Monday, June 30, 2008

Good vid

Can ya tell A____'s been busy? Ok, one last thing and then I'm off to bed. Thanks to Winterwheat for the link.


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

yum?

Another radio commercial, this time for The 99 Restaurant featuring their new spicy cha-cha corn on the cob! Spicy cha-cha? I couldn't wait to get home. I whipped out my headset to call my brother to share. "Do you get it? Cha-cha?!" I spluttered into the phone as I drove down one of the more charming (i.e. deadly) rural CT roads.

I'm glad my brother has the same stupid sense of humor I do.

Out of the tower

I've spent the last few months doing a good deal of repackaging as I try to make a less than rocky transition out of an academic, teaching/research career path. There are several challenges in this, some unique to me and my situations and some I believe shared. Given my health status, any direct consideration of career involves evoking that anxiety producing question "what CAN I do?" I'm not talking what kinds of jobs will I be happy with or what kinds of work do I have the skills to do. I'm talking at a basic level - what do I reliably have the energy, physical fortitude, and emotional and cognitive resources to do? But that's me and my health, which is an issue I do try to save the in depth discussion of for a different blog these days.

Shared among myself and anyone who is at or considering approaching such a boundary are the more general questions like "how does all this experience I've racked up in the traditional academic track translate into a less traditional or completely non-academic career?" "Do I need to start at entry level in a new job (say, in human resources) or can I reasonably expect to be attractive to employers seeking experienced, mid to upper level workers?"

Probably this is a topic I will return to as I am in the throws of another job search. My current job ends in about two weeks and so far I've sent out resumes but haven't heard back from any prospects. My brother assures me this is in no small part due to both the crappy economy plus the post-graduation resume flood - and he says that as summer wears on and hiring managers work their way through the stacks of replies to job postings, I will probably hear something. Of course, that doesn't address the economic problems and the tight job market. Still, I have no choice but to try to be an optimist, to keep going and to keep looking as much as the process sucks. While I wait, and keep searching, and keep sending resumes and cover letters, I intend to post here about some of it. Well, what I can stand to anyway. For now, I present a nice article on translating your CV into a resume, again from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Why can't we all just get along?

Below are some excerpts from an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education. I will have to think about the author's final analysis on the function of dysfunction. As it stands, I came into this essay more properly on the side of the author's friend, although I don't usually put it into exactly those words. I am more sympathetic to the kid who retreated from the social scene of primary and secondary school than this phrasing (below) seems to be, although the sympathy has some rigid limits. One is that we are not children anymore. We're grown ups and should be reasonably expected to at least TRY to have a perspective which incorporates that fact and which is wider than our own shoulders. The author seems concerned with exonerating the shitty behavior of his cohort, but then I suppose I would be too if I were to stay in academia. It's the other extreme of the spectrum, the opposite of the bitter pill/sour grapes phenomena.

The Function of Dysfunction
An associate professor ponders the cause and effect of academic infighting
...
As I was describing our latest departmental dust-up to a friend who is not an academic, he interrupted with an observation. "The problem with professors," he said, "is that they never learned to get along with others." According to my friend, your typical professor is the socially awkward kid from high school who didn't fit in anywhere outside of the library. Unable to cut it in the real world, we just opted to stay in school. Eventually we ran out of classes to take, so we had to start teaching them. But at no point did we acquire basic social skills.

One of my faculty colleagues (who actually has pretty good social skills) offered another perspective. He pointed out that academics, especially humanists, are wholly invested in the idea of intellectual exchange. "Look at our classes," he reasoned. "What do we do? We circle a bunch of people around a table and talk. What we want more than anything is to create and participate in intellectual communities."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

job posting of the day

package handler

Friday, June 27, 2008

job posting of the day

Non-Destructive Inspection Project Manager
I could and did parse this in ways not intended by the HR rep who posted it. Here's what kind of thing came to my mind.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wedding album

I finished (I think) the wedding mix I'm making for my friend. Here's the playlist and cover art.
The Taco Bell Canon (artist unknown, CD lost)
Spam Song - Monty Python
Heart of Glass - The Bad Plus
Willimantic USA - (artist unknown, recorded before 1950 I think)
Connecticut's for Fucking - Jesus H Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse
My Generation rx - rx
Big Balls - Hayseed Dixie
Seasons in the Sun/Hustle - The Squirrels
Flower Girl - Joe Henry
Herbs, Good Hygiene and Socks - Lovage
Love You Madly - Cake
Gopher Mambo - Yma Sumac
A Hard Day's Night - Peggy Lee
You Oughta Know - Richard Cheese
Always on my Mind - Lewinski
St. Paul's Mix - me (sort of - I mixed it. The artists are Eddie Izzard, clips from Airplane, the Simpsons, the Marx Brothers, Pat Boone, and an anonymous MIDI composer who made a version of Mama Told Me (not to come)).











Now, I just need to hope I still have a date for the wedding Saturday. A____'s family stuff is looking grim.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dump day

As you can perhaps surmise from the title of this post, today was not a good day. The list is just sort of depressing crap, some trivial and some not trivial. While I'm a fan of venting, putting it all down here isn't going to help right now. I know because I just started to and realized it was only winding me up more. So here's the abridged version.

- A____'s parents can't afford their house and are moving under less than exhaustively planned circumstances next week. Everyone's sick, so A____'s doing a very large amount of the work. Just what he wanted, another move. He's so damned busy and stressed over this (understandably) that he probably can't go to the wedding this weekend with me, which makes for the not super pleasant prospect of going alone. I tried calling some pals, but no one is up for it, or more to the point, everyone's out of town, chronically unreliable, or sick.

- Along the everyone's sick theme, my cat Max is sick. The only thing that was odd in his bloodwork from last week was an elevated calcium level. The vet told me today that this can be a sign of a particular kind of cancer that attacks or affects the intestine, which his symptoms are consistent with. We were really hoping it was thyroid, not because that would be great but because it would be less bad.

-In about two weeks, I will be unemployed and nothing (zero) has come of all the applying I've been doing. Last night, between the cat and the prospect of joblessness, I couldn't get to sleep. This hasn't helped my mood. Not one bit.

So it's officially Dump Day here in Connecticant.
I'm hoping tomorrow is better.

Monday, June 23, 2008

8 dirty words

According to George Carlin's* famous routine, there were seven words you couldn't say on television (or broadcast on the radio, or apparently utter in a stand up comedy routine).
These words are:
Shit
Piss
Fuck
Cunt
Cocksucker
Motherfucker
Tits

However, there's one word which, although not one to cause FCC complaints, we probably can all agree is often worse than any on the above list and that is death.

* May 12, 1937 - June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

advise

So the job search continues. Yes, I am currently employed but this job ends in mid July, which means unless I want to go on unemployment I need to get my ass in gear and get me some job prospects. Bad market for someone looking to change career paths, right? Yeah, well that's me. A master of timing. There are two recent postings which look decent. One is an academic advising position and the other is an office coordinator position. Pros and cons? Of course, for both. My pros and cons even have pros and cons. I am Libra, hear me deliberate!

Advising is what I'm doing now and I like it, a lot. This is what I've always done. Whether or not it was warranted or desired, I give advice quite freely. On the up side, I've learned to avoid speculation when giving advice. Short of gagging myself in the presence of someone discussing a problem or challenge, this seems to be the best strategy to accommodate my need to let loose with a stream of "helpful" suggestions while (hopefully) avoiding the pitfall of spewing a load of crap. Speculating is what I call it when someone doesn't have any hard empirical evidence or explicit knowledge of a thing but continues speaking as if he or she does. To me, this is a cardinal sin, and really damned annoying. The speaker who finds him or herself in such a context should at least have the good grace to say "Well I don't know for sure but based on A (b, and c), I think X", where A (b, and c) are spelling out at least minimally. This allows the listener to know how to rank the particular advice being given. I've given this much thought. How much? Most of my late twenties in fact. I went through this big communication crisis in my late twenties, which I chalk up rather superstitiously to being part of my Saturn return, and which made me a very difficult person to talk to during the time. But I'm clear of it now and I do believe I've learned some useful lessons so in the final accounting, including how to temper my need to advise with some acknowledgment of the limits of my experience, so this is a good thing I suppose.

But back to the jobs and deliberating about which one I should pin my hopes and wishes to, at least until the next round of searching comes along. The one job is advising. It's full time and if it is not flexible time then I'm screwed. Moreover, it is at an institution with a religious affiliation. Not great. However, it's my sense that religiously affiliated institutions may have more respect for needs like caring for family (i.e. my brother) and an institutional understanding that, well, shit happens in life. I am hopeful that I'll be less likely to encounter that wretched secular Calvinism which marks so many professional cultures in the U.S. if I work for a catholic institution, but my distrust of organized religion is so strong that even typing that last phrase gives me a small internal shudder.

The other job is office coordinating. This one is a part time, 35 hour a week position. Pros? Less committed time for work, less responsibility (hopefully). Cons? Less money, less responsibility (yes, it's a pro and a con), and more of that low man on the totem pole shit. There's a tendency in academic culture to treat administrative support staff like crap, which can manifest as explicitly shitty behavior or as seemingly benevolent but ultimately condescending attitude, and god knows I don't deal gracefully with either.

The list of pro and con goes on, but I don't feel the need to put all two of my blog readers through the full, winding process - especially since with this job market it could end up I don't even get an interview for either position. I'll be sending resumes for both today, so wish me luck.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

weddings

Well only one I'm going to, so properly that should read "wedding", however it is wedding season and thus the plural. Maybe it should be a mass noun, like oatmeal or brick. I'm going to a wedding at the end of the month. Unlike many joyous unions I hear of, this is one I approve of. The participants, that is the blessed couple, are both fully self-aware adults for starters. Moreover, the bride (B___) and hubby (R____) to be have wonderful senses of humor which I'm sure will influence the ceremony. E.g., they have titled the wedding "The Motorcycle Marriage of the Martians" and sent B-movie themed invites. Excellent. They also requested no presents unless they are d.i.y. and out of sentiment, like a pair of knit socks - no seriously, this was in their invite. They're very cool people. So I made a special Letters to the Corinthians mix for them since B____ and I have a running joke about this being a necessary part of ANY wedding ceremony. As in "so how was the wedding?" "Oh you know, Letter from Paul, dyeable shoes, chicken polka, oh yeah and Pachelbel's Canon."

While the Letter from Paul mix (called "Love is Patient" and featuring Pat Boone, Eddie Izzard, Airplane quotes, and the Marx Brothers) is hand made, I have a prefab but still totally excellent version of Pachelbel called "the Taco Bell Canon". I have it somewhere. Somewhere in the boxes. I hope to unearth in it time to burn to the cd for B___ and R_____. Time's a ticking though, and speaking of, it's bed time for pfg, so I leave you with this google gem I found while leaning how to spell "pachelbel".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

jobs

If you've used online job sites like Career Builder or Monster lately, this isn't news to you. For me, it's news. It seems no matter what I'm searching for, apparently the US military offers me employment opportunities which are an excellent match. E.g., are you looking for work as an entry level professional hummel duster in Duluth, Minnesota? Well apparently the United States Navy Reserve is the place for you. Cat washer in Sweetwater, Texas? You'll want to try the Army. And just wait 'til you see what you get after 6 months of active duty...

hicks

Below is an excerpt from a news story from Vernon, CT. I don't live in Vernon CT, but I've lived near it on and off since living in CT.

Vernon is a combination of the backwoodsy ruralities - the hallmark of the Northeastern section of CT - and a few miles of traffic filled, stripmall lined roads. They have a Price Chopper. There are some diners in Vernon. I feel this makes it distinct from other more truly rural places like Coventry or Ashford. The town of Vernon boasts one lane roads over covered bridges, a paucity of street lights, no sidewalks, and other elements which the residents of this foul state apparently consider quaint. Adding to the quaintness factor are the locals in Vernon, who do what they can to preserve that good old country feel. What makes a CT local? In part, it seems to be many generations of careful breeding, often among just a couple of families who can be traced back to some of the earliest settlers of the area. This results in as little brains as teeth among the lot of them and news items like this one from the Hartford Courant.

VERNON - — Armed with tin snips and fortified by an evening of drinking, a Vernon man led an assault on an electronic speed sign mounted to a utility pole near his South Street home early Sunday.

After noticing the sign missing, police launched a search and soon found its charred remains in a fire pit behind the home of Ben Gardiner.

Gardiner, 22, of 291 South St., admitted, police said, to taking out his anger on the sign after it flashed his speed as he arrived home about 1 a.m. Sunday.
...
Gardiner and friends took the sign to Gardiner's backyard and took turns running toward it to measure their speed. This apparently caused much delight, police said.

The fun lasted until a woman in the group suggested that the sign might have a tracking device or camera on it that could lead police to them. That caused the group to "to freak out," witnesses said. They decided to burn the sign in the fire pit.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

work

Yesterday at work my boss announced "Tomorrow afternoon we are having ice cream with mental health..."
I asked "Is ice cream with mental health like ice cream with sprinkles?"

When I got home, I told A____ about ice cream with mental health tomorrow. "Is that like sprinkles?" he said, beating me to the punchline.

Work is going well. The early mornings are dealable, not great but mostly ok. I can tell I need to find a more local job or a later start date before the year swings around into dark, snow, and ice. But it's a good thing to know, a learning experience in a relatively low risk environment.

Here are some other things I've learned.
- I still have a visceral dislike of men. I knew this and experienced it very strongly in my early 20s but being a student masked it for a number of reasons which I invite you to ponder if you're inclined.
- Despite having some physical shortcomings, I am a good worker. E.g., I believe if something needs doing and those present and aware can do it, they should. I believe there is no point rushing through a job if the only goal is to finish fast (and leave earlier) and if rushing is likely to make far more work for you or someone else later on. My beliefs guide my actions.
- I can't take phone calls after 9:00 PM if I want to get to bed on time.
-I can't hit snooze more than once in the morning or I'll be late.
- I need more work clothes.
- I am good at counseling and training and should probably be looking for human resources jobs.
- I still have a hard time working through irritation or impatience (usually at blithering incompetency, likely coupled with an attitude which strikes me as indicating a lack of even minimal age appropriate social and identity awareness) without it showing. I'm planning on using the rest of this temp job to work on that. I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Glut

I'm a radio listener. Regular old radio, not satellite HD pay per whatever radio. Want commercial free? Listen to public radio. Even if NPR and their various elitist programs sets your teeth on edge, if you live in or near civilization, a little walk through the lower end of the band will find some public radio stations which play interesting and varied community based shows.

Unfortunately, today I was on my way to work during Democracy Now and I wanted to hear music. The other public radio stations were playing polka-jazz-bluegrass fest or something, so I wandered up the dial until I found some music I could stand. And sing along to. Yes, I am a car singer. As "I Will Survive" ended, the station segued into an ad blitz leading with an Applebee's ad. I was busy merging and got stuck listening to it rather than scanning on to avoid it. I tuned out most of it but I caught this punchline... "Applebees. So much food, so little time."

Holy shit.

I understand that a long work day can create meal planning and executing issues but that is not the gist of this closer. I doubt that too many of us truly find ourselves thinking "That was yummy but I sure could use more time so I could stuff even more food into my face.", and if we do, this is a sign of either an unhealthy relationship with food or a life completely out of balance. Given the upbeat, snappy FUN tone of the ad and the delivery of the line, it's clear the advertisers assume the message of glorified gluttony will resonate and that it will resonate not just with some of us but with many of us.

I spent the rest of the way to work with thoughts of gluttony percolating in the back of my head, thinking of the many forms gluttony can take. SUVs in particular spring to mind.

Here's a short list -
Carpet plush lawns and domestic landscaping involving non-native plants, especially those maintained during droughts.
Super sized anything.
Professional pedicures.
Throwing away all the spare stuff and furniture you don't want to or can't move with you rather than finding someone or somewhere to give it away for re-use (every time someone moves out, take a peek at the dumpster if you live in a complex).

I was also wondering what in my own life counts as gluttony. I am a participant in this culture. It is unreasonable to expect that I don't also have habits which reflect this aspect. Is my air conditioned car gluttony? Does my plethora of office supplies count as gluttonous? (something I discovered in the move is that I have a shit load of office supplies).

And on that note, I am signing off. Thunder outside and there have been a lot of lightning strikes with these daily heat wave induced storms here in CT.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

R.I.C.E.

Stands for
Rest
Ice
Compression and
Elevation

Why this snappy acronym today you ask? Because we finished moving. We ended our move on the hottest day(s) of the year, although this is not a record high for PFG moves since my move in 2005 was also on the hottest day of that year as well - both with temperatures around 92°F and fairly dripping with humidity. Last weekend we moved the bulk of the stuff. I say "we" but I mean my fella and two extremely excellent people. That was the end of the help. We were expecting more but this move was whatever the opposite of serendipitous is. Thus we struck out early yesterday intending to push through and get all the stray bits out of the old place and then clean. It's a big place to clean.

I learned some new things about my body and what it now affords me. E.g., I discovered that dusting 3 very large rooms with a long and flexible duster followed by sweeping and mopping said rooms is quite bad for the wrist (literally "unwieldy"), hence my cleaning came to an abrupt end late yesterday afternoon and it was R.I.C.E. for me last evening. A____ went back over while I RICEd, before the monsoon started. He managed to finish an embarrassingly large amount of cleaning by himself. I iced and elevated and then put an ace bandage on my wrist. It felt so much better that I started doing stuff around the new apartment - mostly unpacking kitchen stuff, discarding the "R" part of the equation. After some time, I thought "wow, my hand feels way better. I bet I can take this bandage off now..." and I gave a test wiggle of a finger. Numb. I quickly removed the bandage.

So when you are doing R.I.C.E., remember ice only for 15 to 20 minute intervals and don't try bandaging your own right hand because odds are you won't be able to wrap it properly and it will either be too loose or too tight. Too tight and you're numb (which happens to rhyme with "dumb"), resulting in either
Dumb
Ice
Compression and
Elevation
...or if you're a real winner like me and you go and use your too tightly wrapped hand as a lever to heave up heavy kitchen items for over an hour, D.I.C.K.

I am sincerely hoping that the next move we make, we can afford to pay people to help. It's done and I'm happy for that, but this was not a great move. Not the worst (which was 2002 - I caught lyme disease right at the start of it, had to deal with Tom's evil family who were pointedly not helping, had to help a friend re-claim a cat she had given away in the middle of the move, and then at the end went up Amherst way to look at apartments with my sister who was starting college out there that Fall - all of which was just plausibly tiring and ache inducing enough to have masked the start of the lyme symptoms), but definitely not something I want to repeat.