National Preparedness Month 2013


If you know anything at all about me, you know how much I believe in prepping for the worst and hoping for the best.  I took CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training, I have a ton of stuff in the back of my vehicle in case I get called out and cannot make it home (which I have had to dip into many times already), and I try to spread my knowledge with others.  Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month?  Over the last few years, I have celebrated the month by sharing preparedness information with my coworkers.  This year I have found this new site and I look forward to trying it out!  Sign up for 30 Days, 30 Ways and they will send you an email each day with a short safety task to complete.  I am not sure exactly what all will be involved, but they give awards for the unique entries, so I am planning to let my creative juices flow and I hope to win something!  You can follow my quest via my Twitter @KalKaryn.


Project 3 for Competent Communication – Where Did I Come From? – 9 July 2013

In these early level speeches for Toastmasters, it pretty much the sky’s the limit on what you can choose.  I have started using our club’s theme of the week to shape my speeches around.  This particular week’s theme was Trading Places.  For those of you keeping score, this was the first speech I won, but even more important, I did NOT have any ah’s, um’s or other crutch words!!!

Good evening fellow Toastmasters.  I was having trouble coming up with a topic for tonight’s speech so I looked to tonight’s theme for inspiration and came up with the subject of me!  More specifically, where did I come from?  Mark Twain said,”Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.”  When I first started my genealogy research, I went to my granny and was asking her questions she would not answer.  She advised me to not bother looking as I was going to find things I did not want to find.  “What?” I asked.  She said things like horse thieves and such.  “Do you really think so?”  She was not amused.  The worst thing I found out about her?  My grandparents lied about their ages on their marriage license.  I jokingly asked my mom if that meant they were not legally married.  My mom said to NEVER bring that up in front of granny.  However, when I found that her 8th great-grandmother was hung as a witch at Salem, you can bet I brought that up! Granny said, see I told you you would find bad things.  I told her I thought it was cool.

Both sets of my grandparents made it to 50 years of marriage and then one spouse died shortly thereafter.  I asked the surviving spouses how they met their mates and/or decided to get married, but neither would answer me.  This leads me into tonight’s theme of trading places.  I am too enamored of today’s conveniences such as fast cars, fast food, and indoor plumbing to want to go back in time full-time, but I would love to be able to trade places for a day or even an hour so that I could interview my ancestors to get a feeling of what everyday life was like for them.  I would love to know what made my grandparents decide to get married.  I know that my paternal grandmother dated my great-uncle before she married his brother, my grandfather.  Why one brother over the other???

First person I would like to meet is Elizabeth Wheatley.  Not my great-grandmother Elizabeth Ann (Wheatley) Cramer, but her mother who was possibly Elizabeth (Karug or probably Craig) Wheatley.  I started doing my research to prove Scottish roots and 15+ years and thousands of relatives later, I still have very little on Elizabeth Senior and no positive proof of Scots.  What would I ask her?  Where are you living?  Where did your husband die?  What happened to your kids?  This would help me find death certificates and obituaries.  I know their kid’s names and that she was supposed to be Scottish and he was Irish from County Wexford, but that is about all I know.   This family branch is a brick wall for me and by getting just a few questions answered, I know I could tear down that wall.

I would also like to meet my great-grandfather Albert Nicholas Hark.  I had the opportunity to learn a little about him from my great aunts.  It seems that he was a talented man who could speak several languages and play several instruments.  His wife, Elizabeth (Erhart) Hark, would not allow him to teach the kids languages or music.  Not sure why on the languages, but his musical abilities were in demand and Grandma Lizzie did not want her children’s spouses to be wall flowers such as she ended up being at parties while he played.  He supposedly had a sibling who ran a house of ill repute somewhere out west and I would love to track that info down as well.

I could go on all night.  To see the poker hand that lost my second great-grandfather the family farm during a cattle drive or be there the night that the Jesse James gang spent the night with him would be incredible.  To be a witness to the hysteria that got my 10th great grandmother hung as a witch in Salem would also be amazing to see, but it is the everyday life that interests me the most.Walking through small towns in Germany, I saw beautiful tall buildings with the years listed on them going back to the 14 and 1500’s and I thought why on earth would anyone leave this to go into the unknown wilds of the New World?  Leaving a lot of your worldly goods and family to move to an unknown land with no support base where you are dodging Indians to chop down trees to build a crude hut and clear the land to farm so that you can squeak out a living.  What was it that drove them? Religious differences?  Escaping battlefields??  Younger sons looking to find a way to make a living???

Although I only had a short time to do research on my recent vacation, I was able to find several obituaries that helped flesh out my ancestor’s lives a bit.  I was always jealous that I did not have pioneer ancestors that crossed the nation in a covered wagon, but then I read the obits and it was then that I realized that I did have pioneer ancestors in my line.  When my relatives arrived in the town of Sycamore, Ohio in 1821, Ohio was the Wild West.  It was covered with trees that had to be cleared before they could farm the land, it was not the sleepy little farming community that it is today.  My Cramer ancestors came to Ohio from Maryland by stage around 1840 with no technology to keep the kids occupied.  My 3rd great grandmother died of a cancer that caused her intense pain.  Her husband died five years earlier after being confined to bed on his back without complaint for six months after breaking his leg.  Both of those conditions treatable and probably survivable with today’s technology.  Several more reasons to want to just trade places for only a short time.

Besides those already mentioned, I learned my Neikirk ancestors fought under William of Orange against the infamous Phillip the II of Spain in the Revolt of the Netherlands.  I have a great-uncle who was a Secretary of State for the State of Ohio and he and his twin brother were 1819 graduates of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Carl Karcher, founder of Carl’s Jr., is a second cousin.  I have several Revolutionary War patriots…plus a couple I think who fought on the other side.  I have Indians and those who were kidnapped by Indians.  I even have a few cousins who were murderers and some who were US Presidents, and as Twain predicted, it helped me greatly in my genealogy research.

Comedian Fred Allen said, “I don’t have to look up my family tree because I know that I’m the sap.” Although I might feel like that sap some days, I have recently found a quote from Benjamin Franklin that is inspiring me to transform into a better person. I hope it inspires you as well.  “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten; Either write things worthy of reading, or do things worthy of writing.”  Thank you fellow Toastmasters.Susannah (North) Martin reading bible in jail   Susaannah (North) Martin reading in her jail cell during the Salem Witch Trials

Why not me???

I have to admit, I fully expected to be back at work by now.  Today I was listening to some music and “Why Not Me?” by The Judds came on.  The song made me wish I could ask all the companies I have sent resumes to why not me?  I am not sending out mass resumes, but I have sent out a good number of them and I can count on one hand the number that I have heard back on.  Every day, I read articles on what to do and not do on your job search and depending on the article, I am doing everything right or I am doing everything wrong.  Today I was given an article about “8 Secrets of Hiring Managers” by Alison Green of US News and World Report.  It gives tips to job candidates to help end some of their frustrations.  Got me thinking about my situation…..

1. You can ruin your chances by being too aggressive.  Alison gives a variety of items that make a job seeker seem to aggressive, one of them being checking on the status of your application more than once within three weeks.  What about communicating in the other direction?  I have a couple of jobs I know I am qualified for, however the job is still listed several weeks after I applied.  Not only did I not hear anything back about why I did not get an interview, I did not even get confirmation they even received my application!  Moreover, with everything done online now, I am not even sure whom to contact.  If I try to reapply, it will not let me.  All I can hope is that the company really did get my application and that I did not mess up online application and all they are seeing is gibberish… if anything at all.  Might explain why I am not hearing anything back!

2. We really want you to be honest. Not a problem here.  Many people have advised me that I am too honest.  As the article says, you need to let the interviewer get a glimpse of the real you.  I think now more than ever, it is easy for people to find all sorts of information out about one another.  As I stated in my icebreaker blog, I was shocked at what I found online about myself when I searched my name… and I am an average, everyday person who, until recently, pretty much shunned many online sites.

3. You don’t get to choose your references. Bring it on!  I was pleasantly surprised at how much support I received when I started on this journey, most of it offered to me before I even had to ask.  I would like to think that anybody you call is going to give me a glowing reference, but I know that it is probably not true.  If truth be told, even if you call people not on my list, are you going to hear the real story?  In this sue happy world, it seems that most people will talk me up if they liked me, but if they did not, all they will give you for a reference is my name, rank and dates of employment routine.  I am sure that says a lot to you, but would you as a hiring manager give me a chance to explain my side of the story as to why a reference was not stellar?

4. No matter how positive things seem, you shouldn’t count on a job offer. Understood.  But will you have the same courtesy to let me know why I did not get the job?  About a week ago, I read an article about why hiring managers do not send out rejection letters.  I’m a big girl.  I can handle it.  Just let me know that I was not selected and if you liked me that much, why not tell me what it was that made me not be the best candidate… not enough experience with a computer program, not enough education, not related to the CEO’s best friend?  Would really help me know how to better prepare myself for the next interviews I have lined up.  If you liked me that much, I know you would like to see me succeed.

5. The small details matter. I agree with this one.  As a detail oriented person, I get so upset with myself when I find I have made a typo.  I fully agree with Alison on sloppily written follow-ups.  I do not care if it is a casual text to my sister, a Tweet, or a comment on a LinkedIn article, I always use proper language.  Might age me, but it drives me crazy when people do not do the same.  I will admit to using LOL or ROTFL occasionally, but that would be the only part of my message that is not proper.  As for being nice to receptionists, that is a given.  As a former receptionist, I know how much power they have and your first impression with the company is most likely with the receptionist.  Being rude?  Why sink your chances before you even meet your interviewer?!?!?

6. If you can’t produce references, most hiring managers will be wary. Did you not just say in number 3 that it does not matter who I turn in for a reference, you are going to call whomever you like?  That aside, I have several references online already and dozens more available.

7. Wondering how to stand out? Use your cover letter. I usually spend several hours customizing my cover letter and/or resume for each job.  Most of the time is spent with the cover letter.  As stated above, if I never hear back from the person I submitted my application to, I cannot tell you why I did not make an impression with you.  Was the cover letter too wordy?  Little too over the top??  Too stiff or not professional enough???

8. Your personality matters a lot. I just hope you can see through my interview personality as that is not the real me.  I feel comfortable talking and working with people from CEO’s to janitors, I just do NOT do well during interviews.  I am very shy, but once I get to know you, I am a lot of fun to be around.  Honest!  I am working on improving my interviewing skills, but I have a feeling I still will not come across very well.

So, what did I learn from this article?  Not much at this point.  I will go back and reread it once I do start interviewing, but until that point, not much here to help me.  If you are reading this blog because you considered me for a job, but I did not get it, I would really appreciate it if you could drop me a line and let me know….. why not me?  I promise to not sue!!!