As The World Turns…

Ahh… the busy life.

I’m preparing myself for Jodi’s return to England. And with that, trying to prepare myself for sole ownership and care of Dr. Jones.

And then I decided, “I’m not going to be busy enough, I think I should get a second job.”

So now 2 days or so a week I’ll be putting in hours with another job. Its contract/consulting type stuff… and it gets me work that is NOT on a help desk. YAY!!

Anyway, just as I was getting ready to start updating more (notice the new background and logo – or don’t notice if you’ve never been here before) I go and give myself LESS time to do it.

Oh well.

And then.

The IT market sucks in Atlanta.

I can’t afford to leave, and at the same time I can’t afford to stay.

3 years ago, I was gold. I was better than gold. I was a fast learner with a little experience in everything. I was a general practitioner of the Science and Medicine of Technology. The offers on the table were fifty-thousand a year. Minimum.

Today’s IT market is looking for the person I’ve never been, and without money cannot afford to become: The Specialist. Check the job pages. They want people with 3 or more years working on a single, likely non-widespread software package. They want someone with 10 years working in a particular single function who have mastered all skills required.

The General Practitioner is dead.

So… I am left with this. What am I supposed to do?

I can’t get a good job because I can’t even get interviews due to my lack of specific knowledge. I can’t afford to take classes, or buy books to attempt to learn those things on my own. I can’t afford the certification tests, without which no amount of knowledge I teach myself is valid in the eyes of recruiters.

Its the Catch-22 of the IT industry: To get the job, you need training, and to afford the training, you need the job.

I’m overqualified for the job I have, and underqualified to get another.

And we won’t even get into the whole “But the experience on your resume isn’t current” crap.

I’m angry.

I’m pissed.

I’m mad as hell.

And there’s damn little I see that I can do about it.

Does Anyone Else Have a Work Ethic Besides Me?

You’ll forgive me if I am repeating myself. I’m too lazy to go back and check my own archives to see if I have ranted about this before, but then, I feel its worth repeating anyway. All this is a bit ironic considering the title and subject. heh heh.

When I was young, or younger depending on how you want to look at it, I was a complete slacker. Even at the tender age of 8 I was standing around while the rest of the family did yard work proudly declairing that I was “supervising” the rest of them. If I could avoid work, I did so.

My grandfather, my father’s father, gave me a tired old piece of advice that I didn’t understand at the time. “Any job worth doing is worth doing well.” Frankly, I didn’t consider yard work worth doing, which is hilarious considering the plans that I have for the yard I will have at the house I will one day own.

Later on, when I took a “real” job after high school, I came to believe and follow this tired piece of advice. I even went so far as to come up with a couple of pieces of “tired” advice myself.

The first: “Any job that pays a decent wage is worth doing.” Its just a logical, for me anyway, extention of the old standard. Basically means what it means that if the job pays okay then its worth doing, and furthermore, worth doing well. Simple.

The second: “Any wage you agree to work for is a decent wage.” Another logical extention. Personally, I won’t work for peanuts. If its not enough to cover my bills I will find something else. So, if I take a job, then I am agreeing to the wage, therefore the wage must be decent, and the job worth doing, and worth doing well.

So why am I writing about all this you may be asking yourself? (and if you aren’t, please pause and ask yourself this now) Sometimes its hard to not hold people to the standards that you hold for yourself. To expect others to live up to your ideals. I have come to the point that I cannot work in a good 95% of the world’s help desks or customer service areas. Other people, and companies in general, just seem to not give a shit. My coworkers tell me to just “let it go” and that its “not your problem”. But… it IS my problem, and its my job to NOT let it go. Its their job too, but they give in to the adversity of the workplace. Every day I seem to pull my hair out
(what little is left) at the bizarre hoops that I must jump through. Things that should take a day, two at most, to resolve take a week. And if someone here says it should be a week, the customer should just cancel service with us because its never going to get done.

There are far too many transfers, changing of hands, and with it all done through an electronic call tracking system problems can sit open for days with no one looking at them, adandonned in the queues. There are too many gaps and holes in the system for it to function with any degree of certainty. Calling this helpdesk is like playing Russian Roulette. It shouldn’t be that way, and with the smallest of effort it wouldn’t be.

Someone, anyone, please. If you know a company that actually cares, that actually provides good complete service to its customers, one that is hiring, send them my way.

Life…

Yesterday was my first real day on the new job. No more training, just go in, log in to the phones and start taking calls.

At almost the exact instant that I sat down at my desk and logged in, on the other end of the call center, a man slumped over at his desk.

A few people from the call center performed CPR until the paramedics arrived. The EMS team rushed him off to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Last I heard, there was still no known reason for his collapse. It has been attributed to a possible coronary arrest or aneurism, and in all likelihood probably something he was unaware he was in danger of having.

Life is short, Live it well.

Job Hunting.

Since early this year, the Information Technology market has been less than good. At the end of last year I quit a job and within a month picked up an open ended contract, basically stay hired as long as I wanted. After they moved me to third shift, 11pm to 7am, I decided I didn’t want to any more. So on April 30th I turned in my work I.D. and security swipe card, and set off looking for a “better” job.

I had 4 months of bill money saved up in the bank, 5 if I stretched it. I called some headhunters, recruiters and the like, and started sending out resumes.

Its now almost 6 months later, and I’m still unemployed.

I managed to keep my head above water because my fiancee has a job, and she makes just enough to not quite cover the bills. So we are still slowly sinking, but not having to bail water as often.

I’ll be the first to admit, when I started looking, I had a fixed set of rules for where I wanted to work. But that began to fade after the first month. Slowly, week by week, my standards for employment have crumbled to the point where I think the only thing on my “I’m not comfortable doing that job” list is fast food. And its not just personal choice that has whittled away at my resolve. In nearly 6 months, I have had 2 real interviews.

Two.

Anyone else who bothered to contact me in response to my resume (and that number is small when compared to how many I have sent out) said the same thing: You’re overqualified, you wouldn’t be happy here, we can’t hire you. Even one grocery store which will remain nameless told me that I was overqualified to work stock, and that they would rather hire some high school kid who’s going to quit the first time his job conflicts with his social life over me, someone who just wants to keep food on his table and a roof over his head.

The job market was getting better. Then some maniacal moron had the idea to slam a couple of planes into the World Trade Center. I had 3 interviews lined up that week. All gone now as each company “rethinks its position in this time of crisis.” I don’t mean to lessen the pain of the terrorist attack. I sat at home, being unemployed, and watched CNN all day from the first crash to the very end. And I cried, all day. But as the President said, we must carry on. Those of us not victims of the attacks, our lives did not end on September 11th. We must continue living, we must show that an attack on our buildings cannot destroy our lives and freedom.

And yet lots of companies stopped interviewing. They still post jobs and collect resumes, but if you call them, they aren’t following through. No interviews are being set up, no hiring being done. The process only pretends to continue, it doesn’t actually carry on.

So what am I to do? I need a job. Lots of people need jobs. I’m no fool. I realize that I’m in a pool of thousands looking for work. But I can’t worry about them, because if I do I’ll care, and I’ll starve. Well, not likely starve, but move back home with my parents for sure, and that’s almost worse.

Luckily for me, the Christmas season is upon us. Its a time of generosity, good cheer, and seasonal help in stores all over this great nation. I’ve got an interview today in fact. And if I’m chosen, I’ll get to survive until next year. And if I’m not… I hear you can make up to $12 an hour begging on the street if you do it right.

21 March 2001

Examination of a quote
“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A quote often misquoted, and I think often misunderstood. Or maybe Johann was just wrong.
Most people, I think, would say that it means that surviving adversity makes you stronger in your faith, you convictions, and yourself. That when you emerge from the trial by fire, you are yourself, as before, only better, more powerful, to use the word from the quote, stronger.
I think this is wrong. A better thing to say would be, ‘What does not kill me, changes me.’
Whenever you are given a trial in life, a challenge, a joy, a pain, anything, you are never the same. Not neccessarily better or stronger, but different. At least you should be. If you are not changed by the events of your life, then you learned nothing from having lived it.
This leads me to a thought I had once and that I still hold on to today.
I have often been a part of a conversation that most people have with friends at some point. Its the “If you could go back and do anything one thing in your life different, what would it be?” conversation.
This can bring out very important information about someone. If they tell you about a missed job opportunity (not a money one, but a whole carreer change) there is a good chance that person is not happy in their job and would be happier if they took the risk and pursued the once missed path. Or they might tell you about a lost love, usually showing that when they get into relationships they don’t fully open up and because they once missed out on love, they’ll probably miss out on more because they don’t want that regret a second time in life. Or they do the opposite and open their hearts to every person to come even remotely close because the thought of missing another chance at love is too much, and so they convince themselves they love people that they don’t. There are more examples, but I’m not going through them all…
My point of this sidetrack, the thought that I had once and still hold: If you are happy with the life that you have and the person that you are, you cannot have regrets. Not real regrets, not the kind that would fit in with the above conversation. You can regret having hurt someone by leaving, but you cannot regret the leaving itself. And you cannot regret opportunities you didn’t take or the ones that you did. You can’t because each and every thing that you have done has shaped and molded you into the person that you are, and if you regret a choice in your past, then you also regret being you and are lying to yourself about being happy.
Am I happy?
For the most part. I regret nothing of my past, its made me who I am. I am a little disappointed in my present, but only when it comes to my job, and I’m working on that.
And my future?
Looks pretty good from here. I’ll let you know when I get there.
So back to the main point. If it doesn’t kill you, you learn, you adapt, you change, you grow… or at least I hope you do.

28 June 1998

Well, I missed a few days… but I have an excuse… My dog ate my employment application.
Actually, I now have a job… Seagull Software. I start that on July 6th, so next weekend is my last “free” weekend. Not that I’ll be working weekends, but it’ll be the last weekend that isn’t followed by getting up on Monday morning.
Now that job hunting is over, what am I gonna do now… I already decided that all my free time from here on out will be focusing on projects for North 5. First and foremost being the web page. Then I’ll start working on other things…
I’m not usually one to quote myself, but I said something that was actually pretty nifty the other night… while out drinking on Friday at the Ugly Mug Pub, I just casually said to a couple of fellow gamers from DoS, “You know that you have been spending too much time playing on-line games when you refer to being drunk as lag.” Friday night I didn’t get drunk… but on Saturday, hehe… I went to a party / pool tournament, what follows is a chronicle of the games last night:
First off, I playing some practice games against Frank.. nice guy, decent pool player, but he doesn’t play his shots with the next one in mind, meaning he doesn’t line up shots too well.. Anyhow, first game went to him when I scratched while trying to sink the 8, and the second game he still had 5 balls on the table when I dropped the 8 for the win. After that Derek and I started a game that was going pretty evenly, but we never finished because the tourney began.
I was told in the beginning of the evening that the man to beat was Austin, of the 5 tourneys they had held, he had won 3. So of course when we drew numbers for the games, he was in my bracket. Not my first game, but in my bracket. My first game was against Robby, and I almost lost. He was up with only the 14 left on the table and I had 5 balls out there. He missed a shot and I got lucky as hell by ending my turn everytime leaving him no shot on the 14. Slowly I worked down the table, and his last shot of the game, he left me set up to drop my last ball and then the 8. After almost losing it, I pulled back and won. I decided it was time to start drinking.
My next game, as luck would have it was against Pete, ForceTen of Clan DoS, and we were fighting out to see who would play Austin in the semi-final round. The game was going easy enough with Pete and I both sinking a ball or two, but I hadn’t drunk nearly enough to be good yet, so I was nervous. Then Pete dropped the 8 in by accident and took himself out of the game. At this point I think the last 3 or 4 games had ended that way.
Now was the semi-finals, me versus the legendary Austin, and I was on my 7th or 8th drink and fading fast, time to get nasty. = ) The game was normal enough, I took the break and we both traded off getting balls down, but then he took a lead and got about 3 balls ahead of me. With only the 6 on the table, he started chasing it around never quite getting it to drop in a pocket. In the end, he missed a shot on the 6 and set me up perfect for my last couple shots. The king is dead, long live the king. hehe. I’ll admit, I got lucky here. I really didn’t think I had a chance, but with the cops hangin’ around outside deciding whether or not to come in looking for minors drinking (of which their were none) and the hosts flipping out because I think they suspected a person or two to be holding (if you don’t know, don’t ask), I would guess that Austin was a little off his game. Besides, I have always been of the opinion that even when you know you can win, you should lose every now and then to keep the odds up. = )
For the finals, I was playing Scott. The game was going evenly when out of my drunken haze I had a moment of clarity and dropped 3 balls in a row and took the lead. We played back and forth a little but finally I whittled down the table and dropped my last ball. I had a nice setup on the 8, but it’s one of those shots where if you sink the 8, it’s great, but if you go a couple degrees off the mark, you scratch.
I got $43 for second place.
I must give out kudos to Kelly and Sean… they throw a kick-ass shindig.. I’m just a little upset that I missed the female, naked body-shots because I was playing pool. Next time I’ll know better and lose in the first round like Eric (D’oh!! hehehe).
I am also very glad that I am one of those people that just don’t get hang-overs…
—–
Today’s Song: Hey Man Nice Shot by Filter for all the obvious reasons.. this song really needed to get played during the tourney.
—–
Today’s Movie: The Outsiders. This was on TV during the party… I love this movie. See it.

18 June 1998

I keep going to these job interviews where they give me a logic test. On average they are about 25 questions long. Most are aaround 20-25 but then there was that one company that had a 78 question test. In any event, I go to these places and they hand me the test and say, “I hope you have plenty of time, this’ll take about 2 1/2 hours… maybe 3.” 30 minutes later I turn the test back in and miss maybe 2 or 3, but more often none (I missed 10 on the 78 question test). They laud praise on me like I’m the best thing since sliced bread, and then DON’T offer me a job.
Am I missing something?
—–
Today’s Song: Radiation Vibe by Fountains of Wayne… it’s been a while since I loaded this album in the CD player (happens when you have 400 CDs), but after another disappointing job interview hearing this tune just made me smile… a feel good song.
—–
Today’s Movie: Westworld. After watching Outland I’ve been getting into this “older” sci-fi mode. If you have never seen Westworld, do so… Yul Brenner as a gunfighting rogue android is worth it alone.

17 June 1998

I finally decided to bear down and really learn something. I’m preparing for when Half-Life comes out, and I’m hoping it will be an open enough game that you can make homegrown mods on it like Quake II. I’m going to sketch it all out and hopefully do it for HL… but if I can’t I’ll try Q2.
Anyhow… there is that… and I’m going to also start working out some map ideas for TF2. And I think I need to teach myself Visual Basic for a job I might interview for.
—–
Today’s Song: The Warrior by Scandal… I know it’s trash 80′s, but I had it in my CD player and when that came on I spawned as a sniper and made 11 kills in 11 shots. Sometimes I kick ass.
—–
Today’s Movie: Outland. 1, it has Sean Connery. 2, it has guys depressurising in deep space. And 3, it’s what I’m going to base my mod on.

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