Friday, December 12, 2014

Modern Job Searching

What are some of the obstacles to the job search? Speaking as someone who's been unemployed several times throughout my career, I feel I have some experiences to share.

One is that employers seem to hold it against you that you don't have a job. They've posted a vacancy, you're not attached to anyone else, but when you apply they want to know why you don't have a job and why you haven't had one. It's a value shift akin to dating relationships in junior high: you weren't attracted to X when they were single because they were single, but now that they're dating Y and unavailable, X is all you desire. That's how employers are, and they give this away when they ask whether you're still with a place and how much time you'll need to announce your departure. It's a very lazy, inexpensive form of headhunting, where you don't hire a headhunter but simply hope an employee will leave a place based on your charm alone.

Along with this: employers advertise only wanting to hire highly successful people who produce award-winning content. There are two responses to this. One is, "Well, duh." Of course you'll say you want to hire the best people, but the other response is that that kind of employee is not jobless and looking for a new office. They're in their old position, producing highly successful award-winning content. Why wouldn't they be?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Where Should I Live?

For general reasons of restlessness—and specific reasons against qualities particular and exclusive to Minnesotans—once in a while my wife daydream about living somewhere else. The downsides to that, of course, are that we'd be losing all our friends in our city (whom we only see twice a year, at most) and distancing ourselves from our families (which is the toughest and most guilt-inducing anchor to break). As well, we'd have to start over in a new social scene in our mid-40s, learning the hierarchy and power-players, dodging the traps everyone knows but won't necessarily point out, struggling to meet people while building a new home.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Rich Gifts of Procrastination

Bull Run Coffee acknowledges writers
participating in NaNoWriMo and
encourages them to track their
word count here.
We're midway through November and NaNoWriMo. I see many other writers have already hit the 50,000 mark and some have shot well past that. Me, I'm procrastinating.

A couple days ago I sat in a coffee shop and agonized over the etymological roots of mage, wizard and sorceror. I had long been wondering what the hell the differences actually were. Most fantasy writers and video game writers just come up with their own definitions and treat them consistently within a work, but from work to work they won't match. And it's fun to listen to people who haven't studied this at all churn up their own answers at a flippant question, because they do dredge some respectable insight when trying to reason out an answer.

But that doesn't further my novel.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Men As Victims of Rape Culture

Recently I went to a nonprofit event to benefit... without being too specific, people who are homeless and/or may not have enough to eat. There are plenty of those in our proud United States, and the Republicans believe in punishing them as often as possible in a myriad of directions. I don't know why. I honestly don't know why, in a superpower nation of plenty and abundance, a political party has dedicated itself to kicking its own citizens while they're down. Can you form a political party around bullying? I guess with enough money, you can.

Anyway. I went to this nonprofit benefit to provide food to people who have no food. That seems like a decent cause: feeding the hungry. It's as unpopular with Republicans as sheltering the homeless and clothing the naked. And yet they pretend to be religious: I really don't get how they think Jesus ben Joseph would have been on their side, when every bill they try to pass stands in direct contradiction to everything he said, in the Bible they insist on interpreting in literal truth. How does that work? No one has ever, ever, ever been able to explain that one to me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Dawn of NaNoWriMo 2014

It's NaNoWriMo time again, and I'm angsting over what to write.

There is no question I want to participate. I love feeling productive, especially in the writerly sense, and collaborating with hundreds of thousands of other participants really does give me a sense of support. There are naysayers who try to act all deconstructionist about it, the same people who complain about New Year's resolutions. Their argument is, "Why pick a month to do this? Why not get off your butt and start this any time?" The response, of course, is, "It has to start some time, and we chose November. If you can start up a major project like this at the drop of a hat, awesome for you, but what do you get out of pissing on someone else's cornflakes?"

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Third Week of Unemployment

Location: Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
This is the week of serious job-getting. I'm not in dire straits, we have some savings to fulfill our obligations and we keep low expenses, but... what else am I doing with my days? with my life?

The first week of unemployment was relief. I was sad to leave a job I enjoyed with coworkers I considered friends, but I was stressed. Because there is no way to measure the positive work an editor does, only the negative (items missed), it is impossible to say whether a copyeditor is effective at his job, except for this: "We haven't had to talk to him about anything for a while." That means things are probably okay. But then there's no benchmark for acceptable performance: anything, to any degree, less than perfection is considered failure. And while the admin said they knew perfection was impossible, it was also impossible to measure how close I was coming to that with a ratio of my successful labors to what slipped through the cracks. So once that dynamic was done, I was able to notice the sun and fill my lungs with air and hug my wife in a manner unlike that of a drowning man clinging to a buoy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Avoiding "Blaand" Puns Because They're Cheap

I'm not the first person to want to research blaand, and I'm not the first to blog about it. But this is my journey as I discover a new beverage and find out what online people know about it.

I discovered this drink because of Dungeons and Dragons. My wife has never played, and I used to run a 2nd Edition campaign, but I only have 3rd Edition rulebooks which is a d20 system and almost entirely foreign to me. But I swore I'd start a campaign, so I researched the demographics of a sustainable medieval village and created a reasonable community of a town and some villages.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Swift Kick To The Listicles

I am so freakin' sick of this trend in listicles, where not only do bloggers and journalists let themselves off the hook for writing a substantial story, but they also get to be insulting and condescending.
"Good thing we're here, because you nearly suicided yourself
out of sheer ignorance, you stupid fuck."

  • 10 Foods You're Eating Wrong
  • 2,500 Things You're Too Ignorant to Know to Do With Oatmeal
  • 7 Ways Your Stupid Walk is Injuring Yourself
  • You've Been Using the Wrong Orifice to Eat a Banana
  • People Are Angry at Your Mother Because of These 17 Simple Social Cues Everyone Else in the World Has Figured Out Except for Your Developmentally Stunted Ass
  • 15 Ways Your Idiot Face Ruins Life for Decent People
  • Exercise Is Great, But Not the Way You Do It: 13 Reasons You're Fucking Up
  • That's Not How You Hold a Fork, You Sperm-Dumpster
  • 8 Things That Aren't Food But You're Still Trying to Eat
  • Seriously? It's Called 'Water.' Do I Need to Explain 'Water' to You?
And half the time, they're wrong anyway. Those easy-bake cookies with only three ingredients? One of those ingredients is cake mix. Yay, some wanna-be armchair journalist figured out how to separate a yolk from the albumen—everyone else knew this 60 years ago: "new" to you does not always mean "new".

Just because someone figured out a different way of doing something, that doesn't mean all other ways are wrong. When someone discovers a new trick, the tone they take to introduce it is totally out of proportion to the trick. They address it with the urgency in line with warning someone from a life-threatening hazard, yet the trick is something largely inapplicable in most people's lives: "Hey Idiot! You Almost Killed Yourself and Your Family! Now Here's the REAL Way to Peel a Mango."

Who gives a rat's ass? How many times a year have I had to peel a mango? And now that I know this trick, I'm no more likely to rush out and stock up on mango than I was yesterday without this pearl of wisdom. My life was perfectly fine without this arrogant assault: there's nothing wrong with the shape of my pizza slices, there's nothing wrong with how I eat an avocado, and my summer is just fine without your shitty rehashed and stolen list of cocktails.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Free MMOs—My Records

This is just a list of MMOs I like to play. Something's causing my browsers (Chrome and Epic) to crash with greater frequency, so as part of my diagnostics I'm going to scrub all these from my machine. I would still like to keep track of them, however, for a later date when we switch Internet providers or live somewhere closer to a node (we used to get a 20 Mbps connection; in our new apartment we only get 7, though our Internet provider sees no reason to charge us any less for 1/3 the service).

These I'll keep note of, for documentation's sake, but shouldn't be considered in my rotation.
  • Age of Wushu—This is an all-PK game from level one. That makes it difficult to get anything done, as small children who have way more time than you have already leveled up and mastered the game and can relentlessly hunt you for their amusement.
  • Florensia—It actually might be easier to learn to pilot and run a ship than play this piracy game.
  • Forsaken World—Beautiful graphics but overt sexism, and the overarching story doesn't make sense.
  • Guild Wars 2—Learning an RPG shouldn't be a chore.

And while we're at it, I'll note some that I'd like to try, eventually, someday.
Lastly, the games I remember but either don't exist any longer or are just hard to reliably source.
  • 2Moons
  • Dragon Sky
  • Dream of Mirror Online
  • Kitsu Saga
  • World of Kung Fu

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Coffee Journal

Our humble kitchen setup, well-loved every morning.
I love drinking coffee. My wife loves drinking coffee. We end up buying a lot of coffee, consequently. We buy it whole bean, we grind it ourselves in a conical double-burr grinder, and we run it through an Aeropress we've owned for nearly a decade.

Sure, I'll buy it at coffee shops occasionally. We've got Caribou and Dunn Bros. (I don't consider Starbucks, sorry) and a hoary host of other independent shops. We just moved near Bull Run Coffee and Urban Bean, I remember when I Am Coffee opened up near where I used to live, and I've been to White Rock Coffee Roasters several times in St. Paul. I just have no formal training, is all. I'm just like someone wandering through a museum for the first time, taking everything in without any historical context or scholastic appreciation, simply pointing out the things I find appealing or off-putting on an innocently gut level.

This page will be dedicated to me recording what coffee I like, because I can never remember. Whenever we go shopping for another bag of coffee, there's always a minute of inactivity and indecision as we try to recall our impressions of whatever capriciously named brands and blends. This should straighten that out.

Bear in mind I know nothing about coffee. I'm just trying to remember what I like.

Roast Level
Taster's Notes
Flor del Huila
Light roast
Light and fruity, right off the bat. A little milky or like caramel, if I stretch it. Citrus base note, no smokiness or burnt acridity. Very mellow, which I'm enjoying, but I'm given to understand light roasts actually have more caffeine, so, not a weak drink at all.
—Caribou, May 23, 2014
Spring Fever Blend
Light roast
Just an average kind of flavor. Not burnt, that's good, and some cherry richness to it, but the flavor doesn't arrest me enough for $20 per ¾ lb.
—Bull Run Coffee, June 1, 2014
Kaffe Hela Bönor Mörkrost
Dark roast
This was actually really tasty. For a dark roast, it was surprisingly flavorful with the lavish deep citrus notes I usually enjoy in a lighter roast, though with plenty of mellow, mild nuttiness to it. An inoffensive and tasty cup of coffee for a gentle morning.
—IKEA® Food, June 7, 2014
Early Bird
Medium roast
No matter how I prepared this, it always came out kind of watery and flat. It's still better than over-roasted office coffee, but it doesn't feel like it's going to wake you up and it's certainly nothing to savor. I dunno, maybe I ground and brewed it wrong.
—Just Coffee, the Wedge

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mixing With Kümmel

Let me preface this: my wife is really into making liqueurs. I make beer, she makes infusions and liqueurs, and she's really gone to town on this. She's made absinthe, limoncello, anisette, chambord, aquavit, Irish cream, Italian gold, "forbidden fruit" and many others. She's infused everything from peppercorn to Buddha's Hand and is always looking out for the next challenge.

Once in a while she makes a liqueur I don't know what to do with. You can drink it straight (neat or on ice), you could mix it with club soda or ginger ale, but the flavor is so foreign from the pedestrian drink selection—yet once it was the hallmark of class and distinction—that I don't know what to mix it with.

My wife has made kümmel, and tonight I'm figuring out what to do with it.

Now, she didn't stick with just coriander when she made this batch: she added cumin, and I think that works with this spice, but it's difficult to wrangle with in a mixed drink. This is only because I'm not the potage du jour known as the "mixologist", Homeric Greek for "hipster bartender". Fortunately, anything you can conceive of has five websites dedicated to it (more, if you count the porn), so when I Googled kümmel, I found CocktailDB. There are many drink websites, but this is one of the few that still works and looks pretty good.

I made two drinks with the kümmel, a Aquavit Rickey and a Coexistence Collins. The former was easy: any booze with soda and lime juice forms a Rickey. The latter I chose because it had such a cool and not immediately accessible name. I took photos of each, but since they look the same I'm representing both with the latter image.

It's my intention to update this blog with other cocktails I can make from the liqueurs my wife produces, updating here on my blog where no one will ever read it. Plus photos.