Sunday, October 20, 2013

What's a Creeper?

For the second year in a row, the theme of the birthday boy was "Minecraft".  I still think it's hard to make treats based on a computer game, but here is my entry for the year:

The pink cupcakes are supposed to look like the Minecraft mushrooms, and the green brownies are some sort of dirt or grass or something. Neither of them turned out the way I was planning, but I'm not exactly a perfectionist, so I just shrugged my shoulders and called it good. Please note that I don't intend to ever make a living as a professional baker.

Later that evening Crow the cat decided to help by knocking off the cover and licking the icing off a couple of brownies. You'll be happy to know that I threw out those brownies and frosted new ones. This is in contrast to someone I know whose dog ate the tops off of every cupcake cooling on the counter. She just used an extra-thick layer of frosting and sent them off to school with her kids and nobody was the wiser.

Anyhow, a good time was had by all, I think. (I was avoiding all of the children at the party, but I didn't hear any screaming, so I'm assuming nothing bad happened.) The bounce house didn't fall down the hill, and the custom piƱata eventually cracked open. Also, Jeff didn't burn his eyebrows off while manning the grill.

I promise to make fun of K-Poo Weak Hands and her confusion about the products of aerobic and anaerobic respiration at a later date... Let's just say that you might not want to drink carbonated water when she's in charge of the world.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Acing the Job Interview: Tips from Nebulopathy

My long term plan of finding a long-distance sugar daddy to fund my living situation seems to be off to a rather slow start, so I may need to get a job at some point. That could be a problem. After all, I'm the person that was automatically rejected by the HR department (twice!) for a job description that was based on the job I was already doing. I don't think I've ever gotten a job after having an interview. Mostly I just fall into the right place at the right time.

The internet is full of information on how to do well in interviews. But those are all written by people who spend their time writing articles for the HuffPo. I don't think they have jobs either. My advice (based on a recent interview) has got to be at least as good.

Use your personal connections:
I know everyone stresses the whole networking thing, but that's pretty much a no-go if you're an aspiring shut-in like me. Besides, it turns out that you really only need to know about three people as long as they're the right three people. It helps if you used to work with someone who has since become successful. It really helps if that person thinks you're good at what you do.

Show them you're eager (part 1):
Over a month ago I went out to lunch with a bunch of people I used to work with because one of my old coworkers was in from New York. At the end of lunch my former director mentioned in passing that she was looking for someone to do some programming and asked if I was interested. I said yes (and then backtracked to make sure she didn't want someone to do purely GUI work).

Then I waited two weeks and sent her mail that said "Were you serious about needing someone?"

Then I waited for another couple of weeks and went out to lunch with a slightly different group of former coworkers, and dropped by her office afterward. The entire floor was empty.

Then I sent her a message saying that I stopped by.

Two days after that she called and said she would call me back the following day along with the manager in charge of the project.

Two weeks later that manager left a message on my cell phone.

Here's the thing, though -- I'm pretty sure it would have taken the exact same amount of time if I'd been hounding people on the phone every day. And I got to watch a lot of television in the meantime.

I ate breakfast.

Dress for success:
I wore my third best sweats. Hey, it took me three tries to reach this guy on the phone and I can't be expected to put on pants every day, can I?

Play up your strengths:
In talking about the software that I'd be working on, the manager mentioned that it was put together with a bunch of Microsoft products that I've never used. So I told him that. Whatever. How long can it take to learn C-sharp? I hardly ever know what I'm doing before I start doing it.

Show them you're eager (part 2):
I mentioned twice during the call that I was hoping to avoid commuting as much as possible.  We agreed that going in to the office once every week is probably more than enough.

Always keep it positive:
In talking about my last job (at the same company, no less, although in a different department) I used the phrase "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic".

Display your knowledge of the product:
At the end of the call he asked if the number I was calling from (my Google voice number) was better to reach me on than the cell phone number. I said yes, and told him that cell phone coverage in my house sucks. (Yes, I was talking to someone responsible for the cell phone coverage in my area.) I did point out that most of the problem was just with voice quality of cell phones in general, and we talked briefly about the new technology that is supposed to improve that. When I admitted which phone I use (the LG Chocolate -- state of the art 4+ years ago), there was silence. I'm sure he was really impressed...

Despite all this I may get hired again. It really does come down to who you know...