On Two Wheels, Self-Powered

May 30th, 2007

Today, for the first time this year, I got outside on the bicycle. It has even been about 2 months since I used the trainer… since before the job hunt stuff really ramped up.

I ended up doing 21.5 miles on the south side and jail trails. Overall, I have to say it was good to get back outside and on the bike. The ride, though, took more out of me than it should have, and was clearly letting me know that I’ve been way too lazy.

Since it’s pretty lame that I haven’t been riding, I need to change that. I’ll start with this modest goal. Ride at least three times a week from here on out. This should be a very reasonable starting goal.


May 29th, 2007

Over the last couple of months I haven’t really been getting that much poker time in. The regular Shadyhouse Game has faltered in getting enough people on Fridays lately, and I haven’t been playing in as many sit and go’s online, either. On top of that it’s been a couple months since I’ve sat down at the cash tables. One thing I have been hitting every week, however, is The Wheatie.

Playing in the Wheatie isn’t about making huge sums of money, but it’s a fun group of folks to play with. On general, the quality of play is certainly much better than you’d get in other $10 tourneys, though there are always some who would disagree with that statement. It’s a good group of people to chat with, and, lately, I’ve been having a fair amount of success. I’ve had two double cashes in the last 2 months there, and have been making it pretty far in most weeks.

Last week, things were de-railed and at about 8 PM there was no game posted, so I went and sent in the private tourney request myself. Unfortunately, there is a 1 hour waiting period for private games, so we started about 35 minutes late, and only had a field of 22. I was doing really well, but went out in 6th place or so after I went to war with Top pair, 2nd kicker against the only guy at the table with a larger stack than mine, who had top pair top kicker. It was stupid and unnecessary, but hey, we’re all stupid sometimes, right?

For the 2nd chance we played Razz and had a massive turn out of 8 people. I managed to finish 2nd in that one. What did me in there was an absolutely CRUSHING hand when I was all in with a made seven only to be beat by a slightly better 7. Oof.. that game is a solid kick in the junk sometimes. Anyway, that left me with 4, count em FOUR, chips, so it was all in on the ante next hand and a bust. Razz is fun. I need to play more Razz.

Anyway, tonight is another Wheatie night, so there will be poker today. But really, now that summer is here and the work load is lighter, I should try to get some more time in at the cash tables, as it was a serious revenue stream for me back in January – February. I’m also thinking about giving Full Tilt a try, too. Any one know if there’s an easy way to get funds out of PokerStars and into FT now that Neteller is dead?

Coming up Second Best

May 28th, 2007

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that I’ve been less than prolific in my posting over recently. I had that whole “job search” thing going on, the semester was ending, and it was the beginning of the summer bringing some really nice weather. So, where to start after six weeks of radio silence? How about that stupid job hunt.

As I have mentioned through this medium before, this spring I started a job hunt. I figured that after 3 years of being a Resident Director at Pitt, I was ready to move on. As with my search three years ago, I concentrated on using the Placement portion of the ACPA (which was joint w/ NASPA this year) Convention as the main conduit for my search. I applied to about 18-21 jobs for which various schools were interviewing in Orlando1. This resulted in me taking 12 first round interviews at the conference. I had to turn down a few interview requests from schools to which I applied, as 12 was about as many as I could take at the conference with my other obligations while there. Out of these 12 first round interviews, I ended up visiting 4 campuses.

Contrast this with my search from 3 years ago. I applied to 70-something schools, which yielded only 12 first round interviews (versus this year’s 20 – 12 ratio). Out of those 12 interviews I only received 2 invitations to campus, and ended up with a job at Pitt.

Needless to say, I was feeling really good about my search going in to the campus interviews. My ‘cone’ (the term I apply to my numbers of applications->interviews->campus visits->job offers) was much ‘wider’ then it was last time, and I was feeling really confident.

<tangent> Amarok just popped on the 1998 Rhys Fulber remix of Skinny Puppy’s “Warlock” from the Remix DysTemper album. I had mostly forgotten about that track, and how much I think it rocks. It’s a great take on Warlock. </tangent>

My campus visits were scheduled for the very last week in April and the first week of May. I visited Hofstra University, Chatham College (now University), Carnegie Mellon University, and Duke University. Each of the schools (and positions) had their high and low points, but I felt that I could be happy with any of the four positions. I left each interview feeling pretty good about how the day went, and felt that with 4 campus interviews that I felt were solid behind me, that I’d be sure to have at least one offer coming my way by the end of May.

It’s funny how things don’t always work out the way we want them to.

As of Friday afternoon, I’ve heard back from Duke, CMU, and Chatham, and found out that each of them have gone with other candidates. In 2 of the cases I was told that it came down to a decision between me and one other candidate. I’ve yet to hear from Hofstra, but seeing as how they were my first interview over one month ago, that they haven’t called to check my references, nor returned my calls requesting an update on their search, I’m pretty sure that I’m out of the running for that position, too.

All of this is a really big letdown, as I was really excited to move on from my current position for next year. After 3 years as an RD, I feel there’s very little challenge left in it for me, and it’d be nice to get past the sort of ‘life on hold’ feelings that living on campus inevitably raises for me. The positions each offered some really interesting opportunities to further my career at a time when I feel it’s important to stay challenged in order for me to keep my interest in student affairs as a career.

What now? Well, I have my current job; it hasn’t gone anywhere. Staying on at Pitt for another year has always been the fall back option. However, this week I’m going to take a look through the listings on higheredjobs.com and other similar sites to see what’s out there at this point. If I see some interesting postings, I’ll probably throw my resume in for consideration, but I don’t feel that I have the energy to start a full-on search again. The again, the thought of having to go through the whole process again next year, which would be necessary if I stay at Pitt2, is not appealing either.

There’s been a whole boatload of other things going on for me lately as well, but I’ll get to those some other time.


1I was contacted by about 30 other schools requesting interviews with me, but almost universally these were RD level positions, just like my current job. The few mid-level positions for which I was contacted out of this bunch were from schools in geographic areas I had ruled out.

2Staying here for a 4th year is one thing, but doing a fifth year as an RD is simply NOT an option for me if I want to stay sane.

Burn in Hell, PNC Bank

April 10th, 2007

I’m back from “Orlando”, but more on that later.

I have decided that I must switch banks.  Why?  Because the folks at PNC Bank are unethical bloodsuckers.

This story starts out with me making a error.  I fully acknowledge that my idiocy starts the ball rolling here, but it ends with PNC being a company I no longer want to use for banking.  When paying my bills at the end of the month, I forgot to stick a – sign on one of the payments I made when entering it into my spreadsheet.  This led to me thinking that I had about $300  more in my checking account than I actually did.

After I pay my bills, I generally transfer all but a little bit of spending money out of the checking account and into the savings account.  I mainly did this to keep my money safe, as this way if someone got my debit card or account info or something, there’d just be a small amount of loss to deal with.  I suppose it’s also to get that killer interest in my savings account.. that whole 1% per year PNC ‘generously’ gives me.   But as it turns out transferring the money doesn’t do anything to make it safer.

PNC has this brilliant “overdraft protection” policy.  And by “overdraft protection” policy, I mean “and excuse to be fuckers and steal your money” policy.  When ever something goes over your account balance they thoughtfully transfer money from your savings account into your checking account to cover it, and only take $10 of your money for their trouble.  I suppose this might make sense for checks.  But it makes no sense when it comes to check card purchases and of all things ATM withdrawals.   Rather than decline your purchase with the check card, they just happily let it go through, and charge you $10 bucks.  No warning in any way.  Rather than tell you that there’s no money in your account when using ONE OF THEIR OWN ATMs, the machine just happily whirs away, giving you the requested cash, while taking out $10 bucks on the back end with out letting you know.  It’s their OWN ATM for fuck’s sake…  I can’t imagine going to a teller and trying to withdraw money and NOT have them tell you that you’re overdrawn, but this is some how OK if you’re using an ATM??

So when I logged into my account today, I noticed about 4 or 5 of these fees and got really angry.  I used PNC ATMs 3 times during this period, and not once did they let me know I was overdrawn.  I used my card multiple times, and they just happily approved the transactions without batting an eye.

I called their customer ‘service’ line and tried to reason with them, spoke with a call center manager, and told them I’d happily pay one overdraft fee, as this did start with my error, but that their failure to notify me of this and allow me to continue to withdraw money through their own ATM would cost them my business unless they refunded the other fees.  They flatly refused. The woman even went so far as telling me that I was lying because there’s no way their ATM didn’t tell me about the overdraft.  I asked why I would have kept using it, without taking 4 seconds to make an online transfer from savings, if it had warned me.   So, to them my business is less valuable than the 30 – 40 dollars they stole from me though their outdated and non-optional overdraft “protection” “service”.

Up until now I had always like PNC Bank, too.  What I realize now is that I didn’t like them because of anything they were really doing to keep me happy.  It’s just that they were mostly inoffensive and had a good online banking system with a good user interface.    It’s not that they were particularly great in anyway.  They just didn’t bother me.  Now, though, I’m bothered.

The plan is to take my business elsewhere.  I’m thinking that one of them new-fangled internet banks might be the way to go.  They are still FDIC ensured, many have good ATM arrangements so that you don’t get screwed with lots of fees, and most of them offer at LEAST 3% interest on savings.. and some up to 5%, compared to the 1% I’m getting at PNC, or the .8% I’d get at National City.

So any ideas?  Does anyone have experience with some of these online banks?

"Move in and secure the objective"

March 30th, 2007

"Move in and secure the objective"1

So it’s just about that time. Tomorrow morning I leave for Orlando… well, actually Kissimmee, FL2. At any rate, I attend the ACPA conference every year, and go for the professional development opportunities, as well as the chance to see friends who are scattered far and wide. This year, however, my big focus is the job search.

I have 9 (first round) interviews currently scheduled. I’ll probably pick up a few more while I’m down there, as well as some invitations for second interviews at the conference. As I mentioned, I’m not naming specific schools or positions publicly. I will however tell you some of the regions where these schools are:

Pittsburgh (yes, Pittsburgh schools are interviewing me … in ‘Orlando’.)
Erie, PA
Northern California
Rhode Island
New York City

I anticipate hearing about interviews at a couple of Southern California schools as well.

When I looked back at my posts from the 2004 job hunt, it looks like I only had about 11 or 12 first round interviews that year. Considering I was going for reslife positions having had no previous reslife experience, I feel better about what I have set up for this year. I may be at the bottom end of the experience spectrum that some of these schools are looking for, but I have 3 very solid years here in Pitt, and an awful lot to communicate in an interview.

Also, these 9 interviews came from about 22 applications vs. the 60-70 I put in in 2004. Lets hope that my advancement rate to the next phase of interviews is as improved as it has been for the application process this year.

Here we go…

1This is what I called my 2004 Pre-con post, and I got a good job, so I’m calling this post that as well.

2This is something that really pisses me off about conferences. Kissimmee is actually 20 miles south of Orlando, not in the city at all. When the conference was in ‘Nashville’ it was actually in this compound about 20 miles outside of the actual city. At least last year when we went to Indianopolis the convention center was right in the city. Same as Philly in 2004. What’s the point of having a convention in a major city if it’s not actually in the stupid city. I want to be able to walk to things. I want options for food. I want stuff. Not some isolated conference compound. Idiots.

Sometimes, torque is the enemy.

March 27th, 2007

This past Saturday started off cloudy and rainy, but by the afternoon, the sky was clearing and the temperature was pleasant. As such, Angela and I decided that we should take the bike out to dinner and then to the bowling party we were to attend.

When I took the bike out of hibernation for the season, I never bothered to put the sissy bar back on, because I knew I’d be ordering a rear luggage rack for the bike, which attaches at the same points as the sissy bar. Since I had since received the luggage rack, and since I wanted to bring my bowling ball with us, before we headed out I got to work on attaching the rack and sissy bar.

I got the rack and sissy bar on the bike with out a problem. It’s a very simple process. The problem, however, arose when I went to bolt on the passenger seat. The seat is secured by fitting a lip on the front of the seat under a metal bracket attached to the front seat, and then with a bolt that goes on a little screw post that sticks up out of the fender. When I went to bolt the seat on, I decided to use a ratchet for some reason, and ended up shearing the screw post right off of the fender….

Right. Off. The. Fender.

Why is this so problematic? Well, because that post is welded into the fender from underneath.. the bolt doesn’t just come off. So, after yelling a few obscenities, and maybe possibly throwing the offending ratchet to the ground, I took everything back off of the bike so I could remove the rear fender. Then we took everything back up to my apartment, where I made a post on the Hondashadow.net forums asking for help with the issue. Within about 10 minutes a couple of other folks replied with some suggestions. I love that board.

The solution that seemed to be what everyone agreed on was to drill out the post from under the fender, buy a new, stainless steel bolt, and then using some J-B Weld epoxy to keep the new bolt there. On Sunday I was able to drill out the post wide enough to fit a new bolt in the fender, and Angela and I headed out to Home Depot. Unfortunately, Home Depot’s selection of metric bolts is absolutely pitiful, so I had to settle for buying an English bolt and nut. Since some of the paint had chipped during the drilling I also bought some rattle-can primer from the auto parts store so that I could ensure the fender wouldn’t start rusting. The chips were all in an area where they were covered by the seats and such, so I didn’t need to worry about buying any paint.

After work today I masked off the fender and sprayed primer where it was needed. After the primer was dry, I took off the masking and used the epoxy to secure the new bolt in the fender. After a few hours, I took the fender back to the bike and reassembled everything with the exception of the rear seat. The J-B weld wants to cure for about 15 hours before the parts it binds get used, so I’ll put the nut on the seat tomorrow.

I’m glad I have everything put back together now, but I’m really angry at myself for making such a stupid mistake that lost us two very nice days for riding. Oh, and for costing myself an extra 20 bucks or so and the time involved in making the repair. I suppose that I could have held off on fixing everything until after the conference, but I wanted to get the bike back up and running so that I can just hop on it and go this week if I need an hour or so to ride off the stress. Also, the weeks after the conference are going to be busy with the end of the semester coming and possible campus interview visits.

Soon I’ll be creating a WordPress ‘page’ about the bike where I’ll keep pictures and a running list of the various modifications I have and will make to it.

Here’s to hoping I don’t manage to break anything else on my pretty blue friend anytime soon.

In Which I Discuss Stuff, Things, & Whatnot

March 26th, 2007

The last week has been very busy, and this week is only going to be busier. In four days I leave for the ACPA / NASPA Joint Meeting in Orlando. The main focus of things for me this time around is, as I have mentioned, the job search I’m conducting. When I last updated a week ago, I had 4 campus interviews scheduled. I now have 7 scheduled. I expect that number to increase as the week goes on, however I probably will also be putting in a few more applications.

In poker news, I took down The Wheatie last week raking in the first place prize bucks. I’m not going to go and say that this was any great feat of poker talent on my part. I was getting hit in the face by the deck, mostly on the flop and after. Like the time I flopped the nut flush and 4 other people in the hand bet like crazy. That was great. I went into the final table with a massive chip lead (about 3x the chips of the 2nd place player) and kept it for most of the time. I did manage to make a couple of big mistakes and loose the lead at one point, but I was able to get it back. Heads up play only lasted 2 hands. Anyway, I think any mostly competent player could have gone deep in the tourney if they were getting the cards I was. I’m not sure I’ll have the time to play tomorrow, but I hope I do. Next week I obviously won’t be able to play while in Orlando.

The other thing I wanted to mention in this post is about food. Specifically, really freggin’ good Indian food. Before going out to join Don and Tara for their bowling birthday party on Saturday night, Angela and I decided to go out for Indian food. We went to Taste of India on Penn Ave, near Main St. I had only been there once before, and didn’t remember much about it. On this visit, though, we experienced some of the best Indian food either of us had ever eaten in this town, the prices were very reasonable, and the staff was very nice. When Angela asked for a box to bring the remainder of her dinner home, they brought it out with fresh rice, with out even being asked to do so. Compare this to that hole India Garden that CHARGES YOU for an extra plate of rice while you’re eating in their restaurant. I asked for my food with a hotness level of 10, and while it still wasn’t hot enough for me, it’s the closest any place in this town has come yet. I’ve found my new favorite place to eat around here, I think.

The downside of the last few days has been that my dieting and exercise has suffered since Thursday. Last Wednesday was the last day I was on the trainer, and there were a few days of caloric excess in there too. Consequently, I gained weight in the last week (about a pound) for the first time since I started the get-smaller campaign on January 22. Also this week isn’t going to leave much time for the exercising, either, and it’s not going to be too easy to be calorie conscious while at the conference. I would say that I will try to use the hotel gym, however, I don’t know if I’ll actually hold myself to it.

There was also a motorcycle-related headache this weekend, but I’ll leave that for another post.

The New Wave: Spamless spam comments

March 24th, 2007

So, someone explain this to me.

Over the last few days I’ve received a whole new wave of spam comments on the site that aren’t being caught by Akismet. Why aren’t they being caught? Because there’s nothing in them!

That’s right.. in order to beat spam filters, it seems some spammers have decided to just not put anything in the spam comments. So the comment consists of a 4 letter string listed as the game, a fake email address and the body of the comment, in its entirety is just “<a></a>”. There are no links in it, no key words, nothing that it’s advertising. It is, essentially BLANK.

So, I ask: What the hell is the point? Are these people being paid? If the purpose of spam is to increase traffic to a site or to generate sales of something, why bother making content-less spam comments?

Has the point of spam just become to get spam into e-mail boxes or onto blogs?

I don’t understand!!!!

(As a side note, if one of these empty comments makes it on to this post, I’ll just leave it here for illustration purporses)

Bang, Boom, Crash

March 19th, 2007

One of the best parts of my job has always been that I have the ability to make my own schedule. This isn’t a 9-5 sort of job, so we don’t have to stick to a 9-5 sort of schedule. That means if I want to go in from 9-5 on Monday, and Tuesday, but I don’t want to come in until about 11 or 12 on Wednesday, that I can do that. It’s one of those nice little trade offs that we get because we have to live here. At least it was, anyway.

Nothing about departmental policy or anything having to do with my job has changed. Nope, that’s all the same. What’s not the same, however, is that housing decided to have workers start on the renovation of the dining areas below the Towers just as spring break started.

What does this mean? It means that every morning, around 6:45 or 7:00, I get awoken with a start by the sounds of sledgehammers hitting walls or drills burrowing into concrete. Sounds like fun, huh? Not really.

Last week it got really bad and I spoke with people in my department, as it’s one thing that my schedule’s disrupted, but what’s worse is that this work can be heard sometimes up to the 13th floor of the building, which means this is disrupting an awful lot of students’ sleep schedules. On Thursday, our department was finally able to work with housing to get the construction workers to not do noisy work until 9:00 AM. They sent me an e-mail, I was excited…

…until I was woken up with loud banging at 6:45 on Friday morning. I wrote an e-mail, and there was then much promising that the situation would be fixed. Great. Saturday morning…. 7:00 AM…. loud drilling! Great! This morning, 6:50 AM.. BANG BANG BANG!

Looks like I’ll be switching to something like a 11 – 7 sleep schedule. Not a big deal for me, I guess. Now we’ll see how the students like it…

Job Serach

March 18th, 2007

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m great. Give me a job now.



As some of you may already be aware, I’m currently in the process of a job search. The “why” of the situation is quite simple: I’m finishing up my third year as a Resident Director, and I feel I’ve gained all I can out of the position, professionally. Also, believe it or not, living on a college campus when you’re 28 years old can get really old. The “how” of the job search is the part about all of this that’s a bit more complicated.

Some of you may remember when I was in this process three years ago, as I was finishing my degree at UConn. The basics of the process are the same. I’ll be participating in the placement at a national convention this year. What’s different this year, though, is that both of the major organizations in my field are having a joint meeting.. which means rather than a 3000-4000 person conference, this is going to be something in the neighborhood of a 10,000 person conference. If a giant asteroid were to impact in Orlando between March 31 and April 5 this year, there’d be a whole lot fewer college administrators around to be disliked.

I’m searching for positions that would be career-advancing for me in one way or another.  This means I’m applying for mid-level Residence Life or Judicial Affairs positions, or more entry-ish positions in Student Activities to broaden my experience base.  With very few exceptions, these are live-off positions.  Those that provide housing are more live-on rather than live-in, which means housing separate from the student population, but still on campus for quick response to crisis situations.

I won’t really be posting the specifics of my search here.  This is public, and I think it would be a little unprofessional to list off the schools with which I’m interviewing at this point.  While Googling my name doesn’t lead to a patch to reach this site until a very indirect root that pops up on the 5th page of results, this is a small field, and you really just never know what information about you could be shared with someone.

I will say that the search started out a little frustrating, but really started to get better this past Friday. I now have 4 confirmed interviews for the conference, and hope to get at least 6-8 more.  After conference interviews, I’ll find out how many (or if I have any) campus interview invitations.  I think that 3-4 campus visits is the most I can manage, though I have saved up a lot of vacation time, knowing that I’d need it for this process.

As far as the “where”, I can say that I’ve pretty much opened the search up on a national level.  I’m focusing more on urban areas, still, though I am considering some places that are more rural when I feel an institutions could be very good fit for me.  There aren’t any job possibilities open for me at Pitt, however I will say that I have some options as far as applying for schools within Pittsburgh.

If the job search doesn’t work out for me, I still have my current job.  However, I really feel like it’s the appropriate time for me to try to move up.   I’ve been very up front with my supervisor during this process, and she knows that I’m searching.  I’m trying to be as fair as I can to the department, too, as if I do leave, they’ll need to hire a replacement for me.  If they do have to replace me, they don’t want to loose out on the best candidates by waiting too long.   The whole thing is a rather delicately balanced situation.

At any rate, I’ll do my best to share my thoughts on the job search as it moves along, as well as make periodic updates about where I am with it.

Less than two weeks until conference time.