Friday, November 26, 2010


Most years I have to think about what I'm thankful for. Not this year. Easy: I just got a new job after a long layoff. No-brainer there. We were looking at some tough times starting in January so this was close to our last chance. Very thankful indeed.

However, I'm not just thankful for finding a job. My year of unemployment -- yes a whole year -- has actually been very good for me. First, my former company gave me a good severance package. We were a lot better off than many unemployed, we kept our house, never wanted for food or anything else. Took it easy on the spending, but basically lived life as normal. God has been very good to us.

Because I was no longer commuting I became much more plugged into our community. Some of this was just the simple things like driving some streets I didn't usually drive, using the library regularly, shopping, or getting out during the week. But I also volunteered. I already had volunteered with a local high school robot club. With more schedule flexibility I was able to be much more involved. Very enjoyable and rewarding.

I also joined a job club, AVPPNG. They helped me tremendously with moral support and navigating unemployment and job searching. I eventually was elected president and got to practice seldom used leadership and people skills. I made several friends as well as networking contacts.

Our church held a "Biggest Loser" contest. I was motivated to lose 45lbs. In winning, I am now officially the biggest loser at church. The contest motivated me to up my running schedule and start a running group. Over the course of the year I became much more fit and reduced my 5k PR by 4 1/2 minutes (29:55 to 25:17 -- not very fast, but still a great improvement). At one point I could run fast enough and do enough push-ups, sit-ups, mountain climbers and pull-ups to pass the LA County Sheriff's PT 500 physical exam (arthritis problems have since forced me to back down a little). Through our running group I got involved with a soccer team and now play once or twice a week. Our group met a lot at Apollo Park. While running there on my own one day (group dissolved) I met a fellow runner who is the very well-know dog trainer, Kyra Sundance.

Lately I realized that what I love doing is developing software. I took initiative to start learning on my own. I realized that such learning and initiative would help me in my job search. It also was fun and re-energized me. It has made me more aware of how much I do not know and need to keep learning. I am much more excited now about my career and about learning many new things. This learning and enthusiasm, the lessons I also learned from job searching and interviewing, led directly to me landing my new job.

The real negative about being laid off is the stress of not knowing, of seeing the money dwindling, of having to be ready to network and search and respond to employer requests at a moment's notice. In some ways that stress is self-induced. I too easily forget Matthew 6:33-34: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Self induced or not, the stress is very real. Waking up at 4am stressed out about not having work is no fun. Also, I don't like being forced into anything, especially not having to reach out (kiss-up?) to people. But job search forces me to do just that. And a funny thing happened. I've become much more comfortable with it. Happy I found a job and don't have to be so uncertain? Ecstatic!! Still, now I know I can survive this.

Bottom line: the process has been very good for me. There are still many problems in life, but I feel better able to handle them. My new job is temporary -- a three month contract. I could be right back out there looking very soon. I'm not thrilled about this, but am OK with it. When I was first laid off a trainer said on average we'd do this again in 3-5 years. That scared the crap out of me. Now, it's OK. I know more about what to do. More importantly, I have a much better vision of what I want to do and how to get there. I'm much more confident in myself and in God working in my life. It's been a very good year.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Please Stop Hating

I am Christian and it hurts when people who call themselves Christian do hateful things. I am referring to the threatened Quran burning by Terry Jones. Christianity is about love, not hate. Enough evil has been done in the name of Christ, a man who said love is the greatest good. Please, Mr. Jones and my fellow Christians, stop violating the message of Jesus.

Jesus called us to love our enemies. How is provocation love? OK, Mr. Jones, I know loving your enemies is hard. How about showing a little consideration for your fellow believers? Burning copies of the Quran in Florida is relatively safe. How about the violent reaction it causes in other parts of the world? Do you really have so little regard for others that you're OK with the persecution, injury and death of Christians around the world that your actions will incite? Do you ever think about or pray for believers in places like Pakistan, Saudia Arabia and Syria?

Mr. Jones, we Christians send people out to tell of God's love in sending his son. Why do you instead want to advertise hate and nullify everything we stand for? If you won't listen to me, perhaps you can hear the words of Martin Luther King: "Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." Please, Mr. Jones, do not follow through on your plan to burn copies of the Quran.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Video Resume

Here is the video resume I posted on Employers can set up free accounts to search for my resume and many others.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Great Day.

Yesterday was a great day.

It started in the morning. I got up and got out running. The weather was cool and damp but no rain. I felt good and ran faster than I had been. I got back to my home just as the rain started. Cool! But even better, while running, God changed my attitude about searching for a job. I worry a lot about getting a new job. I worry about the future, get depressed and then mope around and am too discouraged to do much. God affirmed that he will take care of me and my family. Even if we have no money and are on the street, he'll take care of us. I don't expect that -- he's always treated us way better than that. But whatever, the guarantee is that he'll take care of us. I need to let him handle the results and I need to focus on doing what I should every day.

Two quotes came to mind. The first is "Pray like it's up to God and work like it's up to me." Easy to say, hard to remember and do. The second is Matthew 6:25-34 where Jesus shows how God takes care of the birds and flowers and says we are a lot more important than them. In particular, Matthew 6:33-34 "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

This all put me in a great mood. And I stayed in a great mood despite a couple of things. First, during my run I felt a twinge on the side of my right leg, just below the knee. When I got home it was mildly sore and I had to be careful to not bend too much. Discouraging, especially since I always talk about avoiding injury. But also ironic. Just Saturday in our beginning running group, Ruth mention she felt something on the side of her calf. I'd never heard of it before. Now I empathize.

Second, a little after I started up my computer I saw the Blue Screen of Death. Fortunately I got the computer restarted and was able to back up all my docs. And it has been OK since.

So, I got a little frustrated, but my mood alteration held and I left for my Wednesday job club (AVPPNG, a network club for job seekers) in high spirits. Our meeting was good. Part of the meeting was a presentation by an EDD person, Margie, about the WIA program, a program to help people get training they need. Many in our group had already applied and were asking what was going on with their applications. Margie explained many times how there were so many applications and so few workers, so many steps involved and why it took so long. Then she dropped a great quote, "Next week with the government is two or three months." In other words, what we'd normally expect in a week usually takes the government two or three months.

After the meeting four of us went out to lunch. We had a fun and encouraging time. Plus we had lots of stimulating conversation, including some good spiritually oriented discussions. One of the encouraging things was that the other three had good chances of landing jobs soon. I commented that I was the odd man out but they re-assured me that I was also the newbie (they'd all been at it a lot longer than me) and good things would come my way too.

After all that, I went to the Robolopes robot club at Antelope Valley High. This year's competition is building robots that play a form of soccer. I help with the software. It was a good time as usual, although we are currently at a roadblock.

When I got home, I got dinner and checked my email. About two weeks ago I had sent an email asking how my application for a flight test engineer at the Edwards Flight Test Center was doing. This is an application that I put in about four months ago (Margie's quote about government weeks became relevant in a new context). My email question and big concern was whether it had passed the human resources screening. It's not exactly my field and I was concerned (OK, worried!) that the HR people would just reject it outright. Yesterday, I got an answer. It had a lot of government speak that I didn't understand well, but it seemed to be saying I passed and my application was sent to the hiring managers.

In the evening we went to our usual Wednesday prayer meeting. Instead of being at church it was in the pastor's home. This made it warmer and cozier than normal on a cold rainy night. Plus lots of people showed up and we had a very good time -- lots of encouragement and uplifting interaction.

Of particular interest to me was that Sherman was there. Sherm is my contact at Edwards and the reason I applied for the job at the FTC. He helped me interpret my email (I'd printed it out hoping he'd be there). He confirmed that I'd "made the cert" and that my resume was now referred out to the hiring managers. YEAH! (Plus I'm not such an odd man out anymore!)

One slightly discouraging thing is that I'm one of 224 who made the cert. However, Sherm reassured me that usually half are no longer available. Plus that many applicants means there are a lot of jobs available -- even a hundred openings is not that big for a place as huge as Edwards. I sent him the email and he is going to ask his bosses what's happening. Plus Sherm had already introduced me to his big boss many months ago. He is one of the hiring managers and spoke to me about how they needed lots of experienced engineers and how they'd get me talking to lots of different people to see where I fit in. Now that I've made the cert I feel good about presenting all my skills and am excited about being able to talk with people out there. It's still a long way from having a job, but it's a huge, exciting step forward.

Well, that's my great day. Hallelujah and Praise God!