The Last Full Measure of Devotion

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There are a couple of things you need to know about me: I am not a political animal and I do not watch television.

I watch streaming, via Netflix or Amazon, but I do not watch broadcast television or cable TV. I’m usually a season or more behind in even knowing what’s out there.

Currently, I’m watching Ken Burns’ “The Civil War,” which is copyright 1990.

On November 19th, 2013  — just next month — it will have been 150 years since the national cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated. 150 years since Abraham Lincoln gave us a two-minute address that continues to be relevant today.

In July, I visited Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois, which is on grounds managed by the National Park Service. It’s strange visiting a place like that, knowing what would happen in the Lincolns’ future — that he would be elected President, that one of their sons would die in Washington, that the President himself would be assassinated there and never return to the only house he ever owned….

And behind all of that is the huge and bloody stage of the American Civil War.

In 1959, the last Civil War veteran died, and with him, I think, went our last connection to the domestic war that slaughtered 600,000 men– some of whom had gone to school together, or were relatives of each other. Without a Civil War veteran to remind us of the high price we paid for a continued union of States, we have fallen back to the shrill rhetoric and dearth of compromise that led up to secession and war. These days I see, and I hear, the similar passion and fervor that led this nation down that path.

We are a nation of related strangers. Our forefathers all came to this country from somewhere. This is what makes us fabulous.

My adopted grandfather’s family can be traced back to the 1700’s in what is now Germany; they fought in the Revolutionary War, and they fought in the Civil War (Pickett’s Charge, to be exact). What makes this nation work is its design — the three branches of government, and the checks and balances it’s supposed to have. Has the design evolved over the years? Of course it has. Is it perfect? Oh hell no.

But it is the best we have.

We still have the right to vote (yeah, let’s not get into that whole Electoral College thing right now); we can still call or write to our elected officials (yeah, let’s not get into that whole are-they-gonna-bother-to-listen-to-me thing right now).

We can still participate in the system; we can still influence and change the system, if we choose to, and even in choosing not to influence and participate, we have the freedom of choosing.

That’s pretty crazy cool, I think.

 

 

 

 

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Confessions of an Unglamorous Office Assistant

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I’ve been looking for a new office position since mid-July. I’ve sent letters and resumes, I’m registered at three temp services. I can code and data-enter two hundred electric invoices in a week, and can knock out a stack of water invoices (like above, a hundred of them) in three days. That includes scanning to attachment to make the accountants happy.

My old boss Kari, whom I followed to two jobs, would tell you that I’m ridiculously punctual and reliable, and that she never had to worry about me working unsupervised. I can think on my feet, and the success of my employer is my top priority.

So why aren’t I working?

I’ve been reading a lot of LinkedIn articles and letters, and I’ve come to one conclusion: I’m not glamorous enough.

My resume is filled with practical, but decidedly non-exciting, skills.

Yes, I can mail merge. I can create mailing lists. I present a professional appearance and demeanor. Of course I type. I file correctly (Far, Fat, Few, Fuse), I answer the phone using correct spoken English and syntax. I take messages with the caller’s name, phone number, time of call, and message — and I try to glean more information so that the message recipient has more to work on than, “Ms So-and-So wants you to call her back.” I compose letters using a bare minimum of information from my boss, again utilizing correct grammar and spelling.

How long have I been using MS Word? I have no idea. I’m sure there was a time when I didn’t, but I was typing on a Selectric then. Yes, I can create newsletters using Publisher, but for a real challenge, try it in Word (which I did when creating marketing material in real estate). I have legible handwriting, and I know how to minimize risk to my employer. I can document incident reports, when necessary, precisely and succinctly. I have grown a receptionist position into an administrative assistant position by taking on more responsibility and freeing my director for other things.

But I do not have the great, huge, billboard-inspiring accomplishments like “Overhauled entire filing system while verifying employment and income for 100 waiting list applicants and catering a dance recital for 60 coworkers’ children.” Not having the great, huge, billboard-inspiring accomplishments just means that to me, there are more important things to do than quantify every thing I do for my employer so that my resume looks more impressive next time. I like being support personnel, I don’t want there to be a next time.

Let me be the support person you hired me to be.

(Resume available upon request.)

Back to Basics

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“Basic” can be defined as “forming an essential foundation or starting point….”

I spent yesterday and part of today reworking my resume for a staffing service, and I was hung up on how they wanted me to fill out the “Career Profile.”

In six brief bullet points, they wanted me to say what I do, not who I am.

I found it difficult because I discovered that I am adjectives, I am -able words: Dependable, reliable, capable.

Is that really what I am? Adjectives?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Visiting: St. Louis Gateway Arch

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Yesterday, I spent ninety minutes on the phone catching up with an old high school friend. He’s traveled to every continent on this planet except Antarctica, and will likely do that at some point, I’m sure. He links to travel blogs and challenged me to take a shot of the Arch  that hadn’t been done before.

Since “Just Visiting” is getting back on track as an actual road-trip blog, it’s only fitting and I accepted.

Now, I have pictures that my dad took of me at the Arch in 1968, when it had barely been open a year. I was about five. When I moved to St. Louis in 1988 or 1989, I didn’t drive and didn’t know anyone with a car. I got to know the Arch grounds and the surrounding downtown neighborhood  intimately. I’ve walked it. I’ve explored it. I’ve gotten drunk on the Landing and played slots when the Admiral was a casino.

I am here to tell you that I don’t believe there is a shot of the Arch that hasn’t been taken before. Just Google-image-search “St. Louis Gateway Arch.” Your return will get a gazillion images, including the architect’s drawings and crayon drawings. Do the same search on Flickr, and you’ll find more.

Also, there is a dearth of public observation decks in this town, unless you’re connected or can rent a riverfront hotel room for a couple of hours. In going through older photos I’ve taken of the Arch, I noticed that our urban planners didn’t give us any lovely, unobstructed views of the national monument, thereby ratcheting the need for creative camera angles even higher. (In St. Louis, “planners” is a very loosely defined word.)

But it’s all good.

You learn to work with it.

The thing about the Arch is that, obstructed or unobstructed, morning or night, winter or summer, it’s a gorgeous piece of engineering.

Its stainless steel exterior plays with light – no two mornings are ever alike, nor evenings, because of the changing nature of sunrises and sunsets. I’ve seen foggy mornings where half of the structure is lost in mist, and at 630 feet tall, that’s pretty impressive. If you watch sporting events originating from St. Louis, like baseball or football, you’ve likely seen local “beauty shots” incorporating it. Standing beneath it and staring straight up to its apex can almost as exhilarating as riding up the capsule-like elevator to the top, and feeling the whole structure sway slightly in the wind as you look out of the windows at the top.

It’s perfectly safe, though, and the view is spectacular. Don’t forget to ask the docent how they change the red airplane warning light outside on top!

For more information about the Arch, hours, admission charge to the top, link here.  The Arch, its grounds, and the Jefferson Expansion Memorial (which includes the History Museum in Forest Park), are administered and curated by the National Park Service.

(All photos by me, except the Feb 15 1968 set, which were taken by my dad.)

Wishing Upon A Star

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Today’s is the last motivational/inspirational photo I’ll be posting here.

I’ve opened a storefront on Fiverr.com, wherein I will send daily photos to your inbox for $5 for 7days (that’s only 71cents a day!!).

You’ve seen the quality of my images; if you’ve enjoyed them, I ask for your support by subscribing or gifting a subscription to someone.

I’m not collecting email addresses, I’m not going to spam you, everything is handled through Fiverr.com whose site takes credit cards and PayPal.

For those choose not to subscribe, thank you for allowing me to share my images with you these last few weeks!

I’ve created a new blog around the corner to introduce the Fiverr storefront and show samples of the work.