and other assistance from your State. If you are a Michigander. Then come back here ...
Sulk and mope for a few days.
But resume doing whatever centers you (flying, biking, music,
Exercise is always great for stress. Do something that breaks
a sweat, for 20 and later 30-40 minutes. I like biking,
but in winter, mallwalking and swimming at a community pool might be more-regularly-available.
(As I write this, my X-C skis are again operational—will have to
get out before the storm hits later today.)
After a few days of sulking (didn't that feel good?) ...
Get back to work.
If you have skills in demand out there, a way to search for jobs—worked
for three of us 'round here, for five jobs (alas, before the financial crisis of 2007–2012)—was to:
- Start early. Jobs in the US State
Department take two years to fill, so start today!
- Network, talk to everybody you know, network, call your old
coworkers—and old bosses! Call them back every third week,
network, network, and more networking.
This is the #1 way to get a job. Call them!
The only pain is until you finishing dialing—it is OK after they
- Forget the Want Ads in the paper. Don't even look.
Nobody gets a job this way.
- Don't bother applying at Boeing, Ford, GE or any other place
you want to work. While they post lots of jobs, they don't actually
seem to hire anyone. See Monster step below.
- Resume—create a good one:
• If you do not have software to
create documents or spreadsheets in Microsoft Word- or Excel-format:
(1) go to your public library; or (2) go to FREE
zero-install Google docs; or (3) install
(A) FREE OpenOffice > Download [supposed to be quite good], or (B) 60-day
free trial MS Office 2007 > "Test drive, try or buy" > "Download a free
trial", or (C) $84.97 if student MS Office 2007 Professional
Plus, or (D) wasFree now$ StarOffice.
• Example resumes in my resume, Susan Ireland, Microsoft and Monster resumes-for-older-workers. If you look
at mine, you will see "dates
on a time-limited [last 10 years] work history, but omit [all
dates] from your resume's education section." —that Monster
But I also maintain a
private version with all jobs, all dates, including years and months.
Nice to have on paper if you get handed a real application form that
wants that information. Probably should have kept days, but months
is all I have now.
• Include all buzzwords and acronyms
relevant to your experience or industry, so automated search-bots will
find your resume. The keywords most commonly searched by employers.
• Helps from Monster.
- Post your resume on Monster—headhunter and contracting outfits look
• Click "Sign up today" button. Record
your password somewhere (a new password—don't let them know your
• Say, "No, Thanks" to all the ads and "premium
services"—only choose free stuff.
• Post your resume online, and change its
Status to Public. If you think the interface is
buggy and clunky, it is. Keep at it. If you get stuck, call
- Every weekday, check your answering machine and email.
If your web-based emailer deletes everything after 30 days, see
me about Microsoft Outlook, Spicebird, Mozilla Thunderbird
(with Lighting), gmail or other alternatives that will keep your email—all your
email—under your control—organized how you want, for as
long as you want.
- Every two or three days, and every Sunday night, put your résumé back
on top of the employer search results by:
• Click Monster manage resumes.
• Make sure it says your Monster id and
password, click "Log In" button.
• Click "No, Thanks" to all the ads.
• Click "Renew" hotspot in the middle
of the screen, under your résumé's name.
• Semi-automate the Sunday night thing by
creating a smartphone appointment or task, MS Outlook recurring task
with alarm and a link so you just click at it, or a Windows Scheduled Task. If you can't figure out how,
- If you have skills in demand, until the financial crisis of 2007–2011,
that was enough to get lots of inquiries
with real jobs. Now, you have to go further.
Once the above is under control ...
More getting back to work:
- Sign up for classes in your area to fill any experience gaps.
I needed updates on databases and data communications, and a start on
embedded systems and Java. I got great return from my local public
university and my local community college.
If you need a specialized quality standard or something, you may have
to go to a commercial vendor. Someone recommended these
video classes, which seem reasonably-priced, with some chapters
free. Start now!
"If you dislike change, you're going to dislike irrelevance
—Eric Shinseki, former Chief of Staff, US Army.
The State of Michigan is now even offering $10,000 of tuition reimbursement
for unemployed people.
Microsoft Learning providing one million training vouchers to acquire
and hone skills, differentiate themselves, and get a job.
Here are some cookbooks I created, nicely living on the web and
my Android for whenever I need to use them remotely:
• Java programming (including Android), under Eclipse,
• CSharp C#
programming, under Visual Studio .NET,
• Apache web server, MySQL database, and PHP http
scripting language, and
• Visual Basic for Applications VBA programming, under Microsoft
With instructor permission, I shared with my fellow students, too.
Later, I had to refactor some information out to:
• General programming and computer tools.
And wrote for family members:
• Protect your smartphones, tablets and computers
from Spam and Malware, via Antivirus.
After a lot of investigation on the web, and experimentation, I also
wrote best practices:
• How to HotSync Palm Pilots (Tungsten E, TX et al) to
Microsoft Outlook 2010, 2007 or 2003 (32-bit) under Windows 7
or Vista 64-bit (now old).
For green subjects, I wrote:
• Handing invasive plants using an herbicide applicator dauber
• Getting your Commercial Certified Pesticide Applicator license,
• Deer exclosure plant cages
(with my wife) (under construction).
- Join some local professional organizations. This
list of computer User Groups in West Michigan/Grand Rapids
may point to sister organizations in your area.
- If you are having trouble tracking/doing all your tasks, take this
one-day Time-Management class, currently called FOCUS:
Achieving Your Highest Priorities Time-Management Workshop.
Will change your life. If you are a close relative, we will even
pay for it.
- Sanitize your online presence. In 2006, 40% employers
checked. In 2010, 86%. Now, more. Specifically,
86% of HR professionals said a positive online reputation
influences a job candidate to some extent, and 70% of hiring
managers in the US have rejected an applicant based on online
info. —2010 Cross-Tab Marketing Services survey.
Sanitize any incorrect info, and text or photos of drinking,
drug use or nudity, and
this other information, on:
• Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and other social-networking sites.
• Google your own name,
and get friends to drop their bogus stuff about you.
• Google your own phone number, in aaa-xxx-nnnn format.
Maybe your SSN, too.
• Sanitize your 💳 credit report. Dispute all errors and gray areas!
• Follow Kim Komando's "Google
yourself to protect your reputation—online and off".
- If you still have medical insurance, take advantage
of it. Go to the dentist. Get your cholesterol checked.
Get that knee looked at, that's been bothering you.
- Get your computer running
better and safer. *
- Start that special project (Family Tree Maker, whatever) that you
have been putting off.
- Consult, volunteer, join professional organizations,
take a class, teach a class, find an internship, start
a business, or have fun!
- Network, talk to everybody you know,
network, call your old coworkers—and
old bosses! Call them back every third week, network,
and more networking.
This is the #1 way to get a job.
The only pain is until you finishing dialing—after they pick up,
everything is OK.
As you have time, continue:
- 20 ways to survive a layoff.
- 5 Ways to Combat Loneliness When You're Jobless
- Advice from the IEEE.
- West Michigan computer geeks should see this list of potential employers
in West Michigan/Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo/Holland/etc. Then
come back here ...
- Federal government
USAJobs—employer still has a defined-benefit pensions
plan, the authority to collect taxes, and to print its own money.
Create an account, post your resume online, and receive automated job
alerts, and follow up. Federal jobs for students and recent grads.
- Your state's job board. Probably a requirement of your
• Federal government jobs for students and recent grads.
• Internships for College Students.
• 7 Reasons to Work Your Way Through College.
• Career Advice and Personal
Development by the Open Colleges blog.
- Other job boards:
• Specialized by region or type of work?
• Local colleges?
• www.indeed.com excellent list and search of all job
types and locations.
• www.craigslist.org > yourState > jobs?
• www.CareerBuilder.com? I really liked their Superbowl ads—there is one under each of the 2nd Quarter, 3rd
Quarter and 4th Quarter tabs. If you find out anything good, please
let me know.
• www.idealist.com, thanks, H!
• www.faa.gov/jobs, thanks, Richard!
• www.resumemessenger.com, thanks, Richard!
• www.dice.com computer.
• www.aeroindustryjobs.com don't know yet if I trust this aviation-related
- Put on a website, like this page.
- On the boards above, set up a jobs robot that email you jobs
that match your criteria. Make it daily, not weekly, to
get your application at the top of the stack.
- Watch the movie Fired!, or listen to an interview about it.
- Sample cover letters.
- Interviewing advice. More interviewing advice. Interview homework, practice and sample questions. How not to sabotage your interview.
www.salary.com and www.glassdoor.com look into salary levels.
"Luck favors the prepared mind."
"Have fun, never give up, put yourself in a
position to be lucky." —Coach Bill Resler (who coincidentally taught my mother's tax class,
and who coached a program earlier benefiting sister Anne, and about whom a very interesting film was made—rent it).
- Current job articles from the Wall Street Journal.
- If you are thinking of contract work, How Much Should Contractors Charge?
If you need more help (many do these days), get Food Stamps
and other assistance from your State. If you are a Michigander.
If your Unemployment ran out, file for an extension. A side-effect
of the Great Recession aka Lesser Depression. Although
seems to have been undone by Sequestration.
After you get a job:
One weekend, when developing Monster procedures for another, I turned
my Monster resume from Status=Private to Public. Wow,
did I get a lot of calls and emails! Guess it is because I now have
the phrase "embedded software" and work standard "DO-178B" in my resume.
Wish I had known about that a lot earlier!
Relatives and friends now on projects between jobs:
After six years as a B787 Dreambuilder, plus four or five military
programs, everything is Certified or is quietly undergoing recertification.
My current project oscillates between active and inactivate, as various
phases are completed. In a few months, I will be looking for my next program
If you know of any leads for us, please contact me.
💳 CREDIT REPORTS
About once a decade, I find that I get less loan or a higher interest
rate than expected, I go through this process. It's free!
I also shared this in Blog 12.0 and 28.0, most recently when a close relative
had her records screwed up by a bank error, and two close relatives who
had their family's financial information outed by lax security at their
or their spouse's employer. This comes up often enough, I thought
I would post it.
The employers above helped put a "Fraud Alert" (formerly"Credit
Watch") with the credit bureaus. Before the credit agency OKs
a new account to a vendor (such as a new credit card), they will require
some sort of confirmation from you. You can do this yourself, too,
for free—say, "My account information has been compromised"
• Equifax Office of Fraud Assistance, PO Box 105069, Atlanta
GA 30348, 888-766-0008
(or maybe it is PO Box 740241, Atlanta GA 30374, 800-525-6285?), and
• Experian Credit Fraud Center, PO Box 9532, Allen TX 75013,
• Innovis > Personal Services > Fraud Alert or Security
Innovis Consumer Assistance, PO Box 26, Pittsburgh, PA 15230, 800-540-2505,
• TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance, PO Box 6790, Fullerton
CA 92834, 800-680-7289.
If any problems, let me know, and we will work them out, or put you in
touch with the two I know who have done this in the past.
Am sure that if you succumbed to phishing, you can also put on a "Fraud Alert" as in the previous
paragraph. Suspect that all it takes to put one on your account
is to say, "My account information has been compromised."
Not sure what to do about debt collectors,
and the data aggregators: Acxiom, InfoUSA and LexisNexis (Accurint,
ChoicePoint, etc.) If you find out, please let me know!
💳 CREDIT COUNSELING
For those with big problems, Suze Orman recommends the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
For those with small problems, please continue...
💳 FREE CREDIT REPORTS
If you had any credit trouble, no matter how small, order all four
direct from the companies under the "you have been declined credit,
employment or insurance, or experienced adverse action, your report may
be free" clause. Free, same contact as in the Individual portion
of the next paragraph, and does not use up the separate level of freeness
there. If trouble, call me—I did this a couple times.
Or check out this very similar write-up.
Get your your free credit reports individually from the three (they lie—there
are four) credit reporting agencies:
• Equifax or 800-685-1111 (800-525-6285?), and
• Experian or 888-397-3742,
• Innovis > Personal Services or 800-540-2505, and
• TransUnion or 800-916-8800 (800-680-7289?).
Always say "No" to promotions, credit monitoring, credit report
monitoring, credit score subscriptions, and identity-theft insurance—you
don't need them. And keep reading...
💳 MORE FREE CREDIT REPORTS
Even without a compromised identity or adverse action, anyone can get
free credit reports once a year, under the Fair and Accurate
Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) of
2003. Looking at yours is a good idea: Time magazine reported
that 70% of credit reports contain inaccurate information, 25%
bad enough to deny credit. About right, in my experience.
Get your free credit reports individually using the links
above, or collectively from the three (they lie—there
are four) credit reporting agencies, via:
• www.annualcreditreport.com (do not go to the similarly-named commercial
• 877-322-8228 (877-FACT-ACT), or
• Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO
Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348.
Always say "No" to promotions, credit monitoring, credit report
monitoring, credit score subscriptions, and identity-theft insurance—you
don't need them. You can use free government websites instead. Of course, the credit reporting
agencies would rather have you send them money, but I wouldn't want my
hard-earned money going to the bloodsucking scum who screw up my records
about once a decade, and who resisted fixing my daughter's records in
2004. In this case, she was more persistent than they were.
Someone on the radio said that for maximum protection against identity theft or disinformation, if you keep a good to-do list,
you can request a report from each, out of phase by four months.
For example, I ordered Equifax last December, Experian in
April, TransUnion in August, and now back to Equifax, which
I just reordered a few minutes ago. When my sister had her credit
info compromised, I recommended being particularly diligent in this for
a couple years.
To this, I would add that you ask the IRS to give you an IP PIN.
WHEN YOU GET YOUR REPORT
If you find anything bad, Dispute it. Also free. The report
tells you how. They do followup within six weeks or so. And
if it is a gray area (many are), they may remove it anyway if the reporting
vendor doesn't get back to them.
💳 FICO CREDIT SCORE
Suze Orman says
to not check your FICO credit score if you know it is over 700.
Check no more than once a year, but a few months before applying for a
loan. Might cost $15, unless you can sweet-talk your bank
into telling you for free. Suze has a FICO Kit. Costco
says they offer credit reports and credit score service with its Identity
But I do not want to pay for information about me—it's
mine, isn't it? So far, have not needed to. When I bought
a car, I got the salesman to tell me my rating was 730 or something.
If I am ever declined/restricted, I will ask the declining agency what
it is, and if they resist, whether it is above or below 700. Then
start again from the top of this article.
Letting you order your credit report is a large step in the right direction.
But what about if we allowed subscribing—signing up to receive
your credit report periodically (perhaps a checkoff box on your voter
registration application). And what happened to the fourth agency,
Innovis? Write your Congressperson. You can use this nice write-up (toward the bottom).
I have been listening to some friends and neighbors having or with knowledge
of people with persistent asthma, clinical depression,
failure to achieve potential, and
Asperger's Syndrome. Not mentioning any names, I have tried to synthesize
their experiences into some general truths:
Can't tell from the inside. One meme seems to be that if
you have had a condition all your life, you don't know how it is without
it. Even as an adult, you can't self-diagnose. You need others—family
members, doctors, whatever—to see that you are struggling with something
others aren't, to guide you into treatment, and to see if your treatment
has gotten you there yet.
For example, if you have always breathed at 85% capacity, or made
decisions based on unimportant data, or are plagued with self-doubt, how
are you to know that one can do better? You need someone to
tell you there is a Promised Land, and help guide you toward...
Diagnosis. Once someone points you to a doc, they will take
a long history. Work for a week yourself to prepare your own, so
your appointment will be productive, and you won't leave out important
information. Interview family members, too, for their feedback on
you. Or even better, bring a family member. Kids always have
a parent in the room with them, and old-timers often do, too. But
it is a good idea for adults at the their peak, also. Often we forget
relevant information, or don't understand something said to us.
It is always better to have two sets of eyes and two sets of ears.
I call this having a patient advocate around. The big goal here
is to get a diagnosis. Only after that, do you discuss...
Treatments. After diagnosis, you can start on a treatment
plan with your doc, and read about it on the Internet or books. Often
there may be multiple possible treatments. You may have to try several,
that work with your biochemistry. Treatments may fail due to (A)
efficacy (it just doesn't work for you), or (B) side-effects (they may
be worse that the good effect). Whatever. Try another treatment.
Maybe in 2030, Personalized Medicine will know which treatment will work
with your personal DNA profile, but today all we have to work with is
this epidemiological stuff. Try another treatment, until you get
Sweet Spot. This is where you are trying to get to—the
Promised Land. This is where that problem you had has faded away,
and you are that complete person. Once you get into the Sweet Spot,
stay here. Your life-difficult problem has now a minor logistics
issue (following the treatment, and acquiring refills). You can
concentrate on living a full, rich, exuberant life. Do that.
If you don't get to the Sweet Spot, try another doc. Maybe
a kid, just out of medical school. Or a specialist. Or someone
just back from a conference on the subject. And if you still don't
get there, put a task in your calendar 3 years hence to try again.
Some of these areas are changing so quick, the art may have advanced so
far that you are now included, instead of left out in the cold.
Keep trying! You will get there.
Separate articles below on persistent asthma, clinical depression and failure to achieve potential.
Persistent asthma is one of the chronic conditions described above. The Sweet Spot here
seems to be:
- Some kind of plan, such as a breathing meter and chart when
to do to the doc or ER.
- Some kind of preventative:
- Inhaled steroid.
- Perhaps an inhaled long-acting beta-2-blocker, perhaps combined
with steroid above in the purple flying saucer Advair. Although
this almost killed one person I know (recovered in hospital after
a few days), although this person has cousins who use it successfully.
- Perhaps a leukotriene inhibitor.
- A rescue inhaler in your pocket or purse for sports, or sick,
or dinner with unexpected cats, or when your asthma otherwise breaks
through the above. Keep your rescue on you religiously—you
don't wanna go to the ER because your logistics are bad. May want
to keep a backup in briefcase, particularly if yours is running low.
On 3-week trips or anytime backpacking, bring three—one on you,
a backup in your carryon, and a tertiary in your luggage/backpack.
And keep in mind your treatment plan; that when your rescue fails
to have its excellent effect for four hours, call doc and demand an appointment
today. If its effect only lasts 1 hour, go to doc or ER right now—time
for a steroid pack or antibiotics. Not worth dying over a lack of
Clinical depression is one the chronic conditions described above. In the
old days, there was no treatment. If lucky, you became a shaman.
Later alcohol. (Works terrible.) Then barbiturates.
(Is it useful to keep people in beds?) Then Prozac. A selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitor—something that actually affects the
neurotransmitters in the brain, affecting the ability of one brain cell
to signal another. Now we are actually doing something useful.
Doesn't work for some, but there are lots of others now, too. I
know several people who take low-dose SSRIs to keep the dark away, letting
them concentrate on living a full, rich, exuberant life. :-)
FAILURE TO ACHIEVE POTENTIAL
Failure to achieve potential ADHD-i is one of the chronic
conditions described above.
Great illustration by comedians Rick Green and Patrick McKenna in show
"ADD and Loving It"
If you are high-functioning, you probably have organized your work informally:
• a calendar for appointments (Girl Scout
calendars work great—one for pocket/purse/briefcase, and one for
• a todo list,
• a tobuy list, and
• a list of phone numbers, addresses and birthdays.
Maybe you keep these on your smartphone, or in a word processor file,
and update and print them off regularly. Or maybe you have found
other defense mechanisms.
First, take this one-day Time-Management class, currently called
FOCUS: Achieving Your Highest Priorities Time-Management Workshop.
Some employers will pay for it—mine did. If you are a close
relative, we will pay for it. Everyone else, pay for it yourself—increased
effectiveness will pay for itself a hundred-fold. Make it a priority—it
will change your life.
In the class, start with the paper planner for appointments, todo items
and reference lists (tobuy lists, medical stuff, birthdays, etc.).
Later, when you outgrow paper, convert to a smartphone, synchronized "synced"
to Google or Microsoft Outlook (full, not Express). If relative
or a professional, for details, please call me.
Second, go find a doc who sees lots of patients with ADD,
or who likes to see patients with ADD.
Channel-surfing our local College Channel www.grcc.tv, I chanced on this intriguing
talk ADHD—Teacher Nuisance Disorder Grows Up and Finds a Job
by local Dr. Oren Mason:
• http://real.grcc.edu/asxgen/GRCCTV3/ADHDSeminar_DrMason.wmv or
Some notes from this talk:
Attention-Deficit Disorder ADD will be renamed. No lack of
attention. There is plenty of attention, but lack of ability
to control attention—it is somewhere else, but not on the assigned
task. Inability to direct and maintain attention to what is important.
Very Calvin and Hobbes.
[Eric: At least two ADD books I opened have Calvin and Hobbes cartoons
I use ADD and ADHD interchangeably.
[Eric: elsewhere I have seen:
ADHD-i = inattentive type
ADHD-pi = primarily inattentive type
ADHD-h = hyperactive type, or ADHD
ADHD-c = combined type.
ADOS = Attention Deficit—Oh, Shiny!]
Some numbers below are from studies; some are from my practice.
Lots of patients:
- 8-10% of kids. [LATimes: Of treated kids, 15 years later, 87% are glad they
- Probably high in adults, too. [LATimes: Probaby 5-7%. Later better study: 9%.]
- 50-75% of people in our jails. [Eric: Really?
If society could catch these people early—before they commit major
crimes—and get them into treatment, would we be saving a boatload
of money? Later 15 peer-reviewed studies say 21-45%. A newer article shows that treating ADHD lowers crime rates.]
- Half of the morbidly-obese people in America probably have ADD—who
are born on sedentary side and can't modulate up their activity
level (more on this later).
Patients with ADD have problems:
- More marriages dissolve (2X baseline).
- More crisis pregnancies (10X baseline).
- More likely to be dismissed from their jobs. [LATimes: non-treated = 2-3X treated.]
- Longer unemployment periods.
- More substance abuse disorder (2-3X baseline).
[LATimes: non-treated = 2X treated.]
- More driving accidents (bad, 4X baseline). [3,280 deaths and 200,000
injuries per year in USA, according to calculations on p31, based on numbers from Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.]
- More speeding tickets.
- Adults earn $10,000 less than age- education- socioeconomic-matched
cohort. With a professional degree (e.g., doctor, lawyer), a whopping
$50,000 less per year.
[Eric: That extra $10,000/year at 25% federal + 4% state
income tax rates + 17% FICA would make $4,700 per year. A gov't
that spend even $1,000/year on treating this would bring in 5X
times the money it spent. And put $5,300 in the
pocket of that individual's household. For professionals, multiply
- Resumes do not look as good as their potential would indicate.
- Fewer skills than their potential would indicate.
- Lower level proficiency attained.
- Less education than their potential would indicate.
- Very few adults with high IQs (120-140) and ADD are able to finish
college. (Although ADD does not mean they have higher IQs.
More on that later.) [LATimes: ADD kids, 15 years later, 5% non-treated v. 50% treated
graduate from college.]
- More job changes (> 5 jobs/10 years) than the general
- More likely to be self-employed.
- ADD rarely travels alone: 80% of ADDs will have some other
- depression (20X baseline in young women!),
- substance abuse disorder,
- dyslexia (20% of all ADDs also have dyslexia),
- various other learning disabilities.
Why do patients settle down and study better under stimulants like
amphetamines and Ritalin? [Eric: Do some self-treat
with caffeine, including coffee or Diet Mt. Dew?]
ADDs are impaired in Executive Functions
(when we actually do something):
- Modulation functions: control opposing or conflicting forces.
- For example, "I am driving now-cannot let me get near sleep."
Executive function of the brain.
- Modulating what you say, in what circumstances.
- ADDs lack function in this executive modulation function.
- Self-assessment is also poor in ADDs
- Task-persistence. Enthusiastic starts, without being able
to maintain or finish them 5 months, 9 months, 4 years later.
- Chronic lateness. Not due to laziness and not due to not caring.
- Can see these impairments in the brain
now with functional MRI fMRI, actually see that there is a frontal-striatal dysfunction,
that norepinephrine and epinephrine are underperforming in the anterior cingulate gyrus portion of the brain. [Eric: Seems
to be just a going-outward fold (gyrus) just above the eyes, an inch
back (posterior) from the forehead, and just noseward (anterior) from
the one nerve bundle that connects the two brain hemispheres (the corpus
- The part of the brain that does these executive function
is not "on". Another area of the brain is.
- Not enough dopamine and norepinephrine in this area.
- Interest. Passion. Novelty. Hard to get those areas of the
brain light up when they are supposed to light up.
- Function goes to other area (near the amygdale emotional reptile-brain) that is not so good at it?
- Even if you tell yourself, "I need to do this," that
command will die due to lack of these two neurotransmitters
in this part of the brain.
- Which is due to hyperactive reuptake recycler of these chemicals.
- The drugs that work for ADD are those that slow down
that hyperactive recycler. That is why the drugs work pretty
- Inborn. Part of genetic makeup.
Neuro-typicals (NTs) can get stuff done for both reasons:
- Because it is important. "Just do it," like in the Nike
commercial. "Just do that math paper." "Just
do that project at work." [Eric: I always hated that
word, "just." Usually means someone wants me to start another
ADDs can't use that second reason. Saying that we should
do something because it is important just hits a brick wall. ADD
can't. Ridiculous to even try. Because they don't have an
intact anterior cingulate gyrus.
People who are emotionally charged up can really perform. That's
why we have sales meetings, church revivals, football pep rallies, etc.
The high lasts about 2 weeks if you are lucky. Kids with ADD do
pretty good in the classroom about the first 2 weeks of the semester.
Then the Emotion reason gives out, and the Important reason just isn't
Docs have learned lots lately—lots of progress. If your
doc hasn't been trained in the last three years, your doc will treat this
way different than one who has.
Just as many Grand Rapidians have ADD as heart disease. But
while this town has 50 cardiologists, plus lots of internists and family
docs treating heart disease, we have only two (soon one) specializing
in ADD. And most GPs haven't been trained in the last three or four
years. Lesson learned: ADD is underserved by the medical community.
ADD is a disability, not a disease.
Like all disabilities, we need an Accommodation to get us into
the near-normal range. Such as an artificial leg given to
an amputee, to restore near-normal function. Not perfect, but maybe
good enough for most things.
Dr. Mason suggests medication as the Accommodation to
- The problem is lifelong.
- Medication restores much-more-normal function.
- No long-term reason not to do it.
When diagnose ADD as adult, years have been lost. Treatment
will develop near-normal ability again, but will not give you that time
back. Gotta pick up those social skills, find out who you are, that
you might have done in prior years, maybe in high school. And everything
in your life may have to be reevaluated once you get near-normal function.
You don't get the time back from when you didn't have good treatment.
Well-managed ADD workers have:
- Results-oriented supervisors.
- Clear goals.
- Clear boundaries.
- Freedom within boundaries.
- Work within areas of natural interest.
- Non-critical redirection of ADD behaviors.
- >90% encouragement and praise.
- <10% criticism.
Certain fits work great, if management can tap it:
- 110% ability, engaged, energetic and creative. Because of
their trouble doing just like everyone else does. [Eric: This
sure sounds like some people I know.]
ADDs with critical bosses will not be there very long:
- Rules oriented supervision.
- Unclear or shifting goals.
- Rigid boundaries.
- No regard for natural interest.
- Controlling attitude and environment.
- Criticism of ADD behaviors.
- More criticism than praise and encouragement.
- Remember the problems described at the top.
Trotting out the poster children for ADD—Ben Franklin,
Thomas Edison, Einstein, Terry Bradshaw (day-to-day, he is not a stellar
performer, but when it counts, he always seems to come through), CEO of
Jet Blue Airways—is not necessarily good, because many of the rest
of us aren't quite as smart or entrepreneurial or creative or as people-person
as they are, or are dealing with other stuff on the side. The ADD
is still going to weigh on what we might have been—achieving
Case study of the sculptor who needed to (and did) hire a "finisher."
Case study of the realtor agency who hires ADD sales agents, and supplies
clerical staff to backfill the tasks that the ADD sales force can't do.
Like sending out the hunters to do their hunter-killer thing, while also
keeping farmers back in the office, to do the village's farmer-tasks.
Case study of instructor who helped ADD student to applies his passions
to that particular class.
Case study of the success a worker had, after his company had him
properly evaluated and treated for ADD.
Insurance companies are pushing to shorter-acting (cheaper) drugs,
which are not as effective as once-dailies for patients with ADD.
Books: Finding a Career that Works for You, by Wilma Fellman, ADD in the Workplace, by Kathleen Nadeau.
This is all backed up by these videos from HealthiNation. Recent NBC News report on Adult ADHD. More videos from Dr. Mason. Podcast from Special Parents Confidential.
ADHD and Genetics > Listen.
Support group CHADD (GR) and their Help4ADHD site. GR practitioner.
The Wikipedia article on depression says: "Dysthymia, a form of chronic, low-level depression, is particularly
common in adults with undiagnosed ADHD who have encountered years of frustrating
ADHD-related problems with education, employment, and interpersonal relationships.
 Hallowell, Edward M.; John J. Ratey (2005). Delivered from Distraction
: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder. New York:
Ballantine Books, p. 253–5. ISBN 0-345-44231-8."
Extraordinary video. Watch it all the way through.
- Doing this for friends and family: I need computer services: harden
my machine against viruses, adware and spyware, share
high-speed Internet with all computers in my house (can get kids
on Internet, share printers, etc., without drilling holes in
the walls), have mission-critical information I need backed
up(finances, photos, documents, spreadsheets, email, family tree,
more), am plagued by software downloaded by my teenagers (KaZaA,
file-sharing, adware, spyware, instant messenger, etc.), wish to make
better use of what I have (Quicken, Office suite, PDA, camera,
network, sharing, upload photos to let my relatives see them), machine
running sloooow, plagued by pop-up ads, system hung up,
I was thinking that these are mostly for Piehls (descendants of Friedrich
Piehl and Karoline [née Fechner] Piehl), the Allens (descendants
of George Allen and Esther [née Howard] Allen), and their spouses
and friends, but let me know your connection to us, and I will consider.
for friends and relatives.
Use username=prot, password=[my
daughter's first name, capitalized correctly].
Or email me to identify yourself and connection, and request access.
View my profile on Google.
Authored by Eric Piehl 2005/2017. Comments on/updates to this Web page. DHTML