Sunday, March 31, 2013

Neon of Miami Beach

This is just a small taste of the neon we saw last night in Miami Beach. I definitely want to go back down there for a couple of nights and spend entire evenings shooting pictures of all that the city has to offer. Probably weeknights, because they might be a tad less busy!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Way to Make Ed Happy

1. Drive 4.5 hours.

2. Have him attend a meet and greet with some of the legends of Progressive Rock.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Your Resume is Not Getting You the Job and Why

The other day, I sat down with my friend James and gave his resume a massive overhaul. He got his Master's last May, went to career services on campus to get assistance in writing one and they gave him one they said was solid. Meanwhile, I explained that if you're not getting calls in ten months, that resume is NOT solid.

I hired people for retail for years, plus I have helped a lot of people with their resumes. It's just one of those things I do well, so it was important to me to help James with his. Over the years, I've given a lot of people the same information: your resume is a SALES tool! You need to make the person looking it over think 'hey, this James person has done some interesting things and his portfolio looks fantastic. I want to meet him." It's not going to happen with a resume that looks something like this:

James G
address, Tampa FL
email address


Master of Arts, Instructional Technology
USF, Tampa FL
May, 2010

Bachelor of Arts
USF, Tampa
May, 2008 Experience

Job A
Tampa FL

video production

Job B
Tampa FL
sound engineer
production staff
video staff

Yes, the people who are PAID to help students prepare resumes gave him something approximating the above. I switched a little information, but each item listed was not descriptive in any way. James and I had a good conversation about what employers look for, what will draw them in, and why this doesn't work: he invested seven years of his life into higher education that should warrant at least a full page of information! The sad thing is that James is not the only person starting out after graduation with a lackluster resume, wondering why no one is calling them for an interview.

What this resume tells me is that the person who is sending it in will just do the bare minimum to get the job. This is the resume of someone who just went to classes and went back to their dorm room, or booked it off campus so fast it'd make your head spin. This is someone who couldn't wait to finish that degree, because school wasn't exciting.

Is your resume like this?

I'll tell you, James now has a resume that gives you an idea of just how involved he was. This is a guy who, if I'm hanging out with him on campus, knows EVERYBODY! The things I asked him, and encourage any new graduate to consider putting into their resume:

  • What courses did you take? What special software did you use? You might have a specific skill that is in demand.
  • Did you make Deans List or graduate with a GPA of 3.5 or above? Share it-it shows you put a lot of effort into academics.
  • Were you involved in any campus organizations? Doesn't matter if you held an office, it shows you are more likely to be a team player.
  • Did you participate in any community outreach or volunteer for anything? It shows compassion for others.
  • Did you win any awards?
  • Were you a residence hall advisor? It shows you can handle difficult situations and think on the spot to resolve conflicts.
  • Did you work while in school? It shows effective time management skills.
  • While not the case with James, I have seen some people spend far more time creating a profile on a dating site than they do on their resume. One might get you a couple of dates, if you're lucky. The other can give you the money to go on those dates. Which is more important?

    Thursday, March 28, 2013

    I Haz Skillz

    As I sat in Stats class tonight before class began, I found a message from my boss "Can you do Frequency Distribution tables in Excel?" The question was amusing, because she took Stats 2 last year. I responded yes, I can, but it might be easier in SAS.

    Seems our college came to her this afternoon with this request for Monday. She is inundated with work, so it is understandable that she asked if I could do it. The rest of our team has M.Eds or MAs, and statistics courses usually aren't part of our realm. So, I expect to be calculating data tomorrow for a portion of the day.

    The funny part is that tonight's lecture may have made more sense if it was in that African clicking language. It was about partial and semi-partial regression analysis and boy, did it confuse me. It was only after we'd spent two hours on it that the professor revealed 'well, I don't want you to consider using this for analyzing your data, but you do need to know this.' At least I have my frequency distribution tables to show I have half a clue about statistical interpretation.

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    DOMA and Why I Support the Repeal (the extended version)

    I posted a picture on Facebook yesterday, as I am prone to doing. Those who know me and/or have read the blog for a long time know that I'm an advocate for gay rights. Long before this week's news about the cases before the Supreme Court to repeal DOMA and challenge the California Proposition 8 repeal, this has been a topic here on my blog and on my Facebook wall.

    The picture was of the Statue of Liberty kissing a dipped Justice in front of the red equal signs that are everywhere on FB right now. Many supporters, but one dissenter, who lamented that there are bigger issues that we should put our attention on right now. Well, sure, but none of those issues are being heard by the Supreme Court today, thanks.

    I agreed with her opinion that our government is too big and spending is out of control. Sure, we need to figure out something about gun control-but they're not the issue in front of nine justices.

    Knowledge is power, and by sharing some of this here, maybe it helps others to understand why so many, like me, are passionate about this civil rights case. What brought it before the justices in the first place, they're asking. Well, here are some facts, some opinions, and then a bonus at the end.

    The statistics vary, but it has been stated that approximately ten percent of the US population identifies as gay, lesbian, gender query or transsexual, but we'll use LGBT for short. This figure sprung out of pioneering sexual researcher Alfred Kinsey's extensive work in the 1940's, in which one in ten men identified as homosexual.

    More recently, the Williams Institute reported 11% of respondents identify LGBT. Another recent study states 4%, while a Gallup poll in 2002 brings that number into the high teens. The disparity is likely due to an unwillingness to publicly identify as LGBT, even in anonymous surveys. My a priori observation is that it may be over 20 percent, but for this post (rather than my FB post), we'll stick with one in ten as identifying LGBT.

    One in ten. You have more than ten friends, right? For every ten, one is gay. These are people who do not cordon themselves off on Brokeback Mountain, they are here and among us. They're good people. They are my friends, your friends, relatives, teachers, doctors, wait staff, hairdressers, librarians, police officers, lawyers, baristas, neighbors, sales clerks, accountants, and mechanics. Those of you who are ticked off at those of us Allied with our friends 'in the life'-stop and think about that number. You KNOW at least one gay person, probably interact with him or her daily, but you just may not know they're gay.

    And that is okay. That's exactly how it should be in the normal day to day world. You really don't want to know about my sex life, I definitely don't want to know about yours, right?

    But that's not the reason you probably don't know exactly who is gay and who isn't. I wish it was, but the truth of the matter is, people still have to stay closeted for fear of losing jobs, being denied housing, being forced to go through therapy to get rid of the gay, being called 'faggot' or other slurs, being beaten up or killed because of who they love. Can you blame some for NOT sharing what they really feel? The person who called a friend that slur up above probably doesn't realize how many gay people are in close proximity daily...

    Fifty years ago, more people were in than out. Then, Patient Zero, Gaetan Dugas, was a one man Typhoid Mary spreading the GRID, or Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease, now known as AIDS. The spread of AIDS changed things. As I recently discussed with a friend, in the 80's, we knew people who were gay, but weren't out as gay. AIDS changed that. For years, it was a silent killer, many infected denied that they were. It took a beloved rock star and a British princess to turn the tide against the gay hatred back then, the belief that gay people 'deserved' this horrible disease. Now really, does anyone deserve a deadly illness?

    Today, a lot more teens and young adults don't have the same degree of fear of being out, but it is still there, and I will get to that in a couple of paragraphs. All we need to hear is a story like Matthew Shepards to know that homophobia is still rampant, that there are many who fear something that is harmless to them.

    Right now in my life, I know a handful of people who are not truly out, but to a few close friends and family. A classmate that was married in New York, but her wife can't talk about it at work. Yes, in today's society, where Kim Kardashian can make a mockery of marriage, these women have to hide the fact that after a few years of a committed relationship and a ceremony recognized as binding in the state of New York, they have to hide who they are.

    So, you're wondering why this and why now? I'm glad you asked. The reason the Supreme Court is hearing about this issue and not any number of causes we the people consider important is this: For over FORTY years, Edith (Edie) Windsor and Thea Spryer were a betrothed couple (Thea proposed with a diamond pin). The women eventually married in Canada, a marriage recognized by the state of NY.

    However, when Thea died, Edie found that unlike other couples, she was not afforded the same rights by the federal government with regards to estate taxes. She was socked with a huge tax bill, one she would not have had if Thea had been male. It is justifiable case law-the state recognizes the union, why not the federal government? State vs. federal recognition has been brought before the Supreme Court before. This time, it's about a basic civil right. Finally.

    I'd mentioned that there is still fear of being out, that identifying oneself as LGBT can be a risky thing, especially when people still insult others with that 'f' word (and don't see how it is just as bad as the 'n' word or the 'r' word), when a teen is burned to death at a birthday party because he's gay. Repealing DOMA is a step in the right direction for our nation to show LGBT people that they are equal, that they should have the same rights as every other citizen in legally binding their love for one another.

    My friend James produced this video last year for our Digital Video class. James is a talented young man, who just happens to be gay. If you want to understand why the repeal of DOMA is important, just spend twelve minutes hearing these stories. I've heard many similar stories over the years. This video to me is just a taste of WHY this case is important.

    I hope that we can say that It Gets Better about gay rights...

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Ahead of Schedule

    There are goals that doctoral students must meet before they sit for qualifying exams. Depending on the program and the school, getting published and presenting at conferences are more important than the dissertation defense.

    My school does put some weight on these things, but thankfully, the professors realize that all of us in the program work full time and have families, so they're supportive without being pushy. We have regular doctoral meetings and each of us is charged with sharing our objectives. This helps in keeping us accountable and on target.

    At January's meeting, I stated my goals for this year as gathering my committee, specifically, reaching out to my Cognate department and setting my path in their program. My other goal was to complete the literature review I've been meaning to do. That was my summer assignment for myself, hoping to submit for publication in the fall.

    There's something that isn't on that list. I have yet to attend an academic conference, and attendance at one before presenting was my short term goal. Heck, I signed up for one when I got the announcement in January, planning to take a day off from work to attend. Now, I'm working and it is considered professional development, too. Sweet.

    Tonight, in class, my professor turns to my group (and specifically to me), and informs us that I will be presenting our product at the conference I'd planned to attend in three weeks. IN THREE WEEKS!! The product is good, it'll be relevant to all attendees, and the client is already using what my group has developed-even though it is a design proof (one of three component sections are done.)

    Pardon me while I freak out for the next three weeks. I have a major research project for the Stats class, and while this is definitely a group effort, I have to write a 20 minute presentation and present it to a bunch of people-probably more people than I've ever spoken in front of before.

    Then, after the rest of the class left, the professor informs me that she expects me to present it at other conferences, too. I didn't expect to have a strong presentation topic until I started the dissertation process, but she's right-this is a topic and product of interest. The final paper the group prepares is also being set up for publication.

    So, I will end up with a presentation before the end of the semester and a possible publication earlier than I'd scheduled myself. While I thought my professors were of the 'do it in your own time' variety, it's becoming clear that they're really the 'ambush' type!

    She's right-I'm ready for this. It doesn't mean I'm not going to freak out a bit, though.

    Monday, March 25, 2013


    One of the things my boss did not mention in all our conversations about applying for my job, in the interviews, and then in the two weeks leading up to my start date was the hours I'd be working. As she'd been in classes with me before, I knew she, like me, preferred to be habitually early for classes (we're talking a half hour to 45 minutes early), which meant she got out of the office around 4:15. So, the Thursday before I started, I asked 'Are my work hours 8-5?', thinking that I need to be prepared if they're not. The response was a 'Well...yeah,' in a tone that said that it just might be a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule.

    Other than working retail management, where no one got in unless I was there, this is the first job where I take that 8am start as a hard and fast rule, even if it isn't necessary. The other day, I awoke when I should be leaving the house and still, I only arrived to my office five minutes late-and no one else was there. Today, I was up and ready much earlier than expected, so I just headed in and walked in the door a full five minutes before anyone else in our suite. I find the quiet pleasant, even though we're a pretty quiet office already.

    I was told not to sweat the days I need to leave early for class. When I asked my boss when she typically heads over to that side of campus. She told me 4:15, so I figured that arriving early might balance out those days I need to leave early. I suspect that the manager of the other department in our suite mentioned that I'm habitually early (so not typical for me, honestly-but I don't have to do morning kid duty now) to my boss, and she came to me about it. "Would you prefer to start at 7:30 and leave at 4:30? It might be better for traffic both ways." I like this idea, because I'm not scrambling to get GameTeen from aftercare at school. Then we talked about the general guidelines and it's what I pretty much observed in the past week. As long as the work gets done, if you need to leave a few minutes early or come in a few minutes late, they're cool.

    I spent twenty plus years having to watch the clock for not only me, but all my employees, then I spent the last six months where if I was late, my students were waiting. My most recent employer was most definitely flexible in the time off I needed for surgery and appointments, but the day to day variation in hours was non-negotiable due to the nature of our work. This mellow attitude to time? It will take some getting used to. However, I think I will really enjoy it when it comes to things like needing to go to a doctor's appointment.

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Corned Beef Hash

    Once upon a time, there was an easy way to tell I'm not a morning person: my hatred of eggs and coffee. Now, I drink coffee, but I still hate eggs. There was only one guaranteed item that would make me come to breakfast: corned beef hash.

    Back then, it was Broadcast brand out of a can, but yum. It wasn't until my late teens and the luncheonette across from the gas station where I worked with Ed making it did I experience homemade hash. Oh my, did that taste sooo good! Still, canned was acceptable, but only if it came in that yellow can, or it was cooked to crispy goodness on a restaurant griddle. Let's just say that places that serve it around here are few and far between.

    So, when I made corned beef for St. Paddy's day, I had plans. I purposely made more potatoes than I knew we would eat, and I kept back about a pound of meat. Today, I made some from scratch, and it was crazy easy.

    Corned Beef Hash
    8-9 red skinned potatoes, boiled, with skin on, cut into small cubes
    1 onion, minced
    3 tablespoons butter
    1 pound cooked corned beef, roughly chopped (I cut mine into 2" cubes, then pulsed in the food processor)
    salt to taste 50 turns pepper from a mill
    Optional: 2 cooked carrots
    Start by melting the butter in a pan, then add the potatoes. Generously pepper and stir occasionally. About five minutes in, add the onions and stir until well blended. Continue cooking.

    If you haven't already, while the potatoes are cooking, cube the cooked corned beef, then add to food processor. Pulse for 2 or 3 seconds 4 times, then check to see that it has been shredded lightly. Add to the pan of potatoes and onions. Mix until well blended. Continue to cook an additional ten minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

    If you like this with eggs and toast, have at it. I just enjoyed a little bowl of it on my own. Chef ended up with two bowls. There are enough leftovers for two more people, so we'll say this serves four comfortably.

    Saturday, March 23, 2013

    Comp Exams...

    Today, 15 students took the same comp exam I took last June. Unlike the two subsequent exams, I spent some time with most of those students in online sessions, one in face to face, and two in email exchanges. I shared materials that had been given to me to prepare, as well as my own experience with the three hours that they'd spend summing up the knowledge they'd gained in eleven classes.

    Now, I'm anxious to hear how they did. Not quite as much as they are, but definitely invested in hearing they succeeded. I am hoping some of the information I shared about my experience helped them, things like:

  • Study one content area per day.
  • Focus your efforts on your weakest area first.
  • Write so that someone who knows nothing about what we do can understand.
  • If given an either/or (two content areas typically do), go with what feels right, rather than the course you took's question.
  • Figure on your toughest topic to take you an hour to prepare and write, the remainder around a half hour.
  • Start with the toughest topic, so your time doesn't run out. You can easily finish the other three areas in the remaining time.
  • Don't study the night before. Relax completely, because this is not a cram-type exam.

  • My major professor (and advisor to the student organization I'm in) asked the three officers who would be leading the study sessions. My boss is far too busy (she's the president), the other person was characteristically quiet, and at first I thought there was no way I had time. In retrospect, it was probably about 12 hours total that was worth it. I suggested to my professor that we set up a course in Canvas for the M.Ed's to have as a gathering place to prepare all along for the exam. I'd be happy to manage it. It makes sense when I'm going to be in the program for another four or five years and of the three of us, I'm the only one who took the M.Ed. comps.

    Now, if only someone had thought to do that for my quals in a few years!

  • Friday, March 22, 2013

    International Day

    Caribbean food for lunch, Indian for dinner, what else would you call it?

    While there are plenty of places to eat on campus, there are no dining places in the immediate vicinity of my office, so I have to leave. (What's kind of sad is that a place they took us to during orientation and I really liked, is on the opposite side of our pretty large property). So, that means I will explore for a while.

    I didn't feel like the places I'm familiar with, and spied Jerk Pit and got a jerk pork salad. It was decent,but I've had much better jerk foods before. The weird thing, and I don't know if it's me: if the seasoning is off, maybe a bit too bitter, I notice I have this overwhelming urge to have chocolate after eating some jerk foods. Could that be a defense mechanism to coat the bitter?

    For dinner, I have a standing date with a former coworker, and we went back to Cafe Roti. This time, I went for an old favorite, the Korma, but with beef. That sauce is so flavorful and delicate, I was very happy to have picked it again. It is one of Ed's local favorites, so I texted him and asked if he wanted me to bring some home-he got some lamb vindaloo.

    It's going to take a while to find more places, but I've got Greek, German, Indian, Thai and more within a 10 minute drive. I suspect I'll be filling up my Urban Spoon account with many more reviews!

    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Muscle Relaxers

    ...and a 4 hour lecture do not play well with each other.

    I struggled to keep my eyes open for the second half of the class, and purposely called a friend to chat with for the ride home, I was that sleepy.

    I think I need to remember to take one when I have insomnia!

    Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    Settling In

    I've been picture heavy the past few days, finally putting on the blog what I stated I'd do at the beginning of the year. :)

    Monday was an all day orientation and yesterday morning was spent learning about benefits, but I got to my office in the afternoon and hit the ground running. My boss was headed out of town for two days, and we spent 20 minutes going over what she needed me to do. She then gave me access to the stuff I needed to do-and I finished my portion in two hours instead of two days.

    Part of the reason she'd been bugging me to come work for her for the past nine months is that she knows I'm a quick study, but it was a little surprising to me that I blew through things at that pace. Granted, the next three things on my to-do list will probably take up the next two days.

    I was asked to go to lunch with most of my department. They go out to eat most days, and they really, really like sushi. I got the tempura, because the smallest plate of sushi had many more pieces than I would eat in one sitting. It looked really good, though, so I may just eat what I want and store the rest in the fridge at work to bring home.

    The afternoon really flew by and the next thing I knew, it was 5pm and I needed to go across campus to help a friend study for this weekend's comps. While going over what the research question typically looks like, we talked about my dissertation plans. She wants to help me with creating the computer based content, which makes me very happy-we've done group work successfully in the past.

    So far, so good. Now, what do I bring to the potluck next week?

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Florida Southern College-Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture

    I'd been meaning to get back to this campus to take pictures ever since I got the D-90, but didn't make the effort until Saturday, when friends were in a 5K and I was the cheering section/paparazzi.

    I still want to go back and get more...