Friday, May 26, 2006

Ah, the fruit of my past month of unemployment comes to the light of day. While the release date was set for tomorrow May 27th, 2006 it was 'pushed up' to today. Namely because street dates for something like this were only made to be broken by leaked links. But also because all the mirrors were ready for downloads and there was no reason to hold anything back.

I hope that the magazine turns out to be a success. It was a lot of fun to put together and I am all ready looking forward to working on Issue 2 . The next one will have a little more reader input and article submissions.

So get your copy now if you haven't all ready -

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Historic Comments
What happened to Ray?
Michael | 09.07.06 - 12:43 am | #
I crawled out of bed yesterday in a complete daze. The Niquil I had gulped down the night before must have kicked in. The first dose wore off around 4:30AM and when I woke up sneezing, I chugged down another dose to put me down. So at around 9:00AM I opened my eyes and realized it was really quiet in the house. I was a little confused. My house is never that quiet. But then I noticed the time and realized my kids had gone off to school and my wife had too as she was helping at the book fair all day. I felt pretty good. Almost like this head cold had subsided. But then about ten minutes later I was sneezing uncontrollably and choking down more pills. It's definitely a sinus infection. What great fucking timing.

I went downstairs and checked my email. Just spam. No blinking voicemail light. I checked it anyway. No voicemail. *sigh* It would be a long day of waiting.

Sometime between Thursday and Friday I was to hear about this job. And the longer the day got, the more I began to think that I didn't get the job and they just didn't have the heart to tell me. They knew I wanted the job really bad (especially after bringing them brownies). Perhaps they just didn't have the heart to tell me. No, maybe I was jumping the gun. After all, it's a tough decision. They probably want to hold off until Friday to give their answer. I waited, and waited, and waited.

It was just about five o' clock now, and I was getting ready to go to the grocery and pick up dinner items. Another day gone. My wife had just started up the laundry. Something she had been putting off because of the noise. No sooner did she start it up that the phone rang. It was them. Here they had waited until the end of the day. Expecting bad news at this point I happily answered.

"So you tried to buy me with brownies, eh?". The owner seemed a little wierded out by the brownies, but appreciative none the less. He went on to tell me that they were hours away from making their decision, and he wanted to ask me a few questions if I had a moment. I did. And so he asked something to the effect of "why would you want to take a job as different as this one?". I had a good answer for this. I had a LONG answer for this and so I addressed it. In my explanation I detailed: (a) why I feel like my students don't learn anything valuable from me (b) that the training industry is a crooked self propelling product pusher (c) that I hate traveling (d) that I don't like getting stiffed. He agreed that these were all good reasons to leave my field and so, he paused. He looked through his schedule. "Can we meet tomorrow, say 3:30PM?", he asked. "Absolutely!", I replied.

So did I have the job? Was I interviewing a third time? What the hell was next? Thankfully before ending the call he let me know what's going on. "Just so that there is no suspense here, you probably know what's coming ... we're going to offer you a job tomorrow". Hooray! I got it! I got the job! Thank God. Now I could take a deep breath. And if I didn't feel like such utter shit on behalf of this infection I would jump up and down.

Today is a new day. I have a lot I need to get done. As I approach noon, I haven't accomplished much of anything. I need to talk to two different companies that I am contracted to and try to let myself off the hook on behalf of my new career. One project I never signed a contract for. In fact, I haven't billed them and may never get paid anyway. So no real loss there. The other, has always treated me very well, paid on time, etc. I regret telling them that I will not be working for them any more. I also need to call my mortgage company, and my auto finance company to let them know that I will indeed pay them sometime in the near future.

But I did get something done today. I published the first issue of my magazine! It's live, along with a new website that kept me busy for practically a full week. Check it out @

On a final note, as I was blogging my phone rang from a strange 800 number. She asks "is this the owner of Beavers IT Training?".

"Why, yes it is".
"I'm --- from Yahoo. Would you have a few minutes to discuss advertising for your business?"
"Oh, I don't think that will be necessary"
"Do you feel that your site doesn't need to be advertised?"
"No, it's just that as of today I'm kind of ... out of business. I'm closing".
"Ah, that's too bad, why is that?"
"Because I have a job! Thanks anyway though!"


It's a little depressing closing this thing down. My wife and I worked hard to build this business and now it's 'done'. I won't miss the work (at all!). But it's a bittersweet victory in our lives. Something I will always look back on. The highlight being our family trip to Pittsburgh. We will always have that. Perhaps I will keep the website around. In memory of our exciting 14 month venture.

Historic Comments
Thats flippin' awesome man. Hope you enjoy your new job/career.

I hope a good, stable job won't have an impact on your entertaining and eventful blog posts.
Michael | 05.31.06 - 9:38 am | #

Congrats on the job. I've often wondered why I sat through technology classes that seemed too simple to be doing any good. At least now you have a chance to become a BOFH.
Poe | 06.01.06 - 10:08 pm | #

YES! Great news Ray!

I just got similar news today, but I don't start until July 10th because I am taking time off to spend with my newborn daughter.

EvilRich | 06.02.06 - 3:31 pm | #

Glad to hear it Ray. I always wondered why you were training instead of being in the trenches. I am sure you will enjoy your new career. Congrats!
tdo | 06.05.06 - 7:09 pm | #

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Take this job, and politely exchange it.
It's been just about a month since I have worked a contract job. I can't say that it hasn't been nice. It has. But I was hoping to have a full time job by now and it hasn't happened. You see, somewhere between the 11 hour car drives, the Motel 6's, and the jet-lag ... it hit me. I do *not* want this job any more.

And so at the start of the month, I went out on Monster and Dice and started searching. There's not a lot of work that I am qualified to do. I'm a trainer. All I have done for six years is "train". The only people likely to hire me are training centers. But I'm not standing in line to work for one of those. This past year I've been to dozens of them, nationwide. And they are all the same. All of them operating on a shoestring budget. All of them pay their bills late. None of them are managed by anyone with any amount of sense. The only safety I have in this business is that the brokers pay me, and then chase down the senseless deadbeat straining center in their own time.

I saw a ton of jobs that I would love to take. The ones that interested me most were the Network Security something or rathers. At first, I only applied for a couple jobs in my area. I didn't want to send out a hundred resumes, and get dozens of responses. So I only sent out a handful. But nobody called.

So then I looked a little farther. Up to 100+ miles away. And this time I send out 25 resumes in a few days time. Still, not a single phone call or email. Many of the jobs I tried to follow up with yielded dead ends to voicemail boxes or receptionists who didn't know what I was talking about. One did call me back about a week after I submitted the application (which was maddening). I am pretty fucking sick of filing electronic job applications with everyones own clever little system. Escpecially when its the SAME information that Monster and Dice have you put into THEIR system. Anyway ... I got a response about a group calling themselves the career development program. I looked them up and it seemed to be a tax supported group that helps highschool kids in finding their future IT jobs. But alas, this was not the same group. Instead, I had filled out a form for a group that wanted to train ME. Yes, they wanted to get me "Microsoft Certified" so I could have the job of my dream. It took great restraint not to tell them that I am all ready a 2003 MCSE/MCT/MCSA, etc and I can't get a job to save my ass.

Dead ends. Voice mails. Filling out forms in the basement of state buildings. They all got me nowhere. Then I got a call from a local company that was looking for a Network Security Analyst. I remembered them well because I had been out a day or two earlier trying to put my resume into peoples hands. I believe that there is still reason to walk into a joint and hand them a resume. Of course I formatted in into the fanciest table you have ever seen. And I printed it on the finest of 100 percent cotton paper. But most people didn't want my resume.

I walked into one local business and asked the guard "is there an HR department here that I can drop a resume off to?". "I don't know", he said, "we just started here ... you might try the next building". In the next building I found some older woman in a tacky red dress leaning over a guard at the front desk aparently teaching him something about the phones. I asked again, "is there an HR department in this building? I would like to drop off a resume". She then went onto explain that they "typically did not accept walk-in's" and that they "had an electronic system on the Internet. She continued to tell me about their web site as if I were a child and I was unaware of these devices called "computers". While it was entertaining to flash her puzzled looks, and further drag more hopeless explanations out of her about how "web pages work" (in general) ... I was getting nowhere.

But that day I was able to drop off three resumes out of the 6 businesses I had visited. And one of them called me back. I set up an interview.

The first interview I had started with an application process. They handed be a paper application and explained that it was "a formality". I obliged and proceeded to fill out the details using my resume (which had all the necessary information). Once it was done, I headed to the "boss's office" where I had my first interview. It went very well. The conversation opened with him looking over my resume and telling me that "we didn't expect anyone with your qualifications to apply for this position". To which I thought, "I hope he's telling me I'm too smart for this ... and not the other way around". But yes, they felt I was far overqualified for a position as an entry level "security analyst". He was very interested in why I would want to drop my business and work for him. So I told him everything. Well, not quite everything. I left out the thing about the trains running under my hotel in Maryland. And when I couldn't afford three nights in a hotel, so I drove through the night to get to North Carolina, and had to take a few breaks to puke (from staying up all night). And I didn't tell him about getting into bed and finding other peoples hair in it. But I expressed my hatred for "the road", getting stiffed by training companies, etc. Being an independant business owner himself, he was delighted to hear of my misery. He related in a big way.

So the first interview went really well. So well, that the owner didn't mind spinning his terminal around and showing me their system. Which was quite impressive. I told him, "this is quite impressive". He agreed and went on to say "we couldn't find anything this robust, so I hired a genious to write it for me". As I watched him click around I made a few comments about what I saw on the screen. And then he gave me "the look". That look you get from someone when their brain says "one of us!". The last time I got that look was from a gay flight attendant who was fumbling with metal hangers. I had said "no more metal hangers!". This is a line from the classic film "Mommy Dearest", which is aparently very big with gays. I remember thinking "this is the look that gays give each other". A nod if you will.

I called everyone and told them about my interview. It went well. I couldn't wait for what was next. The "second interview". Most companies do three, but I was told "we dont like to jerk people around - so we should be calling you for a second interview and that will be it". One more and I am in, I thought.

A couple of days ago I showed up to my second interview with the company. Just as I was opening the door, I did this trick where I took all the anxiety from my stomach, and just lifted it into the air. Once you have trained yourself through meditation, you can really control that nervous mind. It's a skill I wish I had picked up years ago. It doesn't always work, but that day I was very keenly focused, and when I sat down for my interview I was completely cool and collected.

I went through the usual parade of goofy questions such as "tell me about a time you were unable to help someone and what you did about it". It was pretty hard for me, but I scrambled to come up with good answers. They were drilling me about "help desk" scenarios. It's been years since I have been in that position. But I have done far greater things and so I called on those consulting engagements, service calls, etc. I also got to tell some of my favorite stories about huge mistakes that I have made. The interviewer loves those. Yes, I have screwed up. No, I'm not too arrogant to admit it. And yes, I have a sense of humor about it.

The next step of my interview was with "an engineer". I was sweating this one. I know most engineers MO. They're assholes. Hey, if you are an "engineer" and you are not an asshole, I apologize. But then, I haven't had you as a student in any of my classes. But this must have been my lucky day because the guy that interviewed me was the same slick young guy that I had handed my resume to the previous week. He was going to make this easy on me. He has questions like "if you can't figure something out, do you have a problem asking for help?". I asked him some questions like "why do you like it here, or DO you like it here?". He had good answers. And then came ... the BOMB. He slid a few pieces of paper stapled together across the table rather sheepishly and said "well ... I have this ... that you have to do". I looked it over. "It's a quiz!", I said. He nodded, and chuckled. "Yeah, sorry" he says, "we just need an idea of your technical abilities.

I layed it out in front of me and scanned over it. I hadn't filled out anything. Just wanted to get my bearings. "Don't feel like you have to answer any of them", he said, "... just try to fill in what you know". Question number one? List all seven layers of the OSI model. Question number two was something about "what layer of the model does this". Hell, the first 10 questions were on the OSI model, and I was working that pencil like it was some sort of magic wand. I rattled off the answers to all twenty questions and slammed down the pencil. Done.

Yeah, I screwed up a few. On the "list what ports these services use" question, I got telnet and ssh mixed up. And when asked to give a network ID and a broadcast address for an IP address, I put them backwards. I was rushing. But he was impressed to say the least. As his eyes wandered over my answers he lifted his eyebrows and said "I got to tell ya, I could only answer maybe four of these when I came to work here". I had done well. I HAD to have the job, right?

But alas, they thanked me for my time, and freed me explaining "we have a few more interviews on Friday and we will be in touch". Argh! The waiting game. What's one more week of waiting? I've been off for almost a month now. Sure, I'm out of money. Yes, I am holding off definite work out of town that would pay my bills in hopes of maybe getting this job ... but patience. I must pracice patience.

A few days later I got a call from Judy, my second interviewer. She says "are you still interested in the job?". Of course I was. She says "we are still interested in you. We have narrowed down to three candidates and would like for you to take an online exam for us". Another tecnical test? Not quite. This is was a "personality test". I really hate these. Mostly, because I'm sure that they can be 'beaten', and only provide false positives about job candidates. But I did it anway, answering 500 or so questions where you had to chose from two bizarre answers.

I was put off a bit by the test so I responded to the email with the link and info with news that I had taken it, and I was anxiously awaiting the next step. I went on to say that I was not above pandering if they would like for me to drop by with baked goods sometime while they make their decision. Strangely, I got a smiley back and a hint that "the boss likes dark chocolate".

Now, stay with me. This is where things get a little wierd in my life. Yesterday I headed out on foot to Wal-Mart. It's almost 2 miles away, but I had all day to spend sitting at home, and I needed the exercise. Plus my wife had the car. So I bought brownie mix, and some bacon. We were having "breakfast for dinner" that night. A favorite with the kids. As I was walking home, I got a call from my wife asking "when is your appointment at the bank?". Woops. I had comepletly forgot that I was meeting with a financial guy at my bank about my 401k investment. Saving the day, my wife drove to meet me at the bank, holding the paperwork. The good news was, I rolled over the majority of my retirement money into an IRA. But had to take a bit off the top to pay this months finances. Oh, and a bit more to pay my taxes at the end of the year. It's a severe penalty. But ... I would keep my house another month.

So this morning I clammered out of bed fighting a nasty house cold I had picked up and made some delicious chocolate brownies. Today they would likely make their decision about whether or not they were going to hire me. And yes, I took them some brownies. If it helps even a little to get me this job, it will be the best five bucks I've ever spent.

Man ... I would like to blog more. But on account of this house cold I am on my second dose of niquil. And it's kicking in. Blah! Good night.

Oh by the way, did I mention I started a magazine? The first issue is about done, and I will be dropping it along with a new web site very soon. You can find it here ...

Tomorrow (or Friday) I should find out if I got this job. WISH ME LUCK.

Historic Comments
Good luck with the job Ray

Happy Friday
carwash | Homepage | 05.25.06 - 9:03 pm | #