Category Archives: About Me

Find Your Next Job Online: Even In A Recession

(Originally posted on Apr 20, 2009 as /archives/2531)

I had this experience back during the dot-bomb bust. Obviously I need to paraphrase here, because this conversation happened long ago.

By Tulane Public Relations (Career Day Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Recruiter:

“How are you doing your online job search?”

I then describe how I search for positions via friends, Monster, etc.

Recruiter:

“That will never work. Those ‘known’ positions potentially have hundreds of applicants. It doesn’t matter how good you are. There are just too many other applicants.

Here is how I find potential applicants. One of my clients contacts me directly to fill a position. These are typically not positions that are widely advertised. My client wants to interview a small number of highly qualified people. I go to one of these Web sites (she then shows me Monster).

Then I search on the keywords that are in the job description, the potential applicant’s location, etc. Then I contact the folks on the first page. I am almost always able to fill the position for someone near the top of my search results.

So, the most effective way for you to find a position is to be on that first page. You don’t look for positions, because too many other people are applying for those very same positions. You simply position yourself so that I can find you.

See this? The results near the top were edited recently. Make a resume. Put it on here.

Put all the technologies that you know on it, and update it every single day, even if you simply add a space somewhere. Editing it every day puts it near the top of the search results. This advice will help other recruiters find you. In the meantime I will see if any of my clients need you now.”

Needless to say, this turned everything upside down. My job wasn’t to look for a job. My job was to market myself.


The advice above eventually generated many leads over the next ten years: long after I stopped updating my resume online. So this plan did work.

That said, you never know where your next offer will come from. I met a Walmart recruiter at a Diversity Job Fair during the dot-bomb implosion.

The Dallas Metro area lost over 78,000 IT and Telecom jobs during the 12 month period prior. Many of those folks were at this job fair.

There were two extremely out-the-door lines to the only two tech companies present, and a lot of empty booths for non-tech companies.

One of the tech companies was interested in applicants with flight simulator engineering experience. The other said, “Go to our Web site. We are not taking resumes.” O… K… I was near the start of the line, so I let others know what I learned, and I heard a lot of, “Thanks, now I don’t have to waste anymore time here” in response.

So, I introduced myself to a Walmart recruiter at her empty booth, because why not? She took one look at me and said, “I am not recruiting computer programmers. I am recruiting night stockers in Dallas for the holiday season.” I reply with, “That’s OK I was a Night Stocker at Ames Department Stores. I like retail, and I like stocking shelves. Also, I would like to move to Bentonville Arkansas to be a computer programmer.” She took my resume, told me that she would bring it home, and give it to a tech recruiter. That led to the highest paid position that I have held.

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Wild Animals and Rough Living in the North Country

(Originally published on 2016-03-29 as /archives/7136)

1800s_House_2-512x364
The camera is level, but the house is falling into its cellar.

The Old Homestead

I used to live in the-middle-of-nowhere: no electricity, no running water, no phone, no mobile service, no sewer, etc. The house was built in the 1800s. We lived on the front porch, used unleaded-fuel in our Coleman lanterns, flushed the toilet by poring buckets-of-rainwater into the bowl, and showered on the back porch over a rattlesnake’s home. I showered fast.

I actually attempted to order phone service from the phone company. They told me that they would provide it, if I would pay them to install all of the telephone poles, from the closest street with phone service, to our house. Riiiight.

Some animals lived in the walls of the main house, we stayed on the porch, The critters in the walls of the main house were mostly mice, birds, and raccoons: although a black bear did hibernate in the basement the previous winter: Grizzly Trucking Adams.

Someone shot a raccoon near the house. It managed to climb into a second-story window, and drag its sorry-self all the way down to the first floor hallway with its intestines trailing behind. Where it died.

Our friends from college would spend the weekends out there at the house, and there was so-little light pollution, that we would lie on the cars and see man-made satellites with the naked eye.

What can I tell you about roughing it? Peanut butter does not need to be refrigerated.

Fun With Fuel

I would put our trash into a 55 gallon drum, and burn it to make it smaller (yeah, yeah, global warming). There was no trash collection service available. One time I was getting aggressive with the trash tamping, and there were some fuel-filled rags down low, and I was tamping some other trash on top and BOOOOOM! The damned-thing shot raining-fire all over the place! Like the Trash Cannon From Hell. Trash falling here: sidestep. Trash falling there: sidestep.

I had one coworker once, that misjudged the fuse-length on a home-made explosive that he and his buddy were shooting out of their cannon. They wanted it to explode in the sky. It blew a hole in the Post Office. The FBI came to visit, and it was a bad-scene all around.

…and the cow jumped over the fence

Heifer: a female bovine too-young to give birth.
Bullock: a male circumcised bovine, AKA, a steer.

We had heifers living on the land. Around half of the dairy farmers that visited said, “If one cow learns to jump the fence, then all the others will follow her,” and the others said, “Cows don’t jump fences.” I imagined the latter folks wasting a lot of time looking for holes in fences. The heifers at our house would jump, oh yes, and in the morning I would look out at the just-jumped bovines, and say, “Them’s some real heifers.” The heifer owning people? Their last name was – Remember the definitions up above? – Bullock.

Petting zoos

One night: SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” I say to L.: “You open the door, and wait behind it. I’ll hit that thing over the head with this log splitter.” SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” She opens the door, and there waits a pet racoon. It just kinda stands there for a minute, and then gets cosy in our bed. Great. OK. The racoon can stay for a little while: the alternative is door slamming, and racoon screaming. This did not last long. Raccoons like to rock-and-roll all night, and sleep every day, and you know what? I had a job to go-to.

There was only one solution; wrap “Rascal” in a blanket, and drive him far enough, that he can’t find his way back. I drove home imaging the little guy going to the very first door that he could find. SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” BOOOM (shotgun blast)!: he then manages to climb into someone’s window, and drag his sorry-self all the way down to the first floor hallway with its intestines trailing behind him.

There goes the neighborhood

Let’s take a step back in this story. Our house had no neighbors since the beginning of time. What happens as soon as we move in? An 18-wheeler mother-trucking-flatbed pulls up with a huntin’ cabin on back, and drops said huntin’ cabin directly across the street, fucking-up my pristine view of our 100% Maple Syrup producing Maple trees. Why? Mr. Bullock got a two-for-one deal on used huntin’ cabins, and really only needed the one.

A few weeks later a family of three moves in. My new neighbor wants to provide for his family: in a place with zero jobs. So, he made a deal with Mr. Bullock: “I fix your fences. You let me live in your extra huntin’ cabin.”

Our neighbors also lacked the comforts-of-home. They did however have a Honda generator hooked-up to a TV.

So, the new neighbor tells me how racoon mommas yell bloody murder, but they won’t actually attack. He tells me how this momma racoon chose the huntin’ cabin for birthing her babies. So he removed each of the baby racoons one at a time, and then he removed the momma racoon, but he kept one baby there. This baby grew up to be Rascal. I believe that Rascal had a doggy-door that he, and the dog, could use to go in-and-out. He also had a buddy to play with: the dog.

We went camping for our summer vacation. The woman from across the street came to visit:
“Where did you go last week?”
“Camping.”
“Us too.”
“Our cabin had running water and electricity!”
“Us too.”

Momma neighbor gets sick of pretending that “our life is fun just like camping”, and says, “I am going to move in with my parents. You can stay, or you can come”, and that’s how Rascal ended up with no home.

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Campy-est Credit Card Ever!

(Originally posted on 2008-11-19 as /archives/1513)

xprize

Yes, this was my credit card. Most of the available designs were very conservative, but then there was this one. I chose this design because I wanted to see the look on cashiers’ faces when I produced it. It mostly elicited no response at all. I mean LOOK AT THAT THING! The designer’s Mom, and myself, had to be the only two people that chose it. Using that card is like legally changing your middle name to “Danger”. Nobody would do it. Oh. Yeah. Right.

The credit card was meant to help fund the first X Prize project (Ansari).

The card came with a super-low interest rate, a free coffee table pictures-from-space book, and an entry into a sweepstakes every time that you used it.

I won lesser prizes in the sweepstakes many times; you would think that I had that thing rigged. I won a Seiko chronograph watch (3rd prize). I also won multiple ball caps (5th prize), multiple desk sets (5th prize), these Swiss-army-like credit card things that had knives and such in them (ironic, being that it was a credit card sweepstakes)(5th prize): weird stuff. Unfortunately I didn’t win the Big Kahuna Burger prize of $100,000.

The X Prize (I am no longer talking about the sweepstakes prizes here) was eventually won by the SpaceShipOne team. The spacecraft was designed by the famous aircraft engineer Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites company, and funded by Paul Allen (the quieter Microsoft founder).

Here is the sweepstakes information for those that wanted to enter via the send-in-a-postcard route. I found this information here:

First USA X Prize Sweepstakes
prizes: Grand (1): A flight for one person to sub-orbital space, includes air for 2, lodging, meal allowance, ARV $100,000, if available at time of winner selection,or $100,000 cash alternative. Quarterly (1): A MIG 25 flight for one person, or a Zero G experience, or a trip for 2 to the Kennedy Space Center, or a Space Camp Adventure. 2nd (2): A 286X astronomical telescope, a “Starship Earth” 3D star atlas globe, a Konica digital still camera or a Casio hand-held personal computer, ARV $599. 3rd (5): Seiko chronograph watch, night scope binoculars, a Franklin Mint Columbia Shuttle replica in porcelain or a Grundig aluminum finish short wave radio, ARV $223. 4th (25): Apollo official patches, Nikon aviator frame sunglasses, a 200 x 50mm refractor telescope or an international Star Registry, ARV $70. 5th (200): Merchandise or a mug, ARV $19.
TO ENTER: On plain 3×5 paper, hand print NAZ, Phone, and the words: X PRIZE.
* Mail in envelope to:
      X PRIZE
P.O. Box 7290
Melville, NY 11775-7290
NOTE: Must be at least 18. Unlimited entries. Open in US. Entry also online at www.firstusa.com/xprize. F/E ineligible: Visa, First USA, Don Jagoda. J/A: National Judging Institute. W/L: Send SASE beginning after 9/30/98 to X PRIZE SWEEPSTAKES WINNERS, P.O. Box 7999, Melville, NY 11775-7999. The name of the Grand Prize winner will be made available as soon as possible after the drawing but in no event later than 8/30/07.

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Aspergian Prosopagnosian

(Originally posted on 2016-02-21 as /archives/10770)

At least I don't have that Aspergian glassy stare. Oh. No. There it is.
At least I don’t have that Aspergian glassy stare. Oh. No. There it is.

Naturally I have some reservations about sharing this information, because people have prejudices, and prejudices can keep you from getting jobs. Also: most social interaction makes me uncomfortable, and putting something like this on the Internet? That’s a big deal. That said, John Elder Robison did it, Temple Grandin did it, and Dan Aykroyd did it too. It’s not like my introvert-ed-ness is some kind of dark secret, but where does it come from?

I recently learned that I was born faceblind (congenital prosopagnosia). I also learned that I have Asperger Syndrome. These two facts explain a childhood of wondering why “complete strangers” insisted on talking to me.

I made a long list while reading John Elder Robison’s (JER) Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s. This was a list of “things that JER says are Aspergian, but are true of most introverts, computer programmers, engineers, and cats.”

A few years later I took one of those screening tests, and scored way into the you-are-autistic range. I was surprised, because I answered all of the list-making questions with the equivalent of I’m-not-Rain-Man, but as I later realized I actually do keep lots of lists.  From time-to-time, I wonder, “Who will maintain my lists when I die?” (The answer should be: who cares.)

The irony of keeping a list of all my attributes, that in my opinion at the time, were not actually related to autism, is not lost on me now.

This Asperger’s thing also explains why, in the past, female friends have asked me “why don’t you like me”, or told me, “you are not like other guys.” They could never tell me how I was not like other guys. Well, “It’s not you; it’s me,” is not a cliche in my case. I really am different from other guys, and no, there’s nothing wrong with you at all.

How about those Mets?

None of this stopped me from being successful, JER designed the first fire-spitting guitars for KISS, and that Dark Tower game, and shot a snake with a pistol… or something: you don’t get more successful than that.

But really the only thing keeping me down is the CFS/ME. It’s like being drunk and having influenza all the time. I have been sleeping 20 hours per day most days for a few weeks, and 16-20 for more than five years.

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DANGER _IS_ MY MIDDLE NAME

(Originally posted on 2009-07-20 as /archives/2464)

IMG_9397

I wanted to have the same last name as my spouse and daughter, I have been called Paul since 1985, and Kay insisted that I have a middle name, so I changed my name from “William Paul Caligiuri” to “Paul Danger Kile”. As a bonus I no longer have to spell my last name over-and-over again. “Danger” is my  legal middle name as-of 2007-02-02.

I am not the only one. “Brian Danger r.” (not his real family name) left the following quote on the last version of this website: “I just legally changed my middle name to danger and was googling around to see if I could find others like me. I’m glad I’m not the only one!”

Here are some “danger is my middle name”, and similar, quotes

Books and Magazines

These are the earliest “Danger is my middle name” book quotes that we could find.

1954

“The Cactus Wildcat, A One-act Rip-roaring Western Comedy for Children”, by James S. Wallerstein (published in 1954) says: “Danger is my middle name.” on page 22.

1970

The Trumpet of the Swan by E B White (published in 1970) says: “Danger is my middle name.” on page 227.

These are the earlies “…is my middle name” book-and-magazine quotes that we could find.

1897

Munsey’s magazine, Volume 18 (published in 1897) says “Deserving is my middle name” on page 64.

1909

The Submarine Boys’ Trial Trip: Making Good as Young Experts, by Victor G. Durham (published in 1909): says: “Porpoise is my middle name…” on page 172.

1925

Pearson’s Magazine, Volume 33 (published in 1925) says “Transportation is my middle name” on page 117, and “Wisdom Is Our Middle Name” on page 253.

Television and Movies

This is the earliest TV quote that I could find.

1968

The Monkees Monstrous Monkee Mash (1968)
Micky: [speaking with a masculine voice] Well, don’t worry, my middle name is ‘Danger’.
Micky: [the Wolfman lets out a growl from behind the door] Aaah! Of course, my last name is ‘Chicken’.

Renaissance Poetry

1500’s

The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser, Book IV, published in the 1500’s says, “His name was Daunger dreaded ouer all”.

References

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My Coursera Accomplishments —and— thoughts about MOOCs

(Originally posted on 2016-06-09, 2016-06-19, and 2016-07-28.)

I recently participated in online non-credit courses (MOOCs), and I did well. This gave me a real sense of accomplishment. That’s something that I miss from my software development days.

I have a college degree, but my disability makes homework a real challenge. This format allows me to study, and attend lectures, when I am at my best, which is rare.

That flexibility makes online lectures better than live college lectures. Although, yes, you would also want access to your instructors.

The first course was Survey of Music Technology.

Dr. Jason A. Freeman taught the class. He is from the Georgia Institute of Technology. I completed it on June 1, 2016.

This was like a recording studio engineering course that I took at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam (back in 1990?). Back then we did the recording on tape, and when we needed to splice it? We used razor blades, and we walked uphill, both ways, and we liked it!

Here is a video that shows what we did in the Crane class. We also spent a lot of time doing wacky things with analog synthesizers. I was always able to figure out what the sound would be just by seeing how the modules were hooked up.

The course had one quiz each week, and two projects. The first project involved using the Reaper DAW as a virtual recording studio. For the second project we did something similar, but we used the EarSketch instead.

EarSketch allows us to write software in place of the DAW. It’s a Python API and runtime environment.

I earned 100% on all tests and assignments.

survey

The second course was The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form.

Dariusz Terefenko taught the class. He is from the Eastman School of Music, the University of Rochester. I completed it on June 8, 2016.

This was like a Jazz Improvisation course that I took at at SUNY Plattsburgh back in 1988. 

Dr. Terefenko’s version was much deeper with regards to composing and improvising on the piano. I suspect that he has covered everything. If you are a piano player, and you love the blues, then you need this course.

It’s pretty amazing how much information was in the lectures. This would have been difficult to do in a live classroom setting. The logistics of getting everyone into the class, out of the class, and on the same page, eats up way too much time in a traditional setting.

Blues

The third course was Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)

This is a basic beginner’s programming course taught by Charles Severance from The University of Michigan. I would recommend it to any beginner. You really need to take all five courses in the Python for Everybody specialization, in order to get the full benefit though.

What’s “For Everybody” mean? For some reason, in academics, there’s a stigma attached to anyone using relational databases to create computer programs. Outside of academia? Everybody does this, but inside academia, there’s Computer Scientists, and then there’s “everybody” else.

I believe that this is a bad name for the course. It makes it look as though it’s not as serious, and the name itself undermines the accomplishment made.

I earned 100% on all tests and assignments.

python-for-everyone

Lastly there’s Python Data Structures.

This was about how to use the data structures built-in to Python’s standard API.

It was very different from my previous data structures courses which involved using pointers, and other techniques, to build our own data structures.

I earned 100% on all tests and assignments.

Python Data Structures

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My KISS Story

(Originally posted on 2016-06-08)

By Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz (KISS) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I went to see KISS at the Glens Falls Civic Center in the 1980s. My seat was on the floor (where the hockey ice would be) way in the back, the seats in front of me were roped-off and watched by security. This kid walks up to the security guard and starts messing with him. While he is harassing the guard he looks at me and says, “What are you waiting for? Go!” So I go up to the stage.

When the concert starts I get crushed by bodies, but I know all these KISS songs, because I used to play them on bass; Robert Pulsifer, a guitarist, made sure that I knew them. So Gene is in front of me, and I am doing air-bass identical to what he is doing. All the people around me push back, and give me room (weird), and now I can really pretend to be Gene Simmons right in front of him. He is singing and watching my hands. Between songs they switch places, but before-going he leans over the bouncer pit and flicks his tongue at me.

That’s what KISS fans were like. They will crush you to get closer to the band, unless you need room. Also, they will mess-with-security for a stranger.

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