Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 15

Late to bed, early to rise. It's 6:30 a.m. and I've been awake for a couple hours. No particular reason I can discern. I'm just not asleep. I suppose that could change later.

Meanwhile, the cats are confused. If I'm awake, it must be time for me to feed them — yet I'm not putting food in the bowls! What fresh hell is this? Sprite is especially unhappy. I've had her on near-starvation rations for the past week and a half to try to do away with some of her unhealthy extra poundage. I've been delivering her morning morsels as soon as I get up; now I'm up, but she's getting no food. Madness!

Not much going on for me at the moment, either online or off. Today I'll buy some office supplies, see a movie, maybe build a website or something. I will not sit around waiting for the phone to ring, even though several potential employers owe me calls back.

Having no interviews this week is making me antsy, but my career coach has given me plenty of homework to fill the time — stuff like putting a "thanks for the interview" note/brochure package together, designing and printing new business cards (possible now that I have a printer), upgrading my resume, networking, etc. I have several networking things lined up in the coming weeks, so that's one item off the list.

In the meantime, let me regale you with my thoughts on the Oscars, like everybody else. I did not watch the awards show, so my opinion are based entirely on a handful of photos and videos I viewed online.

  1. What's with the deep red lipstick on the blonde actresses? I doesn't flatter any of them. Looks terrible, in fact.
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio looks like he swallowed Jack Nicholson.
  3. Al Gore looks like he swallowed Leonardo DiCaprio.
  4. That thing with the a cappella choir providing the soundtrack for a string of unrelated movie snippets? Er . . . why? Surely they weren't trying to show something new or innovative; 12-year-olds have been doing this for decades. Did the ghost of Michael Winslow possess the director? Or did he simply lose a bet?

Is 7:00 too early to make fettuccine alfredo? Surely not. Not if I have some chocolate cake as an appetizer while the pasta boils.


Friday, February 23, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 14

Here's a picture I took of the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth while helping Sister-san and Chef Jeff hunt for houses earlier this week. They settled on Old Lady House, as I hoped they would. The place needs a little updating, but it's spacious, sunny, welcoming, and well situated. Congrats!

(Aside: I know Lent has begun because all the fast food restaurants are now advertising the heck out of their fish sandwiches. I also know I could go the rest of my life without touching another breaded fish filet and not miss it. I'm testing that hypothesis right now.)

Now that I'm back from up north, I'm experiencing a bit of a lull in the job hunt. Several places I'm interested in have promised me calls back "within a week or so." Meanwhile, I've applied for just about everything out there — all the jobs I would actually want, anyway — and am hoping some new postings will appear over the weekend. I've got some work to do, and some homework from my career coach. Other than that, things are pretty quiet.

Last week I mentioned scheduling an interview for a job that looked to be beneath my skill level. This morning I went to the interview and quickly learned that I was right. The job is something I would have jumped at when I was fresh out of school, but now I'm vastly overqualified. The salary is about 60% what I need. I was up front with the interviewer about that, but stuck around to take the copyediting test anyway, and urged them to call me if they ever need a freelancer.

I got a monetary surprise last Friday when a large deposit from my ex-employer appeared in my bank account. I received a printed thingie in the mail that listed this amount as severance pay. I'd thought I had already received all the severance I was going to get, but apparently not. No complaints!

Of course, I'll have to report this "income" when I make my next request for unemployment benefits, and since the amount of the deposit is greater than two weeks' worth of benefits, I won't get paid when I make that request. And that's fine. It just means I'm saving more benefit money to be used farther down the line.

We're expecting a huge snowstorm this weekend, so the cats and I are hunkered down in the warmest part of the house. (For Warren Peace, that means between my body and my laptop, so I have to reach around him to type.) I stopped at the grocery store after that interview this morning and laid in plenty of supplies, and I started some chili simmering in the crock-pot. We're ready.

OK, time to go do my homework, design a website, and watch the latest episode of Lost, not necessarily in that order.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

home suite

This morning I'm chillin' in a Duluth hotel room while Sister-san and Chef Jeff check out a couple daycare facilities. They'll pick me up before checkout time. Then we'll go see a couple more. And then it's back to the Twin Cities so they can catch their plane home.

At some point, we will eat at Taco John's. They don't have TJ's in Phoenix, just that authentic Mexican food, and people who have grown up on TJ's can start missing it after a while.

Yesterday we saw at least 10 houses, and we did 5 or 6 the day before. There were several nice ones and a few not-so-nice ones. We started giving them names in order to differentiate them in our minds. On the good list: 2006 House, Handicap House, Old Lady House, the Mansion, and Dodge Street House. On the not-so list: Stinky House, Barf Shag Carpet on the Wall House.

No offers have been made yet, but they're aiming to decide something soon.

OK, gotta go. I might post a couple photos later tonight.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

heading north

In a few hours, aka the dead of night, Sister-san and Chef Jeff will arrive at my house, creep into the guest room, and sleep 'til morning. Then we'll all get up and drive a couple hours north to Duluth to look at houses. CNE is staying behind with her paternal grandparents, which is probably just as well. She's in the midst of potty training, and I don't think a road trip would be great for enhancing that.

Sister-san, always prepared, has already contacted a realtor in Duluth and will come prepared with a list of at least a dozen properties they've seen online and want to walk through in person. My job is to cast an extra critcal eye over the offerings. I'm taking a camera and a notebook.

I'm taking a bunch of work with me to do on the road. Now that I have clients, they seem to expect me to do things for them. And I'll be checking messages for all those calls that are supposed to come in this week. But mostly I'll enjoy indulging in squeeze cheez with my sister and brother-in-law.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 13

Wheels are turning, yes they are. This morning I had a client meeting that resulted in (A) praise from her for my work to date, (B) more fun stuff for me to do and (C) an offer of advice on being self-employed from someone who has been there and done that. We're meeting next week to talk that over. Good stuff all around.

Then I hustled across the metro to meet some friends for lunch. Happy birthday, Grassmaster! It was fun to catch up with the cool crowd, as usual.

During lunch, I had mentioned that there was one potential client I hadn't heard from yet, but hoped to. When I got home, there was a message waiting from that client, asking if I could do a quick bit of copyediting over the weekend. Of course I can!

I had another message waiting as well, from a place I had applied to a full month ago. They want me to come in for an interview next Friday. I said yes, but upon taking a second look at the job description, I'm not so sure I'd want this gig. It's full-time, probably on-site in an office, and I probably have a lot more professional experience than the position requires — or would get paid for. It looked great when I'd been laid off less than a week; I couldn't click "apply online" fast enough. But now? I'm not so sure. It's worth going to the interview, of course. Maybe I can convince them I can do the job from home.

I have two interviews tomorrow. This afternoon I realized I didn't know how to get to either of them. Google Maps kept plotzing on the address for the first, so I had to call them, too. Turns out they're in a development so new, most maps don't show it yet. They're also, incidentally, about as geographically far from my house as they can be and still be in the metro area. If this is a full-time, on-site position, that would be a concern. And I have to fill out a several-page application form tonight and take it with me tomorrow. Oy. Yeah, poor me, right?

I had somehow neglected to write down the address for interview #2, so I had to call and ask for it. That one is downtown, and it's potentially more interesting than the first. I just hope I can there on time. Normally I would simply take the train downtown, but tomorrow I'll be nowhere near a train station when I need one, so I'll have to drive, park, and just deal with it.

In other, non-work-related news . . . there isn't any, really, unless you want to hear about how my cats love having me at their beck and call during the day, or about how I need to clean house because company is coming.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 12

Happy Valentine's Day! I didn't get you anything. Sorry. But I love you all the same.

Quiet day for me today. I did some work on a website — yeah, I'm a webmaster now; dig it! — then went to the mall for a power walk and a matinee. I saw Music and Lyrics, a fun, sweet little ditty of a film. Its charming stars (Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore) are worth the ticket price, the music is entertaining, and the video at the end is a hoot. Anyone who has ever squealed at an aging pop star shaking his groove thang in tight pants will enjoy this movie. Rockapella fans — and all children of the 80s and early 90s — take heed.

I came back to a vague message from a recruiter saying I might get an interview next week or something, or whatever. Actually, I think the message was from the recruiter's wife. It contained no useful information, but I was glad to hear it anyhow. Kind of like a pop song.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 11

The Ants are Marching

Today is the first time I've felt antsy about being unemployed, or vaguely employed, or nearly employed, or whatever you want to call my present situation. I've clicked on "send resume" and copied/pasted/modified my cover letter about as many times as I can stand. I have half a dozen e-mail alerts set up to notify me when new jobs are posted with certain words in the title or description. I'm networking. I'm cold-calling. The search is on, 24/7.

But I have only one project to work on today, plus classes in the evening. And tomorrow I have nothing on my schedule. No projects, no meetings, not even any classes. So I'm feeling antsy.

Really, things are good. On Thursday, I have a client meeting, and I'll come away with more work to do. On Friday, I have not one but two interviews for gigs I'd like to land. I have cast my net far and wide, and several places owe me calls that may result in work. It's not like I have nothing going on. But I still feel antsy. If the weather were warmer, I'd go out for a walk.

This is where my age works against me. My birth year puts me on the cusp between the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X. In many ways I identify with the former, but when it comes to work, I'm more of an Xer. As in, I want my work to actually mean something to me — or at least not crush my soul on a daily basis. Yes, I know this makes me unsuitable for life on the cube farm. I've known it all along. I've only recently become willing to admit it out loud. I'm antsy for the rest of the world to catch up and admit it, too.

I also wouldn't mind if work simply fell into my lap without me having to beg and scratch and jump through hoops for every lead and interview. I don't like having to sell myself to potential employers. I want them to be smart enough to realize how I could benefit them. (Same goes for dating, by the way. Which might explain why I haven't had a date in more than three years.) Unrealistic, I know. But a girl can dream.

So I'm antsy, but that's not such a bad thing. It'll keep me alert to possibilities — like the possibility of finding work I want to do. It's good that the ants are marching. That's the only way to get anywhere.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 10

The administrative assistant from my ex-employer just called me — on a Saturday afternoon. How's that for unexpected?

It seems AA is going to be at the office later this afternoon and wondered if I wanted to come by and pick up the ficus tree and stand I left behind when I got the axe. (I don't.) She then filled me in on changes that have taken place since I left. There have been plenty, and let's just say not all of them are popular.

AA also wanted to find out how I'm doing, employment-wise and otherwise. Knowing that she will spread the news, I was proud to tell her the truth: I'm doing great. If you hear differently, please let me know.

In fact, today I applied for another part-time contract position for which I am the perfect candidate. I hope the hiring manager notices that. She should; I've gotten pretty outspoken about my credentials. Hey, they're good. Really good. I'm not going to whisper.

While we're talking about contract and freelance work, let me tell you, you'd be amazed at how many people and organizations are willing to tell you the Secrets of How to Make Huge Frakkin' Money Working From Home — for $29.95 or so. So far, I've managed to resist giving them my credit card number.

Alrighty then! Sprite, my girth-enhanced cat, is perched directly atop my bladder. Gotta go.


Friday, February 09, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 9

It's been another busier-than-expected week of projects, client calls, and interviews. Highlights:

  • Finished and sent the big proofreading project. And the invoice, of course.
  • Had a client meeting wherein I took on my first web updating duties. I actually think I can do this.
  • Did an editing sample for an interview, had a very positive meeting with the people, did a bit more sample stuff for them. They've been calling my references, all of whom say it sounds like they really, really like me. I'm hopeful about this one! It's part-time online editing, which would be a nice, steady thing to do for a while and would still leave me room to maneuver. And the guy who interviewed me looked exactly like Christopher Guest.
  • One of said references may also have some work for me in the near future.
  • Next Friday I have an interview for a full-time thing that could turn out to be pretty cool, but I need to remember which job it is (I've applied for scads!) before I say that for sure.
  • Wednesday's lead via a friend of a friend paid off a little, and could amount to more. I called the person suggested to me, who was looking for a freelance editor (that's me!) but had not yet posted the position publicly. She liked the sound of my credentials and asked for a resume to send to HR. I don't know what their timeline is for making that hire, so I'll have to chill out and wait.

In other job-related news, two things:

  1. Chef Jeff has accepted a job in Duluth, so he and Sister-san and CNE will be moving back to MN and will be just a couple hours' drive away from me. YAY!! I know it'll be a huge undertaking to move the family cross-country, especially if Jeff has to come ahead and start work before the AZ house is sold or whatever. And Sister-san hasn't sorted out her work situation yet (although I doubt it will take her long). But speaking selfishly, I'll be glad to have them nearer. And I might just be free to help with the move.
  2. A good friend of mine was laid off by my ex-employer this week. Shee-it! What IS it with that department? My friend and I are getting together this weekend to compare lemons — and lemonade recipes. I gave her a card that said, "Tina was so tough, her poodle skirt had a pit bull on it. . . . Just remember, you're tougher." Damn straight.

So if you need help writing/editing stuff, making a marketing plan, designing graphics, or promoting events, let me know. I have exactly the people you need.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

journey to babble

Gotta love late-night Star Trek reruns. Specifically, "Journey to Babel," one of my favorite episodes. It's got everything: action, intrigue, wit, love, logic, gratuitous shirtless Kirk — and Ambassador Sarek repelling Gav the Tellarite with what looks to me like Upward Split & Push, a T'ai Chi technique I was practicing myself earlier this wee. And let's not forget Jane Wyatt swanning about beneath an Anne Boleyn hair sculpture.

Call me crazy, but I like this ep even better than the much-lauded "City on the Edge of Forever." Sarek is crazy hot. Kirk's laughable martial arts skills nearly get him killed. McCoy is extra doctory, Checkov extra Russian. ("Keptin! Eet's en ellien wessel!") Spock carries the show, and he was always my favorite.

Next time you see "Babel," watch the bandage around Kirk's torso creep steadily northward. He gets stabbed in the lower back, yet the wrap starts around mid-chest and ends up as a tube top. Then toward the end, Kirk is clutching himself in pain, but he's clutching his left upper arm, while he was stabbed above his right hip. And then he marches into the turbolift and keeps on going, apparently right off the set, even though he should have stopped in the small elevator space.

God, I love this show. And did you know it's now available on iTunes?

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 8

Theme song: "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" — U2

No big job news to impart. The search continues. I have dozens of applications out, a couple of which are for attractive jobs and many of which aren't, but I'm still hedging my bets. If in the end I have to take a non-ideal job to pay the bills, I certainly will. No question. But we're nowhere near the end yet.

Show me the money

I define "the end" as "when the money runs out." If I request my full unemployment benefits every two weeks, I'll hit my max around the 4th of July. However, I don't have to make a request every two weeks. If I have other money coming in, such as freelance income, I can choose not to make a request. I actually have a full calendar year to use up my benefits if I choose to stretch them out.

Also, if I have other money coming in, I'm obligated to report it to the unemployment office. If I make, say, $250 freelancing this week, I'll report that, and my benefit would then be $250 less for this pay period. (In other words, I can't double dip — live on unemployment and bank the freelance money for later.) But that $250 remains in my unemployment account, so I could collect it later. So requesting lesser unemployment payments would be another way to stretch the benefits out.

I thought I was eligible to make my first request for unemployment benefits January 29 and duly did so, and I've been getting worried that no money was deposited in my bank account. So today I called to check on it. Due to my "waiting week" and severance pay, it seems, I need to wait until the 12th to file a request that will actually get me anything. Will do. It's on the calendar.

The nice man on the phone said this info had been spelled out in the materials I received in the mail, and it was, and I read and thought I understood it — but all signs pointed to January 29 being the day to start. Hmm. Well, jumping through hoops is good aerobic exercise, right?

Moving on.

Getting out there

I have an informational meeting this afternoon, which I think is one of those things where a company brings a lot of candidates in at once for the "about our company" spiel. This one is nearby, which I suspect will be its only attractive feature. The guy on the phone was in a hurry and didn't tell me much more than how to get there; I don't even know what industry or position I'm going to learn about. I suspect it's sales. I'm not into sales. But . . . you never know.

I also have a phone appointment today to discuss a position that, on the surface at least, sounds very attractive. It's part-time, too, which would leave me maneuverable for that freelance stuff I like to do. Fingers crossed!

Plus, a friend just called and handed the phone to another friend who had a very interesting lead for me, which I will follow up on ASAP. Thanks again, Lisa!

I also have an in-person interview tomorrow afternoon at a place very near my old magazine job. It's for a marketing position, which is not exactly what I'm after, but still bears investigating.

On the freelance front

Today I had a phone appointment with a client who I thought had fallen off the planet, but who has just been very busy. OY! OK, as a freelancer, I'm going to have to get used to that — people not operating according to my schedule. This will be a big adjustment, because everybody knows, or ought to know, that my schedule is the right one. Deep breath! Sink the chi!

Thursday, I have a client meeting I'm really looking forward to, as it will be divided between writing stuff and web stuff. Did I tell you I'm learning Dreamweaver, the website creation software? I think I did. I like web page stuff. It's like desktop publishing on steroids, and I always liked doing page layout. I'm not a great designer, but I can do production and maintenance like a champ.

And I've been working steadily on that big proofreading project. It's going well, and I will get it done on time, within budget. Hoo-ya.

OK, I'm getting all worked up here. I need to call my coach and make a game plan for these interesting leads. Laters!


Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl ads

I spent a productive morning lounging in bed, a cat in my lap, watching this year's Super Bowl ads online. Click here to see them for yourself.

There are a couple good ads in the bunch, one great one, and several that make you wonder what the heck their creators were thinking — par for the course, I guess. All 60 ads are available on that site, in alphabetical order by brand name, so pace yourself. And be forewarned: there's a three-second Bud Light mini-commercial before each of the regular ones. Too bad, Bud Light; no amount of repetition is going to make your swill palatable.

First, the great ad: the Emerald Nuts spot featuring Robert Goulet. This is unquestionably one of the strangest, and one of the funniest, ads I've ever watched. Must be seen to be believed. I may actually buy the product just for the giggles I'd get remembering this ad.

Second, the good ones: those featuring animals. Blockbuster, Bud Light, and Yum Brands (Taco Bell) all have some entertaining animal ads. My favorites in order: mouse, lions, crabs, apes.

Third, the celebrity ads. The only celebrity I recognized out of the many featured this year was Charles Barkley, who is not exactly au currant. (I also figured out Sheryl Crow, but only because her name was both spoken aloud and written across the screen.) I blame my out-of-touchness on the fact that many of the faces in these ads belong to hip-hop and country "artists," and those are genres I'll avoid if I can.

Fourth, the violent ads. This category comprises quite a few of them, actually, which is really sad. Can we see a little creativity, please? As Emerald Nuts proves, you don't have to be cruel to be hilarious.

  • Of Budweiser and Bud Light's nine ads, two feature explicit violence — face slapping and pegging someone in the face with a rock — and a third mocks serial killer/dangerous hitchhiker stereotypes.

  • CareerBuilders' three spots all show hapless office workers getting the crap beat out of them in Lost/Survivor-style jungle scenarios.

  • Disney animated movie: various slappings, and a T-Rex tries to chomp a child.

  • Doritos: couple meets via car crash and other slapstick mishaps.

  • E-Trade: bank robbery.

  • FedEx: the "office on the moon" scene is funny until someone gets lasered out of existence for no reason whatsoever.

  • Garmin: Power Ranger-like hero vanquishes Godzilla-like map monster.

  • GM: fired factory robot dreams of committing suicide. Not. Funny. At. All. I sympathized with the surprisingly likeable robot until it stepped off a bridge. That's just unnecessary.

  • King Pharmaceuticals: characters labeled as diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases beat the crap out of an old man in an heart costume.

  • Sierra Mist: self-absorbed hospital workers deprive an immobilized patient of fluids.

  • Weinstein: trailer for Hannibal Rising, the new movie featuring uber-murderer Hannibal Lecter, who is violence personified.

    Aside: February is Black History Month, and this year's big game is historic for seeing a black coach win a Super Bowl for the first time. Many of the ads explicitly or implicitly play up the black angle by featuring black celebrities and characters in positive roles. In the Sierra Mist ad, however, the hospital workers are black and the helpless patient white. Does that mean anything? Or did I only notice the contrast with all those other positive black characters?

    That is a shamefully long list.

Fifth: the sexy ads. Or not. Apparently, ad makers have finally caught on to the backlash against the old "sex sells" mentality. None of this year's ads relies solely on sex to get its message across. Instead, they lampoon the T&A commercials that have been Super Bowl staples for so long. Good on ya, fellas. If ever an industry needed to laugh at itself, it's advertising. The rest of us have been doing so for years.

Examples: There's one ad where a checkout clerk gets hot and bothered over a customer's many flavors of Doritos, which I guess is supposed to be extra funny because neither character is what you'd call a hot, sexy model. GoDaddy goes the other direction with a hot chick/wet t-shirt moment. Chevrolet turns the tables with a bunch of average Joes ripping their shirts off in a sudsy frenzy as they try to work the girls in the cool Chevy into a lather. And Sprint pokes fun at erectile dysfunction ads with its "connectile dysfunction" remedy of better broadband coverage.

Kudos to Coke, Doritos, FedEx, Flomax, and others for putting some normal-looking people on screen, including active, attractive seniors. It's nice to see the small screen finally start to look more like the larger world outside.

Sixth: the shockers. None! Nothing stands out as titillating or boundary-pushing. The closest anything comes is E-Trade's "one finger" ad, where it's implied that you can use a single finger to click on E-Trade's great online services, then show a different finger to the stockbroker you no longer need.

That's it. The only other references to naughtiness or private parts are the mocking of the erectile dysfunction ads — not of ED itself — and a straight-up ad by Flomax that addresses urinary problems in older men. Oh, and one guy stranded on CareerBuilders Island gets a wedgie.

Seventh: the homophobic ads. Another mercifully small category. Hooray! Snickers is the only offender this year. Two car mechanics feel compelled to "Quick! Do something manly!" after their lips meet over a shared candy bar. So they yank out tufts of chest hair. May the same fate befall the benighted fools who still think gay-bashing is funny.

Eighth: the computer generation. As usual, this year's Super Bowl ads feature superior animation and special effects. Blockbuster, Budweiser, Coke, Disney, FedEx, Garmin, GM, HP, Izod, Van Heusen, and Yum Brands (Taco Bell) all impress with digital wizardry. It's hard to pick a favorite, although Coke's "give a little love" and "inside the drink machine" pieces, and Bud Select's holographic football game, come to mind.

Ninth: an honorable mention. My honorable mention award goes to Sierra Mist for the guy with the beard comb-over. Whoever thought that one up deserves a raise.

Tenth, last, and least: the rest of the car ads. Bor-ring. Change the channel.

OK, that's it. I was surprised by how generally banal this year's ads were. Then again, Super Bowl advertisers are paying outrageous amounts of money to try and appeal to the widest possible audience in the smallest amount of time, so I can see why they play it pretty safe.

By the way, who won the game?


Sunday, February 04, 2007

hope it's not the year of the boor

We did our big Chinese New Year hoo-ha at the T'ai Chi studio last night. As demonstrations go, I'd say it was one of our best. No one forgot their moves, screwed them up, or pulled a muscle mid-routine. Whew! Although I had a better view of the proceedings than usual, I didn't take any pictures. Sorry.

The smoothness of the demonstrations was especially nice because it was Sifu Ray's 30th anniversary of studying T'ai Chi, the point at which one can be considered a master. There was a bunch of sentimental speechifying both by and about Sifu Ray, which caused the program to last until 9:15. It had started at 6:00 — OK, 6:15 — and the room was very hot and muggy (in contrast to the subzero temperatures outside), so we were all sweaty by the end. But it was worthwhile to see proper tribute paid. To my immense shock, the speakers didn't have to compete with much of the kids-running-screeching noise that normally plagues these events.

The altar ceremony took another 45 minutes. Tradition says that if you start a new year by receiving food and money, you'll have good fortune that year. I got drafted to hand out lucky oranges to everyone who went through the line, while another guy handed out lucky red envelopes containing a dollar. I wouldn't have minded this duty if I hadn't been bathed in incense smoke for 45 minutes. OY. My voice is still scratchy. But I did get to wish everyone happy new year. It's the Year of the Boar, or Pig. Squee!

I also helped clean up, so I didn't get to the banquet until about 10:45. I hit the bar for a Heiniken at 10:46. I ended up at a peripheral table with Dan and Betty, whom I don't get to visit with much, so that was nice. Plus, I was away from the table hobnobbing when the bill came, so sweet, generous Dan paid for my dinner. Food and money! Surely this bodes well for my coming year.

I left around midnight after saying good night to a happily tipsy Sifu Ray, who was making good use of the gifts of Scotch he'd received. It was nice to see him enjoying his evening. And then on my way out, I found Todd's cell phone and Pat's scarf, which I was able to return before they left. What IS it with me finding things, anyway?

So happy Year of the Boar, everybody. May yours be warm and fuzzy and filled with good fortune.


Friday, February 02, 2007


Click the link to see the best bra ever. And next time you're shopping for lingerie, ask yourself the crucial question: Does it light up?


Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Unemployment Chronicles, Chapter 7

My career coach urged me to read a book called Do What You Are, which delves into the depths of your psyche to determine your personality type, attitudes, etc., and suggests careers that might suit you. It's a good book. I recommend it. I'd offer to lend you my copy, but I've already marked it up in bright blue ink.

I'm about a quarter of the way into DWYA. There have been no major surprises so far, although a couple passages have made me raise my eyebrows and mutter, "That explains a lot!"

Peek inside my head — if you dare

  • According to the Meyers Briggs personality inventory, I'm an INTJ: Introverted iNtuitive Thinker Judger. INTJs are considered the most independent of the 16 personality types, which will not surprise anyone who knows me. (Mother Media swears my first sentence was "Do it by self!")

    According to the book, as long as INTJs are interested in something and/or find it useful, they'll bust their buns to do it up right. But if they think someone or something is blah, look out for the disconnect. INTJs' standards may be unrealistically high, and they may plow ahead with their own brilliant ideas without waiting for input from others. Er, duh.

  • My temperament is that of a Conceptualizer — an iNtuitive Thinker. The motto for Conceptualizers could be "Be excellent in all things." Conceptualizers are driven to acquire knowledge and set high standards for themselves and others and are — shocker! — the most independent of the temperaments.

    Conceptualizers like planning, strategizing, and building systems — sometimes to excess. They thrive on autonomy, variety, intellectual stimulation, and generating ideas; however, they may become impatient with those less competent than they. They're often found in leadership positions, such as college-level teaching (been there, done that) and upper management in the sciences, medicine, and law.

  • The Hierarchy of Functions says my type uses faculties in this order: intuition, thinking, feeling, sensing. (You need some background in Meyers Briggs vocabulary to best understand the sense in which these terms are used.) So I'm a dominant Intuitive. Intuitives are more interested in meanings, possibilities, patterns, and relationships in what they perceive than in specifics or facts — which explains why I can be content copyediting (looking for patterns and relationships among words) pages of text on a subject I know nothing about.

    My auxiliary function is Thinking. Intuitives can be so preoccupied with taking in information and considering possibilities that they never make a decision, so Thinking kicks in to keep things realistic. The INTJ of this type tends to be logical, theoretical, and systems-oriented.

  • However! Because of that "I" in the INTJ, I'm an introvert, which means that I actually keep my dominant function, intuition, more internal and show the world my auxiliary function, thinking. The analogy in the book is this: Intuition is like an army general and Thinking is like the general's top aide. When you come to my office, you're met by the aide outside my door; the general is busy inside, and you don't get to deal with her unless the matter is urgent.

    Example profession for an INTJ: college professor.

  • One's functions develop over time. At my age (37), I'm developing my third function, feeling. People in this situation may find that family, friends, and relationships are becoming more important to them. They may find themselves doing volunteer work, getting back in touch with old friends, and expressing gratitude for what they have.

So that's the groundwork, and that's as far as I've read. The next chapters are profiles of career-satisfied people of all 16 personality types. The chapter for my type, INTJ, is lucky #13. Title: "Competence + Independence = Perfection." Ooh, I can't wait!