Saturday, January 30, 2010

Job Skills

Just took an online typing test and found, after three tries, I can type 75 words a minute. I'm actually old enough to remember when that was an important number to know.

I was compelled to find out my number because I applied for a federal job online and it said I couldn't finish the online application if I couldn't type more than 40 words per minute. I was thinking that if it was an online application, it could be equipped to measure that while it's being completed. I also found an error in their online questionnaire and tried to write to someone to let them know, explaining in detail how it might impact their ability to identify high-quality candidates for the position. I actually wrote to three different people, appropriately following their directions to use the proper link in case I had questions or comments about the online application process.

They were more concerned with my typing skills than they were my "critical thinking" and "attention to detail" skills...

I also had an exchange with the nice woman from the unemployment office (no - "career center") who e-mailed me to mention that I hadn't stopped in to use their service and could they help? So I sent a smartass reply that explained that I worked for the last 18 years as a hiring manager and was about to get a Master's degree, have excellent research abilities and can't imagine that this office knows something I don't about job searches. Then I called the next day to apologize for being a smartass, chatted with her for a while and she invited me to consider attending the Professional Networking sessions they have on Tuesday afternoons. I immediately asked her how pathetic they were, since I imagined men in white oxford shirts with pocket protectors and briefcases with nothing but a pen and post-its in them whining about how potential employers (and girls) don't recognize how valuable they are. Like a 12-step program for those who are overeducated and underemployed.

Then I related this to my final work for grad school - which is an exploration of why the Supreme Court thinks that people who take care of people aren't worthy of basic employment protection like, oh I dunno, a minimum wage. The people who keep disabled children safe and make sure elderly grandmothers have eaten once or twice today. That bathe and talk to and give medicine and, you know, care about people who can't care for themselves. So if I can type 75 words a minute, what does that make me worth? How do we create a measurement of care?

But 75 WPM is good, isnt' it?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mean Girls

We've been trying to make sense of this story from South Hadley of a 15 year old Irish girl hanging herself after being tormented by the gaggle of mean girls in her school.

She decided that death was better than living through that.

Really, I don't know what she decided and wouldn't presume to.

Still, watching the country change - seeing the republican party in all of their smarminess - "it's all about me" culture emerge. Greed, power, selfishness.

What would Howard Zinn be trying to teach us?

I know that when things get rough, we all start protecting our turf. But the "real housewives of orange county" are just the South Hadley mean girls in middle age. All Botoxed. And we watch (actually, I don't watch - it's the commercials during the West Wing reruns on Bravo). And we watch. And affirm. And approve. And support. And compensate - greatly.

Grad school has taught me brainy stuff, like economic theory, that talks about "externalities' which are those things that are not captured in the price of something. So if we consider that creating a show, like "stupid women with botox and no brains who like chaos" it means that Bravo paid stupid women to participate, expecting that the network would generate revenue from people watching, but the externality is what other consequences are that won't be reflected in the financial transaction. What about the impression given to 11-year-olds who think this is the way to act? Or the 11-year-olds who are the victims of their meanness?

I'm not into censorship - don't get the wrong impression - I just get disappointed in what we value. Mothers might consider sitting with their daughters and using these crappy shows as examples of how not to act. And embrace opportunities to step in when people are being mean to other people. We've all been the kid who is different - because we wore the wrong jeans or were the wrong size or whose parents drove the wrong car. Or dated the geeky guy because we liked his poetry or because he was too nice for the Mean Girls. The geeky guys sometimes turn out to be wonderful husbands and fathers.

There's no making sense of the Mean Girls. We just have to insist that they're not cool.

They're not cool.
They're mean. And need to understand the consequences.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union

O.k.- since we last spoke:

I remain unemployed.
Jeff is unemployed - no - employed - no, part-time - no, definitely unemployed - no, safe after all.
Raytheon sucks - see above.
Massachusetts filled Ted Kennedy's seat with a republican.
Massachusetts Democratic party sucks - see above.
I picked a topic for the most important project I will ever do in my graduate school life.
I changed my topic.
I had a great meeting with a professor to focus the topic.
I had a meeting just after that meeting with a professor I respect who beat up my topic.
Beloved former boss called with a job offer.
Job offer likely to be rescinded on a technicality.
Howard Zinn died.
I want to change my topic in honor of Howard Zinn.

The President thinks I should remain hopeful...