Friday, September 23, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Well, I've finally made it to the 21st century, even if I have arrived a bit late. I am blogging (and, I feel compelled to point out, using the word blogging as a verb) from my cellular telephone.
Having passed the half-century mark a while ago now, I sort of grew up with the personal computer; the microprocessor was invented when I was 16. My first business computer had 64K of RAM (that's 64 thousand characters, folks), two 384K disk drives (no hard drive), and no video output or keyboard; the input and output were accomplished using something called a terminal, which hardly anyone remembers anymore.
And here I as am holding unimaginably more computing power on the palm of my hand. The tiny MicroSD card in my phone stores 40,000 times as much information as the five-inch floppy diskette from my first computer, 500 times as much as the washing-machine-sized hard disk drives I used professionally at the time.
And this tiny little computer will perform functions I would never have dreamed of thirty years ago.Online banking. A bar code scanner.Global positioning. Streaming movies. A high-definition camcorder!
And it also makes phone calls.What'll they think of next?
Friday, July 15, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
But there will be a step in the middle: invisibility.
Last time I heard, the official unemployment figure was nine-point-something percent. That's high, but it hardly tells the whole story, and I'm a good example of one kind of person who makes the numbers come out all screwy.
I was unemployed for 22 weeks until I found my current position. I was unemployed for one week in the middle of my current position (I forgot to mention that the job was also kind of unreliable as a source of steady income). That means I have three weeks left on my prior claim. I won't qualify for a claim on the current job for some time. So then my remaining three weeks of unemployment insurance are used up, I become invisible.
Because the unemployment statistic reported by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, only measures the number of people collecting unemployment insurance as a percentage of the total number of people employed full-time. It also reports those working part-time who desire full-time employment (based on a sampling, of course; they don't ask everybody) as underemployed.
So, while I was working 37.5 hours a week making less than one-third of what I made fifteen years ago, I was not underemployed. Get it?
But when my insurance runs out, or if my business fails, since I cannot collect unemployment insurance, I won't be counted as underemployed or unemployed. I'll just be invisible.
I'm not upset that my benefits are running out, or that self-employment won't qualify me for benefits. After all, unemployment compensation is supposed to be an insurance policy, paid by my employer, which I do not pay into if I choose self-employment.
I just don't want my situation to be yet another way that the Government uses statistics to paint a rosy picture of a failing economy.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Out with the old 35mm film cameras that I love, but will never again use. In with a nice used camcorder that can be adapted to my style of filmmaking. Out with lots of old furniture that gathers more junk and takes up more space in my new, more compact house. In with more time traveling with my wife and children.
Out with random 'Net surfing. In with directing theater, making music, and making movies.
What are the essential elements of a good life? "The Good Life" usually speaks of a life with lots of money and really big toys. That's not my good life. I had something like that a decade or so ago, and it had its moments, but it still wasn't where I wanted to be.
I don't need a fancy car, though I'd like to own one that I don't have to worry about being stranded on the Turnpike with. I don't need a big house; in fact, my wife is in the process of designing a much smaller house for us to live in when the kids are grown and get kicked out of the house...I mean, when they leave to get on with their lives. That alone has forced me to think about the physical size of everything I own, from computers to stereo equipment.
But then, realizing that the day when the youngest graduates high school is only a decade away, and that I'll be around retirement age by then, has forced me to think about how much space things take up in my schedule. And though a lot of unnecessary junk is using up room in my house, that problem pales in comparison with the unnecessary junk that's using up time in my life.
And so it's definitely time to take out the red pen. Hmm, haven't updated that blog in almost a year. Slash! Video games? Big old "X" on that one. Already eliminated most TV....
Now if I could just find a way to cross out shoveling snow.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
That's because nearly every job application I submit now is either an email or an online application. And I rarely get any reply. Oh yeah, the occasional auto-responder, and one company even sent a little card. But mostly my application, cover letter, and resume just disappear into the ether.
Today I submitted an application online, for a company which shall remain nameless. After the entire process was complete, before I pressed the button to submit my application, there was a final set of instructions. I didn't copy them, so I am paraphrasing. Okay, interpreting:
"We don't actually want to deal with you as a person, and so don't call us on the telephone or expect any kind of reply unless we've already decided, pretty much, that you're right for the job. If we don't contact you in the next 30 days, you can assume we've hired someone else. You're welcome to apply for any of the other jobs we have listed here, provided you go through this online system once again and don't bother us in any way. Thanks."
Sounds like a great way to get high-quality applicants. I think I just became a "discouraged worker."
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I'm all for that if the tool is a camera, or a sound recorder, or any of the myriad software tools I use to create pictures and music and sounds and stories. But lately, being the owner of an unfinished house, I have begun to acquire the kinds of implements that everyone thinks of when you say "tools."
You know, the kind of stuff that comes from the tool department at Lowes. Circular saws and table saws and miter saws. Power drills and compressors with nail guns. Snow blowers, for crying out loud. Here am I, a native of Southern California, the land of perpetual sunshine and I own not only a weed trimmer, but a snow blower. Along with snow shovels and ice scrapers.
And I use every single one of them. I clear snow and I hang drywall and I do carpentry and wiring, and even a little bit of plumbing.
When I look in the mirror I hardly know who I am.