another year, another car accident

I was in another auto accident today… on the receiving end of a low speed collision in stop and go traffic. I was hit from behind by a guy in a BMW after I had just stopped while trying to merge onto a highway interchange. The bumper of my car rode up over his, damaging the double kidney part of his grill. As the fault was clearly his, and both I and my car were unhurt, we agreed to part without getting insurance companies involved.

all kinds of the wrong sort of interest

One of the things I have discovered about putting your resume on a job search site is that you really can get all kinds of the wrong sort of interest.

Take this for example: I’ve gotten half a dozen e-mails over the last few months saying I should consider becoming a programmer for Too Spoiled. My curiosity piqued by what a company with such a shallow-sounding name could be, I looked at their web site. Too Spoiled is a social networking site for actors, models, casting managers, and agents… or anyone who wants to just look like one I guess. And oh yes, I nearly forgot the dating site! I can’t forget the dating site! You get to date models and actors! Who haven’t made any money yet! Where being “spoiled” enters into all this, I cannot imagine.

Needless to say, I will not be sending them a resume. I admire their entrepreneurial spirit… but I can’t see how there is much money to be made from networking and dating struggling actors and models. If I wanted to be doing that some kind of web design, I would be trying to work for Solomodels. They have an innovative web interface, and no dating allowed.

waiting for the plot to thicken…

Well, job interviews with two companies (called Company A and Company B) happened since my last update. I took two days off of work, lying to my co-workers that I was “sticking close to home” when I was traveling to another city to interview for other work. I don’t like lying, but am I supposed to say “umm yeah… I’m trying to find other work… so I’m going somewhere to interview?” I don’t think so.

Company A. is a small startup. They’re doing something very much like the research project paid my bills through much of grad school. The interview involved about three hours of meetings with three senior people at Company A: the CTO, the Head of Development/Chief Architect, and the Head of Operations. All the questions were about general “development philosophy” and some of my previous work experiences. I thought it all went fairly well, but I’m not sure about what Company A. wants to do with me. They like me… and that I have some previous experience that could be very useful to them… but they don’t seem have a clear idea what they would hire me to do, much less try to pay to relocate me and Mrs. Geek.

Company B. is BIG. You’ve probably heard of Company B. They had a much more formal interview process. It was LONG — almost 7 hours. The day started with an hour with the HR rep handling recruiting for the position in which I was interested. This was followed by three scheduled interviews that involved a lot of standing up in front of white boards discussing programming brainteasers like the following:

Given an array of 1001 integers, taken from the set of integers from 1 to 1000, describe a program to find the single integer that was repeated.

(We discussed four separate solutions to this problem.) A decision point followed the third interview (based on results from the first three), where I was either finished for the day or I continued with two more interviews. I got the two extra interviews. The last was with relatively senior manager who was the hiring manager for the position. I spent about 1.75 hours (45 minutes more than scheduled) in this last interview, answering a lot of personality questions designed to determine what kind of an employee I would be. I figure that Company B. must be interested on some level for a senior manager to spend extra time with me… but will it be enough to generate a job offer? I hope so.

I haven’t heard a thing from either Company A. or Company B. since the interviews. It’s grating on me. I wrote formal “thank you” e-mails to the folks at both companies this morning. No reply. I find myself gradually freaking out. I wonder “did I ask for too much money?”, “was my answer to question X good enough?”, and “who else are they talking to?” I woke up at 4am this morning from a dream where I did not get a job offer because my initial salary request was too high.

I am of two minds about what is happening. On the one hand, I keep thinking “well, I must have done pretty well because they haven’t rejected me out of hand”. On the other, I worry that they just haven’t found time to say no yet. I want two offers to chose from, hoping that the answer to both applications will be a meaningful “yes”. I also don’t want the period of not knowing to end… because no answer is not a “no”… fearing that the answer will definitely be negative.

Can you tell I’m going crazy yet?

curse you, terrorists!

Well, I’m thinking about my upcoming job interviews. One of Mrs. Geek’s cousins works for one of the companies where I am to interview. We’ve never actually met — he and his wife were invited to our wedding, but were unable to attend due to some kind of prior engagement. Nevertheless, he’s been helping me with a few “inside” pointers here and there. I want to do something to say “thank you” for his help.

One way I could do that is to bring him some wine. Where others in his family have a fondness for beer or distilled spirits, he is definitely a wine fiend. As I have a few pleasant decent bottles in my collection, this seems like a natural.

There is only one problem with that: plane travel. Terrorism has now forced the TSA to allow limit the amount and type of liquids and gels you can carry on a plane. So I cannot just bring a bottle of wine in my carry on; it must go in checked luggage. If some of the message boards are right, the presence of a bottle will flag my bag for search. Not that I have anything to hide, mind you… I just worry about extra time checking in.

Curse you, terrorists!

nothing works…

Nothing is working for me here at Company O. today. The lab where we work is still off the corporate network thanks to a bit of unintentional sabotage last Thursday (they deleted the lab network from the corporate router). The corporate mail server is also “unavailable until further notice” for reasons unknown… though I suspect that it is in some way connected the whole Daylight Savings Time change over the weekend.

Ugh. There is not much to do around here when there are no machines to test or mail in need of response.

rest in peace, Mr. Gallo

As an avid fan of California wine, I feel it is very appropriate to mark the passing of Ernest Gallo, who died this week. He and his brother Julio were the founders of Gallo wines, the wine making conglomerate that is estimated to currently produce about 80 million cases of wine a year. He died in Modesto, CA at the age of 97.

There are those who tend to look down on Gallo wines. They have something of a “jug wine” reputation. They produce Thunderbird, for goodness sake! You can’t get any lower than bum wine.

Yet, as with so many things, that is not the whole story. I think every wine lover in the country owes Ernerst and Julio Gallo a debt of gratitude. Why? By the middle of the 20th century, the United States was a beer drinking nation, not a wine drinking nation. The efforts of the Gallo brothers did a lot to change that. Yes, they started out making inexpensive blended table wines, not chic vintage varietals. Everyone agrees, however, that they were always excellent wines for the money. Wine critic Robert Parker recalled drinking a bottle of Gallo Hearty Burgundy in college and remarked that “there are inferior bottles of wine for ten times the price.” The Gallo brothers got a good, entry level wine on the tables of middle class America, where one had not existed before. This helped to create an environment where Miles Raymond can say “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!” in Sideways and Merlot sales to slump while Pinot Noir sales to soar.

The Gallos now evidently also produce some excellent vintage wine in the Sonoma region of California. I must find some to sample. If I do, I will raise a glass and mark the passing of a Gallo family patriarch. Goodbye Ernest Gallo, and thank you.