Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Film Still Drawing #2

I've been practicing my drawing, as my 1 reader knows (ha ha). One of my sources of reference is the movie The Girl With the Pearl Earring. I love the imagery. Here's a film still I've drawn before:

Here's what I did last week, using the above still for reference:

I sat down for about an hour, I think, and did this in a single sitting. It's unfinished—I have not been back to work on it a second time. There's a lot more I could do with it.

The trees are a bit one-dimensional, but overall, I like it. I'm trying not to judge my results. In the past, I've had a lot of trouble drawing, because I can clearly and completely visualize finished drawings in my head, but I have difficulty rendering them. I don't like it when a drawing doesn't come out the way I see it in my mind's eye, so I abandoned drawing altogether for years.

I decided to try again, and see if I could enjoy just drawing what I see, with no expectations. Who says it has to be perfect? I'm accountable to no one. And anyway, I don't have any formal—or informal—drawing training, so any result is okay.

I enjoyed doing this one, and the others I've done. I'm going to keep working at it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hope Springs Eternal II

As all .008 of my readers know, I've been growing these daffodils for awhile now. For a long time, I thought they'd never come up. Then, in November, some tiny shoots popped up, and I posted a photo then.

Three months later, I've got 8" foliage in some cases. Almost every bulb has produced some sort of shoot. It's really gratifying, considering I've got black thumb when growing anything other than bulbs in a pot. I've tried more than once to grow sweet peas and other flowers, to no avail. Now I stick to what I know.

I spent a few minutes trying to work on perspective with this sketch of the square white pot. I think I did okay on the pot and daffs, but the table is way off!

Oh well, I like the drawing of the pot. Who cares about the table!?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Third Interview Notes

Thursday morning, I interviewed for the third time with a company I really want to work for.

I applied for the job in mid-November, thinking "this is way out of my league, I'll never hear from them." In early December, I got an email inviting me to do a phone interview on December 12.

When the call came, the woman conducting the interview identified herself as being a bigwig, in charge of the West Coast division I'd be a part of if I am hired. I found it interesting that she was conducting preliminary interviews herself. In my experience, first interviews done by phone are usually conducted by HR staff, to weed out people who are not viable candidates before the bosses get involved. But I liked the fact that the woman who would be my boss was so hands-on in this process. (Note: she lives out of state, and runs the division remotely from where she lives, which involves a lot of email, phone calls, and travel.)

The job sounded absolutely perfect. The phone interview went well, and she referred me to a man in the local office, telling me he'd be in touch to interview me. I sent her a thank you, and she confirmed that Mr. Local Office would be in touch "soon."

Mr. Local Office was in touch the next day, and we made arrangements for me to interview later that week, December 15. I enjoyed speaking with Mr. Local Office, and thought the interview went well—he and I agreed on that point. Mr. Local Office told me he'd report as much to Ms. Bigwig.

I drove home, thrilled and excited. I sent a thank you to both Ms. Bigwig and Mr. Local Office. Ms. Bigwig replied that Mr. Local Office had "great things to say about me," so I felt encouraged. But I also worried, because the holidays were coming, and I knew that some offices didn't do much during holiday time. It might be two or three weeks to hear anything about this job. I hunkered down to wait.

Xmas came and went. New Year's came and went. After three weeks I couldn't stand it anymore. I sort of knew that if three weeks had gone by, I was out of the running for the job in the local office, but I hadn't been rejected yet, so on a string of hope and a dose of wild tossing of caution to the wind, I sent an email to Ms. Bigwig, saying I wasn't sure where she was in the decision-making process, but that I was still very interested in the position. (I never do this. I stand firm on the ground that if people want you, they will contact you.) She replied that they'd filled the local office position, but that they had other openings in other offices. Ugh. I was crushed when my fear was confirmed, but that emotion was slightly offset by the possibility of a job in another office. She added that she was traveling and was going to be in the local office on January 19, and wanted to meet with me in person that day. My hope was truly re-kindled when I heard this, and we made arrangements to meet.

When January 19 came, we had our meeting in a local Starbucks. I enjoyed the meeting and must have made a good impression, because she told me she wanted to send me to another local office, to interview with at least two, and possibly three people. I am really pleased that she went out of her way to meet me on a very tight schedule, and that she is referring me to another office. I told her that I'm really excited about the possibility of working in this other local office. I'm nervous about meeting with so many people, but I'll do my best dog-and-pony show, because this job is just about perfect.

I'm waiting to hear what the next step is.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Test Observations

I took the test for the government job Saturday. The test took place at a San Diego elementary school, at 1pm.

I left the house early, so I would not have to rush. As I got closer to the test site, I found myself in a dumpy-to-bad neighborhood, and I worried my car would be broken into. I had to push that thought aside, though, because I'd driven about an hour to take the test, and I wasn't going to give up just because of the neighborhood. 

When I arrived at the test site, about two dozen people were milling around, waiting to test. It was only 12:30, so I was about half an hour early. I decided to use the facilities, and there was about a ten minute wait. While I languished in line, more testers turned up, rounding the numbers out to about sixty. I took my turn in the bathroom (there was only one stall!), then got in the official waiting-to-test line. As soon as I got in that line, another line formed to the right, then another after that. I tried to count how many people were lined up, but I couldn't see everyone, so I gave up, hoping to re-count once we were seated inside.

While we waited, our i.d.s were checked, along with our notices to appear for testing. I observed the crowd as I waited. About two thirds of the people were at least 15 years younger than I am. There were slightly more women than men. Most people were in jeans. Some were in tracksuits. At least two women had on over-the-knee boots. One woman had a Balenciaga bag. The men were mostly clad in jeans and hoodies. There were many different demographic groups represented. 

At about 1:05, after the third line firmed up, we were herded into a school building. The room we entered turned out to be the school gym/lunchroom/auditorium, and was populated with five very long tables, which could seat 50-75 children each side. The test proctors instructed us to spread out and leave space between us. After everyone had filed in and found a seat, each table had approximately 20-30 adults on each side.

Announcements admonishing us not to cheat, talk, or peek were made. They told us we'd have two hours and 15 minutes to complete the test, adding that anyone who was still testing when time was called would have to stop, regardless of how many questions they had left to answer. We got a few instructions on using the ScanTron sheets, then we were told to start the test. By this time, it was 1:15pm

Being out of practice for this kind of thing, I moved slowly through the first five questions, then I began to pick up speed. As I absorbed the tone and nature of the questions (not nearly as tough as I expected them to be), I began to feel a bit of confidence. I quickly realized the test standard was mediocre. Some of the questions were so obvious I nearly slapped my forehead. I had to guess at only four questions, and not all of them were math questions, the ones I feared the most. (Math was my worst subject, but we were allowed to use calculators, so I did okay on that section, apart from one question about decimal places that I'm sure I answered incorrectly.)

I finished my test within about an hours' time. I wasn't rushing. I was really surprised about this. Almost everyone was still seated. I estimate that about four people finished before me, including the woman I spoke to while waiting in line (see below). I felt funny walking the length of the room with so many people still testing. I felt like I had a red flag on my head. But walk the length of it I did, and finally reaching the proctors' table. I handed in my test papers, and left. 

It was a unique experience, getting a view of my level of intelligence in this context. I was curious about how people felt about the test, but there was no way to ask anyone what they thought. The woman I'd been in line next to was long gone, so there was no chance of a conversation with her. 

I have new perspective, too, after seeing a cross-section of my competition for this job. I've rarely caught a glimpse of those applying for the jobs I am trying for. I think I prefer not knowing who my competition is. 

 The woman in front of me in line said that there were more than 1,000 applicants for the position 
 I asked her how long she'd been looking for work: "14 months" she answered
 I estimate that there were between 130–150 people testing during this administration of the test 
• There were at least four administrations of the test 
• So after doing some cipherin' and some guzintahs, that would mean that approximately 520–600 people testing
• Thus, I draw the conclusion that only half the people who applied were culled
• The woman in front of me in line said the top scorers would be tossed out of the viable applicants pool
• After the test results are tabulated, "some" applicants will be contacted for interviews
• They allotted 2.25 hours, I finished in 64 minutes. There were 110 questions. I guessed at four
• I was about the fifth person to finish

What do we think my chances are?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Testing, Testing . . . .

Saturday, I'm taking a written exam for a government job. I've been notified that it's going to be two hours and fifteen minutes long.

I've tried consulting people I know about what I can expect, but the only local person I know who's in government hasn't replied to my email about it, so I will just have to wing it. I suppose it'll be like the SATs, but this time, I get to have a calculator, which is a relief, because math was my worst subject.

K.Line told me a few things about what it might be like, so I'm taking her comments to heart and am grateful for the time she took to discuss it with me.

I'm sure I'll focus on what the other test-takers look like, and say. I'll be very interested to people-watch in this particular instance. I'm really wondering what my "competition" will be for this job.

Did I mention it's entry-level? Ugh. I can't believe I'm pursuing this option, but it's the only viable one I have right now.

* * *

Last month I interviewed for my dream job, with my dream company, but the position was offered to someone else. I have since found out that there are other similar positions in other locations, but it would mean I'd have to leave my family to work for this company. At this point, I won't rule that out.

I'm also considering doing an exhaustive job search in the town my sister lives in, because I could live with her rent-free, and send all my wages home. At least I'd be living with family. Of course, this idea, and the idea of relocation in general is fraught, and risky, but what else can I do?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Drita Hearts Me!

I love to throw "Drita is my idol" around on Twitter and Facebook.

I did it again this morning, after I saw a fresh tweet from her about last night's episode.

She saw it and tweeted me back!

(I realize it may be a staffer tweeting, but still.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Water Color

The driveway after rain.

Lately, I've been taking photo after photo of the sky and clouds.

I have no perspective here: Is this just a picture of asphalt? Or is it very cool how the water reflects the sky, making it look like a watercolor?

I'm going to stick with posting sky and sky-related photos for a little while.

We'll see if that's interesting, beautiful, or just repetitive.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A New Perspective on Lounging

At left: Indira, formerly known as 12, 13, and 14, is now 15+. She'll be 16 in May, gawd help us!

She has her own perspective on how to properly lounge on the living room furniture.

She's wearing her dad's oversize sweater, an offering from the Gap about three years ago.

I've been experimenting with my iPhone, taking a lot of photos. That camera is surprisingly good, considering it's very point-and-shoot. So I'm using it that way, as a purist. I'm opting not to manipulate the photos in any way, either using apps or with Photoshop. I'm trying to get them right the first time, so I don't have to do anything to them. I really like the perspective on this.