Sunday, November 30, 2008

Interview approach

I found this when catching up on the Feed Reader.

This is short, to the point, and well worth reading multiple times.

Thanks to Seth Godin for this You Show.

Writing tips -> free e-book

Joanna Young has published the latest of her free e-books. This one on "Asking questions for a change."

Click through here to download her latest and if you missed her prior two, they are also available at the same link.

Yes, a "three for free" deal!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

shadow play

shadow play

The morning light draws shadows on the wall of the house. The shadows live their own life on the wall. hey gradually move along the wall with the sun and eventually leave the wall behind. On really cloudy days, the shadows, if they do appear, seem weaker.

When the small clouds blow quickly
through the sky, shadows play
the breeze for all its worth

Friday, November 28, 2008

Panic button anyone?

Panic Button

Preparing to paint the study, I am cleaning off my huge book case which was filled with books and all kinds of collectibles. Stay tuned, I have a good "mug" shot coming.

Amongst the items I discovered was this "panic button". It has tape on the bottom so you could add it to a computer keyboard. I do recall picking it up at a conference somewhere along the way. It has no company markings on it so whatever leverage they were hoping to obtain by this "swag" they lost.

It is a timely find given the Wall Street volatility and overall economic outlook. But no, I am not ready to use this button.

How are your spirits? Would you use this button?

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job searching notes - identify the hiring managers

One of series of tips from a local networking group of folks who are or have been at one time looking for new work. These are considerations; one might provide a disclaimer that the mileage on these suggestions may vary. Through the sharing and collaboration, these may at least spark some useful thought process that will ultimately lead you to a successful position.

Focus your job search on the companies you would like to work for. Then identify the hiring managers within those companies for the postings that have been posted. If you can get directly to the source, you can avoid the two gatekeepers discussed earlier.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey day

the bird is done and ready to be cut and sliced for eating.

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Alice's Restaurant

One of our family traditions is to listen to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant on the way to Dolores' mother's house.

The YouTube version of this can be found here

Whatever tradition you follow on this day, may it be a good day!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

desserts prepared

desserts prepared, originally uploaded by shersteve.

I spent time in the kitchen this morning putting together two apple pies (one each for the Proulx dinner Thursday, and for the Sherlock's gathering here on Friday) and some baked apples for our family dinner this evening.

The house smells so good now!

job searching notes - talk with anyone

One of series of tips from a local networking group of folks who are or have been at one time looking for new work. These are considerations; one might provide a disclaimer that the mileage on these suggestions may vary. Through the sharing and collaboration, these may at least spark some useful thought process that will ultimately lead you to a successful position.

You need to spend time to figure out what you want to do. Talk with anyone. Explain yourself. The more you talk about what you want and where you want to go, the more you will get practice saying it so it will sound natural for you. You will also open yourself up to feedback. Take it all in. Some will be very useful, some you'll keep for reference.

job searching notes - know the gate keepers

One of series of tips from a local networking group of folks who are or have been at one time looking for new work. These are considerations; one might provide a disclaimer that the mileage on these suggestions may vary. Through the sharing and collaboration, these may at least spark some useful thought process that will ultimately lead you to a successful position.

Be aware of the gatekeepers. Your recruiter is a gatekeeper. S/he will screen you for their company client. Once you get by them, HR is the next gatekeeper. It is important to get in the door to have the conversation with the "powers to be" but you need to work with the gatekeepers first.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

13 ways to network

From that guy with a name tag, Scott Ginsberg comes this listing of thirteen good things to remember and use when networking.

And to think you thought thirteen was an unlucky number?

Rapid Fire Learning - November

Old State House - Springfield, ILImage by shersteve via Flickr
Rosa Say leads us this month with the Rapid Fire Learning exercise on the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog. With a few days remaining in the month, there is still time for learning but a turn to reflect on what has already occurred is a good thing to do. Can you learn something new in the time remaining? Yes, we can!

1 - There are many synonyms for loosing one's job: layoff, reduction in force, etc. When a company makes the decision to simply cut costs, then reduction in force I think is most appropriate. Fortunately, there is a decent severance package in my case, so I will have some time to both enjoy the holiday period coming at us and begin to figure out what and where I should go next. The importance of the network, of our connections becomes clear. While it is never too late to start, once you are out, you want to be part of a group and collaborate sharing tips and tricks to get where you want to be. Can the group provide support and knowledge to successfully find a new position? Yes, we can!

2 - You have likely noticed that music is a recurring theme (no pun intended) here. We started the month viewing the documentary "Young @Heart". The elderly singing group from Northampton, MA generates life sustaining energy from their singing. Studies on the effects of music continue to reveal positive findings. Singing while in a traffic jam can be calming. Should we be singing more? Yes, we can!

3 - Recipes are simply guidelines to recreate something some one once did. I feel comfortable enough around the kitchen to be able to make modifications to recipes that Dolores and I decide to try. Occasionally, I find out something new. Like if you are going to substitute long grain brown rice for white rice, you also need to adjust the cooking time, or partially pre-cook the rice before adding it to the work in process. Does this stop me from making adjustments? Not at all. Should we all add our own twists to a recipe? Yes, we can.

4 - In my contribution to the November theme of giving, I talked of encouragement. Encouragement is an easy thing to do. The benefits can be enormous. As the luck of the calendar would have it, the post was scheduled for the first Monday I would not get aboard the train and report to work. That evening also was the scheduled meeting of our local networking group. We started meeting about 2 years ago and while the group has fluctuated somewhat we have grown from 5-6 regulars to the 16 folks who joined us that night. Having such a network of support, of course in addition to the family and other close friends, is priceless. Will we succeed? Yes, we can.

5 - You have probably noticed the refrain "Yes, we can" and said to yourself, where did I hear that before? I hope you recall it being one of Barack Obama's telling phrases, the one he refers to as the American Creed. The positive attitude he has brought the country and the world is a very good thing. The morning after the election results were final I started a series of sherku:
... to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.


America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Thanks Barack!

There is much to do.
There is much to learn!

Will we succeed?
Yes, we can.

Note: If you would like to revisit the text of Barack's acceptance speech in Chicago on November 4th, the link is here. It also includes the video.
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Photo elements

The MondayMorningMemo from Roy H Williams is a timely refresher on the elements of photography. As I recently acquired a Nikon D40, this was very timely indeed.

Click here to read or hear the memo.


44 Presidents

The face morphing is interesting to watch, there are some odd transitions as they shift from President to President.


Job searching notes - tell what you did for your company

One of series of tips from a local networking group of folks who are or have been at one time looking for new work. These are considerations; one might provide a disclaimer that the mileage on these suggestions may vary. Through the sharing and collaboration, these may at least spark some useful thought process that will ultimately lead you to a successful position.

Be able to state what you did for your company. What cost efficiencies you delivered. What projects on time, on budget. What break through you achieved for them. Yes, you did it. Maybe alone, maybe as part of a larger team. But you did it your company. Your next company will need to hear that because this is what you are going to be able to do for them.

Job searching notes - contract or assignment #

One of series of tips from a local networking group of folks who are or have been at one time looking for new work. These are considerations; one might provide a disclaimer that the mileage on these suggestions may vary. Through the sharing and collaboration, these may at least spark some useful thought process that will ultimately lead you to a successful position.

If you are working with a recruiter, obtain the contract or assignment number for the posting that you are working with him/her on. It may be that if you are working with multiple recruiters, that you could be replying for the same position from two recruiters. Not good. Having the number will help you keep track of which position or opportunity you are working on with each recruiter.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Time zone

I took my father to the Veteran's Hospital in Providence for his annual check up recently. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience having heard some weird stories beforehand.

The reception was pleasant and efficient. Dad had not yet received his VA card so we were directed to an office to get one. We waited a few minutes out the office for the woman to finish with the person she was working with.

When we entered the office, I noticed the daily calendar over her desk was still showing that the day was Friday, November 7th. (Yes, we were there several days later).

As I checked the clock on the wall, it was also one hour later than it should have been. I guess it had not been set back for Daylight Savings (now 2 weekends prior).

Fortunately, these were the only two oddities. The remainder of the visit was efficient and well done.

Working on

Yes, what am I working on?

Since I have become a statistic, one of the several hundred person "reduction in force" from my former employer, I will be working on a number of things over the next several weeks.

Working on
  • not having to catch the train
  • not having to pay the increased MBTA parking fees
  • being able to help my sisters with my father's doctor appointments
  • getting to some stuff around the house now that I "have time"
As there are others with a similar situation, I will continue to share my experience here as the journey evolves. If you are on this journey, let me know. We now have something else in common to talk about.

If you know someone else on this journey, point them here. They might find something useful.

Traffic : jam :: music : calm

You may recall my review of Daniel Levitin's book "This is Your Brain on Music" for the Love Affair with Books on the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog. In the book, Daniel talks about the 6 songs that define rock music. He apparently takes that up a notch with his newest book according to an article on how singing music helps calm drivers in traffic that appeared in Sunday's Boston Globe.

Commutes can be made more bearable with satellite radio, where listeners can indulge in very specific fancies, like stations dedicated wholly to Led Zeppelin. Industry surveys suggest more musical options are down the road: Nearly all 2009 cars will come equipped with an iPod or MP3 jack allowing drivers to listen to the songs they choose.

It may seem like a small change, but it's not, said Dan Levitin, a psychology professor at Montreal's McGill University and author of the best-selling "The World in Six Songs; How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature."

"We're coming back in the last few years, listening more and singing more and making music more," Levitin said.

Today's 16-year-old will listen to more music than his "great-grandfather did in a lifetime," he said.

"You can hold in the palm of your hand the library of a large radio station," he said. "Technology has given us freedom."

Read the full article in the Boston Globe here.

Given the success of the Young@Heart chorus, there is something to this idea!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sign Spinners for Jenny Craig

Have you sign those crazy guys spinning signs at the 140/I495 exits or near the entrance to the Franklin Village Shopping Center?

I caught up with Justin Brown on Saturday to find out a little more about them and to record this brief video in case you missed their performance. Saturday was their last day advertising for the Jenny Craig opening at Franklin Village.

Justin was at the entrance and is pictured in the video here. He was joined by Charles "Chaz" Bryant, Ray Rivera, and Michael "Rex" Rexrode.

If you would like to enlist the sign spinners to help advertise your company, the contact information is available on the AArrow Advertising web site.


Originally posted 11/22/08
at Franklin Matters.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy 80th Birthday Joe Proulx

part of the family gathering for Joseph Proulx's 80th birthday dinner

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Happy Birthday to Franklin Matters

Happy Birthday To Me, originally uploaded by .bullish.

A belated birthday wish to Franklin Matters!

How quickly a year passes! I created this site to separate the Franklin posts from the rest at Steve's 2 Cents. The first post on this site was November 9, 2007. Over 1200 posts later, it is still going.

That question you can help me answer.

What should there be more of?
What should there be less of?

Friday, November 21, 2008

There is no one as Irish as Barack Obama

How about a little fun this Friday?

This will come back around next St Patrick's Day but in the meantime, there is no one as Irish as Barack Obama. See what happens when you change the accent on the syllables just a little bit!

Click here to view the video


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to find job today

David Meerman ScottImage via Wikipedia

Came home from the local networking dinner that a group has been holding for going on 2 years. It used to be about 5-6 of us. Tonight was a record 16 attendees.

Found this very appropriate posting from David Meerman Scott in my Inbox when I returned. I have Google Alerts set up to track a number of words or phrases. One for "Franklin, MA". Read to see how that connection was made here.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Glimpse of sun

A break in the clouds and a brief glimpse of sunlight as the wind starts picking up this afternoon.

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Turkey trot in the rain

a few turkeys are out for a trot early Saturday morning amongst the rain drops here in Franklin this morning.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

3 for Friday

On this Friday, bringing this week to a close, let me bring three good T4D's to your attention. One goes back to September, one from October and one from Veterans Day earlier this week. Kirk Weisler is the Chief Morale Officer behind the T4D's.

1 -
If we want to truly belong we must accept the responsibility that goes with it. The responsibility not just for ourselves to work for the good of the whole community but also to care for each other’s wellbeing and the wellbeing of the places in which we find ourselves, to nurture and guide the young or inexperienced, to be good role models, to teach them good lessons and keep them on the right path.
Read his full posting here

2 -
A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It’s a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research— most of it on men—upside down.
Read his full posting here

3 -
I cannot think of any other assignment or duty I performed during my enlistment that was as personally rewarding to me as this one. The absolute depth of humility and gratitude I felt for these men, whom I did not know, was surprising to me then as a young and mostly immature soldier. But my knowing them did not seem to be important…knowing that they had sworn to “uphold and protect”, that they had worn the uniform of a soldier, that they had been willing to put their life in harms way for a cause greater than themselves, seemed to be more than enough.
Read his full posting here

By now, you might guess that I highly recommend signing up for Kirk's T4D.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Red Molly - Circle of Friends Coffeehouse

The next show
November 22nd

with special guest
Anthony Da Costa, $15

For tickets and other information visit the Circle of Friends website here

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

East of Shirley photos

I had forgotten that I had additional photos from the CD Release party that East Of Shirley held not too long ago.

Here they are:

The whole group:

East of Shirley - the whole group

Pickin' an' singin':

East of Shirley - pickin' an' singin'

And finally, the last song for the evening, East of Shirley joined by Kimberly Boyce:

East of Shirley - last song for the evening

Visit their MySpace page to hear samples of their music.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

sherku: Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Franklin cemetery flags
mark the spots where the
veterans rest remembered

What is a sherku?

More of the sherku and other poems I write can be found at quiet poet.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MBTA Parking rates increase

Reminder, the MBTA parking rates increase on November 15th. Yes, who else would increase the rates on a weekend?

MBTA Parking rates increase

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dessert: baked stuffed apples

There was an Utterli image here but that service has long since gone by the wayside. I found this post looking for the recipe and decided to add a current image. (updated 10/7/12)

The 'before' baking look:

A good seasonal dessert that is easy to make: Bake stuffed apples.

When they come from the oven nice and warm, the vanilla ice cream just melts all over. Delicious!
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Sunday dinner - Italien pork chops and rice

This week's circular from Stop & Shop included a recipe for Italien Pork Chops and rice. This is the view just as it being set to simmer for 20 minutes.

The recipe is one I'd make again. Tasted good and it was a one pot meal; great for clean up after.
Italien Pork Chops and Rice
from the Stop & Shop circular week of 11/7-11/13/08.
2 teaspoons - Italien herb spice (divided)
one quarter teaspoon salt (optional)
one half teaspoon ground black pepper
one pound pork chops (boneless or bone-in, trimmed of fat)
2 teaspoons oil
one teaspoon minced fresh garlic
one cup chopped green onions
one cup uncooked long grain rice
1 can diced tomatoes (with basis, garlic, and oregano)
one and one quarter cups of water
Step by Step:
Mix Italien seasoning, salt and pepper together. Pat dry the pork chops and coat with seasoning mix.
Heat oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
Cook chops on boths sides until brown, about one minute each side.
Remove from skillet.
Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes until tender.
Add garlic, cook about 30 seconds.
Stir in rice, tomatoes, water and remaining seasonings. Bring mixture to a boil.
Place chops atop rice. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently about 18-20 minutes until pork reaches internal temp of 155 degrees F and rice is tender.
Steve's 2 Cent variations
Instead of the salt, I substituted Mrs Dash's Salt Free Seasoning Blend.
As prior recipes in the circular seemed to be lacking in spices, I was "strong" in measuring the spices this time around and it came out tasting very nice.
If you want to substitute brown rice for white, I would recommend cooking the long grain brown rice according to package directions about half the time recommended, then drain and add to this pot when the rice is called for.
If you want to subsititute one of the minute rice brands, I would only add the rice in that case about half way through the simmer period (i.e. ten minutes).
I used a deep dish cast iron skillet. It has been well seasoned and seemed to add to the flavor of the meal.

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Built by Ben

Built by Ben, originally uploaded by shersteve.

I like the pun in this sign I saw during our walk down Wachusetts St this morning.

"Quality has never BEN this good"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Deja Brew - variety pack

DejaBrew_grinderImage by shersteve via FlickrFriday night was brewing night at Deja Brew. We had six kettles lined up for our group and made the following beers:

Goibniu: A Great rendition of a true Scottish Ale

Killer Honey Ale: A smooth red ale, light hop palate and good malty character

Oktoberfest Beir: A slight fruity accent with a deep gold color

McTartan’s Scotch Ale: McEwan’s Clone – Amber & slightly sweet, some smoke

Llevar Porter: If you like Ravell , you’ll love this one. Vanilla accents

Hearty Christmas Ale: A hearty Ale, spicy, flavorful and inviting!

Four of these we have done before and were so good, we wanted to do them again. Two are new: McTartan's Scotch Ale and the Hearty Christmas Ale.

We return to bottle on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Deja Brew is a good deal of fun and a great way to truly understand and appreciate beer. I learn something everytime I go.

Additional posts on the Deja Brew experience can be found here.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Kettle line up - Deja Brew

the six kettles are lined up. the first one is already poured and cleaned. the remaining kettles are in the finishing stages before pouring off to ferment.

For other posts on the Deja Brew experience, you can click here

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Deja Brew night

the ingredients are ready to be added to the kettle when the temp is right.

For other posts on the Deja Brew experience, you can click here

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Let's hear it for the blog!

Tom Peters and Seth Godin get together in short, easy to watch focused video clips.

You know these guys, you recognize their names, right?

Here is the clip on blogging.

Here is the page to view a bunch of other clips.


Thanks to David Zinger for pointing this out to me!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"Parents may be able to mitigate"

CONCLUSIONS. This is the first study to demonstrate a prospective link between exposure to sexual content on television and the experience of a pregnancy before the age of 20. Limiting adolescent exposure to the sexual content on television and balancing portrayals of sex in the media with information about possible negative consequences might reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. Parents may be able to mitigate the influence of this sexual content by viewing with their children and discussing these depictions of sex.
From the study abstract as published in Pediatrics.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

persuasive leaders

Persuasive leaders are those who use conviction and reason to guide others to adopt an idea, attitude, or action. They make their pleas personal and tangible, ensuring there is a high degree of authenticity when communicating their wants and needs to others. They understand that a problem well defined and grounded in experience will gain higher acceptance and greater cooperation from others. Therefore, they relate their experience and understanding of the problem before explaining or exploring the solution.
From the Randy Emelo's Masterful Mentoring newsletter.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting is Patriotic (USA)

Voting is Patriotic (USA), originally uploaded by farlane.

Not just patriotic, is it a democratic society's duty.

Please get out and vote today!