204. static

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Storm-cloudsIt’s been a rough day, folks. Not only has it been blisteringly cold in Minnesota, but on Sunday the city of Minneapolis has declared a snow emergency effective until April 1. Or whenever they feel bothered to clear all the snow from the streets. For apartment dwellers such as I, this basically means that we’re screwed. Parking is not unlike musical chairs, if the loser of the round were transported to the middle of Siberia when the music ended.

The other night, I had to park three blocks away from my apartment and walk home in 4°F weather, walking right into the westerly wind, with ice crystals blowing into my face.

This, on top of dealing with my landlord, whose idea of fixing the gaping hole in my ceiling was to slop some spackle over the hole without coating the area with primer sealer first and letting it dry. This is the assessment my friend Amanda gave from looking at the picture I posted. And, of course, because my landlord decided to play incompetent contractor as well as negligent landlord, he hasn’t addressed the actual source of the moisture, which is why there was more wet plaster and debris on my floor on Friday.

Plus, there have still been no bites in my job search. Last week I reformatted my resume, editing it down to one page, with a second page of relevant, “FYI” work history information. But I worry that there are simply way more experienced and qualified candidates out there, ahead of me, and that my lack of specialized training (e.g., database, programming, project management) has come back to haunt me.

Yes, it’s a matter of rebranding the skills and experience I do have to fit the needs of a potential employer. But dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a nine-to-fiver.

Yesterday afternoon, one of the temp agencies called about a short-term civil government position that sounded like a great match for my skills – and would’ve paid $15/hr. (This is good news since my rate up until now has been $11-$12/hr.) The recruiter said he’d get back to me either yesterday evening or this morning. I finally got a call from one of his colleagues this afternoon who told me that they’d “decided to go in another direction,” whatever that means. But she had another position to discuss with me that would’ve paid $14/hr and also sounded like a good match. She called back a little while ago to say that they’d cancelled the position.

So… things aren’t going very well right now.

Ugh. I’m so tired of looking at job postings and thinking, “Well, that doesn’t sound too bad. I could probably do that for a month before wanting to walk into traffic.” Or looking at job descriptions and thinking that it seems like a great fit before getting to the bit where they say, “Must be bilingual.” Around here these days, the languages are often Spanish, Hmong, or Somali. Or they’re looking for someone with database experience. Or X+ years experience as an executive assistant.

The jobs I want require experience that I couldn’t get without back to school. Writing and editing jobs require either an English or journalism degree, or equivalent experience.

To say the least, it’s discouraging.

And now my car is breaking down. I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s been randomly dying when I pull up to stop signs. And then it works fine for a while.

In many ways, all of this seems to be a mirror to the state of my romantic life at present.

Sorry, just writing about all this is depressing me even more.

Here. Have some Stephen Fry.

The powers of the placebo are so strong that it may be morally wrong to call homeopathy a lie because the moment you say it then a placebo falls to pieces and loses its power. I am a great believer in double-blind random testing, which is the basis of all drug testing. People still insist on things like holistic healing and things that have no real basis in evidence because they want it to be true—it’s as simple as that. If you’re dying of cancer or very, very ill, then you’ll cling to a straw. I feel pretty dark thoughts about the kind of people who throw straws at drowning, dying men and women, and I’m sure most of us would agree it’s a pretty lousy thing to do. Some of these people perhaps believe in the snake oil they sell or allow themselves to believe in it.

That’s why James Randi is so good, because he knows what magicians know: if you do a card trick on someone, they will report that it was unbelievable, they describe the effect the magician wanted, and they miss out all the steps in between that seemed irrelevant because the magician made them irrelevant, so they didn’t notice them.

People will swear that a clairvoyant mentioned the name of their aunt from nowhere, and they will be astonished if you then play a recording that shows that thirty-two names were said before the aunt’s name, none of which had any effect on them. That’s because they wanted to hear their aunt’s name; they wanted the trick to work, so they forgot all the failures in the same way as people forget all their dreams that have no relevance to their lives, but they mark when they dream of someone they haven’t met for ages that they see the next day. I would be astounded if everyone had coincidences like that—yet people say that is somehow closed-minded of me!

— “Last Chance to Think” Interview (2010) by Kylie Sturgess in Skeptical Inquirer. Vol 34 (1)

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2 thoughts on “204. static

    • David

      Thanks, John. However, I could use a little less “character building” and more just “building.” It’s hard to do that when your foundation keeps getting knocked out from under you.

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