Why have a blog at all?

The only thing I remember is wanting a blog because all the cool kids had one. Well, I have one. It’s been over 10 months since I’ve written anything. I did “use” it for 15 minutes for that Design class from Penn.  In class they recommended creating a blog on Weebly. (Good thing I didn’t because then I’d have two stale blogs). It was actually longer than 15 minutes;  I spent a day, or a couple of days, evaluating, installing and implementing  plugins so I could segregate the class stuff from the rest of the blog.  I was very happy with how that came out, then promptly dropped the course.

It’s all water under the damn bridge. I intend to redo this blog because, well, have you seen it?  I worked very hard on the design elements. I was very proud of the design elements. It is butt ugly. Maybe that explains why I don’t do anything to it or with it. Lately I have been hyper-conscious of what web sites look like. Most of them look like they were written to run on my phone. Lots and lots (and lots) of white space. And 3 little bars in the top left corner to signify a menu.  I find it more than a little annoying and very, very amusing. I picture a web developer guy sitting in front of a huge array of 30″  monitors developing web sites that will run in 320×480 pixels. In the process he is totally oblivious to the fact that anyone will be viewing his site the old fashioned way. That’s progress.

Not updating this blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on web things. I took a JavaScript course and created this résumé. Then I wrote a browser based MasterMind game. (Note to self, need a new style for links. I like that underline thing).

There is really no answer to the title question. It’s like so many other things I have. Having them and not using them causes lots of stress. The thought of not having them causes lots of  stress. Yes, I know there’s a solution.


Pure unadulterated magic. That’s the only way to describe or explain how this happened. I was sitting here minding my own business when out of the blue…..

I received an InMessage from LinkedIn. I haven’t been on LinkedIn in months. Maybe all year. Now here’s an incoming email from someone I don’t know saying she found my profile and thought I “could be a great fit” for a new position they were developing. Like lightning. Over the last few months, maybe since October, I had basically abandoned LinkedIn, especially for job search. To be more precise, I had abandoned job search all together.  I have been dabbling in several things and was working on a strategy to stay afloat until 59 1/2, which is surprisingly only 15 months away. (More PFM).

I spoke with this person, I guess a pre-interview screen, and from my side of the conversation, it is a “great fit”. In fact it made me salivate. I wouldn’t call it my “dream job” or “what I’ve always wanted to do”, but saints alive, it sure got some creative juices running. I have spent the last 24 hours or so imagining the job and how I would do it. And what I would do with all that money.

The magic is this. On Sunday (today being Wednesday), I finally tackled the boxes of detritus from my career at GTS/KNA. I condensed three boxes into one. I created two paper shopping bags of recycling. Ruth had left the building. The box of stuff that I kept (plus one rack of assorted office products) was the shards of the projects I am most proud of. I got rid of the old, and made space for the new. And the new appeared. Is all that feng shui stuff really true? Or the Law of Attraction?

It’s funny. After my last divorce, lots of people counseled “Stop wanting a man, and a man  will appear”. No man has  appeared. I don’t know if I stopped wanting a man, or stopped thinking about wanting a man, or really and truly don’t want a man. Nevertheless, I’m quite happily single, and with the exception of that exciting detour with my imaginary boyfriend, I don’t spend thinking time wanting or not wanting.

The job thing is quite different. I looked for a job for about a year, but eventually came to the conclusion that I don’t really want a job. I said that out loud and in public. I need to be engaged and challenged but I am finding everything I need on that score with Coursera and Mr. PC and all the other things I dabble in. I need financial security, but I’ve been managing with what I have and thinking (a lot) and acting (somewhat less) in ways to accomplish that.

I’ll have to explore why I think this is PFM and not just the expected yield from years of hard work and study. If this develops into something, I’ll have to thank Dori for being the catalyst to get me on LInkedIn. If it doesn’t, I’ll keep-on-keepin’-on with having ideas and figuring out ways to develop them into something fruitful and gainful.

Turn of Phrase

I took this January off. I imagine that every native-English-speaker will understand that sentence as I meant it. It’s not the same as “I took this hat off”. And I have no idea how I could explain it to an ESL speaker.

I started up my courses again. (Which is nothing like “I started up my car again”). Back in October, I started a Design course from Penn. I couldn’t make myself like it. (Which is different than “I couldn’t make myself like Mother Theresa”). I had just completed CIC, which was truly a Magical Mystery Tour. (Note to self: please, please, please write something at least every week. My fingers cannot keep up with my brain).

Maybe this time off was a recovery/reinvention/restoration period.  The fact is, I accomplished a lot in January. I had a dinner party for 12, very successful I might add. I built an antenna for OTA TV. I suffered through, and recovered from,  an abscess and extraction. I helped Joe (and Lou) with the Mom’s bathroom project. I started the shore rental process. I shoveled a lot of snow. I read a book-and-a-half (Thinking Fast and Slow and Nudge, which was too wonky and I did not finish).

I got out my “Weekly Compass” cards from my Franklin Covey collection. The first one (week of 25-Jan-2014) was super successful. I’m dragging my heels already on the second week. Not really, be fair to yourself. February’s been jam-packed, and it’s only the 5th. Picked up Mom at the airport, made a Wombat (held over from January), drove to Boston and back, shoveled (still yet even) more snow, chauffeured Mom to doctor and errands, started two Coursera classes, shipped a sale on Amazon. ‘Scuse me while I pat myself on the back. And I’ve started writing my idea journal again. That was very sparse in January.

What I didn’t do in January was look for work. On Craig’s List or elsewhere. (I did a few hours at Mr. PC.) I didn’t work on the blog, I didn’t do any Trello. I didn’t work on this blog, writing or designing.  And not much house cleaning (since the aforementioned dinner party).

I sat down at the keyboard today to write a post on the Gamification course I’m taking. Alas, I couldn’t control my brain or fingers and this is what came out. (Which is very  unlike “Ellen came out”). I’m afraid that my post will turn into an essay, so I thought I’d try it out here first. Now that I’ve warmed up my writing muscle, maybe I can put together a cogent, short comment.

Paradox View: 2013

Happy New Year!

As I sit and reminisce about the year recently passed, I am amazed. Stunned. Incredulous. 2013 was at once quotidian and extraordinary. I  changed in subtle and significant ways. At the same time, I didn’t change at all, I just added my right brain to the mix.  Should I do a top ten? A month-by-month? Stream-of-consciousness? Categories? Cause-and-effect? All of the above?

This is one of the “significant” changes. Before now I would have had one idea, one structure, and gone with it. Now I am considering all the options and constructing a new structure. I’m moving away from “mildly adaptive” to that other thing, which I can’t remember, and I don’t feel like looking up at the moment.

I still procrastinate. I still smoke. I’m still a slob. But all a little less so. Now I am mindful of those “failings” and I am creating (and implementing) strategies and habits to overcome them.

Important Books of 2013:

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman. I’m only about half-way through, but it is the textbook of all the changes in me this year. It’s teaching me why I think the way I do, and how to think better. Slower. Mindfully.

Junkyard Planet, Adam Minter. This book should be required reading for every American. It forced me to think about my impact on the planet. I posted a comment to the author. That’s a significant change for me. I remember wanting to drop a line to Nora Ephron when I read I Feel Bad About My Neck. I didn’t do it then, and now it’s too late. RIP, Nora.

A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink. I have been thinking about the precepts of this book for a couple of years, since I saw the author’s PBS special. It was great to get a refresher of the six abilities (Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning). And it was a bonus to visit the Montclair Library, Bellevue Avenue Branch. A magnificent building. One problem was that most of the internet references were out-of-existence tinyurl pages.

Saving Fish from Drowning, Amy Tan. Pure magic. The characters have stayed with me. I was drawn to this book after seeing Amy Tan on TED. It was a link in the Idea Cloud from CIC.

Beasts, Men and Gods, Ferdinand Ossendowski. The first book I sold on Amazon Marketplace. Woot!


Lee Daniels’: The Butler. This movie was personally significant in several ways. I saw it first-run in a theater. That’s rare for me. I saw it with Joanne, during “The Month of Joanne”. The last time we went to the movies together was probably “Magical Mystery Tour” at the Verona Theater. I don’t actually remember if she was in that group or not. And this movie spanned my lifetime, so it was like a very personal history.

The rest of the movies I saw were On-Demand or Redbox. I’m pretty sure they included Red and The Intouchables, which were fun and fabulous respectively. I rent from Redbox most weekends at the shore because I don’t have cable. I think Barbara and I skipped the Super-Bowl movie this year. We were talking about some Animated Shorts thing but I’m pretty sure we just stayed in.


CIC: Creativity, Innovation, Change. The big one. The last exercise was to present the synthesis of the class which you can see here. This class taught me how to embrace, stimulate, appreciate the creative me instead of fearing and sublimating her. It was the stepping-off point to a more interesting and fulfilled life, for which I will be forever grateful.

A Beginner’s Guide To Irrational Behaviour. This course started me on a “thinking about thinking” path that has been a provocative journey this year.

Wow, it’s going to take a full year to recap a whole year. Time to start wrapping it up so I can get on with the business of 2014. Too bad I didn’t do all the blogging I wanted to in 2013 (see “procrastination” above), because then it would already be documented. Hmmm. Should I do a 2013 retrospective or start from here and now? Maybe a little of both.

Wishing you gratefulness and mindfulness in 2014.

The Fantastic World of Job Search

That’s fantastic in the “remote from reality” sense not the “extraordinarily good” sense. If job search on the internet is to be believed, there are more jobs available than there are job-seekers. Alas, job search on the internet is not to be believed. It is all Toro Guano.

There are more job-search sites than there are available jobs.I have become cynical and skeptical about all of them. There is the possibility that it’s me, that I don’t know how to use them. Let’s put that possibility aside for now.

My job search has turned into analysis of job search. If only I could turn that into my job. Well, I can.

  1. Create a site called “The Real Jobs of New Jersey”. (realjobsofnj.com,  realjobsofnewjersey.com, realjobsnj.com, realjobsus.com are available).
  2. Crawl the job boards.
  3. Aggregate and dedupe the postings.
  4. Display the results.
  5. Get a job.


How do you crawl the jobs? What are the criteria for a solid match? Soft match? What’s the best data storage? JSON? MySql? NoSQL? How to compare and dedupe? How to display the results? Wow.

How do you crawl the jobs? Let’s start with a manual interface, a simple database design:

  1. Collection: Site: name, address (url)
  2. Collection: Location: State (keep it simple for starters, with room to grow, maybe a zip list, and a zip -> zip distance table)
  3. Collection: DailySearch: Date, Time, Site.name, SearchTerms, #hits
  4. Collection: Details: here’s where the real work lives.
  5. Collection: Lister (SmegHead?): Name, Type (Recruiter, Staffer, Employer)

Sounds like reinventing the wheel. Or a better mousetrap. Isn’t that  what all good improvement design is?  What are my hammers (as in my-only-tool-is-a)? Should I use SQLlite or MySQL? If I use MySQL, I can use TOAD, but I would need to download a MySQL server. I already have a SQLLite IDE. I will start there. I’m off to be the wizard.

Check back later to see or hear if there’s any progress.