Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

In these difficult days of economic struggle, I am fortunate enough and blessed to have a full-time job.  It may not be the best job, but it is reliable and handles my expenses – most of them.

However, the ever-increasing cost of daily living has me on the prowl for a new job that offers something more on the financial stability front.  The cost of gas and car insurance on the rise along with every other form of inflation imaginable is reason enough to sharpen up the resume and sell myself to the few worthwhile, potential employers out there.

I’ve been doing just that and it finally seems like the effort is paying off.  I have a great government job lined up, but the competition for the available positions is downright ridiculous.  Out of over 1,000 applicants, 500 were called back for the testing phase, with an undetermined number eagerly awaiting a call back for an interview.  The grand total to be hired after interviews?  20!  I’m keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not banking on luck because I think I did badly on the testing portion of the hiring process.  On the contrary, I walked out of that test with my head held high and the firm belief that I’ve scored near perfect on it.  My real problem –and it has plagued me my entire working life— is the interview.  The dreaded, awful, sweat-inducing interview.  THE INTERVIEW.  I shudder at the words as if it were the name of an upcoming horror flick.  The thought alone makes me want to go to the bathroom; no need to pay for ex-lax anymore.

Interviews have always been my “Achilles Heel”, especially ones that are of a panel setting format.  Isn’t it already bad enough to have a face to face with someone who is scrutinizing you and evaluating everything you say and do, from the moment you walk through the door?  Nope, let’s just throw in 3 more suits to interrogate you, Oscar!  Sure, go for it, and cure me of any pending constipation problems for the rest of my life, thank you very much!

Comedy aside, I just don’t know why my nerves take center stage in an interview setting.  I’m a generally confident –borderline cocky— individual with a great attitude and common sense, but none of that comes through when I’m being interviewed.  I turn into a completely different person and I walk out red-faced and angry with myself every single time.  The questions they ask make sense, they register, and I normally know the answer but whatever intellectual response I’ve conjured up in my mind gets lost the moment my vocal cords flex their muscles.  Instead, what comes out is some silly, basic, irrational, short response that wouldn’t get me a job at McDonald’s let alone an upscale government position.  It is a real problem because I’ve lost out on some great opportunities as a result of this phobia.

I was hoping this was going to be a self-help/tips type of entry, but it really isn’t.  I have no answers that would aid me to become a better interviewee because I can’t seem to pinpoint the origin of the problem.  I’m not a MENSA member, but I consider myself an intelligent person.  I’m not looking to strike conversations with random strangers, but I’m most definitely not socially awkward.  So what do I do?  What can I do?  Where am I going wrong and how do I improve?

I understand the need for an interview as a tool to evaluate an individual, but sometimes it isn’t exactly an accurate depiction of how someone will perform on the job.  Maybe I will let them know exactly that the next time I find myself in the cross-examination room.  If I can just find the words to say it in the heat of the moment remains to be seen.

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Idolizing Stars

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Rants
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Despite the typical North American’s frenzied schedule, a majority of us always seem to find time to gaze at the stars.  Sadly, I’m not talking about our solar system.  We’ve become a society –for as long as I can remember– obsessed and invested in the lives of people that have no significance to us – celebrities.

The media –the culprit behind it all– is known for sensationalizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as well as the pitfalls of stardom.  The latter usually being more “news-worthy”, for no reasons other than the pure fascination of watching someone crash and crumble.

Really, why do we find ourselves caring so much about what’s happening in the tabloids?  Being guilty of it myself at one point or another, it truly does intrigue me.  Do we, the archetypal working class, use it as some form of pleasurable escape from our chaotic daily affairs?  Perhaps living vicariously with notions of a lavish and prodigal existence thanks to these seemingly larger than life individuals?  Are we just naturally hard-wired to admire, adore and ultimately worship?  Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe we enjoy seeing them humanized in the gossip magazines and entertainment shows? 

I’m sure countless reasons can be argued, but I believe the constant interest in celebrity figures is an unhealthy fixation. 

It is even harder to deviate from the circus when the media does an exemplary job at spreading it to the masses and distracting from the real issues (I sound like a conspiracy theorist now).  I find myself being up-to-date and almost always informed of the celebrity mania, even if I don’t intend to.  I hear it on the radio when I’m out for a drive; I see it on the news when trying to keep up with current events around the world; similarly, I read it in the newspaper, even though I’m only looking for information on the latest elections in Canada.  It’s EVERYWHERE!

In recent “news”, the downward spiral of Charlie Sheen has ironically raised his popularity and exposure.  So much that he has gone on tour and sold out shows – as if he has anything worthwhile to say.  He really doesn’t, but people are eating it up!  I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard the word “winning” –a term popularized and coined by the troubled star himself—by my peers.  Sorry Mr. Sheen, but I fail to see how losing your job, struggling with drug addictions, and fighting for custody of your children exemplifies any form of “winning”. 

What is more troubling is the fact that children –although I don’t have any myself— wrongfully look up to many of these stars.  Sure, there are some celebrities that represent a wholesome persona and have a positive attitude that might make them suitable role models, but in a time where even Disney channel personalities are getting caught in scandals, examples are scarce.  Prime parenting is a must, especially at such a young age when they are easily influenced by everything. 

Of course one can look at a celeb and see a great success story; someone who grew up with hardships, but never gave up on their dreams and ultimately made it with their drive and talent.  It sounds fantastic and works well for an aspiring individual.  But why the media focus on instilling worship for famous people, who are grossly overpaid, when real heroes –that don’t get enough recognition– can be found in our own backyard?   Teachers, firefighters, policemen and scientists are great, realistic examples of this.  It’s just a shame that the current generation –and future generations to come— know more about Lady Gaga and the cast of Jersey Shore, instead of Einstein, Newton and Galileo.  Youngsters and adults alike (yes, even grown-ups) nowadays can’t tell you about legitimate news and real global issues that can have some effect on them, but they can tell you Kobe Bryant’s shoe size and which celebrity just got caught cheating.  There is just something fundamentally wrong about all of it  

Look, I’m not pretending to come off as some uptight, pretentious snob that doesn’t enjoy the various forms of entertainment out there.  Of course I do!  I love to watch good movies, exceptional dramas on television, sports when I can, and enjoy music from some of my favourite artists.  I even “follow” a couple celebs on Twitter, although I’m not really sure why (told you I was guilty of it as well).  I guess celebrity gossip is the equivalent of junk food; it tastes good from time to time, but ultimately it just isn’t healthy for you.  You can definitely enjoy it moderately, but one needs to stay away from the overblown hype and stick to the real world – and I don’t mean the MTV show.

Unrelated note: I’ve been busy and haven’t had a chance to blog in almost a week.  I apologize if my first post back is somewhat of a downer rant, but this topic was heavy on my mind and I needed to let some of it loose.  Thanks for stopping by!

Websense Nonsense

Posted: April 8, 2011 in Rants
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Earlier, while at work, I was brainstorming some ideas to write for the blog (don’t you have anything better to do, Oscar?).  I feel the urge to update frequently, regardless of how many people actually decide to visit and return to my little home on the world-wide web.  Here’s the problem with that: Even if I had something great to post, I can’t do it while on the job and need to settle for a rough draft instead.  The computers there have an oh-so-wonderful little security tool called “Websense”.  What does Websense do?  Yes, you guessed it…they categorize websites according to what they deem suitable and appropriate content, in order to block out the insurmountable crap that exists on the internet.  Porn, forums and other sites that contain malicious code that can compromise privacy and steal important information, are prime examples.

I have very limited access to the online world and no access at all to any websites considered “social networking”.  What a crime!  Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating slightly as I do understand and agree with the need for restrictive enforcement policies while surfing on the job – and schools.  We get paid to work after all, not poke people on Facebook, blog about our daily occurrences or watch Justin Bieber videos on Youtube.

My criticisms however, are not with what it’s supposed to do, but rather with how it does it.  The “blacklist” seems to be rather vague and so general that it blocks out websites that are actually safe and useful for information and research – and in turn, somehow fails to filter some of the ones that shouldn’t see the light of day.  In other words, it fails to do its job correctly and infuriates the user that is genuinely and innocently looking for helpful information.   Imagine visiting a harmless site one day, only to find an unsightly white screen the next, warning you of “inappropriate” content, and making you feel like a dirty scoundrel, guilty of a crime.

Is the administration overly paranoid or are the people at Websense just too lazy to take the time out to categorize sites in their perspective places?  A rumor –I don’t have any evidence to back this up– says that many sites blocked by Websense haven’t necessarily been reviewed by employees; a lot of the database was posted without human interaction and computer errors are to blame for sites that don’t deserve the dictatorship treatment.  Get your act together people!

I guess I can’t do much except rant about it on my blog and spend my lunch break reading trashy, brainless blogs like Perezhilton.com, which somehow isn’t blocked.  Go figure.

Happy surfing!