Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jack-o-lantern, geek 70s style...

Just a quick post today, as I'm fatigued from the preparations that went into the monthly poker night...

So I leave you with this tidbit, sent in by alert reader SQ. I would go ahead and try it if not for the lack of pumpkin... and electronics skills...

More later.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Hey there, I believe I promised y'all a tale of jobs lost and found and work and pain and stupid people? Wait? I didn't? You have no idea what I'm babbling about? (What else is new...?) Well, please, pull up a chair....

Once Upon a Time...
No, wait. That hardly seems the way to begin this sort of tale. No.

It was a dark and stormy night in the city, when...
No, that doesn't seem quite right either.

So there's this guy... let's call him KBN (once you think back, it will make sense...), and he had been out of work for almost six months (which is a long time to be out of work, what with mortgages and car payments and the like...) and then after a series of "near-misses" and "almost happened" job opportunities he got called for a phone interview on an add he saw in the newspaper, for a company we'll called Outdarkened & Co. The phone interview went well, so he was asked in for an in-person interview. Then a second one, after which he met with a number of people who would be his coworkers. Then there was another phone interview. After five to six weeks of this, he was offered a position.

Now his instinct told him that there were some yellow if not red flags. Lots and lots of talk had come up about overtime. And working late. And on weekends. But he needed the job and decided he was just nervous -- he'd been at his former company a really long time (by modern standards) and he was just nervous at the prospect of a new thing no doubt.

So he started the new job. And within the first week it was crystal clear that beneath the surface (and not that far beneath at that) there was a nigh boiling sea of discontent amongst his teammates. A lot of that seemed to stem from the team leader, but it was nothing KBN didn't feel he couldn't fix. After all, fixing problems was what he did best. Besides, he figured, it was probably just nerves... it was a different than what he'd been used to -- he could make it work.

The weeks wore on and things got worse. Then they got briefly better... it seemed that the powers that be knew that there were issues with the team leader and things were said and some issues were changed for the better. Things were looking up. "See," KBN thought, "you were just imagining things... intuition, schmintuition..."

And then slowly things started downhill again. And it started to become clear that children learn what they are taught. While it was still tempting (and possibly valid) to point to the team leader as the source of all problems, KBN (who it should be pointed out, was not fresh off the turnip truck and had a fair command of reading people) realized that it wasn't that easy. The team leader, he was simply emulating what he had learned from the powers that be -- the higher ups in the company. It was starting to become clear that this was one of those situations that KBN couldn't fix.

He had trouble accepting those types of situations, he always did, but he started to not actively but more than passively look for a new gig. His plan was that he would stay there until he found something new, or absolutely could not stand it anymore (a point which seemed to come startlingly close every few days -- and if not for him than for a coworker). In fact, in the five months he was there, he saw eleven of his coworkers depart. The powers that be seemed to be aware that something was amiss, but did not seem to consider that they or their protege, KBN's team leader could in any way be contributing to the problem.

So a couple opportunities almost happened, and then one day KBN happened to attend a job fair near his old job. As events unfolded he got called in for an interview based on one of those meetings. That same week he was called by a tech placement firm who wanted him to run a government contract up in MD. So yes, he had two opportunities the same week. Taking a calculated gamble, since things got progressively worse each day, he opted to tender his resignation. Being the mature, business people he thought they were, in spite of accepting the two and a half weeks notice KBN offered them, the powers that be asked him to leave that day (which, incidentally was fine with him, because it meant he could go home and get in a nap before his evening's public speaking commitments...)

The next day he received a job offer from the first (the job fair) company. By the end of the week he had a second offer from the MD gig. He opted to take the one from the job fair, both because it was closer to home, and because it wasn't exactly the same as what he'd done before. But either way it would put him back in a management role for which he is most cut out.

The moral of our story: Listen to your instincts; don't rationalize them away. There's a very good reason you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach.

The preceding story was a work of fiction. Any similarities between persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
So that was our story. I hope you enjoyed it.

In completely unrelated news, I wanted to mention that I will be starting a new job on Halloween (oooooh, scaaaaaary). And for the record, I have a really good feeling about this one.

Much more to talk about, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A small update

Actually, there's been nothing small about it, as I've been at it all day. I'm trying to reintroduce some of the added things to the site (including the ads, yes, it's true), but do it in a debugging fashion -- so one item at a time, checking on each one, so I don't get that weird space between the main column and the sidebar. (Yes, I realize this is as exciting as watching paint dry...)

At the same time I'm trying to update the links and also clean some stuff up.

More actual content tomorrow, including the much promised job update.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I was going to write...

...about everything that's happened recently in my life, because there's been a lot. But then I read this, and I got annoyed at the close-mindedness and ignorance of many people, and so before I post about my life, I felt instead, I would very briefly get political and post the following essay. The friend that wrote it asked that their name not be attached if it was forwarded, so I'm going to assume the same applies here.

OK, here'’s the thing. As a journalist, I think it'’s pretty important to stay objective, and to not publicly express my political opinions. Also, as a person, I think it is important not to hammer anyone I want to keep as a friend over the head with my deeply-held beliefs, whether religious or political.

But Question 1 is so scary to me, I'’m sending this out --— only to the friends I would normally feel pretty comfortable talking politics with, specifically, those who can vote in Virginia or who are likely to know others who can. I suspect many people who would be scared, too, just don't know that it's coming up. If you decide to pass any of this along, thank you, thank you, but please take my name off it.

Proponents of Question 1 say it is about gay marriage. Gay marriage has been explicitly illegal in Virginia for 30 years, and same-sex civil unions have been illegal since 2004. If you are unsure of how to feel about gay marriage, I understand, and it is not happening in Virginia any time soon. Whether this passes or not, there is no danger (or hope) of that.

Here'’s the text of Question 1:
Question: Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state:
"That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage."?

And here are the implications:
It means that agreements between unmarried couples (gay and straight) that "“approximate"” marriage are unenforceable, including:
  • end of life decisions
  • medical decisions
  • guardianship of children
  • ownership and transfer of property
  • It means public employers would not be able to offer any health or life insurance benefits to unmarried partners (gay or straight).
  • It means unmarried partners would be unprotected from domestic violence.
OK, I think that'’s probably enough. I should probably come down off my soap box. There'’s a lot more really good information at, and you can seekout that info if you choose to. There's more at, including an excellent checklist of reasons to vote "no" if you click on the "Why Does This Matter" tab.

Really, I just want people to know what that question represents. And, you know, if you talk about it with the people you feel comfortable with, and they talk about it with people they feel comfortable with, yadda yadda yadda.
I think my friend summed it up pretty well. I was reminded by another column I read a few years back on the broader national debate. It makes the points eloquentlyloquently than I ever could, but essentially, you can't grant a right to some of your citizens and not others.

I'm not under the delusion that this blog is read by enough people for this entry to make a difference, but on the other hand, I know a lot of my readers come from Northern VA (the stat's tell me that much). So, who knows, maybe I can help people make us a little less backwards thinking. Can't hurt to try...