Well, So Much For That

Published at 15:13 on 4 November 2011

I did not get the job east of the lake after all. I’m almost certain it was because I expressed my antipathy about doing systems administration work; my interviewers kept revisiting the issue of sysadmin work and my (lack of) willingness to consider doing any more of it.

So be it. There was only one systems administrator at that company. He’s only human, so he’s going to get sick. And if I was to be the one called upon to fill in when that happens, forget it. Worse, suppose he departed for greener pastures — Guess Who would be appointed the new sysadmin (quite possibly permanently!) in such a case?

Really, I never want to do such work again. Ever. I’m completely burned out on it. A job where I am literally a heartbeat away from becoming a sysadmin again is one gigantic turkey of a job.

It pales in comparison to the above issue, but it’s also nice not to be compelled to move again, particularly if the move does not involve leaving the megalopolis. Simply too much hassle for too little improvement in my lifestyle, particularly after I’ve spent so much effort getting settled where I currently live.

Pondering where to Move

Published at 15:34 on 30 October 2011

I believe I will soon be working full time again. It’s far from a sure thing, of course, seeing as how I have yet to interview in person with them, but the vibes I got over the phone were that I was basically their top candidate and unless I seriously blow things, I’ll get the job. Moreover, it would negate all the effort I recently spent erecting a shortwave listening antenna, and there has always been a strong element of Murphy’s Law in all of my job searches.

That is because the job is in a place where it is most definitely not pleasant to commute to from where I currently am living. I told my landlord/housemate when I moved in that it might be necessary to move in such a situation (and he’s understanding, there are a lot of nightmare commutes in the Seattle area), so that’s no problem. The issue is where to move.

It’s in Bellevue, east of Lake Washington, an area that I once heard very accurately described as “Orange County with Fir Trees”. It has much of the same plasticky yet vaguely upscale feel that its California namesake does. So one option is to live someplace in Seattle from where I can catch an express bus to work. Another option is to live further east in Issaquah, which alas still has much of the same aesthetic as Bellevue but at which also has the advantage of a small older core that feels much nicer (it predates the suburbia era, having been built as a logging and mining town). Moreover, Issaquah abuts many square miles of state park and state forest land.

It’s really difficult to discern which option is better. Given that I usually don’t do much Big City stuff these days, it probably means that it will be a net win to be closer (much closer, in fact) to the foothills. But it’s still an area that I have absolutely no friends in, so I have worries about social isolation. Which can be solved by trips to the city, of course — but such induced trips effectively negate much of the advantage of being closer to nature.

Issaquah is still probably very slightly better, because there’s far more of Seattle easily accessible via bus from Issaquah than there is nature easily accessible via bus from Seattle. And when I do have to drive to get to nature from Issaquah, I can head east and be out of the megalopolis almost immediately (country driving is both more fuel efficient and a heck of a lot more pleasant than urban driving).

But it’s a slight enough advantage that the particulars are probably going to dominate. If I can find a home in Issaquah or the Central District that strongly appeals to me, that will instantly tip the scales.

Ah, Schadenfreude

Published at 21:51 on 6 October 2011

Actually, in this case it’s more like “karma”, since the misfortune is a direct result of the sufferer’s ineptitude.

The job whose phone interview prompted this post of mine is apparently still unfilled. I’ve been noticing the precise same ad whose e-mail in response prompted that ill-fated phone screen ever since that day, and that was back in May.

I wonder if they’re one of those managers whining to the business press about a “shortage of qualified applicants.” Wouldn’t surprise me.

That said, perhaps I should apply again. It’s been six months; perhaps the manager whose stupid interviewing technique caused me to be rejected has been dismissed or demoted.

In fact, I think I will: It’s a no loss situation so far as I am concerned. If the incompetent manager is still there, my résumé will be immediately circular filed (which is fine by me; I wouldn’t want to work for her). If not, I’ll have a second chance, one that might involve working for someone with at least half a clue.

Update: Well, that was a waste of time. Never have I seen a more incompetently designed Web interface than the one for that company’s job board. First, they use both their own site and one of those third-party sites (not Taleo, thankfully) to handle their applications. Their own site refers you to the third-party one, which in turn says to use their own site. If you try and get your application through by using the third-party site, you find that two of the web forms are broken, and the program that scans your résumé is also broken (and thanks to one of the broken web forms, you can’t work around the broken résumé scanner). To heck with them; incompetence obviously pervades their organization. More than likely, they’re still in business mainly because of this principle.

The Fragrances of Home

Published at 09:44 on 6 October 2011

One thing my recent trip to New Mexico allowed me to appreciate anew is how the air is scented with the fragrance of conifers in the Pacific Northwest. Some, like the western red cedar, are fragrant enough and distinctive enough that they can be olfactorily appreciated from several hundred feet downwind.

It’s one thing I enjoyed when first moving to this ecoregion from a desert climate. Like most such phenomena, one fairly quickly loses the ability to perceive it if one continuously lives amongst the sensation. Spending a week in a dry, dusty place was enough to “reset” my nose so that I can perceive it anew, at least for a brief time.

Even when it rains in the desert, much of the odor I can perceive in the moist air is one of wet dust. Even amongst the delightful fragrance of sage, it is there, reminding me that this respite from the dryness and dustiness is but a brief departure from the normal scheme of things. It is an underlying veiled threat that removes much of the pleasure I would otherwise receive from such weather.

There is no such threat in the moist air of the beginning rainy season here. The pervading fragrance, even in many quite urban areas, is the woodsy and coniferous one of a lush land that nourishes my senses instead of assaulting them.

It’s good to be home.

Almost Back Home

Published at 09:20 on 4 October 2011

By tonight, I’ll be sleeping in my own bed again and once more have regular Internet access.

Sleeping in my own bed soundly and not being kept awake by overly dry and dusty air, that is. I’ve been in New Mexico visiting my parents, and while that state is definitely a scenic place, I am most certainly Not A Desert Person, and find it hard not to feel under assault by the elements as a result of the extremely harsh, bright sunshine and ultra-dry air.

Thankfully, today is one of those occasional days where some moister air has managed to make it past the multiple mountain ranges, so there is some respite from the assault. Still, it will be nice to be back to someplace where one simply never has to worry about getting a painful sunburn in October.

Update: Shortly after I posted that, the rain commenced in earnest. It ended up being the heaviest rain in a year or more, with an inch reported between 7AM yesterday and 7AM today at the Albuquerque Airport. That’s over 10% of Albuquerque’s normal annual rainfall, in one storm. It ended up delaying my flight’s departure (desert airports like ABQ are quite naturally last in line for any IFR equipment). I didn’t mind; it was a minor delay, and it was worth it to have an early respite from the harsh desert conditions that normally prevail there.

Revisiting the Ghost Brickyard

Published at 22:38 on 26 September 2011

No, I didn’t visit the ghost brickyard in Gresham, Oregon again on my recent trip to Portland. I’m revisiting it in this blog, now. I found a gallery of what it looked like in 2005 here. There’s a few pictures showing some of the increasingly decrepit piles of bricks in past styles; this one is particularly good.

I haven’t been back there since 2008, and something tells me that it’s probably completely gone by now, seeing as how much “progress” had been made in erasing it by 2008.

Well, So Much for That

Published at 19:57 on 19 September 2011

The purpose of this trip was to interview for a job at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. Humboldt County is one of those places I’ve fallen in love with on my travels, and it would be something of a dream to live there.

A dream because high-tech jobs are practically nonexistent there (and in pretty much any of the other rural areas of the Northwest I dream of moving to). So it was hard not to fantasize during the time between being informed they wanted to fly me down for an interview and the interview itself.

Alas, it seems pretty obvious from the course of questioning during the interview that they want someone with significantly more Oracle database experience than I have. And since Oracle experience is easy to find, odds are very high they’ll find it in one of the other finalists.

Well, at least I get a couple free days in redwood country out of it, and the icing on the cake is not having to move yet again (which I’d still do in a heartbeat if I got an offer, of course, but it’s something that definitely made the job opening a mixed blessing and not an unadulterated one).

That’s It for Now

Published at 15:18 on 17 September 2011

And with this we conclude the flurry of “new blog” posts, as I am packing to depart Seattle for a few days and probably won’t be able to post until Wednesday or so (in the name of keeping my load light, I’m not taking my laptop computer with me).

Oops

Published at 09:32 on 14 September 2011

I recently applied to a job from an employer that used Careerbuilder to manage their job applications. As part of the application process, it requested my résumé and demanded that I either enter my current Careerbuilder username and password or register for an account.

So I did the former, without thinking of the possible consequences. And sure enough, Careerbuilder saved the copy of the résumé I just uploaded, which of course didn’t have the explicit message telling insurance companies to go away at its start. Surprise, surprise: the spam from insurance companies is baaaaaack.

Of course, sleaze outfit Farmers Insurance has been uninterruptedly spamming me several times per week for over a year and counting now. They’ve long since earned a spot in my spam filter, and I recommend that anyone who hates spam should avoid doing business with them like the plague.

Update: If you Google “farmers insurance spam,” it is fairly easy to see that I am not alone, and that this firm’s sleaze extends far beyond being an unrepentant spammer.

And We’re Up at Last

Published at 16:31 on 13 September 2011

It was a process fraught with difficulties, both in converting the old blog to a new format (something I essentially gave up on), and in getting this blog hosted (there were a number of hiccups in the process, you should have been seeing this message on Saturday). And there’s still a fair amount of configuring to do.

Ah, well. The main part of the deed is done at last.