A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

25 May 2004

How'ye do, folks?

So where to begin? First let me apologise for my protracted absence. I've been very busy trying to dig up work, moving in with the SO, and taking my well-earned and less-well-spent vacation days.

The work thing. Hmmm. It seems to me that the 'net has fostered an atmosphere of what can at the least be called discourtesy and at worst be called arrogant rudeness.


I have submitted over twenty thoughtfully-compiled job packages to twenty different organizations. Just try to guess how many replies I received?

'Sright. Three. Two were automated replies which barely said "Yeah, we got yer résumé." The other was a personal letter from the fellah who posted the job.

The rest of the people who so urgently desired my applications did not see fit even to acknowledge my participation with some automatic spam.

Sometimes I meet friends and listen to them bitch about their jobs. I think I'm developing workplace envy. It would be such a complete pita* to be earning forty grand a year right now.

I had one interview. The company concerned streamlines not at the résumé level, but after some fairly exhaustive testing:

Test one is all about logic. Picture, if you can, a line of six boxes numbered 1 to 6, and each containing a different number. Below the boxes are a series of instructions set up like a flowchart.

A rough example:

    1) Take the number in box (2), double it, and add it to the number in box (5).
    2) Add the number in box (3) to the number in box (5). If the number is greater than the number in box (6), go to instruction #9.
    3) Und so weiter. . .

This, as I say, is a very rough example. The real thing is more demanding and complex. I scraped the minimum pass mark (for software types it's 17/17, for marketing communications people it was 13/17).

But since I took the test, I get many impressed comments from people who have obviously taken, and not passed, this test. At my local professional association, many people are quite upset even by the mention of the organization's name.

Once you prove you're slightly brainier than Koko, you have to take a personality test. It's full of these daft things like: "The regulations of petty officials must be obeyed. . ."

Presumably they are preparing you for a life of computer crime. Either that or they want to see whether you would, in fact, sell your own grandmother for this job (I would--they've both been dead for years, and wouldn't likely mind).

But if you prove to be sufficiently unflawed to pass this test, you still have to go through three interviews: One with the personnel director, one with the team you'll be working with, and finally one with the big boss.

I can't help thinking that he or she might have pointy hair. . .

I made it to the HR interview. I think I was doing well enough, then came the middle of the interview:

HR (having given me the usual "we're a great big happy family" speech: "Of course, we treat our people well, and they respond. 10-hour workdays are the norm around here, and sometimes people phone the client and say 'Is that deadline midnight on the twenty-first or does it have to be eight PM?"

Me (seething inwardly in horror): Fine, fine. (Thinking I want the job, I want the job, I want the job!) I worked in the military for seven years--it's all 24 and 7 there. And I swore I'd never, ever, do that sort of crap again. I want a soft, warm bed, a job doing easy, satisfying work for reasonable pay (providing I can't find someone to massively overpay me), and an &0#dammned eight-hour day! Is that so ₤µ€λin' much to ask?

HR: "Okay--here's the big one: What are your salary expectations?"

I have prepared, O Dear Reader. I have researched the job title for which I am applying, call it "widget-herder", or some such. Unfortunately, I'm starting to realise that they really didn't want a widget-herder after all. But they didn't have another name for it. So my research is screwed right from word one.

Me (desperately attempting an explanation): "Well you understand that this is so different from everything I've ever done before that I have no idea what the going rate is. So I've researched "widget-herders" on the internet and it seems to me that such a position generally starts between $40 and $50,000.

HR Stunned silence for a moment: Well our last widget-herder started at $30,000.

Me Waiddaminit. She wants me to bust my @$$ ten hours a day, 200+ days a year, for 30K? Lemme see:
Fifty weekends per year, plus ten stats or so is 114 days.

365-114= 250 or nearabouts (besides, you can't tell me an outfit like this never calls you in on weekends).

250 x 10 is 2500, and $30,000 ÷ 2500 = $12.

₤µ€λin' hell!

$12 per hour? If I wanted that, I'd jump back into a ₤µ€λin' rig again--there's actually more money in it.

Later on it was pointed out to me that I'm not used to jobs involving benefits, or so-called intangibles.

Okay--as far as benefits are concerned, why not give me some idea that they have 'em? It's true: In my old job, you had to take care of your own medical insurance, you didn't get ANY holidays you didn't flog the dispatcher to death to get, and a request for time at home was often treated as the vilest sort of betrayal. Perhaps the change would be good.

But "intangibles?" Money is the finest intangible of all. It's an idea that has helped create all the best and worst that this world and its dominant species (roaches, rats or humans, but we've got space travel and the internet, and of course money, so I'm pulling for us) have to offer.

Speaking of intangibles:

How about that Abu Ghraib? How'd you like to be doing time for a minor offence in that hellhole, eh?

Rumsefeld needs to resign, and resign now. It's not sufficient that he has treated everyone, including his Commander-in-chief, with total contempt. He knew months ago that this was going on, but took no action? What a delightful moral example.

'Course Bush himself is no prize in that department. "Twisted moral dwarf" are the words that spring to mind. Soon, though, provided sufficient people can be persuaded to vote against him, the long multinational nightmare will be over.

Don't get me wrong. The Iraq war was uneccesary, petty, short-sighted and vengeful, but I believe it was inevitable. Saddam Hussein was (I know it's hard to conceive) an even nastier beast than GB Jr. Sooner or later, he'd have done something as stupid as he did (ie. pretending to hide strength he apparently didn't posess) and would have brought his house down that way.

Until now, the US could depend on that tiny shred of morality blanket to wrap itself in. Now the debauchery and degradation of Abu Ghraib have brought it all into question--except for the mercenaries.

The mercenaries know why they're there: They work for Kellogg, Root, and Brown, they work for Bechtel (was it Cheney or Rummy who used to work for them?). They know this because they have a signed contract saying so, and specifying their phenomenal salaries and death benefits. They blur the line between combat personnel and civillians and increase the risk of non-military murders.

Civillian personnel played a part in the torture at Abu Ghraib, and are assisting in interrogation at Guantanamo Bay. The Bush regime cannot afford to scrutinise the Abu Ghraib affair too closely.

I wonder what the soldiers at Abu Ghraib thought they were there for?

I, for one, am tired of supporting a regime that decries torture, but systematically practices it. To be completely honest, I could just about deal with it as long as it was confined to Guantanamo Bay. Most (but apparently, we are hearing, not all) of these prisoners were active combatants fighting under the Al-Qaeda banner. And somewhat to my own shame, I find I don't really care much about what a person endures who has declared war on civilization other than the Ottoman Empire. But it's a little shame, and I think I can handle it--hell, I grew up Catholic. I can deal with guilt.

But Abu Ghraib reveals several things: At least some proportion of the American Youth fighting this war believe that this was somehow appropriate treatment for (some) soldiers defending their homeland in uniform, along with "insurgents" and "rebels".

The Arab street views this as par for the course, both in the fine tradition of Middle Eastern Justice as practiced for hundreds of years (Jail=torture) and in the more recently established traditions of governments such as the House of Saud.

This calls into question the whole sad affair. I'm glad I ain't morale officer in Mesopotamia right now.

By the way--when did they stop being defenders and become "insurgents"? Isn't there another term for people throwing off a foreign yoke? Oh yes--there is. "Revolutionaries". But that doesn't seem to be a word we hear much.

I agree that Iraq is no worse off. But the nation is spinning along the edge of a catastrophe curve. Any attempt to introduce (force) democracy-style elections is likely to result in theocracy and civil war, and anything else amounts to dictatorship.

Personally I'm glad I don't have to go to church every Sunday and face the knowledge that 800 people died to avenge my daddy and boost my buddies in the oil business on my word.

The Big Move

Yeah, so I moved into the home of my SO. SO now supports me in a style to which I am becoming, if not accustomed, then less likely to react with tirades and violence.

The cause of a great deal of personal upset to me are the cats. SO (I'll use the name "Jamie" from here on in) owns two--actually, the freeloading fleabags are in fact free citizens who have clearly decided to avail themselves of the amenities, in exchange for which they purr.

I am not an animal person--much less a pet person. I understand that a certain number of animals are necessary to ensure good health, and some are possibly decorative. But I see no rationale in inviting an animal which serves no purpose into your home to suck down a substantial chunk of your free cash and time. Not to mention the fact that you are supposed to round up their crap and NOT THROW IT IN THE TRASH.

{I was a garbage man for a while. Check your local laws about faeces and your trash can--chances are it's illegal as hell and I hope you get fined for it; Fined so heavily you have to sell your precious pet to a sailor from an unknown land who keeps drooling as he eyeballs Fifi.}

Worse, I appear to be mildly allergic. Anything that causes me to wheeze should be outside my home.

I can't say the little furballs haven't kind of grown on me--literally. Little furballs grow on everything here. It's like being in a hold full of overfed Tribbles.

So it's going to be a battle to keep my air inflow up to median levels. Perhaps I'll eventually get used to it. But truthfully, I can't bring myself to really feel much for them.

On the other hand, Jaimie likes them, and for that reason I tolerate their presence.

Organization is going to be a pain--Jaimie and I have totally different styles. I value total lack of clutter except in certain narrowly defined areas. Jaimie tends to scatter a bit, and housekeeping is fortunately not the reason I love my SO, as I occasionally have to venture into dark areas of the apartment with a stun-gun to address dust-bunnies the size of dinner-plates.

I'm not faulting Jaimie for this. As a bachelor I certainly took my own sweet time about getting the vacuuming done. But with two dandruff generating, hairball up-coughing rodents in the house I'm going to have to take responsibility for it.


Other issues: I own an old car that I really want to get reassembled this summer. Jaimie not only has no garage per se, but the (sieg heil!) Strata Council has apparently decided that none shall work in their parking spots on pain of deep frowns.

Personally I think people regularly working in the area might slow down not only the car thieves who seasonally harvest people's goods and chattels (and the odd car) from the underground parking, but also the unco-operative people who do things like strew their garbage in the elevator wells, leave grease tracks across the floor, and plant garbage in odd places, such as atop the fire sprinkler piping, for what reason I know not.

Overall, were the SO not living here, I doubt I'd have come here on my own. But this is where she lives, and I have decided I want to be close to her. This relationship deserves the best, and I can give no less.

Including blogging semi-honestly about the things that aren't thrilling me at any given time, apparently. Oh well.

The Vacation

I've decide to wind up--I'm tired and I want a beer. If you just come for the links, rest assured there aren't many down here

So Jaimie and I decided to go car-camping for a few days last weekend.

I prefer hiking. My ideal vacation is seven to ten days in good weather in the back bush, carrying all the necessities of life on my back. Jaimie prefers the idea of an RV. I am anxiously awaiting the development of the anti-RV missile.

So there's something of a philisophical difference to begin with. But I can compromise. So we acquired a tent, stove, etc. and lit out for a privately-owned campground that Jaimie's friend owns.

We arrived roughly three hours later than I had anticipated, in Þ!$$ing rain and near-dark. Jaimie's friend wouldn't let us set up in the lousy weather. So we passed our first night in a 30-year-old-but-quite-comfortable trailer.

It rained for three days. So we didn't hike at all, barely got out at all. It wasn't bad, but I'm torn. I want Jaimie and my's first camping trip proper to be joyous. So I'm glad the trip wasn't spent shivering and soaking in the bush. But on the other hand, it feels a bit like a missed oppo.

Still, I'm happy we did it. We also visited Jaimie's family. Jamie's sibling, "Jo" boasted to me last Xmas that the home contained eight television sets. Yes eight. "With cable." she proudly elucidated. I was gratified to see that one of them had exploded. It is for people like this that there is an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, defending "essential assets". People like this buy SUVs and order their Supersize meals with Diet Coke.

Fortunately, whatever defective gene (possibly the Martha Stewart gene, only over-expressed) causes this will likely prove contra-survival in the next couple of hundred years.

This woman told a German exchange student in my hearing that when a rape occurred on an Indian--sorry, I mean on a Native reservation, the police are forbidden to investigate or arrest the rapist without permission from "somebody".

Fortunately her kids are showing signs of becoming very unlike her.

I quite like her husband, and the kids are tolerable when they're not deliberately acting as though they want a good thump about the ear.

We camped on the lawn, bacause bizarre things involving throwing out a dead person
in powdered form were happening inside, all adding to the usual overload in the house (one Old Lady, two alleged Adults, one Teenager (grunt), two Boys, six cats and two dogs) by a very odd middle-aged woman and her two kids.

But my observations end here because I need to get up and get a beer.


* Pain In The @$$

  • Check it out. Lala!

  • 12 May 2004

    First and Foreplay

    Let me say that I don't much like the new environment at Blogger. But since I ain't in charge, I guess I'll get used to it.

    Here's an example of an interesting but useless statistic. Nonetheless, it's a strong argument for funding public transport.

    In a similar vein, this.

    So what's with our obsession with sex? Our need to know who's getting it, from whom, and how often?

    As a teenager and, later, a twentysomething (a status I kept for almost ten years), I was indeed obsessed with sex. But rarely anyone else's. I wanted to know where I was getting it from next, and how to convince her.

    The lurid "scandals" of late are tawdry and not worth our efforts. This is much more fascinating. It might be love, if we were interested.

    So why so little interest in love (People magazine claims to be interested, but really they just want more boobs and butts on the front cover), and such a morbid obsession with sex?

    Why do we seem, as a society (by which I mean most of humanity), to have this deep and pathalogical urge to ₤µ€λ about with something which is actually fundamental to our being?

    Just askin'

    04 May 2004

    So what's up?

    Anything interesting?

    Yeah, me neither really.

    Isn't it amazing how one can be so busy and yet. . .not.

    Take my case. The SO and I have decided we are sufficiently in love to move in together. This is very weird for both of us, as we are each confirmed singles of some a-hem years standing.

    So I am moving from my garret (yes, dear reader I, a writer, live in a garret. It's such a cliché!) room, about 140 square feet (or roughly the size of a small SUV) into the SO's apartment, which in fact isn't massively bigger.

    This of course means paring stuff down, storing stuff, renting vehicles to move stuff and of course, uh, moving stuff.

    I don't own much--everything in this tiny suite arrived in a regular 1980 GM van, including my queen-sized bed, stereo, 2 dressers, and the various other items that make my room livable.

    Yet the apartment I'm moving into seems crowded to me even now. I think everything I own is going to wind up getting stored for at least a year, and the SO will have to do the same with a few items (including, I think, the other queen-sized bed).

    So I need to find storage for all those items, as well as for my car (check the Hoosier Mets link at left). I have to book a rental van to move my stuff into storage and her place, then move anything of the SO's to the storage place.

    But the most whacked-out thing about all this is how I feel about it. I love this person, no doubt about it. But I feel as though my privacy is being intruded upon.

    This seems very unfair to both of us.

    Worse yet, my preparations for the move seem glacially slow. I realize that I'm neither fascinated by the joy of moving, nor do I feel entirely comfortable with the idea of living in someone else's place. Although I do that now anyway. . .

    In any case. On my list for this morning were ten items to be done, many of them relating to the move. My roomie comes home tomorrow and the little pischer gets his car back, so suddenly I'll be a pedestrian again too.

    Of the ten items, I got four and a half done. Three I can't do until tomorrow. So really, I accomplished a reasonable amount.

    But it feels like nothing!


  • Full English anyone?