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Bernard Haldane Associates services may not be cost effective

Bernard Haldane is "the nation's leader in Career Management Services" and is "committed to helping individuals reach their career goals."  There are other companies that offer similar services (Chandler Hill Partners, etc). Typically, they charge thousands of dollars for their services. If you are out of work, you might be tempted to pay some big bucks for such a service because being out of work is costly too. But before you do, consider your options. There may be local and Federal programs that offer similar, or even better,  services and they are often free.

I live in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area.  So I checked out the Maricopa Workforce Development Career Center located in Gilbert. I found their services to be very professional, up-to-date, and with excellent depth and breadth.  And the services are FREE.  That is pretty hard to beat!  (See and )

This was not at all what I expected from a government service center. Apparently, both local and federal governments are very serious about getting "dislocated workers" re-employed. Millions of people have had their jobs "outsourced" to Russia, India, China, and other countries where labor costs are considerably lower than here in the United States.  Even service jobs are being outsourced now. The usual improvements in productivity have also been taking their toll. As the unemployment rates rise, the tax base erodes. The economy also stagnates and people cannot purchase discretionary goods and services. Instead of paying taxes, people start requiring government assistance in the form of food stamps, rental assistance, and so forth. There is also a huge waste of human talent, especially in the older worker category where the 50+ somethings have lots of work experience and are often a bargain for savvy employers, but are otherwise ignored in the job market.  State and federal governments would like to turn all this around. And what I saw at the Maricopa Workforce Connection Center in Gilbert convinces me that they are serious about doing a very good job of it.

The services offered at this particular Comprehensive One Stop Center include workshops on:

How to write an effective resume
How to conduct an employment interview
How to effectively fill out an employment application (not as straight-forward as you might think)
How to network
How to assess your job skills and interest through on-line testing (MBTI, BESI, etc)
How to use the on-line OneStop services
How to communicate professionally
How to use computers and internet services
How to find and use labor market information (outlook and local salary for a job category)

One-on-one counseling is also available for personalized advice and Resume/Interview critiquing. If you are officially a "dislocated worker" there may also be some Federal money available for re-training.

I experienced these services as very professional and very up-to-date. And THEY ARE FREE. Check them out BEFORE you decide to pay the big bucks to one of those commercial career management services.

Also, if you are an employer doing a Reduction In Force (RIF), you might consider these services for your former employees instead of a far more expensive outplacement firm.

These One-Stop Centers appear to be grant funded. Take advantage of them while you can.

As for the various commercial career management services, do some research on them before you sign on the dotted line. Experiences with such firms have ranged from very positive to very negative. At least know what you are getting into. Some links:

"Expensive career marketing firm draws complaints"

"Company Charged With Misleading Job Seekers About Supposed Exclusive Access to Job Market Over 1,000 Minnesotans Paid Between $5,000 and $16,000 in Past Two Years " (May 11, 2004)
"Illinois Charges Bernard Haldane Co. With Deceiving Job-Seekers"
"Job Scammers Pocket Thousands"
This article includes a warning which job seekers should  take seriously:

Executive job seekers should take great care to determine exactly what services are offered by a career counseling firm. It is important to have clear understanding of financial or other contractual obligations, refund provisions (if any), staff background and qualifications, and the company's record of success with other clients. References from individuals with similar backgrounds may be useful. It is important to distinguish promises made during the sales presentation from actual services provided by the company. If an oral promise (made or implied) by a company representative is not specifically included in the written contract, the client may assume that the promise will not be honored.  


Some of the resources below are fully accessible to citizens free-of-charge only from workstations located at government supported employment centers.

Government Resources:

"Helping Everyone Access Training" (Arizona)
"Arizona Workforce Informer"
"Arizona Workforce Connection"
"Occupational Information Network"
"Occupational Outlook Handbook"

Business Resources:

Direct Employers Employment Search Engine
Phoenix Business Journal
Salary information

Other Links:

See    for a table with links to descriptions for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator 

Testing at an Arizona OneStop Center showed  that I am a Myers-Briggs INTJ and ISTJ. See  


Executive Jobs Unlimited, Carl R. Boll, 1979 (find a copy if it is out of print)

Essentials of Business Communications, Mary Ellen Guffey, 6th ed., 2004

A reminder to sales people

"For he pays a man according to his work, And makes him find it according to his way." (Job 34:11)

"Will He not render to man according to his work?" (Proverbs 24:12)

"I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds. As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid, So is he who makes a fortune, but unjustly; In the midst of his days it will forsake him, And in the end he will be a fool." (Jeremiah 17:10-11)

"As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head." (Obadiah 1:15)

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." (Galatians 6:7)

"As the Lord of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us." (Zechariah 1:6

"By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. . . . Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Mathew 7:2,12)

Harmon/Kardon  DA001 88S REV A HK195-01 computer speaker system fails

I was awoken one night by a loud hum. At first I thought it was the fire alarm, but it turned out to be a sound coming from the speakers on my computer system. I turned off the computer but the sound continued(!).  Still only half-awake, I started unplugging everything, and the sound finally stopped.

In the morning I figured out that the sound was coming from the pair of Harmon/Kardon speakers attached to the computer. I took apart the one that had the amplifier board and found that the top of the main filter capacitor for the power supply had cracked open slightly. I did some calculations and found that the voltage rating was slightly too low for the voltage from the power transformer. I carefully removed the defective capacitor (3300mf@25V), soldered in a couple of wires, and connected a replacement capacitor with a somewhat higher voltage rating and with about the same capacitance (2200mf@35V). The leads were different from the original and so I had to attach the new capacitor to a convenient spot on the back of the speaker frame instead of the circuit board.  The repair tested ok, did not hum, and has worked fine ever since.

I now leave the computer sound system turned OFF unless I specifically need the sound feature.

FEIT Electric LED Night Light Fails

I bought two of these LED night lights (made by Feit Electric Company) at a Walgreens store. The package advertises a 100,000 hour life and an energy cost of $0.25 per year. One failed after two months of use. I then took both of them apart to find out why one failed. Both showed signs of poor manufacturing practice (finger prints on the circuit board, cold solder joints, poor cleaning). One had developed a crack in the plastic case. Both showed evidence of overheating of the resistor that connects to the LED. The one that failed has a resistor with a visible crack in it, rather clearly due to overheating. The resistors were probably under-rated for their intended power load (as in using a 0.25 watt resistor for a 0.30 watt load, or not derating the resistor for the additional thermal stress caused by a plastic housing).

I regard this night light as a potential fire hazard and find it hard to believe that it was UL listed. I don't use this type of light in my home anymore. 

Pencil torch explodes

I was using a little butane pencil torch to purge air from a small petroleum reactor that I had built to make a sample of xylene/ lithium stearate gel. I opened the valve on the torch as usual, but did not hear it hiss. I was holding in my hand, looking at it intently, wondering why it was not working. Suddenly, it exploded, and the torch head shot across the room. Fortunately, it was not lit, and it was pointing away from my face.

I gathered up all the pieces and tried to figure out why it exploded. It had the expected O-ring, and the expected chunk of foam that prevents the fuel cylinder from being overfilled. But there was NO crimp holding the torch head to the fuel body. They were joined only with some kind of adhesive.

I had stored the pencil torch in the refrigerator. When I held it in my hand, it would have heated up rapidly. The coefficients of expansion for metals and for adhesives like epoxy are rather different, and this probably contributed to the bond between them suddenly breaking.

I related this experience to the clerks at the local hardware store. They confirmed that they had heard of other people having some bad experiences with these pencil torches. So BE CAREFUL if you use one, or are near someone who is using one!  Mine exploded when it was not even lit.

Seatbelt latch fails on Ford Mustang

One day I got into my 1991 Ford Mustang and buckled up, but I noticed the seatbelt latch seemed to be working differently. I did not hear that distinct "click" that I usually got when buckling up. I compared the action of the driver-side belt with that of the (unoccupied) passenger-side and found that they acted differently. I got the impression that the driver-side belt could unlatch unexpectedly. As a test, I latched it and then shook it violently while pulling on it. It did indeed suddenly pop apart. The scene was just as you have seen on TV in those lawyer's ads. 

At that point I removed both front seats so I could get at the anchor bolts for the part of the seat belt that had the button latch. I replaced the defective leftside with the still-working rightside until I could get a replacement from Ford.

The porcelain alligator in my toilet

It was a scary night.

The news had carried a story about a pet snake being locked in the bathroom while the owner went to the store. When the owner got back, the snake was gone. "It could only have gone down the toilet", he said. 

Horrors!  A python loose in the sewer system!

I have also heard stories about snakes coming up out of the sewer and getting into toilets. I knew this happened once with a sewer pipe connected to a toilet in a trailer in the country, but I am skeptical about such things happening in the city.

With all that fresh in mind, I went to bed. But in the middle of the night I was awoken by a loud rhythmic clanking sound coming from the bathroom. It was coming from the toilet!   I had never heard a toilet make a noise like THAT before!  WHAT COULD IT BE ????  Childhood fears about the boogey man in the closet rushed into my half-awake head.

I opened the inner door slightly and shined in the flashlight.  The porcelain lid on top of  the toilet tank was clanking up and down, like the jaws of a porcelain alligator!  SOMETHING WAS TRYING TO GET INTO MY TOILET!!!!

But wait a minute . . . This was the lid on the tank, not on the bowl. With that realization, I calmed down a little. No snake could wiggle through the tiny opening of the water supply valve. This must be something else. So I turned off the wall valve, and the "alligator" stopped clanking and chomping the air.

It turns out the fill valve inside the tank was very old and made of plastic. It had been weakened by age and by the chlorine tablets that I had placed in the tank. This night, the water pressure finally blew it apart. That in turn blew the lid off the toilet tank. When the water began to flow, the pressure dropped somewhat, and the lid went back down. The cycle kept repeating until I finally turned off the water. This was the craziest thing I have ever seen coming from a plumbing fixture.

. . . and kind of scary too.

Leading Edge Computer "locks up" when booted after long storage period

I  have an old Leading Edge computer that runs WIN 3.1 and DOS 6. It is useful for monitoring scientific instruments such as a radiation counter. But when I pulled it out of storage after some years and booted it, an incorrect date would be displayed. I simply reset the time and continued the boot sequence. But then I found it would run only for a few minutes and then "lock up" (become unresponsive).

As a diagnostic I wrote a little utility batch file that would continuously display the time and date to the screen. I would start it up, record the time, and then just let it run until it locked up again, at which point I would look at the displayed time and see how long it had run.  I discovered that it would run for longer and longer periods before crashing. Eventually, it became reliable enough to use.

I don't know what caused this problem;  it was evidently not temperature related. My hypothesis is that it may have something to do with electrolytic capacitors inside the computer. When these kinds of capacitors are stored for long periods without use, the dielectric film can break down. They need to be given a small amount of current for a few days so the film can "heal". Possibly, I had a marginal capacitor somewhere in the computer.

I now turn on the computer for a couple of hours at least once a year. The problem has not re-occurred since.

Buick Skylark (1986) battery suddenly goes DEAD

The symptom was that the battery would be completely dead (zero volts) after the car had been shutdown and left in the driveway for about four days.  Each occurrence was infrequent, and completely unpredictable. No loads were detectable on the battery cables, and the source of the problem could not be traced. On a hunch, I disconnected the clock-radio cables inside the center console (pulling the fuse would have also disconnected the horn, which is a rather stupid circuit design in my opinion).  Years have now gone by and the problem has never re-occurred.

The maintenance manual for this car, incidentally,  is a disgrace to the industry.

1991 Mustang hatchback dome light goes on unexpectedly

I would be driving along, and then, for no apparent reason whatsoever, the interior dome light would come on. This was not good. It was not only distracting (especially at night), I knew might forget that it had gone on, and I might come back to a car with a dead battery. So when I stopped at the next traffic light, I pulled off the dome light cover, and flicked out the (hot) bulb.

The Ford Mustang electrical schematics gave me some insight about what might cause this problem. I don't remember the details now, but it had something to do with the right front door and the hatchback electrical latch release. I disconnected the latch release connector inside the hatchback and the problem has not re-occurred since.

Sewerside bomber: highschool kid blows up town (almost)

This sordid consumer experience begins in the early 1960s. My parents moved to a different town and I spent most of my freshman year in a strange highschool there. As a consumer of educational services I did not like the school at all. I wanted an eventual career in engineering, and that required a strong background in mathematics. But the algebra teacher there would not teach,  and could not control his classroom either. The class was just one hour of mayhem, and I hated every bit of it.

Another one I hated was the physical education class. We had a really sicko PE teacher. He made us play a sadistic "paddle game" with kids running around in a circle swatting each other with a paddle.  The loosing team would all get swatted in the boy's locker room by members of the winning team. I was on the team that lost. I felt the whole thing was barbaric for an educational institution, especially for a "high" school.

A turning point for me came when I got into a minor schoolyard fight. I had been in various schoolyard scraps in the elementary schools I had attended. But this one was different. It was "scheduled" and had a waiting and willing audience. I lost of course, but my wounds were minimal, less than those I had gotten in the elementary schools. However, I was late for my next class.

The next day I was confronted by an attendance monitor and she asked why I was late for class. "I got into a fight", I said.  "Don't fight and don't be late for class", she said. Her shallow remark was incomprehensible to me. I did not want to get into a fight. The fight was on her turf, and her responsibility to prevent. She did not even have the matter investigated by school officials. How was I to blame for getting into a fight? Did she regard schoolyard fights as "normal"?  There was really something WRONG with this school!

A few months passed. My parents were no help in the matter, and the do-nothing principal was useless as a school manager. Worse, I learned that the town's people felt that it was a "good school" and were surprised when I claimed otherwise.

I decided I had to come up with a strong response to their apathy and cluelessness.  My young mind figured that these people were all barbarians without an ounce of human feelings.  They all had to die.  I knew I could not kill everyone. So I settled for the next best thing. I would blow up their town.

My original plan used liquid gasoline and toilets. I'll spare you the details. But the results probably would have been a miniature version of an industrial accident that occurred in Mexico three decades later:

On Wednesday, April 22, 1992, the 461-year old city of Guadalajara, Mexico, experienced a series of ten massive explosions occurring in the heart of the downtown Reforma district. The explosions began at 10:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. EDT) and continued for two hours. Five hours after the initial explosion, a second large explosion occurred about three miles from the Reforma site. The blasts measured 7.1 and 7.0 on the Richter scale at the University of Mexico in Mexico City some 200 miles away. The blast blew open the streets and carved an enormous 9 mile ditch down the middle of Avenida Gante measuring 80 feet wide and 25 feet deep. Approximately 1,000 buildings were collapsed, destroyed or heavily damaged. . . . the Atlanta Red Cross said at least 2,000 people were injured, 200 people were killed and over 20,000 were left homeless. Damages of building were estimated to be at $300 million. ("Guadalajara Gas Explosion Disaster", Dr. James Dugal, Disaster Recovery Journal, "article adapted from Vol. 5 #3", ; For an in-depth article see  "The Guadalajara 1992 Sewer Gas Explosion Disaster", Suburban Emergency Management Project, May 03, 2006 )

Note that this was only an industrial accident. It was neither designed nor intended. It was caused by a large quantity of liquid gasoline leaking into the sewer system. The fumes eventually found a source of ignition, and the consequences were horrific.

But my would-be town destruction never happened. My parents soon moved to a different town, and I  ended up going to a far better highschool. My grades shot up and I was getting straight A's in science and math. Eventually, I also figured out my scheme would not have worked as well as I had hoped. The amount of gasoline I planned to use was equivalent to only 8000 pounds of dynamite. That was not nearly enough to destroy a town, and not anything even close to the magnitude of the disaster in Guadalajara. (See "Storing gasoline . . ." and also "Hospital bullies take a toll on patient safety", JoNel Aleccia, July 9,2008)

"the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" James 1:20

"Cease from anger , and forsake wrath;  Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing" Psalm 37:8

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