Thoughts from a tree

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The job search process was created by/for extroverts

Wow, I didn’t realize it had been so long since I last posted. I’ve been pretty occupied with the holidays, household stuff, and the job search process. I also did get a bunch of tie-dye done: AOL shirts and other stuff. Gary and I visited Virginia for our anniversary (8th) and while we were there we met with some good friends (who I miss!) and I gave a bunch of the tie-dyed AOL shirts away. Gary took pictures for me but I haven’t gotten around to processing them yet.

Contacts regarding jobs have continued to be frequent; I had to juggle phone interviews while we were on vacation in Virginia and I did not stay at my parents’ house as long as I otherwise would have after Christmas because I did not want to be without cell phone reception (in case job people called, which they did). I had an in-person interview in Gainesville (fl) yesterday, which makes both my third in-person interview and my third contact about a job in Gainesville (a weird trend, maybe its because the companies in Orlando tend to be bigger/more professional so they rely more on phone interviews?) I loath/dread interviews. I suck at them, not because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or don’t know what I’m talking about; I took business classes in high school and college; I even did FBLA. I’m just shy. Introverted and non-social (INTJ to be more specific), being put on the spot to answer questions and “sell” myself in front of a bunch of people I don’t know (whether in-person or over the phone) is extremely nerve-wracking. I can barely manage to talk; complex thought is out of the question; remembering trivial computer terms? – forget it!** And really, is this necessary? Are the majority of the really good technical people those who excel at dressing well, giving handshakes, and making conversation? I don’t think so – computer geeks are much more commonly known for lack of lighting and anti-social behavior. So why are people still trying to use techniques which strongly favor extroverts for introverted career types? Maybe because managers are themselves usually extroverted and they feel more comfortable with it? Not that everyone does, of course, and I applaud those companies that utilize alternative hiring methods. In fact, I think the main reason why recruiters have become so prevalent in the tech industry is to try and bridge that gap – bring in an extrovert to find and “sell” the introverts because otherwise the companies are likely to end up with mostly incompetent extroverts. But even using recruiters has limitations, and still usually ends up using some form of interview for the final decision. Far better are those that use tests or ask their interview questions over email. Tests that test problem-solving and critical thinking are better than ones that rely on specific knowledge by the way, but I’d rather take *any* test than do an interview. My first *real* job in fact I acquired solely on the basis of a test – it was for using Excel (I aced it easily) for a data entry position. The interview for AOL (both for the NOC and the later SA position) were not as difficult as normal because I already knew the people, at least a little bit, who were interviewing me. Tomorrow I’m supposed to find out if I’m hired for a job submitted by a recruiter – based almost 100% on a technical test I did; not only will there not be an interview, but I won’t even meet anyone from the company until (if hired) I report for my first day in. It feels a little weird, to not meet the people at all, but its probably the perfect hiring process for me.

** By the way, for anyone who disbelieves me based on AOL all-hands events: 1) I was at AOL for years before I started doing that 2) I felt like I was in a group of people that I knew/was part of and 3) I was physically shaking every single time the microphone was in my hand. – I also usually end up shaking when I do karaoke in public places…which doesn’t stop me from doing either – I’m the kind of person who likes to face my fears and try to overcome them (I just don’t like it when whether or not I get hired is heavily influenced by that weakness, despite the fact that my job performance will not be affected by it).

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No Snow Here! :)

It’s snowing in NOVA (northern virginia), where I used to live; I am very happy that I am not there. I am relishing the fact that I don’t have to deal with shoveling snow, scraping car windows, huge heating bills, frozen fingers, toes, and ears, panicked drivers, drivers who refuse to admit there *is* snow, no bread or milk in the grocery stores, trudging through the snow to feed animals, muddy boots, slipping on ice, or any of the other “joys” that snow brings. People like to think of snow in romantic terms, when they are looking at it through a window or on TV, but once you have to actually deal with it physically, it quickly loses its appeal. Granted that some of the problems I listed are specific to the NOVA region, or specific to living in the country; when I was in WV the snow was much less of a problem – the roads were always cleared and the entire equestrian facility was indoors, but NOVA is unique in the fact that it gets pretty much every type of weather, yet doesn’t know how to handle any of them. I don’t miss that one bit.

I feel like I’ve been slacking the last two weeks; it took me a while to recover from Nanowrimo and the holidays, with the holidays being the more stressful of the two. I’m not a very social person and being around a lot of people at one time is exhausting; its ok if we’re all focused on one thing, such as a game, or at a meeting, but when its just a social event, and there are a bunch of different conversations all going on at once, I find it very trying. And of course, when its family, you get the added perk of arguments and tempers flaring, plus these aren’t people you’ve exactly *chosen* to hang out with, so you might have little to nothing in common with them. I’m practically the opposite of most of Gary’s family (not republican, not christian, and not at all interested in having, seeing, or hearing about kids), so I’m usually at a complete loss of what to talk about around them. I’m a complete failure at “small talk” in general, which doesn’t help; the point is, spending the weekend socializing with family was to me akin to running a marathon, which doesn’t mean I’m against doing it (I would try to run marathons too, if my body was capable of it), just that I felt completely drained afterwords.

I’ve pretty much given up on trying to get a bunch of my tie-dye on the market for the christmas rush. Frankly, I think tie-dye is more of a spring and summer item anyways, no matter how cool-looking those hoodies and jackets I did are. It still would have been a good idea, but now I’m running out of time – orders would have to be in by friday I think to ensure they’d get there in time. I did post a few items and I did get one custom order, which means I finally got all of my supplies organized and usable for the first time since I packed them up in VA. I still need to make a bunch of tie-dye, for my own presents to give; planning to do it all next week. If I have time, I want to do the rest of the blank AOL shirts I have, so I can give them away to people when I go to VA in January.

One of the reasons I’ve done less for tie-dye and other things over the last two weeks is that I’ve actually been really busy in the job-hunting department. I’m not sure if its something about the end of the year, or if its just because I did a revamp of my resume, but I’ve been getting a *lot* of inquiries all of a sudden, as well as finding a lot more jobs to apply to. This has required filling out a bunch of extremely long forms, each of which seem to need a different special piece of information that I have to look up, plus lots of emails and calls from recruiters, and several phone interviews (at least *some* of which I think went well). Most of them have said that they probably won’t be making their decisions until January though, because of people being gone for the holidays; makes you wonder why they started the process at all instead of waiting.

I finally saw Inception; people have been telling me I need to see it ever since it was first released in theaters. I have a well-known obsession with dreams…which is why I was told to see it. I think it was a pretty good movie, but it wasn’t what I expected, so I ended up somewhat disappointed. There was an extra feature on the disc though that talked all about dreams, and that was interesting, particularly when it talked about gamers and lucid dreaming. I’m a lucid dreamer and a gamer and apparently the two often go hand in hand. I have a hate/love relationship with sleep – I hate the process of trying to get to sleep, which I find really difficult, but I *love* my dreams and never want to wake up, even from nightmares. The story I wrote for nanowrimo has a lot of stuff about dreams in it as well; I think I was hoping Inception would help give me some more ideas for it. The problem with the dreams in Inception though is that they are all technology-based and a lot of it didn’t really make sense (even to a dreamer). Oh well; I still enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

nanowrimo – day 29/30 – finished!

I did very little between my last post and today, well, technically yesterday; all of the days seemed to be filled with family activities and I never had a good time to work on it. I started around 2pm on the 29th with over 5000 words remaining and finished just after midnight. All of it was editing work, which as I’ve mentioned before is much harder for me (to increase wordcount) than writing from scratch. Gary complained that I did not have enough descriptions, so that was the main thing I was trying to fix/add. I was a little less than 2/3 of the way through when I realized I had reached the necessary wordcount. So, I still have a lot of editing to do, but it can wait πŸ˜‰

Interestingly, I was not sure how the Windows Word wordcount would compare to the “official” Nanowrimo wordcount, but it was only off by one (rounding?).

nanowrimo – day 23

typed – 746/44327
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/38333 – Not Met / MET

nanowrimo – day 22

typed – 974/43581
written (not typed) – 2 pages
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/36667 – Not Met / MET

nanowrimo – day 17-21 & Harry Potter

typed – 654/42607
nanowrimo avg words needed – 8333/35000 – Not Met / MET
personal goal – ?

Unsurprisingly, I have not had much time in the last five days to work on this. Hopefully I’ll have a few hours to get some work in today and tomorrow; I’ll also have all of monday and tuesday of next week to finish, if needed. I’m not sure what to set my personal goal for at this point; with 9 days left, if I average 822 each day, that would be enough to finish on time. Some days will be busier than others though…

We went to the Universal Studios – Islands of Adventure theme park on Friday – which contains a new Harry Potter section; it was pretty cool! We spent almost all of our time in the Harry Potter area, but we bought annual passes (FL residents get a big discount) so that we can go back several times and see everything else later. The last time I had gone to Universal (or Disney – they’re both in Orlando), I was pretty young. I don’t think they even had “rides” back then at Universal, and it was only one park (2 now); I think it was just a bunch of “behind the scenes” kind of shows. I remember watching the Indiana Jones live-action show several times because it was one of the more entertaining things available. Also, for some reason, my family kept getting picked as volunteers at all the things we went to. For instance, my brother and I got to ride the “Honey, I shrunk the kids” bee, with a blue screen setup, and I got chosen both to eat slime and get slimed in the Nickelodeon section. For those who know my eating habits, no, I did not know what I was volunteering for, but none of it tasted very bad, some of it was just colored applesauce; I “gifted” the getting slimed honor to my brother, whose birthday it was. Nowadays, there are lots of roller-coasters and other types of rides and I didn’t see any of the “behind the scenes” kind of thing I expected, although it might still exist in the other Universal park, which is the original one. In HP-land, there was a pretty cool ride that combined movie screens and animatronics to show you all the exciting bits of the HP world: doing stuff like dodging a dragon and running away from giant spiders (who also spit on you). I think there were 3 rides total, and 2 short shows; most of the rest of the HP section was spent on shops. They emulated several stores and restaurants from Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and have all kinds of HP items that you can buy, including wands, extendable ears, the monster book of magic (animated), and school robes. Since I’m low on money, the shops didn’t thrill me quite as much as they might have otherwise, but it was still fun to walk through and look at things.

Visiting the HP park put us in the right mindframe (at least, that was the theory) to watch the latest movie that night (opening night) at the Universal IMAX theatre. I was pretty happy about the movie; there are always things you wish they hadn’t skipped or glossed over, but it seemed really good overall. It ends right after they escape from the Malfoy mansion, which is father than I expected, but not by much. They make the whole wandering-around-being-miserable parts go by fairly quickly, which is good, and they still manage to get the *mood* across enough that you understand *why* Ron leaves and stuff like that. There is a dancing scene I think they could have skipped, but ah well…I look forward to the next/final movie!

nanowrimo – day 16

typed – 3886/41953
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/26666 – MET
personal goal – 2500/40000 – MET

over 80% done; yay! πŸ™‚

I was trying to do enough yesterday to make up for not writing at all on Monday, but didn’t quite make it. I’m still technically ahead, so maybe I won’t worry about it too much. Finding time to write is getting progressively harder as the holidays approach – I feel the need to put things away/unpack and clean things up instead. My parents will be here Thursday night and I would like things to look good by then (plus they will need to do things like actually get to the guest bed, which, before today, would not have been possible).

I’ve actually finished the story at this point, so now I’m trying to flesh out areas that I kind of skimmed over the first time. Editing/adding is slower than writing from scratch however, further impairing my wordcount.