Monthly Archives: August 2004

Drive Some More? Why, I’d Love To!

So, after Friday’s awful drive home from Chicago (2.5 hours of sleep + 14 hour drive = BAD!) the last thing I wanted to do was jump int he car and drive some more. But drive I did, departing Sunday afternoon for Gastonia, North Carolina (conveniently located about 20 miles west of Charlotte). I spent the night in a Courtyard By Marriott which, though relatively undistinguished, at least had high-speed broadband in the hotel room.

This morning I woke up at 6 AM, cleaned the grease stains out of my dress shirt (well, maybe that’s why those cleaners were so cheap…), re-ironed my dress shirt, put on the rest of my suit and packed everything else into the car. I was at Noveon at 8:50 AM. The interview there seemed to go well – I had answers for all the questions they asked, my lack of experience in their specific technology didn’t seem to be a probolem, and I seemed to get along reasonably well with my potential bosses. I should know if they are interested in me by the end of next week, or so.

More to talk about, but I’m too tired. Maybe tomorrow.

Like All Good Things…

Well, it looks like my time in Chicago has come to an end, at least for now.

Yesterday was quite busy, surprisingly. In spite of the intermittent downpours, I drove out to take a look at recumbent bikes (yes, it’s all xydexx‘s fault). Regular bicycles just tear my knees up, but I could use the recumbents at the gym without too many problems, so that seems the better way to go. I did a little online research and determined that the closest vendor to carry them is Kozy Cyclery, over on Halstead north of Addison. I drove over there (forgetting there was a Cubs home game – whee!) and took a walk through. The only recumbent they had on the floor was a very nice Cannondale model. It looks very comfortable, but I’m not quite sure I’m ready to drop $1,800 on bicycle. There’s another place down on North just west of the Kennedy, but I opted to skip that lest I have to fight traffic on the way home.

When I got back to Linnaeus‘ place, I was startled to see his car parked in front (this at about 3 PM). I was fearing the worst for why he was home early (given recent past experiences), but fortunately (well, sort of) he just came home early to avoid the onset of a migraine. After a nice nap he was much better, so we walked over to Lincoln Square. We hit some of the cool stores there and ogled the restaurants, then hit a nice wine shop I had noticed earlier. We looked around and I was really taken with their nice selection of small-run liquors – calvados, poire william, Scottish grain/potato vodkas, and a truly fascinating gin. While I was admiring the gin, the owner pulled out a bottle of it and poured a small glass of it for us to taste. Now, I’m not that much of a gin fan, but this stuff was fine! Linnaeus liked it so much he bought a bottle of it. Yum!

After we got back, we jumped into the car and headed over to the palatial apartment of daveqat, jimcyl, boixboi, and perro. We were joined by deccawolf, a recent Chicago transplant and very nice fellow, and headed out for some barbecue up in Evanston. The dinner conversation was lively and entertaining, and I had a really good time. I definitely hope to see more of those folks when we’re back up in Chicago!

Today I’m hanging around in a mildly sweaty apartment, waiting for the HVAC repair guy to come fix the underperforming A/C here. I’m hoping it will be a quick (and cheap!) fix; he was here earlier and had to go back to his shop for a ladder, so he’ll be back in about an hour. After that, I’ll be making a run to the store for dinner provisions, then (hopefully, her back being up to it), datahawk will join us for a tasty dinner of Linnaeus’ beef stroganoff tonight. Then it’s a relatively early bedtime since I need to get up godwaful early tomorrow to drive to North Carolina.

So, social gadding aside, where do we stand?
Takaza‘s position that he interviewed for in Mount Prospect – no word yet, voice mail left with potential boss but no reply received. Not a good sign, and we’re looking ahead to other possible positions with Siemens.
My interviews:
Abbott – Still waiting to hear back – hopefully by the end of next week.
Corn Products – Still waiting to hear if they want me to come in for a face-to-face interview.
Noveon – Interview with them on Monday in Gastonia.

So what happens after Monday? I’m not really sure. A lot of it depends on what I hear from Abbott and Corn Products. I could be back as early as Wednesday, or I may stay in NC for a little longer, working on packing our stuff up there in preparation for moving. Many, many, many thanks to Linnaeus for being such a gracious host for these three weeks that I’ve been in Chicago, and for his offer of future lodgings. Absolutely no slight intended to Feren‘s fine hospitality, but this is closer to a lot of the places I’m interviewing, and that helps a lot.

And now it’s off to see if there’s some lunch to be found…

A day of accomplishments

So today I had two interviews. Yay! And I learned that I didn’t get a job. Boo! Oh well.

First, the bad news. I didn’t get the job I interviewed for back on August 10. That’s not a big surprise – I don’t think I was a good fit.

This morning’s interview was at Abbott Laboratories, this time at their North Chicago facility. The position would involve calculating, documenting and reporting on pressure relief systems in manufacturing. I like it because it’s good, core chemical engineering stuff, and it’s always good to have a refresher in the basics. Plus, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of similar jobs out there, which is a good sign of what possibilities might be available after I have experience. Even better: the person currently in this position is being hired by Abbott after being there a year. I should know the results from this by the end of next week.

I was supposed to have a phone interview with Corn Products in Bedford Park, IL at 1:30 PM. They didn’t actually call until about 4:30, but that’s cool – I’m just happy they called. Again, this is a good, fundamental process engineering position. The interviewer seemed impressed with my credentials. I should hear back sometime within the next week or two if they want me to come in for a face to face interview.

In between the two, I stopped over at Manpower of Gurnee and chatted with the recruiter I’ve been working with there. I figured it’s always nice to have a face to put with a name, and hell, I was wearing a suit, so I might as well show it off 🙂 From there, I called Takaza and chatted a bit. I remembered that datahawk had injured her back the day before. Dan called her at home (since she had called in sick to work) and we had a quick conference call. She hadn’t seen a doctor yet, so we convinced (i.e. ordered) her to see one. Since she didn’t have a car, I drove over and picked her up and took her to a nearby urgent care place. After that it was over to Walgreens (Flexoril + Tylenol 3 = wheeeeeee!) and lunch at Culvers. I dropped Data off at her place and then it was time for the long slog back into the city. Two hours later (granted, with a half-hour of that parked in Skokie doing a phone interview), I’m back at Linnaeus‘.

Plans for tonight? Maybe bottle some beer. Hmm, maybe hit a restaurant in the area, too – we’ll see.

Happy birthday to the meanest, nastiest guy I know – and that’s a compliment!
Have a good one, feren, and drink some gin for me!

EDIT: It’s not out yet, otherwise I would have picked him up what would be sure to be the perfect gift, too!

One Interview Down

Well, that was interesting.

I had an interview this morning at Abbott Labs this morning. It was with the diagnostics division, apparently, but I’m still not exactly clear what the job entails. It seems to involve a lot of tracking documentation of stuff that goes into manufacturing medical devices, and some possible lab work, though that was a bit vague. From what they described, though, it sounded interesting. The big question is, are they going to be able to look at my resume and say, “Hey, this guy has all the skills necessary for this job,” or are the going to look at it and say, “This guy makes glue. Next!” I got the impression that it is essentially a contract-to-hire position, but I still have no idea what the pay rate is. They’re still interviewing, and hope to have a decision by the end of the month. In the meantime, I keep looking…

Still on the road…

Greetings from the Green Street Coffeehouse in lovely downtown Champaign, IL! Yesterday’s fourteen and a half hours of driving was nicely uneventful, aside from the hour-long detour to pick up some stuff for a friend. Not a lot to report at the moment, really. I’ll be heading out to grab an early lunch soon, then it’s off to Chicago where I’ll meet up with Linnaeus tonight and crash at his place. The job interview is tomorrow, and hopefully that will go well. We got some encouraging news on Takaza‘s potential job transfer, so that really makes me feel pretty good about how things are going in general.

Well, more news as it becomes available!

Drivin’ Drivin’ Drivin’

OK, I’ve finally gotten everything confirmed (or as confirmed as I can with this recruiter – grrr). So here’s my itinerary over the next week or so:
Sunday, 8/8 – Drive from NC to Urbana, IL, with a stop in Asheville to ferry some belongings northwards. Spend the night at mirkowuff‘s. (Mirko, because of the detour, I probably won’t be in until 9 PM at the earliest. If things run later, I’ll give you a call.)
Monday – Drive up to Chicago. Settle in for the next few days at Linnaeus‘ groovy pad.
Tuesday – Interview at Abbott at 10 AM. Scour the area to try to set up more interviews.
Wednesday – Thursday – Do whatever possible to get a damn job (maybe help Daveqat and jimcylSyn move on Thursday)
Thursday night – Pick up takaza at O’Hare.
Friday – Meet with folks on FurFest-related stuff. Do bachelor-party-esque things for grabstein_69Giles.
Saturdaygrabstein_69Giles and silverwindBeth‘s wedding.
Sunday – Midwest FurFest staff meeting.
Monday – Friday – More job hunting. Dinners with friends. Maybe start work (Optimistic much?).

If anyone needs to reach me, my net connectivity will be spotty but usually I’ll be able to get e-mail at least once a day. My cell phone always works. And hey, thanks to some of the discussion in goodluckfoxLoxley‘s journal, I now have Skype; my username there is duncanhusky. (I won’t always have a mic handy, so you may want to IM me first if you want to talk that way)

Kinda random and scattered this morning.

I have now proved that I watch too much Good Eats, having made some tasty chocolate chip cookies yesterday, as well as bread and butter pickles and pickled summer fruit. I’m much intrigued by the latter recipe and I look forward to seeing how it tastes. Heck, maybe I’ll bring ’em up to Chicago with me.

Had a nice night last night, with me_not_youDonald and wildmouseJanelle coming over to watch the latest Queer Eye and Amazing Race episodes with us. Also, I got a surprising phone call: I have a job interview at Abbott on Tuesday. Yay! Not sure which division it’s with, but I should have more info today when they confirm the interview time. Once I have that, I’ll let folks know what my itinerary will be.

A couple of interesting links to start the day:
If you use Firefox, first off there’s a security update out – time to go upgrade to 0.9.3. Second, I’ve looked over all of the extensions available, and I have to say my favorite by far is AdBlock. It lets you filter images (and Flash animations!) by domain or directory. I’ve used it to filter out stuff from the usual offenders (DoubleClick, Burstnet, Advertising.com), and I’ve found a really nice use for it: I can kill images from Quizilla, which makes skipping all those dumbass memes so much easier.

I notice that right-wingnut Alan Keyes has been chosen as the Republican candidate to face Barack Obama in Illinois. Just lovely. Be sure to check out Keyes’ lovely take on gays in American society. Oh, and an aside to 71% of Missouri voters in Tuesday’s state constitutional amendment vote: fuck you. See, what people are missing is that civil rights are not the purview of the electorate. If desegregating the schools had been up to the voters in the 1950’s, we’d still have separate water fountains for “Whites” and “Coloreds.” I don’t give a damn what Joe Sixpack thinks about my relationship with my husband, I expect the rights that are due to me by the United States Constitution. “Equal protection under the law” is not just a cute idea, y’know?

Oven Fries, yum!

Well, it appears that there is indeed interest in Cooks Illustrated’s recipe for oven fries so here’s the recipe. Oh, and hi, Kat! Nice to meet you. Rob’s a good, upstanding guy – a fine catch! 😉

These were just delicious. The total time for prep and cooking is about an hour, but I think you’ll find it’s worth the effort! The foil allows the potatoes to briefly steam as they start cooking, and is the key to have a soft, creamy consistency on the interior of the fries.

Oven Fries
Serves 3 to 4 (or 2 hungry guys)

3 russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled, each potato cut lengthwise into 10 or 12 evenly-sized wedges
5 Tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
Salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat oven to 475 degrees F.
2. Place potatoes in a large bowl and cover with hot tap water. Soak for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, coat an 18 by 12 inch heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 Tablespoons of oil and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Set aside.
4. Drain the potatoes. Spread the potatoes out on a triple layer of paper towels and thoroughly pat dry with additional paper towels.
5. Rinse and wipe out the now-empty bowl; return the potatoes to the bowl and toss with the remaining tablespoon of oil.
6. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 5 minutes.
7. Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes.
8. Using a metal spatula and tongs, scrape to loosen potatoes from the pan, then flip each wedge, keeping potatoes in a single layer.
9. Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, 5 to 15 minutes longer, rotating pan as needed if fries are browning unevenly.
10. Transfer the fries to a second baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season with additional salt and pepper and serve.

Notes: Take care to cut the potatoes into evenly-sized wedges so that all the pieces cook at about the same rate. A heavy-duty baking sheet is recommended for this recipe since lighter once will warp in the intense heat. Also, the fries brown better on the heavier weight sheet. I purchased some nice, heavy-duty half-sheet baking pans from my local restaurant supply store for about $5 apiece and they’ve proven to be a fantastic purchase.

Not much to report from the weekend. Things were generally quiet, and that wasn’t a bad thing. On Saturday we hung out and kept meaning to get out to the aforementioned computer show, but gave up when it became too late. I was hoping to head out and do something in the evening, so Dan decided that we were going to Xios for dinner. Yummy! I really enjoyed their moussaka. Afterwards we went to a new pool/darts place that was quite nice – not too smoky, nice equipment, and not too loud either.

After a couple of games of darts and a few rounds of pool (good gods, do I suck at pool), we were pretty much done. I wish that I could say I was rarin’ to go rushing out and dance the night away or some such, but the sad thing is that it was 9 PM, and I was getting tired and was ready to go home. Man, that sucks. Dan suggested we stop by Blockbuster to rent a movie, and I was reminded yet again of why we never go there anymore and don’t even have a membership – crappy movies, assloads of the crappiest movies and one or two copies of movies I might actually want to see, annoying, ignorant people, and rugrats running unfettered throughout the place. Although we found a couple of likely candidates, in the end we elected just to leave.

On Sunday we really meant to get out to the computer show, but just never found the drive to go. We spent the day instead working on Midwest FurFest stuff, working on website stuff, sending nagging e-mails, etc. We watched the first episode of the Denis Leary show on FX, Rescue Me. We were extremely impressed, and we immediately added a season pass for it onto our Tivo. I highly recommend this show, although it is pretty intense viewing. (A funny thing that I noticed – really, with the exception of saying f*ck and showing skin, there’s pretty much no difference between shows on FX and stuff on HBO or Showtime).

For dinner we made cheeseburgers and oven fries. Cooks Illustrated had a fantastic recipe for oven fries and they came out wonderfully – soft and creamy in the middle crisp and tasty on the outside. I can post the recipe if anyone is interested. Anyway, after dinner we worked on con stuff a bit more, watched some Tivo, then went off to bed a bit early.

Today hasn’t been nearly as productive as I would have liked. There was a chance that I might have an interview in Chicago on Wednesday, but that didn’t come to pass. I will definitely be up there next week, one way or another. With Dan applying to positions up there, I’m thinking that in the absence of movement on some other nibbles I’ve had, I’m planning on not leaving Chicago until I have a job nailed down, at whatever pay rate I can get. We’ve been getting a pounding from heavy rain with thunderstorm after thunderstorm courtesy of Tropical Storm Alex, and that’s been bringing me down a bit too. Ah well – just have to keep on trying.