In the movies…

As a kid, I loved old movies… Westerns, war movies, dramas… I ate them up. That probably had something to do with spending almost every Sunday afternoon at my grandparent’s house, where the Sunday afternoon nap and movie were a staple of the week. That’s how I remember it at least. Some of my favorite movies were the 50s vintage comedies set during World War II. In fact they’re still some of my favorites – guaranteed to stop my channel surfing in its tracks every time.

Mr. Roberts is the story of a blowhard skipper commanding an unimportant supply ship at the far end of the Pacific war. Actually, it’s the story of the malcontent first officer and long-suffering crew of this unimportant supply ship at the far end of the Pacific war and the hijinks that ensue when they conspire to make life aboard ship a little less onerous despite the captain’s best efforts to make them all miserable. The main subplot revolves around Mr. Roberts ongoing effort to get a transfer and “get into the war” before the fighting is over. In the end, and with the help of crew, Roberts gets his transfer only to be killed by a kamikaze while fixing a cup of coffee. Make of that what you will.

A guy could learn alot about leadership and psychology from Mr. Roberts – from the skipper who values his bucket-planted palm tree above all other things, to the exec who finds in necessary to occasionally bend the rules, to the junior officer who rises to the challenge of telling truth to power, and the dangers of getting what you want most. There’s a message there somewhere in that 55 year old bit of cinematography.

I’ve been thinking alot about Mr. Roberts lately. In fact, some days I’d almost swear I was in the movie. If only the old man had a palm tree…

Conversations with the doctor…

Given that I was all but out of the medicines that keep my stomach from tearing itself apart and my blood pressure from rocketing through the top of my skull, I basically had no choice but to comply with the summons of my newly appointed doctor to make myself available to him before he’d call in my refill. My last doctor had been incredibly accommodating when it came to dispensing the medications and I got the distinct feeling that this one wasn’t going to be so pliable. In fairness, he seems like a nice enough guy and legitimately concerned about his patients. Perhaps a few snippets of dialog can illustrate…

Doc: What brings you in today?
Me: You wouldn’t refill my prescription until I came in.
Doc: Oh yeah. So no complaints?
Me: Besides the obvious? No.
Doc: Good. No problems then.

Doc: We need to make sure your kidneys are working.
Me: I peed this morning…
Doc: That’s a good sign.
Me: I thought so.
Doc: So we’ll just take you back to the lab to draw blood.
Me: Super.

Doc: Do you want your flu shot while you’re here?
Me: No.
Doc: Why not?
Me: I get sick the day after every flu shot I’ve ever gotten.
Doc: Ever had the flu?
Me: Once years ago
Doc: Me too. Was down for two weeks. It’s no fun.
Me: Better make sure you get your shot.
Doc: Yeah.

Look, I know we’ve all got a job to do, but really, all I need you to do is keep me supplied with the drugs that keep me alive. I’m a wimp when it comes to being sick and you can count on the fact that the minute something goes wrong, you’re going to be the second to know because I’m going to want some shot or pill that will get me fixed up. I know this is a new relationship for us, but I’m pretty sure the “see you in three months” thing is a little excessive. I’ll concede to twice a year if absolutely necessary, but once a quarter is out of the question. We’re going to have to come to some sort of understanding.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics…

It feels like I’ve been blogging forever… It especially feels that way when I have to flail around looking for something new to write about. Looking at the data, though, I can see that I’ve been going at it at one place or another since 2005. I guess time files when you’re hostile and willing to share it with the world. In fairness, five years in internet time basically is forever, so I guess I should consider that some kind of milestone.

Some weeks and months have been better than others. My best ever single day = 58 unique views (this was the iPhone 4 release day incidentally). Best month ever (June 2010), 388 unique hits. The statistic that I’m most proud of isn’t a hit count per se. It’s simply the phase most often used in search engines that brings people to the blog: Teamwork Sucks. Given that October is the one year anniversary of that particular post, I take a perverse pride that it still has legs. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and Google “teamwork sucks” and you’ll find that I’m #7. It’s like I’ve really made a difference in the world. We’re going to disregard the fact that Google’s link doesn’t take you to the actual post… It’s the thought (and that fact that it gets you to the blog at all) that counts.

Since Get Off My Lawn seems to be something that is here to stay for the foreseeable future, there are a few changes that I’m hoping to get to in the near future. I want to get a little more focused in my writing… 21 categories and 131 tags is probably something that I can cut down with a little effort. Bringing a little structure and order to the back room of this operation strikes me as being a very good idea.

Closing time…

I think it’s safe to say that I’m serious about being ready to move on to the next job, but in the same breath, I’m probably more concerned about geography than I am by pay at this point. That’s been a bit of an interesting point of self discovery I made over the last year or two. If the desire for more money was the driving factor that brought me to Memphis, it’s the desire for the right geography that has sent me out on the search for the next great thing and, surprisingly for me at least, pay has taken a back seat this time around. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t consider something out beyond MD-VA-DC, but it would call for a pretty exceptional set of circumstances.

The job announcement for the first of two jobs I’m applying for in Cumberland closes in a few hours. In the parlance of the federal job seeker, that basically means that at some point in the next few weeks someone in an HR department is going to put together a “best qualified” list and send it along to whoever is doing the hiring. Then the person doing the hiring will take a week or two to rack and stack the list and make a decision about who gets an interview and who doesn’t. And then someone will take another week to schedule interviews. After the interviews, hopefully, there will be a decision made about which of the applicants to select and then the name of the selectee will be sent back to HR to make a formal offer. At any point up until the offer is made by HR, the entire process can be cancelled for almost any reason. That’s a roundabout way of saying that closing time is really just the beginning and as an applicant, it’s the only time in the process when you know there’s a hard and fast date when something is going to happen. After closing time, it’s all about waiting, and wondering, and playing what if, especially if your resume is deemed “good enough” to make the first cut and be sent to the person doing the hiring.

Waiting for things to happen, as we all know, isn’t my strong point. But it’s what I’m going to do. While I doing my level best to keep my head down. And avoid any unnecessary contact between me those who seem bent on driving me round the bend at every possibly opportunity… But I digress. Or more precisely, I wait – and you wait with me. Part of me wonders if I should be blogging this at all. Will you still respect me in the morning if I can’t figure out a way to make this happen? In a blog that focuses largely on what has annoyed me on any given day, this whole discussion feels a little extra personal, I guess. The only promise I’ve ever made here is to always write about whatever happens to be in my head… and as you can see, this is occupying alot of time on the old brainpan these days.

As much as I want to be hopeful that this will come together, I’m trying to mentally prepare and protect myself from how much I’ll hate it if this gets jacked up at the last minute… or if it doesn’t even make it to the last minute. As much as I’m trying not to let myself go down the road of “what if” it’s proving to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. Even after ten years on the road and half a dozen cities, I guess it’s easy to see yourself home when the opportunity is tantalizingly close.

And the plot thickens…

If pondering a voluntary reduction in grade in order to make an escape plan work might be described as an academic exercise, finding a position that would allow you to laterally transfer to the desired geographic location without loss of grade or pay could be described as mana from heaven. Of course the gulf between finding and actually being hired for said job is something akin to believing there’s a Loch Ness Monster and actually catching it with a fly rod. Sure, it’s theoretically possible, but pretty damned unlikely.

I know I’m beyond qualified, but I also know that doesn’t necessarily mean much in the selection process. And as much as I like to think I should be able to walk into this as a gimmie, I feel like I’m in the fight of my life… for a job I didn’t even know I wanted until I saw it announced. The kicker now is to try not getting too invested in the process; to treat it like any other resume I’ve got floating around out there. It’s easy to walk away from most notices that “you were not referred because you were not among the most qualified applicants.” Like it or not, I’m invested in this one and missing out on it would be a heartbreaker.

So now we wait…