September 2005
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September 2005 Archives

September 28, 2005

Less depressed

I am feeling much less depressed about the job search.

For a while there I was sending resumes out into the middle of nowhere. Since then I have gotten an interview with callback, a phone interview with followup, and a couple of folks asking for my resume so they could pass it around.

And, both of the things that interviewed me seemed like interesting jobs. No details - I don't kiss and tell - but it looked like fun.

The odd part was taking a basic computing skills test. I had told the HR guy that I would do very well on the general aptitude section, do OK on the basic computing skills, and would bomb out on the SQL section. Sure enough, I got to the last two questions, looked up, and asked "can I give you the Fortran instead?" I then hacked out some psuedo-code showing how to approach the problem, and it must have been good enough because they called me back.

You don't see much Fortran in the help-wanted section anymore, although I did notice one company hiring a Cobol programmer.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 01:57 PM | TrackBack
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September 24, 2005

This is not a surprise

You are a

Social Liberal
(76% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(25% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Strong Democrat

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Posted by
Red Ted
at 12:27 AM | TrackBack
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September 19, 2005

The $10,000,000 questions.

I am going through a lot of the job search stuff, looking for a position near J's job that will let us shift the household budget from a flood of red ink to either black ink or a trickle of red.

Along the way I have been reading a fair bit of job search literature, researching careers, and so on.

One of the exercises I came across was the 10,000,000 question. Imagine that the red leprechaun just gave you $10,000,000 that you can only spend on yourself. No giving it away, no bailing out the extended family. Just you. What do you spend it on?

My gut answer was
1, pay off the debts.
2, move to a bigger house in a better school district and get the books out of storage.
3, be an independent scholar.

Oh, and I would probably get back into gaming.

The question comes with a parallel, what would you do if the green leprechaun gave you an additional $10,000,000 that could only be spent on other people?

Now, depending on if you define family as self or other, one of the two leprechauns would get tapped for educational trusts for the kids and their cousins, for a retirement supplement for J's dad, and to make sure that my folks have all the medigap they need.

For the rest, I would spend it to get primary documents into the community colleges and liberal arts schools, and from these places into the local high school AP programs. I am not sure if I would want to fund digitizing well-known documents like the Early American Imprints or if there would be more bang for the buck from making manuscripts, collected papers, and the like into easily searched, easily used, widely dispersed documents, but that is the way I would go.

What does this exercise tell me - something that I literally had not articulated about myself an hour ago? It tells me that I need to chase down the projects doing digital history, and that I need to see if I can put together a grant proposal to do more of it. I have strengths in history, in information technology, and in bridging the gap between academic geeks and computer geeks. I would probably be happier working on the data-production side of academia than I would running regressions and building web pages for a random finance/insurance/real-estate firm.

And so to write some cover letters.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 12:35 PM | TrackBack
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A fun holiday.

I am choosing to celebrate today by writing my email, or at least the emails to J., twice, the first time in normal prose and the second time as a pirate.

Arr, this be a fine day fer writin. I be a writin' me ransom notes twicet, one time fer th' gentry and the second time fer Jack.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 12:28 PM | TrackBack
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September 13, 2005

Phil Folk

We went to the Philadelphia Folk Festival a couple of weekends ago, and I forgot to blog about it. (Actually, I felt uncomfortable blogging about a music festival while the news was all Katrina all the time.)

It was good fun.

We went with J's father and step-mom, who had come down from Boston for the festival and to attend Elderson's birthday party the previous weekend. We day tripped Saturday and left before the end of the evening concert.

Highlights for me were Bethany and Rufus, Airdance, and the Johnson Girls. I got the B&R cd, and want to get some Airdance.

I liked about half of what Wolfstone did. To my ear they were powerful, driving, and compelling when they played hard rock and roll with lead bagpipes skirling over the top. They were just another boring English pop band when the piper shifted to whistles and the other guys started to sing. And, much as I liked the hard folk-rock sound, I suspect that a full evening of just bagpipes and guitars would be like a bluegrass festival too much of the same sound.

J. was quite taken with Artisan and the Johnson Girls. She wanted to like Footworks, but preferred the things they used to do when they were the Fiddle Puppets. She still likes the group, but did not like the show they put on for the festival.

Elder Son loved Airdance, mostly because their drummer, Sam Zucchini, played a "boomy drum" aka a Bodhran. He also really liked the piper who opened the evening concert, and sort of liked Wolfstone's bagpiper as well.

Littler Man's favorite part was going to the dance tent for some square dancing. I danced for about an hour while holding him, flipping him from right hand to left depending on which hand I was about to need for the dance.

I think J's dad liked the Johnson Girls the most, but he is big into maritime music and sea chanteys. The J girls do have a HUGE sound, very impressive with lots of open chords and powerful harmonies.

It was good fun, and we expect to be back again next year.

Oh, and J and I talked about it and decided that the kids are big enough that we can start going out and doing things again, and that the thing we most enjoy doing is folk music and folk dancing.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 10:17 PM | TrackBack
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Resume out-take

I have not been teaching this semester - you may have noticed the silences on the blog.

I decided that adjunct teaching did not pay well enough for the time that it took, and so I went looking for a straight job. Nothing yet, but I am still looking.

I have to wonder how many of the first twenty or fourty jobs I applied to were lost because my first couple of resumes were not so good. I rewrote the thing today so that it now emphasizes abilities and not previous employment. Excerpts below the fold. It still needs work, but it is much better than it was.

Areas of Effectiveness

Research. Used documents found in archives, law libraries, legislation, and newspapers to explain past actions. Expanded census data to create statistical models. Built biographical tracking database. Built econometric databases with data from BLS, BEA, USDA and other agencies. Organized large data-entry project for [previous employer].

Analysis. Created statistical model to estimate per capita productivity for two states over a sixty-year period. Explained cultural patterns during era of rapid social and economic change. Explained workings of federal and state government. Redesigned databases to extract more information. Created and ran SPSS models.

Writing. Created complex documents to explain historical change. Able to make ideas and procedures clear for the reader, from how to lift a barbell to how to sing in church to why the Supreme Court decided cases.

Presentation. Experienced lecturer and public speaker. Designed and maintained web pages. Taught undergraduates and college professors. Created functional front end for database.

Expert: Wordperfect, MS Access, MS Excel, HTML, Dreamweaver.
Experienced: MS Word, css, Cold Fusion, Adobe Photoshop, Powerpoint.
Familiar: SQL, SPSS. Pascal, rexx, PL1, Fortran, Aremos.
Hardware: Built own personal computer and installed home LAN.
Languages: Partially fluent in French.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 03:31 PM | TrackBack
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September 07, 2005

Louisiana Memories

My earliest memory is of going crawfishing in a bayeau near Baton Rouge.

We lived in Baton Rouge from when I was about 2 until I was 4, and my earliest memories are of Louisiana. The strongest is a set of fragmentary moments from when I was about 3 years old.

It is morning. Dad is talking about how we are going to go crawfishing.

We are getting out of an old pickup truck - or maybe Dad and I are in his car and Mr. G.-- H.-- and his four boys are getting out of the truck. I do remember the truck. We unload the gear from the truck - nets, and poles with nets, and there must have been a basket but I don't remember that. We walk down an old dirt road. I am very strong on the old dirt road and the pickup truck - I want to say it was a round-nosed, flare-sided pickup truck covered in dust, but that might be a false memory.

We walk down the dirt road to a dock. It stuck out into the water, and I remember it being a long way above the water. Of course, a long way up when you are 3 is not very tall at all.

The other boys used the poles with nets on the end to scoop up crawdads. I could not manage one I am pretty sure that I did try and so they gave me a square net with a cord on each end. I threw it down, and pulled it up again with crawfish in it. I think both the men helped me work the net, but that memory is less clear. The clearest memory of that day, probably my oldest clear memory, is catching crawfish with that square net. I did it again and again.

I have no idea how long we were fishing - a long time for a toddler.

Things shift, and the next memory from that day at least I think it is that day is of a big party at our apartment, lots of people around, and me wandering into the refrigerator, opening the door, and just STARING at a big red salad bowl that was heaped full of cooked red crawfish, the crawfish that were left over after everyone ate their fill. That bowl of crawfish is my other extremely clear early memory. Like the dirt road leading down to the Bayeau, the image is strongly imprinted in my visual memory, a still life with crawdads and background noise.

That was a good day.

My other early memories are also of Baton Rouge, but many of them are blurred memories. Do I remember playing on the little yellow banana scooter, or do I remember seeing a picture of baby Ted sitting on the little yellow banana scooter? I know I remember someone singing Burl Ives songs; it might have been G.-- H.--. I was told the story about liking to go to McDonald's because they had roaches in their flagstoned outdoors patio, and I liked to step on them while we waited for our food. I don't remember that one, but it seems to be in character.

Nostalgia is one response to tragedy. I suspect that all the news, horrible news, about New Orleans and the gulf coast has dredged up the detritus of these old memories.

The Phantom Professor suggests, as a writing exercise, that we try to hone our voices while describing a place. This blog post is a rough draft, more about the act of memory than about the place remembered.

Oh, and as a post-script, my boys are at the age where they are probably building what will be their oldest memories. I suspect that Elder Son will remember getting on the train to go to the Penn Relays. I wonder what will stick with the Littler Man?

Posted by
Red Ted
at 12:17 AM | TrackBack
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