Category Archives: Thoughts

Job Fairs Are Fairer

These days, it can be very difficult to get any response from a job application. Many employers only reply to those they short-list.

Last week, I attended a job fair. It was the first time in quite a while that I had the opportunity to speak to employers about employment.

It felt good to be treated as if I mattered.

I think that employers should do this more often.

Perversity

I sometimes get a bad sore throat — which I call “fire throat” — when the seasons change from winter to spring. This year was yet another case. Break out the Fisherman’s Friend. (I need enough throat cooling that I can get a sugar buzz from cough drops.)

Some time later, my voice gets rather froggy. Interestingly, this is a good sign. Oddly, my voice is quite normal when I have the sore throat; it only gets froggy when I am recovering.

Have you ever seen something that is similarly deceptive?

Some people can have what looks to be a frown on their face and be in quite a good mood. (I am one of them.)

What have you seen like this?

Overkill

Are you concerned about overdoing it? Are you worried that in doing some thing that you will go too far?

Relax.

Just apply Gene’s Law of Overkill.

I came up with this recently: “Gene’s Law of Overkill: First, you have to kill. Only then can you overdo it.”

So relax and just kill something[1][2].

[1] Please confine your killing to things like problems, personal bests, etc.

[2] This law has not been tested rigorously. If you end up in the Big House (a.k.a. pokey, jail, slammer, etc.) as a result, please let me know so I can make a revision[3].

[3] And please indicate whether you want partial credit for the revision.

Layered Both

Last year, I posted about that awkward season of the year: both.

My apologies for whining incompletely. I should have considered layering.

Both season means that I have to, say, wear a sweater and might have to wear a jacket or overcoat as well. Or maybe not. Where then do I put it? Dragging on the ground is too likely to be an answer.

All too often it seems that if I have the overcoat, I do not need it, and if I do not, I do.

And somehow appropriately (in my area at least), there are two (or more) both seasons per year: between winter and spring and between fall and winter.

Brick and Mortar Also Build Community

Many people do things through the Web. This can be very useful. It can save time and money. It can also short-change the local area.

A friend (Duncan) and I play board and card games at a local hobby store (High Octane Comics & Collectibles (their Facebook page). I might not have met Duncan otherwise, and he suggested another group (our next meetup) that we now both game with.

If Duncan and I were playing some on-line game, we might not have any other contact. Duncan is great for playing quite a few different games with.

Kamloops is not a large city, and it is nice to find people to game with. It is also very useful to be able to see games before purchasing them.

For the past few years, we have had had a gaming convention in Kamloops: Attack-X. This got going because of local contact. I met the head of the convention at High Octane.

High Octane and other gaming stores are very useful for meeting people. It is one reason why I give them business.

You can enjoy good company with people in your own community.

Other People’s Opinions

I am an avid reader. I buy books from a nearby (Kamloops, BC) used bookstore, Andrena’s Book Company.

I have been dealing with ABC for years. The owner, Andrena, knows my tastes and sometimes recommends books. Are her recommendations good? Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Her understanding of my taste is different than mine is. If she totally matched my understanding of my taste, she would not misrecommend. On the other hand, because she does not totally match, she recommends books that I might not have looked at.

Because of her recommendations, I become aware of books that I might not have found out about otherwise. I recently purchased a trilogy, Legends of the Duskwalker by Jay Posey on her recommendation. I have not read enough of it yet to have an opinion, but so far, so good.

I have bought other books on her recommendation.

I think that this makes a good argument for listening to other people’s politely-stated views. Too often, people get caught up in their own opinions and forget that other opinions do not have to be enemy views.

What have you learned from someone else today?

How the Web Makes Us Ignorant

The Worldwide Web is very useful for finding out many things. Unfortunately, this can lead to one being rather ignorant in some ways.

The first way is that if you can look it up, why bother learning it? The answer to that is that having the information readily available to think with, one can think with it easily.

For the same reason, I find knowing basic arithmetic very useful. I can often estimate an answer (and sometimes figure the exact answer) before someone has fished out his calculator (or other device with a calculator) and started entering the problem.

Which of us do you think uses arithmetic more often?

The second way is that one can have a bunch of links to information and not keep track of them.

I recently had a problem with my browser and had to clear my browsing history and restart my browser. I lost several links and have been unable to find them with a Web search. If it had not been so easy to just keep them open, this would not have happened.

The third way is that even if you do learn the material, you are all too likely to just get the gist of it, because you can always look it up later.

This is similar to the first reason, but has the added point that you might really think you know the material. Should you have to apply the material, you may find that your understanding is not what you thought it was. Or you might not find that out. Either way could result in a disaster.

The Web is very useful, but do not let it stop you from thinking.

Stuck and Being Stuck In

Have you ever noticed how eager people and systems are to stick you in a role and keep you there forever? For example, I see many jobs advertised where one has to have experience even though a reasonably intelligent would already know the general parts and could learn the rest rather quickly.

It has been pointed out that some models of business structure are based on WW II militaries. There were few people who knew how and a lot of people had to be trained up fast. It is not the same situation in an office yet this same model gets used over and over.

If you had to do something that you did not know how to do and you really wanted to do it, how long would it really take before you could get a decent product out? I suggest to you and employers that the answer is much shorter than most think.

Bias

How to root out bias in your data (requires registration to read the whole article): if only it were that easy.

One paragraph: “Just ask city officials in Boston. As part of an effort to shore up the municipality’s aging infrastructure, city hall released a smartphone app that collects GPS data to help detect potholes. However, because people in lower income groups are less likely to own smartphones, the program didn’t include data from large segments of city neighborhoods.”

Oops! How would you have caught this?

In another area: I have been the victim of bias in employment interviews. When my face is relaxed, the corners of lips are lower than the center of my lips. So when I am relaxed, it looks to many people as if I am frowning. Add to that my red cheeks, and some people have concluded that I am a bomb waiting to go off. No, it is only hypertension. (I was wondering why I was getting such odd feedback in the co-op program from my job interviews.)

I am not perfect at this either. Shortly after I finally realised about my facial issue, one day, I was in a grocery store, saw someone apparently frowning, thought he might be having a bad time, and then, it hit me that I was doing the same thing. I looked again and could see no evidence of a bad mood. The person was doing his job quite professionally.

The bias that is most difficult to get rid of is one that you do not think is a bias.