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Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writing and Resume-ing, not to mention Chopping Wood

Spent the day doing little things. I took a walk and paid bills around town (good news, we finally got the new checks). Then I chopped wood for a couple of hours. This time I ran into plenty of difficult wood (knots, internal branches, crooked grain, etc).

And then I finished up a poem for the 15th Annual Nature Writers. See, I sent a bunch of poems off to the Akron Art Museum New Voices Poetry Contest, and I forgot to write down which poems I sent. Bad writer, no cookie. Also, there's a good chance of a job at the Geauga Park District which requires writing skills (doing research on the district was how I found the poetry contest). As you know, Bob, much of my poetry involves nature themes, so it seemed like a fit. Also, at least in my little head, I'm looking at it as a part of my audition for the job. Now, I would have liked to get 800 words of prose out (as that would be more germane to the job), but got all twisted around and went for the poem instead. The new poem is entitled "The Woods in Winter" and has a bunch of nice phrasing, including hibernating bare trees and an allusion to the Wizard of Oz. I debating about expanding the poem into a prose piece (ayk,B, I do prose poetry as well), but I didn't know how the judges would take that (not everybody likes that sort of thing).

There was another job offering that was posted, so I did a quick rewrite of the resume from all the notes I had from yesterday, and sent it out. So we'll see how the "cleaned up" version works. I'd much rather 1) have my old job or 2) get the parks job, but it's a job I could do well, and there would be some travel (I haven't done that since E&Y). So I'd take it. Off went the resume (and copies to the people I had give me a critique of it).

So here's a question about resumes. One of the suggestions was to jazz it up and do a full design job on the resume (add graphics, make it fold into something, look like a newspaper, whatever). Now, typically I've dismissed those urges to make the resume scan quicker (and for automated tools), make it nice and clean, and have it fax well. Any thoughts? Would you want to see a snazzy document from someone you're hiring to be creative, or something you can read quickly and looks good across a multitude of delivery vehicles?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My words but a whisper, your deafness a shout

Spent the afternoon talking about my job search with some people from the Jobs and Family Services. There's a few directions I need to get going. Also clearer on some future decisions. And I have ideas on how to rewrite the resume (for the fourth time). Just way too many things to discuss about that. So here's some other links.

But first, since I'm flipping channels, Hannity just had a guest who blamed Obama for the collapse of business in the private jet market. See, he (Obama) vilified CEOs flying around in their private jets (I seem to remember it being the Congress and the American People who did that, but whatever a persecution complex needs it'll manufacture), so those CEOs just won't buy them anymore. Yeah, that's why. Nothing to do with a collapse of the economy and private jets being a luxury item or the rise of plane-share programs. Nah, those wouldn't have anything to do with it. Well, Hannity is in the Reagan Library and this idiot of a business man got plenty of support of the crowd for his statements. It's the echo chamber in person. WIlliam Buckley is rolling in his fresh grave.

The Somali Pirate Business Model. Of somewhat an interest, reiterates things I already knew, but maybe interesting to some others. Piracy is business. Notice the reference to "investors."

One writer's story of breaking up with a publisher. And I can't say this is the first time I've heard similar stories. Take this as another push of the idea to remember writing is a business. We can sometimes get all caught up in the personalities, but when it comes down to the wire, it's a business relationship. I know in my own life that's a hard lesson to learn. But having just been laid off a third time in my professional career, I think that it's finally sinking in. (also grokked from Jay Lake).

Two Gallup polls that talk about being underemployed (a situation I'm staring in the face as we type). First up, the underemployed report worse health than the employed. Of course the survey doesn't go into causal questions (ie. are you underemployed because of the pain, or have the pain because you're underemployed?). Well, yes, I could have told them that. And, frankly, it's both. Then there's the emotional costs of unemployment. Go figure, people who want to work full time are experiencing emotion issues (stress, anger, sadness, worry) when they're not able to be fully employed. While they get to have more time with their family, really, I don't think that balances out the stresses. One major stress for me, even though they don't go into it in the surveys, health insurance. We're approaching two months being unemployed and without health insurance. I'm approaching a tipping point that I may not be able to get coverage because of pre-existing conditions (except for the "high risk" pool in the short run, then hopefully to regular insurance in 2014). You may see a connection in this poll on majority of poor, young, uninsured back HCR.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Good news (for somebody else)

My friend Merrie has excellent good news. I'm sure sitting on that news for three months now nearly killed her. It's a 3 books deal, for those who don't want to click through first and find out. Go and tell her how wonderful she is (because she really is).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday with the Notes

Spent most of the day preparing for tomorrow. It'll be the first time I've registered for classes in almost two decades. And the classes are ones that fill fast. So tomorrow will be up early (somewhat disappointed they don't have online registration start at midnight), drive to broadband access, and then a mad rush to register (I have the numbers for my first and second choices ready to go). I also owe a few of you some email that I hope to get to tomorrow. Tomorrow is also a seminar on getting a Federal Government Job. Apparently the application process is a doosie.

Also a lot of work preparing for the week. No new positions listed, fortunately two I tried to apply to last week had fax issues (I'm sure they didn't feed the beast before leaving). I'll try again tomorrow (which will give me my two jobs for this week).

And now that we're at the end of the day it seems like a lot of running for not a lot of ground gained. Hopefully that will change the first few days of this week.

How did your weekend go?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

WIP

Okay, finished up some critiques so I could get back to the rewrite. Finished up another chapter, but discovered I had double counted one chapter. Sigh. So even with three chapters added to the rewrite, and about a 1000 extra words between them, my total number goes down a little. Margle!

The last two chapters, though, worry me. I didn't do much in the way of rewriting, more like repointing a chimney. Just adding a little mortar here and there. Not sure how good that makes them. Not sure what it says about my own rewriting skills. I don't think I'm phoning it in. Maybe now that I'm at the point that nobody else has read these parts I'm not paying as close attention. Or, said the more hopeful side of my brain, maybe this would be the point I got my act together and knew what direction I was headed.

I'm still hoping to go to the full novel critique weekend. I just wish I had a full time job together that I could be sure of my availability. I think it's the running into deadlines added to the uncertainty of the situation that's driving me insane at the moment. Margle again!

Saturday in the Realm of the Cranky

Hey look, there's a position for copywriter. Oh, wait.
Well, this ad isn’t that wrongly written. Just kidding... Seriously though, our company was just announced as one of the Top 50 places to work in the United States by a large, reputable magazine and we have grown over 400% every year for the last 3 years. Our company is just 3 years old but we’ve established a leadership position in our niche.

Uh, yeah. You know, there's plenty of crappy ads out there and I don't comment on them. No, really, I don't bring up how "Cleveland, OH" is "nearby" to "Montgomery, AL." I don't talk about all of the crazy stuff I see out there (like there's now at least three design positions that pay $12hr - for "highly experienced people" but also "entry level"). I thought by the link on the job site, "Hey, this might be interesting," and then saw their full ad. Dudes:
  • If it's a "reputable magazine" give us the name.

  • 400% growth over your first year isn't something to brag about. 400% of 0 is still 0.

  • And that your "niche" is real estate investment doesn't give me a warm feeling (can you say "foreclosure flippers")

And let me say, I've had it with all the sites that require someone out of work to part with their money to get a service that "may" be required to either search or submit an application. Or the, "sure you can submit with a 'basic' membership, but upgrade (for a fee) and we'll really pass on your resume," sites. You know, these days, there is more honesty, transparency, and frankly, good business practices in the real estate industry than in the job/resume markets. At least real estate agents, by law, must disclose their business relationships as it involves the transaction. These job sites are giving the name of swindler a bad reputation.

And then there's the service to "fax your resume right away" that will only cost me $20. Give me the full contact info and I'll get the damn resume to you, don't point me at a pay service.

Also, when I input "graphic design" as my keywords, you should really be able to eliminate the "no graphic design" listings. They keep clogging up my browser.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Morning annoyances

Paying some bills online and they have a "convenience fee" which is not defined until after you put in your payment information. Really, this is a "convenience" for the company that I'm doing your data entry. This is like the phone company charging a fee for "touch tone service" (which our local - explicative deleted - company does - I do have a rotary phone, I've been thinking about forcing them to support it for free).

Wait, an 8% fee. WTF? Are you all insane? I'm sorry, to have the bill processed automatically by software and you're charging a fee that is equal to your late charge. No cookie for you! And I must have "pop-ups enabled" to do this crap? And your pop-up window just need to expand to the full screen size?

Man, they are pushing all my buttons. So, no. We'll take the chance on the checks arriving soon and sending it in the normal way. We still have a few days before it's due. And no, I'm not giving you the routing numbers to my bank account.

And on the job-hunt side, there's a new position that looks like it pays well. It would be a bit of a drive (and I'm used to hour long commutes). There's some skills I haven't used in a long time, but I could do them. But the first half of the ad is about how wonderful the company is. And then they have these bullets:
  • Are you a hard-working, enthusiastic professional? Well, yes I am, thanks for asking. Get many people responding, "No, I'm a lazy shit."

  • Are you able to be engaging in your conversations while remaining focused on details? I'm scintillating at cocktail parties, but what does that have to do with actual work?

  • Do you enjoy having clearly defined goals and easily measurable results? Hmm, the red lights begin to flash.

  • Are you looking to join a motivated, growing team of professionals? Is that a klaxon I hear in the distance?

  • Have you ever wanted to be part of the explosive growth characterized by internet startups? DANGER, WARNING, WILL ROBINSON!

The rest of the job sounds okay, but really, is it just me or do those questions make you want to run and hide. I'm sure they're attempting to be "hip and happening", but instead it comes off as "we write SPAM for a living." Or at least they read too much of their SPAM.

And all this before noon. It's a full day already. So how's your Friday going so far?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday between the flakes - of snow that is

Well, got the "Dear John" letter from the job I had high hopes for. One, I performed the job tasked at or above the level they needed for 12 years. Two, their benefits were just what I needed. It was in-house for an industry I knew about. I could have helped them greatly. But no, not even a chance for an interview or even a call back. How crazy is that? Also wish I could have found a way to contact them directly (rebuffed at every turn I made) to say, "Thanks anyway, if you have something else just like this I'd really be interested."

Of course I haven't been sitting still waiting for a response. There's two other jobs that I have high hopes for. One would be good. While I've done the work before, the actual position would be a promotion. They have a specific "Don't Call Us" policy, although I did send a follow up email. Still no word that direction. The other one is a slightly different position, while it includes design there a lot of "public relations" parts of the job. Well, I can handle that with all I do as a Village Councilman. It depends on if they agree or not. It's also the only position that they've posted the pay, which isn't a much as my previous positions, but it's closer and the subject matter is something I like.

In other employment news, I finished up all the testing and jumped through all the hoops to get the appointment with JFS to talk about possible retraining moneys. Today was taking the TABE test. Four hours (well, in my case three) of job and mind numbing, ass in chair going numb, brain starting to ossify fun. I'd like to tell you I got 100%, but I didn't. My average on all the sections was 96%. But then understand that some sections were 4 questions, so if you missed one you scored 75% for that section (yep, got me). However they do list "mastery levels", which, I'm proud to say, out of 34 "Objectives" there was only one that I scored below "Mastery" (and that one was "Partial Mastery" - which was "Data Analysis" which was a second WTF moment of the day). On that section, despite the verbal instructions, the written instructions said we were allowed to use a calculator (which, because of the verbal instructions, I hadn't brought with me). My guess is I made some algebraic error early in the computation. For the "National Percentile" I scored in the 99th percentile on all but two categories (Language Mechanics and Spelling, go figure, but 98 and 97th percentiles respectively).

Now it's off to get scheduled with a career advisor and have my resume reviewed. Hurdles cross and hoops jumped through for today. Tomorrow, I'm sure, there will be new hurdles and hoops. Maybe flaming hoops. Just have to make sure that when I do get an interview, the circus music in my head isn't too distracting.

A different social networking question

So, you've thought about your family, your boss, but have you thought about the editors to whom you submit your stories? Okay, I think I have at least one already, but he and I have had some longer conversations and I think our relationship goes beyond the occasional email. Now, I do blog with several editors, and I've friended them on Facebook and Twitter, but what about connecting through Linkedin with an editor that you haven't done much more than submit to?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wingnut Wednesday

So, can we talk about something else yet? Not yet. My guess is a few people who thought it was perfectly fine for the government to do warrantless wiretaps are going to be very upset very quickly. Okay, well, I'm gonna talk about something else for the moment.

Jim Hines is publishing the results of his novel study (or study of novelists or something like that). This link is to his third article on the results (there are links for parts I and II in the article). Some interesting stuff in there.

Ned and Jane is a fund raiser for the Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers. In return for coughing up $5 you get your own copy of a girl-meet-zombie story. You know, not to mention helping fund a scholarship to an excellent workshop for young writers. I was way past the age limit by the time Alpha started, even farther than when I learned about it. I haven't been directly involved with the workshop, but I've seen the teens who have gone through the experience and know some who have been. From what I've seen it's an excellent program. Writing isn't a zero sum game (if it were, I'd say let the little buggers wallow in the wilderness us, their older comrades in arms, had to, but, you know, it's not one). Encouraging younger writers just means that when I've hit my dotage, many years from now, I'll still have great SF/F/H stories to read. (saw this many places, but I think Tobias Buckell's was first)

And typing about Tobias, he has been posting It's All Just a Draft. Some thoughts on writing, advice, and his own story. I haven't read it yet. I could read it for free, but Tobias is doing the donation thing for it, and I'd like to chip in. Well, I might read it and chip in later. I'm a big fan of Tobias, have been for many years. Seriously, get me talking about breaking into writing and Tobias' name will come up quickly in that conversation, especially his "Getting Past Being Joe Blowneopro." I am so sure there's excellent nuggets of info in there, I'm giving the link before I even check it out. Yeah, he's that good.

And finally a non-writing link. On this evening's New Hour on PBS, they had a story on how Yemen Lacks Counter-Terrorism Resources to Halt Jihadists. The report is by Margaret Warner and she does an excellent job. And why I'm pointing it out, is she interviews our American Ambassador in Yemen who actually gets it. He understands what terrorism is all about (well, a lot of them over there do because they are actually fighting it themselves). Oh, and since we're discussing it, bonus points to anybody who remembers the first use of a hellfire missile on a Predator drone, who it targeted and where it happened (no, the answer isn't in the story).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Knowing when to hold them

Watching The Seven Samuraiwhile doing follow-up contacts for jobs. There's something oddly synchronistic about it.

Tomorrow holds way to many "must do" cards in it's hand. I might need to go to bed to deal from the bottom of the deck. Could possibly need a new deal, but doubt the house will grant me one.

There's got to be a morning after

Aw, Glenn Beck wants a hug. Come 'ere, Glenny. Just show me your hands first. I want to make sure you dropped the knife.

And in other news, Earth slows its rotation because of the right leaning spin coming out of Washington. You know, much of the crap being flung have been debunked so long ago, I'm just not sure it's worth while having the argument anymore. Really, just make the link to FactCheck.org and be done with it. Unfortunately there's still people who think this is a "government takeover" (again, it'll spend less than 1% of healthcare spending, if you can "take over" and industry that way, well, damn, I need to get into the mergers and acquisitions business). And then the Queen of the North is still on about her "death panels." I'm sorry, it's now been almost a year. If you don't understand how wrong this is, you just don't have the capacity to carry on the conversation.

It's called being a sore loser. And it's especially poignant because the conservatives bluffed and blustered, and huffed and puffed, and the little house didn't fall over. So, now those who rant and rave about frivolous lawsuits are now championing frivolous lawsuits. They scream about government wasteful spending, but now they praise several attorneys general bringing costly (to states' budgets and to the US Attorney General's office to defend) legal action which has a slim chance of getting any traction. Say, hypocritical much?

And don't get me started on talk radio. Last night on the way home from a too long day on the road I got to hear about how wonderful John Boener's public hissy fit ("have you read it?" - yes, we have, obviously you haven't) was a wonderful speech and an amazing piece of... sorry, just threw up in my mouth there. All this even though it did exactly dick on the floor. John expended a great deal of what little political capitol he had on this. And he finally realized he had been had. And he knows now that with the brinksmanship, he was holding the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

And now the conservatives are scrambling to make sure this isn't their Waterloo. The good news for them is that liberals, for the most part, aren't mean people. We don't kick when you're down. It's one of our differences. That will let the talking heads have their space to rewrite history to show how they were victorious; the whole, "bipartisan opposition to the bill" and "48% opposed the bill" (missing some 13-16% because it was too conservative) arguments.

The conservatives continue to emulate the actions of the school yard bully. Once their threats and bluffs are called and they're given a bloody nose, they still bluster and foam so that people who didn't notice the punch might think they got the better of the deal.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cut wood, so far no water to carry

Let's start with a writing link that I didn't grok from anybody else, you know, except for hearing about it on the radio. TV Tropes is a wiki that as they say, "This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction... The wiki is called 'TV Tropes' because TV is where we started."

Yesterday, when the garage broke, I had been putting together a new 4'x8' wood crib. Today I commenced to splitting wood to put into the new crib. From the trees we had cut last year we have plenty of wood that need splitting. So I took about three and a half hours and turned 15 or so sections into about 8 square feet of split wood. Doesn't sound like a lot, does it.

Until you consider that I was only using an ax, a single wedge and 3lb sledge. Also, I was taught how to split wood by an 65-year old grandmother in the mountains of Tennessee, using wood too tough for her to split, and she needed it split to fuel her woodstove (as in, like your range/oven or cooktop/oven, only hers was run by wood). The split wood needed to be smaller than the diameter of a quarter. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. We helped build her house for Habitat, however we were only painting and we didn't have enough rollers for everybody. So I volunteered to help out doing other chores. She had a stack of wood to tough for her to split herself. If all you've ever done it split logs into four quarters of it's diameter, or even eights, you haven't really split wood.

The wood I split today was 1) all oak and 2) started with a diameter of at least 14" (some were over 24"). I didn't go for a quarter's diameter, but I tried to keep them below a half-dollar's diameter. Some of the wood wouldn't go as small than that, so there's some larger pieces out there. Hopefully, when I get a new job we'll be able to get a wood burner this year. I've got plenty of wood for it, and we had looked at it two years ago. Most of what I split today had some nasty twists, some had grown around branches, some had twisting fibers and growth patterns. Only about three sections went easily. The rest fought me all the way.

So, happy Spring. Don't forget to start splitting wood for next year.

A Day at the Races

Fox News is in full on froth mode. Cavuto said "people are descending on Washington like locusts." I can't agree more. I'm sure he didn't mean it that way, though. Or somehow in his mind it was a Good Thing(tm). Of course, Cavuto isn't the brightest crayon in the box anyway. He's just a good spinner and can follow directions and talking points. It's so bad the typists for the crawlers are missing spaces. I'm sure they'll be to all caps by tomorrow.

And yes, there's a guy with a "Tyranny Response Team" t-shirt and the prerequisite "Obama is going to eat our babies" and "Liberals Suck", and "SOCIALISM" kinds of signs. You know, you want to be against "government out of control spending" and "not like the direction the government is going", I can respect that. And frankly, welcome to the cause 9 years late. But that's really not what the movement is about. I know some of you are. I know the idiots don't speak for you all, but their the ones speaking the loudest for you. Maybe you should actually take control of your movement before the radicals drive you over the cliff. And maybe you might want to rethink the star power of Michele Bachmann. Seriously, last night on the floor of congress she said that "the government took over the car industry effectively." I think she meant to put "effectively" after the "government", but then, she also doesn't listen to what she is saying. Why should you?

At the beginning of this, last summer, a friend that was in the movement sent me a message with several links to speakers talking, basically, revolution. That is your movement. Angry people. No compromise. Our way or death. Well, you might be surprised to know some of us have already made those decisions, only it was seven years ago. However, to us, the Constitution lives, and many of us swore to uphold, defend, and protect her. Also, it's not the first time I've heard both that language or vitriol. I used to make a study of them.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Working for the weekend

Okay, well, except for two good job opportunities (one I'm still psyched about, just checked and I'm in the "reviewing credentials" phase, I believe this means I've made it past the first cut), and a few shining moments (that weren't all that shiny), this week sucked.

Monday started off with my wife having her purse stolen. Major suckatude. We spent Monday night and all day Tuesday running errands to make sure that if the theft ended up more than a cash grab (most thieves just take whatever cash is in there and dump the rest, cash typically can't be traced), we were protected. So all new ids, account numbers, changing the locks, etc. Yeah. There's not only a bunch of time, but cash out the door.

Wednesday, I forget Wednesday. There was a meeting I had to go to.

And then yesterday my fire chief couldn't make a meeting so I had to drive an hour to get there. This week saw about the usual mileage being put on the car as when I was working full time. And the meeting went pretty late, so I didn't get home until late.

But that's not the worse thing about Thursday. See, I now have another reason for health care reform. This one goes to affordable premium rates for individuals. As you may not know, because the office shut down, I don't have the opportunity for COBRA. And an initial consult for an individual plan with me and Bette, we got to $600 a month before we got to far into the questions of past history. And that's with a $3000 deductible. So, yeah. Not going there, because I really want to be able to eat come July.

Well, yesterday morning I woke up early with a familiar pain. It was a kidney stone. I had one last summer and it required a trip to the emergency room. Fortunately this one must not have been very big (last summer's was 4mm - the tube it has to go through is 2mm), as it meant a lot of pain, but not enough that it knocked me to the ground (like last summer). So I took some of the remaining tylenol (dilates the urethra) and toughed it out. I was fortunate. Today I'm just sore (so I'm assuming here it's passed at least into the bladder). Both you and I dodged the bullet. And I say you and I because if I had to go to the hospital, it would have been enough to make me look at bankruptcy, and you would pay higher fees for insurance and billing items from hospitals to cover my cost of care.

And then there was today. Today, the tension spring on the garage door snapped. There's another $200 I really don't have. Fortunately the company that installed out door had a truck in our area and it's fixed. But still, there's another bill.

So, I don't know what I did to get this week. Or if the universe is saving up my luck points to spring a surprise on me (like getting a job soon). But I'm ready for this week to be over and this bad luck to be put behind me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Been something or other

Okay, because I was bored, I looked at BeenVerfied.com. And first up, they maybe looking at a truth in advertising suit. See, it's not "free", you only have a "free" trial period.

But, I ran myself, because, well, you know. And I think it's interesting that one of my aliases is my brother. So, not so much with the clean database.

And then, in their commercials, it states, "Search yourself, you might be surprised at what you find," while they're highlighting conviction for armed robbery. I think you'd remember being convicted for armed robbery. That's not something like forgetting which color polo shirt you wore on Wednesday.

So, not so much with the thinking it's really worthwhile. Unfortunately, some people, employers say, may be looking to save themselves some moolah and go with the cut rate site and then they don't really understand quality and think I am my brother.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whipping it out

Chapter 8 is down for the count. And that count brings us to 75281. Yippie!

A two-lobbed shamrock of links

Justine Lee Musk (aka Tribal Writer) on the dirty secret truth about talent. (grokked form Tobias Buckell) She examines the two mindsets of "you're born talented," versus, "you can train talent." I'm a strong believer in the second option. There's also a function she sort of skips over quickly and it's in her first paragraph. To paraphrase her instructor, "people with inborn 'talent' drop out quickly." Especially when it's no longer easy.

Everything becomes hard at some point, if you're doing it right. If you're doing it to get better. Most things are easy up to a certain point. It's in this area the people with "inborn talent" excel. And then they hit the wall. That wall you can think of as the "professional level barrier." That's where things get hard and you need to do actual work (the level of work varies, but it is a big difference in effort).

Most "talented" people hit that wall and bounce. Hard. Those who have been working all along do better, as long as they make the decision to step it up. See, they also hit the wall, but they're already working at it.

In high school, I'm sure you've all know people who were very good at something; guitar playing, golf, sports, math, whatever. How many of those people are still at it? How many of those people who worked their asses off to play second fiddle are still doing those things? In my experience, the guitarists who were "naturals" aren't playing anymore. It's those who worked hard to be less than the stars are the ones still playing.

Now and email newsletter. I haven't checked it out too much yet, but David Farland offers a free newsletter that comes recommend. (grokked from Elizabeth Bear, I believe). Per his website, "Register for David Farland’s free 'Daily Kick In The Pants' and get insights on writing, plus motivational tips and news."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You Better Run All Day And Run All Night

First up, you guessed it, a healthcare thing:

So, AHIP, the health insurance companies' professional organization, has come out swinging with a full page ad about "We ain't the bad guys. Don't look behind the curtain," stating:
"And the total cost of everything we do, including all overhead, marketing, and profits, amounts to four percent of our nation's health care spending. "

Okay, Health Care spending is 1/6th of the gross national product. That means their cut of everything in the country is 0.67% of the GNP. Since they average 16-17% of premiums as expenses (the overhead and marketing parts), and 10-15% profit (well, let's say 10%, to be nice about this), makes their profit only portion of the GNP about .25%. For one industry. I wonder what other industries' profits can be expressed as a quarter of a percent of GNP or larger?

Oh, and what Jim said. (About father-in-law, death, Glenn Beck, and healthcare - yeah, thinking of printing this and having my Mom read it over Easter, had the, "But Mom, you're on Medicare, it IS a government health care program," conversation already, which, she knows it, Mom ain't dumb, but I think her TV set had been tuned to too much Fox since she hasn't been out working).

Spent last night and today running around. I can't really talk about it much, and except for being with my wife, wasn't exactly much fun, but it certainly took up a bunch of time and money and put the miles on the car.

Last night I hit upon a Sr. Designer job at a local hospital. Really psyched about the opportunity. It had been posted on the hospital's own career sites (which the search engines don't pick up on). So I rewrote my top core competencies to show how I'm a fit for the position (highlighting my skills to match their requirements listed in the ad - that's a hit I got from the resume class - note, not lying, just emphasizing some skills over others). Only to see they've listed the position in the newspapers. Sigh. Now everybody is going to know about it. Hopefully, being in early will count for something.

Tomorrow, I should be around more, and more coherent. I need to finish up the "skills focus" resume (the one used for jobs outside of the design field - in this economy, a good job is a good job), get to a meeting for both learning some more of how my tax dollars can help me and maybe some heavy networking (one of the people has an "in" for volunteering at the hospital system the job above is for - or something like that). And get back to rewriting, critiquing, and editing. I owe people stuff and I need to get it out of my head so I can focus on the next batch.

So how do you miss Mondays?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Linkerage

I'm adding more and more of the blogs I follow into Google Reader so I can keep more up to date with that's going on with you all. So far I haven't been able to be as active as I have been in the past (something about no bandwidth to speak of, and keeping the phone lines cleared during the day, plus, you know, all the other stuff I'm doing tends to creep into the time I used to spend blogging).

Also, my website has been updated with new portfolio pieces. I haven't revamped the basic programming yet. Will get to the whole "CSS is the bestest" layout soon. I hope. But, you know what, my site 1) works, 2) loads fast and 3) I like my layout (my goal is to change the backend programming, and go to a new color scheme, but the overall structure won't change).

So, to the writerly links.

Ben Peek talks about time as it pertains to the writing and publishing life. Yeah, what he said. Especially the last line about while waiting, you try to not let it take the love out of it. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ruthanne Reid on the roaring secret to being published. Yet. It is just what every body has been saying all along. Also, it helps if you're slightly driven, or as other people may say, "crazy." I'm approaching the ten-year mark for taking writing seriously. And I'm just getting those peaks of waves above the water mark in the tub (the tub-theory of publishing). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jim Hines is running a survey of first (professional) novel sales. Jim also links to Tobias Buckell's survey so I won't include that link here. Both surveys should be very enlightening (heck, in the past month I've had two discussions about, "Well, you're an author, work that angle for money" - as in, just publish novels and you'll be fine - and then I tell them that not only is the money bad, Toby's survey averaged $5000 advance for first published novels, it could be several years to get all of that). I really look forward to seeing the results. (hey, look, a link that wasn't grokked from Jay Lake, it's like a miracle of its own) Also, Jim on why advances matter. What he said.

And on the other side, self-published author Ken McConnel has a good month on Kindle. Ken is going his own route and, for a self-published author, making it work. From what I've read, Ken is a success story in the publishing model he has chosen. Go, Ken! (also note, Ken is very aware of what he is doing, and he puts a lot of time into his projects, which is why he is successful)

And now to the political links (also grokked from Jay Lake, you know, I should send him a dollar or something for all the great reading he himself hasn't done, but has pointed me to).

Ezra Klein on parlimentary tricks and heavy handed deal making and threatening. Oh yeah, this is about Medicare Part D. If you think what's going on now is so bad, give a look at what happened then. Yet another reason why I'm for getting this done. Republicans are talking about how terrible it will be if Congress passes HCR. Yes, it will be terrible for them. The Democratic Party and the country in general, however will be much better for it. Also note, the HCR legislation fixes one of the major complaints about Medicare Part D, the notorious "donut hole."

And, this from a BBC editorial asking is US politics nastier than ever? "No Conservative party in Europe would touch Obama's proposals. They are far too right-wing."

More Thoughts on Terrorism

Cassie brings up some good points in the comments on the previous post, and there's some side issues I'd like to address out in a main post.

Analogies to past actions have been wrong on several points.

About the German Saboteurs and how we should treat the Gitmo Detainees the same. First major difference, they were actors for a state power that we had declared open war on. Their attacks were sabotage, not terrorism (it's a subtle difference because most people don't understand and frankly, the Bush Administration barely understood the difference themselves). Sabotage is meant to disable response and sew chaos behind enemy lines. Their target were infrastructure orientated. Terrorism is designed to foment revolution and specifically attacks people to cause as much death as possible. And the FBI had rolled up most of the Duquesne Spy Ring before the war and used criminal trials to send them into jail for life. They were spies with military attachments. As such, they were not terrorists. While they did advocate the overthrow of the US, that overthrow would have been conventional forces taking the country, not getting the populace to fight the revolt for them. Their mission was to hamper our ability to fight Germany giving the Germans time to subdue England and solidify their control of Europe. The same reasoning behind Pearl Harbor, to hamper our ability to respond and thwart the plans of the Japanese (fortunately our carriers weren't in the harbor at the time).

About the Barbary Pirates and how this is a war. Again, the Barbary Pirates were state actors (the Barbary States). They had a solid base of operations. Also, their crimes were theft and appropriation (impressment of sailors, and theft of cargo, and destruction of ships). The Barbary States may have been "illegal states" operating within the recognized borders of other states, but they had self-governance and freedom of operation within their territories. For all purposes, they were governments unto themselves. The war was won conventionally.

So both analogies miss the mark. Al Qaeda are not saboteurs (although their attacks maybe directed this way). They also aren't state actors (although the Bush Administration declaring war on them and using the military they way they have gives them the appearances of being such). They are well funded (at a quasi-state level), but hold no territory themselves. They have no actual governance experience (as show in Iraq when they did hold territories).

Al Qaeda made the mistake of tying themselves to the Taliban (note here, the Taliban weren't their first or only hosts). We had an opportunity after 9-11 while they were still tied down. That opportunity was squandered by our invasion of Iraq (which allowed Al Qaeda time and space to re-diffuse and expand). Finishing the war in Afghanistan is now about denying them a base (and depleting their ranks and handing them a defeat), instead of rolling them up.

Terrorists are not state actors (although they can be proxy state actors as in the case of Hamas, or the real privateers/pirates who carried Letters of Marq). Terrorists are defuse (they have no defined base of operations). They act as individuals or coordinated teams. Their purpose is not to gain and hold territory, but to convince the population they should revolt. Treating terrorists as if they were state actors works to the terrorists plans. It gives them 1) legitimacy, 2) perceived strength, 3) motivation and continued recruitment opportunities and 4) sets the stage to put the populace in play. Treating them as common criminals defuses all four of these points.

The differences may seem subtle (after all, saboteurs blow up oil refineries and people die, terrorists blow up the World Trade Center and people die), but they are very important. The goals are distinctly diverse. And the after effects aren't the same.

This isn't a conflict (war if you want) about who they are, what their ideals are. This is about who we are, what we stand for. This isn't a fight they can win, it is a fight we can lose. This is what makes this conflict different.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday Heavy Lifting - The Terrorism Post

Okay, well, without going into too many details (which I'm not allowed to do anyway per standing order), I know a few things about terrorism and terrorists. This knowledge is pre-9/11. And it comes from people who have studied, in depth, and with the purpose and intent to keep our country safe and defeat terrorists worldwide. And the terrorists in the study include not only Islamic Terrorists, but Basque, Irish, Italian, Columbian, Honduran, Indonesian, Japanese, Palestinian, Greek, Egyptian, North African (Sudanese, Libyan, Moroccan) and US domestic terrorist groups.

Here it is, in a nutshell. Terrorist are political animals. As we used to joke about the Russians, terrorists don't crap in the morning unless their politics tells them it's okay. Terrorists are not interested in "freeing their brethren" or "seeing justice done" or any of that other happy horse puckey they like to spew out to the presses. Terrorists (once they've gone the route of terror) are interested in only one thing. Revolution and the overthrow of their "oppressor" government(s).

See, terrorists were once political activists. People who want to either see change or see themselves in power. And all those dreams and aspirations are quashed. Now, most people would be angry, rail against the machine, maybe try it again, or work a different vein to see if they could effect change. The terrorist is unreconcilable. The status quo (the reason their plans didn't come to fruition) is intolerable to them. There is no compromise (we'll get back to that), and they must continue their "good fight." This is the point where they change to terrorists.

At this time, they realize they will not achieve their dreams by persuasion. They also realize they will never garner enough support to directly challenge the targeted government(s). So they're willing to try a gamble. We can call it a desperate gamble, a far flung hope, a twisted mental condition. However, in the mind of the terrorist, it is the only option left available to them. They have given up their hope to be in charge, but, damnit, they'll take down the oppressive government.

This is important to understand. The terrorist has accepted (individually and as a group) that they will not survive. Sure, they might have some hope, but it no longer figures into their current operating mentality. The terrorists accept that they will not win. This is their actual compromise, "I will not be there to see it, but I will bring down those who thwarted me." And it's here where they have slight hope. In the chaos they sew, they will hope to be able to take control in the power vacuum once the government fails, before any another force can assume that roll. Yes, this is why a terrorist is called insane. This is their twisted mentality.

So, how does a terrorist, who knows they don't have the money, manpower, or populist appeal to it themselves overthrow a government? They get the population, the governed, to do it. Again, a terrorist is a political animal. The people who drive the ideology are not idiots. They are highly educated and intellectual people and they think about politics all the time. Everything to them, as it was to the Revolutionaries of the early 20th century, is political. They will use politics.

There is a basic compact between the governed and the government. We can talk about "surf and turf" all day, but these days governments are formed (for the most part) on the contract between the governed and the government that the governed will relinquish some freedoms (like, I can't kill my neighbor just because his goat wanders on my land) for the establishment of law, order, and our mutual protection.

Remember that. Law. Order. Mutual Protection. And this is what the terrorist will strike at. They will attempt to sever those bonds between the governed and the government, driving the governed to revolt against the government and violently overthrow them. Again, they are willing to die to get this revolution started, although they hold out hope that once it does, in the chaos they will be able to gather enough support to take the reigns of power at the end.

And so they kill civilians. They very people they hope will rise up. Why? Because they're making their political point that the government can no longer protect them. That strikes at the first leg of the tripod agreement. They kill those civilians with great violence, wantonness, and in such a way to create the greatest amount of disorder in society. That strikes at the second leg. And they hope the government, desperate to keep their power, responding to the outrageousness and deliberate undermining of our social processes (9/11 - they used our air travel and subverted both the minimal security protecting us there, and our preconception that all hijackers would negotiate - this, both of these, were the main reason the attacks were carried out this way, it was part of the attack) will respond by violating their own laws, the civil liberties of the citizens/subject, and react in the same barbaric tone to kill the terrorists (which they can never fully do, the result of the highly asymmetrical war). All of these are the intent and work to the plans of the terrorist.

The effects of this are what the terrorists are after (not the actual deaths of civilians, that's just lighting the fuse to the bomb). And, it's normally where their plans are foiled. Unless the targeted government takes the bait and violates their own charters, limit the rights of the people they govern, and respond outside the laws of their own nation and their treaties with others. This is when things start rolling for the terrorists.

The people are afraid (that whole terror thing). And they see their government breaking the implied compact to keep them safe, abide by the law, and not infringe further on their own rights. Fear is a tiring emotion. And when the people grow tired of fear, it will turn to anger. Only, who will they be angry with? The terrorists, or the government that violated the contract and still hasn't been able to make them safe? This is the terrorist's opportunity. It's the whole reason why they make horrific attacks, it is to get to this point. An angry populace that is looking to revenge and to take back their government.

Does this start to sound familiar, yet?

At this point the terrorists will strike again, but their attack will be slightly different. It will be designed to show the government is not as stable or as strong as the people think it is. They hope this will plant the seed that the people can re-take their government, and form a new one that will keep them safe, restore their freedoms, and live within the new confines they've made for it.

Revolution.

This is why terrorists should be treated as criminals and prosecuted within the law. And here, I should say, when they aren't shot in the street like rabid dogs we should try them as criminals. They are not an army. We can't fight a "war" against them. Again, this doesn't mean we shouldn't use the tools of the state to hunt them down and kill them. We shouldn't, however, give them higher status than that of common thugs. We shouldn't create special procedures for them, special courts, special rules. Our government shouldn't have changed any laws to go after them. We already can hunt them down, arrest them (if we can), and try them as murders and crooks with what we had. This regulates their attacks to only one leg of the tripod. And the more we put them away, the stronger that last leg becomes.

Those that we can't find we need to neuter or compromise. This is where the FBI has done a spectacular job in fighting domestic terrorism. They infiltrate, arrest the "masterminds" and compromise and subvert the rest. The movements are then neutered and powerless. Kill the head and the body dies. This is the difference between the FBI and Mossad. Mossad is willing to go "extra-constitutional" as we used to call it. Their focus is also to kill the body and get the head when they can. And this is why they're still fighting the same groups, and those groups have the backing of foreign governments (even though their politics don't align).

That's the basic math. Of course, in practicality it gets calculous and high sadistic statistics in the real world. Many of my friends have more recent experience with this. Is there something I missed or didn't explain well? Are there any questions? Something I glossed over because I've gone over it in my head so many times I keep forgetting the rest of you haven't been there? I'll probably write more at some point, about the particulars of certain events (in the past and recent) and how they tie in. But that's the nutshell.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Night at the Harryhausen and Resume Building

Listening to one of the original Ray Harryhausen monster flicks while I finish editing my resume (which, IMHO, now totally kicks the ass of the other resumes), and the snark-o-meter keeps kicking off in my head. See, since I'm not actually watching it, only hearing it, the movie is exceedingly more campy than it would be otherwise. There's the general pseudo-scientific sounding dialog and narration added to the pseudo-military sounding dialog and the prerequisite monster roars, crashes, "Great Scott!"s and everything else.

Here are some gems, and my own snark flavored mental droppings.

"Bullets and missiles don't seem to affect it." Well, of course not. It's prehistoric. They didn't have gunpowder back when it was supposed to have lived.

"Be careful, wounded the creature is probably twice as dangerous as it was." Aw, thanks Doc. Think you could have fucking told us that before we tried to blow its arms off?

"Oh, and it's blood is probably poisonous on contact." Somebody shoot this damn professor and get me somebody who can help me defeat this thing!

So the first resume is rewritten. Why do I have such a problem with selling myself? Oh yeah, I have scruples and was raised to be humble (it shows, doesn't it). I went to the Ohio Jobs local office yesterday for a seminar on resume writing and learned a whole lot. I can't use all of it (such as, if I only include the last 10-15 years of employment history, I'm actually including nearly 20 years because of my longevity in positions). I did drop some of the older work, and the places I worked at for a few months, and I dropped the "gee, I'm freelancing" section (that one I always kept wondering about, I mean it says I'm a go getter, and that I can do lots of other things, and I'm keeping current, but then I think it works against me in the "oh well, he's got his own income stream going or he'll compete against me"). I changed around the bullet points from things I did or was responsible for (even though I framed them as how good I was), and only used bullet points of things I should have gotten awards for (and some of the things I did get awards for). This resume is the "so, you want a designer, eh?" resume. I still need to do the "there aren't any jobs in the design field, so I'm looking for something else, see what a special snowflake I am?" resume. Which will probably be tomorrow. And then I really need to update the ol' website adding in all the CSS crap I can throw at it (because that's what people want to see - well, that and Flash).

Plus, you know, critiquing one novel, rewriting my own, critiquing some short stories, rewriting my own, and reading for the novel workshop coming up. That, and since the ice is out, maybe working in the yard. And keeping the house up. And that whole councilman thing.

Was talking with someone about maybe volunteering at the hospital as a way to get into a full time position there (local hospital has a great education benefit, well, that and medical). She said it was a great way to fill the time if you're not doing anything. I just smiled at her.

So, what have you all been up to?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When the ice goes out

I just noticed today that even though my front yard still has some good snow coverage, in the back woods the snow is mostly gone. All these days of 60 degree days and not freezing nights have worked their charm.

And also, I hadn't noticed having been mostly locked up in the house, it's sugar maple season. Which also means it's pancake season, and I haven't had any yet. When I was but a wee lad, my Mom used to make pancakes and waffles. And I'd love them, until the headaches kicked in. So I learned to use a modicum of syrup. And I love pancakes and especially waffles. Except they give me a headache if I covered them in syrup. Until I discovered, as an adult attempting to please my wife, that is was the type of syrup giving me a headache. See, real syrup, the kind that comes out of trees, doesn't give me any headache at all. And give me a good grade B syrup (light to dark amber - heavy maple taste) and I'm damn happy. While judges rate A and AA grades higher, it's the B grades that really are the best. As Jim McDonald says, "We sell the A grade stuff to the gullible tourists."

And today, the harbinger of spring came floating back home. I saw the first red winged blackbird on the drive home. It was immature, but no mistaking it. Spring is here. Pretty soon the bulbs will start sprouting.

Today felt strangely different. For one I went out of the house for the second day in a row. There was a resume builder seminar that I went to. And oh yes, we are redrafting out resume (which we'll then have to update in eight different places). I learned a lot. Or I should say, much of what I knew makes sense now and I see the way forward. Also, the next few weeks are going to be heavily scheduled. For someone without a day job, I'm going to be very busy.

Here's hoping this mood elevation isn't just because of Vit. D or melatonin levels and that something grand in the universe has shifted.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One Writer's Link and some more Heathcare Stuff

Peter Straub on the genre questions. Several other writers have pointed to this, and yeah, what he said. A lot of what he said. Why horror? and Why Write at All? Both questions answered in there. Just so much in there, it's hard to pick out favorite parts. I think the subtext of "because I'm honest to the human condition, and honest about what I do and my work" is why I keyed into this essay so strongly.

And now, the Healthcare stuff.

Slacktivist on the different games the politicians are playing. And not in a muckracker kind of sense. His basic premise is Democrats are playing Jeopardy and Republicans are playing Family Feud. Pretty good analogy. Reminds me of the story on Healthcare Reform on tonight's PBS Newshour. Notice once the Health Insurance representative is schooled on business school definitions (remember my profit comment from a few weeks ago, yeah, that came up), when asked for his "business school" interpretation of "what reforms will mean for businesses", as in "please give us your analysis of the bill," he reverts to "what business owners 'believe.'" Went asked for individual analysis of legislation, answering with "survey says" (and not a survey with statistical relevance, BTW) isn't acceptable.

And, if you wish, you can verify for yourself the "spokesperson's" veracity because publicly traded companies (of which most insurance companies are these days) have to make annual reports. And you can read them yourself. Here's Wellpoint's reports (the company I own stock in, which also owns plenty of brand names like Anthem). Here is the 2008 summary (2009 isn't compiled yet) Note total assets (money in from all sources, which include carry over and investment profit, just to be fair), total liabilities (what they owed and have or will have to pay out from this money), and "total shareholder's equity" (this is also sometimes known as "profit" - unrealized profit, as that money also pays processing and salaries). Also be sure to check out charts at the bottom of the page. Do a google search for your own insurance carrier's annual reports. (slacktivist grokked from Jay Lake)

If Healthcare Reform passes, Rush Limbaugh will leave? Hey, yet another reason I support Healthcare Reform. And I expect Rush to keep to his promise. Pack your bags, Rush. And, let me just say, America, love it or leave. Get the fuck out, Rush. Don't let the door hit you on the ass as you go off to the West Indies with your Mexican Viagra. Oh wait, that's right, you don't think Hawaii is part of the US (or at least many of your viewers don't), and as you once said, they have the best healthcare in the world. All while having mandated universal coverage with government subsidies for those who can't afford it on their own. So you'll probably just go to Hawaii.

The Wild, Blue Yonder

I say ye, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), Congressional Gold Medal recipients.

It's about time the rest of the country understood what many in the services know. With out you, The War would not have been won. Most people get lost in the tactics. Fewer understand the importance of strategy. Fewer still know that logistics wins the fight, the battle, and the war. And the distinct minority know the WASPs went beyond logistic support and provided combat services in ways that could be denied (at the time), but were essential to the war effort. These women pilots helped pave the way for women in combat, all under the radar of the American consciousness.

Raise a glass and thank your lucky stars these women stepped up, did what their country asked, did it well, and we're asked to keep quiet about what they did (combat support, submarine spotting and attacking, navigation, engineering, troop carrier support, cargo ship caravan support, SAR, I could go on...). Oh, and every single one of them were volunteers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday TMI (or at least too long)

Sheila sends us a NY Times article on Depression's Upside (well, actually the possible evolutionary path of depression). I think there's plenty to think on in there, but I also think they're making the mistake of thinking all depression is alike. It's not. I have that "rumination" problem. And I do it for embarrassments that are decades old. That's when it's a real problem. Some of them I've been able to tell myself "let it go." Some of my worst ones, though, keep coming back.

Also, since I haven't done a general health thing lately. I'm above 300 again. For the end of January, all of February, and part of March I was below. I didn't want to say anything here for fear of jinxing it. But today I went above 300 again. I think it's because I went from consistently taking metformin before eating to not doing so well that way (taking it during or after). When I would drive to work I would take the pills here at home, and then eat poptarts or health bars as a breakfast at work (an hour later). Once I made that change consistently, the pounds started coming off again. So I think I need to try to do that again. Take my pills, do morning exercises or take a shower, then eat breakfast.

And thinking of that. Think I can put my Wii Fit age on my resume? I mean, I consistently test at least ten years younger than I am (today's was 26!). And I have to say, I'm liking the Wii Fit Plus. The new games are (the ones I've tried) pretty fun. I like the calorie counter and the ability to make up my own routines (although it doesn't allow me to input aerobic exercises, and that's the majority of what I do). Today I did the freestep and tried something I wanted to check out. Yes, you can go faster than they have a cadence for. And at first I got a message of "you're pushing it too hard," but that only happened once at the beginning.

I've heard back from Electric Spec, they're passing on "Prince Wanted", although I don't think it's a form rejection. They said it was a strong story, and they encourage me to submit again. I think I also forgot to mention Clarksworld rejecting "History of Lightning." So except for the long term submissions into Doorways and Chizine, everything is back. So I'll need to take a moment and work through submissions again. I probably should also query Doorways and see if something got missed in email.

And the Democratic Leadership is forcing Rep. Eric Massa out because of his stand against the Health Care legislation? HAHAHAHAHA... choke, sputter, ha. Uh, yeah. Because, Eric, you're a bigger problem then say, Bart Stupak. Right. My guess, Eric, is if they are "forcing you out" (hey, remember the Democratic Party who couldn't organize a two car parade?) it's because you're too dumb to be there. No, really, no one is "forcing" you out. Stay. Face your ethics panel. Hell, Trafficant (a certifiable lunatic) did that (and really, Ol' Jimmy has gone off the deep end into conspiracy land, he has a radio show where you can hear all about it). You were in the Navy (tickle fights? really?), have some cajones. Oh, wait, maybe not, because those are what got you in this position in the first place.

Journalists are finally asking some of the right questions. Like, "So, if the Democrats would rewrite the HC legislation with (insert the previous "must have" comment) included, would you vote for it?" Answered by back peddling and saying, "Well, no, because the 2,700 page legislation is way too large and the people are against it." I wish the Democrats would finally just accept that no Republican will vote for it, and stop arguing for it. Line up the blame for it's failure at their feet. And then hand Stupak and his 11 other congressmen (which, notice you hear a lot about deal making, but not so much about Stupak's deal making and forming sub caucuses) and tell them you're willing to lose Congress and make sure you hang the bill's failure around their necks. The conservative keep brining up LBJ and how he worked Medicare and Civil Rights. Well, this is how LBJ did it. He wasn't above hitting someone with the stick first, before even discussing the possibility of the carrot.

Well, yes, when polled for the "Obama Health Care Plan" it polls low. Until you ask about specifics, which people are actually for everything in the Obama Health Care Plan. It's just the opposition has done a good job making people afraid of it without them actually knowing what's inside. And unlike most of my readers, the general public just isn't following it. Want an example, most people think the bill will be "forced down out throats" with a majority vote in congress, and that "it's going too fast." You know, since that argument was first made 9 months ago. Yeah, that's really fast.

The house is burning down, and not only are the conservatives arguing over the price of the garden hose, they're wondering how much they can get to turn on the water.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday Down

A day of successful cat waxing completed.

Applied to three new positions. Very disparate positions from Senior Management to production wonk. Saw one position I applied for (did the background search on it, found the decision makers names, etc) that was resposted, same exact description, only now it's an "entry level position." You know, entry level with a good work history, ethics, highly fluent in all the major software packages, and a track record of using humor in the work place.

I'm looking at going to a few job fairs. Anyone ever been to one? Any tips on what to wear, what to bring, how to network within the walls?

Had a meeting today. Having meetings on the weekends always throws me off my game.

And just because I've heard the whole "conservatives are better for business/economy" thing too many times, an Economist article on just how bad the 2000's were. Also very useful against those who like to say, "It's all Obama's fault" or "we just didn't deregulate enough" (the 40-60s were decades of intense regulation, and look, they're also the decades of greatest GNP growth). (grokked from Jay Lake)

Paul Krugman opines on the mental position of Sen. Bunning and Sen. Kyl. Yeah. Wish I could say he's so very wrong. (also grokked from Jay Lake)

Friday, March 5, 2010

I know, I know, I know, I know...

Where in boring Steve attempts to not be boring on a Friday.

So, signs Spring is almost here:

1) I can see some spots of my neighbors' lawns. And in my own corner of the wind tempest field, the snow is below the third "Let it snow" on our decorations. That means we're down to about 18" of snow on the ground. And only after a week of above freezing temperatures during the day. Wonders abound.

2) During the last snow storm, as I was hauling snow around the plowed drifts because I couldn't throw it over them, came the warbling noise of Robin song. See, Robins, a bird which doesn't migrate, really aren't signs of spring because they don't go anywhere except deeper into the woods and switch their diet to insects, suet, and seeds. Red-winged blackbird and their buzzing calls are really the avian harbingers of the arrival of spring like weather. So when you see red-wings perching on the browned corpses of cat-tails, the south has come again.

3) Several large flocks of Canadian geese have flown overhead. Now, not all of these birds migrate, but we don't have many ponds that remain open that they could be at. So as they go honking through the skies like Valkyries in heavy traffic, they bring the Spring with them.

4) Finally the true sign of returning Spring, the cats sun bathing in the window for longer than their five-minute "but this worked before" exercises. Today the cats lay there, soaking in the afternoon sun for almost and hour. Spring is on it's way.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wordless Thursdays

Put another chapter through the rewrite mill. That took way longer than expected. TV is evil. Okay, so maybe just one or two channels (for different reasons). One increases by blood pressure until I can't get myself out of rantville. And then it's some moments before I can reboot back (the stupidity is that dense it can bend conscious thought around it) to reality and refocus. So tomorrow I'll update the word counts (because it'll hopefully move even more).

We're back into meeting weeks. So even more distractions.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Middle Wednesday Thoughts

Charlie Stross on what is really sold when you sell your book. I haven't made it through this yet, but thought it might be good to share (really long post). (grokked from Jay Lake)

And, because we're talking about healthcare (or will be soon), a new use for 3d Printing technology, the printing of body parts. Serious SF geekery. And, another example of why medical expenses are going up. However, are you going to be the one who tells the quadruple bypass patient who has collapsed veins that they're going to die because we can't afford the new tech. (also grokked from Jay Lake)

Saw the President's address this afternoon. I kept flipping between channels. Is it me, or does FoxNews intentionally darken the President's complexion? It's not that way on the local Fox affiliate, which is using the same feed (by camera angle). Nor is it that way on C-SPAN or CNN. And the difference is more than noticeable. It's not the surrounding colors (the local affiliate has the same color scheme as FoxNews, including the red scroll bar and the silly, "Alert" message). Oh, and damn good speech. Que up the "President Gives Good Lectures" and "Did all those people really deserve to wear their white coats" crowd in 3.. 2.. 1... And what the President said, "It's time to finish the work." Because you've got a hell of a lot of other work to do (and, IMHO, part of the whole "Start all over" argument to keep Congress from doing anything this year).

And to restate the reasons why I support reform. Because the major difference in competition between the US and other nations isn't business taxes (when you add in all the taxes they really aren't different, other countries just tax differently). It's the cost of health care. In the US our companies are drowning in the costs of insurance. Don't see it. Okay, part of the proposal is to tax health insurance benefits that are over $28000 a year. $28K. Take your salary and add $28K, also add in Social Security and Medicare parts paid by your employer and that's each employee's cost to their employer. For some people that's nearly double what they're being paid. For our public employees in the village it's nearly $18000 a year (on average). That again, almost doubles their pay. Without reforming this industry (the insurance industry) employers will not be able to afford to add jobs. And those who still offer insurance won't be able to continue to offer it in the future.

Get it done, damnit. And then get on to the various economic programs (of which you'll notice, other than tax cuts, the Republicans also have not offered any substantial ideas on).

And, frankly, this is the present mental state of affairs of the conservative moment (TPM article of Michelle Bachmann's very recent conversion to support of the US Census, you know, once she figure out it would probably mean her Congressional seat to stick to her ideals and convictions).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wasted days and wasted nights

Spending the night geeking out with Neil deGrasse Tyson (Pluto, and now 400 years of the Telescope). Creating artificial reference stars for adaptive optics. Damn. That's high geek.

Wanted to continue the speed of editing I had yesterday, but that didn't occur today. I did home stuff all day, including updating the iMac and backing up files. Also did laundry and cooked dinner. So busy, but not on what I wanted to be busy on.

Also applied at a few places I didn't think I would be applying to, including Home Depot. The Depot actually has an exam online as part of their application process. Sigh. Okay, so I did take a test for the Census, but Home Depot? Also applied to a place that requires using Corel Draw. I didn't even think they still made that thing. I have limited experience with it, but it's a vector program and I have plenty of experience using those. Yeah, I know, I'm a strange duck because I can apply knowledge to different places effectively. No, seriously, last time I was out of work I took software tests at a placement agency. I had never used InDesign before, but scored "Excellence" in using it because I know Adobe products, and I know page layout products.

So, tomorrow will hopefully see more editing.

Monday, March 1, 2010

To the Democratic Senate Leadership

Time to look at the opposition and say, "Okay, just how strong is your bladder?" And start with Senator Bunning.

See, filibusters, real filibusters, are still all about one person standing up and not yielding the floor. It's only the threat of filibustering that keeps legislation stalled for weeks. Time to call bluffs.

Just my thoughts.

I'm haunted by that Gary Owen

Today was a first for the job search. We received a response to one of the applications I've made in the past week. It was a rejection (basically, "Boy, are you way too over skilled for this job, but thanks for thinking of us"). So, yeah, at least someone out there is actually looking at my resume. Oh, and I can do the work. You'd be surprised at how good I am at work I'm over qualified for and how I'm able to find enjoyment elsewhere. And maybe the benefits that position supplied were worth more than the actual pay (help paying for coursework, good medical).

Oh, and really damn tired of scrolling through the reposted job listings (hey, JobFox, stop it) and the "work at home" listings. And again, I'm trying to brainstorm a better way to search through large amounts of data online to find something interesting when you don't know what it is you're looking for.

And the last point today about the job search. I'm really tired of job posting sites that require (or constantly sell) paid memberships to access data. There's something slimbally about that practice and so far I've run into three of them. And they also tend to have "exclusive" listings, which are behind the "pay me now" firewall. Yeah, see, I'm out of work and you want me to pay you $30 a month to access listings you've charged the other company $300+ for their listing? That's what we kindly think of as a scam. No, really, scummy. Exactly the same business model as "we'll publish you as long as you buy 1000 books." And the whole, "if you become a paid member we'll expedite you resume/advocate for you" sales push only makes be want to shove bamboo spikes under your routers. Including the "your resume might be part of the problem, and we'll help you fix it for only $300," sales pitch. Wrap it up and roll over. Real slimeball tactics there.

Finished rewriting the first 50 pages of the novel in time for submission to the group critique. So we also have an updated word count total, 74437. The problem with going forward is that I haven't rewritten any of the rest of the novel, and I have no notes from someone else looking at it. It's (obviously) not impossible, just harder and slower. However, this set of rewrites when much faster than I expected. I'm hoping that means I'm getting better at this.

Here's hoping the magic continues.