Thursday, February 24, 2011

Job interview

I hate job interviews. It's not that I'm especially nervous, although I do get a little nervous. It's not that I mind sitting there being bombarded with questions. I just feel so judged. I'm talking and they are taking notes and missing half of what I say. Then I keep talking and they stop taking notes. Does that mean I'm no longer saying anything of value? And then I walk out of the interview and I think of all the things I could have said differently. And then I have the opportunity to stress over my responses and the responses that I could have given until I hear back from the prospective employer. So I'm waiting.

What really makes the waiting hard is that this is the position that I'm most excited about since I've been applying for jobs. It's in transportation instead of health. I like that idea. I like the Medford area. There is A LOT to do here. with big rivers, big mountains and all the outdoor recreation I could ever hope for. It's a bit further from family that I hoped for, but it is within a day's drive.

Here's the problem. They were interviewing 13 people for this position. That's a lot. Not that I feel that I can't compete, I really feel that I have the qualifications for the position and I feel that my interview went relatively well. So the problem isn't that I feel like there is too much competition, the problem is that the job is too desirable. There are at least 13 other people who would love to be doing this job.

I am scheduled for a job interview in Warm Springs on March 7th. Warm Springs is in Central Oregon and in the middle of nowhere. It's flat and desolate and there isn't much going on in that city. Warm Springs is 77% Native American according to It's really unfortunate that we chased all the natives out of this land and then went back and gave them the most hideous places in the country to call their own. That is a topic for another day. The closest city to the Warm Springs reservation is Madras. Madras is 50% white. I've never lived in a city where I was the minority (except that I'm always the minority on my bike... and the minority in other ways, but never a racial minority). On one hand, that makes me a little apprehensive, but I would also be excited to be able to experience being a minority and the culture of those around me. So, I'm not especially excited about Warm Springs as a location. It's different. I am, however excited about the job. It's working to promote healthy eating to a population in need.

Here it is, I'm finally going to get to the point that I was going to make. I was reading a book and the author (Shane Claiborne) recounted a story of a classmate of his that was chosen for a job out of 100+ people. She was excited and told one of her professors about the job that she got. The professor was disappointed and said that he really thought she would be the person who took the job that nobody else wanted. Sure it takes a lot of skills and experience to compete in the job market, but it takes a special kind of person to take those jobs that nobody really wants. I want to be that kind of person, but I often fear that I am not.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taking off

We took off. After being parked in my Sister-in-law's front yard for many weeks, we hooked up the camper and left yesterday. It's a crazy feeling. I keep asking my wife, "Did we remember the ____?" (and she asks me the same sort of questions). I packed three things into the van before we left: Two bikes and a big stroller (and my kids, they came too). I've never packed so little when leaving for several days. But I guess since I'm towing my house around with me, it's all there. We didn't forget anything. If we own it, it's with us. (we did leave a few things with my sister-in-law, but they were things that we were living without anyway).

I said that we were leaving for several days, that may be true or not. We left on Tuesday and I have a job interview on Thursday in Medford (Southern Oregon). It's a little further from the Seattle area than we were originally looking, but I'm more excited about this position than I have been about most. So the job interview is tomorrow and they will also be interviewing candidates on Friday and Monday. The successful candidate will be required to attend a training on Friday March 4th.

I guess that means that I brought my family on a week long vacation to Southern Oregon. But if I get the job, that means that I moved to Southern Oregon. Oh, and This morning I received another phone call offering me an interview on Monday the 7th. If I don't get the job in Southern Oregon, we will head directly to the interview in Central Oregon. And if I get that job, maybe I left Washington to move to Central Oregon... in a very round-about way.

I feel very free. We can go anywhere. Sure, we don't have an unlimited money supply, but we haven't started filing our bankruptcy papers either. Everywhere we go, our home follows us and we can stop and be home. In some ways, my wife and I are looking forward to a place of permanence (and a little more space), but for now, we're having a good time vacationing... or moving.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spencer's book

Spencer came to me and said he wanted to write a series of books. So he dictated and I typed. This is his story verbatim. I may have added punctuation since I think the story was one sentence. Other than that, this is Spencer's Story.

The Mystery of Dragon Cove by Spencer

One day, a man walked along a road. He found a friendly dragon. He decided to train it and make it his pet. And then one day he went out to feed it and he had ran out of food, so he went to the store to buy more. And the bag was bigger than the other bag so he had more food. Twice as big. And then he went to get the fish because it’s favorite food is fish and he fed it a ton of fish every day. And every year he gave him a ton of fish. And then he gave him shrimp for ten years and then he bought fish enough for ten years and then shrimp again. And then they went to the market and bought dragon treats for good dragons. And then they had a baby dragon and it was really strong. And then it dived out of its egg and flapped its wings, but it couldn’t fly yet, so it was too young. And then the older dragon gave them a ride and then another person followed them. And then another person and then another person until the entire country did it. And the entire country is doing it right now in Cherry Island. The End.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 1

I felt like I made some renewed effort today and it really worked out quite well. I started the day with a short run. I like running. Not because I like running, but because it gives me an opportunity to think. And I like thinking while I'm running because it makes me slow down and that makes me less sore.

On my run, I thought about what I needed to do every day. I came up with a short list.

1) Play with my kids... do something with them. I especially like spending some one-on-one time with one of them because I think that is important to recognize them as an individual.

2) Serve someone. I have this free time. Sure, it would be nice to be gainfully employed, but I have time and I would really like to spend at least some of that time serving others. Today I helped my sister-in-law with some organization in the garage. I didn't get very far before I ran into a bathroom sink, cabinet and vanity that she wants installed. I think I have found my service for tomorrow as well.

3) Look for a job. My wife and I have a system for our job search. My wife does the searching, I do the applications. My wife cruises through the list of resources for finding jobs that I qualify for and that seem interesting and I fill out tedious applications and send in resumes and letters and jump through whatever hoops that particular organization wants me to jump through. I have the formal 'job search' under control, but I sometimes think of other dream jobs. I love thinking about sustainable housing and how to do that. I enjoy designing houses in my head with thoughts of reusing water, efficient heating and reusing materials to make the building. So today I decided to make one cold call each day to volunteer or ask for a job. Today I wrote to a guy who does green home design and home remodeling. I found a local company that was small and I wrote an email to the only email address provided on the website explaining that I didn't have any experience, but I was interested in a job. Or helping. Or something. The guy has actually already responded and we're working on a time next week to meet. I wonder who I will cold call tomorrow.

I don't know that I'm going to do each of those three things every day, but the idea is to fill my days with stuff rather than nothing. So far, so good. Today went really well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I've blogged a lot lately about the job search and whatnot. I don't know that anyone is really interested in that. Today I'm going to blog a little about what life is like for us.

There are six of us living in a 30 foot camper. Do a little quick math and you get that we each get 5 linear feet of space, 40 square feet. Yes, it's a busy camper. It's certainly not as roomy as our 2000 square foot house, but I'm really enjoying it. Instead of having my family spread out over the house, each doing their own thing. We are doing more things together. It's hard not to because no matter where you sit, you're sitting with others. I can hear kids laughter (or screaming)at any time. We have been playing more games... and while I really don't enjoy playing 'war', I like sitting with my boys as we each turn over 1 card at a time and I listen to commentary.

In a house, it's easy to let messes accumulate and then avoid them. If your house is 240 square feet, you need every big of space available. to live. While a little more storage would be nice, I like having limited space because it forces me to keep things cleaned up because if it isn't cleaned up there is no place to do stuff (like sit or walk).

I also like having time with family. I know that won't last forever, because I really do need to get a job, but for now I like just having time. I also wish I used it better. There is a real temptation to simply let time pass until I get a job and I've been doing too much of that. I see the opportunity to do so much, but the temptation to do nothing is awkwardly attractive.

Some of my favorite things I've done thus far have been volunteering with a local soup kitchen. I spent an evening preparing food for the local homeless people. That was a great experience, but with my uncertain future, and job interview schedule, it's hard to promise them regular times like they want me to. I also enjoy hiking with my kids. Last week, I took my oldest for a hike in the woods not far from here and we came upon a canoe sitting next to a small lake. It was in the middle of nowhere. It was a weekday when people should be at work. So we borrowed the canoe and explored the lake. It was a lot of fun.

So... in this blog, I'm going to make a point of posting what I've been doing lately with my family or to keep myself busy. This is me providing myself accountability to assure that I get out and do stuff rather than letting time pass. And this afternoon I'm going to start running.


The phone call came yesterday. I lost the competition. I didn't get the job at the Bike Alliance. I am OK with that. I have a bunch of other solid applications in that should start interviewing next week or the week after. There were a lot of things that I was skeptical about with the Bike Alliance job so that it just didn't feel right and I really felt that if I did get that job, I would turn it down.

No need to turn it down, I didn't get it.

As I apply for jobs, I find it interesting the level of effort I put into different applications. I put a lot of effort into the Bike Alliance job because it was a very desirable job for me. I have also applied for jobs that seem like something that I might enjoy, but they just aren't worth putting a bunch of time into. So I don't. Yesterday I received a call to tell me I didn't get the Bike Alliance job, I also received emails that said I did not get two other jobs. One was doing asthma prevention with the city of Portland and the other was at a community college that trained nurses teaching anatomy, physiology and nutrition. I didn't put a lot of effort into those applications because I while I was qualified for the jobs and they paid well enough, I wasn't really interested in having the jobs. Teaching in a college setting, is not my thing and I think that job would have been terrible for me. The Asthma job is along the lines of what I'm looking for doing public health type stuff at a city level. It's just that Asthma really isn't my area of expertise.

The jobs that I'm really excited coming up are with the YMCA. I have applied in Marysville (I'm the least excited about that position), Silverdale and Seattle. I enjoyed working for the Y and would like to return to that. I am very well qualified for those positions, but my fear is that they will be taken by someone internal. We'll see.

I'm also excited about jobs with Kaiser and BNSF. I don't know that they are dream jobs, but there is a lot going for them. Both of those jobs paid really well. I just don't know that I want to be in the for-profit sector. That's not really my thing... I don't think.

Oh and I applied for a job with an extension office teaching nutrition and gardening in rural Oregon. I'm REALLY excited about that job. It doesn't pay much, but I have a hunch that it doesn't cost much to live there either. I'm really excited about the job itself and the location.

So many options... It's exciting to think about the future. Until then... I need to work on taxes.