Category: Work

Loud Noises

Working on a project right now that involves some audio recording -- I'll talk more about it when I have something to show.

In the meantime, I'm going to talk about the actual logistics of recording.

I haven't rented out a studio; I'm doing this in my home office. And while I think I've got the acoustics set up nicely -- boxes of comics around the walls deadening much of the sound, blankets covering surfaces, the heat and all the fans turned off, and doing the whole thing on a very quiet 2005-vintage Mac Mini -- I'm still at the mercy of noises from the great outdoors.

Yesterday I got up, ate a breakfast bar, did 45 minutes on the elliptical machine while watching an X-Files, showered, and then sat down to start recording...and that's when a neighbor started using a weed eater. Damn it. Well, I was hungry anyway, so I went and fixed lunch (with an extra helping of Gas-X, because leaf blowers aren't the only background noises I don't want on the track) and watched Tron: Uprising.

Then I sat down and recorded for a couple of hours, mostly without incident. But as I was wrapping up the day's recording with some dead air (room tone), I heard a jet overhead. And then I had to wait for that.

And that's when my fiancée got home from work.

Clearly this is going to take some fine-tuning. I could try recording first thing in the morning and then working out -- but I don't have much of a voice when I get out of bed. I could shower and then record and then work out, but then I'd probably wind up having to shower again.

Anyway. Off to take another crack at it -- bit of a late start today but we'll see how I do.

...oh hell. Is that a fucking lawnmower?

More Random Thoughts

Got an E-Mail about a Win7 update needs doin'. Only a four-day job but it'd still be nice to get.

Dizzy again today. It had been awhile. Don't know what caused it; did not like it.

Those Threadless shirts came in, and so far they seem like quality merchandise! I am happy with them. The Groupon deal still appears to be going on; it's worth checking out. (Though I now find that both shirts have been marked down to about the price I paid with the coupon since I ordered -- oh well, it happens.)

Ate dinner at Cornish Pasty. Good food, good beer.

Arrow has turned out to be a surprisingly good show, but man the dialogue on tonight's was overwrought. Geoff Johns? Oh.

Productivity

Welp, made some decsions on the house, did some freelance work for actual money (well, sort of -- maybe enough for a tank of gas), hit the elliptical and got one episode less behind on The Walking Dead. Not bad for a Friday.

Mostly Painless

Well, can't say that meeting was any more helpful than I anticipated, but at least it was short -- I was out within half an hour.

They want me to sign up for some website or another (currently down), upload my resume, and sign up for updates. I also got the paperwork to switch my unemployment over to deposit directly in my regular account instead of the Chase one they opened for me. I've been meaning to do that since day one but am much more keen on getting around to it since discovering Chase started charging me a fee for not using my unemployment account during the months I was employed.

Just so we're clear: I am the sort of guy who will close his bank account over six dollars in fees.

Because I fucking-well need that six dollars more than Chase does. As evidenced by the fact that it's the account where my unemployment checks go.

On the whole, though, it was a good reminder that, even unemployed, I'm not so badly off. I've got a family that supports me, emotionally and, when occasionally necessary, financially. I'm in better shape than a lot of the folks I saw who went in to DES just to use their computers to apply for jobs.

Anyhow, on the way home I found gas for $3.39 a gallon. I was pretty excited about filling up my tank for about $30. Up until a mile later when I saw it for $3.35. And then when I saw it for $3.38 a mile away from my house. Oh well; $3.39's still pretty good.

Hoops

Tomorrow I need to refer to Reemployment Orientation, or, as I marked it on my calendar, Reeducation Camp.

It's another of those things, like the ill-conceived "look for work on four separate days each week" standard, that is a good idea in principle but which I'm not so sure is going to work out in real life.

I'm pretty confident I was selected at random, from a pool of everybody who's been unemployed for the past month.

There may have been other factors -- like how this is the second time I've been on unemployment in as many years -- I don't know.

But I'd be pretty surprised if my degree and work experience were considered in my selection. And there's the rub.

I've got a BS degree in a field that's not doing a lot of full-time hiring, and about a decade's experience in a related field that's doing more full-time hiring but still not nearly as much as it was a few years ago. My needs are kind of different from somebody who hasn't finished college. Which isn't to cast aspersions on anyone without a degree -- to the contrary, there are lots of very smart people looking for work who just need some training.

And hell, maybe I will end up meeting with somebody who knows who's hiring programmers -- or at least migration techs. Maybe they'll have some good tips on punching up my resume, or hook me up with another temp agency, or have a site that gives me a better ROI for my search hours than CareerBuilder. I'd be grateful for any of those things.

But I can't help thinking that anybody who knows all that stuff is probably not going to be working for DES telling a random sampling of the unemployed how to look for a job.

But I'll go in with a smile and say please and thank you and be grateful for my unemployment check. Anything else on top of that is just Thanksgiving gravy.

I'll let you know how it goes. Probably.

Routine

If there's one thing unemployment does, it's fuck with your routine.

When I was working it was pretty well set -- get up at 6 AM, shower, pour coffee and water, grab a frozen lunch and a breakfast bar, go to work for eight hours, come home, work out.

In theory, my current schedule should be something like get up at 8 AM, pour coffee, look for work, eat breakfast, shower, look for work some more, work out. But as you might expect, the order of these things tends to vary a bit.

Slept until 10 this morning, then looked for work until about noon. Then, as I was cooking breakfast, I got a call from my agency; they told me I didn't get the last job but there's a new one open -- a new one that requires a whole lot of paperwork.

So then I spent maybe 3 hours putting together my college transcript and letters of recommendation and filling out a buggy-ass PDF form that doesn't show text in half the fields after it's entered.

Then I worked out.

And only then -- around 4 PM -- did I finally get to shower.

I don't want to make a habit of that. Thing is, I'm not likely to make a habit of much of anything -- every day is different, and it's impossible to maintain a consistent schedule the way I did when I had a set place to be for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Tomorrow? Who knows.

Brown Shoes

Per uploader Dagomir Marquezi:

One of Frank Zappa's micro-operas. By Mike Keneally and the Orchestra of Our Time, conducted by Joel Thome. Recorded at the Ritz, New York, November 1991.

"Be a jerk, go to work" -- here's hopin'.

(Note: I would not apply the phrase "here's hopin'" to any other lyric in this song.)

Dressup

The biggest problem with my interview clothes is that I've lost a bunch of weight and now they're all baggy. I didn't really think about this until I put them on right before my last interview -- by which point it was of course too late.

So since then I got a new pair of pants, and dug out some old dress shirts from my grandparents' house.

The pants are fine but today I discovered that one of the shirts is still too baggy, and the other one is sheer enough to see my nipples through. So I guess next I'm going to have to buy some undershirts.

I went back and forth on whether to wear my sport coat. On the one hand, I've never worked for anyone who wore them -- not even company VP's. On the other, they're inline with the salary this place is offering.

Finally, after actually putting the thing on and looking at myself in the mirror, I decided that yeah it was a little over-the-top. Think I made the right call; nobody in the office was even wearing a tie, including the company owners.

And the company owners were interviewing people directly. And between that and just generally being busy, I did spend a good big lot of my time there just sitting around waiting. And I had to wonder what the protocol for that is. Can you whip out your cell phone and just find something to do while you're waiting? I didn't want to chance it, so mostly I looked at the wall and scribbled some notes in my notebook. Most of which formed the outline for this post.

I'm not complaining, though. I think it all worked out pretty well; I like the company and I hope I get this gig. Nice bunch of people, and a good, growing industry.

But I should still buy some undershirts. Just in case I do have more interviews on the horizon.

Momentum

Applying for more jobs today. Hitting up some old contacts, shakin' some trees.

Despite the vexations it actually feels pretty good -- there's a sense of momentum you get, like you're at least moving in the right direction, that doesn't come with a temp job.

Course, if I'm still doing this a month from now I don't think "momentum" is going to be the thing I'm feeling. So, y'know...fingers crossed.

Adventures in Unemployment: Contact Quotas are Dumb

I reapplied for unemployment on Friday afternoon, right after completing my last day of work.

On Sunday I logged in to see if I was in the system yet and if they'd let me start filing claims. Sure enough, I logged in successfully and it let me fill out information for the week -- even though it was last week, when I was still working. (Before I go any farther, let me make it perfectly clear that I reported all my income for last week and will not be receiving any money from unemployment for a week I was still working. All I did was go through the motions to make sure everything was working for next week.)

Everything worked much the same as a year and a half ago when I last did this, except that I was already in the system after two days (rather than having to wait a week like last time) and -- and here's the part this post is really about -- they've added a section where you have to log the contacts you've made over the past week in your job search.

Now, that in and of itself isn't a bad thing. I've been keeping every contact in a spreadsheet anyway. And I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask my to copy-paste that information into a text field and submit it every week -- hell, if I do get audited, that's going to save on paperwork.

The problem is that, thanks to a new federal requirement which I assume was a condition of the latest extension of unemployment benefits, they now require that you contact people at least four days in each week. To prove you're seriously looking for work.

This is one of those things that sounds like a good idea to government bureaucrats but is just fucking stupid out here in real life.

Yes, by all means there should be a standard for determining that someone is seriously looking for work and not just cashing unemployment checks and sitting around playing Xbox (provided he hasn't pawned it yet because he's unemployed). And "looking for work four days a week" is a pretty modest standard for that.

But when you actually make it a requirement? A quota? Now you're giving people a bare minimum. And when you give people a bare minimum, you're going to find that a whole lot of people only meet that bare minimum. Think "pieces of flair" in Office Space.

This sends the message that a person who looks for one job Monday, one job Tuesday, one job Wednesday, and one job Thursday is more serious in his job search than a person who looks for ten jobs Monday, ten jobs Tuesday, and ten jobs Wednesday but then spends Thursday and Friday doing other Responsible Adult Things like paying bills, going to the doctor, applying for warranty repair on his laptop, getting his tires rotated, and studying up for certifications that might help him in his job search.

Obviously this is designed to encourage people to Seriously Look for Work instead of just collecting unemployment while doing nothing. That's a laudable goal. But in practice, people who are out just to collect unemployment while doing nothing aren't going to expend any more effort than before this regulation passed -- in fact, they might actually expend less now that they know they only have to apply for four jobs a week.

Meanwhile, it's an inconvenience for people who are seriously looking for work, because now they actually have to game their way through and make sure they don't just apply for multiple jobs, they do it across four days.

I got a call from the agency this morning, and they scheduled an interview for Friday. Boom -- that's two different days; I was halfway done with my required job search for the week by 10:30 Monday morning.

If I was the kind of guy who was only interested in doing the bare minimum to collect unemployment, instead of actually getting a job, I would call it a day and then look for two more jobs later in the week.

But of course I'm not. I'm going to spit-shine the ol' resume, update my profile on a few different job sites, and go hunting for other positions that are available.

But I'll make sure I don't actually click the "Submit" button on any of them until tomorrow. And then save some for Wednesday, too.

I sure hope CareerBuilder's fixed that damn memory leak in its JavaScript since the last time I had to do this. Because I'd very much like to be able to leave a few of its pages up in a browser window without worrying about my entire system locking up.

Took me weeks, and multiple browsers, to figure out what was happening last year.