Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Amusing myself with job titles


If I'm too young to be a geriatric director, I want to be a nuclear pet chemist. I will create a breed of superkitties who will annihilate you all with their laser eyes and poisonous breath mwahahahahaha!

Anyway. Back to stuffing applications in online submission systems and not hearing anything back from it. Good day.

Friday, August 28, 2015

ACE ACE baby

So I'm back to teaching. It's nice. It can expand to fill all the time that I'm not faffing about on the Internet, which might become a problem, and we are having some warm weather that is sapping my energy or possibly my knee is tiring me out a bit still, because it still hurts a bit. But really the problem I'm dealing with right now --- as are my students, I'm sure --- is transportation.

Where I live? Over here, on one part of the bay (yes, this counts as the Bay Area you snobs shut up). Where I picked up some classes? Over... there. It's actually not far in miles but then I was listening to the news while driving and the dj guy said "well that's why we never measure anything in miles in the Bay Area, only in minutes." And then it took me 45 minutes to get across my town what with the lights and traffic. Wait, lemme check. 6.4 miles. Oh.

So I don't like driving to Adjunct Town in general and particularly right now it freaks me out because it was my right knee I messed up and it does not like pushing the gas pedal. And it is very swollen when I get out of the car. Plus, I got a night class and I am driving back late in the dark and every freaking freeway or road is full of crazy construction, funneling us down to a single lane and then moving us all from this lane to that lane and back. Yuck.

All is not lost, however ... I can take the train! I'm not far from the ACE train, and Adjunct Town CC is... Not far from the bus you can transfer to from the train. It has its pluses and minuses. But since the bus only comes once an hour in the evenings and likewise the train and then everything shuts down not long after my night class gets out, I think I will stick to driving on night class day.

But my twice a week class day is in the middle of the afternoon! Score!

I have figured out how to do the tickets and transfers (mostly) and I have been taking advantage of the time to prep and grade and read things! Nice, huh? I'm not so good about grading on the way back  (5pm urrrrgh tired) but I have inhaled most of a lovely, devastating Toni Morrison novel: Home

It feels very appropriate for Black Lives Matter, in a very depressing way. It seems almost addressed more to white people ("why do we keep saying black lives matter? Here's where you said they didn't. And here, and here, and here.") and there is something a little bit.... Thin? Underdeveloped? To it, but that might be me wanting or expecting a little more world building and detail. I'm out of practice in reading.

So the good news is that I should be able to get back in the habit of reading things, and maybe even writing things. The bad news is that there is a lot of waiting time and transfer time and the bussing all the hell all over things time. (And I know none of my students read this but, hey students! You should really be thinking about maximizing your time and reading/studying on the public transport rather than playing on your phone! I see you being bored over there.)

The other bad news is that it's pricey! Yeah yeah I know, it's a public good and nobody is paying the taxes to support those goods, and you think it's mostly tech commuters taking it so what does it matter if it's running like 10 bucks to get somewhere, but really I see a lot of low-wage workers and students on it, and I bet that's one of the million ways the high cost of living in the bay hurts student transfer and graduation rates. GradSchoolLand had subsidized busing with a current student id and I plugged that shit so hard to my students. Here it's 3 bucks to park and then the ticket and then another 2 to bus over to campus. So your minimum-wage shift might just about cover a day's travel to and from campus, and meals. I'm not sure how my driving costs break down but I'm definitely using a half a tank or so for a trip. (That might be for two days, hmm. I'll have to keep track now that I'm not going in every single day to sign paperwork.)

And in other other news, I'm still squeezing out a trickle of job apps every couple of days, with no response, and I guess I have to up those rates if I ever want to actually land a job of some sort. Sigh. That must mean getting off the blog and locking up the internets. Grumble grumble.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The mysteries of FTE

...employment, that is, not enrollment.

Huh, so I have mentally composed a lot of posts about a lot of things but not had the time/energy/ability to close the games on my ipad and actually write them down. I'm starting my classes this week, took a slip and messed up my knee while hiking on Saturday and am trying to rest and recover, and after a whirlwind 10 days or so of rushing about getting paperwork and bureaucracies and signatures and fingerprints and the classes set up and me oriented, I am now trying to go back to applying for job type things.

Job descriptions, both inside and outside academic staffing, have me totally confused. Quite a few positions, when I read them, I say, "that's it? What does this person do all day? What will happen in 2 months when this person has done all the stuff and organized the office out of boredom --- will the position be eliminated?" Maybe these things take longer than I think, or maybe there are tons of constant interruptions that break the chain of work. I dunno. I will point out that it is often "regular business" type jobs I notice this most with.

Then there are the job descriptions that have twenty bullet points and I think about each and go, ok, that one would take me the most of a day to accomplish and I hope that it would only happen once in a week? Because I'd have to write up all the reports and other things that happen in the other bullet points? And some of these job descriptions are not full time! I will point out that this definitely shows up on the nonprofit jobs listed in Idealist, but the university staffing jobs are not exempt.

Also confusing are the staff coordinator positions that will only exist for a year. But....your department/research center/laboratory will still exist after then, right? Will all of this work be done then? Do you have a person lined up who can't take the job for one year? I don't get it. Mind you, there are a lot of part time and temporary positions listed that only want people during the enrollment crush and beginning of the year right now and that totally makes sense to me. But if you are going to, I dunno, staff the Disabled Students Office this year, I presume you are going to continue it next year?

There are even quite a few jobs that I can not for the life of me figure out what they entail. And not, I think, because I am not qualified for them. I can read a description that mentions MySQL and scrum and database development and can visualize what that person should do all day as well as understand that I'm not qualified. But there are other listings .... I will ...optimize excellence all day? I can't even tell what some of these companies do! And I admit, I am not the personality type to work with tech startups. I keep reading about companies and going either, well, that's stupid and pointless and why do you even exist, or going, hmm, I can't tell what you do... do you make anything? sell anything? just burn through venture capital? You're not making the world a better place at all, are you?

This is not the optimistic, can-do attitude the tech startups are looking for --- although when my dad was working as a top manager at a big technology place, his whole job was basically to shit on and tear about all products and proposals to make sure only the ones that would actually be worth it got out to be seen by investors or customers, so I bet that is more standard for "regular" businesses. But the tech/mobile app stuff these days seems much more about suckering in money and blowing it out as fast as possible before anybody realizes you don't have a product or business plan. Hmm. I wish the finance guys would take all these techbros back to Manhattan. Well, not because I want them to ruin the entire global economy again, just because I would hope that the housing costs here would go down a bit and there would be fewer entitled assholes.

Anyways, I am trying to get back into the habit of applying for things and moving way too slow. Interestingly enough, only one of the schools I am shooting stuff off to is getting back to me with rejections. Maybe the others are moving slow too and some of those applications are still in play? I dunno. I wonder if there is a point where the big Us just shut me out of their employment application system because I have tried for too many damn positions?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Update: more of the same

I have now done an informational interview with an acquaintance of my sister's! She told me a little bit about the nonprofit world, where she worked, and gave me a lot of helpful advice thinking through how to pull out my skills and qualifications. She suggested I revamp my resume as a skills resume rather than chronological. Have I done that since talking to her? No. I'm not positive that's what I want to do, but she didn't think not being able to trace through my employment history would be a big deal. But lots of helpful advice and I felt like I was a skilled competent person who could do lots of different jobs, so that's nice!

It's really easy to start thinking you are invisible, sending out tons of applications and not hearing anything back. Actually, it's easy to dwindle off and then stop sending out applications because you're not hearing anything back, and to get used to being silent and not really doing anything because you aren't around anybody, and then to prefer it, just living inside your own head, so I think that I will need to do these business-related meetings regularly to practice being business-social and keeping my eye on the ball. I mean, most people might find this whole unemployment state bewildering, but as an academic I have regularly frittered away relaxing summers and gone most of a week without talking to a human being while doing reading and research, so I will have to work against that state.

The other thing this week is I managed to pick up two classes from a local community college, and I need to finish going through the mounds and mounds of paperwork etc. And they start soon. Soon! Urgh. So I have some structure in my days soon and a little cash money and a reason to get out of the house, but I can't rely on this getting me an actual job so I need to be careful not to assume this or let that work overwhelm my job-hunting work.

Also I kind of fell off the wagon regarding walking and meetups so I think I need to actually schedule in a set time each week to plow through the events and pick them. Since the hike groups I keep going on regularly sign up about a hundred people (!) and they fill up to their limit within about a day of being posted (!!) and a lot of them are an hour or two drive from me and plan on being 10 miles long (that makes me too tired to even put in an exclamation point), I can get overwhelmed with making a decision and scheduling something, and also I have cancelled a couple hikes because I just can't handle the thought of driving someplace far and confusing and winding alone. I will need to come up with a way around that problem.

Another nice thing is that my sister's friend wanted to meet at a little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop I have never been to, and I discovered it is a big shabby space filled with old living room furniture and board games and a nice, "real" coffee-shop vibe and I guess it is where a lot of our local nonprofit people and elderly hippies have their meetings. I like it. It is my new go-to spot. I think they do live music there sometimes, and it reminds me of the coffeeshop/bar/laundromat I liked so much in Postdoc City. Now, one of the unexpected advantages of a small conformist town is that if you make one decent alternative spot, everybody goes there and knows each other because there aren't that many weird people around. It's a forced community but it's a community. I don't think it is as easy to find fellow weird people around the Bay Area because it is so big, and I think people are actually less tolerant because you can find about 10 people with *exactly* your fandom or weird interests, so why hang out with the crazy person 15 years older than you who tells weird stories of meeting Johnny Cash? I mean, that person could hang out with 11 other people who want to wear armadillo suits and reminisce about traveling the country following classic country bands. But in Postdoc City, that person would probably be friends with the one Goth kid and the one gay person who tries to put on drag shows and the guy who keeps dressing up like Darth Vader for various events. Just saying that it is nice to find a solid group of people who "get" you instantly but you might gain more from trying to meld your complementary styles of crazy. Anyway, I haven't really found either type of group here yet, ...but I'm not really trying that hard, either. If it comes down between putting my energies into hunting up a job vs. a social scene, I know which I have to prioritize first.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Linked Out

Ugh. UGH. UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!  How much does it suck to apply for jobs? So. Much.

Everything I hate about the shallowness and empty posturing in contemporary life has naturally fucked up the job searching process as well. I understand that my desire for reserve, privacy, an authentic connection to nature comes across, these days, as less "friendly Walden-dwelling hermit" and more like this guy:

But honestly I don't care. The only thing I want to do less than toot my own horn about some meaningless miserable fake accomplishments is to participate in a circle-jerk of meaningless accomplishment-stroking for others. But is that the way to get a job in the twenty-first century? Naw, we got a shitty website for that.

Let me say that the whole experience of That Site is horrifying and everything on it reeks of either desperation or douchebaggery. I know resumes and cover letters have this incredibly stilted and formalistic language to them, but it's like putting on a suit and tie for an interview and everybody knows this is that formal thing you do. Making a website where you strive for language that comes across in that same incredibly stilted and awkward voice but also really really pretends that you believe in that tone and speak that way naturally just seems wrong. Too public, too permanent --- like you're tattooing that suit on out of love for it instead of wearing it only to the interview. Ick.

And I just don't get how you yourself writing words like "loves" "excels at" or "brilliantly exceeds" could possibly make them any more true than someone else writing it for you. They are only words. They are skillsets, not hobbies or fandom. Except for using Microsoft Office. I mean I love demonstrating my expertise at that shit. It's the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the the last thing I think of at night. If you offered me a choice between having sex and implementing Exel, I'd have to go with the Excel. Because I am a proactive self-starter with a strong interest in synergizing deliverables in a fast-moving office environment. I am an Office Ninja and I authentically love your shitty and meaningless product.

Beyond the tone everyone seems to adopt on That Site is the problem with "connections" and "networking." I'm sure that if you, dear reader, are an educator, you have had the experience where some former student signed up for That Site and the first thing that happens is the motherfucking site spams Every.Single.Fucking.Contact --- which means every single person this student has ever emailed with including anyone they have shared an English draft with or had questions about when is the final --- and then fucking. get. hounded. for weeks afterwards because the only option is "accept this connection and join us!" not "I have no clue who this dipshit is I teach at least 120 students every semester." So when I finally bite the bullet and spend 30-40 minutes scrounging the site for a way to turn off the "spam the entire world" option, I finally decide to use my non-pseudonymous gmail rather than making up a new one. Not twenty minutes later as I am scrolling through the horrors of that site, I get a ping from a distant relative: Do I see you have signed up for ______? Is there a problem? Would you like to talk?

Shit. Shitshitshit. Shiiiiiiiiiit. I actually slam down the lid of the laptop, look guiltily around the cafe. I would probably be less embarrassed to be caught downloading porn. Earlier I'd already moved, gunslinger-style, to a table where I can sit with my back to the wall: don't look at meeeeee ohgod don't look at meeeeee! 

Twenty minutes more or so of scrambling frantically around That Site, and I push a button. I block my relative. And I leave everything off my "personal brand" page. I understand that's not how to use the site and it probably looks more creepy than a filled-out page, but how can I "tell my story coherently and persuasively" when I don't know what story I want to tell? What career field am I going into? I don't know! What skills should I emphasize? I don't know! What's my objective? I don't know! What are my previous jobs and why am I leaving them? Uh, I really really don't want to talk about that! 

I dunno what job I could possibly get without eating shit and doing the Unholy Networking Dance. Maybe Artisan Yak Herder? Hmm that whole "cabin in the woods" thing is sounding better and better. If only I could get my mom to bring me lunch every day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The little things

Luckily, my sister and I are still getting along and still speaking to each other. The weather had even cooled down and made this place bearable (until yesterday). But there are little things that are hard to get adjusted to.

For example, everybody has their own system for storing things and cooking things. If this is your system, this makes sense:

But if you are not the person who bought these measuring spoons, how the hell do you know which size is which now that the labels have rubbed off arrrgh! I am doing a lot of cooking by guesstimating these days.

Other problems just have to do with the limitations of space and cheap kitchens. My sis doesn't want to upgrade her kitchen until she knows what is going on with her daughter, and whether my sis will need to help her with a housing down payment, or possibly my sister will move someplace nicer (and she is definitely worried about all the stairs leading up to her place and getting older.) How can you argue with that kind of logical thinking?

It does mean that she has one cabinet for every single cooking implement and one for her entire dish collection, all stacked atop each other so that whatever you want is at the bottom of a 25-pound pile.

And it also means that there isn't really much room for me to put my stuff away, which is fine since my spices are in cute little shoeboxes:

As a reward/procrastination from the obnoxiousness of job hunting, I am throwing out one thing a day from my sister's fridge or cabinets. This one has a "best by" date of 2010:

So, yeah, I'm fine. Mostly. Little freaked out about cooking/eating here but that's all right. In a month or so I will have completely replaced my sister's systems with my own, mwahahahahahaha!

Friday, July 17, 2015


First of all, let me say that I'm glad to have helpful and supportive readers! (Or, really, any readers at all.) People have not only posted potential things on this blog for me, but I even got in contact with someone to do a practice informational interview! Or maybe it was even a real informational interview! I don't know; I'm not used to doing these types of things.

Anyway I have sent out a couple more things, slowly and gradually, and I have a lot of stuff prepared for jobs from UCOP (Office of the President) but their stupid website/database thingy isn't letting me upload things right now. Maybe it took off early for the Friday and that's why my files keep getting rejected.

Anyway, it is kind of fun just reading across all the jobs that are posted and imagining what it would be like to do them. Even stuff like "groundskeeper" or "agricultural supervisor" or "naturalist coordinator." The problem is that I can quickly become overwhelmed by the options and spiral down into depression. But before that happens I found "Director of UC Observatories," which is fun to imagine doing in these days of the Pluto fly-by etc. (I'm imagining it requiring wearing goggles and steampunk gear while flying dirigibles between James Lick and the Griffith --- don't bother to correct me; I'm not remotely qualified so I prefer to imagine it this way and that makes me happy.)

The only problem is that after a while I get into the, "ok, yeah, I can do that" mode and feel like I have to apply for everything out there, right now. And then, as I've already mentioned, I feel overwhelmed. I should cheer myself up by buying some steampunk dirigible goggles.