Molt Be Blog

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

If you're local

If you're local, you know what this building is all about... or at least the rumors. I was more interested in the shadows on the wall.

20070227 - 01

I got an email this morning from my friend Rebecca who is in design school at Carnegie Mellon. Check out her website

My To Do list for the rest of the day is a mile long, including, but not limited to: taking advantage of the weather and changing the oil on the scooter; finished my taxes; getting my reimbursement for my flight to Chicago sent out; getting Apache, MySQL, PHP and ColdFusion working in harmony on the Mac; and finally resituating the A/C unit in the wall as it looks like it's tilted to the right or something. I'm also supposed to hit the gym somewhere in there... not likely.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

DC Weather...

You know you're in DC when there's 6 inches of snow on Sunday and it's 52 degrees on Tuesday. I'm using the time off before the new job starts on March 12th to take care of some home improvement tasks that have been on the to do list. Managed to snap this picture of a seagull near the metro outside of the Home Depot on RI avenue.

Seagull & Metro

In preparation for a position in web development, I've also decided that I need to brush up on, among other things, Cold Fusion, MySQL and some internet security stuff (including these two recent slashdot articles.

On the agenda for tomorrow? Changing the oil and cleaning the spark plug on the scooter (wishful spring thinking, I know). I'd also like to keep up the frequency of photos, but am doubting that I'll be able to once I'm gainfully employed.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Photos From Yesteday's Snow

Looking Down P St

Our Street

A bench

Logan Circle 2


A tree

Logan Circle

A Snowlady

A Lost Seagull

A LOT of snow


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Interview. Interview. Flight. Interview. Flight. Interview. Acceptance.

Cloud Gate 1
Almost done! I just got through a pretty intense week of interviews that resulted in about five offers and have culled everything down to two possibilities:
(1) Relocate to Chicago and work in the Technology department at the Obama '08 campaign
(2) Work with an organization on U street that provides IT (I'd be doing websites) to non-profits.

The week went something like this:
Tuesday afternoon I interviewed with a group that provides internet solutions to progressive candidates and companies. The pay would be pretty decent, but I got a pretty bad vibe during the interview as the Type A lady interviewing me sucked down coffee and put words in my mouth. They seemed far too eager, and my suspicions were confirmed when I found out that four people had left the company just a few weeks before.

Wednesday morning I woke up early (umm.. 7:30?) and took the bus with R, continuing past her stop to Georgetown University for an interview with a group there that keeps track of the student and faculty databases. The job seemed a little dull just from the description and didn't pay well, but the potential for tuition reimbursement kept me interested. In the end, the boring part proved true and there was also an added layer of politics that I hadn't expected. So a definite "no" on that one. I told them that I had the Obama interview the next day and they said that they hoped I decided to stay in DC... I suppose I should email to tell them not to consider me.
Cloud Gate 2

After the interview, I walked to catch the bus and found that I had just missed it and could actually walk home before the next one would catch up to me... so I walked from two blocks north of the Social Safeway on Wisconsin all the way home. Walking two and a half miles in dress shoes is no fun, especially when no one in DC is courteous enough to have shoveled their sidewalk. It's been five days, people!
Upon arriving home, I changed, packed up the list of things that I'd forgotten (still ending up forgetting the power supply for my laptop) and started walking for the metro. While I was doing all this, I was also going back and forth with the U St. IT Nonprofit people trying to postpone having to accept or decline their offer. We arranged a call for 12:30pm and I realized that I was going to be underground then if I took the metro, so I walked out to 14th and got a cab instead.
Foregoing the trunk, I put my two bags next to me in the back and found myself with zero leg room left by the shotgun seat.
"Must have had a big guy up there earlier, huh?"
No reply. Oh Well. I punched an email out on the blackberry to R as we proceeded to hit every red light between P st and Constitution Ave.

"I'd like to ask you a question," my driver said.
"Shoot," I replied.
"Is there a difference between likeness... or 'like' and 'love'? If I 'like' somebody or I 'love' somebody, what is the difference?"
"Hrm... Well, let's see. They're definitely not the same, that's for sure. Maybe 'love' is 'like' plus some more?"
"Maybe," he said.
"Or maybe, 'love' has to do with how much you would be willing to do for someone else. Like, if you'd be willing to give up your life for them, then that would be love?"
Cloud Gate 3

Silence. I started to reconsider my idea. "Actually," I said, "that doesn't really work because a lot of people would risk their lives to save a stranger that they don't love or like, so that doesn't seem like a good measurement at all."
"Yes. You're right. But that is just human nature, not love."
"Maybe 'love' is being able to make the conscious decision to give up your life for someone? I dunno. Maybe we need to work our way back and start over."
I started to think again. "What about the fact that you can love someone that you don't like?"
He gave me a skeptical glance. "That's true? You can love someone that you don't like?"
"So let's say you have a family member that you don't really like, but you still love them at the same time, right? You could even break up with someone and still love them, but you wouldn't necessarily like who they are as a person."
"Oh yes. That is true," he said. "Like my brother. I used to like him and love him, but now I don't like him at all."
"Exactly," I said.
Now the driver started doing that thing where he turns around and looks at me more than he drives. I hate that. "I think," he said, "that if you 'like' someone, you can name specific things that you like about them, but that there is no 'thing' you can name about someone that makes you love them. My ex wife..."
"Oh, here we go," I thought.
"My ex wife, when she left me, there is nothing left that I like about her. My friends tell me that she is evil, but I feel that I still love her. I don't understand. But it doesn't hurt me. I think it doesn't hurt me, because there is nothing real about her left for me to like."
"There's nothing tangible, yeah." I interject."
"Exactly. There is just this feeling. Which airline?"
"She has gone out and bought a new car and a house and she can't afford any of these things and she is just trying to make me feel jealous. Loneliness. But I don't. This happened to a friend of mine who has since died, God bless his soul, wherever he is. His wife leaves him and she gets the new car and the new house and it drives him crazy. He starts to drink, but he drinks alone and I don't find out until it is too late."
"Oh my God, I'm really sorry to hear that."
"It is really too bad. But I won't let that happen to me. I'm a happy person. $15.50."
"Here's $20. Keep the change."
Now that's what I call a good cab ride.

Cloud Gate 4

I had plenty of time before the flight and took a call with the U St. folks to talk about salary details. It turns out that a percentage of the salary is commission-based (contingent on billable hours), but the percentages are small enough and the requirements low enough that it should be easy to make the salary and then some.

After hashing that out, I looked around for any airport food that was meatless besides a pretzel and ended up with some kind of highfalutin mozzarella and tomato on a baguette that cost far, far more than the parts and labor that were put into it. Marx would be pissed. I'm not a vegetarian, by the way, I'm just scared of airport meat. What's it doing all the way out there at the airport? Gross.

The flight landed in Chicago a little ahead of schedule and I had no problem finding the train to downtown. While aboard, I emailed the Chief Technology Officer at Obama to let him know that I had landed already and asked if they might want to get part of the interview out of the way that afternoon or if they needed any help. I also realized that I'd totally forgotten what stop I needed and found no maps aboard the train. Luckily, I can get Google Maps on the blackberry and it has the Chicago train stations listed (a luxury that we don't get in DC), so I was able to figure it out that way. Once at the hotel, I got a call from the Obama guys and they said that I should just come over for the interview right then. I slapped on my suit, brushed my teeth and went over. Security wasn't as tight as I'd expected, but I still had to show ID and be on a list (I'm not really sure what more than this I'd expected).
The interview, conducted in a makeshift conference room, went really well and they asked me to come back the next day to see what a day-in-the-life was like and if I liked it.
Cloud Gate 5

After the interview, I emailed some old coworkers who were working on a project in Chicago as they knew I would be in town and had talked about meeting up. I also realized that I had only packed the one suit and white shirts and was going to have to buy some new pants for the day-in-the-life on Thursday unless I wanted to wear black suit pants and a white shirt and look like a waiter all day. I did think it was a little weird that the guy who interviewed me kept saying that the dress was business-casual when almost everyone was wearing jeans. Luckily, there was a Nordstrom Rack two blocks from the hotel, so I managed to find a semi-decent (OK. Horrendous) pair of slacks for $30 while texting back and forth with my former coworkers about where we were eating. Unfortunately, right as I was walking out to go to dinner, I felt that little sting in the back of my throat that usually signals a cold coming on.

Thursday morning I woke up at 6:30am to find that I had been totally right about the impending cold that I'd felt the night before. I had planned to wake up, shower and go out to see the Cloud Gate (or as I call it "the big bean") in Millennium Park, but decided to augment the outing with a trip to Walgreens for Zicam and Cold Eeze. The bean was deserted, so I managed to get all of the great pictures that you see on the right.
Cloud Gate 6

Just being in the Obama HQ was an amazing experience; to realize that so many hugely important things are happening right there and controlled by so few. The day went really well and I got to do everything from looking at contribution and voter data to troubleshooting website problems and connecting people to the LAN. Before I left around 5pm, we discussed my thoughts on the job and I said that, if it were in DC, I'd be there in a second, but that the Chicago-relocation-thing was a pretty huge drawback.
I walked back over to the hotel, grabbed my bags and hopped on the Orange line back to the airport. Security was easy and I had time to get disappointed in myself over the New York Times crossword puzzle before the flight (that thing isn't easy... especially on a Thursday). There were some seriously high winds hitting National Airport when we came in to land around 11pm and we ended up having to take a second pass. We were probably only a few hundred feet from the ground on the first pass when a huge gust of wind dipped the right wing. I assume that, in recovering from this, the pilot had to sacrifice his first landing attempt and that's why we went in for a second, which he said was "going to be bumpy, but the wind is going right up the runway, so that's good!"
Cloud Gate 7

Friday morning I woke up early (umm.. 7:30 again?) to be at the Center for Applied Linguistics for an interview at 9am. I was still reeling from the cold, but was also excited enough about finally having found a job that was semi-related to my major. That interview also went really well and, after I explained that I was already postponing offers, they sounded like they were going to fast-track the reference-checking process. They explained that I'd be working on a five-year project for second language education that was funded by a grants. This was actually an interview that I really had to work to get. I didn't hear anything back for two weeks after I'd emailed twice and eventually I called to see if they had even received my resume. It turned out that the person doing the hiring had been on vacation and was just getting back. He asked me for an interview the day that I called. Not too shabby. The big hang-up about this one is that there would be no opportunity for any kind of promotion unless I had a Master's degree. Another draw-back was that the position wasn't very well described and might actually end up being really, really boring; sitting around trying to make animations and diagrams in Flash for test questions for 5th graders.
After I got back from the interview, I had to call up the U St. Nonprofit gig and ask them to give me a day to think as I was still weighing the Obama, Linguistics and U St option. They were happy to give me the time and also mentioned that they were going to pay for me to go for some Cold Fusion training the week before I would start. I asked them to give me until Saturday and then waited a bit for a call from the Obama campaign. I was hoping that they'd found some kind of position in DC, but when I finally heard from them around 8pm, this didn't appear to be the case. I left them by saying that if there was ever anything in DC, they should give me a call and they insisted that I still send my receipts for the flight out to Chicago, so no bridges burned there, I don't think.

In the end, after weighing my options, I decided to go with the U St. group that offers IT to nonprofits. I think it offers the greatest number of opportunities for learning new things, doesn't require relocating to Chicago and won't lock me into a position for five years.

So, yeah. That's it. Two weeks to the day from my departure at the old firm and I have a new job with a start date of March 12th and some training the week before. As an added bonus, I have next week off! What to do?


Monday, February 19, 2007

When It Rains It Pours...

Just got back from the quick trip back and forth to NY and have plenty to report.
(1) I got my first job offer from the recent hunt on Friday while we were picking out linens and plates and glasses and such for the wedding. This one is with a small company that provides IT to nonprofits. It's not high-paying, but sounds rewarding, is five blocks from home and will likely let me wear jeans and a t-shirt to work for the foreseeable future. We're supposed to hash out details on Wednesday around 1pm, though, as you'll see below, I'll have reasons to try to postpone the decision by a few days.
(2) Also on Friday, after my third phone interview and one face-to-face with a recruiter, I was offered a one-year contract with Sun Microsystems, which I'm probably going to have to turn down because it's out in the middle of Ashburn, VA and would require me to commute 2 hours at least three days a week. This one pays really, really well, but I don't know a bunch of the stuff that they're asking about and don't feel like working alone at home all day. Also, I've already tried the money thing before, so maybe I'll try the no-money thing for a bit and see if I'm happy, happier or just the same.
(3) Also on Friday, I got an email from the Obama campaign expressing interest in my sweet database skillz and wanting to schedule a call for Saturday afternoon. So, on Saturday, while we were on the NJ Turnpike, I pulled over and made R drive so that I could take the call. It went really well, except for the slight misconception I had that the job would be located in DC when it actually requires me to relocate to Chicago. After thinking a bit and talking it over with R, I emailed back to say that relocation wouldn't be a problem. I will be flying out to Chicago on Wednesday afternoon (on their dime) for a face-to-face on Thursday. There are plenty of great reasons not to even consider this job like: no job security; low salary; terrible hours; and having to move to Chicago in the middle of winter... but if I really feel like I could help and that he could make it, it could definitely happen.
(4) Also on Friday, I set up an interview for tomorrow afternoon with another company that I met at the Democratic GAIN career fair at 2:30 after I go to lunch with my old manager, PF (formerly PH), from two consulting firms ago to see what her thoughts are on all of my current options. This company provides data to progressive candidates. Other than that, I'm not too sure what I'll be up to, but I definitely need to remind myself print out my references and some code samples.
(5) And finally, Also on Friday, I set up another interview at Georgetown for a position working with their databases early on Wednesday morning (OK, 9:30am. I think that's early.) From the sound of this one, the only real advantage would be tuition reimbursement. After the interview, I'll need to pick up my other suit and head to the airport where I can field a call from (1) on salary and trying to delay them from having me make a decision until I get a better read on the Obama campaign in Chicago.

It seems totally ridiculous that, after two weeks of really looking, everything had to happen on the same Friday afternoon, but I definitely can't complain. If anything, it's a huge (and, I dare say, needed) ego boost to have all of these options.

Re: the trip to NY, R and I got to:
(1) Go up to see my Dad and E for a day and a half upstate and enjoy the snow (that's the picture)
(2) Go to see my Mom for a day and a half and enjoy my old home town
(3) Go down to the city to see my friend Mike's photography exhibit and meet up with a tremendous number of people that I hadn't seen in way too long.
(4) Drive around in a sweet Volvo S40 Zipcar for a few days. (Man, can that thing fly).

Also, good news is that, because I managed to get a job offer before March 1st, I'm going to go buy the reward of a Macbook Pro that I promised myself.

Right now I need to take an audacious step and try to start and finish The Audacity of Hope, which R's dad was kind enough to let me borrow, before Thursday morning.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday.... not so special?

I didn't think Friday would seem as special when I hadn't been at work all week, but here it is and it's pretty awesome. Had a great day yesterday going to the Democratic GAIN career fair and was able to hand out my resume for database work to a bunch of different groups, including one that is screening candidates for the various presidential campaigns. Now that could be interesting.

After the career fair I went out to lunch with DS where he tried (and succeeded) in getting me to break my drinking rule... but it was only one beer and it was taken with food, so that doesn't really count, does it? Is this the starting point of a spiral into hobo-ness? I think not. I made up for the beer by going through all of the contacts I got at the career fair and sending them electronic copies of the resume.

It paid off: since I started this entry this morning, I've gotten two more interviews scheduled for next week from contacts I made yesterday. It Almost makes me want to stop bothering to looking for jobs today, but I need to keep the rhythm going if this is all going to pan out in the next few months.

R found out that she has Monday off, so we're taking the opportunity to head up to NY to visit my folks and to check out Mike's show in Brooklyn.

All for now. Interview at 2:15 and then going to look at linens and plates and such for the wedding at 3:30.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Unemployment... not too shabby!

Mr MomToday was my second day of unemployment and so far I've only felt its sweet, sweet benefits. I've been sleeping soundly, waking up at a normal hour, eating well and enjoying life.

Having decided that without a specific regimen my life would fall quickly into chaos and/or playing the Wii all day, I've set about pretending that I have a job whose main duties include:
(1) Looking for jobs
(2) Applying to said jobs
(3) Interviewing for said jobs
(4) Complaining about how boring said jobs sound

Additionally, I'll be keeping up with my semi-normal 8am awakening time (OK. 8:15. I have to get some perks as long as I'm not receiving a pay check.) and I must be at the computer or the phone or the newspaper by 9am doing one of the first three tasks above. There's a half hour break for lunch around noon, then more of the same until 3pm when I get to walk to a local coffee shop to do more of the same but around people and using the coffee shop's heater instead of paying for my own. During the walk, if not on the blackberry accomplishing (1) through (3), I get to do (4) in my head.

Once 5:30pm hits, I'm off of non-work and allowed to do whatever I want... though, I'm not including drinking in the "whatever I want" category, as being unemployed and drinking alone while your significant other is at work is just plain wrong. (At least for the first week.)

I've been testing out my local free Wi-fi coffee houses the past two days (hitting one at 14th and U and the Love Cafe at 15th and U), but looking now at google maps, I have a bunch more to go. So far, the only thing I've learned is that I need a new laptop for this new non-job job of looking for jobs. The current one is ever so slow and old. If I get a new job that pays well, I've promised myself a new laptop... of course, then I won't need it... but far be it for me to let necessity get in the way of a new shiny device.

On the job front:
-Have an interview with Sun Microsystems tomorrow AM for what could be a great gig, except it's out in the middle of nowhere VA.
-Have another job for a semi-nonprofit that does IT for actual nonprofits where I've already gone through the interviews and am just waiting for them to check references and (fingers crossed) make an offer.
-Several other things in the works, but mostly just resumes that have been sent out and acknowledged as received.

There's obviously a lot of non-work to be done, but I'm not pressed for time and haven't gone completely stir-crazy yet, so no worries.


Sunday, February 11, 2007


Re: the Iraq war, at this point, everyone is pretty much willing to admit the following:
(1) There were no weapons of mass destruction operational by Saddam.
(2) There was no link whatsoever between Saddam and 9/11.

Everyone is also pretty much willing to admit the following:
(1) Before Iraq war #2 the American public was convinced that Saddam had something to do with 9/11,

What people aren't willing to admit is that there was plenty of evidence and reporting done shortly after the war began that there was NO link between Saddam and 9/11.
The so-called "liberal" media in this country has just picked up the story regarding Doug Feith and his heading-up of the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon that was tasked with formulating a link between Saddam and 9/11. You can read this stuff in Richard Clarke's book about a map of Iraq being rolled out on the table immediately after 9/11. You can listen to republicans denying it as well. Either way, check out Doug Feith on Wikipeida or you can check out the articles from back in 2003 right after the invasion on the fallacy that is the Office of Special Plans in The New Yorker or The Guardian.


Saturday, February 10, 2007


I learned recently that some of my former coworkers had discovered this blog. I can only imagine that they did so by checking for links to the Scorpion's blog and then finding a link back to mine from one of those (CFab!). In any case, I thought I'd write to say "welcome" and to let you guys know that you're now part of an elite group of about ten people including my mom, dad, brother, sister, grandpa and some friends.

Keep in touch!



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

February, Week 2 - All New Year's Resolutions Begin to Die

Maybe it's the cold spell hitting DC or maybe it's that I resigned from pretty much the worst job ever, but, in any case, all of my New Year's resolutions have started to take a turn for the worse. First of all, waking up at 7am to accomplish something constructive is totally insane when the condo is 40 degrees. What's that, you say? I could get up, turn on the heat, shower and then do something constructive? Hogwash. I slept in a hat last night. A hat! There's no way I'm getting out of that bed. No way, no how.
Resolution #2 was to bring my lunch to work... well, that's going to be tough next week when I don't have a work to go to.
On that job front, I have a second interview with a company that provides IT to non-profits on Thursday afternoon, but I'm also really interested in another job that's a lot more tied in to what my major was in college and could be a good launch point for grad school. Unfortunately, I haven't heard back from this last one at all (but just sent my resume in on Monday evening and the job was only posted last Friday). If I get an offer from job #1, it's going to be a tough decision as whether to go with the immediate one or try to stall them and hang on for the second one.
My job search has been primarily focused on non-profits, as I'm really disgusted with the corporate world right now.


Friday, February 02, 2007

New Projects...

Mark Lombardi: World Finance Corporation and Associates, ca. 1970-84
With my resignation from work solid, my brain has really started to free up... my mind is coming up with new ideas for projects every day. It's a feeling of freedom that I haven't had in about three years... we'll see how long it takes for a new spirit-crushing job to come along.

In the meantime, today's idea evolved out of a discussion with Meg on how I met R and spiraled into a discussion on how connected everyone is. I remembered having read about an artist who would diagram connections like this that had died recently (well, looking now, it was in 2000, so not-so recently... how in the hell did I remember that?). It turns out to have been Mark Lombardi, who would make art out of sociograms from social network analysis. Thinking back on this, I thought it would be really cool to figure out how to do my own socigram of all of the people that R and I are inviting to the wedding and have it posted up somewhere. It would take a lot of work... but then, I might not have a lot of work to do for a little while.

Other projects are in the works... some big, some small, all to be revealed when they solidify.