Month: April 2014

Government Job Interview #8053

I’ve applied to so many jobs and done so many interviews with various levels of government in the past year or so that I don’t even remember having applied to the positions anymore!

There are really only so many interviews one can spend time doing before the realization comes that it’s great to do interviews, but a complete waste of time to keep participating in them if they never amount to anything.

I realize there are people out there who can’t even get a single interview, anywhere.  I know.  Although, in that situation at least one can take comfort in the fact that he or she won’t be used as a checkbox, i.e., so the hiring committee can report that it interviewed someone qualified, but that the “most qualified” candidate (the person who knows someone on the inside) is the one who gets the job.

Unfortunately, I am starting to feel like the proverbial donkey chasing the carrot.

That’s why at the same time, I am going to grow my own garden full of carrots, damn it, even if I have to start from seeds.  Then I can add whatever other vegetables I bloody well want.   Then my soup will be the best, and I’ll be selling it at a high price!

“No soup for you!  Don’t come back for one year!” I’ll say.

from danferraroblog.com and originally from 116th episode of NBC's Seinfeld.

from danferraroblog.com and originally from 116th episode of NBC’s Seinfeld.

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Still Unemployed But Not Hopeless

As discussed previously, my most recent attempt at finding employment within the industry in which I was previously working did not pan out.  It is as if the universe is telling me to just stay away from that career path and move on to something else (if I was to believe in fate as the only factor at work of course).  Today it is difficult to change careers without returning to school in some capacity.  Unfortunately, pursuing higher education demands forking out money for standardized testing, and one cannot really avoid this, particularly if one would like to have the option to attend school in the U.S. or Canada.

My partner’s recent experiences at a large, well-funded U.S. university has been an eye-opener in terms of the current state of the academic system.  The employment prospects and practices at colleges and universities for today’s up and coming academics appear to be dismal at best.  There is not a lack of funding for research in the United States, but there is a lack of publicly sourced funding, in comparison to what was available in the past.  Despite these facts, the number of PhDs granted by institutions is on the rise, and it seems that the culture of academia appears to favor a more corporate mentality than ever before, where instead of profit in dollars, growth in terms of number of PhDs granted is academia’s currency.  It would not be in the interest of a college or university to dissuade potential graduate students away from graduate school, now would it?  Besides, there are so many foreign students willing to come to the U.S. for a PhD or postdoc, so why turn away cheap research labor?

Knowing this, I wrote the GRE* anyway because I want to have different career options, one of which would involve research, despite the crappy state of academic jobs these days.  Knowing what I know, I would prepare myself to be able to do research outside the world of academia if I ever did decide to take on doctoral work.

Since we know life is uncertain, and given my continued state of unemployment, I am considering law school also as part of my future career leveraging strategy**. I also know that there has been a decline in those sitting for the LSAT in the last few years, especially in the U.S.  I’ve read that the lower numbers have been attributed to outrageous law school tuition rates, fewer jobs available, etc.  Recently, though, the number of people writing the LSAT has picked up again.  With an improved economy I am sure more work will be available in the future.

All career options have their pros and cons.  Being a Gen Xer coming out of the Great Recession, I have to keep an open mind about the future.  I have to consider what I am passionate about, while at the same time I have to think about what’s practical for me, too.   If I spent my time focusing on the cons of every career option, then I’d probably become a complete nihilist***, but like Rustin Cohle in “True Detective” – I am programmed to survive….

* supposedly ETS, the group that administers the GRE, is a nonprofit organization, but given the rise in graduate students and costs to take the exam, I am sure it cannot be an organization which is hurting for money, nor is it likely that other standardized test administration organizations are either, or the test prep companies for that matter….

** these are not my only motives for considering a career in law.  If they were I would not survive law school, I’m sure.

*** not that there is anything wrong with being a nihilist, but I heard it’s difficult to make a living as one these days…

 

Is that Monkey Poo, Google?

I downloaded and started to use the new Google Hangouts app to chat on my Android tablet.  The video chat function works, but the quality is not as good as it is on Skype, but I digress.

I was perusing the different emoticons, which are kind of fun, though they look very tiny on my screen since my tablet is only 7″.  I noticed the one emoticon that was odd – and have decided it couldn’t be anything except poo, and I suspect it might actually be monkey poo based on its similar color scheme as the monkeys to the left.  I mean, it’s brown, and there is yellow steam surrounding it.  I thought, am I just some sort of demented person for thinking this?  So I kept looking at it.  What else could it possibly be?  It’s not cupcake icing because that makes no sense.

capture_05

If that ain’t monkey poo, then I don’t know monkey poo from Shinola.

So I guess Google thought there would be plenty of ways to work “monkey poo” into a chat; enough to warrant its very own visual representation!

A conversation could go like this:

Friend:  “Hey, did you hear about that politician who defrauded taxpayers of millions?”

Me: “What a bunch of monkey poo”.

Maybe I’ll win $1,000,000 from Google for being the first person to discuss the monkey poo emoticon online!  Then I’ll have nothing better to do with my time, but write exciting blog posts all day, such as this fine piece of prose that you’re reading.  If I had used my new found hieroglyphic in my very unpopular previous post on bullshit, it could have saved me a lot of time.

First Attempt at Making Furniture – Part 1

So I had this big idea that I should try to make some living room furniture.  I read somewhere that a coffee table is a good project to start with if new to woodworking.  Instead, I’ve decided, why not make the whole set?  Coffee table, side tables and console table.

I went to visit the local reclaimed wood furniture guy a few days ago since I will make hairpin leg tables with wooden tops (I hope).  Luckily I have immediate family members who will be able to explain to me what I should be doing, and will provide tools and a workshop.

After getting in trouble with the reclaimed wood guy for not telling him exactly what I wanted, dimension -wise (as I told him, how the hell was I supposed to know exactly what I need if I don’t know the wood widths ahead of time?), followed by a lot of hand-waving and an explanation that a console table is not for DVD players and TVs, but for decoration purposes, I am hopefully going to be the recipient of some random dried hardwood pieces a few weeks.  He will plane and square off the wood, and dry it as necessary.  I told him the pieces should be of the same hardwood type because it’s got to be for a set.  Upon initial inspection he thought chestnut might be the random wood I’ll get but we shall see.  If so, I’m a lucky brat.  I am a bit afraid as he is working from measurements I wrote on a ripped off piece of paper that I gave him, but I think given he does flooring he might have it sorted out.

My plan was to go for stainless hairpin legs from hairpinlegs.com.  Still have to order those babies, but the wood has to be worked well before I can even think about sticking legs on.

See final project examples here:

Retro Menagerie – Coffee Table

Scissors and Thread – Coffee Table

I am a Bullshit Girl, Living in a Bullshit World

We survive in an economy that is built on bullshit.  I think about real estate agents.  Bullshitters.  What do they actually do?  Nothing.  I renovated my bathroom and broke my back doing it, so remind me again why these people think they are justified in taking 2.5% of the total sale price of my home?  Just because the agent put a bouquet of flowers out, which someone else arranged?  Sure.  I enjoyed the lousy bottle of wine you sent me as a thank you for the thousands you skimmed off the top.  I made sure to chill it first.

I won’t mention politicians, because they are just old-fashioned bullshitters.  I’m talking about modern age, à la mode bullshitters.  The Economist magazine, in the article “On bullshit jobs” cites an essay written by David Graeber, an anthropologist, who discusses work in the modern economy.  I was so inspired by this article and my recent experience that I thought I would blog about it.

Next on my list of big time bullshitters are employment recruiters.

In my recent experience, a recruiter called me to tell me that the company I applied to was looking for someone like me, and then said I didn’t have the experience the company was looking for, all in the same sentence.  It’s like he said to me, “we are desperate for people!  But you need to beg for this job because you need to justify your skills to me even though I don’t understand anything about what it is that you’ve outlined your resume…now beg…and get down and give me 20!”.  I thought, this person must have Borderline Personality Disorder.  Not only did this recruiter put me off immediately with his pathetic social skills, but he wasn’t even capable of communicating with me throughout the recruiting process.

I had to, in fact, be the one to actually ask him where my second interview was going to be located, and with which company representatives I would be interviewing.  I guess he just assumed I would somehow instinctively know these details, after flying halfway across the country to an unfamiliar city.  In fact, when I arrived to the office that day, I found out I was in the wrong office for the interview and that I had to go to the other office, because the recruiter gave me the wrong address information.

About a month later, following the interview, the recruiter still didn’t get in touch with me to let me know what was happening in the hiring process.  I had to ask him.  His only job — to send e-mails or make phone calls; to be a go-between for the company and its prospective employees, was done poorly.  He doesn’t actually have to have any specialist skills whatsoever and even then, he was still incapable of doing his bullshit job properly.   Even if I’m given a job offer, do I want to work there?  Not really.

By the way, what is a management consultant anyway?  Just what is that?  What about pyramid schemers?

More or less though, companies exist as gigantic pyramid schemes anyway. I’ve devised a test: print your company organization chart.  Draw lines around all the names listed on the company’s organizational chart.  Ask yourself:  Did I make a triangle shape?  Then ask, is my name even on the org chart or am I such an unworthy tiny minion that my name is not even published?  In this case, it’s what I like to call a super-duper pyramid where you are so insignificant that you are actually extra-pyramidal.

There are lousy, incompetent people in every profession you can think of.  Don’t assume because one is a lawyer (likely bullshitter), doctor (potential quack), or senior university professor (possible PhD student slave driver with no recognizable research skills) that competence comes with the title.  I think the majority of professionals are trying to do the right thing, but it is better to be skeptical and allow a professional to earn your trust and money.  I’m not fooled by letters after a name.  I knew a guy in university who, from what I heard from multiple people, lied and cheated his entire way through university and I believe now he is a practicing medical doctor.

But now, we have a whole slew of ill-qualified bullshitters, with little knowledge or skills, making a buck in the bullshit economy.  Yet, we are so limited as a society that we don’t fund, I don’t know, say,  important scientific research, since all the money is being used up by the bullshitters doing their bullshit work.

There is hope, though.  I have coped in this world by honing my bullshit radar.  You could do the same.  The better you get, the more bullshit ‘blips’ you’ll get on your screen, so you’ll be prepared for the bullshit that is fired your direction.  This way, you can say, “Do not bullshit a bullshitter” with confidence.  Then you can sell your house yourself and find your own (I won’t say it) job, maybe even start your own (I won’t say it again) company.