31 January 2008

Links 31 Jan 2008

This is what I've been saying the whole time about Batman. Get over it, man!
My Parents Are Dead!

Holy Crap. I don't even really understand this, but there are dolphins making bubble rings and playing with them to violin music. This is terribly beautiful.
Dolphin Bubble Rings

And here's some Beluga Whales working this one out with a scuba diver. I don't know the country of origin of this video, but it's still interesting. How crazy is this?
Beluga Whales with Bubble Rings

This reminds me of home. No, I have never napped with a cow, but it does.
Cow Nap Sandwich

I am always a sucker for interspecies negotiations.
Kitten + Parakeet

Since I changed jobs I found I had obsolete business cards. I still couldn't bring myself to throw them away since most of the contact information was correct, but I was unable to think up any way to use them up. Now I have a way.
Business Card Origami!

30 January 2008

Long Days in Support of Space Flight

I got to work yesterday morning at 0900. I normally get in at 0800, but as I knew I would be working until 0430 this morning...

I am really quite tired. I tried to stay up late last night, and made it until about this time thanks to my girlfriend. After a full day of running scripts and checking temperatures on the ISS, I went to my linear algebra class. It was a bit of a snooze-inducer. I'm glad I already got the homework done for that class this weekend so that I don't have to do it now.

Instead, I am now watching FE2 eat space breakfast meat. And now ISS CDR is pulling on her EVA pants. Awesome. I do have to say I think ISS DL 3 is probably the best channel we've got going, considering the others are showing that night is still dark, even on Space Station Freedom. If you have access to the NASA channel, or any of its streams, I highly suggest ISS DL 3 for your viewing pleasure.

Just so you understand, I will have been at work for 20.5 hours minus lunch, Russian class, Linear Algebra class, and dinner. I'm glad my schedule is flexible. It means that instead of getting OT for this, I'm going to get a goodly sized chunk of Thursday off. Getting Thursday off when you have to work Friday is like rain on your wedding day. I think that's how that saying goes, anyhow.

I HATE teh intarwebs

I was at work this morning (read as 00:34), waiting for the astronauts to finish brushing their teeth. I was browsing my facebook page, which I honestly don't do much any more. I have finally found something that I think might just describe my religious views well. http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2700

As you see in that url, the webcomic is called 'SinFest'. I wanted to grab this link and put it into the religious views slot on my facebook profile. I therefore, tried going to sinfest.com. Remember now that I'm on a government computer. They have got great blocking programs in place(even better than my employer's!) I was now told that this was an 'Adult/Sexual Content' page, and I said, "%&^*!!!!" I immediately went to the google search toolbar and typed in 'sinfest'. I got the page I wanted and the link. I completed the task I was intending to do, and then quickly logged off facebook. I really hope that the amount of pr0n on teh intarwebs didn't just cost me my job.

Tonight at dinner, I told my girlfriend that I really am enjoying my job. They're keeping me busy with valuable work, respecting my opinion, and valuing my effort. I am sooo much happier in this position than I was with my last one. I really, REALLY don't want to do anything to screw up this good thing I've got going. I hope that mistake doesn't cost me.


04 January 2008

Interview Tips

While I'm posting old comments, I might as well include this one that I submitted for WiseBread regarding my best interview advice.  This is all about Behavioral Interviews:

" If you've ever heard of a behavorial interview, you know how scary these can sound. The key to these interviews is to have a few (4-6) good (and true, every word!) stories about projects you have worked on. Even if you have only had one job, you will have plenty of stories to choose from. Remember though that you should think these up at least 24 hours in advance so you can sleep on it. If you're rubbish at remembering details, don't worry about it, the sleep will help you to remember them since you called up the framework for that memory.

The idea is that they ask a question like "Describe a time when you were working on a team project and you had to motivate your teammates to accomplish their tasks." This is a really broad question. You're really answering these questions: What was the situation? What did you do? How did you handle this situation and what was the result? What they're really trying to find out about you is how you have reacted to situations that you may get into again and how you'll act then. Past behavior is not like the stock market, in that it IS indicative of future performance.

To give you some clues, I'll go through each question they're actually asking.

Q: What was the situation?
A: Tell them who you were working with, any important factors about these relationships, and the problem itself.

Q: What did you do?
A: Tell them how you interacted with those around you, and how you went about solving the problem, including any obstacles that came up.

Q: How did you handle this situation and what was the result?
A: If there was an obstacle, tell them how you overcame it, especially including fall-back plans you made ahead of time. The most important part to the entire story is that the result must be good. Even if there was a terrible situation and you turned it into just a normal day, that's not good enough. Stress the parts of the problem or obstacles that were stressing you at the time, and show how you solved that problem. These results should be at least a 7 on the 1-10 scale of how it ended up."

Some more important points here are to dress the part.  You want to fit in, but stand out.  I know this sounds terribly contradictory, but it works.  When everyone in the waiting room is wearing black shoes, black slacks, a black suit jacket, black belt, a blue shirt and a yellow tie, you want to wear some of these things but not all.  Out of all these, I only kept the black suit jacket and made everything else work for me.  As proof that this does not hurt, I have a record of about a 4/5 success rate for interviewing.  If you have no idea how to dress yourself for such things, drag a friend to a department store and ask opinions on matching colors. 

Make sure you look presentable in other ways too.  Men, you don't have to shave off your beard, but it does need to be neat, not patchy.  If you can get your facial hair to look like a wave, lightning bolt, or flames, I'm with you, but not for the interview.  Posture and demeanor are important too.  Stand up straight and walk with purpose.  That's as general as I can be on this topic. 

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  Emphasize your strengths, but be honest about your weaknesses.  If you know you're not great at something, attempt to improve it.  You'll probably pick up something as long as you're trying.  When you do strengthen your weakness, at least you can show that you've been working on it, and have improved. 

This is about as deep as I can go on a subject as broad as interview advice.  Good luck out there!

Ultimate Cheapskate Entry

I wrote this comment to the Get Rich Slowly entry for a chance to win a copy of 'The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to Riches' by Jeff Yeager. After reading that Jeff's "business card" was a piece of brown paper bag with his information rubber stamped onto it, I realized this is going to be a tough sell, but worth a shot. Since I wrote it and think it's worth sharing, I thought I'd post it here as well.

"I'm pretty frugal, but not nearly as much as my father.

Growing up, my sister and I would sort through aluminum cans and plastic bottles he brought home from work. He raided all the trash cans in his office building to bring these home. When I was younger, we would bring in about $20 a week through this.

Now he works at a tech company where the soda is free and everyone provides him with their bottles at the end of the day. He even set up a deal with the building manager so that he could be the official recycling point for the entire facility! The machines only provided plastic bottles, so very little sorting was necessary, and each one was worth a nickel. Soon enough he was bringing home two big bags of bottles a night and we were making trips to the recycling center every few days.

Each of us could redeem up to $25 worth of bottles at any one point. He would regularly have us go into the recycling center in different groups and wearing different hooded sweatshirts or coats to disguise the fact that we were getting more than our daily allotment of redemption. I stopped him short of taping a fake mustache onto my face.

He's still redeeming cans and bottles to this day and bringing in at least $75/week to the family through his efforts.

To add to this, he will input the codes under the caps on all the different sodas to their respective websites. After several years of this, I own more than my share of branded clothing, towels, blankets, duffel bags, video games, sports equipment, magazine subscriptions, video game systems and, this Christmas, wireless headphones.

The money I earned through my work with those recyclables throughout my childhood paid for a significant chunk of my college education, saving me from the dreaded student loans.

I've asked him if he would stop like he does on the street to pick up a bottle if it were a nickel instead, but without all the work. He says it's worth much more because he gets more satisfaction out of the work and environmental impact involved in picking up that bottle, but that he would definitely stop for a nickel as well."

This is really just the tip of the iceberg, but considering how much our family has gotten out of it, I couldn't resist to tell the tale of my recycling for money days. Are you or any of your family or friends more frugal than my father? Discuss in the comments, please.