Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Back in the Day 7...

Well I had been feeling like I was blogging next to nil over this past month and sure enough that was the case. Between looking for an apartment, a job, and all the stuff I've been doing at Live Oak UU I just haven't been very motivated to blog. I'd say I haven't had time, but I'm sure I could have found it. There's just been this general feeling of stress all month. Luckily BilLee and myself got to go down to Padre Island in Corpus Christi Texas this past weekend with the church. That was a nice getaway, but now its back to business. We both have interviews tomorrow, and I am in the process of filling out about 3 more applications as I type this. Its beginning to feel like a waste of time sharing so much personal information on another piece of paper. Everyone seems to be looking for people to hire yet no one seems to be calling us back. I think we get about 1 call back for every ten to fifteen applications we fill out, and those are the ones that interview everybody and screen out later. You would think we were applying for positions we were unqualified for and not basic entry level stuff. But enough about that its had me in a bad mood all month, and I really really can't wait until I get back to regular writing, and blogging. Filling out all these forms and perusing apartments that don't want me to live there unless I'm employed just seems to suck the life out of me.

So without further ado here is my incredibly short Back-in-the-day post, a couple days late, for September. BilLee put up some interesting quotes from Aristotle, I complained about Wal-mart's application process, ranted some more about job hunting, put up some links to entries on a great transhumanist blog, contemplated what it took to get on an "ethics board," and I finished off the month talking about some of the great bands we saw at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

See told you it was short. But don't worry we've slowed down, but we are far from out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Great Music in Austin

This past weekend BilLee and I went to the Austin City Limits Music Festival. In spite of being hot, expensive, and very crowded it was a lot of fun. Here are some of the bands we saw that we thought were great:

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
David Garza
The Wailers
The Pixies
The Neville Brothers

We were particularly fond of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band out of New Orleans. BilLee described them as a "real" jazz band. According to their website they are playing in Athens this weekend at the Georgia Theater. So if you are in Athens I recommend checking them out. They were really good.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Just a thought...

HoustonChronicle.com - Ethics panel to weigh charges against Tom DeLay

I wonder exactly what qualifications it takes to get on an "ethics committee." I hear about "ethics committees" all the time. Committees reviewing the ethics of some procedure in medicine, or some research at a university. There are even "bio-ethics" committees now.

Which leads me to wonder why should anyone give a rats ass about the opinion of some bio-ethics committee. I guess in congress they'll be able to do stuff, but what about out in the real world. Can these committees stop research, and medical procedures, and if so what makes them authorities on ethicality?

Obviously someone has to be an expert on ethics but how do you decide, and once again who gets on the committee. I think the procedure for determining whose on the committee would ultimately determine the value of the opinions and/or statements of any ethics committee.

Friday, September 10, 2004

I love this Blog!!

Sentient Developments always seems to have fascinating posts up. This week there is a link to a critique of the Drake equation (that's the famous equation that guesstimates the amount of intelligent life in the universe), also there is an interesting post on the relative uniqueness of our solar system, and a post on the likelihood of intelligent life "snail mailing" us via hardware rather than using radio signals.

Plus much more great stuff.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Job Hunting Madness

I really hate job hunting. Its not that I don't want to work, on the contrary I do, but I would really prefer to not work for somebody else. I don't like trying to convince people that I am worth hiring, that there is some characteristics about me, and some characteristic about their company that make me a perfect match. I don't like wanting to work at a specific place, then not getting the job and thinking that there is something wrong with me that kept me from getting it. I know that it is not about me. It is about the employer, the employer's needs, and who they feel is the best candidate for the job. Well because I am an introvert my personality doesn't typically show much to people I don't know well. It certainly isn't going to wow an employer. Instead introversion is usually seen as a weakness, and one that in many cases would make me an unattractive candidate for a position. So I usually don't mention that I'm an introvert, and instead my limited-looking personality probably blends in with the crowd of other applicants rather than having my name jump out as a "hire me." Or perhaps that is simply the way I perceive it.

In any case I suppose that is what the references are for, so that other people can say: "Rainbough was a really great employee she worked really hard, was very talented, learned quickly, was very conscientious, and is trustworthy."

The problem is that the last few jobs I have had had duds as bosses. My last employer happened to be a crook (of course I didn't know this when I started working for him). In spite of the fact that he was constantly impressed by the work I did (and said as much), bragged about the quality of work I did to clients, said on many occasions that he was always pleased with my performance, and the fact that I was working about 50 hours a week for what amounted to close to minimum wage for a highly specialized job, he told my supervisor that if ever I needed a reference he would effectively try and convince the individuals calling not to hire me.

When I found this out I quit, and I know the venom was not aimed at me but at some of my co-workers who he had been getting frustrated with. Nevertheless I end up with a job where some of the best work I have ever done can't even be used as an asset for a future employer. (BTW the reason I worked for such a low pay was because part of the value I expected to receive was a good reference). I can't give new employers a number to call where a boss will say "yeah she was great!" and I can't explain the situation because of course no one ever believes that an employer would say something like that without good reason. He had a good reason. He knew that his current set of employees knew enough about him to get him in trouble with the law and he wanted some leverage, (like the fact that he didn't pay taxes and that he lied to his clients). Then there was a telemarketing job where I doubt anyone would remember me because they have such a high turnover, and before that I worked at Papa John's for nearly two years. That is one of my biggest duds.

My boss there was more interested in political maneuvering within the company than in employee performance. The fact that I was a hard worker, trustworthy, skilled, and knew enough to manage the store was overshadowed by the fact that I was not an interesting male that he could relate to. I suspect if I used him as a reference he would not even remember having me train new employees, temporarily manage parts of the store and other employees, or that he considered me the best person to operate the cash register because my drawer never came up short. These are the kinds of things that new employers need to know.

So here I am picking and choosing between my known acquaintances for references that might tell an employer something useful about me and not just "You should hire her because she's my friend." My anger at the constant insistence at drug testing has dwindled to annoyance, and frustration that so many employers feel that an expensive invasion of privacy that tells them nothing about job performance or charcter is necessary. Also I kind of think that that practice strengthens the unethical and immoral war on drugs. But apparently most of the entry level high turn over jobs (especially in retail) feel that it is an effective way to weed out potential problem employees. Maybe it is, but I have never been a problem employee, and while I have no doubt that I would pass these tests it still bugs my moral sensibilities about what is and isn't reasonable information to collect from job applicants, and about the ethicality of cooperating with measures that may strengthen the war on drugs.

I can't afford to say no to drug testing because too many companies require it, and will not consider you without it. But a part of me wonders if perhaps I am being complicit in helping to continue the drug war. A part wonders if I am selling out to not rip to shreds the applications of those companies who would not even consider me for employment if I chose to deny them consent to invade my privacy in regards to substances I might have consumed before I ever applied for the job, and that have no bearing on my actual job performance. A part of me wonders if the more I say yes to drug testing the more it becomes "standard practice" and therefore okay to expect it from all applicants. Unfortunately if I let those companies fall away I'm left with the companies who would pretty much hire anyone, and have to because something is so bad about their job that they have a very very high turnover.

And then I end up working for people who will not remember my name, face, or how I did on the job in 3 years. I end up in a job that I can't stand doing, or maybe I end up with another crook. Who knows? and those are just a few of the reasons why I hate job hunting and would like to work for myself. Apparently though if you go to college you are less likely to be subjected to the drug test runaround. Instead they subject you to extensive personality tests. I can only imagine having a test that says "your personality isn't quite right for our company I'm sorry we can't hire you." I mean what are the standards for the tests? Anyhow that's my rant for the day.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Welcome to Wally World

Being in need of a part time job while I establish residency in Texas, I decided to apply at Wal-Mart today. Now I happen to be particularly fond of Wal-mart. I have gotten great value out of their low prices and good quality products, and I would certainly have a lower quality of life if Wal-mart stopped doing business. That being said the application included a mandatory questionaire at the end that I found, to put it bluntly, a little fascistic (I believe thats a word).

You fill out the application on an electronic kiosk in the store so you have to answer all the questions or your application will be incomplete. There were 67 questions and all of them were about my personal opinion or past experience with certain subjects. At the beginning of the test the directions made clear that you had to answer every question, that you could not take the middle ground of no opinion on any question, and that you had only 15 minutes to complete the test. It further insisted that there were no right or wrong answers and that you could not "fail" the test.

The questionaire focused on several main issues: marijuana usage and drug policy, stealing from employers, work safety regulations, and punctuality.

You had ten options of how to respond to each question: very slightly agree, slightly agree, strongly agree, very strongly agree, totally agree, very slightly disagree, slightly disagree, strongly disagree, very strongly disagree, and totally disagree.

Then the questions would go something like this:

"In the past I have had trouble being on time for work but that is behind me now."

Then you specify your level of agreement or disagreement with the statement. The punctuality statements didn't bother me. It was the drug policy stuff. For example:

"If a person only smokes one marijuana cigarette a week then they do not have a drug problem."

"I occasionally experiment with illicit drugs."

"An employer does not have the right to inquire about my usage of illicit drugs as long as they do not affect my performance on the job."

"One marijuana cigarette is equivalent to one alcoholic drink."

So of course I am wondering if my opinion on certain subjects will keep me from getting hired at Wal-mart. They said you couldn't fail the test, but some of the questions were about employee theft.

If you answered "Totally Agree" to the statement:

"It is okay to steal from your employer if your pay is very low,"

surely they wouldn't hire you. Which means that you can fail. You can answer in such a way that they will choose not to call you in for an interview, or consider you for the job opening. Which brings me to one of the most problematic questions of all:

"An employee should criticize the company they work for if they believe that they are wrong."

How do you answer a question like that? If they are wrong about something trivial it might not be worth bringing up, but what if they are wrong about something important? I'm not going to talk bad about a place while I'm on the job, but honestly are they or are they not open to criticism? Perhaps this question was an attempt to find people who stand by their principles, are willing to question authority, and stand their ground for employ. Or maybe its a way to root out the wal-mart-hater or the trouble makers from the application process.

Which makes me wonder, if they read this blog would they be reticent to offer me a job?

Smoking pot should be legal!!!

How about now?