Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Another New Gig

I started a new gig this week.  I don't want to say with whom, in case they have a google alert set up for their name, but let's just say I never thought in a million years I'd be working for the corp de Fox.  

It's a contract role but it pays well and might lead to a full-time with benefits position.  Even if it doesn't, it should provide me with the missing experience that hiring managers have claimed has caused them to pass on me in the past.  

I almost didn't move forward because the First Contact was a person with an Indian name and those usually are call center recruiters who are just trying to hit numbers with cattle calls.  But I took a chance and he and his Manager got me an interview.  

There were 3 rounds which seemed like overkill for a 6-month contract position. Still, the nice thing was the interviews were about introducing me to the teams and seeing how we gel, as opposed to trying to score cheap points by asking questions that have no bearing on my skills and capabilities.  

Saturday, September 3, 2022

I Wanna Quit the Gym!

The following is a re-post of something I wrote on Facebook Note circa 2009.  I think Note was Facebook's attempt to dip its toe into the blogging world before it realized it does better as a Micro-blogging platform.  It's hard to find Notes on Facebook, this one came up in my Memories and I am not allowed to edit it, which tells me these will soon be deprecated even further.  

I Wanna Quit the Gym!

(2009)  I've been a member of the Ray Meyer Fitness Center at DePaul Unversity's Lincoln Park campus since 2004.  It was a great deal at the time: a discounted alumni rate and it was on the way home.  All I had to do was pack my workout bag in the morning and after work, get off at Fullerton Brown line stop, go work out, and get back on.  

At first, I was even able to complete a workout and get back on the EL within the same 2-hour transfer window.  But the workouts got longer as I'd include a spin class.  That prompted me to switch to a monthly CTA pass.

Over the years, things have changed.  Though my office is located near all of the major El lines, I don't take the brown line to work anymore, so it's not as convenient to take it home and stop at the gym -- especially if I leave my car at the blue line station in Irving Park.  Also, the gym mostly caters to students, not alumni or other non-student members.  This is evident by the elimination of many of the late evening spin classes.  

So after realizing that I hadn't been to the gym since February, I called and asked about canceling my membership.  You can't just do it over the phone, you have to fill out a Membership Cancelation Form (MCF).  The lady who took my call offered to fax me the form.  About a day or two went by when I realized I didn't receive the fax.  I called back and asked for someone to fax me the MCF.  This went on for a couple of months.  I'd periodically remember that I wanted to quit the gym and would call and never receive the fax.

I decided to drop in one Sunday afternoon before going to mass since my church, also DePaul is across the street.  Alias, the Membership Relations part of the gym was closed at the time I got there (about 90 minutes too late).  No one could find the MCF form although a nice polish kid did try to help.  I started to count this as one of those times when it would be helpful to speak the language of my ancestors, but it turns out it wouldn't have made a difference because he couldn't find the form.  

I politely suggested that putting the form on the website might be 1) useful, 2) 21st century and 3) a FUCKTACULAR idea. His response indicated that he had drunk a full gallon of the corporate cool-aid when he said "oh the reason we don't is because we have it right here where you need it when you want it". 

"But you don't have it here," I pointed out.  he smiles and shrugs his shoulders while checking the same file cabinet for the fourth time to see if the MCF had magically appeared.

Flash forward to Monday.  I called the gym again for the MCF.  This time it actually arrived at my fax machine!  I filled out the form and tried to fax it back.  I'd hear the busy signal and the report sheet would come back busy/no response.  The thing about cancelation is that if you don't do it by the 15th of 

the current month, you are charged for the next month.  I'd be able to use the gym but since I'm not using it now, it's kinda a moot point.  I was determined to get this resolved, so I called and asked if their fax machine was, in fact, working.

The lady who answered -- same voice as the one who promised to always send me the fax -- said it was working.  Let's call her name is Trudy.  I explained my issue and Trudy suggested I try it again, and added, if it doesn't work I can email it to you.  I know what she meant, at least I hope she meant that I could email her a scanned document, but if not, I'm not sure how her emailing me something would help. 

After trying to send the fax several times over the next couple of days, I called back and got the same lady and asked if I could scan the MCF and email it to someone.  She said sure and gave me an email address.  This is on a Friday afternoon and With the 15th of the month deadline drawing near, I could just see my email sitting in someone's junk/spam folder.

Finally, at the end of the day, I get an email that say:


I am out of town until Tuesday, I will have Trudy follow up with you regarding your cancellation.

Thanks for letting us know.


Now I'm thinking that the fate of membership, whether or not I will be charged another month's dues, depends on the skillset of Trudy, the lady who couldn't or wouldn't fax me the MCF all these months.  The lady who thought the problem with her fax machine could be solved by emailing me.  I'll be lucky if I don't get charged twice each month from here on in!

While heading home I entertain a wild thought:  there's a scene in the movie Reality Bites where Winona Ryder sets camp at a gas station and offers to pay for everyone's gas in exchange for cash.  I start to figure out if there is a way I can do this with my gym membership.  Maybe just send homeless person after homeless person into the gym to use the shower and take advantage of the complimentary towels!  Alas, I recall that they check my gym card against a photo they have on file.

The good news is that Monday I did receive an automated email from Campus Recreation:  "We received your request for cancellation. Your membership will expire on 7/31/09. "  The bad news is I've gained some extra pounds and could really use a gym to work out right about now.  

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Avocado Toast with runny eggs

I saw this on Twitter but cannot find the tweet because I forgot to like it.  Or maybe I did but the poster took it down.  Anyway, the joke is:

Made me some Avocado toast. I guess I’m not buying a home anytime soon

These turned out to be delicious.  Now i just have to figure out how to flip them over without breaking the yokes.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Good Bye ChicagoNow, it's been a slice

 I started blogging at ChicagoNow on October 1, 2012, although I haven’t really published much since Boris and Natasha were born. Anyway, the Powers-That-Be at the Chicago Tribune and Alden Global Capital closed the site down today.

No one communicated anything to us either by email or on our Facebook Group. We knew it was coming when our last community manager resigned at the end of June and said we’d heard something in a few days.  And honestly, I suspected the end was coming when our first and best community manager Jimmy Greenfeld took the trib buyout and left.  Then the annoying ads in the middle of our posts came.  

Some bloggers continued to post even though the Front Page (landing page, home page whatever term you prefer) wasn’t updating. A few bloggers wrote goodbye posts that apparently caught the higher-ups’ attention because those were taken down.

It’s kinda crappy the way they chose to go about it. Some of those blogs brought in large audiences which I’m sure led to decent passive revenue. I suspect our site didn’t cost them much especially once they cut the monetary rewards for Best Post and Best Gallery (which I won a few times).

No skin off my nose as I wasn’t one of the paid talents (they use to pay some of the heavy hitters but stopped that years ago and the heavy hitters went elsewhere). But I was hoping to post a Last Post on my blogoversary in October and was also hoping to link to a podcast I might be on; the ChicagoNow traffic would have helped.

When I  joined CN, if you wanted to get a space there,  you needed a pitch.  My wife and I were house hunting and so Adventures in House Hunting was created.  Ironically, sometime after my first or second post, we made an offer on a house.  That house would be the home my kids were born in and filled with treasured memories.

At some point, our Editor announced that you could blog about anything you wanted.  Spoiler alert: you always could, but this just made it official.  

It was like Hogwarts for Bloggers.  I know with Rowling's TERF issues that reference is not as pure as it once was.  I said what I said.

I made many virtual and even real friendships with many bloggers here.  I also pissed off a few and we are no longer FB friends.  boo hoo.  

Some people were really cool, including the heavy hitters.  They gave my Fan Page a like when that thing had more currency than it does today.  Others felt it was a zero-sum game and wouldn't click the button, which is fine.  Except for the one person who kept asking me for tech support but couldn't click like.  WTF.


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Friday, July 1, 2022

2022 is half over

Depending on how you look at it, 2022 is half over, or 50% complete.  So on that note, let's talk about my Steps stats.

I was doing really well at first.  Between NG and I going for walks and my being able to eck out a 1-mile run, I was able to hit the 10K steps usually before dinner time.  Then one day, I did something during a run and my knee had inflammation.  It didn't go away with rest, so I iced and ibuprofen and it eventually subsided but didn't completely disappear.

Since we are on cheap insurance, we tried to wait it out, but finally, I went to a doctor to evaluate.  She gave me a steroid shot and all has been great since then.  Unfortunately, based on our experience with knee injuries, we suspect that there are underlying issues.  Perhaps another lacerated meniscus.  

So I have to do Physical Therapy for a few weeks and if things don't get better, I can get an MRI.  Not sure if our insurance will cover any of it because no one can ever tell you what something will cost.  And half of America is scared of Universal Healthcare because, socialism.


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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Down to 8 lives now

The other day I’m doing laundry and I put the load from the washer into the dryer. Before doing so, I take a blanket out of the dryer (from the previous load) and walk not 10 yards away to put it on the sectional.

Ryder: a near-death experience changes ya, man

Close the door and hit start. A few minutes later I happen to walk by and hear a thumping. I open the dryer and see my cat had gotten in there without me noticing. Luckily it had only been 5 minutes and though he was gasping like he was out of breath, he’s fine now, though it took a day before he would purr.

Elsa needs another cup of coffee, or something stronger

We laugh now but I shudder to think what would have happened if I didn’t notice for the entire 30 minutes.  Our Google Research showed that this is not an uncommon occurrence because cats love to explore new places and warm laundry is very attractive.  It also showed that many of these occurrences don't end well, so again, very fortunate.


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Keeping the Faith

 So it's been 2 years since I was laid off from Big Audit 2.0.  Since then I've talked to a zillion recruiters, had dozens of interviews, and one contract gig.  The contract gig, despite its drama, was more of a liferaft than I ever imagined.  It lets me reframe the narrative from "I've been unemployed since July 2020" to "I've been unemployed since May 2022".  Because without a job, I have no power.  No control over my life.  

To say I'm losing faith is an understatement.  I know I've blown a few interviews, but it doesn't seem mathematically possible to have blown them all so badly that no one will take a chance on me.

To be sure, there have been 5 places this year alone that should have taken me on, based on my experience alone.  Two were even contract gigs which would be low risk if it didn't work out.

  • There were interviews given by people who don't know how to conduct an interview.  
  • There were interviews where the role described did not match the job description given.
  • There was a job interview where one of the interviewer was drinking wine.
  • There was a job interview where the interviewer was wearing an ill-fitting T-shirt.
  • There was a job interview where the interviewer picked his nose.

In my field, there are a few options.  I can work for a law firm and be a Widget Engineer.  They might call it something different.  If I'm lucky, I can find another Audit or non-law firm company that uses the No-Name Software.  Finally, the last option is to work for one of the consulting firms that get hired for short-term implementation or upgrade projects.

And I'm so ANGRY.  Angry that my Office Nemesis is still employed there.  Angry that he was allowed to bully and harass me with no repercussions.  


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