Friday, December 30, 2005

Nothing much to report... Grossly behind schedule in my errands, and still have much work to do before our impromptu New Year's Eve fete, complete with bonus guests... (Not that I am complaining -- far from it, I always find New Year's Eve terribly boring without something to do. Seriously, for years it was my least favorite holiday -- Arbor Day easily beat it -- but then one year I attended a party MLW and her then roommate threw, and I found I really enjoyed myself... goofy games and all).

Anyway, I'm not typing to tell you about that. As I find now that I'm home at odd hours (and up and typing and even odder ones) daytime TV is still largely a wasteland. I found it redeemed however, by a tremendously entertaining cartoon called Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Yes, yes, I'm sure many of you know about it already, as according to Wikipedia, the show premiered sometime last year (2004), but what can I say, I'm slow...

Very amusing (and once again makes me wonder exactly how sophisticated today's youth are if they can get all the jokes and aside homages). Anyway, according to the Cartoon Network schedule, it's on Friday's at 8 p.m., but it also looks like it's on quite a bit over the New Year's Eve/Day schedule. Check it out; I think you'll like it.

(Oh, be forewarned though, I find that the theme song gets stuck in one's head like a bad commercial jingle....)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Did ya miss me?

...Yeah, that's what I figured. Back from NJ , and boy are my arms tired... Or something (actually, that's not inaccurate... my cat is heavy, and you'd be surprised how much 12 lbs. can seem if he's lying in your arms for hours straight...) Took 7 hours to get back... blech.

So let's see what happened. Not much by my standards... We drove up (cat stopped yelling after about the first hour, so that was good), checked in to the hotel (very disappointed in them this trip), then hung out for a while. Then we drove up to the Treasure Island store where my sister works (they were crazy-NOT-busy). Then we drove to the Pizzaria Uno where we would eventually have dinner for her birthday (exciting).

On Friday we went to the comic book store (Dewey's Comic City in Madison -- yes, that's right, I still get my comics in NJ) and made sure to put him in the black for this holiday shopping season. Then we drove northward... and drove... and drove... and while I wasn't sure how we could still be in NJ, we were and eventually arrived to visit and have dinner with the (I went to high school with Kunze's: Rich (now the Town Manager of West Milford!) and his lovely wife Jessica and their precocious (but in the good way) daughter Sabina). Stayed there way late considering we had to be up early the next day...

For brunch with (strangely enough), Rich (who we'd seen less than 12 hours earlier), Mr. Huge & his lovely fiancee (who naturally live down here in VA), and a few other NJ folks (including another cute little daughter). Then we went back to the hotel for a breather (MLW was obviously sick at this point and getting sicker and hell, I'll always take a nap...) We then loaded the Mazur-based gifts into the J-Pod and drove Northward again to the lovely township of my youth. Or rather what's left of it in amongst all the construction. Seems that every time I drive up there's less mountains and trees and more townhouses... (As Jado would say, this mini-rant brought to you by old-age and bitterness. Old-age and bitterness, now with more crankiness!)

Anyway (my god, I'm boring myself just typing all this -- I can't imagine any of you reading it), we headed up to my folks place in WM, NJ. We had a nice visit with them (though all things being equal, I'm somewhat confused as to why my mom waited until we were LEAVING to change her hearing aid batteries...) and had (too much) food and got many presents. Then, seeing that MLW wasn't getting any better, we scadaddled back to the hotel.

Xmas day we got up and more or less did the same thing again. Although in this case, we called my in-laws and explained that MLW wasn't feeling that well, so that we'd be there a little later than originally planned and we went back to sleep (again, I'm always there to support MLW in her endeavors). We had more (too much) food, then exchanged gifts (also possibly too much) and then some of MLW's extended relations (uncle, aunt and cousins) came over (which was unusual, but a pleasant change of pace).

Monday, seeing that MLW was no better (and possibly worse) we cancelled our plans to go brunch with some more NJ friends (and their toddlers, who probably didn't need to be exposed to the ebola or bird flu or whatever MLW has), and instead drove home (see paragraph #1). Then unpacked (and unpacked and unpacked). And now we're ramping up for New Year's.

Like I said, not exciting, but what passes for my life.

Ah well, I need to get myself over to the gym (by way of the drycleaners and the bank), so I'm outta here. But here's an interesting article on automobiles and the possibility that their operating systems can be hacked.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Well, that's it, I'm outta here...

...well, not quite, but close enough. I don't know as that I'll have time to blog again before next week. So if I may take a moment to wish y'all the happiest of holidays (whichever one or ones you might be celebrating), and I will leave you with these two things:

I don't know if this is performance art or a group psychology exercise, but I think it's kinda cool.

And, as a special early Xmas gift, here's the first protoype of the Robot Doom Blog.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This dial-up...

...speed is killin' me here. God.

Well, while it's taken far longer than it should have, this was supposed to be a really quick post...

Specifically, a link to a last minute Xmas gift MLW requested of me the other day. Now, I love her and all, but just... no.

I believe I made the correct call.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

What was I doing again?

...Oh, yeah, wasn't I, like, looking for a job or something?

I was trying to type this earlier and got sidetracked (how shocking, I know...) and now I'm rather knackered, so I'll give you the Reader's Digest version...

Two things really... The first was that when I was at the AOL Holiday party, OS's wife was doing a lovely job of networking for me (she seems to know nearly everyone there, if in some cases only by screen-name). She followed up with one guy later in the week (last week) and CC'ed me on the message. So who knows, maybe something will come of it...?

Also, as I mentioned in my December 7th post (completely forgetting to point out that it was Pearl Harbor Day, I now realize...), I was getting some information on some government jobs. In a sort of follow-up to that, I was on... well, I guess you could call it an informational interview on Thursday (that was yesterday, right? I still haven't gone to bed yet, so I say it's still Friday...) way out in Tyson's Corner. (Because you know what's fun? Driving over to an area with three malls, a week before Xmas, in a "wintery mix" storm.)

The interview itself actually went quite well, I thought. Not that I had that much to go on. But simply as interviews go, I thought it went well. It was very much a dialogue rather than a one-sided, "they'll-ask-questions-and-I'll-answer-them" sort of thing. Also, I'm told I was there more than double the average time (it was more than four hours), so I'm choosing to take that as a good sign (though we were clearly both talkers). If nothing else, I really enjoyed it as a conversation.

So, don't know if that amounts to anything or will, but I figure it beats telling y'all about how long it took me to file my unemployment claim this week (6 minutes, 23 seconds -- since I chose to use the telephone method rather than the web).

More to come.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Editor's Note: Okay, so apparently, when I thought I published this on Monday I was so tired I, in fact, only saved it as a draft. So, my bad. I'll leave the original/intended time stamp. And be advised that another post should be up later today.

My gods am I tired. I have no idea why the party prep (and actual event) seemed so tiring. True, MLW did wake me up on Sunday at like 9:30(!), which amounted to about 5.5 hours of sleep, because our houseguests (Jado, his lovely wife, and their unborn, "Thud") needed to leave early and MLW was making gingerbread waffles (which curiously involved a substantial amount of pumpkin puree -- they were, for the record, quite tasty, but I think I would call the receipte "spice waffles" or even "pumpkin waffles" rather than gingerbread... but I digress...)

Anyway, Sunday was largely devoted to cleaning up, and my going back to bed later in the day and sleeping for another three hours. I normally don't find parties that draining. I really don't understand what was up with that one...

(Though of note was the fact that MLW and I prepared/cleaned/decorated for it without getting into a single argument. A rare -- and quite welcome -- event indeed.)

Oh, I was going to include some photos from the festivities on Saturday, but I didn't know if people were okay with that... I can just see the emails now, "Um, JAM, we never said you could go and post our pictures on the web for all the world (and the robots) to see." I guess you folks should let me know if that's okay or not.

More later. I've got to try and salvage something out of this day...

Friday, December 09, 2005

You know that feeling you get...

...when it's 12:24 a.m. (yes, I mean after midnight) and you're bent down outside with a rubber mallet, hammering metal stakes in the ground, so you can set up the new outside Xmas lights before the "deadly" wintery mix* can arrive and bury the ground under maybe (at most) an inch of snow/ice?

You know that feeling? I think it's called "not. enough. time." So what am I doing typing here when I have so much to do? Good question...

* = See Huge's comments to my post of Monday for more on that topic.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Victory! Thou art mine!

After dispatching agents to points hither and yon as well as receiving countless suggestions and having at least one short phone conversation on the subject, I am thrilled to report that I have finally acquired, one brand, new, shiny.... Rotating Tree Stand!

(What? Did you think I was talking about something else?)

As my travels had taken me pretty far outside the Beltway today (Reston), I figured I would follow up on a lead that JC Penney's might have one. So checking online last night, I saw there was a Penney's at Dulles Towne Centre (which by the map anyway, didn't seem to be too far from where I was going to be). As it turned out, it really wasn't too bad, of course the fact that I was travelling well after rush hour may have contributed to that. So while Penney's came up empty, I figured since I was there I would scan the mall directory, and what did I find but a store called "Deck the Halls." I was in there and exiting with the tree stand in five minutes (would have been less, but the girl didn't know how to run a credit card through the machine...)

So there ya are...

Oh, also, the reason I was in Reston... I was at sort of a government career fair type thing. Learned about lots of interesting opportunities in the Dept's of Defense, State, Treasury, Homeland Security, etc. Some really intriguing ideas I'll have to follow up on. So more on that, um... later, I guess.

Now all that's left to do is decorate the entire house in time for Saturday....

Monday, December 05, 2005

Snowing, snowing, snowing...

...and thus Chinese Food Nite and Mah-Jongg are canceled. Thus leaving me with an "abundance of free time" (which is not true -- I never have free time -- I move from one thing to the next to the next to the next, which is why I am never bored. Yes, true, those include "sleeping" and "watching TV" but it is always something).

Anyway, naturally MLW is thrilled that it's snowing (she's kind of a snow maniac). And of course, being down here, panic has set in. 2-4 inches down here might as well be 2-4 feet anywhere else. But I'm sure Why I Hate DC has some excellent past posts on that topic (do a search).

Not much new to report. MLW and I went with OS and his lovely wife to the AOL Holiday gala which was held at the Udvar-Hazy Center (the Annex to the Air & Space museum that's out by Dulles airport). It's a huge museum -- they have the first space shuttle there for christsakes -- but somehow filled with all the various food stations, bands, tables, etc. it still seemed fairly crowded. Though I guess AOL has about 10000 employees, so... Anyway, we were going to see the level of excess involved, and I have to say, I was not disappointed. Plus, I got to wear my tux again, which is always fun (after the damn bowtie is tied anyway).

I think that's about it for today. I have an interview type thing tomorrow, that I fear may be rescheduled due to the aforementioned weather conditions, but here's hoping it isn't.

I guess I'll leave you with this device, brought to my attention recently by WPE. I think I must have one. I will have to see if they ship to the US or if some vendor here sells them.

More later, after I'm done finding the snow shovel...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cellphone's Lament

I don't pretend to recall all of my of my senior year History seminar, but I do recall a rather spirited discussion we had about the subtle ways in which technology works its way into our lives.

I believe it was where I came up with the "Jiffy Pop analogy," which served me so well in my time as a web developer. It basically goes like this: when we were kids, making popcorn at home meant Jiffy Pop on the stove -- an affair involving the entire family that would take the better part of 15 minutes, not counting the sarcastic remarks and admonitions to not burn it. Today we microwave popcorn in less than 2 minutes, and that 2 minutes can seem like an eternity. Our temporal expectations have adjusted to match up with the technology. The point, I believe, of the book we were discussing in the seminar was that society is soon reaching critical mass on that score. There comes a point wherein technology will be faster than human comprehension, and what do we do then. But I digress...

My point in bringing that up was to talk about how quickly we become dependent on technology. In this case, I am lamenting the loss of my cell phone (which was thoughtfully provided by CPI with the service paid for by the contract I worked on). I should tell you that I was not one of those people who seemed to be permanently attached to the thing (thus inspiring that fun game, "Crazy? Or Cellphone?"), in fact, I often wondered if I lacked people to talk to. One day driving home from work and merging into what was always a messy merge onto 395, I noticed that I was the only person in any of the cars surrounding me who wasn't talking on a cellphone.

But in spite of that, the little gadget had wormed it's way into my life patterns. Most specifically, I find it difficult to shop now. I had become so dependent on being able to call MLW while I was at the store. "Should I get the red or the blue?" "Do we need butter?" "I'm at Home Depot, is there anything you need?" Etc. In fact, I almost had a minor scale meltdown last week at Target, staring at the literally hundreds of choices in Xmas lights, because I kept reaching for the phone that wasn't there. How could I make this decision myself without input? (Which is interesting, as it begs the question, did I become dependent on the cellphone, or just indecisive?)

But especially with my "never know when a thought is going to pop up" way of brain functioning, a cellphone was a useful tool. Doubly so when say I am now constantly tying up the phone line by being online...

So while on some level I find it odd, I do, apparently miss this small gizmo that wormed its way into my life. And I think that's enough from me right now, plus I have mouse hand (the phenomenon wherein the hand you're mousing with, and only that hand, gets ice cold for some reason...), so more tomorrow.

Recent Epilogue: Before I had the chance to publish this (yes, sometime I write a post in advance... I hope I haven't spoiled the blog "magic" by telling you that), MLW got me a new cellphone! Since she was on Nextel since I had been on Nextel for work, she simply expanded us to some sort of family plan, and got me a new phone. Have I mentioned lately how much she rocks (and how that's the sort of decision I would have agonized over for weeks and weeks comparing plans and carriers and phones and all that...)? Well, she does. New number available on request.

Ooh... nice one...

...from Jado: The Holiday Gift Guide from hell. Funny.

And from the Weird News Dept...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"A rotating tree stand...

My Kingdom for a rotating tree stand!"

Okay, let's be honest. Not much of a kingdom these days.

In a recent (last year) decision, MLW and I decided to alternate "being in charge" of Xmas. I made this suggestion, because we have what would tactfully be described as "two, divergent styles" when it comes to Xmas decoration. She has what might be referred to as a "subdued, understated, and tasteful" style, whereas I have a "colorful, blinking, spinning, if it sitting still it will have lights on it and what do I care if it might induce a seizure by looking at it" style.*

To be fair, this is only the first year I'm trying this, so I really can only go by my family's reputation on the matter, which is fabled in story and song ("The 12 Pains of Christmas" by the Bob Rivers Comedy Group) and legend amongst my NJ friends. While we can't and won't have that much Xmas stuff here -- we simply lack the space and don't have a free-standing house the way my parents do -- I did want to try a few things differently than the "compromised manner" in which MLW & I have been decorating up until now. I even let her go first last year. (I also pointed out that after we each had a try, we could bag the alternating idea if she didn't like it).

So, anyway, long story longer than it needed to be, I need a rotating tree stand. And I haven't the faintest clue where to find one down here. Tried a bunch of usual places: Target, Home Depot, the entirety of Pentagon City Mall. Suggestions from local readers appreciated. (Snide remarks not-so-much, but largely expected.)

* = actual descriptions vary dependent on who is doing the describing.

So, I think I owe y'all a story...

...about my trip to the VA Employment Office, no?

(I will out-of-chronological order point out that I filed for the first two weeks today online, and the process could not be simpler. Curiously (or not) it won't let you file for the week we're in until the end of said week...)

So after filing my initial "paperwork" online, I had received -- I forget when -- I think back in the week of the 13th, which contained amongst other things, my last days at CPI -- a notice telling me that I needed to appear in person at the Alexandria office on Monday (11/28) to answer some questions about my claim.

Okay, reasonable enough (and hey, it's not like I have anything else to do), so I plan to do that Monday morning, which being me, winds up being about an hour and a half later than I'd figured, but it was still "a.m." when I got there. Of course, getting there was part of the fun. I'm looking at the address, thinking Cherokee Avenue... why does that sound familiar to me? I can't recall. So I look at a map and I head down Duke Street to where it becomes Little River Turnpike (which technically puts me out of the City of Alexandria, I thought, but hey, I'll never understand how they divide the boundaries down here in the Commonwealth...) and just about most of the way to my chiropractor's office (shout out to the gang at Pinecrest Wellness Center!) I take a left and head down Cherokee Avenue. Which seems to be entirely residential. And drive and drive and drive. By which I mean, less than five minutes later...

I come to the end of the road. But it's okay, because I've also come to a small office park. Okay, 5500, 5510... waitaminute, the road's ending in a T intersection... and that's it over there... to the right. That's not even the same road... Oh, well. Look right, look left, look ri... Hey, that BP [gas station] back on the left looks familiar, in fact... [looks over left shoulder] Crap, is that my gym? *chuckle* The VA Employment office I'm "searching" for is across the street and vaguely around the corner from my gym...?

So anyway, I go in, check in with the flamboyant info clerk (bright lime green sweater... which considering it was like 70+ degrees on Monday may have been a poor choice), and he tells me to have a seat, and so I do and I had brought a book, and conveniently, just as I get to the end of a chapter (been waiting for less than 20 minutes) this guy, who I'll call "Carl" (because that was his name) comes out, and takes me over to his cube.

And he's all, "So what can we do for you?" And I'm like, "Well, um, I got this letter... You wanted to see me with some questions?" And he's, "Well, we just like to see people in person with their IDs." (Which, in retrospect, he never asked me for...) But he was really nice -- and I'm not just saying that because he complemented me on my sports jacket, to which I replied, "Thanks. Costco." And he said, "Costco?! Really?" And I'm like, "yeah, sometimes they have good stuff there." And then we got into a whole involved discussion on how difficult it is to shop if you're an unusual size that isn't "big or tall" (because, well, it is... and apparently Carl can where a normal size 42 or 44 jacket, but then he has to get the pants altered because the waist or seat is too big, etc., etc. I heard where he was coming from...)

So anyway, he had me sign a couple of forms about the two days I worked the one week, and about the unused vacation they still need to pay me for, and he gave me some handy instruction booklet on how to file a claim by phone. Seriously, you can file by phone. And of course, via the Internet.

So points to the Commonwealth for their highly organized and efficient system and staff. Made what I feared would be a painful process quite the opposite.

Okay, my back is hurting (I have to bring the "six million dollar office chair" upstairs to the office yet), and so I think it's time for bed. More tomorrow, I'm quite sure.

Is that show aptly named...

...or what?

Watched LOST tonight as is my habit on Wednesdays. (Watch LOST, tape Veronica Mars... both well-written, both quirky in their own way, both in my Top 5).

I'm not sure I'm ever going to get where they're going on that show. And in case some of you haven't watched it yet, that's all I'll say.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Where did JAM go?

So, you don't post for a few days and all of a sudden the emails come pouring in (by which I mean two). Gosh, what's up with that? I mean, I don't answer to you people... I really don't. If I want to sit in bed and read comics and eat ice cream, I can do that... Not that I have. (Ever, come to think of it...)

No, I spent much of the "long weekend" reorganizing the office (which I think I alluded to earlier was something that was bothering me). It was full of papers, computer boxes, papers, computer parts, papers, and many more papers. And while it was certainly an interesting (Huh, a birthday card from Waugh from 1997...), informative (wow, I had no idea we had this many colors of paper in the house... and who needs multiple post-it notes with Garfield on them?), and nostalgic trip (Hmm, a print out of nearly everything I did while working at Drew... why did I keep hard copies?), most of the stuff went to the recycling center. On the plus side, I can now see the floor and actually turn my chair around without jamming my toe into something (presuming the cat isn't at my feet).

But that's not all I did over the "holiday weekend" (which is a relative concept when you're unemployed...) MLW and I went to see The Ice Harvest with WPE (it was funny. Dark. but funny.) And I had a thoroughly "up with people" conversation with my sibling (is there any other kind?) Oh, and we got the six million -- okay, I exaagerate... 22 --storage bins of Xmas stuff out of the attic to begin "the great decorating process." (I can't tell you how little I care right now.)

I'm sure I'm leaving out various tidbits, but they're clearly so exciting as to have slipped my mind. I do need to tell you guys about my exciting trip to VA Employment, as well as my trip to CPI today (Tuesday), and I'm sure one or two more things. But they need to wait until tomorrow, as it's late and I have an appointment in the a.m. (No, don't get excited, it's therapy, not an interview...) More later, I'm sure.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Since I'll likely sleep through the parade...

...I figured I'd wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving right now. Don't eat too much (unless that's your thing, me I don't care for that bloated feeling...) And enjoy this little tidbits from our friends at blogthings:

You Are Mashed Potatoes

Oridnary, comforting, and more than a little predictable
You're the glue that holds everyone together.

Mmmm.... mashed potatoes...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I have no idea what I'm talking about...

Um, okay. Orgami Slayer was on my case about this RSS feed stuff. I really don't understand it, other than that different people use different services. And I think they each helpfully tell you when I've updated the blog rather than you sitting there hitting the "refresh" button in the manner of a rat trying to get cheese in a lab...

So, if -- and that's a huge "if" -- I've done everything correctly, no matter which service you use, it should now be handled by Feedburner's single "smartfeed." You can click on that link on the button at the bottom of the sidebar and then no pesky waiting...

I think...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Scorecards, get your scorecards... can you know your players without a scorecard.

I think I promised you an initial attempt at a cast of characters in the dynamic melodrama that is Hopeful Pessimism/JAM's Life. To wit...
  • JAM = moi, yours truly, your humble author...
  • MLW = My Lovely Wife. Smart, pragmatic, and while having questionable taste in men, an otherwise loveable woman. (Now I thought using her initials -- JOB -- might be better in terms of the Google Ad Sense search 'bots, but then I remembered, I don't really care what the ads are for.)
  • MDFA = My dear friend Amy, who actually went to high school with JOB, she has become a fairly regaulr participant in our misadventures.
  • WPE = One time fellow employee of CPI (actually he worked for me), sometime opera singing, and all time friend, WPE ofttimes has more powerful web-fu than I...
  • Jado = the husband of someone MLW and I went to college with, I feel somewhat resposibile for leading Jado down the path to total web-surfing corruption, by introducing him to a number of sites that take up all his extra time at work... But he is a frequent reader and commenter of H.P. so...
  • The Insidious Mr. Huge = Huge can only be one gentlemen (unless it's somehow Alan Moore), just based on his writing style. And if it's who I suspect it is, well, we went to high school together ("Freebird!!") -- he's a curmudgeon and a sometime wiseass, but we like him anyway. Most of time.
  • Ultimate Brian = the first person I ever met at Drew University. Weird. He is now well into his quest to reinvent himself with some sort of supersoldier syrum or something (you can see I pay close attention) which you can read about on his blog...
  • Orgami Slayer = wow, that pseudonym is so cool, it's almost like it's an anagram. I mean, it's no Amazon Haunt Jar, but still... Another Drewid, OS usually is available to explain things once I've stepped hip deep into a technological situation I know nothing about...
  • Kevin = my former boss at...
  • CPI = my former company (detailed in earlier posts)
  • The Shark = while I don't think I've mentioned him yet (even though we had lunch yesterday), I'm sure he'll come up eventually. My former coworker and officemate (literally one I shared an office with for years), his nickname comes from our monthly poker gatherings...
So, there you are. By no means a comprehensive list, but consider it the cast in their order of appearance thus far. More to follow, I'm sure.

Vague progress report

Hey all,

Remember that job search? Yeah, I figured. Sometimes so do I...

Two minor updates:

1) Received an exciting packet of stuff from the VA Employment Commission (don't think I don't realize how many hundreds of thousands of tax dollars likely went into the committee decision to name it the "employment" as opposed to "unemployment" agency... got to keep a proactive, blah, blah, blah...) I was thrilled (and also underwhelmed) to learn that I qualified for the maximum weekly benefit amount, for up to apparently 6 months. Though if it comes to that... yikes! They also included a job placement form -- well, more like set of forms -- that needs to be filled out. This packet of course, seemingly sent independent of the letter I received last Friday which said I needed to come into the office to answer some questions about my initial status. So that's likely how I'll be spending next Monday...

2) As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a strange situation last week in that I had to return a call from... someone. As I explained earlier, I left a whole bunch of messages. That was last Thursday. Not having heard anything on Friday, I made a point to try again yesterday morning before I left on my various appointments/errands. I am happy to report that due to successful decoding of the message (listening to it another dozen times or so) on the part of MLW and MDFA (who, for the record, only deleted the message because I told her to press the wrong button...) we determined a very likely alternate guess as to the caller's name. So I called Monday morning and said, quite bluntly, to the receptionist, "Do you have a _____ working there?" To which she replied, "Hang on I'll transfer you." I had several rings to wonder if I'd accidentally give a code command for something or another, but instead, I was connected with the very pleasant-voiced lady who had called the previous week. After explaining the sitch, she was very apologetic, and we moved on from there. The upshot being that I have two in-person interview type meetings scheduled in early December (which is not as far off as you might think).

So, I think that's about it for now. Though I have decided that I really need to clean up this home office, if I'm to make any sort of progress here. More to come.

MIA today...

...I know. I had a bunch of appointments, so I put them all in the same day. Then I had an HOA board meeting (you don't want to even get me started on that august body).

Just another so strange it has to be true bit brought to my attention by WPE, and then to bed.

More tomorrow, including a thrilling update on the job search. No, really. Really. Oh, and the aforepromised scorecard too...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I really wasn't going to post tonight...

...but then I found this (indirectly through Ultimate Brian)...

How Machiavellian Are You? (How could I not post that?) Results a bit surprising though. I can only wonder what I would have scored on this quiz during the college years...

You Are Somewhat Machiavellian

You're not going to mow over everyone to get ahead...
But you're also powerful enough to make things happen for yourself.
You understand how the world works, even when it's an ugly place.
You just don't get ugly yourself - unless you have to!

Catch y'all tomorrow...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Summertime, and the livin' is easy (no, not really)

Well, I don't know where this week went... waitaminute, what's this handbasket about...?

I need to come up with a better schedule system. When I was at work I had this color-coded To Do list that worked nominally okay. I think I need to develop something better for here. (I could go completely digital, but then I don't have anything with me to refer to when I step away from the PC and immediately forget what I'm supposed to be doing...) I'll give that some serious thought this weekend.

My Lovely Wife (MLW) and I just got back from seeing WPE in "Porgy and Bess," which is where the title of this post comes from. While I was very familiar with the music (big fan of Gershwin), I'd never actually seen the opera performed, so it was interesting -- if nothing else -- to see the music in the story's context. Very well done all around.

(Hmm, that reminds me... I should probably give you people a scorecard so you know who all the players in my various tales are... or at least their nom-de-Internet... I'll try to do that this weekend, too.)

On the job front (no, I have not forgotten my purpose in writing, I'm just taking the scenic route, as is my way), received a strange note (seriously, this thing was the lightest piece of paper I've seen in an envelope) in the mail today, announcing that was "found eligible" for a GS-13 IT position at the Department of Homeland Security. I have a vague recollection of applying for one or two things there, so I'll have to see if I can match the code on this note to a copy of the listings (which I hopefully saved). The note further indicated that I would be advised later of further developments. Clearly they're not big on speed or massive quantities of information there at the Dept of the Treasury, which I think was where the note originated.

But hey, at least that's something vaguely positive to report, right?

Okay, bed time, methinks. See you wacky kids tomorrow...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A "quick" update

Yeah, sure. I've been trying to type this for like 2.5 hours now. Dial-up blows.

Also, why do I still give the thought, Oh, I'll just check my email real quick any credence? Never happens, so why do I think that.

Today (as is often the case) the ADSW is sucking up all my time. For those of you just tuning in, I'm also President of the Board of Directors of the Art Deco Society of Washington. And since people like V, wonder if "this is a group sitting around in my basement" (actually, come to think of it, that has happened...), no, it's a small non-profit focused on historical preservation and cultural appreciation of the Art Deco era. You can read more on the website. But we're all volunteers, and it's just a time vortex, trust me...

Anyway, back to what was supposed to be the point of today's short missive... got a call-back on one of the job things/irons in the fire. Unfortunately, the woman who called back like coughed or cleared her throat as she was saying her name. I listened to the message 12 times, and I still don't know what her name was. So I called, and explained to the receptionist that I didn't know who I was calling back, exactly, other than that it was a woman and I thought her name began with a "J." So I then played a rousing game of "Let's Talk to People's Voice-mails" in theory, eventually speaking to if not the person who called at least the person who would know who did.

'Course, they can't call back, because I'm online. See sentence three of this post.

More to follow on that, I imagine.

Is it passe to tell people what you're listening to? Probably. I'm doing it anyway.

Currently listening to: ABC's "When Smokey Sings" (WPE thinks I like that song too much. He may be right. But it makes me smile.)
Current Mood: Vaguely frustrated.

Okay, I gotta get to the store before I hit rush hour. More later.

A few words before bed (which I should be in)

*sigh* So, first day without a job -- why do I feel so tired?

Still in the process of setting up the home office and configuring the new PC (a Dell we got it months ago) so that it is set up the way I like it.

Did manage to file for unemployment today... you can do it over the web (how convenient)... that was something I wrestled with for a few moments. But I finally decided that I paid into the system for 9 years, and I doubt I'm going to take 9 years worth out in a few weeks, so...

I also added some Google-based ads to this site. Hopefully you won't find them too distracting. I know that they will (shortly, once the site is indexed) be placing the ads based on the analysis of the words on the page. So one would think that if I say, "job search" enough, ads for stuff like and the like would appear. I don't know what happens if I talk about robots, conspiracies, or say, sweet potatoes...

Did I mention I should be in bed? More tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

So, what is you DO, exactly...?

Okay, so it's come up as I sent out "change your address book" messages, that many people don't know what I do... did... or perhaps am looking for. I suppose that's not shocking; I'm not sure the people I worked with for nine years know what I did. Hell, sometimes even I wonder...

You know, in Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum has an excellent set of essays on "what do you do." The point being that we -- as a society -- define ourselves a bit too much by our occupations.

But, since the question is being asked in the case of my job search, I suppose I can make an exception...

I started at CPI as a web devloper. Within a year of that I was in charge of a contract, and my application (which we didn't initially build, but inherited the maintenance and further development of) sort of led to the company (or at least my office) converting all our systems to Oracle powered, web-based applications. So suddenly I was managing a contract that revolved around an Oracle web-app, and I had to learn Oracle PL/SQL and so on. (Bored yet?)

Mostly, I would manage the contract (did the staffing, budget, etc.) and I did the functional analysis. I would meet with the various clients and find out what business process(es) they needed help with and then figure out what we could do to help. Then I'd spec out some initial logic and take it back to the programming team and say, "I think this is what they want, and this might be the way to get started." Sometimes things changed dramatically from that point, sometimes not.

I know enough programming to be dangerous, (and to know when one is lying to me when they say it will take four weeks...) but I don't consider myself a programmer. I'm fairly decent at managing people. I'm pretty good with requirements and functional analysis, and program management. For better or worse, though, my knowledge is all experience-based/learned on the job, so I have no certifications and no formal training.

Oh, also, I believe I write pretty well. (You may disagree.)

Oh, and for those keeping track at home, I thought we should give some intial statistics. Pre-blog counts:

Resumes sent out: I have no idea -- a bunch.
Interviews (including phone interviews): 4

Let's see if we can't bump those numbers up.

So for today (now anyway), I'll leave you with this:

"I've always thought anyone can make money. Making a life worth living, that's the real test." -- Robert Fulghum

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Holding photos back... the beginning of (blog) time.

All things (good, bad, or indifferent) must...

...come to an end.

And so it was that I had my last day at CPI today. (Nearly) everyone went out to lunch. It was very nice.

Kevin (my boss) said that it was "a sad day for CPI," and while it took me a minute, I realized he didn't say it with a hint of irony. He verbally took everyone back to Day 1 of the nine years I've been here, and skipped across the years (mostly focused on the good stuff, as is his way). I promised myself I would not cry...

But no, seriously, it was really very sweet. They gave me this framed, matted print of the application [I worked on for all that time] logo and they all signed around the frame. Of course, being CPI, the print is in the frame upside down...

You know, it's funny, I really figured I was so over this place that it wouldn't matter if I left or not. But, well, it's nice to be missed, I guess. And in turn, it makes me miss these people more than I thought I would. Hey, I kid because I love, guys...

Though I'm sure I haven't heard the last of some of them. And they of me.

And, of course, tomorrow is another day....

Monday, November 14, 2005

What Has Come Before....

Or "Some Background is in Order"

Okay, so tomorrow, after nine years, I'm leaving my comfy job at CPI, and... Well, and nothing. I don't have a new job yet. So I'll be looking frantically.

It occurred to me sometime in past couple weeks, as friends and family emailed or IM'ed to say, "Hey, how's the job search going?" that I was spending a lot of time, answering the same question over and over. Time I could spend sending resumes, etc. But I can't fault people for caring.

So I jokingly thought to myself, "Gee, maybe I should start a blog*" But I was only half serious. Yet everytime I started answering an email or describing the same interview to someone I kept coming back to the same notion.

And as with any crazy/half-assed idea I have, I decided to bounce it off my incredibly practical wife. So after forgetting to mention it to her for days (I'll explain that phenomenon later, I'm sure), I mentioned it to her on Friday. Her immediate reply, "I think that would be an excellent idea."

"Really?" says I, less surprised by her answer than the speed with which it arrived. (Because, I gotta be honest here -- I was "between jobs" once before and well, my dear heart is as supportive as all get out, but at some point, when you come home, and JAM is still in his pajamas, playing Civ (again), and it's going on month two, and you're starting to wonder how long the money is going to last... well, yeah, right there with her. So I thought anything that would distract me from sitting at the computer for 8 hours a day sending out resumes -- except gods willing when I'm off on an interview -- would be considered a bad thing. How naive of me.)

"Yes," she says, no doubt wanting to leave it at that, but sensing I needed more, "if you have a forum where you're publishing every day or so, it's far more likely it will keep you on track. Because otherwise you're going to have to write, 'Slept really late. Watched Oprah. Didn't send out any resumes. Again.' [pointed glance]."

I'm sure I'll say this again in these pages, but I love my wife. She's smart.

So anyway, this then, is a chronicle of my job search from here on out (and maybe some stories about stuff that's happened already). And being me, we'll probably talk about some other stuff, too...

Thanks for coming along on the journey.

* = Because if Brian Madison can have one, anyone can have one.

Testing, testing....

1... 2... 3...

Is this thing on?