I had an interview this morning. It was for a Perl development job, which is different, but related to, my usual work as a Systems Administrator. The coders sit together in an open space, their desks built of doors, in Tellme fashion. That and the right combination of Dilbert strips taped on a cubicle support column gave me a good feel. I was introduced to a pair of easy-going would-be colleagues, who told me about their somewhat unconventional development methodology, and prepared to give me a technical challenge and a whiteboard to solve it on.
I was a little nervous, to be sure, and I usually write code sitting at a terminal, with access to reference doumentation. I conjured a passable, though not impressive, solution to the problem. The “elegant” answer was indeed quite pretty. They asked what I knew of database programming, and I had to admit that, while I once got really freaky with Bugzilla, I’m hardly an expert on database programming.
I know the hiring manager from school, which is a plus. He came back and said that the guys liked me, and ordinarily, at this point, this is where he said he’d say he’d give me a call; Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the technical prowess that they wanted. He asked how I felt about doing QA, which was the only other position he saw coming along. I offered that I didn’t know much about QA, I’d be most concerned with whether I was qualified to do that work.
I appreciated his straightforward refusal.
Back in the car, I started arguing with myself over the verdict, but my rationalizations could not overcome the simple fact that in this economy, they are better off holding out for someone who is not only a good culture fit, but is also better up-to-speed on the work that needs to be done. It is not enough that we both know that I could do the work, the fact stands that someone else out there can do it better, and she also needs a job.
I got an e-mail from Linn the other day. She was layed off a month ago. She bought me a bowl of pho for lunch. Bless her! Well, fair enough, I suppose, as I’d already offered to help her move on Tuesday. She’s ditching her apartment to live at a friend’s place for a while. Fair enough.
The other day, Brian asked about my “exit strategy” – not that he wanted to throw me out or anything, but he felt uncomfortable not paying the landlady extra rent if I stayed for long. I told him my plan of moving from place to place, a month at a time, so as not to wear out my welcome. I figured I should be out by March.
March is a week away.
Michael had offered me his guest bedroom in Oakland. I contacted him about that, and it turns out that he’s taking March off to travel, and could use a house sitter. What’s more, he’s meeting Duncan, who put me up in London, and then Duncan will be coming back to stay in the guest room in April. So, there’s a very clean month in a room with a pre-determined exit strategy.
I can, if need be, go on a couple more months in this vein, but as the weather gets warm, if things remain desperate, a midwestern spring may call to me.
Speaking of desperate, I’ve taken to calling the EDD to discover the status of my appeal. Ordinarily I’d be content to wait for the mail, but the mail has been notably flakey lately. I’ve tried twice today, but both times the system told me that there were too many folks on hold and I had to call back later.
So, I was reading the paper, and a comic made me chuckle. “Let’s share this with my friends,” I decided, and hopped on the Internet to find the electronic version. Alas, out of fear that the ability to read comics on the Internet would destroy their business model, the syndicator has rigged it up so that you can only view comics between two weeks and four weeks in age.
So, anyway, if you read this two weeks from now, you’ll be able to find the comic that made me giggle here.
Otherwise, I’ll tell you that the Devil is standing in the bookstore reviewing a copy of _Chicken Soup for the Soul_, and he confesses to an employee that, “It’s not exactly what I was expecting. I thought it was about the art of the deal.”
Business books are big here in the Silicon Valley. Maybe a few of us can contribute to web syndication. Speaking of which, I have an RSS feed up.
I and some other friends I met once before, though none of us remember each other, helped Linn move today. I got to back the 25′ truck up to the parking garage, THAT was fun. It all went pretty well, and though we were pressed for time and kept hitting little snags like missing padlocks, and Linn was too cheap to get us a dolly, things went pretty smooth and we met the deadlines to drop her stuff off in public storage.
She paid for dinner. My tummy is filled with pollo parmagiana, and I had a glass of wine. The one waitress looked really really nice. But what I really dug was this skinny young FoB gal who came in with her boyfriend, wearing the most insane pair of pants. You know how girls used to have zippers down by the ankles to help them get the tight pants on? That always struck me as inexplicably wonderful, probably because the fashion came out at just the right week in my puberty. Anyway, this gal had zippers up the back of each leg that went clear up to her the bottom of her butt pockets.
Now, I have no idea how practical that is, or why she really chose it, but her jeans struck me as insanely witty. Just plain too extreme! Wonderful! And it was all the nicer that while she was a skinny immigrant-lookin’ type, she still had a little chubby booty so at least the zippers were leading the eye to something worthwhile.
The glass of wine, which, as it was the house wine, cost a mere $4, made me miss France, where a good evening could be had hanging out at the hostel with a $2 bottle of wine. On the way home I dropped by Safeway and grabbed some bread, some hummus and pita bread, and a $3 bottle of “private reserve” from San Jose. The wine comes with a twist-off cap, and looks like peach apple juice, and tastes like a port with tequila in it. Fantastically ill! I dig it!
Pita and hummus and an abominable bottle of wine, a good night cap consistent with that girl’s insane zipper pants, and the struggle to move Linn’s stuff, in which we came together and triumphed!
Well, I live in Oakland now. My first night at Michael’s was Thursday, when I drove across the bay to meet up with him after he got off work. It is a pretty nice place up in the hills above Oakland, not far from Berkeley. I get to house-sit until April rolls around, when Duncan comes back from Europe with Michael, to follow in my footsteps in living at Michael’s and looking for restaurant work.
Hopefully, I’ll find a job really soon. Or, maybe at least I’ll actually receive some mail and be able to complete my appeal for unemployment compensation. Until then … the whole idea of buying gas tends to irk me. Up winding twisty road with no sidewalks, driving is the supreme choice of transportation at the new place. Though it turns out that during the day it ought to be safe enough for me to descend on foot and catch a bus. Sounds to me like good exercise.
Friday I drove back to Mountain View to get almost the last of my stuff, and have lunch with some Tellme colleagues. We passed up the free In-N-Out and had burritos at Los Charros. Angel keeps telling me I should write for the free bi-weekly Wave Magazine, to which I always respond that I have yet to think of a good article to pitch them.
Today I dropped in on a vegetarian restaurant that is taking applications because they’re closing for six weeks to remodel. That’s not great news for me, but that will be a great lead for Duncan, who wants to work in a vegetarian restaurant, when he gets here in April. I’m going to see if I can sweet talk my way in to serving pizza at Zachary’s, which is the source of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in the Bay Area. Not only did I grow up on this food, but I even worked at the Bay Area’s other Chicago-themed Pizza Place.
After the vegetarian place, I dropped in at The Crucible‘s open house / re-opening party. I got to see neon glass working, blacksmithing, TIG welding, and oxy-acetylene torch welding demonstrations. Had I money and an assurance that I’d still be in Oakland for a few months, I’d have quite possibly signed up for a course. The classes look to start ’round 10 April though, so I still have time.
To top it all off, The Crucible also supplied me with free bananas, apples, popcorn, and … barbecue!!! Dang! Free ribs? Yah!
It is so hard to motivate myself to do anything. I have no faith in anything. Fortunately, the money situation is getting extremely terrible, and this helps push me forward.
I made up a resume for waiting tables. Today I trekked over to San Francisco to apply at a few places, and when I got to the first place I realized I’d left the printed resumes at home. Dang! I filled out a lengthy resume at a Chinese Noodle Shop that is opening in two weeks. I have no great hope for that position. Next I parked in front of a copy shop and printed a few copies of the resume which I was able to download from the Internet. Nearby, on Geary, was a Jewish Deli that had apparently survived from at least the 1950s, filled with old folks. The woman at the cash register kindly handed me a half-sheet of paper to fill out, and stapled my resume to it. A young man and a young woman were also filling out applications. The Chinese place was absolutely bustling with activity, much of it various laborers applying for work.
Back at the ranch, I went on Craigslist. I found one half-time desktop support position, which would pay enough to support my materially modest lifestyle requirements and leave me with time enough to pursue my own interests. I explained this much on my cover-letter, along with the usual spiel about my love of customer service. Then, a handful of barista positions, and two more restaurants to visit tomorrow, THIS time with resumes.
A bum asked me to dig into my pockets … I came up with three cents in change. Later I walked down the twisty hill to one of the local coffee shops, ordered a coffee and a pastry, then offered them a traveler’s check. Nope! All else I had was $2 in cash, so I stuck to the coffee, the rest going in to the tip jar: I may be broke, but I’m not without my scruples. The woman asked if I was new in the area, and gave me the pastry for free, explaining that she hoped I’d come back again. I just might, but next time I may bring my resume, as she has a Help Wanted sign in the window.
I bought some oranges and chewing gum at the Albertson’s across the street: traveler’s check cashed. I’ll need to figure out a good place to exchange foreign currency for dollars really damn soon.
First place I went to today was remodeling, and confessed that they’d filled their staff a few days before. Okay. Next I arrived early at a place in the Marina district that has a position open. They told me to drop by again at 3PM for an informal interview. Killing time, I wandered around the neighborhood and stumbled upon Pizzeria Uno. Because I’m a Chicago Pizza kind of guy, I dropped in and asked if they were hiring. “Do you want to make money?” They accepted my resume and the waitress explained that she was also interviewing around, because there just wasn’t any business where she was. She explained that the market was flooded with workers in part because of all the dot-com types who were reforming themselves. I smiled sheepishly.
She clued me in to a place near Union Square that’s hiring. I waited about a half hour for my informal interview at the first place. As I waited, I got tense and excited; Customers would come in and I wanted to greet and seat them. Alas, I only get to do that sometime after they possibly call me in again sometime next week for “a more formal” interview.
I found the place by Union Square, grabbed an application, and was told that if I have a resume, I should attach it to the application and bring it in between 2PM and 4PM for an interview. Seemed like a pretty swank place.
Say what you will about the service sector, but I enjoy getting out of the house to track restaurants down and be blown off in person a little more than dropping e-mails into the void and never hearing anything. It sucks that gas is so expensive, on top of I’m so broke.
I suppose I should try calling the unemployment office again tomorrow. I can also return to the Union Square place, and then a dining cruise place in Alameda is conducting group interviews at two times tomorrow evening. I may ask Nice Coffee Shop Lady if she needs help in he morning: if I can score that gig then I can keep afloat while pursuing additional evening revenue.
A lawyer has been arrested for wearing a pro-Peace tee shirt. IN AMERICA! I hope the justice system still works, here, and he’s not to be incarcerated as an enemy combatant, and stripped of his citizenship, and shipped to Cuba to be interrogated.
The lady at the coffee shop introduced herself today. I forget her name. I left her my resume, which she accepted, explaining she’d just taken two new employees on, but in case one falls through, she’s still taking applications …
A lot of victories today. I finally got through to the unemployment folks … they haven’t assigned me a hearing yet, but at least now they have my new address and are sending six weeks of claims forms that I haven’t received to me in Oakland. So, while I am nearly completely broke right now – I’ll know just how broke when I sit down and do some tidying-up tomorrow, I may yet be in line for some hefty checks.
I dropped the application off at the restaurant near Union Square … things are slow just now, but they hope to make some calls in a few weeks. I filled out an application at Zachary’s Pizza, and submitted a cover sheet with my resume, explaining how much I would cherish the opportunity to serve God’s own Pizza. They were doing brisk business even in the mid-afternoon, and the tone of the application really appealed to me. I’m supposed to hear back from them next week after they check my references.
After that I navigated over to Alameda to attend a group interview for a ship-board catering position. It is a company that does dinner cruises for special events. About a dozen of us sat down around a table, and had to introduce ourselves, and outline our qualifications. We were then told to wait with each other to be called out for one-on-ones. About five people were called out for one-on-ones, and never returned. Our hosts then returned and said, “Congratulations and welcome to round two!”
We were given packets that included a tax form, and asked about availability for interviews Saturday morning … we walked away with the feeling that perhaps we’d been accepted into their Army of Caterers, and that we will receive fuller orientation, and in coming months, because this is the slowest time of the year, some paying gigs.
My turkey may not be completely burnt after all.
Well, Janet Dahl is pretty conflicted over the War. Thanks, Linky, for the heads up. Her concern boils down to, “Sure, it seems like a great thing to get rid of a horrible dictator” versus an understanding of the cost of war’s destruction.
I like to take things from here. First off, let’s admit that our President may not be the best leader we could ask for. He may in fact, even be a petty, vindictive asshole who does what the money and his own sense of reactionary moral outrage tells him to do. The timing on this war is questionable, what with Sharon in power, oil prices already really high, North Korea looking for trouble, and the ever-present whining about inspections. The fact, as many of us see it, is that America is led by a lunatic who would be little better than his enemies were he not hamstringed by the Constitution that he’s been trying to rewrite.
So, a lot of folks, understandably, get very upset when he wants to send our nation’s young men into battle in the sandy hot desert, dodging not only bullets, and anti-aircraft weapons, but exploding refineries and oil wells and petroleum falling from the sky. On the home front, we expect more desperate young men to find their ways into Terrorist training camps to perpetrate ingenious new ways of murdering us here at home.
Many of us doubt his sincere intentions to commit to rebuilding this destroyed nation, with a democratic government. We sense that the required military occupation, on top of the war itself, will incense the passions of the Arab world. We want no part of messing with this.
But what can we do? Shall we protest in the streets about how awful war is? Do we complain about the legal precedent of invading a sovereign nation? What would we do in the President’s place? Wait another four months and hope that either Saddam Hussein has a change of heart, after over a decade, and disarms, or that maybe he will go away, either into exile, or is perhaps deposed by another aspiring dictator in the Baath party? We could wait until, say, July, when it is hottest in the Persian Gulf, and then fight, in the sun, or we could just wait and ignore him until he proves that he has weapons of mass destruction by passing some stuff along to an intrepid band of Terrorists who show it off in an American city.
One of the things I’ve managed to do with my character is to get over the sense that the world would be a better place if only everyone agreed with me. This doesn’t mean I’ll stop arguing in favor of what I think is the best way to go about things: this is, after all, a favorite hobby of mine. I look at the situation now and I see a big old lemon. I could suck on the lemon and complain about how bitter it is, or I can sit back and watch George fumble with it and hope for lemonade. Given that the lemon is in George’s clenched fist, hovering over the Middle East, I’d just as soon let him try and run the show.
But we’re invading a sovereign nation! What value is a sovereign nation run by a tyrant who murders his own people, who has no respect for other sovereign nations? The enemy in question would have no right to raise such an objection. Indeed, if you refer to the American Declaration of Independence, we understand that nations “[derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” Our own sovereignty is founded upon the basis that sovereignty is derived from popular consent. What is Iraq’s claim to sovereignty: a lump of competing ethnic groups ruled by a bloodthirsty dictator within the lines drawn on a map by the British Empire?
What of the Iraqi people? Again, our founding document goes on: “all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” In the South and in the North of Iraq, the Iraqi people have risen time and again to throw off their Government, only to be crushed by their Despot, strengthened by our arms and our complicity in allowing him to crush his people. We are already guilty when it comes to Iraqi suffering. Bush’s insistence on “regime change” and the formulation of plans for a transitional government are evidence that America’s intentions, this time around, are purportedly to assist the Iraqi people in their duty to throw off Saddam Hussein.
What of all the terrorists that will be recruited in the wake of Iraq’s destruction? Iraq is already mostly destroyed, and a pretty miserable place to live. Young men leave the country to find their live’s glories elsewhere. Under a less-tyrannical US Military Administration, transitioning to some sort of more benevolent, representative government, there would be plenty of work to do in rebuilding a nation. There will also be less justification for US Military to protect the holy land, and troops will follow existing pressure by the Saudi Government to leave Islam’s heartland alone. Yes, there will be many vulnerable young men whose hearts will be wounded by their personal losses, inflicted by the United States. There are many such men already in Iraq, with nothing to distract them from this pain, and a dictator and Terrorist leaders offering them a chance at vengeance.
Whatever the President’s intentions, whatever his abilities, qualities, morality, or lack thereof, I see that our military has been assembled, ready to strike an avowed enemy, under the auspices of United Nations agreements going back over a decade. A lot of nations are opposed to letting Bush have his way with the UN’s blessing, because he is an unelected unilateralist idiot with undue influence on the world, who withdraws from those few International Treaties that his predecessors have signed. Nonetheless, the unilateralist idiot has picked his enemy well, if not his timing, and stopping what is already in action because we don’t like the guy behind it strikes me as so much futile resentment. The way I see it, the Iraqi people need a hand. If the vagaries of International politics have conspired in such a way as to give it to them, we shouldn’t stand in the way.
Marc Andreeson answers two questions in a recent interview:
Q Do you blog?
A No. I have a day job. I don’t have the time or ego need.
Q FCC Chairman Michael Powell calls TiVo “God’s machine.” What’s your equivalent?
A I have four Replay machines. Each has 360 hours of storage and they are plugged into my home LAN (local area network). I have 1,400 hours of video storage. What’s on it? All kinds of stuff, like the last 80 episodes of Charlie Rose.
So, he does not have the time or ego to put his thoughts on the web in a “blog” like what I’m doing here, but he does have the time to store 1,400 hours of television, including eighty hours of Charlie Rose, and the ego need to brag about it. This incredible visionary can at least offer that “four Replays” is his “equivalent” of “the TiVo”.
There is great wisdom contained in this piece by James C. Bennett. I originally was going to quote and comment on a few bits, but really the whole piece is entirely excellent and should be read. And acted upon.
So, Saturday I attended the second-round interview for the ship-board catering position. “You’re a veteran, so you should be familiar with our drug-testing policy.” Round two was basically paperwork, before a three-hour mandatory safety-meeting, where all the company’s employees reviewed safety procedures, including “man overboard” and “fire” and other stuff. We went on a short cruise where the senior staff retrieved an imperiled PFD from the frigid waters of the bay. It was a pleasing ride in beautiful weather, and one of the older employees, a bartender, explained how it was handy to respond to difficult guests with the response, “Sorry, these are Coast Guard regulations.”
So, how do I, having formerly rejected an office job over drug testing rationalize my consent for a catering position? Easy: Coast Guard Regulations. While drug testing remains a pretty crappy way of safeguarding employee performance, some degree of paranoia is forgivable when the staff are charged with the safety of drunken guests in the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay. I can also change my mind, if I like, once I’ve secured some other source of income.
The job search seems to be looking up a bit. I applied at a slightly creepy theme restaurant smack dab in the middle of the Fisherman’s Wharf tourist trap. Okay. Then truck it over to the Mission to apply for a position at a pizza restaurant that had a nice little homely feel about it. The guy seemed interested in my pizza-specific experience, explained that the owners were going to be changing something in the near future, and that he’d refer my application to them.
A few more places to visit tomorrow, then I have to ask the catering company about getting some hours under my belt, and eventually pester Zachary’s to see if they’ve reviewed my application yet. Other good news from Brian is that a chunk of forwarded letters has, at long last, arrived at Mountain View, including the bank statements I back-ordered! Yay!
I got to work on Saturday night. One of three shifts I’ve got with the catering dinner cruises on the bay. Barring some implausibly huge tips, the money will still be less than my month’s “burn rate” but some income is better than no income. Tomorrow I should perhaps call the Unemployment Insurance people and explain that if I don’t get a hearing on my appeal soon, I might never be able to attend such a hearing because my destitution may force me from the area. We’ll see. I’ll also cruise around a few more restaurants.
There were no tips on Saturday, we had a high school dance. It was pretty interesting even if the young’uns don’t tip the bartender for booze they can’t buy. I was the only male on the dining staff. I think that this was the reason that I was selected to jump off the back of the ship when we pulled up to the dock to secure a line. Adventure! Excitement!
Another shift tonight! The management is very chill. “If you want to eat, just make yourself a plate and hide it behind the bar.” The Chicanos in the kitchen relax on the latter leg of the cruise, chatting on cell phones. Our path was out of port in Alameda, a wide loop around Treasure Island, and back under the west span of the Bay Bridge. It was quite wonderful to look up in the sky and cruise under a beautiful, grey, man-made structure.
> How is the situation in the US today about the Iraqi issue? Are people
> upset or excited or…?
They’re rebroadcasting his speech on the radio. I don’t like George Bush, but I think it was a very good speech and that often times when he delivered it, his voice sounded like Reagan’s. I don’t like Reagan either, but he had charisma.
Americans are very conflicted. Some tempers are high, but I think that those who oppose the war are coming around to accept its inevitability. I think his speech should help rally those who support him, and soothe those who are on the fence. Those who oppose him can go on fighting, or turn their energies to other activities that should actually bear fruit.
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