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On my schedule today were a brown bag presentation and a lunch with someone I had a couple conversations with that I wanted to make contact and have lunch with before they turf me out here. Both went really well. Whereas most presentations (of any sort, not just brown bags) have been full of the worst sort of Power Pointillism ™, this one was so much more dynamic. Plus the subject matter was really interesting. Later this summer these guys are going to launch a site called "Remixing Çatalhüyük" that looks to be really impressive. Of course the proof is in the pudding. I wasn't able to sit down and actually use the site on something less than a T1 so I could judge it for accessibility and user-centric design, but it looks awesome. Now, this would be good anywhere but it's especially impressive at the University of California because most UCB sites suck bongwater. That's what happens when you take the taxpayers' money and dump it into private sector-distorted salaries for regents, chancellors and a bloated administration - the actual educational mission of this institution gets buried sometimes...

Then the co-worker and I actually had our brown bag lunches by the banks of Strawberry Creek. He was alternately exhilarated and crestfallen at the presentation. A similar project he'd worked on for 5 years hadn't been able to get the support it needed to reach full fruition. But he was certainly impressed and intrigued by the work this other group had been able (and allowed) to achieve. We tossed ideas back and forth about the department, approaches to presenting information, my job prospects, his job prospects, etc. He told me "you say what you think - don't ever change that about yourself...I love that." We got up to go back to work and he thanked me for some ideas I'd given him. I emphasized that I wanted to keep in touch even if I couldn't stay at the university and he said honestly that he's pretty terrible at doing that but he'd try. I was glad that he framed it candidly ahead of time like that. Otherwise I might have taken it personally instead of just realizing he's very busy and he's bad at using some of the other means folks have for staying in touch.

After I got back, I dropped a line to the brown bag presenter. He'd asked me my name as I was leaving and I spaced. Plus I wanted to make actual memorable contact with him. I dropped him a line and he replied saying, "Of course, I remember you--particularly, as the articulate spokesperson for common sense at [our big department] meetings". Whee!

I came back to an email from my lunching co-worker saying he's really enjoyed our talks. I'm glad that my idealism and candor, which have probably held me back most of my working life, are actually appreciated by some folks.
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Lots of down thoughts today. I called my friend P to see if she wanted to join me for lunch since unless I wanted to spend yet another lunch eating an Atkins bar, I was going out. Luckily, she was able to join me. I haven't had lunch with anyone for a while. I ask folks...it's nice when both people's schedules can jibe. Anyway, she's not having a good time, either. Lost her job, about to lose her place to live, relationship not swell, Aunt Flo is visiting. We made quite a pair! But it was good for me to listen to someone else's troubles. Gets my mind off my own momentarily.

So I got to see P.

Then I went back to the campus jobsite and saw that although the first review was this Wednesday, I'm still able to apply for the job. Although I still feel ambivalent about the job, I will work this weekend to update my resume and write a proper cover letter and get it in. If I do, that will be the first job I've actually applied for yet. Though I look at job ads every day, many times a day.

So, job still open.

For the last couple days I've been investigating what's on offer at lynda.com When I worked at Peachpit, I thought their Hands-On-Training books were the best tutorial books (as opposed to reference or task-based) we had. I looked at some of their sample videos for CSS and already I'm learning better than I was from one of Peachpit's books. I love reading, but I've always learned things better from being shown than from reading. I Googled and found a coupon code for a 7-day trial of their online learning library. And I will probably fork over $375 for a full year's membership after my 7 days are up. I can tell that this resource could really help me learn quite a lot. It'll be easier for me to upgrade my existing skills as well as learn new ones and it's cheaper than taking as many classes, it's flexible, etc.

So - some hope of learning good things.

Got some exercise walking down (and up on the way back) to downtown Berkeley.

Asked my brother who has started his own business what that's like so I can make a more realistic assessment of whether I even want to go down that road.

Asked for an informational interview with the head of Collaboration Tools and we're scheduling that.

I *do* actually try to remember that it's more handleable if I try to think about all of this in shorter periods of time and what I have to do to get through the hour, day, week, etc.
spidra: (Default)
When you have a month or more before you have to make a decision, how do you approach things? Do you compromise immediately or what? I read and re-read the job req for this one campus job. It is likely I wouldn't have to take a huge paycut. While my work has been hard for the last year, this particular job would be more physically exhausting, I thought. Probably more stress and office politics. Then there were some job reqs that I could learn but wasn't that impressive in yet. So I waffled and finally decided not to apply. Yet after the informational interview today and how that sorta squelched much hope of finding really interesting work in the same overall department, I began to regret not applying for the job.

I'm very tired of settling, going from entry-level to entry-level, paying my dues, hoping there's a career development ladder and finding there's none. On the other hand, I have a *very* thin financial cushion. I won't be leaving the university any sooner than they push me out. Unless I find some tremendous job on the outside. Otherwise, I'm looking at transferring somewhere in the uni or waiting until I'm kicked out because I can't afford to give up the unemployment insurance.

Hmmm. I'm having trouble phrasing my question clearly. Let me try again: How high are your standards when you're looking for a job? Do you compromise early and often? Do you try for a "realistic" goal? Do you hold out for nothing less than what you think you deserve? A combo, depending on how long you've been unemployed?

BooYAH!

May. 5th, 2006 07:41 pm
spidra: (Default)


I was offered the job. Offered it at the salary I requested. And I have accepted. Solvency, here I come!

Friends who work at the university? Give me your stats so we can start having power lunches.
spidra: (Default)
Like an awful lot of Americans, I was living paycheck to paycheck. This is not because I have an aversion to saving money. It's because ever since 1987 or so, when things were such that I finally expended what little savings I had accumulated since the age of 13, I haven't had anything I could afford to put in a savings account. I've almost always been paid abysmally for my work. I just get along. I can't count the times I had to swallow my pride and rely on my parents during periods of unemployment and disability in my 30s. And then there were the times where I didn't swallow my pride and did things like further destroyed my wrists by doing work/trade with my landlord to keep from getting tossed out.

I am still employed until 3/31. My paycheck cycle goes something like this: First paycheck of the month goes towards rent. With just enough left over to buy some groceries and some regular healthcare needs that my health insurance doesn't cover (my providers treat me on a sliding scale). Second paycheck goes for bills, groceries, healthcare and anything "extra" like my car breaking down, membership dues for anything...just anything extra that comes up...second paycheck is when I can even consider affording it.

To get financial aid for a membership to the local Y, one has to fill out a form that includes how much you pay per month in certain categories. One of the categories is "Clothing". And I was completely mystified as to how I'd fill that out. I don't have a clothing budget. When my living situation wasn't so unsettled (so, 3 years ago), I would occasionally buy some fabric out of what was left after paying necessaries and sew something. You don't really save much money (if any) by sewing, but you get something that fits better and is more to your taste. My approach to a clothing budget since joining this tax bracket is that I go as long as possible not buying any. This year, my underwear finally got so full of holes that even a girl who doesn't have to worry about anyone else seeing her in her underwear had to get new ones. I tried finding the kind I like on sale. And it was definitely a budget item that stretched me. A couple of months ago, I finally got new socks for the same reason. I found them on extreme sale at Vermont Country Store and it still felt like a stretch buying them. But it's a good thing I did because I couldn't afford to do so now.

So among all the job hunting things I'm thinking about, I'm also thinking about the fact that one of the only pairs of pants that fits me since I gained weight (also, not coincidentally, about 3 years ago) has 2 major holes in them and a number of abrasions along seamlines that will probably peel the denim right away from the lining in a couple more washes. I've worn them nearly every day even though I'm ashamed to think what my co-workers think of me because it's winter, it's cold and they're the only warm pants I have that fit. I was eyeing LL Bean's site so I could buy another pair. I got close to buying them a couple months ago and then I got a parking ticket. Not for parking somewhere obviously illegal. My house is on a major thoroughfare and people are such assholes that they don't let me in or out of my driveway easily. So that evening I had parked in front of my house meaning to pull the car in the driveway when traffic finally died down. I forgot and got nailed with a $75 ticket for being parked on that side of the street during morning commute time. $75 ticket = goodbye new pants.

I'm thinking about needing to replace pants, I'm thinking of how I'm going to dress professionally for an interview when so few of my good clothes fit me anymore, I'm thinking about the strange noises my car has made lately and how I thought I'd take it in for some preventative maintenance, I'm thinking about the digicam I sent to Konica-Minolta a week ago to get repaired before Konica-Minolta closes their Camera division entirely and what the bill is going to be like when it comes back, I'm thinking about the membership dues coming up, I'm thinking about how I was going to switch banks because Wells Fargo just implemented yet another customer-unfriendly contract and I'm tired of feeding a big corporation that doesn't give a shit about its customers, I'm thinking about the MD shrink that my insurance hasn't covered at all yet and what I'm going to do about his $100 per office visit fee when my current prescription runs out.

Laid Off

Feb. 22nd, 2006 01:44 pm
spidra: (Default)
Corporation-wide reorg and I got it between the eyes.

I'll write more details about my job search later, but for those of you who know me and my skills and strengths please let me know of anything you know of that seems suitable. 40k a year or more. Prefer Berkeley/Oakland but will commute for a job that is fulfilling and a company that trains and reinvests in its employees.

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