Category Archives: View from the Porch

View from the Porch – Toyota, Xfinity and Child Worship

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

In my head this is a big long drawn out diatribe, but I decided it wasn’t worth the time and effort to turn it into something that might have some real value. Instead I’ll keep it short and semi-humorous, or as a friend of mine likes to refer to me, snarky.

I now drive almost 3 hours a day to get back and forth to work. I get to hear the same commercials over and over again. Two annoy the hell out of me, mainly because of what I feel they represent. This overbearing need to cater to the needs and feelings of children.

First off is a commercial for something called a Toyota Safe Driving Agreement. Apparently you’re supposed to sit down with your kids and have some hopelessly boring conversation with them about the rules and laws of driving and then sign some piece of paper that states that your kid will abide by the rules and laws that already exist.

If they drive they already have to abide by them. It’s the law.

This is being all nice and neatly discussed by a woman talking that I’m assuming is pretending to be a mom. I keep thinking, where’s dad?

I have a feeling dad is in the bathroom sitting down to pee like his wife told him to.

A dad would never put up with this crap. Sign a safe driving agreement?

Dad: You know the rules of the road and the driving laws?

Kid: Yeah.

Dad: Good, here’s what’s going to happen if you screw them up. First, you’ll be grounded for a week, no going outside for anything other than school. Second, no car for a month. You don’t have to sign anything, you don’t even have to agree to this. This is what will happen if you screw up. We clear?

Kid: Yeah.

Seemed easy enough. No long drawn out explanations, just simple statements of fact.

Then there’s the Xfinity home security commercial. Another mom gushing over how safe her family will now be AND she likes the cameras in the rooms so she can remotely see what her kids are doing at any given moment.

Is that just flat out Big Brother creepy? Who the hell WANTS to see what their kids are doing at any given moment.

And, where’s dad?

Probably still sitting down on the toilet to pee like his wife told him to and wondering about how he’s going to make midnight runs to the bathroom and kitchen naked without the whole world watching him on television.

Don’t think that’s possible? it is. We’re watching you…

That’s enough, I have no interest in going on and on about the psycho sociology of this whole mess and lambasting everyone for effectively eliminating dads from anything resembling a decision making process when it comes to their kids.

George Carlin does a good enough job…

View from the Porch – Time for a Change, Spring and a Job

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

By 6:30 this morning, all four of the bald eagles had drifted up the river to their sitting spot below my house. This woke up the geese and ducks and got the crows all worked up, like usual.

Unidentified song birds were heard and more were already raiding the neighborhood feeders. A small swift predator bird slashed through the trees. No squirrels yet, but the mother/child feral cats my wife has been feeding and are living under our deck came out for their morning breakfast. They are infinitely curious about the other animals that walk in and out of the back door and it’s just a matter of time before they come in to check it out, I think.

And this will be the last time I mention any of this on a weekday.

Last week I applied for a job, starts out freelance with the conversion to full time if I’m liked. Being liked is a given.

One of the reasons I haven’t written down anything this past week is because my head-hunter, as much as I like her, committed a grave mistake.

For nearly 20 of the 30 years I’ve been in the graphic arts industry I’ve been a freelancer. When you’ve freelanced for this long and have pitched as many jobs as I have, when you pitch a job you want a very simple answer. Yes you got it, no you didn’t. Hoping on the front end and dwelling on the back end amounts to nothing. You learn not to do either. If you get it great, if not, on to the next one.

Three times in the last week my head-hunter contacted me to let me know “things are looking good,” “you’re still in the running,” “she’s leaning toward you.”

Stop it, stop it, stop it, either yes or no, skip the updates.

Out of the ordinary, this got me dwelling on the job to the point where it became difficult to concentrate on much else. The reason for that is because the last three years lining up work has been a bitch. It’s been a bitch for one reason alone, I’m 57 years old and nobody hires 57 year old men for shit. Plenty of minimum wage part time jobs out there for us, but that’s pretty much it.

I can already hear the rumbling, that’s not true, you haven’t tried hard enough, you need to go back and retrain… if that’s what you’re rumbling about it only tells me this, you don’t know or never talk to guys my age.

I was lucky to interview with the woman in charge of the graphics department. The lucky part was that she appeared to be in her late 40’s. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to interview with someone that could be your kid. You know you are completely wasting your time.

Towards the end of the interview she asked why I would consider giving up a long freelance career and take a full time job. I told her how freelancing has changed, that it’s next to impossible to get to anyone without going through a head-hunter. I told her how I’ve had three head-hunters in the last three years tell me that I’m too old for the graphics industry and I should find something else to do, they won’t even submit my resume.

I told her how one head-hunter looked through my portfolio and said, “based on your portfolio, there’s no reason in the world why you shouldn’t be working.” Then she read my resume and said, “you have to dumb down your resume.”

The woman I was interviewing with looked stunned, “so you’re telling me that if this job ever goes away, I’m effectively screwed?”

“Well, yeah, pretty much,” I told her.

I think that last conversation with her is why I got a phone call on Thursday letting me know I got the job.

I have noticed that there is a certain attitude appearing amongst those that are older and doing the hiring. A real “fuck the kids” attitude has appeared. At a freelance job I did last year I mentioned to the supervisor that the handful of freelancers brought in for the project averaged 50 years old. “I don’t hire kids,” I was told, “they don’t know shit, won’t get off their damn phones and whine too much.”

Bravo, bravo I say. A shame there aren’t more that age around doing the hiring.

So here it is, meteorological spring, signifying change. Soon green things will be sprouting out of the ground, fish will be moving on the river and creeks and I’ll be out there finding both.

The new job starts on Monday. If it does wind up full-time, that would be the first full-time job I’ve had since 1995. Talk about change, but it will be nice to let someone else deal with my taxes, pay for most of my health insurance and finally the self-employment punishment tax will be gone.

But the best part, aside from working for what appears to be a pretty outstanding company, is that the day ends at 4:30 PM. To get home I have to drive over three rivers. All hold fish worthy of pursuing. The last three hours of daylight during the warmer months is my favorite time to be out fishing.

Maybe I’ll just change the name of what I tried to do with this.

View from the River — has a nice ring to it.

View from the Porch – Not in the Mood for Writing Words this Morning

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

So here’s something by my friend Bob Long, Jr. that I enjoyed reading this morning:

Late Night Walk to the Beach House


View from the Porch – White is a Color

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

Stepping outside and seeing everything covered in white made me feel good. Nearly four months of nothing but brown and gray was getting to me. I need color. White is all colors in the light spectrum combined, so that will do for now.

We barely got a couple of inches, but I had to quickly shovel off the porch so I could stand in comfort with my coffee and cigar. The snow was heavy. I like it that way.

I didn’t expect to see or hear anything in terms of wildlife. The ground critters couldn’t be bothered, but I was surprised at the amount of birds seen and heard. It may as well have been a warm sunny morning. The birds seemed to be enjoying themselves.

I have long sidewalks, a lot of driveway, a carport and a big deck that all needed snow cleared. I was in no hurry. It’s a nice exercise routine. Works quite a few muscle groups and a few hours later, all my muscle groups are feeling the burn. It’s a good feeling. I refuse to use a snow blower. Muscle is good. When I was done, I put up a progress report on Facebook:

When shoveling snow, I refuse to use a snow blower, the former architect/sculptor in me won’t allow things to be done in a haphazard manner.

The end result has to be visually appealing some how.

I’m so happy with today’s results that, of course, I had to sign it…

Down on the river, out on the island, a couple of adult bald eagles and a couple of juveniles seem to have taken up residence. I see them all the time now. While shoveling they were noticed out over the river, drifting. Two drifted inland and over the ravine a hundred feet away. One adult and not far behind, one juvenile.

The analytical half of me wants to look up all the details of bald eagle behavior. The other half is perfectly content at observing and making things up based on what’s been observed. It’s not necessary to suck the mystery out of everything in life.

Somewhere down stream these eagles nest. A few years ago I found a nest, but they’re so big and heavy that it eventually crushed the tree it was in. I think I know where they moved, but finding them will require bush whacking far beyond any I’ve done to get to remote river and creek fishing spots.

The burn in my muscles is telling me I’m not in shape for that yet. Time to bring all the weights in from the garage and put them to use. I refuse to become one of those old overweight waddling guys. I can deal with old, not the overweight and waddling.

View from the Porch – Oddly Quiet and did I Mention I’ve been Looking for Work?

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

The wind has died down and the birds are out in numbers, but they are oddly quiet. Only one lone goose down on the river honking and a woodpecker in the tree in front of my house banging away. Not sure the woodpecker banging counts as a bird song of any kind.

Quite a few cardinals flying around and a number of other birds are out scrounging for seeds, but they are all quiet. The birds must not like the cold much and it seems to hinder their desire to sing. Can’t blame them. I’m not all that happy with the cold either.

I live on the edge of a cold depression that exists to the west of Aurora. Tom Skilling the Weather God mentions it often. Consistently the coldest spot in the Chicago area. At 7:00 AM it’s supposedly only eight degrees out there and my toes can attest to that.

Nothing else is out there moving around. I think it will take another hour or two before the squirrels bother coming around for their morning peanuts. I’ve noticed they like to crawl out of their nests and holes and sit in the sun for awhile before moving around. Much like me really.

I may have to force myself to get out and about today even if it’s sitting behind the wheel of my car, in it’s warmth and cruising around. If all goes well, I might be back at work soon and doing these Views from the Porch will pretty much come to an end. Hanging out watching the world around me during the day will end too. Work begats money which allows me to pay for a certain amount of stuff, but I don’t need much stuff. I should probably be grateful if the work does come through, but I’m not quite sure what to be grateful about.

In my world, hanging out watching the world around me during the day is much better use of my time. Gives me something to talk about with others. My wife has always noticed that when I am working, I never talk about work. I work, every week or two I’m given some money, what’s there to talk about?

Thanks for the money, I guess.