Sunday, December 22, 2013

Enjoy your PM10

This is what the air looked like in Reno, Nevada (aka Truckee Meadows) on December 20, 2013. Isn't it lovely? There are two freeways that intersect in Truckee Meadows: I-80 and 395. Commercial trucks, travelers, tour buses and locals drive on these freeways 24/7. The air, and our lungs, never get a day off.

The preferred personal vehicle in Reno is a full-size pickup. The favorite make is the Dodge Ram, which gets about 11 mpg city and weighs 4,600-5,000 pounds depending on the model. The second favorite is the Toyota Tundra -- the oxymoron of Toyota because it is neither compact nor economical. It weighs in at about 5,500 pounds, again depending on the model and modifications. When I was on the freeway a week ago, I counted four Dodge Rams in my lane and two Toyota Tundras in the lane to my right. These massive pickups outnumber passenger cars in Truckee Meadows about two to one.

I first heard about PM10 in 1995 when I was fresh out of journalism school and working for a newspaper two hours northeast of Los Angeles.

Modern vehicles along with modern tires have created particulate matter at atmospheric levels never seen before on earth. When cars first became common, in the 1920s, the average vehicle topped out at about 45mph and their tires were made from actual rubber from rubber trees. Ford Model Ts weighed about 1,500 pounds and did about 13 to 20 mpg. Tires are now rarely made from rubber trees but rather polyester and nylon -- two prominent petroleum by-products made from crude oil. They're much harder than early tires and they hit the asphalt as they're spinning at twice the speed of early tires. Basically, a car or truck tire, is a spinning crusher that pulverizes sand, dirt and debris and makes it smaller -- usually 10 microns all the way down to 2.5. This ultra-fine dust rises into the lower atmosphere.

If you live in a fairly verdant region that sees a lot of precipitation, like New England or the Pacific Northwest, the particulate matter doesn't stay in the air very long. It's knocked by frequent rains or snow to the ground where it sifts into the water table. Unfortunately, in desert environments like the American West, northern China (Mongolia), the Middle East, Bolivia, etc. -- where there is little or no precipitation, this particulate matter stays in the lower atmosphere. In northern China, cities like Gansu situated near the Mongolian Desert have some of the worst air quality in the world. Granted, this is partly due to the fact the Chinese burn coal to heat their homes but it's also because Mongolia is a desert much like the Great Basin. Also, the booming middle class now own personal vehicles in record numbers. There are even off-road 4x4 clubs in China.

There is very little information on particulate matter -- its sources or where it ultimately ends up. This is not a coincidence. Just as Googling the torque or engine size for a Dodge Ram or a Toyota Tundra readily yields answers, try searching for the mpg or weight of these vehicles and the stats become mysteriously difficult to find.

As populations in desert cities grow, particulate matter accumulates in the air above them.

We inhale this PM10. And all animals (birds, dogs, cats, beef cattle, etc.) inhale it. It drifts down into creeks, rivers and lakes when it rains or snows. Children inhale it.

Air pollution in China

It's ironic that in the arena of global climate change debate, the issue of particulate matter generated by cars and trucks almost never comes up. Apparently CO2 levels, mercury and withering ice caps are such depressing and huge problems, there's no room left to talk about the most visible form of atmospheric pollution.


Wikipedia - particulate matter

Particulate matter map

Monday, September 30, 2013

Farewell Detroit in the Desert

I was barely in my old hometown five months and now, because of economic necessity, I'm heading back to the Pacific Northwest (at the start of monsoon season).

It's bittersweet. On the one hand, I felt socially and culturally stifled here. What with all the 'SAVE AMERICA, KILL OBAMA' bumper stickers and the bizarre, enraged disposition of about 35-percent of the white-male population. On the other hand, I kept bumping into transplants from the PNW, from SoCal, etc., who always defended Reno, Nevada the same way: "It's so much better HERE, than where I'm from." So much less traffic or so much more sunshine.

Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, NV Sept. 2013

What an odd way to decide on a community. I'm pretty sure Indiana and maybe even St. Louis are a step up from Los Angeles. I think Nebraska might be too. Tampa and Los Alamos are surely held in higher regard. One has tropical weather and beaches, the other some of the prettiest desert in all the American Southwest. So pretty one of our greatest living writers, Cormac McCarthy lives in Los Alamos.

Past and present Renoites touchy about my criticism of northern Nevada would be surprised to know I spent 15 years living here. I originally moved here in August 1988 at age 22 after finally breaking free of the comfortable shackles of Elko. I stayed here until 1995, that's seven years; an eon when you're in your twenties. I moved back in late '95, then left again, for another job in summer '96. Moved back in spring '97 and stayed here until early 2003 when, spurred on by my first trips overseas (England and then Australia), I got the hell out of Dodge.

A lot of stuff happened to me in this dusty, blusterous town on the edge of the Great Basin. Some of it was good. I had genuine friends like Louie and Angela and Cody. I had sworn enemies too. But a lot of super bad stuff happened to me here too.

I buried my mother here in September 1993. I buried a failed relationship-slash-engagement here too. That's almost a cliche as so many women came here in the 1950s and 60s to pitch their wedding rings into the Truckee River.

In the end, I think this place is too rough for me, too raw. It's all glassy-eyed tweakers and gasping yuppies gunning their enormous pickups for the next stop light, the next party, the next sale at Walmart.

Nevada, especially Reno, is a place that even after a century of existence, still can't define itself, still can't pick the right things and say "these are important, these matter."

It's too much like the rest of middle America. This is why I'm leaving and going back to the self-analysis and geeky introspection of the cloudy Northwest. There's time to think under all those big trees.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Detroit in the Desert

Haven't had time to blog in ages. I'm back in the Detroit in the Desert. It's car culture, just like SoCal for sure. Walking across a MallWort parking lot can get you killed. So can the weather which imitates Vegas these days. Heat and sun and sun and heat and only sometimes is it fun.

I feel like a middle-aged transplant in a vague Central Valley 'burb. At least the shopping's good. Can't say the same for the yoga studios.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Movin', movin', movin'

An older friend on FBook recently bemoaned the time she moved from eastern California to a house in Nevada just north of Reno. She did this move in the 1980s when her kids were in grade school. They're all adults now and she's retired.

(No idea who this person is but she looks way too happy to be moving)

It got me reminiscing about my gypsy-footed life with my own Mom when I was a kid. Our mobility was something I detested and tried to hide because I couldn't offer a valid explanation for why we moved. The summer I turned nine, it was because Mom's spirit guides told her there was going to be an earthquake in Reno, so we had to leave post haste to avoid the impending disaster. That summer in 1974, when I laid eyes on Battle Mountain, Nevada for the first time, I burst into tears. It was the ugliest town I've ever seen, still is.

Then I passed the mythical age of 18 and wild, desperate years of couch surfing and moving in and out of undesirable rentals in the crap side of town became my New Normal. It never occurred to me that part of my incessant migrating had something to do with the fact I was penniless and that many of these hurried relocations had to do with jobs, the offer of jobs or even the hope of work. Often in my twenties, my father held the tempting carrot of "help with the rent" out before me and I lunged. The help never lasted and neither did the jobs.

Here's the best I can recollect,

With Mom (or my Dad):
Born: July 1965 Monterey, California
Moved into house in Carmel Valley, Calif. 1967
Mom divorced Dad, we moved to Sacramento 1969
Mom moved us to L.A. to stay with Aunt/Uncle while she was in a psychiatric facility 1971
Moved in with Dad/Step-mother 1972 in Carmel Valley
Moved with Mom to Reno early 1973
Lived in Reno near Virginia Lake
Moved with Mom and her friend to Boise, Idaho 1973
Moved back to Reno 1973
Lived in rental house in Sparks off Rock Blvd/G St in 1973(?)
Moved into condo near Gentry Wy in Reno, Nev. 1974 (?)
Moved to Battle Mtn., NV  fall 1974 and lived in trailer from 1974- spring 1979
Moved to Elko, NV in summer 1979 and lived in basement apt until late 1979
Moved into crappy trailer rental in Elko in Dec 1979
Moved into “low-income” apartment in Elko in spring 1980 and lived there from 1980-1983
Moved to Hollister, California  in July 1983 and lived there until Dec 1983

On my own:
Rented room from weird chick in Salinas, CA in Dec 1983
Lost job in Moss Landing in Feb 1984, moved with Mom back to Battle Mtn.
Moved from B.M. to Elko for community college April 1984-June 1985
Moved to Sacramento June 1985 (at Dad insistence)
Lived with Sacto roommates from June 1985-Oct 1985
Moved back to Battle Mtn and Mom Oct 1985
Moved to Elko Jan 1986 and lived in a studio apt off Ash St.
Left Elko Sept 1986, stayed with oldest brother in Ellensburg, WA for one month
Moved back to Sacramento in Nov 1986 (at Dad’s insistence) and rented room
Moved into different rental share off Marconi Ave, in Sacto, Dec 1986
Moved into studio apt in downtown Sacramento in Jan 1987
Lost crap job via Kelley Temps, moved back to Elko March 1987
Stayed with Elko friend for a couple months
Moved into rental trailer in Elko in May 1987-Aug 1988
Moved to Reno to go to college late August 1988
Lived in crap studio near Rancho San Rafael Park Aug 1988-June 1989
Moved into basement apt off Plumas St from June 1989-May 1991
Stayed with psycho hippie in north Reno from June 1991-Aug 1991
Moved into 1bdrm off Mt Rose St from Aug 1991-Jan 1992
Moved to Carson City for welding job Jan 1992-May 1992 (homeless)
Stayed with friend(s) in Sparks May 1992-July 1992
Moved into studio off Keystone/W 4th from July 1992-Jan 1994
Lived in rental share in Cold Springs from Jan 1994-Sept 1994
Moved into studio behind frat house near UNR Sept 1994-May 1995
Moved to Ridgecrest, CA for reporter job May 1995-July 1995
Moved to Lake Crowley, CA for new reporter job July 1995-Oct 1995
Took road trip to Santa Fe, NM Oct 1995 for job interview at newspaper
Moved back to Reno and into condo w/ friend Nov 1995-April 1996
Moved to USFS barracks April 1996-June 1996
Moved into engine crew barracks Frenchman Lake June 1996-Oct 1996
Stayed with friend in Battle Mtn Oct 1996
Moved into slum studio near Wells Ave in Reno Oct 1996-Jan 1997
Moved to friend’s in San Andreas, CA after New Year’s Flood Jan 1997
Moved to ranch outside Ely, NV for one month Mar 1997
Moved back to friend’s in California April 1997
Moved into converted garage in Reno May 1997-June 1998
Moved into studio apt off Bell St west of UNR June 1998-May 2001
Moved into house in “old” Reno May 2001-Dec 2001
Jan 2002 tried to move to L.A., didn’t work
Moved into rental off S. Wells in Reno in March 2002-Dec 2002
Went to England for a month in Jan 2003
Moved into shitty cluster apt east of UNR Feb 2003-April 2003
Moved to Colorado for US Forest Service job April 2003-Sept 2003
Went to Australia for 3 months
Stayed with friend in Sparks for one month fall 2003 while car was fixed
Moved into rental room in Seattle Nov 2003-Mar 2004
Moved into current apartment Mar 2004-Present, 9 years this month

Moving is one of the most stressful experiences in life, comparable to divorce, job loss or a cancer. I'm not proud or ashamed of these 60-plus moves. I did what I had to and I'm typical of the American population.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Forget the racist yellow face makeup for a second

(I tried to get this essay op/ed piece published with a number of online sites back in November 2012 and everybody blew me off. Sooo, since I do have a blog ...)

Asian film critics have been in a furor over the use of yellow face in the Wachowski/Tykwer epic CloudAtlas since it premiered in the US in October 2012. They rightly argue that it’s so hard for Asian actors to get work in Hollywood, having the likes of Brits Jim Sturgess and James D’Arcy don prosthetic epicanthic folds to play Asian characters is salt on an old wound. Several critics have pointed out that no Caucasian actor was put in black face to play the part of Autua, the runaway slave. Instead, the Wachowskis used David Gyasi. Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer have argued creative license, they were trying to show a myth arc and idea of reincarnation that ‘transcends race’, which is fine. But it’s still salt and the way Asians are portrayed in Hollywood is still an old wound.

One thing a lot of critics and fans alike missed is the overt sexist stereotype in the film. I’ve never read the book and am only dissecting the film but I know author David Mitchell is English, definitely white and male. And it’s worth noting: his wife is Japanese.

Before there was a Male Gaze, there was a White Male Gaze. Especially in the Victorian Era, whether they admitted it or not, European white males stood at the top of the social ladder. Even if they were dirt poor, uneducated, they were raised for centuries to believe they were at least better than Those People or Those (equally poor and uneducated) Women Over There. The white male embodied colonialism and empire. Foreign lands (India, Japan, South Africa) were viewed only in terms of exploitation. And the women who lived in these far off places were only valued for their potential sexual exploitation. The fuckability of foreign women was probably mulled over by many European sailors and explorers from Captain James Cook onward. Even today, sex tours to southeast Asia cater almost exclusively to white men.

That’s the thing about sexism. It always goes hand in hand with racism kind of like peanut butter and jelly. 

 How do we solve a problem like Sonmi?

And Asian women have been perceived by the dominant paradigm (white male heterosexual) for hundreds of years as sexually exploitable because of the stereotype of their passivity and subservience. Asian women are seen by white men as non-complaining, non-judgmental, sexually available, undiscriminating, eternally youthful and eager to please; essentially everything the Caucasian female stereotype is not. The stereotype of Asian women has more in common with blow-up dolls than any real racial demographic. Asian women are stereotyped as perpetual teenage girls: always nubile, always hyper-eroticized, always a sexual possibility if you are white, male and heterosexual.

I liked Cloud Atlas, the overall film was a fun ride. The Wachowkis were aiming for a flowing dream-like feel to the film and they achieve it. But anyone who’s ever picked up a book on Carl Jung knows that dreams are about symbolism, sometimes in its crudest form.

One of the key characters in Cloud Atlas is a young, nubile genetic clone named Sonmi-451. She is a genetically fabricated human living in a dystopian Seoul, Korea in 2144 AD. Sonmi lives only to serve futuristic junk food to rude customers in a nightmare version of McDonalds. In the Wachowski’s vision of Cloud Atlas, Sonmi and her fellow clone slaves are dressed in strip club frocks that stop one inch below their asses. And what is up with her name? 451 makes me think of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Was the author subconsciously saying Sonmi was hot? That’s unsettling, but so is the other imagery.

Somni is an Asian clone and she and all her sister clone slaves look nearly identical. Or maybe the film’s creepy message is: all Asian women look alike to white males. Again, the weaving together of racism and sexism by the dominant paradigm is obvious. But it gets weirder.

In the climax of the film, Sonmi is rescued (you didn’t think she’d rescue herself did you?) by an Asian male character played by a white British actor in yellow face. The character, Hae-Joo Chang educates na├»ve-bordering-on-stupid Sonmi about her oppression, how wrong it is to enslave people and so ultimately Sonmi will hop into bed with him. Around this time, Hae-Joo Chang also fills Sonmi in on the uglier side of her oppression. When clones like her reach their expiration date, they’re killed and slaughtered like cows in an abattoir. Their flesh is converted to futuristic food and fed to the next crop of clones, a blunt reference to Soylent Green. In other words, not only do all Asian women look alike in the film’s viewpoint, they’re recyclable. They are literally all the same. That’s a lot of shitty sexist icing on a giant racist cake.

Sonmi isn’t the only female character who flounders under the white male gaze. Halle Berry’s Meronym in the 2321 AD plot line is forever being rescued by Tom Hanks’ creepy Zachry, a mumbling post-apocalyptic hero who keeps forgetting to kill the bad guys. Berry’s other characters fare about the same. Whether she’s in white face or not, Berry’s usually just window dressing such as a beautiful Jewish wife for a withered, ugly Jim Broadbent.

While Cloud Atlas certainly takes the prize for most ambitious makeup and swashbuckling plot, the female characters still plod through the scenes caught up in the same net of sexism that has plagued film and literary characters for a lot longer than Hollywood has been outraging Asian Americans with white actors in yellow face.

Finally, it’s interesting that the overall theme in the film (and I’m assuming the book) is freedom. No matter how grandiose or well-produced sci-fi dreams like Cloud Atlas are, when they originate from a position that won’t acknowledge its own racism and sexism, they’re shackled. These dreams never truly fly.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Published again

One of my newer short stories was just published in an online literary site. I don't particularly like the site and the "editors" were dicks to me last year when I tried to get them to run another short story. I was expecting a standard "Thanks for submitting this but it's not for us." Instead I got a lame, mean critique from some anonymous "editor" who, among other things, had a hell of a time reading a 5,000-word story. Apparently he has ADD...? So I did this under a nom de plume and a bogus bio. Oh well, they'll survive.

Denizens of Hell

In case you can't tell from the above title, this is not a funny upbeat short story. It's depressing and it's about a character who has experienced the closest thing I can think of to hell.

Incidentally, I have a neighbor who is in her 30s who suffered a massive stroke and is now completely paralyzed. I was thinking of her when I wrote this.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Stalking the Salvation Army

I’ve been looking for full-time work since the end of August and today is the first of January.

Back in spring of 2012, I found work while gimping around in an orthopedic boot that ran from my knee to the toes on my left foot. I started as a volunteer desktop publisher for an environmental non-profit at the suggestion of a state job counselor who said I had to "get something" on my resume that was more recent than 2008 -- the last time I worked full time. I volunteered part time while firing off resumes and icing and elevating my foot three times a day.

I got a direct-hire temp position in Kirkland working for a mobile phone app company. This was amazing as I knew zero about smart phones but the boss was a sweetie and he brought me on because of my tech writing and Photoshop skills. I learned so much about smart phones (Android, iPhone, Blackberries, etc.) that I don't think I’ll ever own one.

Literally, as the smart phone job was ending, I got a call from UW asking me if I was interested in another direct-hire temp position. I interviewed, snagged it and worked for a month at a living wage editing HeadStart manuals.

In early September I wasn’t too worried. I’d landed two contract jobs one after another and felt confident that a third was just waiting to be unearthed on or old, reliable Craigslist.

I worked part-time for university parking enforcement in September and early October. It involved a ton of stress working in the worst possible traffic and at 65 bucks a day, didn't even cover my rent. I took it out of desperation and because I thought it would earn me kudos with a particular HR manager and hopefully a real job. It didn't.

While I was at the  job, a guy who was a former lab tech with UW Medical Center told me a Great Recession horror story. He’d been laid off when the department he worked in had budget cuts in January 2010. He had worked for UW for 10 years. He went on Unemployment. His condo was in good order, no scary mortgages hanging over his head. He drew Unemployment and worked for the UW temp agency several months out of the year. He started to get worried when he interviewed for another lab tech job in another department at the university. He did three interviews. Three. On the third one the interviewer told him it was down to him and one other lab tech and she not only had experience in the special computer software they would be using to log blood samples, she had helped write the program. “Guess who got the job?” he said as we stood in the break room on a sunny September afternoon. He, like me, was in his forties. The woman he was up against for the lab tech job was maybe 29 or 30 and, he said, she was pretty. He’d seen her in the hall near the interviewer’s office. “Most of the jobs on the UW Hires site?” he added, “They average 200 qualified applicants for every position posted.” He had a former boyfriend who worked for UW Human Resources. He's on Tier II Unemployment now and I don't know if he's found permanent work.

In October, I pawned my Marin bike. I’d bought it used in 2006 and then paid Recycled Cycles $150 to custom build me a Mavic rear wheel because the original was shot. I’d put on a used rear rack and attached my panniers. I had a way to get around Seattle that wasn’t bus dependent and faster than walking. I sold the bike to a creepy sports pawn place for $100. It was worth about three times that. I did this so I could pay my electric bill and buy 20 bucks worth of groceries.

The same day, I walked from the bottom of U District all the way through Fremont and Ballard along the Burke-Gilman trail. I looked for HELP WANTED signs and jotted down names of likely print shops or design firms that might hire me as a typesetter or similar. I noted about six, hunted down their websites and fired off query emails and attached resumes. I never heard a word.

The following weeks, I went back to one UPS Store in Fremont twice with a copy of the company’s online application filled out (all five pages of it) and my resume. I went back to the UPS Store in Ballard that had a HELP WANTED sign three times. I hit up the Trader Joe’s next to the UPS Store three times as well. Finally, in November, that Trader Joe’s sent me a little card thanking me for applying for work but 'no thanks'. It was kind of like a cease and desist order.

I had about 20 or 25 outstanding submissions for various administrative assistant, desktop publisher and receptionist positions on UW Hires websites. I stopped visiting the website in November because I got tired of reading the words: CONSIDERED, REJECTED next to the title of the position I’d tried for.

In October I went to the new Target downtown and sat through their moronic application at a computer kiosk in the store. I don’t know how many times you can ask an applicant ‘have you ever stolen a paper clip?’ but that’s what their application consisted of. They rejected my application via email about three days later, no doubt this had something to do with their credit check (I'm $90,000 in the hole according to various student loan collection agencies).

I have been dropped by a prominent staffing vendor and picked back up and submitted for technical writing positions with Microsoft, Honeywell and Nintendo twice in 2012. This HR firm has dibs on about 75-percent of all the new job listings flown by Microsoft. Anyone who attempts to apply to Microsoft directly is a fool. Their HR site receives something like 1,000-2,000 resumes for job listings per day. At least that's what the HR site project manager told me when I interviewed with her for a content editor position in late 2008 right before the Recession and my back injury kicked in. For companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing the only way in is through a "vendor" (aka temp/headhunter agency). In corporatized America, nobody is hired directly. Why should companies risk liability when they can foist workman's comp, potential insurance and any labor issues off on generic temp agencies happy to screen thousands of IT applicants via their minimum-wage "job counselors" most of whom don't know the first thing about the positions they interview candidates for

Around Halloween, I applied for a minimum-wage store clerk position with Office Depot downtown. I prefer working downtown because I can walk there
. At the end of the interview, the nice store manager said: “Thanks for coming in. Boy, I hope I can get through all of these by Thursday.” I looked at him and he said, “You’re the first of 25 applicants I have to interview by Thursday.” This was for a minimum-wage job. The store had no HELP WANTED sign in the window and there were no job postings for that store on their corporate website. The manager told me he’d gotten over 50 walk-in applicants in October alone.

A few weeks later a temp agency in Renton, that had screwed up a job submission
for me with Boeing (they sent another applicant's resume), contacted me and asked if I wanted to interview for a job with Xerox. The interview was held at Xerox’s sales office near Southcenter Mall. It was a 35-minute bus ride followed by a stroll along an express way with no sidewalk at 7 am. The interview went well. The lady liked me. I asked her how many vendors had flown resumes at her. She said, “about a hundred”. Out of that sea of applicants, she’s chosen “about two dozen” to interview. I was the first one of those two dozen she interviewed. This was for a $12/hour job working in a copy store in downtown Seattle for 18 months. The job contract would lock me in at 12 an hour, zero benefits, zero paid holidays, etc. I was told by the temp agency, if I made a peep about the wage or non-existent benefits they would simply replace me and send Xerox somebody else. 

Infographic courtesy The Atlantic, Feb. 2012

I didn't just try for downtown sales, low-end jobs. I've been trying for the more-appropriate-to-my-skills positions as well. I applied for an administrative position with Hugo House in late June while working for the mobile phone app company (I also did two in-person interviews for tech writer positions while still at the mobile app gig because I knew it was going to end). This would have been a non-profit, artsy job manning a front desk, answering phones and making copies. I got an email from Hugo House concerning this position in August. After ‘months of review’ the email said, the director had picked an applicant. They received over 250 resumes for the position. The person they chose was under 35 and an MFA candidate. What a surprise.

Here’s some of the places I’ve been online and in person:

  • Woodland Park Zoo (cashiers)
  • Fred Meyer (shot down due to bad credit, thanks Sallie Mae)
  • Safeway (anything)
  • Starbucks (barista)
  • Tenzing Momo herbal shop (sale clerk)
  • Microsoft via six different vendors (technical writer, content provider, SDK documentation)
  • Shakti Vinyasa Yoga in Ballard (P/T front desk)
  • City of Seattle (Police file clerk or fingerprint tech)
  • Nordstrom’s corporate (over 29 desktop publishing, tech positions and counting)
  • Macy’s (Xmas freight thrower, interviewed and told staff "full up")
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond (sales clerk)
  • Enterprise Solutions (vendor for Microsoft tech writer)
  • Amazon (technical writer, interviewed with them FOUR times, have been submitted about 20 times for multiple content, editor and writer positions)
  • Starbucks corporate (digital marketing)
  • Getty Images (via Eastside vendor for image editor/cataloger)
  • F5 (via my old vendor for tech writer)
  • Avue Digital/USJobs (Forest Service positions – I’m too old)
  • Catholic Charity Services (front desk, homeless shelter, all 12 openings)
  • Navy civilian positions (they can't hire anyone with defaulted student loans)
  • Bar in Ballard (no recent experience, though I've bartended in the past)
  • Cafe Laddro (no recent barista experience, though I did it in 2002) 
  • Seattle Goodwill (over 10 different positions) 

These are just the ones I can actually remember. The other 200  since September are a blur. Usually they were law offices looking for clerks or architectural/engineering firms looking for Adobe Creative Suite savvy people or chiropractor’s offices looking for secretaries.

One that sticks out from early December was the Salvation Army. I started by filling out an app with their Rehab clinic down in SoDo. Then I bussed all the way to their admin offices in Shoreline. Twice. To apply for a bell ringer position. Yes, they actually pay seasonal temps 9 an hour to stand outside and ring the bell. I phone stalked the bell ringer coordinator, called her every day for a week trying to get on. I then filled out a third application and applied with another Salvation Army admin office in lower Queen Anne. The HR person was nice, appeared sympathetic. She asked me if I’d talked to their Emergency Rental Assistance administrator. I told her what I really needed was a JOB so I wouldn’t have to apply for emergency services. When I mentioned I'd tried to get on as a courtesy clerk at Metropolitan Market, she told me her husband was a deli clerk there and that their 'hiring process is really slow'. This was supposed to make me feel better?

Interesting factoid: non-profits are just like regular businesses. They are just as overwhelmed with applicants for the few to positions they have open.

So here I am, rolling into January. It’s that awkward time of year between Xmas and NYE when nobody answers their phone, several local food banks are closed and half the temp agencies aka vendors are on vacation.

I still just want the same thing I wanted for Xmas. It’s the same thing I wanted for Halloween. I’m pushing 50, I have DJD in both knees from all the damage I did to them running up hills and jogging hundreds of miles on asphalt as a wildland firefighter. I’m tired of kneeling.

Happy Kwanzaa.