Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Still Looking

As the one or two readers of this blog know, I am still looking for a job. Right now I am working phone support and making about 1/3 of the money I was making last year, which is really not a good thing. What I am not liking, and I may have written about this before, is how some companies handle their applicants and their hiring processes. Maybe I am a bit old fashioned, but I do like getting some feedback. A couple of weeks ago is a case in point. One night after work, I sent in an application to an outsourcing firm that handles technical support for many well known companies around the world. They called me within 12 hours to set up a couple of screening interviews for the next day. I went in, did well on the interviews, and as I was driving home, they called to tell me that they had sent an online test to me and asked me to fill it out as soon as possible, and could I come for another interview the next day. When I got home from work, around midnight, I did the 24 page test, involving UNIX, windows and other commands, server, SQL and various other questions, I did well, at least that is what they told me the next day during my 2 hour interview and tour. So a few hours later they called and asked if I could have a phone interview with someone from the vendor. My feedback from that interview was good, we even discussed pay and benefits. So after that whirlwind recruiting extravaganza, I hear nothing. I was at their beck and call for two and a half days, and nothing. Not even a letter, Email or voice mail saying "never mind". I am a little put out by all of that. My time is worth something, but they did give me a doughnut, so I guess that paid for it. The pay would have gotten me up to 50% of what I was making last year, which would have been nice. Nothing. Give me some feedback. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I have learned

What I have learned in my short career outside of education. Working in a warehouse: Warehouse work may not be good for us folks with ADD. Too many flashing lights. I noticed when working on “the line” with my back turned toward the warehouse, I made few errors, but facing the warehouse...I was too distracted, with the forklifts and their blinking lights zipping around. Too much to take in. Found it was hard to let my mind wander too far while stacking pallets, or whatever else I did, made it hard to enjoy the movies and voices in my head. Phone support: I would think that working with numbers is hard enough without having dyslexia. But reading phone numbers, taking credit card information and writing dollar amounts is very hard with it. I don’t make too many mistakes, and usually it is caught by the system or the customer. It gets worse as the day grows longer. I have also learned that I am not cut out for second shift work. I would prefer going in early and getting the day done. My most productive part of the day is around 10 am, and working second shift means I am just getting some stuff done around the house at that time. It is possible to make it thorough anything.

Friday, November 4, 2011

On Call

It has been a long and difficult job search, but I have found a job that may be somewhat long term. I am still looking, schools, business and with my current employer. I am happy to be working, and have been working at this position for a month, and still upset that I did not get some of the jobs I interviewed for, but so it goes.

This past spring and summer were taken up by looking for jobs on-line and in the newspapers, remember newspapers? So many applications, so few call backs. Finally in desperation, I went to the local temporary job agency. That was an eye opener into the world of entry level jobs. Part of the hiring process involved a questionnaire, as most do, but this was different. Other pre-employment questions usually involve something along the lines of, ‘have you ever been convicted of a crime?’ or ‘Have you ever been fired?’, this was more interesting, it presented scenarios to react to.

For instance- You have a disagreement with your supervisor do you:
a) Punch him
b) Storm off the job
c) Do what you are told
d) Stay at work, but don’t work hard

If you feel that a fellow employee has disrespected you, you should:
a) ignore it, if it continues, contact your supervisor
b) wait until after work and fight him in the parking lot
c) start yelling at him to draw attention to how bad he is
d) slap him

Have you ever taken drugs or drunk alcohol while on the job?
a) during lunch only
b) only before work
c) never
d) I sneak some in and use it now and then

and so on for about 50 questions. It was strange. But I did pass that test, and got a call to work in a warehouse at $9 and hour. I was there for a few weeks, but was subsequently offered this position, and a $3 an hour raise! I have many stories to tell about the three weeks “on the line” but, may just let them fade away, like my aches and pains from working there.

Now I answer phones.
Talk to people. Someone is paying me to talk on the phone. I really do not like talking on the phone. But you have to do something or it would not be called work. I work for a multi-level marketing firm, actually a subsidiary of them, which sells VoIP services. I work in billing. So I get calls from folks who need to change credit card numbers, stop service, start service, check balances. These are all good calls. We of course get others who are angry when they call in.

I have noticed that some of my co-workers take that type of caller to heart, and start arguing or being defensive. I don’t. I understand their frustration, and manage to keep everyone calm or calm people down. Then after the call is over, I forget it. I average about 50 calls in a shift, and can remember very little about any of them. I wonder how I would have reacted a few years ago, I think I would have been like some of the others and gotten into arguments. Being calm is good for the blood pressure.....

more later

Monday, August 22, 2011

So much to do

In case the one or two of you that actually look at this blog are wondering. I have a job interview on Friday. It looks like a good job, two small districts share a technology director. That sort of sounded like the beginning of a joke. Both schools seem to have a good amount of technology installed, so it will be interesting to hear what they are looking for, and all that stuff. Hopefully training and working with teachers and students.

While driving I write many blog posts in my head. I usually do not write about religion or politics here, and will try not to. But some politics are popping in my brain wanting to be written. Baseball, now that is what I will write about next, have so many ideas on how to fix the game. Not that it is broken, mind you, but it needs some fixing.

So to let you know what is coming, fair warning.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Time moves on

It has been a long summer. I have no idea about the number of applications sent out. On the bright side, I now can say I know Articulate and Captivate. I am trying to get in touch with a local company about doing some training for them.

Have gotten a fair number of rejection letters, and several no contacts. Hoping to hear something in a few days. Time is getting tight.

Just applied for a nice job which is in two near by school districts, splitting my time between the two as their technology director. That would be a good job. Small districts. There is always worries about being split, with both groups feeling slighted, but that will work out. Just need to be clear about schedule and responsibilities.

A larger district was looking for a tech director, as a school admin, they re-posted as a civil service job, they have an inside guy they want to hire.

There seem to be a bunch of PE jobs out there this year. Now an then I think about applying to the state and giving them my money for that licence. Then I fight back the urge.

Something will happen in the next few weeks.
I know it will

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another week

Things are moving slowly on the job front. Taught myself Articulate and Captivate, nice programs. Prefer Captivate, Articulate has some clunky features, and does not really look like they have done much updating in 4 years or so. Captivate just seems easier to use, perhaps because it is an Adobe product, and runs like one.
Sent off three examples of my work with these programs to a recruiter, who then sent them off to a company looking for an instructional designer. Will see what happens. Only have about 10 days left of the free trial with both software packages, so need to finish learning what I need to learn.
Have heard nothing back from any school jobs....frustrating.
Keep going through the various job posting to find something new.
Middle of July, September is roaring around the corner. Medical insurance goes to COBRA at that point.
But did have a good week in the mountains last week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A positive day on the hunt

Today, no rejection letters or Email. Two somewhat positive contacts, anything that is not a rejection I see as positive. Also found an interesting job to apply for.

I sent a resume to a TV station Monday, today received a letter from them, I fully expected it to be a rejection letter. What it said was I passed the initial screening, and my application was moving forward. That is a positive step. How nice of them to write at this stage too.

Received a call regarding an application for an Instructional Designer position. That was nice. The only problem being is they are looking for someone with experience with a program called Articulate, which I do not have. Other than that it was positive, and he said that there are other positions coming up that I would fit.

So I went to the Articulate web site, it does look like a nice program for working with. Two problems, I don't have $1300 hanging around, and it is PC only, and I have a Mac. There is a free 30 day trial, which I could learn it fairly well, I just need to get ahold of a PC for a month.

Another place is advertising for Vice President for education. I need to print out the paper work and send it on its way.

So all in all a fairly positive day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another day, another application

To keep the many readers up to date....I applied for an Instructional Designer position with Kelly IT services. It would be nice to get a call for any of the applications. At least I did not get a dreaded rejection email or letter today. I really don't call them rejection letters, and have another term for them, but because this blog is listed on my resume, I should not write it out. Maybe after I get a job.
I have some very thin leads to have a look at this afternoon. So off to the search.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I need a job

Things have been going on in my life making it hard to want to blog, or have the time to blog. Back to doing the blog thing. I hope,

A different focus. I need a new job. Perhaps the trial and tribulations of a 50 year old looking for a job.

These days it is easier to apply for positions, almost like cheating. When I used to move more often, I could find a job fairly quickly, but the application procedure involved a typewriter (!) and sending off money for transcripts and placement files. Now it is look for jobs on the Internet and send off a resume and cover letter. The school systems in the area have a common on-line application where you put in your name for a job and POOF all of your paperwork is sent off to the district. The district then sends off a generic automated email to you. For non-education jobs it is just about as easy.

With this change, I am not being so selective about what I apply for. When it cost money, I would be picky. I think this is happening for everyone else, so the schools and businesses are flooded with applications. Frankly, paying for someone of my age may not be in the budget. Another problem with the flood of applications, sending out notices that you did not get the job are getting rare.

I am casting a fairly wide net. I have applied for science teaching jobs (chem and earth science if you must know), school administrative jobs, IT jobs, instructional design positions, TV news production and editing to name a few. All but one in the Rochester area. I really don’t want to move for at least two years, as my youngest has two more years of high school left, but if I have to I will.

Why hire me? I have experience, and not planning on leaving the area soon, and I plan on working until I am 70. That is another 20 years, by the way. Seeing how the job market is now, I don’t plan on moving to another position in quite some time. I like the concept of staying with one school district or business for a long time. I have made too many switches in the past.

So know of any jobs out there for me?

How do I become a consultant?

Get on the speaker circuit? How do you do that?

I will keep you posted about my progress. By the way, applied for two jobs today, both are for assistant principal.

Oh, here is a resume http://prezi.com/z2mirdioknpi/tsakshaug-resume/

Friday, February 4, 2011

From my son

This is a post from my 15 year old son. It says many of the same things we have been discussing in education for years. I agree with him through all of this,which is why I stole it without permission. It sounds similar to other posts like this, but interesting to read anyway.

I may be just a student, but I know a few things.

I know that I don’t learn from sitting around all day. I learn from doing.

I know that organization does not imply intelligence.

I know that knowledge is not repetition and recitation.

I know that mathematics is more than worksheets and memorization.

I know that I don’t need fifty notecards to have an idea and an opinion.

I know that I shouldn’t need to study if I learn it right the first time.

I know that I shouldn't have to get help for my weaknesses, because my strengths should make up for them.

I know that homework should not be the same thing over and over again, because I don't learn from repetition.

I know that writing what I learned does not mean I know it, and not writing it does not mean I'm clueless.

I know that I learn best when I’m having fun.

I know that I learn best when I’m forced to think.

I know that I learn worst when I am bored.

I know that I have learned more math in the last two years of Robotics than I learned in ten years of skill-and-drill math classes.

I know that I learned more English by writing than by memorizing vocabulary.

I know that I learned more science from labs than in ten years of structured notes.

I know that I learned more History by watching The History Channel than from ten years of Social Studies classes.

Then again, I’m just a fifteen-year-old student. What do I know?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Working some things out

And then she threw me out of the car. Out of the car. The day after I had my knee fixed, two miles from the house. No crutches. “GET OUT”, she screamed over the sound of the kids crying in the backseat.
Terror, that’s what it is. I got out to calm the boys down. Started to walk home. Slow walking on one leg. Think it is possible to hitchhike on the main road. The only hill in this town, and I am at the bottom of it.
She has been angry for years, but nothing like this. Pissed at me for hurting my knee and having to get it fixed. Not sure how that could have been prevented. Pissed at her new job. Pissed at her family. Pissed at me. Pissed that when I got home yesterday, I could not cook, clean or watch the boys. She had people coming over for drinks that afternoon and needed help, damn it. “Get off the sofa, vacuum and cook—Now! Get the kids bathed before people come over too. Is the laundry done?”
Today she called to say that her friends from work were coming over for dinner, so I needed to make sure everything was picked up, clean and dinner started. “Go to the store and buy wine and food. NOW! Pick me up from work, NOW! Is all that stuff done? Why not?”
“Rufus just went down for his afternoon nap, and um, I shouldn’t be driving on the pain killers, and my knee won’t bend to get into the car.”
“There is nothing wrong with you! Come get me now!” “You can’t get a ride from your friend who lives next door?” “I don’t have time to contact her, just get me, can’t you understand anything?”
“I really don’t want to wake Rufus, and you can walk home before it is time to get him up”
“Just put him in the car, and get over here. I need you to pick me up, we have people coming over for dinner or did you forget? I bet you didn’t even get to the store to get what was on the list!”
“No, I didn’t get to the store, because I can’t drive with the leg and drugs”
“The only thing you had to do today and you were too lazy and stupid to do it. I think the boys and would be better off without you; you’re like a third helpless child. “
“OK Roo, let’s wake up, and change your diaper. We’re going to pick up Mommy!”
“Come on bud, let’s get ready”
“mmmmnnnnnhhh Bb Mdoleode Ieee”
Good diaper clean. Not cranky yet. Time get his brother and get into the car. It hurts to walk down the stairs, holding a kid. Not really safe.
“OK Aaron, Time to get into the car”
“Aaron, we need to pick up Mommy”
“No, wanna watch Thomas”
“Where the hell are you?”
“Getting the guys into the car.”
“Hurry up, I need to be home by now, or do we have to stop at the store?”
“Yes, we need to stop at the store, and I need to get Aaron to the car”
“What is your problem? It is not that hard to do, I do it every day with no problems, you are not that helpless, I need your support for this, and you give me nothing, all you were to do was a few things and you can’t do that”
“If you let me off the phone I can get going”
“I thought you said the boy’s weren’t ready and Rufus was asleep, and don’t speak to me like that, I will let you know when I am done talking to you, you don’t tell me what to do, I had to go to work today, and you got to stay around the house all day, I didn’t get to do that, and you throw that in my face like you always do. I really think you need to decide on how you are going to treat me better and give me support, which you never do, and I support you all of the time, give you all that you need and never complain, and here I ask you one simple thing and you fight me about doing that. Do you understand? How hard is it? Just get over here, now!”
Now trying to carry two boys at once, on one leg, with one struggling to stay home, both starting to cry, me trying not to. Get them buckled up into their car seats, at least that was never a struggle. Pry myself into the car, and hope I don’t have an accident. Now my mind starts running, images and words. What I should have said on the phone and how she would have reacted. Yeah sure you do it every day, after I wake them up, clean them up, feed them, make lunches, and then pick them up at day care at the end of the day. Nope I never do a thing. Yeah, I didn’t go to work, school ended two days ago. I have the summer off until school starts in August. Was going to teach summer school, but it was more cost effective to stay home this summer. Why the hell did you have to go to work today? Your summer session starts in two weeks and your grades were done for spring semester a few weeks ago. You could have stayed home and done what you did today. What is wrong with me, why can’t I do better? How much can I do? Support? What the heck does she mean? Raffi on the CD player. I can sing better than he can. Wish I could play guitar. Joshua Giraffe, Joshua, Joshua…
“OK guys we’re here! Let’s go see Mommy!”
“Go on up to her office I will be right there”
There she is with Aaron and Rufus all over her, talking cheerfully to our neighbor, both of them walking out of the building.
“Thanks for offering me a ride, but we have to do a few things, see you in a bit!” she calls out.
To me: “I wish you would not let the boys come up to my office like that, I was in an important meeting when they started to bang on my office door, how unprofessional, what do the others in my department think of you for doing that?”
“Could you please drive, I should not be and it hurts to drive with this knee like this?”
“I’m tired of you using your knee as an excuse, I worked all day, I can drive, but you know I am tired. What did you make for dinner? We are having 8 people over you know. “
“I know, and I did not get to the store, and I did not start dinner yet, as I said I could not get to the store and did not know what you wanted me to make”
“WHAT?! We have people coming over in an hour, and you have not started dinner? Did you get the house vacuumed and the bathrooms cleaned?”
“I got some of that done, probably not good enough for you” oops! Should not have added that last part. Dang drugs. The boys start getting upset.
The car slams to a stop, the boys are now crying.
“GET OUT” she screams “Out of my car!”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Working with First Robotics Team 340. Year 3

As readers of this blog know, I have been working with FIRST Robotics Team 340, Greater Rochester Robotics for three years. In the past I have written about this being real problem based learning, that must have been the theme for the first FIRST year. I am once again amazed with what these students learn and how they go about solving a complex problem in six weeks.

All FIRST Robotics teams found out about this year’s game, Logomotion, at the season kick-off on January 8th. Our team, for the second year, held a tailgate party in the parking lot of the Theater on the Ridge, one of Kodak’s buildings in Rochester. A freezing good time was had by all. After the kick-off, we went to work.

One of the most excruciating times is the meeting on kick-off day. Excruciating, but necessary. It is then, we go over the rules and discuss what the team will focus on for the build. Brainstorming is never pretty, but it is needed for all to have input. It would be all too easy for the adults to tell them what we are going to build and how to go about it, but that is not the point of FIRST, it is for students to do the work and adults to help and advice. Sort of like some boy scout troops in the world, some are really boy run, others are run by the adults, which do the kids learn more about decision making and leadership? Just as I am sure there are some FIRST teams out there where the adults do all of the work, and the students? I really don’t know.

Last week students started to build prototypes for parts of the robot. This is where they can let their creativity shine. They had several ideas for the “minibot” built and tested, and re-tested. It is nice to see how they learn from problems and make fixes. It looks as if we will have a good minibot to climb the pole at the end of the game. Delivering the minibot to the pole at the end of the game is a future concern.  Another set of students have been working on the problem of picking up and delivering the inner tubes to the scoring rack. This group has in turn broken up into smaller groups to work on their ideas. They met last night and discussed their ideas, and showed some rough prototypes. All of these look promising. This piece is critical for the game, it needs to be robust and simple. Weight of the piece is also a concern, as it needs to be lifted about 10’ off of the ground and not tip over the base of the robot.

We have groups working on the frame, programming and electrical components. Programming and electrical are in their own room so they are doing whatever they are doing.

Watching the students grow and learn over the years is fun. My oldest son, who is a senior and also in his third year (there is a connection, you know), is the head of electrical. Seeing him work and plan is great. His knowing so much about electronics is amazing, and this hands on experience will help him next year as he goes off to college to study engineering. A quick disclaimer, he has a wonderful Project Lead The Way program at his school, where he has learned most of this stuff.  But seeing him put this knowledge to work is very nice.

My youngest is in his second year of FIRST, and has been working on the part of the robot to pick up tubes. He has good ideas and is working hard to make his the best of the bunch. There are several that are doing the same, and many of them would be good choices for the final pick. I watched him present to the group last night. He has no problem speaking to the group, but has a few speaking and meeting skills that will be worked on over time. He wants to be a teacher, so learning how to speak to a group and have a discussion is a great head start.

There is so much to do and so much to learn. If you have any questions about this experience, let me know, or contact FIRST. There are programs for younger students and smaller schools too. My boys and I helped a  school start a FIRST Lego League team, which was a great learning experience for them, and the team learned a lot from them.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

PDF to Word - 100% Free! - The Most Accurate PDF-to-Word Converter


After spending the day attempting to get a good converter for PDF to Word, I found this. It works well, leaves no watermarks and is FREE!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Another Year, another Dollar

Good luck to all this year. I hope things all go well for you, and you achieve your goals. I know I have a few goals to work on, and will see how that all works.
Just got back from a road trip with my boys, now 17 and 15. It is nice to have the older one be able to drive, makes these trips less exhausting to do, even though I am driving from the passenger seat. They claim I fell asleep, but I really doubt it.
The whole idea of the trip was to take them down to see their grandparents in Virginia before Eric graduates from high school, after that point, I doubt I could get him to go anywhere. We went now, rather than later, because if we went later something would happen so we could not go.

First the new air and space museum. The gps got us lost, and the back-up directions from google were wrong. But we got there.
Had a good time, many cool things. Free to get in, $15 to park.

Then we went to my parent's house, spent two nights and one day. Just about long enough for the boys. They have not seen the grandparents in several years.
Watched a bunch of football games. Of course I went to bed and missed the end of the UNC game, which I hear was interesting.

We left the next day for home, but went to Luray caverns. We went there when I was little, and it seemed like a good stop. Too expensive to get in, the tour was on headsets, but we had to go with a group.
While we were there, it dawned on me, this is where my parents forgot me when we visited last time. I went to the restroom, came out, and they were gone. They came back for me not too much later, but this was the place.

Now we are home, no worse for the wear. Good to be here