Category Archives: Employment

My Salary Pays for BG HQ

This fall the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will begin moving into their new $27 million headquarters. According to the Charlotte Observer the building was paid for with $17 million from the sale of the property in Minneapolis and $10 million worth of savings in “staff reductions and consolidation.” Not exactly the line they pitched to us during all those relocation meetings, but hey, now I can say my salary helped pay for the new BGEA digs. You’re welcome, Billy. Glad I could help.

In other news, the long-forgotten World Wide Pictures film Last Flight Out will finally see the light of day. The BGEA’s September TV special will feature the thrilling story of a washed-up pilot paid by the man he truly hates to rescue the woman he once loved from menacing drug lords (and their gringo body guard) threatening her isolated mission station in the jungles of Colombia. Whew.

I had the chance to read a few early scripts, and despite the incredible potential and current relevance in a story of a missionary being rescued from violent drug lords/terrorists, Last Flight Out is “intensely mediocre” (with props to Nick Ciske). I’ve talked about the film before, but it’s just a painful reminder of what could have been.

Check local times here and consider watching a non-Mel Gibson Christian movie. I’d tune in for laughs, but it’s airing during youth group here in the Twin Cities (Sept. 15 @ 6:30 p.m. on WB 23). (And no, I don’t think it’d be a good idea to have the youth group watch it)

What’s even more amazing than the mediocrity is the fact that the BGEA buys time on local TV stations across the country four times every year to air Gospel presentations. Sometimes they’re subpar movies and sometimes it’s a few Christian artists followed by a sermon from a recent crusade. But every time they do it nobody pays attention. Maybe it’s the subpar content, maybe it’s the lack of a single, national time slot, but whatever the reason nobody pays attention. It’s exactly what conservative Christians have been begging for, and nobody cares. I’ve never understood that.

I’m an Entrepreneur!

I started a small business class today. It’s nice to bring some reality and sanity to my business. I’ve never taken any business classes in my life, and even in the past few months I’ve learned a lot and I’ve even started to read Forbes and Business Weekly magazines willingly. It’s all kind of weird for me.

But at the same time, I don’t think of myself as some tie-wearing businessman. If anything it’s a means to an end. It’s a way to do what I really want to do and still provide for my family. That’s cool. It’s a way to be idealistic and pursue my dreams, and still accept and meet the practical reality that I need to put food on the table.

It’s actually kind of nice to still have that dreamer mentality but still have my feet firmly on the ground. It’s not easy, but it’s nice. And maybe I don’t get to be as idealistic as I want to be — I still have to write something that sells in the end, but I am writing. I never thought I’d enjoy writing postcards and brochures before.

And it’s fun because there’s definite changes with this new, create-your-own-schedule life. My wife’s noticed I’m a lot less stressed and grumpy than I used to be when I had to come home and vent about work. I’m also a lot more extroverted. It used to be I came home from work and I was ready to hole up with my computer and relax for the evening. But now I’ve been holed up by myself all day and I’m ready for some human interaction. I’m extremely extroverted in the evenings now because I don’t see people all day. I miss break-ity time.

This whole entrepreneur thing is kind of fun. I find myself dreaming with a new practical bent. Coming up with creative ideas and then trying to think of ways they might actually work. What a concept. Why didn’t I learn this in college?

I feel like Dilbert

I had to send a fax today and discovered that Office Max and Kinko’s charge $1 per page to send a fax. What kind of a rip off is that? It wasn’t even a long distance fax. For $70 you can buy your own stinking fax.

Which I’m probably going to do. Anyone have any advice on buying an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier? I have no need for color, mainly speed and the ability to scan decent stuff, make black & white copies, and send faxes. A laser printer seems like the best choice, though they’re almost twice as much as the inkjets. Ouch. Anyone have any advice on lasers vs. inkjets for the home office?

(if you’re wondering, yes, my computer purchase is getting closer and closer, and I’m realizing my parallel port laser printer that’s served me dutifully for ten years will become useless, as will my scanner. That leaves me with a decent color inkjet, though my need for a scanner, fax, and copier, as well as the lack of usefullness for color are making me consider an all-in-one. )

Shall I show you to your room, or would you prefer to be dragged off kicking and screaming?

Being unemployed sucks. It also opens new opportunities. My life is at such a crossroads right now, I just don’t know what to think. One minute I’m pinching pennies, the next I’m trying to figure out how I can spend a whole lot of those pennies. One day I’m scouring ads looking for that perfect job–or even one that’s close enough, the next I’m adding up numbers and wondering if freelancing will actually work. One day I’m typing happily away, the next I’m envisioning an easier, simpler method of typing away and imaging what could be but isn’t quite yet.

I’m in between so many different things I just don’t know what to do. Part of me is suffering from a thirst to have the latest and greatest of everything. A month ago I wanted a new car. A week ago I wanted a new database-driven blog system. This week I want a new computer. I’m never freaking happy. It’s ludicrous.

When I had a job things weren’t so complicated. I could either afford something or I couldn’t. I added up the damage, looked at the income, and calculated how long it would take to save up enough. It wasn’t that hard. But now I’m unemployed. I oscillate between a prince and a pauper. I envision each freelance job paying for six different things, not quite realizing that it’s all less that what I made before. Reality hasn’t set in since I lost my job. I’ve been living in limbo so long I’m almost eligible to vote.

You’d think it would be so simple: Do you want a real job? Steady hours for a steady paycheck–sign me up. Or do you want to freelance? Flexible hours and a variable paycheck–sign me up. Oh wait, I can’t do both. But here I am, looking for a job and agreeing to freelance work left and right. It’s not like I mind the work. I love the work. Money is good. I just can’t decide where to commit myself. Do I give up the job search? Or do I fake it until unemployment runs out? Do I stop sending cover letters and resumes and start sending queries and manuscripts? There’s never enough time to do both. Or do I just crash my Geo through the gates of Calmwoods? Ooh, kicking and screaming, please.

And where is God in all of this? Where is the clear sign, the arrow from on high, pointing me in the proper direction? It just doesn’t come. God doesn’t work like that. And it drives me nuts. It’s like he wants me to sit here at my computer frustrated by it all. The process. It’s always the process. The already-but-not-yet of faith. The I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. You’ve found it, but you haven’t really. That’s where I’m at. It’s one big ball of insanity. It’s schizophrenianity.

The wolf’s at old Gil’s door.

Oh the woes of an Internet-addicted computer-phile. At the same time I’m contemplating shifting my blog to a new database system, which involves either getting my own domain and hosting or transferring my current hosting from a Windows server to a Unix server, my computer is flipping out on me, making me think three years might be the life span of a modern computer and I should just give in and drop kick it out the window. So much to think about. Where do I start?

How about urls? If I do decide to get my own hosting I’ll need to come up with my own snazzy url. I’m not sure where to go on this one. My first choice was hendricks.com, because my e-mail address would be kevin@hendricks.com, and I could offer such simple and easy e-mail addresses to all my family. My web site could be kevin.hendricks.com. How cool would that be? But no, a man named Gay Hendricks started the Hendricks Institute and got the domain first. What really freaks me out about a man named Gay is that the background on his web site very closely resembles the shape of a prominent female body part.

Next up was hendricks.org, but apparently that’s a hospital in Indiana. Then I tried hendricks.net, which belongs to one of those e-mail providers that wants to sell me the privilege of using kevin@hendricks.net for $25 a year. No thanks.

So now I have to come up with something else that’s both efficient and multipurpose. I noticed that hendricks.biz is available, and my favorite domain provider, NameBoy recommended hendricksforce.com, which I think is pretty catchy. Let me know if you have any bright ideas.

And what’s this crap about my computer dying? Yeah, it’s been cranky lately. Programs keep crashing left and right. I think tomorrow I may need to try reinstalling Windows. Sigh. Why can’t computers just work the way they’re supposed to? And before all you Mac people start snickering and saying I told you so, don’t give me that. Macs have the same problem PCs do: they crash. I’ve known many Mac users who’ve had just as many problems with their computers as I’ve had with PCs. They’re not the simple solution everyone makes them out to be. And if you’re so sure they are, why don’t you buy me one and I’ll see for myself?

The truly frightening thing about computers is the way computers and home entertainment are merging. While some companies envision the TV as the center of the new digital home, Dell thinks the computer will be the center. I’m guessing they’re right, I just hate the thought of my TV crashing the way my computer does. How ludicrous is that?

To top matters off today, the daycare center where my wife works was broken into again last night, the second time in a month (make that three if you count the trespassing and vandalism incident). The perpetrators would have been caught, but the VCR to the security system they stole the last time hadn’t been replaced yet. I know my wife works in the ghetto and crime happens more often there, but that doesn’t mean it has to be standard procedure. The building doesn’t even have an alarm system. The price of broken windows alone would have paid for that.

Apparently the Salvation Army and Bethel College have more important things to do. I, however, am unemployed, so I don’t have more important things to do. Tomorrow I’ll be drafting a letter of complaint to Bethel about the unsafe conditions my wife works in, a crowd of kids endure, their families pay for, and college students face (two of the three break-ins were first found by college students trying to set up for class). If that’s not enough, I think I’ll start contacting the media. It’s sad, but public embarrassment seems to be quite a motivater for non-profits.

On an unrelated note, if you’re looking for somewhere to pick up cheap electronics, third-hand office equipment, and overly used children’s books and videos, I know just the place. There is a risk of cutting yourself on the glass you had to break to get in, but that’s about the only theft-deterrent.

Wahoo! Three day weekend!

A day in the life of the unemployed:

7:00 a.m. – Alarm goes off
7:08 a.m. – Snooze goes off
7:16 a.m. – Snooze goes off, wife gets up for work.
7:20 a.m. – I get out of bed, take the dog outside
7:22 a.m. – Kiss wife as she leaves for work, gather household trash
7:25 a.m. – Scour yard for dog poop, take trash to the curb
7:35 a.m. – Feed dog, have a “mini-breakfast” consisting of a few gulps of OJ and a few spoonfuls of granola
7:40 a.m. – Depart on bike ride
8:05 a.m. – Return home, guzzle water, take shower (including a shave)
8:30 a.m. – Let the dog out, sort and start the laundry
8:45 a.m. – Turn on the computer, prepare real breakfast, let the dog in
9:00 a.m. – Eat breakfast while checking e-mail, morning news
9:20 a.m. – Switch laundry loads, let the dog out
9:30 a.m. – Search online job sites
10:15 a.m. – Change laundry, let the dog in, fold laundry
10:45 a.m. – Add names/contact info to networking database
11:30 a.m. – Write and send two networking e-mails
11:50 a.m. – Draft this silly log of my time
12:00 p.m. – Realize I haven’t brushed my teeth
12:01 p.m. – Brush my teeth
12:03 p.m. – Call wife
12:05 p.m. – Call window people who have been slacking about setting up a measurement appointment
12:09 p.m. – Break to check laundry and eat lunch
12:15 p.m. – Convince dog rain will not impede his ability to urinate
12:20 p.m. – Fold laundry while dog tests that theory
12:30 p.m. – Let dog in, notice that theory was proven correct; begin making lunch
12:35 p.m. – Eat lunch while reading Time magazine article about the Reagan Letters
1:00 p.m. – Check the mail, items of interest: unemployment check and job application rejection (this is rare, of the jobs I’ve applied to, I hear a negative response from only 20%. The rest don’t bother).
1:05 p.m. – Fired off seven more networking e-mails
2:05 p.m. – Change laundry, fold laundry
2:15 p.m. – Read some Johnny Cash, let the dog out
2:45 p.m. – Enter receipts, checks into Quicken, compare with bank statements
3:55 p.m. – Let the dog out, change and fold the laundry
4:05 p.m. – Check latest bank statement against Quicken
4:10 p.m. – Give up. Wife is home. At this point it’s time to start thinking about supper, cleaning up the kitchen, etc.

And lets not forget the folks who just don’t feel like working, God bless ’em!

My name is Kevin, and I’m unemployed. It’s been two months now, and it doesn’t get any easier. In some ways I feel busier than I was before, though there’s no real sense of accomplishment. Not working is like being adrift, unsure of which way to go–as if you had any control in the first place–and feeling unable to commit to anything.

So many people are in my situation that my church actually started an unemployment group. (“Career transition group” is how they described it, though we’re working on coming up with a less PC and more affirming name. I like being the unemployed group.) In all my interactions with the church, this is the first time I’ve seen such an outreach to the unemployed. It means a lot when the church is able to recognize basic needs and respond.

More than anything, it’s a support group to convince yourself that you’re not a loser. Being unemployed requires that kind of affirmation. It’s difficult to get up day after day when you have nothing to do but craft more witty, self-promoting letters and scour web sites for jobs that you can apply for, along with all the other unemployed losers. Even though I’ve never been tempted to sleep until noon or spend the day watching TV, I often feel the same sense of waste.

And although unemployment benefits are great–they keep me in my house and let me keep my car and I still get to eat–they basically discourage me from finding part time work. I’m paid a set amount per week, assuming I’m actively looking for work and am available for work. However, if I do any work during the week, say freelance jobs or even flipping burgers, I have to deduct that amount from my unemployment benefits. So there’s really no gain to taking on a part time job unless I’m getting paid more than my unemployment benefits, which would be difficult if I’m flipping burgers.

This is the face of unemployment. It’s not daytime TV and home improvement projects. It’s peanut butter and jelly, inadequacy, and a constant search for motivation.

Will boogie down for food

I cashed my first unemployment check today. That seems like some kind of pathetic milestone, but it was definitely needed. The unemployed life continues to be a drag. I had my first interview in four months this week, so that was definitely an encouragement. On the downside, it’s derailed my freelance motivation.

Once again I’m torn between pursuing freelance and pursing a real job. It’s hard to do both. If you land a bunch of freelance work and then get a real job, you’re overworked. But if you don’t look for freelance and a real job doesn’t come through, you’re broke. It’s hard to find the balance.

That’s where unemployment comes in and allows me to avoid commitment. Ironically, today was probably the least productive day I’ve had since losing my job. I spent the entire day reading about the Ten Commandments fiasco, thinking up T-shirt designs, and watching the second half of The Matrix. It didn’t help that my allergies are making life miserable.

While thinking about T-shirt designs (why T-shirt designs? I don’t know. It’s partially a silly-notion of an out-of-work guy wanting to make money online — ha! — and partially wanting to come up with one of those really clever ideas) today I stumbled across a disturbing article of clothing on Cafepress.com. If you’re not familiar with Cafepress, they offer a bunch of different items that you can customize with your own graphics: T-shirts, lunch boxes, stuffed animals, Frisbees — even though underwear. As you can guess, the disturbing article involves the thong. Someone took their happy Jesus graphic and plastered it on the slimmest of women’s underwear. I’ve seen plenty of similar examples that are purposely trying to be blasphemous or sarcastic or offensively funny. Sadly, I think this one is legit. I probably find this more amusing than I should.

Throwing off the shackles of the workaday world and following a dream … of sorts

I’m having to come to terms with unemployment, and it’s not easy. Staying home is not the difficult part. I have plenty to do. I’m usually up with my wife by 7:00 a.m., I’m at the computer by 8:00 or 8:30, ready to start my day’s work. My day’s work usually involves looking for a job, staying up to date on freelance projects, doing some personal writing (like this), or working on a number of household chores, anything from bills and paperwork to hard physical labor like mowing the lawn or using power tools. In between I keep the dog from chewing cords and whizzing on the floor.

Most days the urgent work, looking for a job and finishing freelance projects is put off. I’m not sure how this happens, but it always does. Like today. It’s 10:00 a.m. already, and I still haven’t touched my list of urgent work (though I could argue that the half-hour I spent surfing the web and reading news was “work” on my freelance projects). My wife will be home in the next half-hour for lunch (though it’s too early for me to eat), which means the dog will be preoccupied but I’ll be distracted. By the time she leaves to go back to work, I’ll have just enough time to get started on something before it truly becomes lunch time and I’m interrupted once again.

The difficult part of unemployment is figuring out what to do. I have a lot of bills to pay, and they don’t get paid by sitting at home. It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch watching TV all day. That’s not even a temptation (though sitting on the couch and reading all day is — I miss my reading time on the bus). But putzing on the computer and installing smoke detectors doesn’t pay my school loans. At some point unemployment becomes unfeasible.

Unemployment checks should technically kick in this week, though I won’t receive them for another week or two. Even then, the state’s handout isn’t much. Do I take a part time job at Target? Do I become a school bus driver? Do I hold out for that full time job in my field? Or do I dive into freelancing, forsake full time work, and hope the income will cover the expenses?

Yikes. It’s a scary position to be in. At least I have options. There are possibilities. It’s just not easy waiting to see how God will provide. It’s funny how concerned we are with our jobs, with what we do for a living. That’s the first question I ask people I meet, as if that is who they are. As if their employment somehow completes them. Once I asked one person what they did, and he looked confused. He asked if I meant for work, as a clarifying question. He obviously didn’t consider his job to be the most important part of who he is. Yet so often I feel like a job equals identity. There’s a feeling that if I don’t have a job, I’m not anything.

But what is a job? It’s just that. It’s work that has to be done, services in exchange for the expenses in our lives. For some of us it’s hours put in, a job done, and we go home. For others it’s something they truly enjoy, something they would do for free. I think an idealistic notion exists that the enjoyment of employment is the highest call. It’s the notion that you have to love what you’re doing. I think that’s true, but in a different sense. I don’t think it’s something we have to do that requires education and just the right position, but I think what’s important is finding joy in what we’re doing, no matter what it is. Whether I’m working at the grocery store or at the New Yorker, I should do my job to the best of my ability, enjoy what I’m doing, and go home at the end of the day to focus on more important things. I think that’s part of the problem with America’s disintegrating family. So many of us put such importance on the job that it stresses us out. Rather than just finding joy in it and moving and on, we focus on our work. We stay late, we bring work home, we let our employment become who we are. We forget about more important things like family, friends, God.

Sometimes I think God laughs at us. Our attempts to provide for our family become so much more. God provides for the sparrows, and he promises to provide so much more for us. When Jesus had his ministry, he didn’t have a day job. He didn’t have a home to come home to. But he focuses on what was important, and the rest took care of itself.

Unfortunately it’s not that easy, but sometimes I think we [I] make it too big of a deal.