Monday, February 27, 2006

Walking in NOVA

I, like many residents of Northern Virginia, feel left out. You see in 2003 the Commonwealth of Virginia had 86 pedestrian fatalities in automobile accidents. Of those 86, 10 occurred in Northern Virginia. When I say Northern Virginia I mean Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax. I also feel left out because the politicians in the Commonwealth of Virginia often talk about the horrible traffic conditions in Northern Virginia. Our current Governor, Tim Kaine (D), whom I voted for recently has made traffic the centerpiece in his legislative agenda.

The reason I feel left out of these things if because I don't own a car. Sure I could count myself amongst those statistics in pedestrian fatalities and I'm sure the way drivers move around here I will be some day. While Tim Kaine believes that traffic congestion is purely the result of poorly planned roads (which it mostly is) and the exploding population, I think it also has to do with the idiocy of the drivers in Northern Virginia.

I said that 11 out of 86 pedestrian fatalities occurred in Northern Virginia but those numbers obviously don't include injuries, near misses, etc. or the car on car accidents. Every morning I listen to NPR where they have a traffic report for the area. Every morning there are at least 3-4 accidents being cleaned up somewhere in the area, be it the beltway, Virginia, Maryland or D.C. 3-4 accidents a day seems like nothing, but I'm only talking about the morning. that's 1,095-1460 accidents a year, all taking place in the morning.

Perhaps before we start restructuring our horrible roads and freeways, before we create more hotlanes and HOV's, we should get rid of all the stupid drivers. That way I can walk in the middle of the beltway and never see a car or at least not worry about getting broadsided while coming back from chipotle.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Darren McGavin 1922-2006


Best known as the cranky, turkey loving father from A christmas story, Darren McGavin has entertained my family every year around the holidays. He passed away yesterday at the age of 84.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Brilliant

Or as the hipsters say: "Brill!"

Ban on GOP adoption in Ohio

Right on Sen. Hagan, I am a fan of your sarcastic style of arguing.

Dan Abrams

Has anyone else ever noticed that Dan Abrams, on MSNBC, can't seem to find the right words for a sign off? It's always like: "Ok, we're out of time...um...have a nice weekend..."

You all called me crazy!

You did, you know you did. You said, he's paranoid or he's just paranoid. Then after a while you said "he's crazy". Of course you didn't say it to me personally, cause who wants to talk to a crazy person? But there's more evidence that I'm not. I said before that I cynically believed that this whole dubai blow-up was just a strategy to bring more business to some lobbying firms in the wake of Abramoff-gate. Well guess what the UAE did after this whole thing started to take on a life of its own? They started pouring money into K-Street. Here's the Washington Post article.

You don't really think I'm crazy... right?

Things that will get you punched in the face. Pt. 2

weaving back and forth while walking in front of me on the sidewalk. Pick a side, stick with it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reviews N' Stuff 2

Ever wondered what that new type of Mini-Wheats tasted like? You're in luck, check out Reviews N' Stuff for my review of this new cereal. I'll give you a preview: it's strawberry-licious.

Daniel Lyons

You may wonder why I used a random name in the title of this blog post. This name is not so random however. Daniel Lyons happens to be the name of a reporter for Forbes magazine. So then why still did I put his name in the title? Because Mr. Lyons seems like the type of guy who googles his own name on a daily basis so he can read stuff about himself. You see Mr. Lyons isn't a fan of blogs. He's so not a fan that he doesn't even bother to research what the etymology of the term blog is. Here's a helping hand to Mr. Lyons, it's not Web Log, the correct term is weblog as pointed out by the esteemed Mr. Kottke.

Mr. Lyons writes in his article (Forbes November 14th 2005 issue) that blogs are bloodthirsty, vitriolic lynchmobs only out to destroy small businesses.

"Web logs [sic] are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuite include Google and Yahoo." (p. 129)

I think this is an unfair assertion on Mr. Lyons part. First off I've only ever used my blog to destroy one business but come on, the stab-o-matic was a dangerous product and the company should have known better than to market it to kids 2+. Funny? Perhaps, but my point is that just because some bloggers are only preoccupied with so-called flame wars, we are not all that way. It would be like me saying that all Forbes magazine reporters don't fact check (see Web Log).

Mr. Lyons argues that bloggers aren't held accountable by anyone. Now I've touched on this before but I feel the need to go further on this point. This is just ridiculous in the age of Heather Armstrong (Dooce.com), Melissa Lafsky (Opinionistas.com), Jessica Cutler (the Washingtonienne) and even the Waiter (Waiterrant.com). Dooce, Opinionistas and Washingtonienne all caused the loss of these womens jobs. Waiter blogs anonymously so that he doesn't (1) insult anyone and (2) lose his job.

Mr. Lyons also argues (as seen in that paragraph quote) that Yahoo and Google are complicit in this horrible online hate speech. Let me refer Mr. Lyons to a document he himself should, but apparently isn't, aware of. I'm a big fan of this document, I spent some time working on behalf of this document and I read it on a regular basis. This will sound cliched, but it's important to note, that there is such a thing as the Constitution and in this "Constitution" is something called the First Amendment. Let me quote that for you here just in case you don't have it handy:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the rights of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
(Amendment I)

I'm not coming out and saying that I am a member of the press, I am however coming out and saying that I am a person who is protected from having my freedom of speech abridged. That is why Google, whose motto is "Don't be evil" can be seen as complicit. Google understands that while they offer a service for us to post to a blog, they do not have the right to censor what we choose to write about.

I'd like to end by saying 3 things. First, I hold no ill will towards Mr. Lyons because of number two. Second, he's obviously making broad generalizations based upon individual examples, in an effort to hide his lack of research on this topic. Third, I am terribly, horribly sorry for this incredibly long post.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reviews n' Stuff

Joel has gotten his reviews n' stuff up and running again. While there are not that many reviews yet, one happens to be mine. So go check out my review of the new Domino DVD.

While you're there think about stuff you'd like us to review aaaaand if possible, send us free stuff so we can review it for you. Isn't that the point of creating a review site?

Ports, continued

So the deal with the UAE is still going on, should we or shouldn't we allow a middle eastern country control several of our ports. It comes down to this and I worded that very carefully. The argument that it's a state run company and not an independent, doesn't hold any water as I talked about already. The real reason comes down to this, do we trust middle eastern countries with important commercial assets? Security is run by the US government, the ports are still owned by the states so there's really no security risk. I also doubt that when this company gets transfered over to the UAE everyone will be fired and the company will be shipping arab longshoremen over here.

But here's what it comes down to: Appearances. Do you want to be (republican or democrat) on the wrong side of this issue? I don't mean do you want your veto overruled or do you want to come out against this only to change your mind. I mean, do you want to allow this deal to go through only for a terrorist attack to come through the ports. Even if it comes through a port run by an American company the appearance will remain the same. Secondly, security is such an important issue for republicans that they don't want the appearance of being lax. Similarly dem's see a great opportunity here and they're shooting for it.

Here's what I wish would happen, in a perfect world. First we could look past the fact that the company running several ports happens to have middle eastern board members. Second, if there is a terrorist attack we are smart enough to realize that it might not be connected to this decision. Why do I wish these things? Because right now I view this political play as a racist one and I'm not a fan of that no matter which party it's coming from.

Just in case you missed it,

And I know y'all did. Here is a good story from the Baltimore Sun kinda confirming what I was saying yesterday about letting Dubai run ports in the US. I had a feeling that this wasn't the first time that a foreign government had operated ports within the U.S. and I was right. Guess which other governmennt owned company runs ports all over the U.S.? China. I think that people have a misunderstanding about what exactly is happening. NPR also had a great story this morning, echoing the Baltimore sun and adding information on exactly what an operating company does. Here's a hint: they do not own the port, the states own the ports.

I think I'm actually in agreement with President Bush on this one. How crazy is that?!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Elder Wisdom Circle

This morning when I was getting ready for work I heard a story on NPR about the Elder Wisdom Circle or EWC. This is a group of seniors who field e-mails asking important and not so important questions. Using their combined knowledge and wisdom they seek to answer these questions.

I have to say thank you to Jason Kottke for acknowledging my email, about this program, to him this morning. For those of you who have never been to Kottke.org, go and go frequently. This is a great site that combs the internet for great stories and sites and puts them in one place.

Up to no good (vol. 1 issue. 5)

The big news today (even though this has been going on for a while) is the transferring of several ports over to a Dubai (UAE) based company. Actually it's a state run company. Back in my nerd days I was the VP of the Model United Nations in college. On one trip to NYC we met with the UAE mission. This was just 8 months after 9/11 and let me say, the UAE mission officers were great. They were all very nice very open and very gracious. The information that I walked away with was that this country and specifically the men and women I met there, is that they loved our country.

My feeling on what is going on with all this is quite cynical. My cynical feeling comes more from the post-abramoff era than the post-9/11 era. Lobbyists, communications firms and government relations firms (really all the same thing) are paid millions each year to make other countries look good. I just can't shake the feeling that Dem's and Repub's are pushing business their way. It feels like a knee-jerk reaction that the second this company is transferred to a middle eastern country we have a problem with it.

Link-o-rama (vol.1 issue. 1)

Stories and links I had no posts to go with, so I just stuck them altogether here. Perhaps this will become a regular post.

Another "worst-buy" story: Best Buy receipt check

Profile of Virginia's new Gov. Tim Kaine: Why Kaine Is Different (WP)

Target's helpful advice: How to fold a fitted sheet

Share the happy and sad times: The Remembering Site

Ultra-cool postage: "Video" Stamp (Gizmodo)

Transformers meets My Little Pony, what's not to love?: My Little Transformers

Long FT story on Gawker media and the "blogosphere": Time for the last post

China's struggling to control it's citizens and is losing due in part to the internet: The Click that Broke a Government's Grip (WP)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Up to no good (vol. 1 issue. 4)

Tomorrow I have an interview at the DCCC. For those of you not in the know, the DCCC stands for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In preparation for this interview I have taken several important steps. First, I went back and checked to see who the challengers were for the 2 congressman I campaigned for. I'd like to take this moment to brag about how both of these congressman won their campaigns. At any rate, I researched that and it took about 5 minutes. The other important step I took was... wait I didn't take any other steps.

I realized that I've been getting so stressed out before interviews that the best thing I can do is to just forget about it. That's right I have continuously forgotten about this interview throughout the weekend, only remembering when someone brings it up or I'm prompted. It's worked out well so far. In case you're worried, don't be. I have several alarms set to remind me throughout the day tomorrow. In the meantime though I'm just going to continue to forget.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Conversational Terrorism

This is a great page about tactics used in conversational debate. I myself have even been guilty of using some of these. The only downside to this page is that they don't give you ideas for getting around the responses, only a heads up on what they're trying to pull.

See if you can't pick out some of the tactics in these op-eds. (in the interest of fairness I've selected some op-eds from both sides. If you need to register to see the articles than just place a visit to www.bugmenot.com).

David Brooks -- "Places, Everyone. Action!" (Hint: it comes in the 6th paragraph)

Paul Krugman -- "Debt and Denial" (Hint: 8th paragraph)

Michelle Malkin -- "Clown journalism 101"
(Hint: Every single sentence...)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Better late than never

So just 9 months after I asked for these pictures, Erica finally sent them to me. I now have a flickr site fiiiiilled with pictures of me from myrtle beach.

That's it, that's the post.

Oh, but I have that informational interview tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes.

Way too much time spent online

I realized tonight after I found this; Cute Overload, and after Joel described a picture that he had found online of a guy dressed up as a transformer, that we spend WAY too much time online. After thinking about that for a split second I counted how many devices we currently have hooked up to the internet. We have an X-box with an Xbox Live account, 3 laptops and a Tivo. That's right we have 5 devices that are hooked up to the internet in our house. We are bandwidth junkies.

Right when I was going to bed tonight my wireless adaptor turned off. Even though I was about to close my eyes and enter dreamland, I couldn't take it that my laptop might not be able to get new mail, or receive an IM. I tried the usual lo-tech fixes (turning my laptop off and on, clicking furiously, then saying "hmmm...") but none of those worked. So I did the next logical thing, I went out into the living room to see what the deal was. Turns out the Tivo was being a network hog and now all is swell in the land of laptops. But that's what really got me thinking. What if I took a day off from the internet? Is that really possible anymore?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

pipeline

I was perusing CNN.com today and was trying to read some of the stories, but this isn't entirely possible anymore. That's because CNN has seen to it that some of their stories are only watchable and not readable. I got to thinking about them, specifically the headlines.

You know what would make them better? if they weren't the reporter's stories, just video taken of the event. Take for example these videos:
-doctor defends putting screwdriver in man's neck
-woman stabbed after turning down marriage proposal
-kids help rodents tie knot
-a wedding high in the sky
How awesome would it be to watch any of those things happen? "Look the guy said he wanted a screwdriver in his neck... that's all I'm gonna say about that." And why do rodents need to be tying knots... they'll take over the world someday because of the information provided by those meddling kids .

Valentines Day

After work today I got a call from my good friend Merzy. After complaining about how hard a time she is having with boys (just for the record she had 3 dates last weekend... not exactly grounds for sympathy in my book), she asked for some advice. Now, seeing as how she had 3 dates in one weekend and I haven't had 1 date in 1 year I figured she should be giving me advice. At any rate I offered my perspective on things: "Are you crazy? You better pray to whatever voodoo doll you got hidden under your bed and never speak of this again!" Actually my advice was much more complicated than that, but you get the picture. Then because she didn't seem to have any plans for the night I asked her to be my valentine. Her response was so sweet: "What does this entail?" I'm still looking up the definitions of all these words but I have a feeling it means some sort of emphatic 'yes'. I told her then that she had to hop the next flight cause I had dinner reservations at midnight, she laughed and it is now 12:22am and I had to call the restaurant and cancel.

My night was divided up into two sections, going to the grocery store and sitting on the couch. I hate going to the grocery store on friday or saturday nights for the same reason I hated going tonight. On the way there I joked to myself (not aloud) that at least there wouldn't be anyone there to witness me buying cinnamon toast crunch on the most romantic night of the year. And then I turned the corner and saw the parking lot for Giant. It was PACKED. There had to be at least 50-60 people in the store, and guess which section they had all congregated in? That's right, me and kellog, post, general mills and the good cap'n crunch had the aisle to ourselves. Earnest and Julio (Gallo) however, had quite the party going on. I was the only one there NOT buying overpriced, low quality wine. Not being a wine snob, I just prefer hangin with Tony the Tiger.

Monday, February 13, 2006

How odd?

The news today was dominated, and I do mean dominated, by the news that Cheney had gone on a murderous rampage... without the murder or rampage part. The Wonkette, 2, was ready to name him Veep for life till they realized that Arron Burr was cooler (for his attempted takeover of the US.) The White House Press corps was up in arms and at one point David Gregory even called Scott McClellan a...(drumroll)..."jerk". So why is this odd? Because the whole event, as I'm sure everyone knows by now, took place on saturday. The news didn't get wind of this however until sunday night. Why wait 20 hours to release something that can could be so incredibly damaging? My immediate reaction was likely the same as many people, that this was just another example of the secretiveness of this white house. I wonder if they release when birthdays are? What if a staffer asks how someones day is going, do they say that there is an investigation underway and when it's completed we'll have all the answers?

Anyway back to purpose. I have an informational interview this week which I'm looking forward to. It's always nice to get out and do something different even if you've already been doing something different. This meeting was arranged by my uncle Peter who has been kind in helping me in my ongoing job search. As for the interview that I did a while back I still haven't heard if it's been published but I've been keeping track so I'll be sure to link or post it when it's finished.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snowmeggeddon: final update

My rant yesterday about the snow storm was apparently half right. We didn't get anywhere near the amount of snow that they said we were going to get, but we did get snow. They were saying we got about 8 inches, that's a lie. We actually got about 3 inches.

These are my observations on snow storms in D.C.:

1. People don't know how to use salt and shovels. they either: throw salt down, then shovel; shovel but don't throw salt down or; they throw salt down but don't shovel.

2. Milk and bread are indespensable items when frozen water droplets are falling from the sky.

3. It is unsafe to walk on the sidewalk during or after a snowstorm, it's best to walk in the middle of the road.

4. If other people are getting more snow then us, cut to the reporter in the field who is showing how much snow we could have gotten!

5. Always make sure to brag to other people who are in the storms path about how much snow you've gotten.

On a final note, the snow has started to melt and in its place ice is forming. This is great cause it makes it impossible to walk anywhere without almost killing yourself and the orange juice carton you're carrying.

Snowmeggedon: Update


The snow has finally started to stick to the ground. Snowmeggeddon has started. Unfortunately I don't have the photo taking ability (ie lack of digital camera) to give y'all a good idea of what it looks like out there.

I took this picture with my cell phone about 30 minutes ago and have been touching it up ever since so that you can actually see what's in the picture. The parts that weren't completely black were filled up with the light of the street lamp.

It's kind of a shame really because Alexandria always looks nice when it's covered in snow, I like it better when it's covered with leaves and 100 degree weather, but beggars can't be choosers. So, snowmeggedon has begun after hours of dissapointment. Every year weathermen make predictions that it will snow 15 feet and we'll all die of snow-exposure. It never happens, we always get about 1/2 an inch of snow and they'll make some lame excuse to explain it away. Today, the heaviest snow was supposed to come between 3-5pm, I'll spare you the details but lets just say as of 2 hours ago they were saying the heaviest snow will fall between 3-5...am.

I think weathermen (and of course women) have side deals with grocery stores and home depot. It's just a theory... but I'm sure I can get enough proof.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

You know what would be cool?

If Google bought Stellarium and the Hubble Space Telescope. Kind of like what they did with Keyhole. That way this stellarium program would be ultra cool.

If you're looking for an update on snowmeggeddon, hold on, it'll be coming later. I'm choosing not to write about it until, you know, there's snow...

Friday, February 10, 2006

The one about how I got arrested at the grocery store...

But don't worry I can plead temporary insanity. I can understand when people want to save a little money at the store, and they try to only buy things that are on sale. What I can't understand is packing a shopping cart, getting to the checkout and then asking if things are on sale AFTER THEY'VE ALREADY BEEN SWIPED. Look lady, you have 45 things on the checkout belt, how about you decide 20 minutes ago what you want to keep and what you're gonna leave behind. Making the kid search for that ground turkey in all the bags because you grabbed the wrong one and don't want to spend the 45 cents extra is NOT COOL.

Combine that with the fact that tomorrow is Snowmeggeddon. That's right, we're all going to die from snow exposure. The great thing about snow storms in D.C. is that people think they need several gallons of milk. What's milk going to do? Does milk have some sort of magical snow removal properties that I don't know about? Do people think that when it snows cows stop producing milk for several months? I honestly saw a guy at checkout with three gallons of milk. He beat out the next person in line by one full gallon. Seriously, won't the milk go bad before they get a chance to use it?

Prohibition

4 days with no posting! oh my god!

Anyway... I was thinking the other day about my prohibition on blogging about work and I'm not changing my mind on this policy, it's a good policy. The latest hill "scandal" involving a staffer with a blog on the now controversial MySpace got me thinking about it. I started to think about what's the difference between me sending an email, instant message, calling someone or even telling someone in person what happened at work on any given day and blogging about it. The only real difference is this: it's saved online. I admit that putting something online about the negatives of a job, or the people you work with is embarrassing for them and for the company and more to the point, it's rude. But what recourse does a business really have? I know they have the power of the paycheck so to speak, but do they have the right to use it? Can a business fire you for saying something negative to another person? The conversation is, assumedly, done on your own time with your own resources.

And what about the "scandals" that have hit the hill in recent years? I put scandal in quotes because I don't think either of them was all that important when compared with actual scandals. Neither of these women discussed their jobs, neither of them said anything bad about their co-workers and while one of them did use a hill computer, the other didn't. Yet both were reprimanded (one was fired) and both received an overabundance of press (and a book deal). So then, what's to stop an employer from firing someone for saying or writing anything that they disagree with? Apparently nothing.

I think this stems from peoples misunderstanding, or at the very least a lack of information, on what blogs are. TV news is filled with how horrible MySpace is and how it will steal your children, Blogs are criticized in the "mainstream media" on a daily basis and parents are scrambling to catch up with technology so they can investigate whether their children are suicidal or not. Does this seem a little ridiculous to anyone else? First, MySpace is a tool, much like the benevolent titled site friendster. It will not perform evil tasks and the only danger in it is the same that goes for everything online, i.e. moderate the information you give out. Second, Blogs were not edited for a couple of years so the information wasn't necessarily truthful. Many of the "mainstream" blogs are now held accountable for the news they produce. Who are they held accountable by? The readers. The other blogs that aren't considered news outlets should be viewed as just that... non-news blogs. Lastly, parents should stop fretting so much about technology and playing detective on their children’s computers, and start parenting (which I will admit involves playing detective sometimes). If a kid writes about how he/she wants to hurt themselves online and you're not seeing signs of depression in their REAL LIFE BODY standing in front of you, then you don't need to take an IT course you need something completely different.

So let us review: Internet = not evil, Technology = not evil, MySpace = not going to abduct your children, Blog Scandals = aren't there better things to be reporting?

Monday, February 06, 2006

I've got dreams, dreams to remember

Every once in a while I wake up to one of those recurring dreams, I won't say nightmare because most of the time it's harmless. The dream is me back in high school. I didn't have a bad time in high school, I actually rather enjoyed my last few years in the public school system. But when you've been out of school for 7 years and you're suddenly dreaming about being back in high school, you get nervous about certain things. For one thing, I had totally forgotten to do my reading for that day and for some reason I had chosen a seat at the front of the room. What was with that? I never sat in the very front. The other thing was they kept saying that there was a big math test tomorrow. I guess it didn't matter that I happened to be in English class at the time. I've had this dream, or dreams quite like it several times over the years and I gotta say, I hate them. Who wants to relive being unprepared for class, especially when they're asleep? Seriously?

I've also been watching the hearings in the Senate judiciary committtee on the NSA wiretaps. AG Gonzalez got grilled by Sen. Feinstein. Sen. Jeff Sessions put it best when he complained that Sen. Feinstein was combining the patriot act with the NSA wiretaps: "It's not fair!..." Such an eloquent argument will no doubt leave the Dems dumbfounded.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Euology for HAL 9000

Recently my old computer was put to rest. I had had it through college and we spent a lot of good times together. When I first got it I named it HAL 9000 because it was so great. It could be networked, it had speakers, I could play CD's on it and after a couple of upgrades (that I did myself) it could also burn CD's. In recent years it could no longer burn CD's, the original CD-rom drive wouldn't open, the floppy disk no longer worked and the list goes on. I wrote my junior thesis, my senior thesis and countless papers on that machine. The tower was plastered with bumperstickers, and regular stickers, that I had collected over the years. Some of the stickers were political (a Re-Elect Hillary bumper sticker I recieved in the mail) to a sticker for a local radio station (indie), WBER 90.5. HAL traveled with me from New York to Ohio, Ohio to New York and New York to D.C.

Then two weeks ago I bought a new laptop. HAL just wasn't cutting it anymore. Once my new laptop arrived (Spanky- for spankin new) I packaged up HAL in garbage bags and put him in the storage closet.

The upside to this is that I can now work on a computer for longer than 15 minutes at a time and I do... and how.

Friday, February 03, 2006

It works?

Apparently there has been talk that my recent posts haven't been all that happy. So at my fathers request this one is a melancholy free zone. As my previous post reported, I was interviewed by a reporter about the difficulties in finding a job in D.C. Apparently going public with my story, even though the story hasn't been published yet, works. Starting Tuesday I have a temporary job for a month. Per one of my earlier posts and at the advice of Dooce's Heather Armstrong, I will not be talking about the job. Nothing, not where it is, what it is, who works there, nothing at all. So you'll just have to be content knowing that for a month I will be gainfully employed.

Irony?

I'm being (have been?) interviewed for a news story about the difficulties in finding a job in D.C. I asked the reporter to remain anonymous which she was glad to do. I'll see if I can't find the article when it comes out and put it up here. In the mean time I'll post my portion of the interview here.

"So here's the basic storyline so far:

I moved down to D.C. a couple of months after I graduated in 2003. I ended up doing what my friends call "the hollywood thing", sleeping on the floor of my friends apartment while I got an internship in a congressional office. After several months of sleeping on their floor, my friends understandably became annoyed. My job search continued on Tuesdays and Thursdays while my internship was on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays. I was helped out by having family already working in the government. My cousin in-law worked for a congressman and my uncle worked for the state dept. Informational interviews were abundant, however real interviews were in short supply.

My internship ended in Dec. of 2003 and by February 2004 I had a job. I worked in a congressional office as a staff assistant for a departing member. This position had its positives and negatives. Upward movement in the office was a given, people would be jumping ship and positions and responsibilities would be opening up. The downside was that come January 3rd 2005, I would again be out of work. But after a little over a year of not having a real job post graduation, I was thrilled by the opportunity. In that first job search period a couple of things became clear. First, agencies were almost impossible to break into. This was made more difficult by the fact that I am a registered democrat. At several interviews I had people tell me that they would pass my resume along to the appropriate person and then lean in and say: "but they'll probably just throw it away because of the people you've worked for." Secondly, getting an interview was almost impossible. It required patience, persistence and LOTS of resumes.

My job search started again in 2005. I figured it would be much easier this time around because of my acquired experience and the contacts I had made. I also had done some campaign work in my off time and figured that this would also help in both networking and making me look good. It's been about a year and 3 months now and I have had roughly 5 interviews. I have been working through politemps, working as a waiter and even collected unemployment for what seemed like the most frustrating part of my life. The amount of work that has gone into getting those 5 interviews is ridiculous. I have mailed out at least 3-5 resumes a day, applying to everything from federal agencies to marketing and law firms. As an added kick in the side the restaurant that I had been working at, closed on the 1st of January.

One thing that I think is frustrating is that 3/4's of the job listings I look at require you to have either a masters degree or some huge amount of experience and a lot of those are entry level! The other 1/4 of the jobs are clerical, or secretary work that makes me scared about the prospect of being stuck in that position forever. On the federal agency side of things, just going about applying to them is ridiculous. Anyone who has ever gone to USAJobs.com knows what I'm talking about.

I think many employers don't know how difficult it is just to get your foot in the door. So many people are applying for every position out there that it's nearly impossible just to get noticed. Out of the hundreds of resumes that I've sent out, I would guess that maybe 20 or so of the intended recipients have looked at it. This also adds to the stress and frustration in a job search because 90% of the time you get no feedback whatsoever. The times when I have gotten feedback it's always weeks or even months later when I've forgotten I ever applied to a position in that office."

Luckily this first (last?) interview was conducted via email so I had it saved.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Lately...

So the title of this blog has a double meaning, first; it's really late right now, second; this is what's been happening lately.

On January 1st, the restaurant I had been working at closed for good leaving me once again out of work. This had a sort of ironic/deja vu style to it since it had only been a year before that the Congressional office I was working in closed. Since then I have been working to find a new job, sending out resumes, calling friends who have jobs and asking them about leads, so on and so forth. Last week I was setup with a phone interview for a big company. It went well and so last friday I had an actual interview. I thought this went well also, you can see the post about the pre-interview jitters below. Then on tuesday I got a call from the temp agency that was acting as a head-hunter informing me that I didn't get the job. That was the big cliffhanger, did I or didn't I get the job. I didn't. So now just as before it's back to square one. I feel like I build myself up by sending out resumes and I reach so close when I get an interview. Then when I hear back I ultimately get knocked back down. It's been a year and 3 months now and I've been out of work for all of it.

There is only so much, 'keep at it', 'you'll get something soon' or 'you totally deserve a job' that one can take before they start asking themselves questions. Am I truly that unemployable? I have broadened my job search so that there are things I am applying to now that I wouldn't even want to do. Things that would make me cringe when the alarm clock goes off in the morning and still I get no call backs, no indication whatsoever. I have resumes on monster, hotjobs, rollcall.com, washingtonpost.com and all I get are job openings for Iraq and temp agencies that have placed fake ads. I've reached a breaking point.

That is why tonight, I am up so late. It is also why I found this. If I hadn't been up so late I wouldn't have been going through the archives of blogs that I enjoy reading. I wouldn't have seen a link to a blog I've never read before, and I wouldn't have seen his linkage to what I read 3 times tonight. Most people can't remember who their graduation speaker is, or what they said (I certainly don't), but I have a feeling that you would remember this graduation speaker, Conan O'Brien. I also think that most people, myself included, enjoy reading commencement addresses, even if they didn't go to the school in question (in this case Harvard).

This speach was great. Telling graduates that they will indeed fail is what is needed. Telling graduates that these failures will only make them stronger, only make the good times better is what is needed.

Nobody told me how hard it was going to be leaving college. Nobody told me how scary it would be to board a train to South Carolina and ride for 36 hours to the partially unknown. Nobody told me just how damn hard it was going to be when I got to D.C. I thought I had struck it big time when I got my first (and only) hill job. I was half right. Now, instead of thinking that I will never have another job, instead of getting frustrated I can do the hard work of looking for another job, I can study for these three huge tests. I can get it done and do it well. I can overcome all of this because I know in the end I will be giving a graduation address at Harvard... well ok that's not the case but i know one thing. I like looking back on the risks I've taken, I talk about them often. What's going on now will only make the story that much better later in life. I look forward to being able to tell that story.

just in case you missed it in the post, I'll link it down here as well.

Conan O'Brien's commencement address to the Harvard class of 2000

So you may have noticed...

That I haven't mentioned anything about the state of the union... besides the whole human-animal hybrid thing that we're all still puzzling about. It's not because I have a lack of thoughts about it, it's more that I have an over-abundance. My fingers won't allow me to type it all out.

Just a couple of things that I do want to say though. Democrats need to do more than just clap at the failing of Bush's social security reform. Did it show an unusual amount of backbone? yes, however they aren't really doing anything else to capitalize on what pundits have called Bush's worst year.

When Bush comes out and says, make the tax cuts permanent because it's what is responsible, does he realize how backwards that is? Don't we need to, I don't know, balance the budget? It's kinda ridiculous how we all fall for it too. Yeah yeah, that makes sense... make them permanent so that we get more money back. Deficit? what's that? where's my tax return check?

Seeing as how it's 2006, not 2001, can we please stop invoking Sept. 11th? Why not focus on the current situation, why not start talking about March 2003?

If there's one thing I don't like it's this; using, emphasis on USING, our armed forces and their families for a photo op. Is this the 2nd year in a row that Bush has praised the family of a fallen soldier who just so happened to be in the house gallery? We're already putting them in harms way, do we really need to take such public advantage of them as well? Also, what was the point of inviting a dog to the SOTU if you're not even going to mention it?

That's all I got for right now, although, I was a little dissapointed in the Wonkette's coverage of the SOTU last night. In fact I'm a little dissapointed in the Wonkette altogether right now. These new editors will have to earn a little respect.

Online grudges

Is it possible to start an argument without ever actually speaking directly to a person? I believe it is. check it out here, here and here.

I have to say though, I'm more a fan of veggie dumplings than pork. I also don't think I'd ever make food a hero of mine but to each their own.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

quick post

I have to run some errands today so this has to be quick, but I had to post about this. It was just too funny when I saw it. Following last nights state of the union address bloggers posted about human-animal hybrids like they were going out of style. check this out:

human - animal hybrid chart

assorted goofiness

I recently decided (last night), that in the coming months I will be studying to take three big tests. The Foreign Service Exam, the GRE and the LSAT. I've got them penciled in for April, May and June respectively. The only thing that's negotiable right now is the GRE because you can schedule it for when you'd like to take it. The other two however revolve around someone elses schedule. I'm expecting that since the GRE is negotiable (in my mind) that it will be delayed a while considering one factor. I have forgotten any and all math that was drilled in to my brain over the last 25 years. I looked at some sample questions last night and couldn't remember a darn thing. The other two I'm nervous/ excited about. I've been putting this off for as long as I could simply because I hate school. Or to be precise, I hate going to classes where I think I'm learning something only to hand in a paper a week later and have the professor completely disagree with that assesment. College for me was such a tedious hardship. Between my thesis and taking chinese I'm lucky I even graduated. Some people can coast through college, I know I certainly thought I could at first. Looking back at high school I think I was set on cruise control for the majority of the time. When I think about grad or law school though, I think; 'wow, I will really need to get my act together before I do that.'
here's hoping to me getting my act together in a hurry.

I also did a little bit of contractual writing tonight. I didn't get paid for it but it was certainly enjoyable. Chris needed a bio for his webpage and he said he always liked what I wrote so that's how that went. I would say that he didn't know what he was in for, but he did.

movie reviews:
Wimbeldon: **
Mr. & Mrs. Smith: ****
Swingers: *****
Underworld 2: ***
Lord of War: ***