Sunday, October 31, 2004

Becoming a member of the 21st century

I realize this is my young, urban bias speaking here, but in my view, anyone who is not proficient in both email and cell phone use is clearly out of touch and should be deported to eastern Europe to raise sheep. (Jury's still out on text messaging, that's one I haven't fully grasped yet.) My parents are attacking this from opposite ends: my mother owns a cell phone that is gradually filling the role a cell phone should (glorified leash) but is clueless with respect to email (she may even still refer to the internet as the World Wide Web... ::shudder::), and my father uses email daily at work but absolutely refuses to get a cell phone.

Since my mother owns a cell phone and has already perfected the art of keeping tabs on her husband, there's no need to persuade my father to get one. (Attempts would be likely welcomed with a tirade on how our world is going to hell or some such thing, and I can't say I disagree, but the effort simply wouldn't be worth it.) I find it just this side of shocking, however, that my mother doesn't know how to email someone (you'd think a socialite like her would be up on the latest ways to communicate with people, but apparently not). Therefore I've spent the last three years or so campaigning to get my mother to use and understand "the internets" and email. I walked her through signing up for a Yahoo! account, because I think AOL is evil. I bought her The Internet for Dummies for Christmas, along with a gift certificate to Amazon.com (clever eh? eh?) I met with modest success while I was living abroad and email was the only way to communicate with me that didn't cost anything. However, even then there wasn't much incentive for her to use email much since the only one who ever wrote her was me. And I wasn't going to say anything important because God knew when she might actually read it.

I kind of gave up. There's no point forcing someone to use something that is of no value to them in their daily life. But now that's changed. My parents belong to a country club where apparently the rest of the membership has been up on this crazy email thing, and now it's actually necessary for her to use it from time to time. I was so happy when she asked for help with downloading an attachment. I was so proud when she knew what a .pdf was. And now, it's all coming back to bite me on the ass. Today, she sent me a forward.

I can only pray she passes out the 'forwards are cool' stage speedily. Hopefully a few well-chosen words from me (along the lines of "forwards suck and anyone who perpetuates them should be taken out and shot--oh, um, let me explain what a forward is...") will do the trick.

Standard time

really sucks. It's really nice to get that extra hour, particularly after a Saturday night Halloween celebration, but now it's 4:30 and streetlights are already on. By 5, it'll be dark! I feel like I should be checking Sunday night TV listings really buckling down on my homework in preparation for tomorrow (ew, I hate Sundays). I guess I'm just mad because it was such a gorgeous day out today and I feel cheated that it's over so soon. Not that I really went outside much, but like, I totally would've if the sun was going to be out longer. Seriously.

Fall colors: red or blue?

How I love this time of year: every American gets a chance to flex their democratic muscles and vote for those causes and candidates they believe in, or for the ones all their friends believe in, or at least not vote for the ones they really dislike, or just make a pretty pattern with the bubbles on the ballot the way you do when you already know you're going to fail a multiple-choice test because you have absolutely no idea what all these measures are or why Lori Jones would make a better judge than Gus Gomez but you've seen those signs that say "Vote or Die" and you're going to vote, dammit. You're an American and you're going to exercise your right to inflict your ignorance of the issues you're voting on on the rest of your fellow citizens. You were kind of suckered into it anyway; you thought you were just voting for a presidential candidate and have been agonizing over that decision for, like, almost ten minutes. Nobody said anything about having to have an opinion on other stuff, too.

I think Get out the Vote efforts are a step in the right direction, but they still fail to fix the problem of youth complacency. Sure, now they'll vote, but they still don't know what for. As a de facto member of the "whatever" party, I wonder why it is I don't care. I've come up with a few reasons (aside from my general bent towards contrariness):

1. I have no idea what's going on.

2. When I try to change that, there's way too much information to wade through.

3. In addition to just trying to absorb all this information, I have to a. determine its trustworthiness, and b. suppress my desire not to run from anything depressing / disillusioning / frustrating / angering, as I rarely experience any other emotions when reading about politics.

4. I get the impression that, even if I was well-versed in all these issues and had an opinion I could back up on most of them, what I think still doesn't matter, and nor does my vote.

The end result: I get my news from friends whose intellect and opinions I respect, as they have already filtered the information for me. I vote because I know I should. And when I filled out my ballot, I asked my parents for guidance on how to vote (aka "so how did you vote I'll do that too") for the various offices, measures, etc. Not too bad, I suppose, but it pales in comparison to the dream of real involvement that we envision for ourselves.

On the upside: I'm so glad Halloween is close enough to Election Day to distract us from all this. It was a lot more fun thinking about costumes than about issues that seriously affect our future.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Silver lining?

So I'm sick and can't sleep. I don't know what the hell that's all about, but whatever--it's giving me time to continue to plan my trip Australia. I got my Oz Lonely Planet on Tuesday and have been reading it ever since, and just get more excited the more I learn (my trip is now expanding to take up, like, 6 months so I can cram in all the stuff that sounds cool).

So there are two challenges to this, really: 1. figuring out what to do, and 2. figuring out how to get there. The latter is disappointingly not talked about in depth in any guidebooks (for good reason, I guess, given how often and how much airfares can change, but when flying to the other side of the world, I could use some pointers on how to do so for a decent price), and has been a constant subject during class web-surfing. And tonight, I found a site with a package so good that it solves all my airfare dilemmas... and that kind of creeps me out. The company is called Air Brokers International, and if you're planning some sort of massive around-the-world trip like I am, this is the place to go. After hanging around on student travel sites, Australian airline sites, and Travelzoo, the best deals I've been able to come away with are still only round-trip, from LAX to Sydney, for about $1200 (I've ceased to flinch at that number--that's how long I've been researching this). This does not include stops in New Zealand or the South Pacific, and when I tallied up all that airfare (plus just the bits needed to get around Australia), it came out to about $2400. On this website, I found a trip where the comparable airfare cost was only about $50 or so less, but in addition to Australia, flights to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Bali, NZ, and Tahiti are included. I haven't been able to close my mouth for about an hour (although the stuffy nose has something to do with that, too).

And despite my suspicions, this business appears to be pretty well validated. I checked it on the BBB website, and they've been in business for 17 years and have a good record, and only 3 complaints have been filed in the last 3 years.

So now I'm absolutely dying to just plan and book this trip already. Like I'm gonna get any sleep now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

How to plan and run group meetings


1.
(optional) Determine the necessity of meeting. Looks something like this:

Group Member A: So, do we need to meet soon?

Group Member B: Well… (attempting to walk the fine line between being a team player and “I’d rather have an asshole on my elbow”) …I’m not sure there’s anything we need to discuss.

Group Member A: But we have a professor meeting next week.

Group Member B: Oh, um… (decides suggesting that everyone BS the meeting is out)… ok.

Group Member C: I’ll bake cookies!


2. Determine a meeting time. Looks something like this:

Group Member A: When’s everyone free?

Group Member B: I have some time tomorrow.

Group Member C: Tomorrow’s no good, I’ve got meetings all day--oh, except for a break between 1 and 3. Can we do between 1 and 3?

Group Member B: I have class from 1 to 3.

Group Member A: What about the day after?

Group Member B: Can’t do it, have class in the morning and an interview in the afternoon.

Group Member C: Thursday?

Group Member A: I’m free Thursday morning. I have yoga in the afternoon.

Group Member B: Can’t do Thursday morning, I have ballet. I’m free Thursday afternoon, though.

Group Member C: Huh. Uh, when are you done in the afternoon?

Group Member B: 5.

Group Member A: Meet from 5 to 8?

Group Member B: Dude, I hate meeting at night.

Group Member C: Yeah, nights suck.

Group Member A: Well what about Friday?

Group Member C: Friday?

Group Member B: Yeah, ew.

Group Member A: Well we need to meet sometime!

Group Member B: Ok ok ok. I’m free all day next Wednesday.

Group Member C: I have an interview in New York that day.

Group Member B: I have a couple hours break two Thursdays from now.

Group Member C: Rock climbing at the gym. The following Tuesday?

Group Member B: Stress relief seminar. How about--

Group Member A: Look, whatever. We’ll just do our work and then email each other.

Group Members B & C: Sweet!


3. Meet. Looks something like this.

Group Member A: So... what's up?

Group Member B: I'm so tired.

Group Member C: Me too.

Group Member A: Does anyone remember what we're supposed to be working on?

Group Member B: Um, didn't someone write up a list last time?

Group Member C: I thought you were doing that.

Group Member B: Oh yeah. Hold on, I have to find it.

Group Member A: So how was your weekend?

Group Member C: Good. Saw Garden State--that's a great movie.

Group Member B: Oh, I've really been wanting to see that! I suggested it Friday but the guy I was with wanted to go to an improv show instead.

Group Member C: Omigod, did you have a date?!

Group Member B: Yeah, it was that guy I told you about last week.

Group Member C: Ooh, how'd it go?

:::::::::::: insert lots more gossip here ::::::::::::

Group Member B: Ok, I found the list. Ugh, I hate this assignment.

Group Member A: I know, it's so frustrating. I mean, it's like we have no guidance in actually getting things done.

Group Member C: Yeah, I feel like we haven't really learned anything yet, so how are we supposed to do this?

Group Member B: This is what I hate about group projects, we're expected to come back with something great but we never know what it's supposed to look like and so anything you present will just get criticized, and it's like, if you'd told us what we were supposed to do maybe we would have done it!

:::::::::::: insert lots more assignment/professor/class-bashing here ::::::::::::

Group Member C: Ok, seriously, let's just do this and get out of here.

Group Member A: Yeah. What was it we were supposed to have done for today?

Group Member B: Umm... you were supposed to research competition, you were supposed to research best practices, and I was supposed to start putting together a survey.

Group Member A: Ok, I started my part but didn't really get that far.

Group Member C: Oh thank God, me neither, I felt so bad. Did you get any work done on the survey?

Group Member B: Well, I kind of needed suggestions from you guys from your research to do it.

Group Member A: Ok, maybe we should all just split up and do some more work on our own, and we'll discuss next time we meet.

Group Member C: Cool.

Group Member B: So, are we going to meet soon?

Group Member C: Uh... when?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Costume conundrum

I'm really excited about Halloween this year. My parents will be in town, so no matter what, absolutely no work will get done and I'll be eating very well. I'm going to a Halloween party on Friday and going out on Saturday is a given, so it's going to be a packed weekend. But most of my excitement has crystallized around my costume idea--I think I've got a great one and am really looking forward to wearing it. The idea: Mia Wallace, from Pulp Fiction (Beatrix Kiddo's just too obvious. Plus there's no way I could pull off that yellow outfit.)

So how will you know I'm Mia Wallace? Well, I'm going to have a hypodermic needle stuck to my chest, pointing to a red dot, and will have the accompanying short black hair, white collared shirt, corset, black pants, nail polish, etc. (am going to pass on the bloody nose). I thought the hardest part of this would be the needle; that's taken care of. I own black pants and I'll be borrowing a shirt from one of my guy friends. However, the corset has proven troublesome.

I've kind of always wanted a corset and am glad to finally have an excuse to buy and wear one. They seem like such a commonly-owned item that I didn't think one would be hard to come by. They're not...unless you have any sort of specific criteria governing your purchase decision. A copy of the one in Pulp Fiction simply isn't possible, but just finding a black one that's the right size and shape is much harder than I thought. I spent several hours yesterday and today hiking around my neighborhood (it's one that has a lot of potential; Boystown is a block to the east and Belmont shops--think Melrose--are a couple blocks to the south), with no luck. The worst part is, since it's the kind of thing sold in lingerie stores and nowhere else, you have to choose your stores right, since it's kind of embarassing to ask for in the wrong type (and I have to ask, I simply lack whichever gene is necessary to find what you're looking for without aid).

I also spent a couple of hours surfing the internet as well, and have come to the conclusion that there must not be a whole lot of money in bustiers/corsets, because the selection is simply not what it should be. I was disappointed by the likes of Frederick's and Victoria's Secret, to say nothing of the oodles of other lingerie sites there are out there. Searches on Froogle, Shopping.com, etc. turned up very little. Not that there aren't lots of different kinds of corsets, but they were clearly designed with a particular demographic in mind: the trashy one.

I did finally find a corset with potential, and am going to pray that a. it arrives in time for Halloween and b. it actually fits when it does. If not, I'll be in the market for a new costume, one that hopefully utilizes all the stuff I already bought. All I've got thus far is a heroine-addicted flapper or a psychotic nurse with short black hair. Other ideas? Anyone? Anyone?

Google (v.)

As mentioned in a recent post, it appears people here have discovered I have a blog. When I first heard about this, I was shocked that anyone could even find it. I'd tried to do so via Google before and came up in the results three pages or so in. Well, no more. I Googled my full name and got my Ad:Tech Blog contribution right at the top, followed by this blog, and then the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) listings start.

Googling a job applicant's name is becoming standard procedure, so it seems certain that most of the people I'll interview with are about to or have already seen my blog. They may not even get that far, though; I don't look like a very choice candidate just looking at the search listings. In the Ad:Tech Blog listing, my name is next to the "Monday Night Party Report," even though I didn't write it (circumstantial, really; I was certainly capable of doing so). Another Ad:Tech blog listing quotes my writing, selecting my oh-so-intelligent-sounding "Basically, yeah, it works." Following that you get a blog called EmptyThoughtBubbles, to really drive the point home. The next relevant listing is a post off Adrants titled "Adver-Wear: Another Excuse to Look at Breasts"; I sent in a link to an article about models wearing t-shirts with TV's in them that played commercials (these media people never cease to amaze) and Steve Hall's particular brand of writing augmented that story. The last listing that's clearly related to me is from the Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications. Assuming one gets that far, it's a small dose of credibility to make up for all the rest. I doubt it'll help though: JIMC is not on my resume, and while I think there are some good reasons for that (namely, priorities), it would appear I'm trying to hide a poor performance there, in addition to all the crap in the other listings.

The unlikely conclusion that I hope is drawn: The girl likes to write.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Notes or...

I don’t know why, but if I’m not listening to something that sounds like a lecture, I won’t pay attention. The only time there’s an exception is when a presentation is being given that I had some hand in formulating; at all other times, discussion, student presentations, etc., instructive though they may be, simply fade into an unintelligible buzz.

It’s not that I’m incapable of paying attention, it’s just that the likelihood of doing so falls way down if I don’t feel personally involved somehow.

The result: I write. Usually I write out favorite poems that I memorize, simply because I love the exercise of writing, whether or not it’s meaningful (but it’s more fun if it makes some kind of sense). Today I guess I was feeling a. exceptionally creative and/or b. highly disillusioned and bored with writing out the same old poems I always do. So what follows are the resulting original haikus and part of a limerick I decided to write in French:

tous les raisons sont claires
je peux les voir, ils volent dans l’air
tbd...
tbd...
et maintenant, la raison, c’est rare

doodling in class
is less fun if you can’t draw
write haikus instead

the clock is ticking
but nothing can speed this up
give me more coffee

clarity can fool
for perception defines all
but does it matter?

“educational”
the idea’s always great
but beware boredom

someone lied today
they said “high of sixty-eight”
now I’m really cold

let us analyze
why’d the chicken cross the road?
he’s suicidal

clearly I’m not well
and Internal Marketing
makes for bad haikus

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Beat the Cards!

So, Red Sox vs. Cardinals for the World Series, huh?

How are fans going to decide what to wear? Wearing red is a whole lot less fun if the opposition's wearing it too (no silly disputes about 'red' vs. 'cardinal' either, us Trojans have argued that one before, and I'll just admit it now: 'cardinal' is just a longer way to say 'red'). At the 2002 Rose Bowl, the only way you could tell which section was Oklahoma and which was Wazzu was by the empty seats.

And if the Sox don't win this series, why I'm gonna... well... be really mad. And stuff. If the Red Sox are going to make being a Cubs fan suck even more, they better go all the way and at least give us some hope.

Plus, the Cards have it coming... I hate those guys.

To do:

1. Remember what the hell it is we're supposed to be doing for our internal marketing class project and manhandle it into some sort of presentation
gold star if: I make it worth hearing

2. Completely shift use of my (admittedly meager) brainpower to tackle the problem of creating a commercial for a fictional railroad line
gold star if: final result makes any mention of a train

3. Check email
gold star if: I get any

4. Research change management and online customer loyalty tactics for group projects
gold star if: "research" doesn't resemble "I found a lot of cool sites that... um... hey, look over there!"

5. Fight off current disillusionment with marketing profession and life choice brought on by reading today's AdAge and wondering why the hell I cared
gold star if: I manage to brainwash myself a la The Stepford Wives--mindless lunatics are hot

6. Drink lots of hot cocoa
gold star if: I refrain from adding liberal amounts of rum

7. Try not to throttle my roommates over the absolute mess that has enveloped our kitchen
gold star if: I fail utterly and find a good place to hide the bodies

8. Nap
gold star if: I wake up in a better mood

9. Annoy the hell out of roommate currently watching TV
gold star if: Aw fuck it, I'm just gonna strangle the bitch.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

America's finest news source

I just got home from an eleven and a half hour day in Evanston. The last four and a half hours were spent there in order to hear Carol Kolb (editor-in-chief) and Amie Barrodale (associate editor) of the Onion speak to us about, well, all things Onion.

Was it worth it? I'm not sure, my brain stopped working some time ago. The bulk of their presentation centered around showing us past front pages. All of them very funny, to be sure, but I'd read most of them and the headlines aren't quite as entertaining at the second reading. Carol Kolb did most of the talking, detailing the history of the Onion, who was on it, what their average workweek is, etc. I'll bet if you had to guess about those things, you'd probably be right. It's a staff of ten that meets at the beginning of the week and goes through funny headline ideas and votes on which they like. Then they decide which to develop into stories, write them, find and photoshop necessary photographs, lay it all out, the end.

Content got more interesting as they went on: they started talking more about how they decide what is and isn't appropriate (ask yourself who a particular story/headline is making fun of) and showed us some of the more controversial stories they'd done ("Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying") and told us some that hadn't made the cut. They showed the September 11th issue they'd done--my personal favorite--and about the reaction to that (overwhelmingly positive). And that was the segue into the best part of all: the people who actually believed these stories were true.

Some of us remember hearing about how a large Beijing newspaper reprinted the Onion's "Congress Threatens To Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Is Built" as fact (according to the editors, they stole the graphic and translated the article, word-for-word, into Chinese). But better even than that were the letters written in response to stories by readers who believed they were true. We read four or five letters written by Christians who commended the Onion for their story about how children who read Harry Potter were turning to Satanic worship--an article appropriately accompanied by a bunch of kids standing around in a school hallway in capes standing around a pentagram. We read a very long and involved one denouncing them for the story "Mary-Kate Dragging Ashley Down". In response to an article about a legal, newly-developed drug that gets users "totally high", someone wrote in asking for further details, like when it's to be released and where they can get it.

End on a screen showing the Onion's motto: You are dumb.

Yep.

Multi-channel alert technology

...is still not enough to make me get up in the morning.

In order to get where I need to be at the time I need to be there, I know that I need to get up at a certain time. However, that whole getting up at a certain time thing is a lot more challenging than one would think. Under normal circumstances, I set my cell phone alarm to go off about half an hour before I intend to actually get up. That results in having to cut out something or other in my morning routine to be on time, after which I'm still likely to be a bit late. That extra 30-60 minutes needed is lost by my lying in bed and sleeping in 8-minute increments between hitting snooze. Occasionally I'm so talented that I'll unconsciously turn off the alarm altogether and wake up an hour or two later wondering why it never went off.

So last night, I decided that, no really, this morning I was going to get up with only half an hour of lead time. And I was going to accomplish this by--drum roll please--setting two alarms. (And the part of me that thinks marketing-speak is funny used that as inspiration for the title of this post. Sorry.)

My first alarm went off at 6:15 and I got up around 8. Not what I'd call a success story. One valuable thing that I learned, though: being awake has nothing to do with being motivated; I was pretty well woken up when it took me five minutes to figure out that the reason hitting snooze on the alarm clock wasn't working was because my cell phone was going off, and by the time I'd fumbled around to turn that off I was awake. But lying in bed is nice, so I just kind of hung out for the next hour instead of getting up and going to the gym.

I've thought about this, and haven't been able to implement anything on a regular basis that'll make me get up. Putting the alarm clock on the other side of the room doesn't work. Drinking a lot of water before I go to sleep doesn't work. What I think I need is something like one of those old-school alarm clocks with the bells and hammer that'll hit my finger and really piss me off. Not the best way to start my day but at least it would start that much sooner; I haven't yet factored in what to do to improve my mood (it's not like it's good in the morning now). If anyone has any better (or more creative) ideas I'd love to hear them.

I also have a problem with procrastination, but I'll talk about that one later.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Expect the unexpected... and the expected

Well, the job hunt has officially begun: I had my first interview today. It wasn't anything big, just a part-time internship for this quarter, but it was with a small downtown brand consultancy where I'd get an excellent chance to really see which (if any) of my IMC skillz is worth pursuing. It was the perfect reintroduction to interviewing (I haven't had an interview, at least not in the I-really-care-about-this-and-so-I'm-totally-going-to-stress-out kind of way, in almost two years): I'm interested enough in this business that I actually care about getting the internship to some extent, but at the same time, it's a small gig where getting it or not isn't the life and death situation that big, career-jumpstarting jobs can be (and it's further mitigated by the fact that I'm not really sure I have the time to devote to this outside of class and still be able to do everything well).

Maybe it's just that I haven't been on that many interviews, but I have certain expectations of the interview process (that I call it that to begin with connotes something): most of the companies where I'll be applying are the kind that I would expect to have to go through several rounds of interviews, beginning in HR and eventually meeting some of the people I'd actually be working with and those who'd be managing me. And I think that perception of a well-oiled hiring machine is probably correct, in many cases.

In the course of my interview preparation today, I learned that the company at which I was applying was actually kind of well-known globally; they've done work for almost every major brand you can think of. They have a great address on Michigan Avenue. They're owned by WPP. So imagine how freaked out I was to arrive at the reception desk in their building and have security look at me strangely when I mentioned the name. Those guys had no idea what I was talking about. Thankfully, I remembered the floor number from the website, and one of the security guys escorted me up to that floor. Shock #2: that receptionist has no idea what I'm talking about, either. So of course I chalk this up to the fact that I failed to remember the information correctly, and kick myself really hard for not having brought the phone number I'd been given to get in touch with my contact there. I've really hit the ground running in this job search thing.

It eventually worked out; it turns out the company just moved to the floor below a few weeks ago, and at the moment they only consist of five people anyway. The interview was pretty informal; I talked with two of the guys with whom I'd be working, and while the flow was pretty casual, the questions I was asked were the standard, somewhat scary interview questions. "Tell me a little bit about yourself"--I still don't know how to answer that one, but I guess it's ok because I haven't had too many of the slick HR people asking it as of yet. If I hadn't had much experience as an interviewer, I'd probably go with that one too. "What are your goals after you graduate?" "Talk about how your coursework experience is relevant to work you'd be doing here." Etc. Stuff I really should have prepared for. (I spent most of my prep time deciding what to wear and figuring out where the office is physically located.)

I think my general lack of preparedness may have worked in my favor, though. My resume had already done a lot of the selling for me and answers that were clearly off-the-cuff just made me sound more genuine. Of course, I say this knowing that I was the first candidate interviewed (let's go primacy!) and not knowing if, at the end of the day, I'll be the one selected. It could be that my cute little unrehearsed bit is no match for planned-out replies. That's likely the case when one interviews with HR folk (they're so used to giving well-rehearsed questions and replies that failing to measure up to that is an automatic strike against you because it's something they consider to be the norm). Which is somewhat depressing, because they have to know that everything is a little inflated. Then again, they make a habit of collecting tough questions in order to catch someone off their guard at least once. That doesn't bode well for me either; someone else's "off their guard" is probably my "hey, I'll bet I can make it through that window".

Well, it's something I'd better face up to. The interview process, I mean, not jumping through windows. It all gets harder from here: stakes get higher, interviewers get better, competition gets greater. And it isn't even the kind of adversity that makes for a good story.

Wish me luck. And then try not to look too bored when I tell the story anyway.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Spelling test

If anyone thinks their confidence in their intelligence needs to be taken down a couple notches, check out this spelling test from the Guardian. I got a 20 out of 23. The shame!

Comments that don't suck

I decided Ben was right and got myself a Haloscan comment system instead; much better. I tried to reply to the comments I already had and there's a limit of five. WTF?!

Anyway, I want to keep the BackBlog comments until I can figure out a way to import them (any help with this much appreciated); until then, there'll be lots of links at the bottom of every post. It may be confusing, but I have faith that you guys will figure it out.

And in response to the comments on the previous post:

Chris, fight on for being all subversive with your underground viral marketing.

Ben, that was a really great link; looks like a blog I'll have to start reading regularly. But as I mentioned, I don't think people (and by people I mean me) should really be judged on the basis of their blogs because I don't think it provides a complete picture, particularly when it comes to one's abilities in an office environment. I know I don't portray myself as a good little worker bee because seriously, how boring is that? To read this blog, all you know is that I'm sarcastic and complain a lot, and you can't get an idea of the quality of work I've actually done or know that I'm fully capable of acting professional if the situation requires it. Or maybe companies that require blogs for application already know that?

Tom, I'm so glad you comment on this site--that won't stop being funny for a long time.

Pondering and productivity

Lots to do. I have to find press on online customer loyalty and CRM tool integration (aka process management, which sounds like a lot more fun); I have to think up some ideas on how to advertise a fictional train that goes from Chicago to Denver in 6 hours and keep from getting totally bitter that such doesn't actually exist; I have to modify my resume for a job application; I have to go over a class syllabus to a. decide if the work demanded of us on one project is enough for me and one other person to handle while we ignore a third group member who's useless, or if we should beg to be placed in another group and deal with the paralysis that comes from having too many people and no one to manage us, and b. figure out what the hell I'm supposed to be doing on my other project for that class. Like I said, lots to do. I did none of it yesterday due to the lovely hangover I had from Friday, and so that means that today I'm doing what anyone in my position would do: laundry. And buying food. And cleaning the apartment.

But despite all the crap on my to-do list (actually laundry really should be on there too, I'm running really low on the essentials and have to do the thing where you wear stuff that's only there in case of situations like this, because you'd never choose it otherwise), I'm still really bothered about something. In yesterday's rather long post, those who read carefully saw a mention of my discovery that I didn't get a summer internship because of this blog. The internship was at Rand McNally, a corporation for which we'd also done a class project (a fairly decent problem--how to make their website profitable--but we never got the impression that our input was valued much, and that'll really mess with morale). As soon as I heard this, I racked my brain to try and think of what I'd posted; I don't make a habit of being very detailed about what we're working on because we all sign NDA's, and when you cut out all that you tend to forget to mention how much your life is sucking with respect to a particular project. (I know for damn sure that I mention how much life is sucking with respect to projects in general.)

So what could I have said about Rand McNally? I went back and read everything from that quarter, and discovered that I mentioned the company name only three times: once the day that they presented their problem to us, and twice in this post. Now in that second post, I can see how the phrase "I hate Rand McNally" might be misinterpreted. However, in the context of that post (where I also claim to hate analytic techniques, group meetings, and Giordano's thin crust pizza), I don't think it's something that should be taken too seriously. Two lines after "I hate Rand McNally" I talk about moving to a place where there are no group meetings to be a warrior princess. Clearly what I've written needs to be taken with, like, a million grains of salt.

The other reason why they may not have hired me (also due to the fact that they saw I had a sense of humor and simply failed to understand it for what it was) is, if they were just skipping around reading posts like the one just mentioned, I don't really come across as the industrious type. Suave and winning, dead sexy, and perhaps a bit whimsical, but not industrious.

I suppose both are valid reasons for not taking me, and I'm not really sorry that I didn't get the job there. I don't want to work for an organization that's so rigid it can't appreciate my humor to some extent, or at least be willing to let it go, as I'm not publicizing confidential information. I also don't want to live in fear of my employer someday discovering this.

I have a little more appreciation for the value of anonymity, now; blogging isn't any fun if you feel like there are too many constraints.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Antarctica

I know it's fiscally impossible for me right now, but wouldn't this be so cool?

It all started when I found this. Like I'll really want to spend more time on a plane after flying all the way to freaking Australia. But still, it's Antarctica; how many people do you know have been to Antarctica?!

Explanation

A couple weeks ago, I somehow managed to earn myself two moving violations at the same time. This takes a special kind of talent. Or, reckless disregard for the law. You pick. Anyway, it was these moving violations that necessitated the trip to Cook County Courthouse detailed in the previous post; apparently, getting ticketed for two violations at the same time means you're just that evil and law enforcement should really throw its weight around to keep you on the law-abiding side of things. I've drawn my own conclusions about the evil/assholishness of police officers that would do this to a moronic brunette speeding around in an old-ass Jeep Cherokee; the only person I'm really a danger to is myself.

Anyway, in case you're ever up a creek and need to meet your moving violations quota, I'll tell you how to manage this incredible feat. First, go to a town where law enforcement has a lot of free time. Small, nice-looking suburban towns where it seems like people get a lot of parking tickets are a good start. Second, choose a much-frequented road where cops are likely to hang out; in particular, look for a place where something is arbitrarily illegal (e.g. no left turns at an intersection where it'd be really nice to be able to turn left) where they'll be given lots of opportunities to enforce stuff. Third, go ahead and break that law, in broad daylight. It feels good to be bad, doesn't it? After capturing their attention, start going really fast, like 21 or so miles over the speed limit (or if you don't feel like living that dangerously, just go 10 over; when they write the ticket, they'll just say it was 21 mph over, thus pushing your offense into the "really bad" category, even though you couldn't possibly have been going that fast given that the road there really sucks and your car has, like, no shocks whatsoever).

So, you've now earned two moving violations simultaneously. What happens now? Well, if you're out-of-state, you have to pay a bond. If you're a poor grad student or something and don't happen to have $75 cash on you, then the police hold on to your license while you follow them to an ATM and then to the police station, where you have to actually pay it (if you're really having a good day, you'll find out upon arrival that the bond is actually $95 because your speed was in the "really bad" category, and you fortunately had the foresight to take out an extra $20 when you were at the ATM just to have a little folding money with you--a little is right!). After standing around for 20 minutes while the lady behind the counter does whatever elaborate exercise is necessary to fill out the bond receipt form, you'll be free to go.

It's as easy as that!

Friday

8:00 a.m. Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

8:08 a.m. Repeat.

every eight minutes until 8:56: Repeat.

8:56 a.m. Holy shit, it's almost 9. Was supposed to be up half an hour ago.

9:45 a.m. Finally ready to leave; am not as bitter about not having enough time to dry hair as I'd expected.

9:46 a.m. Am totally bitter about not having time to stop for smoothie.

10:15 a.m. Arrive at Cook County Courthouse. Pause and appreciate alliteration.

10:17 a.m. Park and walk down to find courthouse entrance.

10:18 a.m. Dude, this line to get in is really long. And we're stuck waiting outside.

10:22 a.m. Seriously, what are they doing, the hokey pokey?

10:23 a.m. A guard finally comes out and tells us that there's no line at the entrance at the other end of the building. Great timing, mister.

10:24 a.m. Hike down to other end of the courthouse; get to stand in another line. At least am now indoors.

10:28 a.m. Finally put my stuff through the luggage carwash; am informed that I can't bring in my laptop and iPod.

10:29 a.m. Hike back to the car to get rid of laptop and iPod. Start reconsidering ownership and use of boots with 4-inch heels.

10:36 a.m. Return to security line and run stuff through again. Am informed that I'm not allowed to bring a power cord or water bottle in, either. WTF?!

10:37 a.m. Rage.

10:38 a.m. Guard agrees to hold onto power cord at the security point. Screaming match averted.

10:40 a.m. Finally walk into courtroom ten minutes late. Judge is calling out names and people are going up, talking for 5 seconds, and then leaving. Hmm.

10:45 a.m. Name called. Plead guilty to illegal left turn. Am referred to a door at left.

10:55 a.m. Learn from clerk that I'm to be fined $50, but that'll be taken out of the bond I paid and so I'll get a check back from Cook County for the remainder of the bond. I get money! Sweet!

11:05 a.m. Back in car and heading towards Evanston.

11:35 a.m. Arrive at Bar Louie for lunch (have determined that some alcohol is in order after a morning like that).

11:42 a.m. Long Islands are awesome.

12:15 p.m. Go meet a group member to go over last-minute changes to a project we're presenting in class.

1:00 p.m. Get to class. Am mad that we're having class in the seminar room (aka the room where you can't really use your laptop and everyone hurts their neck from having to turn and look down to the end of the table where the professors are).

1:01 p.m. Are told professors will be meeting with groups individually, so we should work on our assignment while waiting.

1:02 p.m. Decide gossiping is more fun.

2:25 p.m. Professors finish meeting with students; give us general feedback (which differs from individual feedback only in that it is now directed at a much larger audience).

2:35 p.m. Watch a reel of ads that received Andy Awards this past year.

2:42 p.m. I love watching good ads. Those IKEA ads are fucking hilarious.

3:00 p.m. Class over.

3:25 p.m. Meet some other classmates and walk to the bar with them.

3:34 p.m. Learn from the students that worked at Rand McNally over the summer that I wasn't hired as a summer resident there because they found my blog.

3:35 p.m. Whoa, someone looked for and actually found my blog?

3:36 p.m. And after reading it, decided I wasn't quite good job candidate material? Whatever, I totally sound professional and stuff on here.

3:47 p.m. Start drinking beer. Mmmm.

4:45 p.m. One student leaves. I order another beer.

5:45 p.m. A couple other students arrive and the rest of the first group leaves. I order another beer.

6:25 p.m. I order another beer.

7:05 p.m. Decide to rally my friends in town for dinner and margaritas.

7:25 p.m. Drive back to Wrigleyville.

8:17 p.m. Meet my friends and head over to Las Mananitas.

8:34 p.m. Las Mas has the best margaritas.

10:06 p.m. Have consumed lots of margarita and Mexican food. Decide the night is young and take a cab to Schoolyard.

11:28 p.m. Get into an argument with cute busboy over football; decide he's a moron.

11:29 p.m. Leave Schoolyard and head to SoPo.

12:33 a.m. Leave SoPo and head to Mystic Celt.

1:52 a.m. Mystic Celt is closing. People suggest walking to some bar on Ashland that's open till 4.

2:10 a.m. Standing in line outside is not cool.

2:15 a.m. Decide to say fuck it and head back to my apartment to play ping pong.

3:54 a.m. Ok people, it's late. Get out.

4:10 a.m. Roommate and friends come home; hang around chit-chatting.

4:35 a.m. Bedtime. Hmm, I think I'll watch a movie. Yeah. Always a good idea.

5:02 a.m. *yawn* Sleeeeepy....


Today: Yep. Little hung over.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Merits of a ping pong table

My roommates and I threw a party on Saturday night, and while we've enjoyed the odd game of ping pong since getting our new ping pong table, lots of friends and alcohol are needed to really demonstrate its full potential. And so, in case any of you were waffling on whether or not to buy yourself one, listed below are the many benefits of owning a ping pong table:

1. lends itself to playing ping pong
2. matches green furnishings
3. easy solution to the old "so what the hell do we do with this room?" problem
4. great for flip cup tournaments
5. drunk ping pong not as prone to injury as drunk bowling; also much more convenient
6. beer pong rocks
7. perfect when you're trying to play Kings with a group of 15
8. can probably play a central role in any drinking game, really
9. net as apparel has fashion statement written all over it
10. totally cooler than "table tennis"

Friday, October 08, 2004

Now I remember why I hate politics

I'm watching the debate right now, and I've remembered why I never pay attention to politics. It's a waste of my time. Politics is nothing but soundbites and factoids written by staffers who've read How to Lie with Statistics.

I consider myself to be fairly liberal on most issues, and there are certainly things Bush has done with which I disagree. However, I think it's unfair to slam him for decisions made when, at the time, evidence supported those decisions. Uncovering additional information that now shows those decisions to be be incorrect is unfortunate, but no one can go back and change those decisions. They had to be made; if we always waited until we had all the facts, nothing would ever get done. I also seriously resent Kerry's claims that are backed by absolute numbers: 1.9 million jobs lost during Bush's administration, a number not matched in 70 years (from the stock market crash and the Depression, remember those?)? No shit, our population's grown a bit over the years. Our deficit increased more during Bush's administration than during all prior administrations put together? It's called decreased buying power--let's see those comparisons in real dollars. China and India are graduating more people with technological expertise? Ya think?! Have you checked those populations recently?

Everything is half truths, things to which you'd have to reply "Yeah, but..." and then be cut off, because a full statement of the facts is not in the current speaker's best interest. Both candidates are doing this, but I suppose I react more strongly to Kerry doing so simply because I dislike the blanket hatred of Bush that I hear from so many sources that won't give him the benefit of the doubt. (I'm totally gonna get shit for that from my more informed friends.) Michael Moore is case in point, and that is one of the few people whom I actually hate. He seeks to deceive as much as he seeks to expose, and is arguably worse than presidential candidates because he can cast himself as objective when his work is no such thing. That makes me so angry that I can't even think about it; that's an issue I can't resolve and may as well devote myself to more productive pursuits.

It's all so disillusioning. Jesus H.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Definitely a fan

I love Better Than Ezra. I'm absolutely crazy about them, and discovered this today when I visited their website, saw they were coming to Chicago in November and had just released a live cd and immediately bought tickets and the cd, without question. I've already been to two concerts and now have all their albums (I borrowed two today from a friend, and it was listening to some of the tracks on those cds that motivated me to buy the live cd simply because they have so much more energy in their live performances), and am the proud owner of one BTE t-shirt.

The weird thing is, I've never been the rabid music fan kind of girl. I'm still not, really. Figuring out I liked Better Than Ezra has been years in the making; until a year ago I'd only ever heard the singles they'd played on the radio (Desperately Wanting, Good, and Extra Ordinary). And I was a big fan of said singles, but never really explored further. Then last summer I played a couple of them for a friend who'd never heard them before but whose musical opinion I respect, and she commented on how much she liked Extra Ordinary and how she'd like to hear other stuff like that. I decided that wasn't a bad idea and when I ran across the Closer cd for $10, I decided to take a risk. And I absolutely loved it.

This past summer I finally get it in my head that I'm going to go see bands I like, and BTE was playing a free show up in Palatine. Not a lot to lose on a free show, so I drove up there. And I was absolutely blown away--I went alone and was hanging out in the hot, humid air and still had a fantastic time because the band is just so engaging (Kevin Griffin, the lead singer, is the definition of presence). That was it for me, I was hooked, and have been looking for ways to get to know more about them ever since; all their cds, any concerts, you name it, I'm in.

I'm surprised by my enthusiasm; I've never been all that passionate about anything, nor have I ever been all that given to trying new things--it's almost like I'm growing up, or something. It's taken years, but now I can try something new without having to be dragged kicking and screaming. (Except for spicy food. Keep that the hell away from me.) More and more it seems as if, looking back on growing up, that I was in a cave, with nothing really allowed in or out except for books, and plenty of 'em.

It's slow, but something's defnitely changing, even though it feels like it's ten years late. Whence this sudden acceleration (I mean, those first 22 years feel like they were absolutely static from where I stand now) I don't know, but I hope it continues.

Monday, October 04, 2004

If all else fails...

Here's a definite job possibility.

Or I could go to Australia and never come back.

I suppose the two aren't mutually exclusive, but if I went to Australia I'd want to do something stereotypically Australian, like walk around saying "G'day."

They pay for that, right? I mean, that's why the Aussies do it, right?

Brrr

It's 49 degrees out. At 11 in the morning. It's October friggin' 4th.

I was informed last year that this sudden temperature drop at the beginning of October was very unusual. Likewise, our suckier-than-average summer was also very unusual. These observations have not done anything to actually improve the weather, and they're not doing much to improve my attitude towards it anymore either.

But as I made my way down Clark, wearing my wool coat for the first time since spring, it occurred to me that my handling of cold weather this year, after only 2 months of summer, is likely to be somewhat different than my handling of cold weather last year, which followed 21 years of summer. A significant amount of the novelty has worn off. Plus I now have to walk over a mile and take a train to get from home to class, rather than biking three blocks. Lots more opportunity to really experience all the variety in weather conditions Chicago has to offer.

Shit.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Fair-weather fandom still counts, right?

One of the client sponsors we met on Friday (I'd decided not to shower that morning, of course; I'm all about first impressions) had flown in from Columbus that morning, and according to his report, everyone else on that plane was bound for Northwestern as well. The Buckeye bandwagon. Freakin' Buckeyes. All gung ho and shit.

Wish I was on their flight home today, though... how much must it suck to go from winning the national championship two years ago to losing to Northwestern. The only reason that school is still on their schedule is a combination of pity and ego boost (and that whole Big Ten thing may have something to do with it too).

Actually, it sounds a lot like last year's USC-Cal game. We were like, dude, it's Cal, (I'm totally not paraphrasing) and then went and lost in OT.

But hey, at least we got to go home to Los Angeles. The Buckeyes had to fly back to Ohio.

Whole27: Recap

So we didn't quite make it 30 days. On Thursday, we looked at the prospect of a dry Memorial Day weekend (and the Friday leading up to i...