Monthly Archives: June, 2015

The weekend adventure

Alright, principally this is going to be about yesterday (which is what most will want to hear), but lets get up to date on all events, shall we?

Yes, Thursday started off this stage of things, with an awareness session, for the training course starting tomorrow. To be honest, I’d been told I would learn more about the potential job, but I didnt learn much that I didnt know, in all honesty. Done a (very) basic numeracy, and literacy test while there, presumably to let them see where they stood with the candidates, before the course.

Anyway, that all starts tomorrow, hopefully I will be a bit wiser after that!

Friday was, err, entertaining. I was meant to have a phone interview at 9.00, so that it was out of the way before the crazy part of the day got started. So, they rang at 10.30, about 20 minutes before I had to get ready to go to the job centre. Anyway, while keeping an eye on the clock, I did as much as I could under the circumstances, but we will see. Then about 10 minutes before I’m due to head off to Loughborough, an agency rings, wanting to do a phone chat, lasting about 15-20 minutes. Anyway, put that off, they are meant to be ringing tomorrow evening. Whether they do, or not, we will see, but wasnt a lot I could do!

The journey to Loughborough went fine, found the hotel easily, and settled in. Cant say the service in the bar was what I would expect from a 4 star hotel, but maybe I have old fashioned expectations? Mind, they were relatively busy, so…? Food was good, when I finally managed to order it, and it arrived!

Saturday morning for breakfast was even more entertaining, quite a queue to even get in to eat, but again, there may have been a good reason, or maybe standards doesnt qualify for star rating nowadays?

After that, the day improved dramatically. Registration was simple, smooth, and efficient, despite numbers. Then off to Electrical Engineering, and instantly recognised by Will (my Twitter contact), which is always nice. His talk was informative, entertaining, and lots of other good things. Had me thinking that if only I was 40 years younger…

I then did a tour of the building, along with a number of others, in the very capable hands of one of the students. Saw a lot of stuff I liked the look of, and would love to use, but anyway… By the time we got back from this, Will had started his second round of talking, so I went and had some lunch. After lunch, and after the talk, we got together properly, and had a chat. Anyway, to cut a long story short, if I can do the foundation course this year, I might well go for it, though I’m not sure how my brain will take to seriously studying again, after 40 years! But Will was not certain if there were any spaces for this year (99% of people there were looking to start Uni next year), but is going to find out for me. I would have to say, if its next year, it almost certainly wont happen, though I guess if I’m in a mundane job, who knows? At least I now know what it would involve.

After that, I headed for home, having had a wonderful time. I’m glad I let Will talk me into going, that I actually went, and even if I dont ever get back, at least now, at 57, I have been to University once! For those curious, I left school after O Levels, as my mother was a single parent, so never got the chance to study further.

Tomorrow is going to come as a shock, I have to be in Leeds, for 9.30 in the morning! I will get an interview, after the course, at the end of the week, so we will see how things develop, in more ways than one.

The video. Ultravox, and though this was nothing to do with love, it was a wonderful, great adventure!

Dinner At Eight (1933)

This posting is an added extra bonus for my readers, as part of the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, wonderfully run by Movies Silently, Once Upon A Screen, and Silver Screenings. Well, fine, thats their Twitter tags, I know them by other names too, but for you…that will do.

So, in no great shock horror moment, I’ve picked a Harlow movie to review. To be honest, it was a toss up between this, and Bombshell (where Jean pretty much plays herself) for my choice, and Dinner At Eight won out, probably because of the closing line, at her expense.

Its said that MGM tossed a pile of stars at this movie, and it shows. 2 Barrymore’s amongst many, and of course, Jean Harlow. Funnily enough though, for me, its none of them that steal the movie, its Marie Dressler, as Carlotta, and Wallace Beery, as Packard who do that.

It is a Pre code movie, and it shows. In that half the characters are having illicit affairs, and just about everything else goes too. For those readers who dont know what I’m talking about, prior to 1934, things were a bit more “relaxed” as to what was permitted in movies, than was for the next 30 years or so. The other thing you can tell, is that its set in the Depression era, as most of the characters are either down on their luck, or heading that way.

Yes, most. The Packard’s are the newly rich, and I suspect not entirely in a lawful way, but anyway…Everyone else seems to be struggling with money, or loves, or…something! And irony, the 2 people who said dinner is being held for, go off elsewhere instead!

Jean, as Kitty, is sassy, tarty, and having a sly affair with her doctor. Beery, as her husband, makes the perfect foil for her. But one stands out amongst others, and that is Marie Dressler, as Carlotta, the down on her luck actress. She plays the part with relish, and of course, at the end, just before they go into dinner, shoots Kitty down in flames wonderfully. This is it!

There are tales that it was either added to the script at the last moment, and no one told Jean, to get a natural reaction. Equally that Dressler simply ad libbed the line into it, but I would be amazed if that was the case, given the way films were made back then.

The sad irony of this movie, is that Dressler makes a comment about death, and how even the young cant stop it coming, after a failed, drunk actor committed suicide. Why ironic? Well of course, as is well known, just 4 years later, the very young Jean Harlow was dead, at 26, due to kidney failure, which wasnt curable back then. But also, just 2 years after this movie was made, Dressler was dead too, from cancer, at the age of 65.

If you want to see an excellently cast, superb movie about life in the Depression era, then you should try to see this. Its not actually (at time of writing) available in full on You Tube, but it can be cheaply picked up at Amazon, or Ebay, and other places as well I’m sure.

Yes, there is crossover with Harlow, and Kitty, a character, to put it mildly. But if you want a light hearted biog of Jean Harlow, go watch Bombshell. Its not strictly true, but its a closer match than either of the films made about her in the 60’s. Of course, it doesnt include the end of her life, but anyway…

Lastly, the video. Well, the song has the perfect title, so…

All or nothing

Yes, you know how things are with life, for a while nothing happens, then all goes crazy, tell me about it! I know its a good thing, but pacing matters would be nicer. So now, I’m looking at a pretty lively week and a half, and not much time at home.

So lets start off with the event you knew about, and the one that occurs every fortnight at present. Yes, the latter is signing on at the Job Centre, on Friday morning. The other of course, is the trip to Loughborough, to take a look at a potential life as a student. Open day is on Saturday, but I’m going down Friday afternoon, so that I can make a decently early start down there, without having to leave here at “silly o’clock” to do so. Yes, really looking forward to it, though I have no idea quite what I’m letting myself in for.

But it’s today that the diary has really started to fill up, and in style. Early this morning, I got a call from one of the (many) recruitment agencies I’d applied to, for a job, I’ve made the short list. 🙂 Now the fun bit. This involves a 2 hour awareness meeting in Leeds tomorrow lunchtime, followed by a week (9-4) of preparatory training for the role. Fine, it will be different, something to freshen me up, but combined with the weekend trip, getting time to myself flies out of the window!

And then, to top all this off, when I got back from a trip to town this afternoon (get rent money and train ticket as I had vouchers that cant be used online), I have an email from another agency, about a job, asking me to ring them back. I did, did reasonably, and cinched the tests, but lets face it, that side of thing has never been an issue for me anyway. So now, I’m probably going to have to squeeze a telephone interview in somewhere, either tomorrow afternoon (given the potential employers wont even know the results until tomorrow morning), or Friday, before I head to the Job Centre! When, if I pass that, I do an in person interview, no idea!

But anyway, the poor telephone has been taking a hammering here, but hopefully not for much longer, one way or another. Talking of which, the video relates to that, though it is showing its age dramatically, with rotary dial phones, and typewriters!

Well, its one step up, I guess?

As my regular readers know, I’ve got used to the rejection emails, phone calls, and the simply ‘nothing at all’ stuff up to now re my job interviews, but I got something new today. No, not quite a job offer, but not a rejection either!

One of those jobs I went for last week, and tried to get lost finding, I found out the result today. Yes, I did well at the job interview, and impressed a lot, but seemingly, so did a number of others, and I’m not yet being offered a job. But equally, I havent been written off yet, either. I’m on a reserve list, because being insurance, you need people to pass credit checks, before getting a job. And presumably, next time around they’re looking to employ, I’ll be at the top of that list, pre approved candidate!

Hey, maybe getting lost on the way to an interview is the way to go? No, I’d rather not do that again, especially as second time around, it meant I was 20 minutes late, never a good thing!

Oh, the only other news of note. I’ve said “What the hell”, and booked, and paid for my air flight to Boston in September. Yes, I’m going regardless, that much I have decided.

Oh, fine, the video. Relates to the job situation, a one hit wonder from the 70’s

Why do things when you’re expected to?

Lets face it, for most of the population in this country, who wish to do so, you do the long trip abroad either between school and college/university, or shortly after you graduated. Me, I did that at 45! Equally, most people, if you’re going to go to university, you do it before you reach 25. So fine, I’m considering doing it at 57! Yes, I’m awkward, but I suspect most people know that already.

I must admit that when I decided to take the redundancy money, and run, I did realise that at my age, finding a new job might be a bit of a challenge. Still, I wasnt expecting it to be quite as tricky as this! Fine, the first few weeks were a strange mix, given I really couldnt job hunt because of the Hollywood trip. Then yes, I admit nerves, and rustiness may have got the better of me early on, but even now, when I’m happier with the process, still no joy.

In the meanwhile, I did consider becoming a university student for the first time in my life (once it was firmly pointed out to me that my age was not an issue in doing so), though that might have been in the US, and in the end, my lack of qualifications, combined with the rules for working over there as a foreigner, I ended up passing on that opportunity. James was a wonderful rock, and help on this matter, I must say.

As is well known (I posted on this recently), my Twitter feed is an eclectic mix, but includes more than a few science related sites. As I commented this morning on Twitter, a lot of what I was writing as science fiction 15 years ago, is now either fact, or fast becoming so. Anyway, despite previous comments about my age, when a wonderful gentleman named Will posted about studying Electrical Engineering at Loughborough University, I again made the comment about my age being my main block for doing so. Just like James, he told me that my age wouldnt be an issue, though clearly I would have to do a foundation course prior to my degree, due to my time away from studying, and my qualification limits. He mentioned to me that there would be open days, to come to the University to look around, and that I should seriously think about doing so. So I did, and came to the conclusion that there was no harm in taking the first steps at least.

So I applied to go to the Open Day next Saturday, thinking I could see how things played out, before committing to actually going. And then I thought,”What the hell.”, and decided that unless a job offer stopped me going, I was going to do it. No job offer yet, so that made it an easy choice. So yes, yesterday I booked the hotel for next Friday night, in Loughborough, on the campus, in fact.

To be honest, I’m really, really looking forward to it now. And no, not just because I get to meet Will, though that will be nice, I must say. He puts up with a lot of ‘witty’ remarks from me, in good grace, a fact I certainly admire. Yes, the sci-fi side of me still sees the other side of electrical engineering, being used on me, but thats not likely to happen! But also because the idea of studying something like this has really grown on me! Very much so, in fact, its got to the point where the idea really appeals. No, at this point, I’m not saying I will do it, but I’m certainly going down there thinking, if it all works out, then I might well do so.

But yes, the beauty of this is that I can go there under no pressure. At my age, becoming, or not becoming a student is not the big issue. An interesting course, which I’m sure this will be, a chance to improve myself (again a definite), and something different in my life also play a part. So yes, at 57, I might be becoming a student, in a subject that really appeals to me. A new life, just maybe?

Right, the video. Well it will be a walk of life, if I become a student at my age, lets face it. Plus, its full of baseball, and NFL, 2 of my favourite sports.

Let me show you where to go

In the ‘good old days’ when I actually owned a mobile phone (yes, I did, but not at all recently), they pretty much did 2 things, make calls, and send text messages. That was fine, I could cope quite happily with that, even if my usage wasnt all that great. Then after my first spell without one, I gave in, and got a new one as a present, though it was as basic a model as they could find. Even then, it included a camera device, but I never bothered about learning how it worked.

But to be honest, I was only really using it for emergencies, and one day I realised I hadnt used it for over a year, the credit was gone, the sim card would no longer work, and that was that. I have still got the phone somewhere in my room, but dont ask me to go and find it! Since then, and its been a fair few years now, I’ve happily survived without one, much to most peoples amazement. Yes, I really must be an old fashioned girl lol!

However, I’m now thinking of buckling under, and getting one of those things again. Not for sending text messages, or for making phone calls (heaven forbid anyone would want to ring me), but for the internet map options!

I have discovered during this run of job interviews that some buildings are very easy to find. Santander, and Provident in Bradford for example, piece of cake! There are others though, where even if you get within 100 yards of the place, they’re easily missed! I had one yesterday, in Halifax, where I got within 100 yards of the place, couldnt see it shouting at me, and asked someone where it was, and they sent me on a wild goose chase.

Then today, on the edge of Huddersfield (of all places), I was again looking for an address. I saw a sign for a road, the name of which I wanted, and turned down there. Unfortunately the place I wanted wasnt there, it had actually been about 50 yards further on from where I was. Trouble was, with no map to guide me (care of a phone), and the fact that no locals seemed to know where I wanted, it took me half an hour to find it, and get there!

Now, I’m not saying with a mobile phone it would have been easier, but I guess I could have checked the email, put the address on a map site, and work out where I wanted to be. Or indeed, if I’d had a phone, call the office and find out where they were!

So no, I dont want a mobile phone, but I’m beginning to feel that if this job hunting goes on much longer I will need one, as a navigation assistant! Thing is, its Catch 22, isnt it? Until I get a job, I shouldnt spend money on one, but this job hunting seems to be the only time I need one. Ah well…

The video, anyone of a certain age will know what the title suggests it will be.

An actress I (sort of) got to know

Firstly, let me say, if you’re looking for a really good tribute to Monica Lewis, who died earlier this week, at the grand old age of 93, this isnt it! If you want to know my personal moments with the lady, through social media, stick here!

Its fair to say that on Social Media, “people” arent always who they say they are. Hey, I have a Facebook account I’m proud of, in the name of Harlean Carpenter, but given the actual lady is dead, might be a clue. And lets face it, most modern stars who have these accounts, have ‘someone’ who posts everything for them. One of my favourites, OMD, its a well known fact that a good percentage of the postings are done by Andy McCluskey, but thats not the norm.

So its fair to say, that when Monica Lewis appeared on both Facebook and Twitter, given that she was in her nineties, I assumed it was someone doing tribute stuff for her. Wrong, I quickly discovered that this genuinely was Monica, and for many months I’ve enjoyed seeing her posts, seeing her comments, as well as all the vintage pictures of herself that she posted. Being honest, I think she was enjoying it all as much as the rest of us were!

However, earlier this week, the news broke that Monica had died in her sleep. Yes, she had been posting on Twitter the night before, and I wouldnt be surprised if she wasnt on Facebook too! There was a further posting on her Twitter account, from her family to confirm the sad news, and pretty much tell us what we already knew, we had been ‘chatting’ to Monica herself, all that time.

No, she wasnt a massive star, but as some would say, she had a decent career, over many years. I never even considered meeting her when I was in LA, but I suspect she may well have said yes, if I had!

Its probably as close as I will really ever get to a genuine actress, and I’m glad I knew her.

So it just needs to be said. Monica Lewis, rest in peace, and thanks for everything.

The video, yes, its her

Some currencies are stronger than others!

Unsurprisingly, given that I’ve spent the last 12 years working in them, most of my job applications have been for work in call centres. Regardless of my desire to do something new, the likelihood of my CV being most closely scrutinised by potential employers, is in the area where my recent career stands up, and jumps out at them.

I did, a while back apply for a position as a receptionist, the duties of which I’m more than capable of doing, but got no further than an initial interview. Yes, fine, the fact that he was really looking for a PA, set me, at my age, at a disadvantage, but anyway…

So in that sense, yesterday saw something new, I had an interview for a retail position, with one of these companies that sells foreign currency to the general public, in many forms. Yes, it used to be cash, and travellers cheques, but the latter, like ordinary cheques seem to have almost disappeared. Nowadays, pre paid credit cards, in foreign currencies seem to have taken their place, and much easier they are too!

Yes, its an area that a regular traveller abroad knows well, and one I’d enjoy working in. Fine, I havent done any retail work for 14 years, but I suspect its like riding a bike, and besides, I’ve been dealing with the public in the interim, just over the phone!

Mostly its going to be a few principal currencies that I’ll be dealing with, but I’m sure you’ll get the odd different one from time to time. Mind, a few currencies I’ve bought in my time no longer exist, those countries now in the Euro zone. Yes, about half the Euro countries, I purchased their old national one at some point.

But the one currency that amused me today, is nowhere near Europe. Its that long running political, and financial mess, Zimbabwe. Apparently they are giving up on the national currency, and going over to the US Dollar. The exchange rate? 35 Quadrillion (that’s 35, followed by 15 zeros!) Zimbabwe dollars, to the US Dollar!!! Thats how worthless their current currency is. Even if they werent dropping it, I would think its fair to say, not many get exchanged for sterling!

As always, we will see, but it will certainly be an interesting role, if I get it.

The video about sums up the Zimbabwe currency, soon to be no more

The progress of technology

To say my Twitter account is an eclectic mix, would be to put it mildly.

Two main areas are obvious ones, anything relating to movies pre 1939 (or so), and vintage clothing. I have a few others relating to Irish cricket, but the one area that seems to be growing, is my collection of science ‘fact’ sites, and wearable technology. OK, fine, most of my interest in these areas relates more to science fiction, but to be honest, what we thought of as fiction at the turn of the century, is fast becoming fact!

Lets face it, answering machines, for businesses have been around quite a while now. Hey, its even got to the point where you can select your options by voice, rather than pressing a number on the phone to move to the next step. No, generally it doesnt get you any further, any faster, and besides, in the end, if a problem needs solving, you’re going to end up talking to a person at some point. Why, because automation has its limitations at present when it comes to actual decision making, and thats where the humans need to come in…for now.

Yes, there will be a time when the computers will be capable of making independent decisions, but I suspect we are still a while off from that.

But the thing is, will it just be actual machines making those decisions, or will they be making them through us, via wearable technology? Google Glass seemed to be the first step towards merging humans, with technology, but clearly it wasnt working correctly, as Google pulled it, though there is talk that Mk 2 is on its way soon, we will see.

That though would only have given the wearer the information they needed to make a decision, not to give the wearer the decision that the technology had made. But how long that will remain that way, I’m not quite sure. And though not immediately, at some point in the near future, that technology will be capable of doing just that. At which point, will it need the person at all, will it speak for itself, or will we just say what we are ‘told’ to say?

The other thing you younger folk have to worry about (more than old folk like me) is how long will it be before its not us wearing the technology, but the technology wearing us! You know, at some point, what is now externally worn, will be implanted, injected, or whatever, and become part of you!

Who, me, jealous? You bet! Not going to happen in my working life, I’m pretty sure, more’s the pity. But do you fancy being one, with a machine, hmm?

And yes, absolutely, jobs like mine, in call centres will be the first ones where the staff get automated, for sure. Yes, it will be the jobs easily done by machine that will be the first where the staff are either replaced by automation, or taken over by it!

Good luck, young folk!

The video. A modern version of a very apt Kraftwerk classic

Merry Brooks publishing proudly presents…

And before you query matters, for those who don’t remember, and it has been a while, that’s my author name, for publishing purposes.

I know, its been a while, but thats what work will do for you! But while I was taking it (relatively) easy, before I headed to Hollywood, I wrote this. Yes, I know, I write this before I get to see the city, but on the whole, I made a good premise of it. Yes, Google maps helps in that sense, but anyway…

If you want an idea what its about, before you buy, there’s a guide in the synopsis. All I will say, is that there are 2 very famous actresses mentioned here, 1 of whom gets to try life in a modern era too (technically, she also appears as a ghost, but…). There is also 1 less well known actress, who gets to live 2 lives as well, for whom I have a special affection.

As I say, think the tale of Christmas Carol, hitting Hollywood, only the visitation is not just the sight of things, you get to experience the whole thing.

Oh, and it features a couple of guys as well, who might be a bit sinister, but have a dry sense of humour too, purely fictional.

No, I dont expect to sell enough copies to give up the job hunting lark, but hopefully enough to boost my sagging funds, pretty please!

OK, you had this video only a couple of months ago, but who’s counting. Its a much under rated Gerry Rafferty gem, that deserves some love, so…

Oh, and this lady might appear in it

Digital Camera