29 January 2009

Abecedarian's Post

My name is Andrew. (Hi Andrew.) And it's been 2 weeks since my last post. (Mild clapping ensues.) Lately I've been really getting the urge to post daily, sometimes more than once a day, but I've stayed strong, held off the hounds of hellish social media and networking. (Oohs and aahs ensue, briefly.) Lately, I've just been doing the job hunt thing again, supplemented nicely by a healthy dose of grocery shopping for 6 on the weekends, meal planning for 6 on Saturdays, a college Bible study group Sunday nights, and some geocaching thrown in for good measure when time and transportation present themselves. Regarding the job search, mostly my efforts have remained fruitless, though I have received some calls from "marketing" companies searching for people to promote who-knows-what for minimum wage through telemarketing. Not my thing. I've never been one for just cold-calling sales. Put me on a floor somewhere, with knowledge of products and specs, and I can sell products just fine, but over the phone, I'm not good. I also got a phone call today from a security guard company needing security staff for some event coming up, but I would have needed a "guard card" which I do not have. Might be something to look into getting, though, if those types of opportunities come up more often. On Monday, I did turn in an application to Mesa Public Schools to be a substitute teacher for the district. That quite literally almost made me want to go postal on quite a few people. Quick rundown of the day: 9am - Andrew calls AZDOE to get info on getting a sub certification license and is told it is obtained at MPS headquarters. 10:30am - Andrew arrives at MPS only to be told he has to go to the AZ Dept. of Education to pick up his license, over 20 miles away. 11:15am - Andrew arrives at AZ DOE offices, is told he needs a $60 personal check, cashier's check, or money order to process his application for the license for the MPS application. (AARGH!) 12:00pm - Andrew arrives at Bank of America, takes $60 out of the ATM after spending 15 minutes trying to find out how to park in downtown Phoenix, and is told that because BOA isn't HIS bank, he can't be helped there. 12:30pm - Andrew arrives at a park in Phoenix somewhere (only God knows where exactly), kicks a few trees in anger, and calls Dad to have him look up where the nearest Compass Bank location is. 1:45pm - Andrew arrives at Compass Bank, gets his cashier's check, and gets back into the car. By this point, having expended so much energy on frustration with the system, Andrew decides to go to nearby IHOP for pancakes. 3:00pm - Andrew arrives BACK at DOE offices, obtains license. 3:30pm - Andrew arrives BACK at MPS offices, turns in completed application. Is told that he cannot be eligible for substitute teaching until taking an orientation class for MPS -- ON MARCH 25th! 4:15pm - Andrew decides to go home and go to bed because the day really, really, really couldn't get any more obtuse. Epic, I know. In lighter news, the whole meal-planning, shopping, cooking trifecta (I just wanted to use "trifecta") is going well. I like most of the things I've tried to make. Earlier in the week it was a sour cream chicken enchilada dish with onions and red bell peppers in a sour cream-jalapeno sauce. Really delicious. Two nights ago I made pork chops with an apple-caramelized onion topping, which was probably me second favorite dish. I also tried a veggie casserole side dish which was so-so, but not everyone enjoyed it. I'm not sure what it was, but the topping didn't set like it was supposed to.... Oy vey. Tonight we're either having a turkey chili or bowtie pasta with bell peppers and sausage in a tomato-garlic sauce. We'll see. The Bible study has also been enlightening. It's a group of college-aged under-30 people on Sunday nights at the church I've begun to attend. Since it's been so long since I was last "attending" church regularly, I wasn't certain of what to expect, but the people are great - there are even a few politically-minded people there who make for great conversationalists, and even one other geocacher, which was slightly surprising. Currently, the group is studying the Book of Revelation, so though it's extremely interesting, I sometimes feel like I'm beginning my own study of the Bible at the end of the book. Tribulation, Death, destruction, God's wrath poured out upon the world. Things you really wouldn't expect from a conventional reading of almost any other part of the Bible; least of all those passages talking about Jesus Christ or God Himself. Frankly, I'm still not entirely sure of what I believe. I'd like to believe in God and put my faith in Him, but it's still a little unsettling to feel like I'm giving up control over a part of myself to a being whom I cannot see, touch, or converse with. My journey has begun though, so I am anxious to see where it leads. Finally, geocaching. I had good luck last weekend, finding 14 caches in or within a mile of Skyline Park out in East Mesa. I intend to go back this weekend to find the 3 I didn't try for on Saturday. One is apparently rather difficult and requires tools to access it. I think I know what I need, now I just need to see the site for myself and have at it. I also found a couple on Monday on my way back from MPS, just as a mechanism to calm me down after the stress of the day. So I'm at a grand total of 40 found thus far, and I might try to hike Usury Mountain to the Wind Cave to find the 5 caches up there this coming Saturday. (Scott, Ryan, Chad, you are welcome to join me if you so choose!) Anyway, that's life up 'til now. Time to go do some more dishes and pretend to not be bored until I go to bed. I look forward to writing more often in the near future!

15 January 2009

Awesome Photo


Really, when you think about it, "proactive" is kind of a stupid word. I mean, you're not really FOR active or AGAINST active, you either are or aren't active. Oh well, I'm no Noah Webster, so I guess I don't get to make the rules. But either way, I was pretty proactive this week, being on every job site imaginable searching for jobs every day. Problem is, I struck out pretty majorly again. Doctors' and dentists' offices for receptionist gigs, retail outlets for minimum wage crap, AZ State Government opportunities, analyst positions, library staffers, and other posted jobs. My biggest problem is one of location. See, on most sites, CareerBuilder.com, for example, I usually just do a daily search for jobs within a 30-mile radius of my zip code. Today, that search came up with over 3,500 results. The thing is, 30 miles one-way is 1 1/2 times the distance between my house and Queen Creek, AZ (for those that know where I live, you should know this is a pretty substantial drive). So, I tone down the search. Within 20 miles, there are only 1,400 postings. Within 10 miles, only 600 postings, and within 5 miles, a scant 9 postings. I seem to live a bit too far away to find a job; the only jobs I actually want are in the 25-mile-plus range from my house, and without a reliable car, that pretty much puts that out of the question. Within the 20-mile range, about 50% are healthcare jobs (phlebotomists, RNs, etc.) which I am not qualified for. Another 20% of jobs are sales/marketing jobs or "pyramid schemes" which I have no interest in applying for. Of the remaining 30%, 9/10 or more are jobs that require special certifications, multiple years of experience, or very precise qualifications. That leaves me with (assuming the math is correct) roughly 40 jobs which I *might* be qualified for if I sold my skills perfectly. These are jobs like "Wal-Mart associate," "Receptionist," "Mail Clerk," "Filing Clerk," and that sort of thing. Where is the website for jobs which people WANT, and not just the ones they're willing to settle for when they've struck out 500 times?!

11 January 2009

Black Sheep

Sometimes, I just feel like the black sheep of the family for my interest in politics and government. My dad is one of those that thinks the government is out to rule the world and that every voter should just vote for the non-incumbent every time to prevent the spread of nepotism and corruption. My mom's into government, but only so far as it's applicable to a clinical educational setting in her 5th grade classroom. My siblings - well, one is so far anti-voting that he actually gets angry if you ask him if he plans to vote in the presidential election, another is the most apathetic person I've ever met, and my little sister still thinks the Boston Tea Party was a cool gig for the Pilgrims and Indians to enjoy after Columbus landed at the New World (and she's 13!). Just this evening, I walk in the door from my Bible study to be asked by my mother on behalf of my brother who is studying government right now (when he's sitting right there), "Hey, what are 7 ways a person can be a citizen?" I list off the few most obvious that come to my brain, like voting, paying taxes, participating in military service, running for public office, and protesting/speaking out, then ask why she wanted to know. My brother is doing a project where he has to come up with things to represent each of the ideals of citizenship, like those things I mentioned. He has to take those objects, put them in a paper bag, and then bring them to class and explain them to his classmates. I thought this was a great idea, and let him know that I had tons of stuff he could use if he wanted to, like one of my campaign volunteer t-shirts, political literature, my jury pass from when I was called for jury duty, etc. I even volunteered to write him a short narrative about my political participation in the College Republicans and with campaigns for him to share, since it would likely be pretty unique for his show-and-tell project. You know what his response was? He didn't want to use my stuff because he didn't care that much about the project and just wanted printouts from the computer so he could throw them all away after class! How is it that no one cares about civics anymore? I mean, you can't even mention an interest in politics or government in any kind of social setting without being labeled as "one of those people." These days, as a Republican, I'm "one of THOSE, those people." It's sad that our schools are in such demonstratively poor condition that they cannot help students become interested in how this great country even works, let alone how they can impact it. I would almost want to teach high school government just for that single reason alone: to exercise MY civic duty.

09 January 2009

Geocaching Bunny

Found this guy out at a cache named "Bunny Crossing." Can you spot him?

There he is!

08 January 2009


So, as I think I mentioned before, I recently purchased a GPS receiver for a sport known as "geocaching." Essentially, the concept is to find small stashes of goodies using GPS coordinates and a keen eye, and sign the log book inside each cache to claim the find. The ultimate goal of which is, for me, to get out of the house more. Many people have placed these caches in parks, in the desert, in the city, etc. I am happy to say that yesterday I did find my first cache out in Gene Autry Park in Mesa! Go me! It was a good time, my GPS worked exactly as it was supposed to, and this weekend, I plan to try to find a few more caches out here.

06 January 2009

2009 First Update

Yikes, I didn't even realize it had been two weeks about since my last post until I saw that it had been about two weeks since my last post! (Think about it....) I guess I've been fairly busy since my last post for Christmas, even though I didn't know it. Either way, to catch y'all up, here's the skinny: Christmas was great - mostly quiet, spent with family. I was awakened at the traditional 8am by my little sister, who wanted to open presents before coffee-time, so we did that first and foremost. I received a nice luggage set, some cooking tools and an apron, a nice up-to-date version of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from Scott, and some books I've been wanting for a while now (one on the House of Representatives' history, one on the Library of Congress' history, and a couple other general history/government). I also (finally) got to give the presents I've been holding onto since pre-Thanksgiving. I got my mom and dad a nice matted and framed Charles Wysocki print (See Link), and I got my siblings a couple nice board games which we ended up playing later that day. My fave gift to give though was to my friends Scott and Abigail. Okay, the gift itself was kind of lame - just a bottle of wine for the two of them and a nice book for Scott - but it was all about the presentation. See, Scott's a writer, and back in the day, he wrote an amazingly good story entitled "The Saga of the Evil Dude Penguins" in which a couple of Dr. Pepper-loving pals (one a penguin, the other a polar bear) learn to find the good things in life, despite some adversity. One of the tales is about "The Masked Penguin" - a shadowy do-gooder much akin to the human version of Santa Claus. Dressed in a blue cape and mask, the Masked Penguin brings gifts to the child-penguins during the holidays. So, when I found a plastic penguin doorstop (the kind you fill up a bit with sand), I just knew I had to make it seem as though the Masked Penguin were visiting Scott and Abigail on Christmas Eve! I, with the sewing genius of my sister Sarah, dressed my penguin in a royal blue cape and mask, and set him out on Scott's doorstep one night. I knocked and ran off to hide around the corner while Scott found him and the bottle of wine next to him! Then I came back and revealed myself. It went off well, and it was way fun for me to do! Fast forward 7 days: New Years' Eve was spent also with Scott and Abigail, as well as some of our other friends: Matt, Angela, Kim, and Travis. We ended up staying up until 2am or so before I left playing a game called Quelf - which I totally encourage you to check out if you haven't already. It's hilarious! The game's rules feature wacky "Roolz" which you must do lest you lose points, stunts, charades, trivia, etc. Matt ended up having to be a sad weeping willow humming sad movie music (though I'm not sure the mix of Star Wars and Titanic really counts as sad....) every time someone rolled a four, I had to translate everything I said into a foreign language of my choice, and Scott ended up being asked to give himself a wedgie before all was said and done. (Note: owing to the fact that I have no dignity or shame, I ended up winning this game.... I was the best of the whackos!) It was a great time, and I definitely have to thank Matt and Angela once more for graciously inviting me to spend the evening with them at their apartment! Fast forward another 5 days: Yesterday was back-to-school/work day for the family, meaning I'm back to the job hunt. I also started back with cooking weekday dinners with the aid of my new cooking tools from Christmas. Actually, I just made something from Scott's cookbook this evening: cheese tortellini with roasted red pepper and garlic sauce and a key lime yogurt pie for dessert. It turned out okay, though I think next time I will use less garlic and onion. I had to adapt the recipe a bit, since it was written for 4 servings, and I needed 6 for my family. All-in-all, not too bad. Tomorrow is Pepper-Lime Chickcn with stuffed baked potatoes! Fast forward to today: I finally got my GPS receiver in the mail, which I sent away for just before New Years. I plan to start a sport called "geocaching" - like a high-tech treasure hunt. You download GPS coordinates to the receiver, then hike out to the location and attempt to find a "cache" - a hidden container of some sort containing a logbook to sign indicating you have completed that quest. The ultimate goal is to get out of the house more and start getting in shape. If I can hike a little bit each week, that's only beneficial in the long run. Who knows, I might start enjoying Phoenix for a change, too! Anyway, now that I'm caught up, I will work on more regular updates again. I hope all my friends reading this are well!