Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fail

Lenten Special

So I decided to give up video games for lent.  Yeah.  Unlike previous years though, actually tried this time.  Success was limited, though not bad for myself, I suppose.  I made it about five days in before I realized that my sanity toolbox only has a handful of tools in it: booze (makes me fatter, so that's out), food (ditto), exercise (I gave that up for lent too ;-), and video games.  Without video games I knew that I was doomed to do the other three (well, two) more often.  I had high hopes on cranking on my Chinese language training and other betterment options, but I'm really running at that about as quick as I can already with my tired brain.

Chinese

Some hay has been written about the use of "measure words" in Chinese, but they actually make sense on some level since no one in English says "two papers", it's "two pieces of paper".  In this case, "pieces" is the measure word used for paper in English.  The only difference is that measure words are used all the time in Chinese rather than half the time in English.  My favorite thus far being "two cars" or Liǎng liàng chē (or 'two vehicles of cars') since the double 'liang' is so hard to nail.

I'm almost through the first book in this fairly decent set.  It's pretty complete, though it helps to have a Chinese person to ask to round some of it out.  For instance the Chinese have multiple words for restaurant (as we do in English) though the language training set only comes with one of them.  I slowed when I got close to the end of the first book since the beginning of the second book goes over family relation words.  I'd really only concentrated on learning the words for younger brother and younger sister to this point (one advantage among the few of the being the oldest sibling), but the book has a rash of separate words for relations such as "father's brother's daughter, older than you".

I asked Sally about those words since I thought that they'd be a waste of time to learn.  She responded that trying to do that was a bit quixotic and then illustrated it perfectly by not even getting the prefix for mothers/fathers side correct.  She also said that she had a faux pas at the wedding when she used the wrong word for one of her relations.  I guess she didn't have much of an excuse as she said that they make apps, for Chinese people, so that they can put in the relation and get the word.  I mean, really?  I know Americans are stuck on English measures instead of Metric, but I'd think that we'd give it up if we couldn't ever remember how long a mile was.

Job Lottery

I'd gotten a lead on a higher end IT management position at a private college in the Cincinnati area and it was inspiration enough to send in a killer resume and cover letter to see if I could get an interview.  It was a slight wait, but I got a response from them that they'd like to do a phone interview and to let them know what times were good and...what salary I was looking for.  Unfortunately for them I had an inside track and knew:
  • They had issues hiring technical staff to fill vacant positions, to the point that they gave up and went with contractors.
  • This position was actually replacing a position that was eliminated late last year.  They found the existing position too costly so they fired that guy, downgraded the position, and now they were looking to fill it.  That doesn't exactly exude a ton of confidence in the position, no matter who fills it.
  • Colleges this size have had a habit lately of vanishing very suddenly.
  • Managing a college IT department is like being in a Sultan in the late Ottoman Empire: all title/no power.  I already knew of at least one failed project and knew that with their previous issues they probably had more in the pipe.
  • It's a college.  This means that even if everything goes well I might get fired for saying a word that is offensive to the Eskimos of Papua New Guinea or some such crap (or, alas, running a rarely updated, intentionally offensive blog site).
So for each of those bullet points I added a couple thousand dollars and came up with what I called "a job lottery amount" since, if they didn't scoff at it, it would be the next best thing to winning the lottery.

Unsurprisingly they called me and said that the amount that I put down was a bit high (though to be honest, not crazy high for the type of position) and I got the impression that expected that I would want to round down due to the nature of the institution.  The woman on the other end of the phone sounded like someone who really wanted to drive off the lot in the BMW, but alas, only had Chevrolet money.   This basically reaffirmed my decision though since they seem to be circling the same drain as many failed institutions:
  • They desperately need top talent,
  • Since they don't have the money, top talent demands even more as a form of pre-paid severance.
  • They get bottom/no talent making the situation more acute
  • Repeat.
It's along the same lines as "extend and pretend" used by marginal businesses where their payables go out 60 days, then 90, then 120, then, well then no one will sell them anything without cash on the barrel and the place ends up folding.

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