Welcome to the Gen Plus Blog

It's a backstage pass to info on jobs and life at 50+. Gen Plus, headed by Janet Wendy Spiegel, is dedicated to baby boomers and the plus generation of age 50 and older. Read up and speak out on issues affecting your future: jobs, income, life and respect.

About Me

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Northridge, California, United States
Successful businesswoman, consultant, entrepreneur. I operate two businesses -- social media consulting, AND premium pet care services in the West San Fernando Valley. Love what I do, love life.

Gen Plus has relocated to www.GenPlusUSA.com

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Eat Your Way Through a Food Fight!

Back in December, I brought an innovative site to your attention, Eat Better America (EBA), an initiative by General Mills to bring health awareness to our diets, especially important at 50 plus and even more important if you are trying to stay on the top of your game in the job market. Melissa, from EBA sent me a link to their latest addition to the site...a very quirky little game that will help foster awareness of the information available though EBA.

The Good Food Fight really is fun! For the game, you get to choose one of three dishes, along with one of three warriors (I loved the hot dog vendor), and start slinging virtual food at each other in a very creative way. You can win if you are able to figure out how to hit the warrior and I guarantee it will pique your curiosity about the healthy recipes available on the site. And it is a clever use of the web to spread the word...you'll find yourself forwarding the game along to your family and friends.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

50 Plus, Low Budget, Indy-riffic...Raising Flagg

Alan Arkin is just one of those great actors you love to love. The more unconventional, or grating his character, the more he warms the hearts of his audience. The award-winning (Best Feature Film, Best Actress, Tri-Media Film festival 2007) "Raising Flagg" is a new release (coming out later this week) starring Alan Arkin, Barbara Dana and directed by Neal Miller. There is no question the director and cast fell in love with this project and their warmth and dedication to the film runs throughout the story.

Alan Arkin plays the crotchetiest, most ornery, entirely loveable Flagg Purdy, a rural handyman, living in rural Oregon, in rural farmhouse almost lost in rural America. He and his wife, Ada (Barbara Dana) scratch out a living on handywork and selling eggs to Purdy's best "friend" and worst foe, Gus Falk (gorgeously played by the understated Austin Pendleton).

For someone like me, who lives in the world of 50 plus, the themes uncovered touch on all the issues that are facing this demographic regardless of their economic station. I don't want to give away the story, but when something happens in the film that causes Purdy to lose his reason for going on, the viewer connects deeply with their own circumstance. His children are summoned from across the state to say their "goodbyes" to their very undead, very funny father.

Boomers across America are still the sandwich generation -- making it on their own, raising children and then having to care for their parents. Older post-war babies are trying to make their peace with their own mortality. Old values are clashing with new desires. Blood is...or sometimes isn't thicker than water.

This dramatic comedy touches all bases. And while a bit slow in the middle of the film (some judicious cutting would pick that up nicely), the overall message of the film is wonderful. As American as apple pie, the principled Arkin stubbornly sticks to his guns and follows a legal battle that will have you holding your sides.

"Raising Flagg" is a Cinema Libre Studio release, produced by Rubicon Film Productions, Ltd. and Orgeon Creative, LLC Production. "Raising Flagg" is the first major motion picture in years to be both financed and filmed entirely in Oregon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

An exciting day for jobseekers!

Due to some of the media excitement over Gen Plus in the past week, traffic has been very busy on both this blog and the Gen Plus job board. Our good friends at Kelly Services are also busy getting up job postings from across the country, like this one, with hopes of making some good matches with our 50 plus jobseekers.

If you have not yet signed up for your free membership, head on over to the login page and get your resume posted.

If you are an employer, please sign up for YOUR free membership and get your jobs posted asap. We've got lots of hungry, dedicated 50 plussers looking to work for you.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

World Changers

The other night, a few of us got into a deep discussion of world changers -- those who impact the world.

There are those who are visible world changers -- presidents, top CEO's, military presences, philanthropists, innovators, religious leaders -- highly influential, possibly visioneers, societal engineers. Of course, with elections ahead, we are being made very aware of how influential many of the candidates can be.

There are the regular every day folks...the you's, the me's, the child in Russia, the grandmother in England, the teacher in Argentina, the parent in Mississippi, the church secretary in France, the janitor in the middle school, the vagrant under the bridge. And, then, of course, there are those who choose to ignore moral codes...burglars, murderers, rapists, vandals, embezzlers, cheaters, liars.

All of them have an impact on everyone else they encounter in their lives. The burglar certainly an influence on parents, siblings, spouse, children, neighbors, teachers, friends, enemies, victims, police (if they got caught), lawyers, judges, possibly jury, and on and on. Positive influence, negative influence...regardless, every contact they ever had with any person will have subtly or not so subtly changed the world we live in.

At 50 plus, so many of us feel a sense of hopelessness, particularly when faced with life challenges -- being jobless at 50 plus, or single, or looking to combine households, or losing a home, caring for parents, becoming orphans. But how wonderful to take pause for a minute or two and think on the thousands upon thousands of positive human interactions we've have in our lives and know that something we might have said, or done, in passing or intentionally, in some small way changed someone else's life or pathway. We are world changers. Collectively (as the Boomer generation) and individually.

I can't help but think of one of my family's relatives, who died at the young age of 54, a lovely, lovely man, mentally slow, but with the heart of a king. When he died, over 200 people came to pay their respects. Many of them had no cars, and little money. They walked, they bussed, they came. Because this man had touched each of them in a life-impacting way. A man with very little who gave a whole lot to many, many people in his all too short life. Our discussion reminded me of just how powerful we each can be in our own changing of the world.

So as I head into my new year, I'm going to make a concerted effort to pay it forward, do my little "acts of kindness" every day, and hope to help with positive change in the world. Join me.

Blogging Boomers' Carnival #39

This week's host for the Blogging Boomers' Carnival #39 is The Wastrel Show. Head on over for this week's theme: The Art of Living Well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Health Care

I don't typically wax political, but on this issue, I need to speak out. Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton unveiled her proposed Health Care Plan. To read a summary from her campaign website, click on the link: http://www.hillaryclinton.com/feature/healthcareplan/summary.aspx

My history? I was born and raised in Canada, where there is universal health coverage. For all the bad press that Canadian coverage gets, I never had to worry about being able to get medical attention. If I needed elective surgery, or non-life-threatening surgery, then often there could be a waiting list from several months to several years, however, for any urgent matter, I never had to worry.

Did I pay a higher tax? Yes. Did it bother me? No. I pay more now, in the US to cover myself and my child than I ever paid through my weekly tax deductions. As well, I was invested with a sense of social responsibility, with a clear understanding that a healthy, educated population would contribute to a strong middle class. The strong middle class would continue support of the programs to drive extreme poverty down, and good health and education up.

So part of my emotional context, lies in an inbred debt to social responsibility. (That, incidentally, is why I'm so driven to support the 50 plus demographic.)

What do I like about Hillary's proposal?

All Americans will be covered (not 100% clear here -- does that include landed immigrants?) and there is a proposal on the table for Retiree plans. Which is great. Because a relatively new American I know, over 70, not eligible for free Medicare, is currently paying over $1000 a month for health coverage, PLUS co-pays, PLUS monthly medical subscriptions. That makes no sense to me. At 70 plus, she is in her time of most medical need and least disposable income.

Will all the other candidates have positions? Yes. But this one comes from Clinton -- with a track record miles long on a push for intelligent health care reform. Inform yourselves.

Giving a Voice to the Unheard

Over the past few weeks, in the process of gathering supporting information for an interview with the Wall Street Journal, I had put out several calls for individual stories.

I received many emails from many of you who had your histories to share. Some of the stories were fantastic -- courageous, successful...50 plussers who had been able to take the bull by the horns and find employment: a Native American woman, who against all odds and escaping from a horribly abusive personal situation, went back to school and found a specialization in helping others; a corporate executive, leaving the corporate world to start a business in premium gift items at 50 plus; a businessman who left the corporate lifestyle in the '80's and continues to run a successful, entrepreneurial home-based business...and many others.

Others of you have shared your thoughts regarding foreign job outsourcing, having lost jobs as companies move operations out of the US. My personal opinion (I'll post on this separately) is that, because everything is cyclical, the operations that can benefit from overseas ops will take advantage of the cost savings. However, running any remote operation is extremely challenging and the consumer will dictate what will and will not be serviced or run remotely. There will always be jobs here and from where I look at the jobscape, within five years, employers will be pursuing 50 plussers in droves -- in all areas of business, but particularly in those that rely on the customer relationship.

At the same time, I also received submissions from many of you who are in dire straits -- having been laid off, fired, counselled out, downsized -- many due to unproveable age discrimination. The situations you shared with me were very tough and the fact that you chose to share your story, courageous. It is one thing to see that you are about to lose your home, having already used up what little retirement savings you had set aside, or to move back in with your children because you can no longer to afford to live on your own, or to be looking for work for over two years without a single prospect...yes, it is one thing to recognize those challenges in your lives. It is entirely another to write them down in an email or a blog comment, and to share and bare all with a complete stranger (me).

I want to take a moment to acknowledge those of you who have done that. I may not have had the time to get back to you yet this week, but I will. Your situations are very, very tough, and you are brave to put your fears into words and share your thoughts and frustrations with me. Sometimes, by giving yourself a voice, you can set a new path in motion.

Employers may not hiring you...yet...but you are definitely being heard.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm may be Fickle, but I'm in Love with a New Man! WSJ's Tom Lauricella.

Tom Lauricella has done it and done it right. He won my heart. The intrepid Wall Street Journal writer interviewed me last week, along with several of the Gen Plus jobseekers (some from my group on Eons) and has written a terrific article, entitled, "How Old Are You? As Old As Your Skills" focusing on the challenges of 50 plus jobseekers looking to secure employment in the face of ageism. (Of course it delights me to be included in the article, too!)

You can click on the link or just read on for the full article. And, by the way, women are notorious for NOT reading the Wall Street Journal, but if you are a man or a woman seeking employment, OR and employer trying to understand what the heck is going on in the US and around the world, following the news in WSJ is a must.

How Old Are You? As Old as Your Skills.


September 16, 2007

Looking for a job is rarely an easy task. Sending out résumé after résumé and grappling with uncertainty and rejection can be a frustrating experience. Older workers, in particular, can encounter age discrimination, even if it's not explicit.

But there are ways to handle this challenge, including thinking differently about how a résumé is prepared -- and simply being prepared for the question, "How old are you?" Plenty of resources -- some free, some for a minimal cost -- are designed specifically for older job hunters.

There is evidence that bias against older adults in the job market, while difficult to prove, does exist. The average hunt for employment took nearly seven weeks longer for job seekers age 55 and older than for individuals younger than 55, according to a 2005 AARP report. That same year, a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that in Massachusetts and Florida, a younger worker sending in a résumé was 40% more likely to be called for an interview than someone age 50 or older.

"There continue to be the same stereotypes about older workers, such as they're not willing to try new things and don't have the experience with technology," says Deborah Russell, director of work-force issues at AARP, the large Washington-based advocacy group for older adults.
The bias can be subtle. Pam Taylor, 60, has years of experience in the hotel industry. While applying for one opening recently, she was asked by the interviewer if it would bother her to have "young people" in positions above her.

"That was an age-related question," the Ohio resident says. She adds: "I never heard back from them."

Plenty of Resources

The good news is that there are resources to help older workers with their job search and to help them be ready for age-related concerns from potential employers. AARP helps individual job seekers with their résumé skills at no charge and annually publishes a list of employers that, according to AARP, are most friendly toward workers over 50 when it comes to recruiting practices, opportunities for training and options such as flexible scheduling. (Information is available at aarp.org/careers.)

The Career Advice page for employment Web site Monster.com features a link to a section called "Careers at 50+" which includes a helpful article on résumé tips for older job seekers.

Gen Plus, a blog for the 50-plus set (genplus.blogspot.com), offers a good discussion of issues facing older workers.

Another option in several cities around the country is the chapters of 40Plus, a nonprofit group that offers, among other services, job-hunting seminars and office space that people looking for work can use as a base. The Washington, D.C., chapter, for instance, offers a two-week job training seminar that includes video-taped mock interviews. This course costs $595.

The Web site for the D.C. chapter (40plus-dc.org) has more information about its programs as well as links to chapters in other parts of the country.

Rethink That Résumé

Among the first steps is to rethink the presentation of a résumé. Instinct often tells you to put everything on a résumé -- probably a holdover from your days as a younger job hunter, when your background might have seemed a bit thin. Instead, focus a résumé on relevant work experience -- the more recent the better.

If there's something to highlight but it's from a job 20 or 30 years ago, add it to the résumé under a heading such as "additional skills," without specific dates. AARP suggests a résumé that focuses on "what you can do and how you can do it, rather than on when you did it and for whom."

Still, take the time to make an inventory of accomplishments over the course of an entire job history. David Powell, a 56-year-old Washington, D.C., resident with a background in television documentaries, went back and discovered that there were awards that he had won that he had simply forgotten about. "There's a lot of stuff that I found that's pretty marketable," he says.
Interview Anxiety

For many older workers, the real challenge is sitting down for an interview across the desk from somebody who may be 20 years their junior. It's important to be prepared for the uncomfortable questions, including your age, a question that companies are allowed to ask. "It may be improper but it's not illegal," Ms. Russell of AARP notes.

Don't dodge the question. Rather, state your age -- but make it clear you can handle the job you're applying for.

Barbara Moldauer, who is in her 50s and today has a job working for a federal government agency in Washington, has been asked what year she graduated from college -- a date she purposely doesn't list on her résumé, to help her get a foot in the door.

"I just answer," she says. "If you're good at what you do, there are positions for you."

Wendy Spiegel, who operates the Gen Plus blog, suggests focusing efforts on certain industries that tend to be more friendly toward older workers, even if it's not the industry in which job seekers had spent their careers. For example, she suggests health care and finance and even homeland security. "You might think there is a bias in the finance industry toward younger workers, but the reality is that brick-and-mortar locations [such as bank branches] can't find managers," she says.

Added Challenges

Some aspects of aging can require extra effort to overcome.

Debbie Lincoln, of Little Rock, Ark., is 55 years old and suffers from arthritis -- but she says in her last job she never missed a day of work because of the problem. Still, she knows just the appearance of straining to get out of a chair can affect her chances of getting a job.

So, to make things easier for herself, she scouts the location of a company where she has an interview ahead of time. In this way, she can figure out, for example, where she should park to lessen any strain involved in getting to the appointment. Some problems "aren't going to be easy to overcome but you try to work around them," she says.

Of course, there may be times when a company is illegally discriminating against older workers or job seekers.

If it does seem like a company is biased against older workers or job seekers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission outlines what constitutes age discrimination on its Web site, at eeoc.gov/types/age.html.

• Email: encore@wsj.com

Blogging Boomers Carnival #38

I love being a part of the Blogging Boomers Carnival. This week hosted over at I Remember JFK, my all-time favorite nostaligia site, I delight in learning something new, each week from niche experts. So today, in addition to pointing you to the post about our carnival, because I'm so smitten with what our host has written this week, I'm also republishing his post! As you read through the different posts, you'll see why I get so excited.

"I Remember JFK is privileged to host this Week's Blogging Boomers Carnival. And off we go!
Free lunch seminars are a rapidly expanding tactic as investment salespeople target the estimated $15 trillion in assets controlled by Americans 65 and older. The aging bubble of wealthy Baby Boomers makes them "prime targets for scam artists," says SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. Get the details

On September 24th, LifeTwo is going to help you become happier. Click here for details.

Gen Plus [ed. note: yes, that's me!] ponders a terrific Wall Street Journal article on how employers mayneed to reinvent themselves in order to entice the 50 plus employee. Read more.

Chandra Alexander, life coach and author, spent ten years in India studying meditation with Sri Muktananda. Chandra talks of her experience. Read more.

Over at Fabulous after 40 Deborah and JoJami tell us their number #1 fashion rule, and how not following it can lead to some very embarrassing situations, as one poor boomer babe found out. Read more.

Of course, reminiscing is our mottoe here at I Remember JFK. But Rhea has her own bad case of it over at The Boomer Chronicles. Check it out.

And last, but certainly not least, did you know that you have a 50-50 chance of being incapacitated by backache within the next year? Head over to Contemporary Retirement to find out what you can do to avoid it.

Is that a great collection of Boomer articles, or what?? I'll be back tomorrow with another I Remember JFK memory."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Great article in Saturday's Wall Street Journal

One of the things that astounds me is that on one hand, global companies (in particular), and many mid- to large companies are already facing management shortages, and a general lack of skilled workers, while on the other hand, there are literally thousands upon thousands of qualified 50 plussers who cannot find a job. The challenge is in getting the two hands to cross over the great divide and shake -- connecting the hungry 50 plus worker with the strapped employer.

In Saturday's Wall Street Journal, writers Douglas Ready and Jay Conger, post a terrific article, entitled "How to Fill the Talent Gap", positioned for the employer. It struck a chord with me, particularly because I was communicating the other day with someone I'd not chatted with in awhile. His story had stayed with me because he was a bright, energetic, engaging person, who had reinvented himself in an entirely different career, as an alternative to unemployment. In our recent chat, he was very pleased that he had discovered how to take the best of himself and convert himself into the very person the company was looking to hire.

It is no longer sufficient to be great at what you do or what you've done. What is important is what you bring to the table.

So, reading this article, the one thing that struck me the most, was that the writers are encouraging (warning?) employers, especially the larger global organizations that are already in a hiring crunch, to bridge the gap between their needs and the available talent through their recruiter training, combined with jobs that make attractive sense to a talent pool.

When I read an article like this, I don't read it looking at the employers' perspective. I look at it from the jobseekers' perspective...what do I learn that I can use to shape myself into an attractive candidate? The writers explore 5 problem areas, ranging from Emerging Markets to Narrow Thinking, and give their perspective on the solutions -- which really boil down to matching your hiring decisions to your business goals. Again, if you can get into the head of an employer and see what they need you to bring to their table, then you'll find this an excellent article and worth the read.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy New Year!

A very happy New Year and best wishes for the coming year to all my Jewish readers. L'Shana Tova.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A day that cannot be forgotten

My thoughts and prayers are with any of you who lost family or friends on September 11th, 2001. It is six years later, but that day sits in the backs of most of our minds every day, with every flight we may take, listening to every news report, watching the world unfold, seeing our children and grandchildren grow, worrying about their future.

My heart still mourns along with yours.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Blogging Boomers Carnival #37

I'm this week's host of our fearless Blogging Boomers Carnival -- a collection of some of the most interesting bits from some of the web's best Boomer and 50 plus sites around. Summer is barely over, but we're tripping over Fall this week!

At Gen Plus, Labor Day may be over, but there is some encouraging news on the horizon for 50 plus jobseekers!

More exciting news: The Boomer Chronicles covered the recent AARP "Life@50+" national event and expo in Boston, which drew 27,000+ participants. Apparently, it was a heckuva lot of fun! There are multiple posts on The Boomer Chronicles blog. Check them out.

Your Drum swings into the fall film season with oscar caliber films. Here are eighteen for your consideration. And while you stock up on your film quota for the season, forget the popcorn...eat some almonds! Find out why eating three almonds a day makes sense to keep cancer away at So Baby Boomer!

What is a film without music? I Remember JFK brings some sweet memories of my youth...and yours, too: "I had a close relationship with
our phonograph records when I was a kid. Playing them on the portable player (it had a beautiful red plaid pattern on the outside) made me feel very grown up. It meant my parents and older brothers trusted me to listen to their records without damaging them. And as far as I know, I held up my end of the bargain. There was a lot of fun to be had with records. Sure, you could listen to them at their intended speed. But things really rocked when you played them at different speeds."

Speaking of rocking...Life Two brings some food for thought to this week's table. “I hope I die before I get old”. It's common wisdom that rock stars "live fast, die young" but is it true? Head over to Life Two for the answer.

At the Wastrel Show, find out more about how retirement, which can be a financial challenge, can also be one of financial accomplishments.
You're never too old to learn.

Now that you've figured out where you are getting the money...how about going on a trip? Well, it's not the prettiest site in the world, but it certainly is useful. The Universal Packing List will generate a customised packing list for any holiday or vacation trip you choose to undertake.
Check it out over at Contemporary Retirement.

And with the few bucks you have left over after your jet-setting, don't forget that fall fashions have hit the stores, If you are like me, then you are a Bewildered Boomer Babe, wondering what styles will best work for you. For relevant advice on the latest trends
check out what Deborah and JoJami, The Glam Gals, have to say over at Fabulous after 40.

Hope you enjoy the posts!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Wall Street Journal may want to hear your story...

The Wall Street Journal is writing a story (will publish early next week) on careers and jobs for those over 50. The writer is looking for a few interesting stories of success. If you feel that your job search, current career, new job, existing job make for a good story of what life is like in the workforce after 50, please email me directly at wspiegel@genplususa.com and I'll be happy to forward your contact info to the journalist.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Labor Day may be over, but for 50 plussers work might be right around the corner...

I think I may be in love with a man I've never met. Intrepid LA Times staff writer, Jonathan Peterson, dares to tread where few go...into the topic of hiring 50 plussers. Back in May, Peterson brought new statistics regarding older workers to the front pages of the LA Times.

I fell in love back then, but just a few short days ago, the lightening bolt may have actually hit. Mr. P. sent a bit more light our way. On September 3, 2007, Peterson published two more articles (specifically on the older worker) -- Companies try to retain older workers, and Putting retirees' expertise to work.

In the first article, Peterson plunges into the challenges many companies are starting to face in finding skilled labor or specialized talent. (If you are a frequent reader, I've commented quite a bit on industries that are having very specific challenges: engineering, healthcare, education, finance, retail, customer service, just to name a few...)

Some employers are starting to realize that their workers with years and years of experience may be harder to replace than they once thought.

According to Peterson, "In a society that exalts youth, older workers may sometimes feel like outcasts of the economy -- prodded into early retirement by corporate buyouts, overlooked for training and promotions, typecast by younger managers as past their prime.

Indeed, one 2005 study found that job applicants under age 50 were 42% more likely to be called for interviews than those over 50.

Yet there may be early glimmers of change. The oldest baby boomers are entering their 60s, raising the prospect of a vast wave of retirements. The post-World War II baby boom, moreover, was followed by a smaller "baby bust" generation.

As a result, some employers are worried that they will lose too many people -- and are pioneering policies to make the workplace more friendly to older employees."

Yikes? How is it that those under 50 are 42% more likely to be called for interviews?! In my Eons group (Careers for Boomers and 50 Plus) there are many heartbreaking stories that unfold...dedicated jobseekers who often times may search for a new job (any job) over one or even two years (or more) -- with no success.

And yet, according to this article, some employers are finally trying to make the workplace more friendly to older employees, so that they will stay. The first place that I believe needs an overhaul is at the recruiting and candidate presenting level -- in retraining recruiters to look outside the strict parameters of the job description and to be willing to re-engineer, and retool potentially great, dedicated, mature new hires. Because once a Gen Plusser is hired, they will stay and they will perform...with pleasure.

The second article is focused on bringing retirees back into the work force in specialized positions, often times for contract positions. Some great resources are mentioned and it is worth a read...whether you are a jobseeker OR an employer.

If you are a 50 plus friendly employer, please get the word out. There are thousands of eager 50 plus jobseekers looking to fill your jobs!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Labor Day -- for the "working man"

Wikipedia gives a great, concise description of Labor Day:

" United States federal holiday that takes place on the first Monday in September. The holiday began in 1882, originating from a desire by the Central Labor Union to create a day off for the "working man". It is still celebrated mainly as a day of rest and marks the symbolic end of summer for many. Labor Day became a federal holiday by Act of Congress in 1894." (For the full entry, click on the link.)

I'd like to take my hat off to all of you, Gen Plussers (Baby Boomers and 50 plus), who have visited here and at my group on Eons over the past years. For many of you, finding a new job, or changing jobs at 50 or thereabouts, has been a struggle far beyond what you ever could have imagined. I've received hundreds of emails and comments from many of you who are unable to find gainful employment. I'm not even talking about meaningful employment...really...just employment. A big shout out to two employers who have opened their jobs on Gen Plus to 50 plussers -- HNTB and Kelly Services.

For those of you who are working, enjoy a well-deserved day off. For those of you searching for employment, able, ready and willing to work, this will mark the start of a fresh search in the busy fall months ahead. Enjoy your last days of summer.