athelind: (ouroboros)
I am not a scientist.

I am not in a job where I am doing science, particularly not the kind of ecological sciences that I thought was my calling.

For years, for decades, I had I Am A Scientist, and if I am not Doing Science, I am Wasting My Life carved on my soul.

And because of that, I wasted my life.

But you know what?

I Got Over Myself.

I Am Not A Scientist. I Am Not Doing Science.

And I am finally Doing Something With My Life, because I have let that go.

I am in a position to make good use of my skills and experience. I am in a position to do some good with the second half of my life.

Hell, that's right there at the top of my resume:

Coast Guard veteran with degrees in Earth Systems Science and Biotechnology seeks a position that will integrate his education and experience, to make positive change in the world.


I am there. I've got that.

And it's not at all the job I saw for myself. It's not the job I was expecting.

Life surprised me.

And Life is Good.

Allow yourself the possibility of surprise.


Edit: On reading this the next morning, I realize I didn't clearly state something very important:

I Am Not A Scientist. I Am Not Doing Science.

I am not "following my dream"—but I love my job.

I haven't "settled". This is not "disappointment".

I am in a job that leaves me engaged, fulfilled and, at the end of more days than not, happy.

Life surprised me, and Life is Good.
athelind: (YAY)
After all these years, I understand the true meaning of this holiday.

I can look past the faux patriotism, the attempts at historical relevance, past Valley Forge and Gettysberg and the collision of two different chief executives from two very different historical eras.

I now understand what this day means to other people, and it has, for me, a deeply personal significance:

I have today off.
And I'm getting paid for it.


I think this is the first paid holiday I've had since I got out of the Coast Guard in 1990.

I've been paid on holidays, but it's usually because I've been working. This suited me just fine in the Coast Guard; I'd volunteer to take the duty shift on Thanksgiving and Christmas, since I didn't have any local family, and many of my fellow Coasties Puddle Pirates "Guardians" did. .

At the hospital, I continued my Coast Guard tradition. While my parents lived in the area, and, in fact, my stepfather worked in the same department I did, we officially Didn't Do Christmas. The sole extent of our celebration of the day was to have dinner together—and since Tri-City had an exceptional cafeteria that belied the hoary stand-up comic tropes about "hospital food", we had more than one "Christmas dinner" downstairs on my lunch hour.

Time-and-a-half was a fine Christmas Present—but it wasn't the same as a paid holiday.

Student workers in university jobs generally don't get holiday pay. Neither do most temp workers, or "short-term consultants*".

At Legends, of course, holidays are just a Slightly Busier Day, typified by customers constantly asking why we don't have a sale going on. Once or twice, as an experiment, Da Boss has had us open up on a holiday when most of the rest of the mall was technically closed, to see if we could catch some overflow business from the never-say-closed movie theater.

... damn. I have today off. I can finish laundry. I can work on the DC Adventures game I'm going to run. I can spend a couple of hours reading the last two months of comics that I finally picked up at my old job yesterday ("I'll clear out my box as soon as I get my first paycheck!"). I can do my taxes.

And I can do it all without feeling guilty for spending time I should be using to look for work.


* [SEMANTIC ANALYZER: "Short-Term Consultant" = "We don't want to pay an agency's commission fee for a temp."]
athelind: (work)
After the SRI debacle of 2008, I promised myself that I wouldn't count chickens on any future job offers. If something looked promising, I might let some people know, or drop some hints, but nothing that would jinx anything.

Some people say you don't really have the job for sure until you clock in that first day.

I went one further: I wasn't going to believe that I'd really landed the elusive Real Full-Time Job With Benefits until the first paycheck cleared.

The check cleared Tuesday night.
I am now officially employed as a Technical Writer.


... of course, I'm only 10 days into a 90-day trial period, so there's a part of me that thinks that even this is premature.

This was, for the record, extremely fast-tracked. The Monday before Further Confusion (09 JAN 2011), [livejournal.com profile] kohai_tiger gave me a heads up about a job listing at his company, in his department. I cleaned up my resume and sent it in.

The Monday of Further Confusion (17 JAN 2011), the last day of the con, my cell phone rang while I was sitting in a panel. I took the call outside, and when I came back, I had an interview slated for Wednesday (19 JAN 2011).

The Tuesday after that (25 JAN 2011), I had my second interview.

My last day at Legends was Friday, 04 FEB 2011.

My first day on the job was Monday the 7th.

Turn-around time from first hearing about the job to starting it: 4 weeks exactly.

I should note that the job boards, the resume shotgun, and all the rest of the knuckle-down, nose-to-the-grindstone, job-hunting-is-your-job legwork aren't what finally landed me the Real Job.

What landed me the job was playing Star Wars D&D twice a month with my friends.

I'm afraid I've learned all the wrong lessons from this.


I love the job.

For those of you wondering what a "Technical Writer" does ... well, so was I, a few weeks ago. Summary: I turn field data into readable, well-organized reports.

The work is interesting, and I'm working with a good team.

During the interview, they were very enthusiastic about my resume and my writing samples. This was the first time in all my time job hunting where interviewers looked at my wide-ranging, eclectic background as an asset. this job can make use of all of my different skill sets—even my time at Legends!

Because of those wide-ranging skills, they're also going to be cross-training me as a field tech as well as a technical writer; at least one person has said "it would be a waste to keep you behind a desk."

One thing I love: after getting tossed into the deep end of the You Figure It Out pool at the last two "Real Jobs" I've had since graduation, and then spending two years in the genial chaos of Legends, I'm in a place where the standing orders are "if you have a question, ask someone"—and the answers generally start with, "let's look it up!"

I'm in heaven.

I made an interesting discovery on my second or third day.

Our company certifies clean rooms, vent hoods, and other lab apparatus for a wide range of companies, mostly in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Our safety-and-technical trainer repeatedly emphasizes during our training sessions that our work insures the cleanliness of locations that make medicine that gets directly injected into the bloodstreams of patients with already-compromised immune systems

Contaminants, especially unsuspected contaminants, could kill people. Lots of people.

And it comes down to us.

Lives are in our hands.

Here's the interesting discovery:

I'm good with that.

I'm a Coast Guard veteran, and my first long-term civilian job after mustering out was pushing hospital patients down to X-Ray and Nuclear Medicine on gurneys. I've had lives in my hands before.

When that clicked during training, it didn't feel like ZOMG PRESSURE. Quite the opposite: I relaxed. Some little ball of tension inside me evaporated.

When I know that lives hinge on the quality of the work I do ... I'm in my comfort zone.

It's odd place to find your comfort zone, I confess.

Maybe it's that, in a job with High Stakes, I don't feel the need to "prove" anything. Simply doing the job and doing it well and right is validation enough.

Maybe it's just that, deep down, I can only really take a job seriously if lives are on the line. "Pfffft. Urgent? You're not bleeding and you're not drowning. Let me tell you about urgent ... ."


athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
And so, another year ends, and Your Obedient Serpent will be more than happy to be shed of this one. I bid 2010 adieu with two upraised middle fingers and a shout of defiance.

It's time to face forward.

I've mentioned that sometimes, the radio talks to me, that the station I most often tune to has a tendency to play certain songs over and over again, and sometimes, the songs that cycle into that repetitious rotation are ones that directly address my moods and circumstances.

Back in November, as I was preparing to move a lifetime of belongings out of [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia's garage, this one played nearly every day.

I was going to post it tomorrow, but it played again, just minutes ago.

This, then, is my New Year: No Resolutions, Just Resolve.

I've got a world and a life and a future in front of me.

And it's mine.






I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams ... )

Happy New Year, one and all!

athelind: (AAAAAA)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Have you ever closed the door on an opportunity or a relationship in order to open another door, only to realize you made the wrong choice?

oh, for crying ...

Yes, okay, yes. I woke up to that running through my brain this very morning: sometimes it seems like every single time I've had a binary choice, I've picked the wrong one. On the rare occasions that I do make the right choice, I manage to screw it up somehow with later choices.

I reiterate my conclusion from the last "life of regrets" Writer's Block I answered, less than three weeks ago:

Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda is toxic.

You can't do a damned thing about where you've been.
You can only do something about where you're going.

Face Front.



Rassin' frassin' LiveJournal Drama Llama stereotypes. There should be a cap on how often Writer's Block can ask the same kinds of question in a single month.
athelind: (loop)
Trying to grok microblogging and social networking just makes me feel old.

I feel the need to make the effort, though—in no small part because it does make me feel old. I look on in baffled incomprehension at a vast swath of online life, wholly Out Of the Loop, and I realize that I'm nearly as disconnected from the Bleeding Edge of the One-And-Twenty as someone with no Internet access at all.

The Unkind Curmudgeon, the part of me that tries to reduce the world into a series of Pithy Epigrams, keeps coming back to "these are ways for people to TALK when they don't have anything to SAY."

Of course, Pithy Epigrams are exactly what microblogging services like Twitter are all about; the Unkind Curmudgeon would thrive there.

I'm not sure I want the Unkind Curmudgeon to thrive.

Nevertheless, I can see the utility and appeal of the Twitters and Qaikus and Status.nets of the online world. Sometimes, you just want to say something quickly and efficiently, without wrapping a well-thought-out blog entry (or stream of consciousness blather) around it. The first sentence of this entry would have been an ideal Tweet, but here, on LJ, I feel I have to elaborate.1

I also appreciate the idea of an ongoing, persistent conversation that's faster than a newsgroup but slower than IRCs or MUCKs. IM conversations have that quality on a one-to-one level: you can say something to someone, and they can respond at their leisure. 2

It's the Facebooks and MySpaces that I don't get. I'm on LinkedIn, the most professionally-oriented of the social network services, and I don't get it. There's no content on LinkedIn. Nothing happens. It's static. Even if you recognize former co-workers floating around on the service, it's just "hey, I know you [LINK]". It's another place to post my resume to get ignored.3

As I understand it, Facebook and the more "social" social nets have Other Stuff: microblog-style "Status Updates"; tedious mind-numbing timesinks "games" like Farmville; the exchange of pointless tchotchkes virtual tokens like the llamas of DeviantArt and the weird little icons that LiveJournal has tacked on in imitation.

I still don't quite grasp what you do on these networks, though. I don't grok how you interact with them. LiveJournal has the eminently-useful (if unfortunately-named) "Friends" list, which is an entirely useful means of monitoring those individuals who provide interesting content; I peruse mine regularly, and it irks me that there's not an equally-elegant way of following the Blogspot blogs I read.

I'm clueless about the SpaceBooks and MyFaces, though. honestly, I don't even know what such sites look like, since most of them are, in my experience, inaccessible to those who don't already have an account.

Given the well-publicized privacy issues and the impossibility of deleting accounts, I am extremely leery of registering just to see if I want to register.

Some contracts, you just don't want to sign.4

Why, you might ask, am I concerned about this at all?

It's not just because "all my friends are doing it."

Any number of recent articles in the blogosphere suggest that my mortal alter-ego's nigh-complete absence from the virtual sphere has had a negative impact on my career aspirations.[citation needed] A Google search on my mundane name yields my 2003 capstone thesis, a few sparse credits in a handful of published RPGs, and a lengthy discourse in an etymology blog about the plural of "octopus".

It's bad enough that my professional experience is so sparse, but, as far as any potential employer can determine, I have no personal interests whatsoever.

Nevertheless, I'm hesitant to establish overt connections between my Mundane Alter-Ego, the Earnest Environmental Scientist and Cartographer, and Your Obedient Serpent, who may be an Eloquent Commentator of Comics and Popular Culture, but also has some ... eccentric ... search results attached to his most-used nom de guerre.


1 Endlessly.

2 I do miss ICQ, which would let you drop someone a note even if they weren't online at the time; I described that more than once as "leaving a Post-It on their monitor".

3 But I'm not bitter!

4 I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the Which I meane, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use. Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater shall not wish to Answer, and shall commande more than you. —H.P. Lovecraft, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward".

athelind: (Howitzer)
The phrase "crawling from the wreckage of my life" has been running through my head today.

It has an oddly positive tone that seems at odds with the words ...

... but when you realize that the alternative is "trapped in the wreckage of my life", then the upbeat tone all makes sense.


athelind: (big ideas)
Something at work last night reminded me...



Do. Or do not.

There is no "try".




Edit: The full lesson:

"I don't believe it!"



"That is why you fail."


athelind: (eco-rant)
Okay, one reason, and one alone:

The United States of America consumes a disproportionate amount of the world's resources, and produces a disproportionate amount of its pollution. Even a massive socio-economic catastrophe isn't going to do more than moderate that, at least over the next half-century or so. this is an issue that I can't run away from, because the ripples affect the entire world, and not just economically.

I am an Earth Systems Scientist.

If I have any hope of having an effect on this globe-threatening situation, it's gotta be here.

I've got my lever, rusty as it may be, and I think I'm narrowing down my places to stand.


athelind: (politics)
This was originally tacked on as a footnote to my last post, but I think it needs to stand on its own.

For the record, the "Divided States of America" is only a "worst-case scenario" if the Balkanization is violent. That's not unlikely, because we're all pretty pissed at each other right now, and we do like our guns.

On the other claw, the Soviet Union managed to spin off its component without devolving into all-out war, though, even if there were border skirmishes; if the U.S. pulled off the same trick, California might wind up better off than we are now, with the Federal Government funneling money out of the eighth-largest economy in the world and into Red States who rant against taxation, welfare and government interference.


athelind: (prisoner)
Mostly for my own reference: some thoughtful and measured words about emigration.

I'll tell ya: ever since reading Toffler's predictions for the future of the two "Second Wave" superpowers in 1990's Powershift, and watching it come true in the Soviet Union less than a year later, there's a part of me that's been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Yes, I'm fully aware that this kind of apocalyptic paranoia has contributed to the paralyzing stasis of my life since graduation.

Still, there's an important truth in play: things aren't getting any better in the Untidy States, and the best-case scenario is to hope that the continual erosion of our rights and freedoms will be sufficiently gradual that we won't notice.

And the alternatives ... well, we seem to be using all the worst clichés of Cyberpunk as a road map as it is, why not that one, too?*

I would really like to convince myself that this is just pessimism due to the latest economic downturn, but even during the boom years of the '90s, I saw the "New Democrats" quietly and casually continuing the trends of restricting the rights of biological individuals and increasing the freedoms of "corporate persons". Some oppressed groups have made a few advances in acceptance, but really, it's just welcoming them to the same Village that the rest of us live in. One step forward, two steps back.

I'm in the process of reevaluating my life, realigning my goals, and trying to get a better grip on how the "real world" works.

And around here ... it doesn't. Not very well. Not in ways that will do me any good, now or in the future.

Realistically, if I'm trying to reconstruct my present to make plans for my future, "emigration" needs to be one of my options—even and especially if I land the elusive "Real Job" locally.

The big issue, of course, is that the other Anglophone nations don't really want more USian expatriates.


This is not a post about pessimism or defeatism. This is a post about options.
*See next post.

athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
In the late '80s, one of the numerous transit systems in the Bay Area had a cultural enrichment program, putting art and poetry in those overhead add slots on the bus. I believe some of the brief poems were actually commissioned for the program.

Around 1987, there was a poem that stuck with me, though I could only remember part of the first line (I'm pretty sure I wrote it down at some point, but I can't even find documents from a year ago, much less twenty-three).

Every few years, I do a Google search for it; this morning, I finally got a single hit. Alas, it remains uncredited:


Soft chains are most difficult to break: affection, ease.
The spirit, wide-eyed, limp-muscled; nestles on its side, and waits.




If anyone can chase down the proper credits, I'd appreciate it (and so, I suspect, would the poet).

There will now, of course, be two Google hits for the opening line; odds are good that this post will be on top very quickly.


athelind: (Eye - VK)
One last post before I call it a day:

A little Uriah Heep. You may be hearing more of them from me; there's something in the air this summer. Maybe it's just the unusual humidity; I first heard Heep in Texas, whilst flunking out of Texas A&M.






I'm a man with a whole lot on his mind ... )

athelind: (Warning: Group Intellect)
Question:

When responding to a job posting that doesn't list a specific contact person, what's the best way to open a cover letter? I've been using "Dear Sir or Madam", but that sounds a little vague, a little stiff, and a lot like the opening to a Beatles song.

Obviously, the ideal option is to address a cover letter to a specific person, by name, but this is not always possible.

Should I stick with "Dear Sir or Madam", use some other gender-neutral salutation, or just leave it off entirely and dive right into the "Look At Me, I'm Wonderful!" part of the letter?

[Poll #1561114]


athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)


GO GO GO THIS IS IT THIS IS IT
Life is not a dress rehearsal!



(That last line is credited to multiple sources;
the exuberant quote as a whole, I believe,
is from a sign that used to hang on [livejournal.com profile] kolchis's door.)
athelind: (facepalm)
I'm sure we've all heard a variation of this one (most likely expressed as an ethnic joke):


Once upon a time, Jack decided to leave his tiny village and seek his fortune in the Big City, twenty leagues away.

Jack departed in good spirits, but it was a long road, and a tiring one. Finally, he asked a farmer in his field how much farther the Big City still lay."

"Ten leagues, young lad," the farmer replied, leaning on his plough.

"Ten leagues," cried Jack, "Ten leagues! But I have come so far already—and I can go no farther."

And with that, he turned around and returned home to his tiny village, discouraged and exhausted.

A year and a day passed, and again, Jack decided it was time to seek his fortune in the Big City once more. Again, ten leagues along the road, he saw the same farmer in his field, but this time, he fought past his fatigue and despair and pressed on.

Finally, he rested, leaning against a sign by the side of the road. He ate the bread and cheese he'd packed, and felt refreshed and full of vigor—until he looked up and read the sign.

Big City, it read, Five Leagues.

"Five leagues," cried Jack, "Five leagues! But I have come so far already—and I can go no farther."

And with that, he turned around and returned home to his tiny village, five leagues behind him and ten more, never to venture into the Wide World again.


This is a parable.

athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)
I need to revisit the first post I made under the "Feed Your Head" tag:


Pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So is optimism.


-- distilled from Robert Anton Wilson,
"Ten Good Reasons to Get Out of Bed in the Morning".




I need to put this up over my desk, so it's the first thing I see every morning.

The difficulty, alas, is that while I believe this—and that, in itself, suggests a buried core of optimism—I've lost the knack of thinking optimistically.

Pessimism is insidious. Pessimism is easier. Pessimism is lazy thinking to justify lazy (in)action.

The "deadly sin" of Sloth? In early Church, it used to be two sins: "Despair" and "Apathy".

Like I said, though, it's insidious. It sneaks into your thoughts, and takes root. I think I've worked past the worst of the clinical depression, but—you know, it's like a long-term physical illness or injury. Just because you're healed doesn't mean you're back in shape. That broken leg ain't gonna be running marathons right off. You've got to work it back into shape, slowly and steadily, doing routine, repetitive tasks that reinforce the atrophied tendons and muscles—or habits and attitudes, to step back from the metaphor a little.

I need to work myself back into optimism, by pushing myself to keep up with optimistic tasks, and keeping sight of my goals—and not immediately giving up when I don't make the finish line.

Of course, part of that is convincing myself that those daily, repetitive tasks, that mental exercise of Accomplishing Something Useful And Productive Every Day, actually will pay off, both in terms of tangible goals and intangible attitudes.

And that, my friends, is the first and most important shard of optimism I need to grasp.


*I think that Unca Bucky said something to this effect, as well as Unca Bob.
athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
I play this track a lot, but I don't think I listen to it enough.

It's from the same album as "Man in the Wilderness", posted here a few months back, and in some ways, it can be seen as the "Get Over It" response to the "I'm So Lost and Emo" of that song.







Come on! Let's see what you've got... )



They played this song on KUFX this morning. Greg Kihn and his sidekick du jour had a brief exchange about the closing guitar riff, and how it seemed too cheerful and happy for a song subtitled "The Angry Young Man".

I listen to Kihn for his Old Rocker stories, not for his profound insights.

To me, that swirling guitar fugue encapsulates all the potential, possibility, truth, beauty, and whatever that surrounds the Angry Young Man. It's all the stuff that we miss—that I miss—when we're wrapped up in being the Man in the Wilderness.

Yeah, The Grand Illusion came out when I was 13. I'm just like anyone else: my High School Soundtrack is the Music of My Life.


athelind: (no help whatsoever)
Your Obedient Serpent ramps around cheerfully. Hooray, morning! It's a beautiful day!

As everyone else is stumbling around adjusting to the time change, I'm up, alert, and peppy.

I had to get up gawdawful early yesterday -- 6 AM on the day of the time shift, during a period when my evening-shift work schedule has had me snoozing past the hour or 8 AM (unusually late for me, incidentally). 7:30 DPT is sleeping in compared to yesterday morning, so I'm not continually blurring around thinking, "It's 'really' (N-1) AM in 'real' time."

In fact, I'm obnoxiously awake and alert. My "morning person" tendencies have kicked in, and I know how popular those are with everyone else.

(I am, perhaps, the only person on the planet who likes Daylight Saving Time. Given that most people seem more evening-oriented than Your Obedient Serpent, I've never quite grokked why they object to having more daylight during their more active period.)

Part of this may also be due to the sudden emergence of Clear Weather, and the sun shining in through the big glass door to the back yard. I wonder how much of my recent Slow Starting has been due to the gray, overcast weather that's been hanging around unusually late in the year? Normally, I love clouds and rain, but regular readers know that there have been Other Factors that have certainly colored my emotional reflexes.

The combination of Relief and Accomplishment of putting the CSET and the big Interview Event for Oakland teaching Fellows behind me probably helps, as well. I Can Now Move On and focus on Other Avenues.

And, of course, having a cold all last week that is now almost gone adds the frisson of "I feel better!!" to the proceedings.

... of course, since I work until 9:30 PM tonight, we'll have to see how long this lasts.


athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent ramps around cheerfully. Hooray, morning! It's a beautiful day!

As everyone else is stumbling around adjusting to the time change, I'm up, alert, and peppy.

I had to get up gawdawful early yesterday -- 6 AM on the day of the time shift, during a period when my evening-shift work schedule has had me snoozing past the hour or 8 AM (unusually late for me, incidentally). 7:30 DPT is sleeping in compared to yesterday morning, so I'm not continually blurring around thinking, "It's 'really' (N-1) AM in 'real' time."

In fact, I'm obnoxiously awake and alert. My "morning person" tendencies have kicked in, and I know how popular those are with everyone else.

(I am, perhaps, the only person on the planet who likes Daylight Saving Time. Given that most people seem more evening-oriented than Your Obedient Serpent, I've never quite grokked why they object to having more daylight during their more active period.)

Part of this may also be due to the sudden emergence of Clear Weather, and the sun shining in through the big glass door to the back yard. I wonder how much of my recent Slow Starting has been due to the gray, overcast weather that's been hanging around unusually late in the year? Normally, I love clouds and rain, but regular readers know that there have been Other Factors that have certainly colored my emotional reflexes.

The combination of Relief and Accomplishment of putting the CSET and the big Interview Event for Oakland teaching Fellows behind me probably helps, as well. I Can Now Move On and focus on Other Avenues.

And, of course, having a cold all last week that is now almost gone adds the frisson of "I feel better!!" to the proceedings.

... of course, since I work until 9:30 PM tonight, we'll have to see how long this lasts.


athelind: (doomsday clock)
Does anyone have any suggestions for a five-minute teaching sample that doesn't involve toys and models for me to fumble and drop? I'm not that coordinated on a GOOD day, and nothing about this event points to "a good day".

Please note the clock in the icon, and be aware that I have two minutes LESS than that to make this presentation.


athelind: (Default)
Does anyone have any suggestions for a five-minute teaching sample that doesn't involve toys and models for me to fumble and drop? I'm not that coordinated on a GOOD day, and nothing about this event points to "a good day".

Please note the clock in the icon, and be aware that I have two minutes LESS than that to make this presentation.


November 2016

S M T W T F S
  12345
6 78 9101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930   

Tags

Page generated Apr. 23rd, 2017 07:44 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios